Starting a new Company

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by mike48114, Nov 10, 2002.


What is the hardest part of starting a lawn and landscape co.

  1. Getting Enough Equipment

    1 vote(s)
  2. Getting Enough Work

    13 vote(s)
  3. Making enough money to survive

    17 vote(s)
  4. Other

    5 vote(s)
  1. mike48114

    mike48114 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 124

    I am currently the Operations Manager for a dying landscape co in Michigan. I am (most likly) going to be going into buisness for myself next year. i was wondering if any of you friends have any advise for me. What do you recomend for used equipment purchases? What cheep adversising methods do you advise? What is a round about insurance cost for a 1-2 man new operation like i have decribed? Any info anyone has would be greatly appreaciated! Thanks guys; your great!!!

  2. Swampbeast

    Swampbeast LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 463

    At first it was really hard for me to get work. But then we got a couple yards, then a few more, then they started talking to thier freinds, so we got a few more, etc. etc.
    Just do HIGH QUALITY WORK! VERY IMPORTANT! And more people will want you.
    Advertising? A trailer with signs.
    Dont buy used equipment. New stuff better. And plus you get warranty!

    Good luck!

  3. eslawns

    eslawns LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 712

    The hardest thing, IMO, is managing cash flow. Unless you are starting out with a high checking account balance, you need to watch every dime, and resist the urge to buy a piece of equipment until you can get something adequate and its purchase is justified.

    You also need to have a good accounting plan: something that tells you how much you made and where it came from, and how much you spent and where you spent it. Since time is our real commodity in a service business, analyze where that gets spent. After all, the whole point of any business is making money, right?

    What do you recomend for used equipment purchases?

    Compare used to new as you would for a car. BTW, since most of us use pickup trucks, it might be a good idea to go used on that and get a new mower, trimmer and blower (if you can) for the piece of mind. Used is OK, but stay away from worn out gear. Best bet is probably to check your local paper for somebody leaving the business after a year or 2.

    What cheep adversising methods do you advise?

    First, do quality work. What people see and hear will help a lot and doesn't cost anything. Flyers, signs on truck & trailer, yellow pages. This will depend on your area.

    What is a round about insurance cost for a 1-2 man new operation like i have decribed?

    Too many variables here. It will depend on the amount of coverage, the deductibles (sp?) you can live with, where you are and what type of insurance (general public liability, vehicle, theft/fire coverage, riders and addenda). Look in the yellow pages and get about 6 quotes. It's getting to the time of year where there will be plenty of time for shopping. If you live in a small town, go to a large city and compare rates. Also, find out about the insurer's A.M. Best rating. This is the insurance industry's standard.

    Also, use the search feature. There are a lot of posts on just about any topic you can think of.
  4. B. Phagan

    B. Phagan LawnSite Member
    Messages: 95

    I really admire your guts and the others on this forum who had the gumption to start their own's a gamble at best and some win and some lose.............

    Those who lose build their business on a house of cards, not getting set up correctly..........a poor foundation will kill ya.

    Get a to them about how you should set up legally to protect yourself against law suits, your business and personal property, designing and reading financial statements, liability insurance coverages, licensing requirements, etc

    Come up with a great name for marketing & selling. Get some dynamic letterhead, business cards and truck signage..determine your market place and services you'd like to offer to.resi's, commercial, HOA's, etc

    Develop your business guidelines and stick to them

    Develop your service agreement that indicates what services you will perform, selling price, where to send the money as well as protecting yourself from liabilities and other accounts that will provide year round income.

    Don't price your work where you'll get them without profits

    Make sure you know exactly what it will cost you to start and continue your business.......then DOUBLE that figure

    Once you start getting the business, THEN look for the appropriate equipment to service.......pawn shops, equipment dealers and from people going out of business because they set their business up on a "House of Cards"

    Be a business man first and a green industry professional second..............then you can make whatever you choose to make!

    And of luck to ya!
  5. KLMlawn

    KLMlawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 443

    Some great advise above ...
    Start out with what you can afford and still have good looking equipment that runs well. A good used pickup or dumpbody ( not a Sanford & Son wanna-be). A decent trailer .... I would spend the most on new equipment, as was mentioned before the reliability factor as well as warantee. If you can't afford "new" then if you look around and are choosy, you can find very nice used equipment also for a good price. Advertise thru word of mouth and quality of work, don't cut prices just to say you have another account. Offer a full line of services year round. In addition to Lawncare and property maintenance you should be able to do snow services in MI also, for the winter.
    Best of luck ...
  6. jmleaver

    jmleaver LawnSite Member
    from NH
    Messages: 18

    I just started a company this July. I started with My Dad's Wizard Riding lawn mower, my 2-wheel drive ranger and that's about it. I have been pretty busy, I just handed out tons of flyers, I would drive through neighborhoods and either put them in the "Paper box" or Tuck them behind the Flag on the mailbox. I have gotten allot of response. I bought a used 52' Scag, a trailer, and Just got a chevy 2500 with a plow.
    What I recommend is don't be scared to go into commercial places and introduce yourself, if you can talk to people you will be surprised of what happens.
    Also utilize your resources: Like I had one customer ask for a new lawn and irrigation system, I talked to one of my friends fathers and he had put them in before, so I took the job. Also, I am in the process of building a 36' retaining wall, 30' walkway and granite steps, I have another friend that was in the same situation as you, but he is laid off and he and I are building it together.
    Just go for it and don't be scared, if something doesn't work, you will have to figure it out and then you ended up learning how to do it right.
  7. Green Pastures

    Green Pastures LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,457

    I posted "other" because for me the biggest problem is trying to find and keep good workers. Most that want to stay I do not want, and the ones I want are smart enough to go do other things like start their own business.
  8. KirbyKLC

    KirbyKLC LawnSite Member
    Messages: 31

    I also posted other---- reason being, there was not an all of the above choice.
  9. Lawn Sharks

    Lawn Sharks LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 394

    As an Operations Manager for a dying lco I would think you already know what not to do. Analyze the mistakes that your present company is making and do something different.

    Are they dying because of poor quality, customer service, poor employees?

    Not to be snippy but what makes you think you can survive if you cannot keep a current lco afloat as the Operations Manager? Just curious.

  10. mike48114

    mike48114 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 124

    Money management is what has killed the co. Not making smart buisness decisions is what killed the co; Not quality of work or staff. Might sound unbeleivable... but I work for the worst buisnessman in the world. Great guy just really poor knowledge of money management. He's one of those guys who offered a retirement plan to all the guys... took the money out of everyones check and "forgot" to send it in for a little over a year. Do I need to go any ferther?

    Thanks for all the help guys .. Keep up the good info...I'll use it

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