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Soon-To-Be LCO!

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by nachesebro, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. nachesebro

    nachesebro LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    Hello everyone!

    I have been kicking the can around on what I want to do for work for the last two years, and I have finally settled in on something that I think I can make work. This is how I got here.

    I live in a small city in Northern Michigan with a population of about 14000, where the average person is 34 years old and making $36,000. I am 20, and making about 2/3's that much.

    I started work for a locally owned motel as an office manager and groundskeeper in the spring of 2006 where I worked until 2011. I did everything from counting beans at the register to working on erosion control that put half of the building 25 feet away from the 20 foot drop to the river basin.

    I started college in my senior year of high school in 2010. I had enrolled in a 4 year web development/computer science and continued for 2 years. It was then that I discovered that web development was a fun hobby, but 40 hours at an office desk was not something I was interested in.

    In 2011, I began as a Sporting Goods associate for Walmart. After six months, I promoted to Department Manager of Consumables and supervised the second largest department of the largest department store for 250 miles. Unfortunately after taking this new job, I discovered that the new management I was under was not on the same page as myself. This prompted me to change gears.

    I currently work for a family in the rental business in my town and do everything from drywall mudding to installing new lawns. Out of all of the jobs I do, this one is by far my favorite and most profitable. :dancing:

    However, I decided I wanted to do the next thing, and this fall, I have decided to become an entrepreneur like nearly every other person on my fathers side has done. It began with an idea to start a retail tropical fish and aquarium store. However, after assessing the local market and the economic climate, juggling $150,000 worth of inventory plus all the other costs of doing business was not exactly what I wanted to start with.

    So the next idea? Start a lawn and snow care company of course! While it certainly is going to be far from a cake walk, it may not necessarily be selling ice to the Eskimos.

    My plan is to spend the winter months getting as much work in as I can and save up as much as possible until late winter. Then in the spring, I hope to have enough on hand to buy my equipment.

    The current plan is to start small. I am thinking about starting with a self propelled push mower (the 21" baby ones :/ ) backpack blower, brush-cutter/string trimmer combo, and the various hand tools. I do not have the ideal truck, rather a 1996 S-10 blazer. I intend to get a small trailer for it to move stuff around from place to place. This I will be able to afford out of pocket free and clear if I stick to my current budget and work continues as steady as it has been. Then, when I am doing well enough to afford it, I will upgrade to a decent 3/4 ton diesel long box and upgrade mowing equipment accordingly.

    Of course, I am putting most of that up there for scrutiny. Is one of my ideas just plain stupid? Tell me so! (I have been lurking these forums for a while now, so I know there are a lot of you out there that are quite capable ;) ) I am open to every ounce of free knowledge you are willing to give! Especially now a days when free stuff isn't quite as common as it used to be. :D

    In the spirit of my first post here, I want to point out some of my weak points that you may well find as I become more involved with the community. First, I am brand-centric. Always have been, always will be. Everything in my office is made by HP. I have this idea that most of my equipment will be John Deere, and my trucks GMC. Think its stupid of me to be that way? You very well might be right. Just when I blatantly ignore your best advice that XYZ mower is 10x the machine that a Deere 997D is, don't take it personally when I still go out and get the Deere. In fact, I invite you to sit back, have a beer, and watch me screw around with what ever it is that you warned me about, and enjoy yourself. :laugh: Secondly, I tend to look at situations early on with very wide eyes and large aspirations. If you bear with me, I usually step away from my Utopian ideas... eventually...

    With that said, I look forward to engaging with you guys more in the future as I grow my business. You guys have done a lot already to help me along with this adventure, and for that, I want to extend my gratitude. For now, I wish you guys the best during the fall time slow down!
  2. lifetree

    lifetree LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,369

    Ordinarily, I would say don't do it ... however, your commentary indicates that you have apparently given this some pretty significant thought !! You have already tried several other things and found out that you weren't cut out for those lines of work and are apparently for the outdoor type of work.

    With that said, I would encourage you because you seem to have the drive that it will take to be successful in this economy ... most people typically will not make it ... however, you seem like you may be the exception ... good luck.
  3. CLservice

    CLservice LawnSite Member
    from MI
    Messages: 24

    Good luck to you in the spring.
  4. nachesebro

    nachesebro LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    Thanks guys!

    Interesting data point I found...

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in my county in the year 2010, there were 7 reported Landscaping Services serving the area. First quarter payroll came in at $80,000 (or $11,429 each) and annual payroll came in at $533,000 (or $76,142.85 each).

    I spit that out there for you guys under the impression that there is opprotunity out there and a few pennies to be had.

    7 companies sounds about right, off by maybe one or two now.

    In the county, there is a population of 38,861, and the average person is 39 years old, and makes $38,705.

    I am not asking for anything specific, but how do those numbers stack up to your own? Sound about right or way off? Obviously location and individual business practices plays a HUGE part into this, so I understand that these numbers, as pretty as they may seem to be to me, must be taken with a grain or two of salt.
  5. CLservice

    CLservice LawnSite Member
    from MI
    Messages: 24

    what county you in?
  6. nachesebro

    nachesebro LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    I live in Chippewa County. I see you are also from Michigan. Where abouts are you located?
  7. nnusskern

    nnusskern LawnSite Member
    Messages: 214

    I would reccomend that you buy a commercial grade blower and weed whacker. I would also say get a larger trailer than you need now such as a 6x12 since your vehicle should be able to tow that and then once you get a walkbehind or zero turn you won't need a new trailer right away. I would buy the trailer used since you could get a decent 6x12 for around 1000. I would also look into snow removal for after you first grass season because service round services help customer retention and gaining more. To do snow i would say just buy a high quality snow blower. And you need some type of business organization i would recommend an LLC and then get general liability insurance. Good luck
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  8. alexschultz1

    alexschultz1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,586

    Never stop crunching those numbers! It's crazy how many people get in way over their head trying to start a landscape company
  9. CLservice

    CLservice LawnSite Member
    from MI
    Messages: 24

    Ya, your way up their I’m out of Lenawee county at the bottom of the state but service properties in 14 counties in MI.
  10. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,478

    Not to be negative because I admire your passion.

    But if the average age in your area is 34 and the average income is 36000$ you really have a hard road ahead to establish your business.

    The area I serve is also around 15000 people, I have 2 types of customers, "Rich" or "Old", they could be old and rich also.

    It makes no sense to be brand loyal, just seek oout good deals on commerical equiptment. GMC is a good choice, but a heck of a deal on a ford is ok.

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