Starting Part time service, Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by stagger, Dec 31, 2006.

  1. stagger

    stagger LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    Hi, I work full time, but to help supplement my income, im thinking of starting a lawn cutting service. I was wondering what advise, suggestions you could kindly provide to help me get going easier.

    For equipment, I have a 21" push, Echo Trimmer, and Back pack Blower, and I have a Pickup truck.

    - As for software, looks like most use / Suggest Quickbooks

    - I may invest in a good gas edger to use when needed (feedback?)

    - Do most bag and leave the bags at the curb, or take the clippings away with them?

    Just not sure if I should stick with a 21" Push for now, or should I invest in a 32 Walk behind to make the cuts that much faster. I plan to drum up 8 or 10 Lawns to start.

    Looking forward to learn as much as I can, so if anybody could give me some feedback, Id really apprecaite it.
  2. lawnpro724

    lawnpro724 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,201

    I would suggest you go with 32" or 36" walkbehind depending on what type of customer your going after you should be able to pick up a good one for around $2,000 - $2,500 depending on brand. If your just not wanting to spend that much at least get a good self propelled 21" like Toro's Proline or Honda's proline mowers or try looking at used equipment.
  3. stagger

    stagger LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    Ok, I guess it depends on how long it would take me to cut lets say 8 lawns with a 21" SP, VS How may more customers I could do with a 32" ~ 36" WB???

    I do plan to start out small and low cost as I get Started. I can always invest more into the business as I grow.
  4. Wells

    Wells LawnSite Member
    from SLC UT
    Messages: 0

    I would say stick to the 21" mower until you have enough clientele to justify buying a larger mower, especially since you are doing this part time to help supplement your income.

    The lower you can keep the initial startup costs the more money your actually going to net. It's not about how much money you make but rather how much money you keep.

    A new truck and a bunch of new fancy equipment looks nice but at the end of the day the only one making any money is your creditors. Once you have enough clientel to justify the larger purchases then buy it at that time.
  5. Trinity Lawn Care  LLC

    Trinity Lawn Care LLC LawnSite Senior Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 946

    Where in southern NJ are you?

    It really depends on the size of the properties. Knowing where you are I may be able to help a little with advice (I am from South Jersey).

    As far as gas edger goes. What are you planning on budgeting for equipment? What are you planning on budgeting for advertising?

    You may want to hold off on an edger for now and just get a good trimmer. You can use a trimmer for both trimming and edging.
  6. gary6768

    gary6768 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 62

    great advice...
  7. stagger

    stagger LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    Good Advise Wells. Like you said, bottom line is the net Money you bring home at the end of the Day/Week.

    Trinity, I live in Runnemede (Camden County). Id say most Properties in my area are 80X120. Thats the other thing im not sure how to charge, by the area? Im guessing an avg lawn in my area brings in $30 a cut.

    I know some peoples sidewalks are way overgrown, and I would use the gas edger to establish a nice cut/trim, and use my Echo trimmer weekly to keep up with it. Not sure, but I was just thinking about this scenario.

    I have a descent Self Propelled (Craftsman) 21" mower now. I also have a echo trimmer, and Echo back pack blower. So for startup I wasnt planning a whole lot (except usual weekly items like heavy duty lawn bags (Home Depot has Awesome Bags), string trimmer line, gas, maintaince on equip (oil Changes, plugs, air filters, blades).

    I was looking at the Toro 21" Self Propelled, but I dont see a whole lot I would gain over what I have now (fairly new 21" Craftsman)????

    I plan on rounding up 8 ~ 10 Customers. I fig 3 cuts on Sat, 3 on Sun, and a few during the week. This would allow for make up days when I get rained out.
  8. Trinity Lawn Care  LLC

    Trinity Lawn Care LLC LawnSite Senior Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 946

    I don't think that I would buy the edger yet if I were you. If you have a lot of overgrown edges I would rent an edger from Home Depot or a rental store, and do them all at once. You will want to charge them for overgrown edges anyway, so just add the rental cost into your price divided by the number of customers. I agree with the others in that you should probably just stick with the 21" for now. 8 - 15 lawns around that size properties you should be fine. You should be able to get that done in a day by yourself no problem (if properties are close) . We had a small small neighborhood that we did 8 in like three hours. Proximity makes a huge difference. Also, I believe that your pricing is pretty on point. You may be able to charge a little bit more, but you are in the ball park. You could probably get $35 for most lawns in your area. I know for a fact that you can get $30 easy. Are you going to be doing landscaping and things like that, or are you just sticking to grass for now?
  9. stagger

    stagger LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    Great Advise Trinity, do you think it would be wise to invest in a $600 toro 21" or stick with my 21" Craftsman for now since I have it and it seems to works fine???

    I may do some mulch and stuff for people. Nothing too extensive like retaining walls. I figure u can make some quick easy money laying down mulch.

    Since Im doing this on a part time basis, I need to find out if I should register a business name or not? Im sure most customers will want a receipt, so thats no problem, can get invoices from staples, etc. Just not sure on registering a DBA name or not? Any suggestions???

    Thanks in Advance....
  10. Trinity Lawn Care  LLC

    Trinity Lawn Care LLC LawnSite Senior Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 946

    Well, first let me ask what are your future plans for the business? Are you going to keep it as a part time thing or do you plan to make a fulltime thing of it some day?

    I would say keep the mower that you have for now. Keep in mind that it may die on you eventually. Keep putting some money aside so that you can eventually upgrade your equipment. Any homewoner mower is not going to last that long, but you are not really killing it yet. This is what you do need to keep in mind. A homeowner's mower is made for just that a homeowner. It is made to mow one lawn once a week for 25 to 30 cuts a year. If you have 8 lawns you are essentially putting on 2 months of use on the mower each time you work. At 25 cuts for the year and 8 lawns that is like putting on 200 cuts on that mower.

    I would register as a business. I am not syaing that you will be caught or fined. However, I will let you know that in the state of NJ if you are not licensed thru the state (Home Improvement Act), and insured you can get in a lot of heat. I do not believe you need to be licensed to do maintenance work i.e. mowing, but not 100% sure (my attorney told me that it is better to be safe then sorry no matter what your relationship with your customers).

    Also, I would take some of that money that you would use towards equipment and get yourself some nice flyers, business cards etc. and start building yourself a customer base.

    Sorry so long.

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