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Questions for Solo Operators

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by wagner17, Aug 31, 2004.

  1. wagner17

    wagner17 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 67

    Looking at starting up a lawn care business in Cincinnati, Ohio next year. I've been a teacher for 8 years for Severe Emotionally Disturbed children. I have summer experience, but want to go at it on my own.

    My questions are, how many accounts do those of you who work alone have? Also, how much money are you making annually if you don't mind me asking? Not as worried about the money as my wife has a fantastic career and after being Mr. Mom and a teacher for 8 years has given me her blessing. I plan on offering mowing, trimming, blowing, seeding, fertilizing, and possibly aeration. Please let me know what you think.
  2. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Messages: 4,205

    You won't make as much money as being a teacher and you will work MUCH harder.
    Fertilizing will require licensing and training.
    You'll want at least 40 accounts that pay market rate to go full time, solo, or the sleep you lose will get you to wishing you were back behind a desk.
    I'm not trying to rain on your parade, I'm just trying to be realistic.
  3. wagner17

    wagner17 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 67

    I figured 40 as well. The money is not too much of an issue. I figure that I will make less than what I currently make, but there are many more reasons why I want to do it. To be honest, I have 2 masters degrees, make $50,000 a year and am just not happy with what I am doing. I have always been happiest just mowing lawns as crazy as that sounds to some. I have run the figures and come out making about $35,000 after expenses. It is a paycut, but it honestly makes me happy. Money isn't everything. I do appreciate your realism, these are the type of answers I am looking for.

  4. Yard Perfect

    Yard Perfect LawnSite Member
    Messages: 133

    I work by myself and one other and make about twice what a teacher would make. Hard work, but no weekends, get to work outside, if my customers are not nice, I find new ones - try that with a student.
  5. 1MajorTom

    1MajorTom Former Moderator
    Messages: 6,073

    It also takes awhile to build a good customer base. If you plan on getting 40 customers, don't assume that all of those 40 will be good accounts. Finding 40 good weekly customers who actually want their lawn well maintained, and who will pay their bill on time, won't happen overnight.
  6. environment

    environment LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146

    ya but you could easily build up to 75-80 accounts within a few short years, and handle them all week with one employee and make more than you did teaching by far.
  7. lawnguyland

    lawnguyland LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,108

    true dat
    stupid 15 chars
  8. txlawnking

    txlawnking LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,905

    Wise, very wise words here..Wagner, if your heart is in it.. I'd go for it..
  9. lqmustang

    lqmustang LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 620

    I would agree that 40 or so is a good number to shoot for, although it may or may not take you a season or 2 to build to that number. I am in my 2nd year full time, and have a very comfortable route of 38 customers. This gives me my guaranteed income every month so to speak, and leave me alot of time to take on other projects such as mulch, maintenance, trimming, etc, etc. I've pretty much kept myself busy 5-6 days a week (sometimes 7, grr) all season. I also thought about adding fertilizing to my services, but with how I'm doing now, I wouldn't have the time, and with the extra expense of a fert license, training, and the extra insurance, it's not something I think I'd worry about at the start. Your $35k after expences is probably realistic after your 2nd year, unless you can build a customer base extremely fast. The fact you have a wife with a solid career (and I assume health ins), gives you an excellent position to dig in. Good luck!!!!!
  10. wagner17

    wagner17 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 67

    Thanks for all of your words of encouragement. I already have 14 customers signed up in my development, but realistically I am counting on only 10 of those. I am also using some connections with my wife, and hope to start at about 20 and then build up!

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