Starting A Lawn Care Business

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by BuckeyeLandscaping, Apr 28, 2008.

  1. BuckeyeLandscaping

    BuckeyeLandscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 55

    Hello. I currently own a decal shop and looking into starting lawn care to offset my income from the decal shop. I thought about renting equipment as I schedule jobs to see how things pan out before I sink a big investment into equipment (what's everyone's thoughts on that?). I won't need any advice on getting anything printed as I do all that stuff in house myself. The only thing I would need advice on is pricing, contracts, scheduling. Anyone have any pointers for me to help point me in the right direction?
  2. tlakedodge

    tlakedodge LawnSite Member
    Messages: 1

    I am trying to launch myself into the lawn care biz myself. I am tired of the 9-5 "same stuff, different day" bs. I am finishing up a degree in business management and have time to do it on the side for now with a partner. If anyone could give some self starters like ourselves some tips, that would be awesome. I am starting very small right now, with only a mower, and i figure in a few residential jobs can get some pretty dec equipment to do a little more/a little better. I do however, want this to be my full time by next season and need advice on how to turn a very small project into at company that I can gross at least 10,000 per month for now.
    Any help would be much appreciated!
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I think you'll do just fine.


  4. grass disaster

    grass disaster LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,775

    good luck starting now. there are companies around me going out of business. there's not as much $ in it as you think. by the time you buy equipment and fuel it's hardley worth the effort.
  5. All_Toro_4ME

    All_Toro_4ME LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,578

    Very true. After you purchase that $7k walkbehind and $10k Z, and 4 pieces of stick equipment valued at $450/each with $3.50 + gallon gas prices, cost to get your business legal, commercial insurance for your truck, commercial policy for yourself, along with the other equipment you will need, you start to think and scratch your head. Then when you tell the customers what you charge to mow their residential yard, say $30-$35, all of a sudden you are too high, because Johnny down the street will do it for half that. The customers don't care about your costs and what it takes to stay in business cost wise. The threat of always being undercut by the next guy is always just a lawn away. People (customers) expect immaculate results for pennies on the dollar, which for immaculate results you need top end, high end,top dollar commercial equipment. Then you also run the risk of your non-paying customers, which is a whole new can of worms to deal with. Having them sign a contract (K) is always an option if you can get them to agree to it. But understand, to enforce the contract if they decide to break it costs more time and money on your end, not only for that customer, but for other future accounts. Think this through guys. If this is what you want to do, follow your dreams. You can make good money, but they are a lot of barriers in the way initially during startup before you get your cream of the crop customers.
  6. BuckeyeLandscaping

    BuckeyeLandscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 55

    Thanks for the info Toro....what are your thoughts about renting equipment to start out with?
  7. grass disaster

    grass disaster LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,775

    i don't see how you could rent machines and be profitable. that would eat up the profits fast
  8. mtnzone

    mtnzone LawnSite Member
    Messages: 201

    god the negativity is amazing..

    I say go for it.. you dont need the best or even new equipment.. but as business owners you know the magic words of EBITDA.. so you can write off and depreciate your equipment which helps especially the first few years of starting a business. Start off with decent equipment but you can find plenty of good ZEROs for much much less than what All Toro suggests, and your walk behind can be found even cheaper. Before you purchase a walkbehind make sure you need it. you may be able to make do with a self propelled 22 inch mower just make sure it has enough horse power. I have a walkbehind for small small tight yards as i have grown, but you can choose what you want to cut.. Before I had the wlakbehind my push mower was for the edges and my ZEro did everything else. I just bought a CubCadet Recon commercial for 5,900 with three bagger system as my second rig and Im positive you can find last years demo models for many manufacturers for even less. or a perfectly good used one.I'm not talking junk stuff either, but good strong decent items. Buy a used 12' to 14' foot trailer many of them can be found for around $1,000 to $1,500. Trimmers, You can go with with homedepot trimmers. But i would go with Stihl or Echo's Changeable trimer systems which can be changed for edgers, paddles, sweepers, pruners, and alot of other items for around 1,000. Dont try to purchase each one as a individual machine as it will cost ya a pretty penny.I have one Stihl Trimmmer and just bought the Echo Pas 260 (NEW) last year and added the edger, pruner, sweeper paddle, circular blade sapling trimmer for around $1,000 .. buy the system. Blowers there are plenty out there for around $300 -$500 such as Stihl and Echo. Insurance is going to run you anywhere from $500 to $900 a year. Making your business legit in your state should cost around $100. You can Make your own signs, and since you have what I assume is a successful decal business you know about marketing so you have a leg up there over most as well as an already built in clientèle in your area....

