Okay, I'm mowing..... now what?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by deason, May 1, 2001.

  1. deason

    deason LawnSite Member
    Messages: 236

    Need some advise here. I started last year with a small mower doing a couple of yards on the weekends. It got to where I had 5 yards at the end of the cutting season and I was hooked. This year I bought a X-Mark Metro 48" with sulkey (love it!) and now I am up to 11 customers. I work a full time job during the week and do this as a kind of "second job". Anyway, I was wondering if any of you could offer some advise on securing commercial properties? Securing large residential lawns? I have a couple of large ones now and going to look at a potential tomorrow and give them a bid. How do you give a respectable but profitable estimate? What are some things to look for when giving an estimate?
    Any comments would be appreciated.
  2. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,360

    Time and word of mouth will get you the best residentials. As for commercials, now is to late in the year for most.

    For bidding, well that is a long subject you can do a search on and get a lot of reading material on.

    Great, someone else in my general area. :)
  3. parkwest

    parkwest LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 678

    Just curious how someone who has already been giving out bids would ask these questions now.

    "How do you give a respectable but profitable estimate? What are some things to look for when giving an estimate?"

    3 keys to success. Dream It, Plan It, Do It. And they have to be done in that order. Sounds like you went right to the "Do It" stage.

    The most important stage is the "Plan It" stage. That would be where you would sit down and figure how much you needed to make then figure out how to make it. I'm talking about gross versus profit. Figure out what is enough to cover your personal expenses then figure out what you need to gross to make it. A lot a contractors have gone bankrupt while grossing millions.
  4. Greenkeepers

    Greenkeepers LawnSite Senior Member
    from NE Ohio
    Messages: 695

    Parkwest... Excellent advice!!

    Don't jump too fast.. Every owner needs to make a different percentage in order to make it work. You just have to figure what your fixed/variable costs are and go from there.

    Good Luck.
  5. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Messages: 9,007

    Most large residential lots do not pay well for time spent. Small lots close together are where your profit is. 11 yard is a drop in a bucket to making real money full time. 40 to 100 yards and up and you are getting somewhere. Advertising, quality work, lead to referrals. Large properties usually come with alot of hedges that someone has to do and guess who that someone is? YOU. You cant just cut grass without taking care of the hedges with most customers. I dont mind 30 hedges but anymore than that to maintain and I did way high on the yard. Do hedges in 90 degree heat takes lot out of you
  6. sheppard

    sheppard LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 542

    Have you thought of calling some of your competitors to see if they have locations that are not convenient? Offer to 'buy' some of the accounts that are not good for them but good for you (i.e. close to your home, know the account in some form).

  7. deason

    deason LawnSite Member
    Messages: 236

    Just curious how someone who has already been giving out bids would ask these questions now.

    To answer your question Parkwest, I am now asking these questions to ensure that I am on the right track. I figure that if i compare the advice from individuals who are professionals with my own ideas, I will be able to make better decisions.
    I appreciate all the advise you all have given.
    And by the way Parkwest, sounds like you went right to the "lets see how I can talk down to this guy" stage.
  8. lawnboy82

    lawnboy82 Banned
    Messages: 957

    when you do go for the commercials and the large residentials, ie. estates they are gonna want insurance, workmans comp, etc. so maybe keep the accounts smaller for now, and then once you have a nice cash flow go for the larger ones. that is what i would say to be honest with you. 11 lawns isnt bad, however you have to do things besides just cut the lawn to make money.
  9. parkwest

    parkwest LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 678

    Sorry deason

    Just trying to help. You must consider my age. After being in business for over 20 years and seeing the lack of basic business sense from guys saying they are in business but can't tell you the difference between an income statement and a balance sheet, I get tired of people going out and bidding against honest contractors for work without a clue what they have to charge to make a living in this or any other type of contracting.

    You also might want to develop a thicker skin if you want to be in contracting if what I said offended you.
  10. Scraper

    Scraper LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,656

    Eh...PW just has a way with words. Don't let it bother you...some people are just cynical by nature. My responses come out like that from time to time as well with no offense intended to the poster. Like PW said...you need a thick skin.

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