Spring Aeration and Overseeding

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by NOVAMowing, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. NOVAMowing

    NOVAMowing LawnSite Member
    Messages: 42

    Good afternoon. I am planning a spring aeration and overseeding run in Northern Virginia. Id like to lay my plan out and hear any feedback, advice or criticism. Please feel free to let me know your thoughts on my timing, pricing and marketing.

    - I will drop 5000 door fliers to homes on 1/4 - 1/3 acre lawns.
    - I will drop fliers between Mar. 1st and Mar. 15th
    - Fliers will be specifically geared toward the Aeration and Overseeding benefits, process etc. Other than that I will only briefly mention that we are a full service company. The goal of the campaign is to obtain a minimum of 100 lawns, a 2% return rate.
    - Fliers will have pricing included based on square feet of the lawn
    -- 1/4 acre = $200
    -- 1/3 acre = $250
    -- 1/2 acre = $380
    This pricing reflects $10 per 1000 sqft for the seeding and $7.50 per 1000 sqft for the aeration, to include the cost of seed at 3.5lps per 1000 sqft

    So my main questions are...

    1) Is March 15th too soon to start performing the services? Should I postpone service till April 1st?
    2) Is my pricing accurate? Should I be discounting my rates on the larger lawns?
    3) How do you account for irrigated lawns? I am planning on marking sprinkler heads on the Sunday before service is performed, as I need access to the control box (usually inside the garage) to mark the heads and I cant count on homeowners being home during the weekdays.
    4) What about sprinkler heads that may be buried/non-functioning and therefore miss being flagged? Can I write a clause in the service contract mitigating my liability in this circumstance?

    The contract....

    I intend to write and email a service contract that the homeowner can return to me via fax, email or by leaving on their door on the day of service. It will simply outline the services, pricing and my waiver of liability for irrigation heads that were not marked through no fault of my own.
    - Is there anything else I should include? Insurance information etc?


    I will be setup to email bill via quickbooks and can take credit cards via my iphone card reader. Can I bill and charge in conjunction with the contract if they send it over ahead of time or should I simply expect the homeowner to leave a check at the house on the date of service?

    Thanks in advance for your input.
  2. dstifel

    dstifel LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 928

    Make them flag then if they miss one it's your fault. Your not going to flag 100 yards in one day? Seems like a lot.
  3. NOVAMowing

    NOVAMowing LawnSite Member
    Messages: 42

    Thanks for the reply, Im confused though. You're saying I should make them flag the heads but its still my fault if I hit one? Or did you mean make them flag and then its THEIR fault if they miss one?

    I estimate 30% of the lawns are irrigated. My partner and I expect to do 10 lawns per day for 2 work weeks. So I would spend 3 weekend days flagging 10 irrigated lawns a piece and perform service on those lawns on 3 separate days.

    Is it industry standard to have the customer flag the heads? My aeration experience is on sports fields where I as the contractor was responsible.
  4. dstifel

    dstifel LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 928

    Yes sorry then it is their fault. Also beware of dog fences they are a lot worse to hit then a sprinkler head. I make them flag take a quick picture of the yard when i show up so you can see placement of the flags then away i go.
  5. Dragon Rider

    Dragon Rider LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18

    I agree, definitely have them mark sprinkler heads and pet fences. Damage a pet fence and you will work for free just to cover the repair cost unless you turn it in to your insurance. I would also watch the soil temps for your area and let that dictate when you start. Also if you will be doing any lawn treaments very important to let customers know that you can't apply weed control or pre-m until seed has germinated and they have mowed new grass at least 3 times.
  6. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,572

    I don't think there is anyway to win on hitting sprinkler heads. We figure that it takes to long to flag them as compared to the time to repair. We are thinking about rolling a $45 sprinkler check in and flag them. However people just aren't buying into a $75 aeration any more. Our lawns are 10K.
  7. burnsyscapes

    burnsyscapes LawnSite Member
    Messages: 180

    i can tell this is your first year in business. and can also tell that you are young. let me tell you, it is not a get rich quick business. I thought that 4 years ago when i started ''offically'' and it is not by no means.

