Part time mowing

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by wrxscby, Aug 17, 2011.

  1. wrxscby

    wrxscby LawnSite Member
    Messages: 48

    I am looking at possibly trying to pick up about 10 accounts that I can mow to supplement my income. I will most likely not try and get this started until next spring as I feel that it probably wouldnt do much good to try and get accounts now. I was thinking of just starting out with my personal stuff I use at home and work from there. I'm wondering what kind of costs are involved with it. Do I need to get a BU number right away or should I wait to see what kind of accounts I can pick up? Should I get insurance right away? I currently do lawn and tree shrub spraying full time but my company doesn't offer mowing, should I ask my bosses if I can solicit my customer base for accounts? What do you guys think? I've been in the green industry for over 15 years and am just now thinking of doing this! Any help would be appreciated!!
  2. gasracer

    gasracer LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,049

    Your home equipment won't last long even if you are doing 10 yards a week. (that is 10 times what they are made for). If you ever hit anything with those blades(and you will) they will be bend real easy and maybe even damage your deck.
    You could start looking at fall cleanups now. Maybe check with other Lawn companies and see if they have some they want to pass on. I do do that all the time. As I move up I pass on some out of area or smaller ones.
  3. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,362

    I don't know about using that data base that might mean that if you screw up they will go back to the company.
  4. dieseltech

    dieseltech LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 651

    Get insurance...nothin worse than kicking a rock up and taking out a picture window!
    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. jdfan4life

    jdfan4life LawnSite Member
    Messages: 40

    I started out the exact same way you are thinking. This is my 4th season mowing and I now have 16 accounts. I know it don't sound like much, but when you get a good growing summer with plenty of rain like we have had here it tends to be some good extra money. I would recommend that you try to land some accounts this fall for the leaf cleanup. That is how I started and it worked very well. If I remember right I did about 20 yards that fall and at least 8 of them turned into fulltime mowing accounts the following summer. Like one of the other members said I would definately get yourself a used commercial grade mower at least, you can probably get by with home owner hand helds for now. I started out with a 5 year old John Deere tractor. Plus if you buy a comm. grade mower and after your first year you decide you don't want to mow anymore, you can sell it pretty easy and still get most if not all of what you paid for it back again. Hope some of this helps and good luck with your new venture.
  6. jdfan4life

    jdfan4life LawnSite Member
    Messages: 40

    Almost forgot, definately get insurance before you start anything. I waited till the spring before I got my tax number, business name, etc. That is why I suggested you start with some fall cleanups, that way you can get a feel for how much of a demmand there is in your area for mowing next year. Just my 2 cents worth.
  7. wrxscby

    wrxscby LawnSite Member
    Messages: 48

    Thank you all so much for the replys!! My home mower is a commercial grade honda. I figured I would get that for my home lawn because they had great reviews and it would last me awhile!! I will probably look into something bigger though if I start to pull a few accounts! I will try and advertise for some fall cleanups too!! You guys on here are the best!!
  8. MDLawn

    MDLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    Is this only going to stay part time? I'm getting out from part time lawn mowing as I just dont have the time to do it anymore (family). Insurance, YES, forget the window you just took out how about the kids playing next door and you hit them with a rock!!!....Tax (fed, state, sales if needed)...YES. Do it right. I personally know a few who didn't and it wasn't pretty.

    The thing I realized with part time is you need to run the tightest ship you can and be efficient. I'm not sure what accounts you will attempt to do and if you are just using a push mower. Larger accounts will take too much time push mowing and if you hustle too much will look like hell. Commercial equipment costs $$$. If your route isn't real tight fuel will eat away at your money. A successful friend of mine said to me "You need to be in this for the long haul to make money" When I started I had just enough accounts to pay for my commerical mower, but I chose to start with new equipment. Trailer was out of pocket along with trimmers, blowers, hand tools, etc... Still needed to recoup that cost even though it was paid with cash. After getting more accounts I was asked about doing landscaping maintenance. I had the truck and trailer so no problems doing so but needed to purchase more tools to complete those jobs. Oh as a side not you get discounted materials with being licensed because you need to prove you are a business to vendors. I used quickbooks to keep track of stuff and man that is an eye opener if you are true with it. It's amazing how things can add up so quickly and I'm just talking about normal operating expenses. I'm upset that I need to get out of this as things really started looking good this year (everything paid for, referrals coming in) but working 70-80hrs/week isnt all its cracked up to be for extra income, eventhough it was good. I may try and continue to do the landscaping side, but the weekly "chore" mowing had become isnt for me.

    So now after that rediculous story here are my thoughts on this.

    1.) How much is enough to supplement your income?? $100, $1000, $10,000?? This changes everything!

    2.) Get the right equipment for the customer you would like to potentially service (small yards, large yards, new builds, etc..), used commercial is fine. Efficiency is key here. You cannot efficiently mow larger yards with small equipment.

    3.) How are you going to acquire accounts? Thats tricky with your current employer, I cant advise on that. Maybe just advertise (MORE MONEY) or find friends and family. I did a small classified and only got a few good calls, lots of bad ones, and only a couple customers. What if no one calls? What next?

    4.) Can you commit to the weekly needs of mowing on top of your current job? You have to keep those customers happy and have to sacrifice other things (family, friends, activities) for that or they'll drop you instantly.

    5.) Do you have cash on hand to purchase equipment (mowers, handhelds), trailer, fuel, insurance, advertising, trimmer string, gas can, 2 cycle oil, gloves, boots, safety glasses, equipment replacement/repair (things break and used stuff is not warrantied). I know some of this stuff is cheap or "what if" but it adds up and in reality needs to be reclaimed by your business even if it's your on hand cash. You could have just put that cash in a bank and made interest but now it's gone so it needs to be made back.

    6.) Is this a "quick gold" extra income sort of thing in your head? If so I think you are in for a serious wake up call unless a couple hundred bucks a month is a good enough supplement, which it may be. Like my friend said, you need to be in it for the long haul to actually make money. It took me 5 years and now I'm out:hammerhead:. But at least if I wanted back in I have a much better understanding of this business.

    Just get it all organized and good things can happen. Sorry for the long post but extra mowing money isnt that simple.
  9. wrxscby

    wrxscby LawnSite Member
    Messages: 48

    The post was long but great information!! I am looking to supplement my income as much or as little as it can. If I can't get a lot of accounts I will look elsewhere for extra income. I just absolutely love to mow grass and thought it would be a good way to earn a little extra money! I realize it is a lot of hard work and with my full time job I have friday, saturday and sunday to mow.
  10. MDLawn

    MDLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    It can be done but it's just not instant, unless you have an incredible marketing plan, which costs incredible money. Once everything is paid off and you have the accounts going its not bad extra income, for me it was spending money. I mean you could be in a great position to acquire customers and have a bunch right away if you can work out something with the company you work for. Then you'll be making money right off the bat. The other thing I found with mowing on weekends is a lot of residential customers are throwing parties or enjoying their yard, pool, etc... and appreciate not having a mowing crew on their property at that time. I was able to mow during the week and would only have weekends in the fall. At least in the fall no one was planning any outside parties around here. I just got tired of not having week nights or weekends with my family. Money was great but things changed for me. Who knows maybe I'll be back in it some time. Just be careful if you do a really good job, customers will be knocking your door down and you will start to contemplate doing it full time :)

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