    I assume you have a truck for your decal business or a SUV for the time being you can use those to move your equipment.

    So you can get in the business rather inexpensively relatively speaking.

    ZEro Turn Commercial- $4000 to $7,000 commercial with bagger ( look around)

    Zero Residential model ** yes you can use them!! they wont last you as long ( couple years tops but have trade in value) but if you maintain them they will work fine as you become familiar with the business. $2,900 to $3,500 with bagger. Just make sure you get one at least 20 horse power or better. Take a look at the Zforce 44" to 50" from Cub cadet. they have Zero financing right now and pretty decent machine especially for the money..

    Blower- $300 to $500

    Trimmer system with attachements $900 to $1,200 such as

    Trailer used 12' to 14' used 1,000 to 1,500


    Trailer New - 1,500 to 2,500 ** i just bought a second new belmont landscape trailer 12' for $1,600.

    Trailer Accessories for equipment- $150 - $400

    Licensing your business should depending on state cost you $100 to $300 mine cost $100 to get my EIN a become legit.

    Insurance - $500 to $900 For 1million to 2 million policy . Assuming you have decent insurance with your other business you may even get aq discount. I know I did. My one million dollar policy costs me $550 as I have not had any incidents with my other business.

    Incidentals such gas cans tools add in another $300 to $800.

    DEcals Free except for cost of material.. Lucky DOG!!!

    Advertising that is up to you.

    Keep all your receipts, and keep track of your costs, and you can write alot of it off..

    So for under $10,000 you can get into the business and see if you like it.. short money to take a chance.. While many of the "So Called Experts" or better yet "Self Proclaimed" may find those numbers way low and they probably are for them. But dont jump right in. Take small steps do a good job even GREAT job for your clients keep your gear and appearance clean no matter what you purchase for equipment, and take care of it and your business will grow. Dont try to get to big to fast as it will only bite you in the arse. walk before you run.

    If you have any other questions feel free to pm if you choose..

    I started out with a trailer made from a boat trailer with wooden bed ten years ago, a ride on lawn tractor ( dont do it!!) and two push 21 inch mowers from craftsman that I bought at yardsales( no joke) and a Weed eater trimmer from walmart ( still have it but it sits just in case my other trimmers break down) a 18" poulan wild thing chainsaw, electric hedge trimmer and cheap used blower. I had about 11 accounts and thought i was doing but i had a plan and built slow.. now I have 55 residential 2 commercial accounts, and one condo complex.... to go along with my outdoor retail store /guiding center that I own. I only started the lawn care because my wife came down with cancer and we needed the extra money. Badly as my store was new and bleeding money.. worked my tail off. but made it.. wife is fine now.. and both businesses are doing ok..

    My equipment is better but my service remains the same.. ""do a great job, care about your work" and you will be fine

    So get a plan together and build as you go.. Just be realistic.. solo owners $1800 billable a week is doing well !! but dont think your going to do that right off the bat.. build to and leanr as you go..

    Hope this helps...

    PM me if you have any other questions and dont want to get blasted by negativity....
  9. BuckeyeLandscaping

    BuckeyeLandscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 55

    Thanks for the info. What are your thoughts on renting a mower to start out with? I can get a 44" walk behind for $64 a day. I was thinking 5 to 6 lawns a day minus the 64 and gas would bring in roughly $100 to start with. Those are my calculations though. Also I could probably squeeze in more than 6 lawns in a day if I work more than 8 hours.
  10. mtnzone

    mtnzone LawnSite Member
    Messages: 201

    Dont rent my friend..... just dont do it... 100 divid by 8 is pretty bad ROI....

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