One man Crews. How do you do it?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Mabrito88, Aug 1, 2013.

  1. Mabrito88

    Mabrito88 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    Hello all. I am currently a (laid off) apprentice plumber. While i enjoy the work I have always felt the need to work for myself. I have had many small business ventures including dog poo cleaner and mobile dj. None of them have given me enough stability to give up a "job."

    I have a plant and landscape experience. I am confident I could run a one man lawn and landscape company. But my question is how do you guys make it successful? I know you have to want to work hard. But I mean even if i could mow 8 lawns per day at $25 per lawn at 5 days a week at 22 weeks that's only $22,000 per year which is kind of hard to raise a family on. Plus how could I Work a landscaping job if i have 40+ accounts per week? Could 40+ accounts be collected in one season? How do you get that many accounts? Flyers? Thanks for the advice!
  2. OakNut

    OakNut LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,104

    It ain't easy.

    First off, if you mow 8 lawns a day, you're gonna need to charge more than $25.

    I had 40 clients my first season. It's easy if you live in an area that is densely populated. Most came from a craigslist ad initially, the website, then Angie's List referrals... screw flyers.

    As for mowing AND landscaping? Maybe someone younger than me can do it, but I can't. I barely have time to do side jobs (hedges/etc) for my clients when I'm not mowing. The only way to make money and have free time is to have high-paying accounts. You can work 15 low-pay jobs a day, or 6 well-paying ones. You learn that really quickly. Work harder, or work smarter.
  3. Tom-N-Texas

    Tom-N-Texas LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 370

    well there's nothing wrong with having a "real" job and supplementing with extra lawns until you get enough lawns that you can ditch the 9-5. I would not attempt to support a family or a household on $22,000 per year, but that's just me. I think your goal should be a bit higher than that. I started out doing those kind of numbers but then slowly grew my business. I used to do 7-8 lawns a day by myself....I remember how I was on cloud nine because I was making $200/day, compared to my "real" job, which was way less than half that. But the business really started to grow once I started putting space ads in my local yellow pages...(I still use At&t now and it is very successful....I have 3/4 page ad, largest/first in the ad cannot be $300/month I've ever spent: the year is paid for after 3 new regular customers; the rest is gravy.)

    Nowdays I advertise on Google as well, and my business also pops up on the organic side, which is numbers have ballooned this year. I have about 280 lawns now, but I spent many years with way less. My advice would be to not be afraid to advertise and also make sure you have the best, most appealing, most freindly website of all your local competition. (I've never liked flyers or mailings -- but that's just me...) Set your prices at reasonable levels and show up on time every week. Just getting out there will make you visible and people/neighbors will start asking you for cards.

    I will also warn you that doing this business full-time can be very physically is not for everybody....many people think they want to do this for a living then change their minds after reality sets in. I think this is best suited for type-A/fast-moving/highly-motivated personalities. I would not suggest this for anyone who is an instinctively slow mover or has a tendency to get mired in details.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013
  4. orangemower

    orangemower LawnSite Silver Member
    from pa
    Messages: 2,768

    Keep doing the math, yours is botched up really bad. Do you even know what the market will bare in your area? It's going to take more then asking a few questions. You need to do a ton of research on all aspects of owning and operating a business.

    I have 16 accounts. 11 are full service accounts. I make out very good with only 16. Sure I could go out and take on a bunch of lawns that just need cut. My business model or what I am willing to take on is what keeps me from even bothering with low paying accounts. I've never advertized either.
  5. Ormond32176

    Ormond32176 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 217

    Don't waste your time with flyers. I spent hours designing a very professional flyer with Photoshop, about $100 is color copies, and I have had 1 call back. I posted this same ad on Craigslist and got some nasty looking lawns, but all developed into weekly accounts.

    This is it if anyone was wondering, and I can make anyone else one (for the right price ;) ).
  6. Chilehead

    Chilehead LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Stockbridge, GA
    Messages: 1,969

    I am solo with 40 accounts, and I do much more than mow for many of them. Services like shrub trimming, a lawn chemical program, bed weed control, annual color, mulching, lawn aeration, etc. keep me very busy. Every spring and fall is both cleanup time and planting time. In winter, I do hardscapes and cool-weather weed control.
    Listen to what's been said about keeping a tight route density--drive time can be a money pit.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013
  7. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,139

    Things didn't really pick up for me until the later years but you can forget that five day 10-4 work week. I thought you said you didn't mind hard work, well I like to get up around 7a because I am not a morning person, but I'm usually on the road no later than 10a and by the time I finally get to sit back down in front of this pc again it's usually 10pm. You can forget taking two day weekends, I work Monday through Saturday and Sunday if need be.

    I have a total of 64 lawns I service, I mow an average of 7-8 lawns a day, 6 and sometimes 7 days a week,
    I believe the average cost is somewhere between 30 and 35 and on busier days I can crank out 10 or more by myself.

    Do that every working day out of the year, and you get closer to 40 thousand.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2013
  8. jsslawncare

    jsslawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,673

    Yellow page ad.
    Part-time job.
    And good luck.
  9. ducnut

    ducnut LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,566

    I'm always forward with "I'll do anything you need done.". That has gotten me additional yard work, handyman work, pressure washing, even detailing vehicles. I, also, paint for a contractor, when I can. And, that has gotten me work through his clients. I'm not where I'd like to be, but, I'm busy. I don't have mouths to feed, so I don't have quite the worries.

    I'm really big on presentation and quality of work. Because I have nice stuff and dress nice, people feel secure in letting me work in/around their home. Because I take the time and do things right, that has gotten me repeat work. My box trailer, presentation, and word of mouth have been my advertisement. Though, I'm trying a "contractor" newspaper ad, for the next month, as some potential clients don't get out much or simply "don't know of anyone". I'm curious to see what that brings.
  10. Mabrito88

    Mabrito88 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    Thanks you for the advice guys. I'm surprised to hear pre season flyers don't work. And that yellowpages do work. I don't think anyone here even uses a yellowbook anymore. How long did it take you all to aquire your accounts?
    Herler - That makes more sense. I am a morning person and no stranger to hard work. So 70+ hours per week would be do-able. Thank you.

    Orangemower, I don't belive my math is botched and yes. I agree, Research on owning and operating a business is a good idea. Been there, I am not new to business. But even more research never hurts, thats what I'm doing here. Great job on your accounts, I'm not sure if people would pay more than $30 for a lawn care service. There are guys here doing every other week mowing for $15. Thanks for the polite advice.

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