Okay, I thought about this new business thing....

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by scott015, May 31, 2001.

  1. scott015

    scott015 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37

    well some of you will probably remember me from yesterday, I am the new guy asking all the questions...anyway, after alot of thought I decided that I am up for the challenge. I do work full time right now (M-F,8-5) but it is for my granparents, it is the only job I have ever had...been working for them for 6 years now. And I know if anything ever happened I can always come back. Well I am gonna see if I can get about 5 lawns to mow on weekday nights and weekends to get started...mainly to get the true idea of what it is like. I live in a real rich small town. We have a population of about 30k+ now, but just about half the town lives on a golf course...so the yards are all pretty small...but they are very nice and well maintained. I was thinking about $35/yard for mow/edge/cleanup....sound about right? And I can charge extra for fertilizing/seeding/insect....what does that usually charge? I know I would have to get a license for that though...Then I figured after the slow season (not too long here in Texas) I would take a couple classes at the local college, do some advertising and get some better equipment...that I could maybe get some more business. I figured if I could get 25 customers at $35 each I would make the same as I do right now. 25 lawns shouldnt be too hard I wouldnt think...And I could manage that myself without hiring someone...that is only 5 lawns a day...But my main question I was still wondering is...about contracts. I wont be doing much, if any at all business lawns, I will start off with residential because I cant afford the riding mower right away. But how do I get the people to pay? I mean I would want to mow once a week...so that is about $140/month for each customer. So I would make a contract for them to agree on a whole year? Paying even in Dec,Jan,Feb???? That seems like it would be kinda hard to get someone to agree to that...Well anything I am forgeting..please reply...I am ready to learn!!!!

  2. scott015

    scott015 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37

    anybody have any comments or thoughts?
  3. jeffyr

    jeffyr LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 876


    That is great that you can always go back to your old job. The risks are limited.

    I think you have a great plan--start out slow and build up once you get some experience, speed, and more of an idea where you want to go with this. Taking classes is a great idea, as well as getting the pesticide license.

    As far as your pricing, nobody can tell you if you are charging enough to cover expenses and time but you. A big catch phrase here is "what the market will bear". Alot of the posts suggest that people are looking to bill $40-50 per man hour for maintenance. I am on target with that and have no complaints. It sounds like your community is a good place to do what you want to.

    25 lawns will put you at what you are making now.....have you calculated expenses and taxes (remember that you will be paying your own without contribution from your employer, so the rate is higher) ? Don't forget that the equipment will have to be paid for and money saved for repairs and replacements. I am not trying to scare you...but there can be alot of expenses at times and you should figure on saving for them.

    As far as billing, when I started I billed per service item. In the spring I would give a customer aprice for all the "normal" things to be done and bill them within the month they are done. Since I have a much better idea what each will need at this point and how much it will cost overall, I give them an annual figure and divide it by 10 equal payments (adding on extras when they are completed---fungicide or annuals for example). This is working out well since I now know my exact minimum income for the entire season.

    Hope this helps some. Everybody will have their own system and opinions. The tough part for you will be developing yours.

  4. Guido

    Guido LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,087

    And read here for weeks and months and a year. You can get input on everything you want to know by just reading here!!

    The things your wanting to do, especially the apllication of fertilizrs and pesticides, is a lot more complicated than you think it is to get into the right way. Slow down, read some more and come up with some specific questions after that and you will get clear answers. If you come on here and post a whole page of questions, you won't get too many good answers beside people like me telling you to read more here.

    Theres not a question you have that hasn't been answered 100 times on here.

    Again, Good Luck!
  5. gogetter

    gogetter Banned
    Messages: 3,256

    Scott, take Guido's advice! Take it slow and read, read, read. Use the search engine. It takes some time, but most of the answers are there.
    I found this sight about 3 or 4 months ago and I still read back through old posts and still learn something new almost everyday.
    You mentioned that 25 lawns will earn you what you're getting now at your full time job. Is that for the whole year??

    You're talking about a loan for $40K. I personally think that's crazy. Talk about jumping in with both feet! Whew! Find a nice used F150 for 5 or 6 grand, spend about 5 to 6 grand on commercial grade equipment and 5'x10' trailer. That's all you should need to get started. Learn the little in's and out's as you go and grow from there.
    Don't underprice to beat the competition. You'll be sorry in the end when you realize that you're not charging enough. These guys charge that much for a reason. Because it takes that much to make it profitable.
    You may even be in an ideal situation since you work for your grandparents. Perhaps as you get busier with the lawns, maybe they could kinda cut you back to part time so you're not having to choose between one or the other.
    Good luck.
  6. jeffyr

    jeffyr LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 876

    I agree with gogetter, but maybe get a larger trailer since you will outgrow the 5x10 and lose money when its sold. I may also look for a used f250 instead of a 150--experience talking here. the 150 is more like a heavy duty huge car than a truck.
  7. Toroguy

    Toroguy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,075

    Your on the right track. Start part time and build from there. Depending on your area you can make it a full time venture in a few years.

    Like mentioned above, just stick to the cutting and trimming to begin. Read, learn and profit.
  8. scott015

    scott015 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37

    well when I said 25 customers at about $35 each would be about what I make now, I meant if I did them all 4 weeks per month and all year round...I wasnt thinking that some customers wont want their yards mowed in the winter. I am still kinda confused on this part. So do I make them all do contracts so that they pay me for all 52 weeks of the year? I dont see many people doing that....but I wouldnt know. Anyway, I am for sure gonna start off part time....but about how many customers does a good 1man business have? Around 30??? How many do you have when you start thinking about hiring help? I live in Texas, so I dont mean to be rude...but we can get "cheap" help around here if you know what I mean.....
  9. Toroguy

    Toroguy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,075

    Depending on the size of the account, I can handle 50, I currently maintain 46, but dont think alone I could do more than 50. I hope to decrease my account numbers but increase revenue by maintaining larger properties. Ideally 5 accounts, one a day!

    I wouldnt worry about when to hire a helper, you will know when you have hit that level.
  10. NateinAtl

    NateinAtl LawnSite Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 121

    The question about contracts comes up all the time. What you need to do is determine exactly what you will be doing for a customer over a 12 month period. Around here mow and blow guys do about 40 visits a year. So 40 X $35=$1400 you then divide by the 12 months for a monthly charge of $116.67. Make it clear that even though you aren't out each of the 52 weeks, you are billing only for the services provided. If the customer wants additional services such as mulch, aeration, etc. add that to the bill at the end of the month. But to be honest, I wouldn't put anyone on contract your first year. I would tell the client that the cost is $35 per visit. At the end of the month if you have mowed their lawn 4 times then send them a bill for $140. You just have to be smart with your money over the winter months. You really need to call a reputable business in your area and ask for a bid on your lawn. You will get a good feel for what the market has to offer. Like Guido said, go very slow, read everything you can, ask specific questions. I really think you should learn all you can this year and start part time next year.

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