    So I like that you are trying to get out there and get a business going. Good for you, I not typing this to put you don't or dash your dreams. it says you are from Fairfax and so am I.

    I know the area and have lived here all my life and have been doing this since I was 15, I am 22 not. I have been ''officially'' in business for 4 years and I can tell you in this area you will not get a 100 customers your first when you pass them out. Its the wrong time of the year. you can still aerate but people are not spending 250-400 on aerating their lawn. they are more worried about spring clean ups and Mulching.

    I am not trying to down you. just giving you reality. my personal experience with flyers around here are a no go.

    I have read in other posts that you are using or would like to have two 60'' z turns. bad decision. if you plan on have 2 pieces of equipment 10k each (may not be just what most cost) on the average lawns in the area 5-9k sq ft. you are crazy and setting yourself up for failure.

    I currently have 60'' walk and 36inch walk. works perfectly, and works just fine for a solo worker that has 5 lawns of 3 acres a piece. mowing with trimming and clean up average 1.5 to 2 hours a piece. not bad for a solo. now two 60s just does not make any since and way too much overhead for a start up.

    with the aerating, thinking you could gross potentially $27,000 would be awesome, if you do hats off to you, put reality, that is not going to happen. companies don't even make that in the fall when people are aerating and seeding.

    Like I said before, advertise spring clean ups, hedge trimming, mulch etc. spring fertilizer with pre emergants, mowing. secure that mowing contract first, then aerate them in the fall. get your self established. you don't wana go out and try to purchase all this equipment and realize you arnt going to get all this work and be in a bad situation.

    im telling you this to help you, not trying to demolish your dreams but just telling you reality.
  8. NOVAMowing

    NOVAMowing LawnSite Member
    Messages: 42

    @ burnsyscapes

    Thanks for the input, it is appreciated and will be taken into advisement. We will see what happens. I'll keep the board posted. For what its worth.... I dont see $27,000 gross a 'get rich quick' scheme by any stretch. It will be a months work for 2 men, full-time. After $1500 in aerator rental, $5500 in seed and $500 in flyers... Im left with $20,000 not including fuel and labor. Between my partner, the company and I; we will be lucky to see $5000 each for a months hard work.

    Do you use flyers often?
    How many do you drop per interval?
    What is your main/best marketing stream?

    In regards to mowers and start-up costs etc. I want to thank you again for your time and advice. My mowing is focused on larger areas; I have enough mow-n-blow scheduled to break even on my mowers.

  9. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,572

    Well you did one thing right....rent the aerator. You talk about the plan well did you do any market research that suggest that people are big into
    aeration and seeding in the spring?
  10. burnsyscapes

    burnsyscapes LawnSite Member
    Messages: 180

    im just sayin you hope to get a 100 customers from it, average of 200+250+380 is is 276 times a 100 customers is 27,666 just saying that wont happen this time of year. no one is aerating, you might get 1 customer if you are lucky. and ill tell you, you might not have the cash in hand, cause I came across this. I rented an aerated in the fall for a month for 1000, biggest mistake, for 2k more I can own one.

    I stopped doing them big waste of time and money, my first year out of I passed out I think 10k flyers, got 3 calls, and that was for mowing and spring clean ups. and that what people are looking for this time of year.

    you will learn from trial and error. my best market was from word of mouth. I started in a different situation. just neighbors asking for me to cut the grass and by the end of the summer im mowing 20 lawns a week at 15 with no over head. there is so much competition in the area its crazy. within a 30 mile radius of Chantilly there are over 1500 landscapers.

    if you have customers that you got, do the best work for them, tell them you will give them discounts to them if they erfer you. you will spend all day on a sunday for 500 buks passing out 5000 flyers to get one or two phone calls on a service that is out of season.

    what you said about the equipment, you will learn, I went out and baught a new j.d. zturn and regretaded it fomr the get go. to big, to much over head, too much on gas etc. I cut by myself 10 acres in one day with 1 60 walk behind. get one z turn, it will be worth it.

    like I said before take more time on current customers, cause they will only get you more work, DONT be a mow and blow business. I worked for someone that is like that and his business failed. didn't know why.

    you can do what you want just giving you a heads up on someone that is within a couple miles from you and started the same way.

Share This Page