Starting late in DFW, TX

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Macrae, Jul 28, 2008.

  1. Macrae

    Macrae LawnSite Member
    from DFW
    Messages: 25

    I know this is probably front page news to most of you...but another rookie needs some guidance on a couple of things. First off, this is a great site. I've been reading for several days and my eyes are getting tired.

    Here is my situation...I intend to do this on a permanent part-time basis, unless things turn out much better than I think they will. I have a full time job that I get a lot of satisfaction from, but it would be nice to have some additional income while enjoying the outdoors. I've always done my own yard work, and mowed a few lawns as a younger fellow. I am a by-the-book kind of person, and I'm looking for info specific to my area/state that can save me some unnecessary legwork. I've read numerous posts about getting started, but I need info about North Texas.

    I really want to limit my work to trimming, mowing and edging. If anything else comes I'll find someone to send it to.

    First...for TEXAS, do I need a license to mow yards?

    Second...I don't want to handle more than 10-12 weekly accounts, so would you recommend insurance? If so, please point me in the right direction.

    Third...I will not undercut someone to make a sale, and in fact intend to charge a premium if I can get it. I'll try and figure out the going rate in my area (Mid-Cities), but how many of your accnts want their clippings bagged and how much do you up-charge for this svc? BTW...if anyone is willing to chime in on the typically charged rates, I'm all ears.

    And lastly...I'm really getting a late start on this, but I'm going to try and get what I can for the rest of this season. I'll start with craig'slist and see how that goes first. Any specific suggestions for starting this late in the season?

    Thanks for reading...I am looking forward to getting started and hope I can get some help from all of you.
  2. mikewhit1010

    mikewhit1010 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 394

    In reply to this.

    Craigslist adds will bring you some business but it wont bring you premium customers for the most part.

    Typical charge in the metroplex I have seen is about 32-35.00 a cut but that is because there has been a lot of fly by night companies. My average cut is at 32.00 because a lot of customers ask me to price match another company. I dont think it is worth losing the account to a few bucks.

    I would say 5% want there clippings bagged but that is because we dont promote it and I really hate doing it. It does make the lawn look better though.

    You are getting a really late start but I restarted this business in Oct and I am way past where I thought I would be and the majority of accounts I picked up came to me in March and April but I was able to pick up 10 in Oct and Nov.

    Make sure they know you have another job as well. I have a full time job and run a crew and I so wish I told everyone that I had a full time job.
  3. MowHouston

    MowHouston LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,012


    That is a tough question to answer. I want to say, yes, because if you only have 10-12 weekly accounts and you bust something up, like a $500 sliding glass door. You're going to work for a week and a half to pay for it. You're gonna hate that whole week and a half of work.

    Yes, insurance may cut into your profits with so few lawns, but it may save you from some financial pain.

    Well, you've got Just Mowing charging $28+tax for economy (mow, edge, trim, blow and go) mowing. Not to say that they dont do good work. It is just more of the type of service where it gets done and there are ALOT of customers that only care that it gets done at an acceptable level.

    Last year I held a minimum of $35 down here in Houston. Full service mowing, attention to every single detail type stuff. Offered weeding, hedge trimming, mulching, etc as additional services.

    Either way, just know that it doesn't matter how hard you work or how great you think your edges or stripes are. A customer is a customer and sometimes they just drop you like a fly for the cheapest price. That isn't the MAJORITY but just know that it can happen. Especially with the economy the way it is.

    People care about quality ( to back it up.

    But are they willing to pay for it?

    So do good work, charge what YOU think is fair for your service. If someone browsing your ad likes it, cool. If not, who cares right? You'll get your 10-12 customers, but it will take longer to land them.

    As for bagging, I wouldn't openly advertise it, but state that there is an extra charge for it. I charge a minimum of $20 for bagging. I adjust this charge depending on how much mowing there is to do.

    I currently have no customers that request bagging. Only had 1 all year, but dropped him. :D

    Tons of people badmouth craigslist saying that there is just a bunch of tire kickers and cheapskates on it. I'll tell you what, they're everywhere. I advertise on craigslist daily. I did it when I was offering full service. I got good customers.

    Heres the secret... Weed out the bad customers before they even get a chance to look at your phone number. How?

    1. Mention that you are a high quality service who pays attention to every detail of maintaining their lawn.

    2. State that you only do service on a weekly basis.

    3. Show your minimum price. If that is $35.

    4. Use HTML in your ad to make it look more professional than the other guys saying: "Marks Mowing Man. Call xxx-xxx-xxxx"

    I can make an ad up for you if you want.

    You need to reiterate, though, that you are an AWESOME company. Show it. Spend some good amount of time on your own lawn. Stripe it, etc, and take a picture of it and use it as an example of your work.

    You'll get good customers on Craigslist. Lots of people just don't know how to filter out the baddies.

    Lastly, starting this late in the season doesn't mean anything. Fly by nighters are everywhere and there is always a customer that needs lawn service. Someone just moved to town, old lawn guy stopped showing up, fired old lawn guy, mower broke and I'm not buying a new one. Post daily (shoot I post three times a day sometiems) and you'll start getting some leads.

    Good luck.
  4. wildstarblazer

    wildstarblazer LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,046

    how do you post daily on craigs list? I thought you can only post once a month? Do you create different ads each time?
  5. MowHouston

    MowHouston LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,012

    Nah. Hidden HTML in certain places of the ad keep Craigslist from realizing that the bulk of the ad is the same. I also have an auto poster that does most of the work for me.

    I enter preset ads, it automatically changes the hidden HTML during each post, posts it all for me, all I have to do is type in the captcha code at the end. Even then there is an addon that I could buy where it would enter that for me too. But its not that big of a deal for me.

    LBLC_LCO LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 402

    One way is to use multiple email addresses to post more often.

    Otherwise, I think it's once a week or every few days, not sure.
  7. MowHouston

    MowHouston LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,012

    I post in the Household Services section. You are required to have an account, which is now verified by telephone.

    Even then, you would have to have different ads, or delete your previous ad each time you post.

    The hidden HTML is the the easiest and simplest trick once you learn it.
  8. Macrae

    Macrae LawnSite Member
    from DFW
    Messages: 25

    Can you elaborate on this a bit? Also, would you mind sharing how you've been able to get your clients since it appears you don't use craig'slist?

    BTW...I see you went to TCU from another thread. I use to live 5 min from campus on Trail Lake. I actually still have that house as a rental. Do you work in that area?
  9. Macrae

    Macrae LawnSite Member
    from DFW
    Messages: 25

  10. mikewhit1010

    mikewhit1010 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 394

    BTW...I see you went to TCU from another thread. I use to live 5 min from campus on Trail Lake. I actually still have that house as a rental. Do you work in that area?[/QUOTE]

    Yea I work that area. I live off of Trail lake.

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