Step One Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Gilly, Apr 10, 2003.

  1. Gilly

    Gilly LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    I plan on working this first year on my own, and trying to do my homework. A few questions I have. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    I am miserable at my current job, but am paying bills. Am dedicated to making my business work. Is it best to try and get started finding some evening lawns and weekends until things get moving?

    Specifically, what kind of mower do you guys suggest I invest in to get things started?

    I am sure the reange is huge, but what would you say is the average first year income if I do all the work myself?

    Am I behind the eight ball in bidding or landing accounts at this time of year?

    Can someone give me some advice on what to shoot for my first week? Example: Try and get two commercial accounts and five residentials to get money flowing.? What would be the recommended approach to get off on the right foot?
  2. Gilly

    Gilly LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    I am educated, sorry for all the spelling mistakes, just reviewed my post. In a hurry here at my job.
  3. LawnLad

    LawnLad LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 738

    What is the size of the properties you'll be working on? Can you use a push mower?

    If you don't have the captial to get started you'll have to buy on a shoe string budget. We need more information as to what you're willing to invest to get things started and what type of market you're working in. Where in southern Ohio are you located?

    If you're ambitious and have a business plan you can start out with a bigger bang. If you're not sure about things and are willing to learn as you go, start slower, start smaller and reinvest in the business as you make money.
  4. Gilly

    Gilly LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    Cincinnati... Keep it to youself Cleveland boy!:) . Your questions are what I am needing advice on. I guess I am looking for advice on who to target. What size land would get me off to a good start? Residential or Commecial..? I don't mind investing 5-10K to get things started. I currently have a 42" John Deere rider I guess I could haul around and use for now.
  5. LawnLad

    LawnLad LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 738

    The choice is yours as to whether you want to start with equipment you have. At least then you can begin to build a customer base before you invest too heavily in equipment.

    No one can tell you exactly what to do. You know your market better than those of us who are out of the city.

    What type of work do you want to provide? Are you a mow and go volume type operator, do you want to do specialized gardening work and high end maintenance, do you want to work in mid level neighborhoods where you'll get some extras but mostly mowing? Are you prepared for the extra work or do you only want to mow grass?

    Decide the type of work you want to do based on doing a SWOT analysis of yourself, your business.

    Answer these quesitons:

    STRENGTHS - what are they?
    WEAKNESSES - what are they?
    OPPORTUNITIES - list them out.
    THREATS - list these out as well.

    Try to then plan around building upon your strengths. Either avoid your weaknesses or bolster/shore up to keep them from limiting you. For instance, if you lack techical knowlege about landscape ornamentals and perennial beds, then either avoid the work that would require the knowledge, learn what you need to know (a lot study) or hire someone who can work with you who knows.

    You need to find out about your market. What is the competition doing? Why do people hire them? Do your customers hire landscapers because they don't have time/equipment to mow their lawns and trust expert opinions? Do your customers budget lawn care into their household budgets or are you getting paid from descretionary dollars? What determines what they buy and from whom? How old are the customers in your market area? Do they have children? Single or two income families? Single parent homes?

    Once you find out why they buy and from whom you'll better postiion yourself knowing what your strengths are based on your SWOT analysis.

    This sounds complicated - but it's not. Many people jump in feet first without investigating how viable their options are before they get going. You'll be more successful if you spend time sharpening your tools before you start the job than if you try to do it blindly.

    I hope this helps to some degree - I'm not answering your questions directly because it's difficult to say... "But this, that and this, mow here and charge $xx." If it were that easy no one would have to ask - everyone would just know. There are no secret answers or magic bullets.
  6. Gilly

    Gilly LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    Great feedback, Thanks.
  7. PaulJ

    PaulJ LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,774

    Equip,emt(mower ) needs will depend a lot on the type and size of properties you will be mowing.(an unknown as of now).
    YOu will need a trimmer. and at least a handheld blower(unless you want to sweep?)
    Many will tell yo to go with commercial quality equipment right off and I agree for the most part BUT if the $$$$ isn't there to do this , then go to wal-mart or lows or whatever and get cheapest straight shaft trimmer and gas blower they have. These will probably also be the lightest. I started with these (weedeater)and still have them as backups. Once you get some income set some aside to upgrade as soon as you can or when the cheap stuff breaks down.

    For a mower you might want to get a good 21" self propelled mower. again it doesn't have to be top line but I Wouldn't go at the bottom here either. If you buy a good 21" mower now then you may not need another for a long time as you gain larger and more accounts you will want a larger mower as your main machine. But most people still keep at least one 21" around for those tiny and tight spots.

    YOur rider will probably do OK for a few larger lawns right now but a mid size walkbehind will increase you productivity. so as you gain more accounts and need to save time, then you can step up to larger commercial mower.

    You don't have to dive into the equipment head first. but dive into getting accounts. pick an area and go door to door with fliers. maybe an add in the paper or fliers on bulletin boards at the grocery store or gas station. Give a business card to everyone you meet and every one you know.

    Good luck I'm going on my third season solo and feel like i'm still just starting .

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