Starting a Business....Taking Advice

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Taiter85, Dec 16, 2005.

  1. Taiter85

    Taiter85 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    I am going to start a lawn care business next year, I already have business cards, flyers, membership to local chamber of commerce (for advertising/networking purposes) and some of my own home owners equipment, a crappy line trimmer, and a riding lawn mower with a 42 in deck.

    I am looking to service mostly residential customers and some small businesses my service area is a college town of about 11,000 full-time residents and another town that is less than 10 miles away that has about 15-20k full time residents. There is an engineering firm in town that employs many of the residents and also many of the residents are also professionals associate with the college. I figured if I can get 25-30 accounts @ $25/visit with other services worked in at an as need basis, I will be able to make enough of a profit to cover not working my normal summer job. Also I figure 25-30 accounts will be equivalent to about 25-30 hours a week, which is a pretty good dollar/hour rate.

    My questions lie with equipment and accounting.

    I am looking at a honda 21" push mower and a nice stihl or tanaka line trimmer. I also am thinking of purchasing a gas hedge trimmer and a blower. I have an electric blower but think a gas would be more efficient. I also have a pickup and was wondering if I really need a trailer. I was looking at a 6 x 12 single axle. I don't really want to spend a lot of money on a trailer, I do not want to spend money on unneccessary equipment unless it is going to come from my revenue.

    I am looking for any suggestions you may have to help me become a successful business owner. I am looking to just cover what my normal summer job would make me which is about 7-8k per summer. I think I can do this with the numbers I crunched.
  2. cwlawley

    cwlawley LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 470

    You will defintely want a blower...preferably a Stihl.

    I started with a 5x8 trailer and I actually still use it for one crew. I have trimmer racks, hand tool rack and gas rack on it so it gets everything off the platform for my wb and small wb mowers. A little cramped but it was less than $500.00. Can't beat it if you are just starting.
  3. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    Don't confuse generating 25-30/hr as 25-30/hr in your pocket. After expenses you might see half of that.
  4. Tanaka

    Tanaka Inactive
    Messages: 1,084

    many of the residents are also professionals associate with the college.

    Go Cougs! And go with the Tanaka.

    Mark Woodling
    WSU Class of 1994

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,534

    What is your normal summer job?
    It sounds like you want to make $25.00 per hour (25 hours-30 hours== 25 to 30 accounts- $25 each)
    Ok . for equipment you have nothing. For a very minimal set up you will need to spend maybe $4000-$5000 with a trailer and all the other stuff.
    Your day to day operating overhead will run about 50% of you $25 per hour so you will bring home around $12.50 an hour. Or $8.75 after taxes.
    Not sure of the times you can cut per year but lets say 30.
    30 x 25 = 750 x $8.75= $6562. Minus the $5000 for your equipment So your first year will net you around $1562 in your pocket.
    Year 2 will be better because your equipment will last at least 2 years but some things will need repair so lets say only $1500 in year two for equipment.
    So in year 2 you will net $5062 .
    Year 3 will take more of your equipment so plan on making yourself less that $5000.

    You want to drive 10 miles one way to make this money?
    You can live on 7-8K?
    Are you in school?
    Do you live at home?
    You want to work HARD for 20-30 hours a week rain or shine and than do maintenance on equipment at night and paperwork after that for 5K or less a year.

    Not trying to bust a bubble but have you really done the math on this.
    You ask for help on becoming a successful business owner and than say you want to make 7K a year.
    I am not real sure what you want to know???
  6. Randy J

    Randy J LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,124

    Sounds to me you're looking for a part-time job, as opposed to owning your own business. While PM is absolutely right if you're going into "business", I think you can do just fine with it for a "part-time job". The equipment you have described will not be the most efficient, and will wear quickly with the stresses from so much work. However, if you're just looking to make a little money I would highly recommend starting with it and saving your money to pay cash for new equipment as your old wears out. You can certainly do it with your p/u, and I would until you save the $500 or so for a small trailer. Of course it will be harder on you getting the equipment in and out of the truck. Now, if you want to build a business, looking and acting professional is key. And it will be hard to look and act professional with homeowner equipment in the back of a p/u. No matter what you do, always make sure you do the best possible job - don't be in too much of a hurry to get to the next lawn.
  7. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,995

    the above two posts are very good.

    If you are wanting a self directed part time job, understand that this is not easy or terribly profitable without the proper tools. homeowner equipment and no trailer make for a ton of wasted time.

    If you want to make this worth doing, at least start out with a commercial grade 36" mower (and a commercial 21") either or both can be used. Get a Stihl commercial (fs 80) or equivalent line trimmer and gas blower. get a trailer 5x8 at the absolute minimum.
    Now you also need the local licensing and insurance.
    You are looking at :
    used 36" belt drive +/- $1000
    trailer +/- $1000
    line trimmer $280
    blower $300
    license $100
    Insurance $500-800 annually
    total +/- $4200
    now to make $20 per hour take home you need to make $26 net.
    with this set up, to make $26 net, you will need to make at least $40 per hour.
    25 accts at $100 per month is $2500 gross monthly. So you need to work (including back office, maintenance and drive time) less than 16 hours per week. So figure 13 hours per week driving and mowing. If your properties are relatively close to each other, you can do 12 accts (1/4 acre) daily in a mow and blow set up with the equipment stated. It will be running really hard all day but done in 2 days. solo in a 5 day week, you should be able to easily handle 50 1/4 acre accts with a 36" mower, some discipline and smart routing.
  8. dsmrolla06

    dsmrolla06 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 305

    You should also look at some quality used equipment. I got my 7x16' trailer for about 700, in good shape. Buying new would be a waste when your just trying to start out. Just spend some time and look around.
  9. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,220

    I bought a hand held blower Used for 25.00.

    Yes it's gas powered.
  10. Taiter85

    Taiter85 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    I appreciate all of this great advice and I am taking it all into account, I am looking start my own small business, I just want to be able to net around 7-8k per year from this business. I am a student that is on scholarship and have other living expenses covered, I also coach baseball as another supplement to my income. I basically want to experience being my own boss and possibly growing my business later on. If you have any or know of any used quality equipment in the Washington area let me know and I might be interested.

    Thanks for the help.

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