Starting From Scratch

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by BlueInGreen, Oct 25, 2011.

  1. BlueInGreen

    BlueInGreen LawnSite Member
    Messages: 1

    I worked with a small(less than 15 employees) landscaping company roughly from November until August about 24-28 Hours per week in the central florida area. I am now thinking of using my brief experience to make an attempt to get a small business off the ground.

    At the moment I have no capital and no equipment besides a push mower which I dont plan on using. I understand the downsides to underbidding etc but I feel like I just need to get money flowing to buy more equipment and I dont mind paying myself $9-$12/Hr for now. My dad worked for a landscaping company for 8+ years so he could help me with repairs and pointers etc. I wouldnt even think twice about letting him work with me. It just wouldnt work out. I could borrow maybe maximum $600-1000 from my parents just to buy equipment(Lawn mower, Edger, Trimmer)

    Truck/Trailer are not of my concern at the moment.

    As of right now I have no definite questions just looking for advice.
  2. AkJohn

    AkJohn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 11

    I too will be starting up this next season. you being in the lower 48 will help with the equipment im sure you can find great deals on craigslist im sure for a 1000 you can find enough to get you off the ground and try to put 15% back into the company. Im not so sure i would want to under bid if you get commercial equipment and do a professional job you deserve to get paid for it. you could try to sweeten the pot by offering a discount for the first month or two as a signing bonus
  3. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    What are you too good to use just a push mower?

    Many have started that way.

    Do "I understand the downsides to underbidding"?

    No you do not know nothing about low balling.

    If you are only 24 hours a week don't be in a hurry to quit the job. You can easily do another 24 a week on your own on the side. More income, more capital to invest, no need to borrow money.

    Low balling is not how to get loyal customers.
    Low balling will not make you enough profits to purchase equipment.
    Low balling will most likely leave you out of business because when equipment needs to be repaired or replaced you'll be to broke to take care of it.
    Low balling will only drive down prices in a bad economy. Once customers get used to paying cheap they won't go back.
    Low balling does nothing short term and ruins the industry's long term future and yours as well.
  4. Landscape Poet

    Landscape Poet LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,638

    Start with what you can then but even at 1k - you would have a hard time getting the essentials of a quality blower, edger, trimmer ...and that is using your push mower. That leaves very little for marketing tools such as flyers or door hangers.

    With that said I am not saying it can not be done...just that it is going to be hard and you will most likely need to have a secondary source of income if you plan on making it until you get going....even then much of your "profits" will eventually go into a trailer, a better quality mower.

    The problems I see in your future here in FL is that you will be competing in a saturated market with some doing lawns for $60 a month....and that is with the proper set will of course take you much longer because of your lack of tools.

    And with that I am in no way telling you that you need a brand new truck, brand new sticks and backpack blower but IMHO to get by you need roughly

    1. Small walk behind - $1300 to $1400
    2. Backback blower - $200 to $300
    3. Weedeater- $130
    4. Edger -$130
    5.Trailer -$400
    6. Hand held hedge shears - $30

    add in a couple hundred in flyers/door hangers, a couple hundred for gas to get started along with the little extras like gas cans, 2 cycle mix, trimmer line, edger blades etc.... you can see that you will need additional capital to really make a serious go at it down here to get started.

    that is just my humble opinion...but I think if you are going to get a loan from your parents...go into it with open eyes and enough funding to just give yourself a chance....otherwise you will end up working your next job just to pay them back.
  5. FDJ

    FDJ LawnSite Member
    Messages: 23

    like 32vld said...
    You might think you know, but you don't.... it's unfortunately a bit more complicated.

    Don't quit your job, supplement it!
    Work on weekends or after work... it will pay off...

    If you work cheap... well you will only attract cheap people. and cheap people don't spend money. You might get the illusion that you are making money but you are not.

    When you start making money, well you'll need to hire someone right? well with that rate you will add a partner that is earning clean $10/hr and you earn $10/hr but you have to pay all the bills, reality $1/hr...
    Why would/should your employees make more than you without all the worries you will have?
    Plus, how will you be able to raise up the prices (double or triple) without loosing all your customer base and starting clean all over again? when time comes..
    And how will you ever expend and make real money?

    Don't start cheap... it will cost you!

    go slow but steady and your customers will be ready for your growth when you are.

    (personal experience)
  6. Mike2212

    Mike2212 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    Another option, which is what I did was get a economic development loan from the city I live in. Check out which is a directory of local micro loan programs through cities, economic development agencies, etc who have loan funds to help people start and expand businesses. I was able to get a $20,000 loan at 5% when the bank wouldn't touch me for starting my business.

    Good luck!

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