Suggestions for the New Guy?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by AcutAboveLandscaping, Oct 16, 2003.

  1. AcutAboveLandscaping

    AcutAboveLandscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    I've decided upon starting a landscaping business. From the beginning we will mostly be focusing on lawn care and also doing some flower beds but staying away from doing any major planting like trees and shrubs for a while.
    There are quite a few other businesses that service in my area but on the upside they are building new developements and adding on to developemnents all around here.
    I say all that to ask you guys a question. I was thinking about getting out in mid or early February and doing some flyer bombing in these developements and calling some local businesses. Maybe doing some adds in local papers as well. Do you have any other suggestions for getting customers?
    I was planning on waiting until I got a response from people before buying any equipment so that I don't get over my head in financing or loans and not have the business to pay for it. Do you think that this is a good angle to take?
    I also have a working relationship with the builder of my new home and he's going to send any new home accounts my way for seeding the new lawn. This won't be any large numbers of houses, but something is better then nothing I suppose. I've heard that Lesco seeds produce a good looking lawn, what about in your experience?
    I would be doing this part-time in the beginning unless enough interest arises that I can quit my full-time job and focus on this exclusively. My set-up would include a 48" walk behind, 21" push mower, trimmer, stick edger and also a backpack blower. Any suggestions on brands? I've heard alot of good things about Echo for the trimmer, edger and blower but that was from the dealer. I'm also thinking about a Scag walk behind.
    I know that all of this sounds pretty lame to most of you but I just figured that who better to ask about the business then people who have been at it for a while. Any other suggestions or help would be great, thanks for any help.
  2. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Messages: 4,205

    Personally I am not sure it's a good idea to put out flyers without having any equipment.
    If you are going to do mostly lawn service why will you be calling it a landscaping business?
    Have you ever dealt with establishing a new lawn?(seeding)
    Have you ever run commercial mowers?
    I am not trying to be critical because I think any one who wants to realistically start a new business should be supported,However the questions I just asked are pertinent in my mind.I guess what I'm saying is you should walk before trying to run. Just food for thought ,not trying to discourage.
  3. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    There was a good point made in a recent magazine article that I read, and dvmcmrhp made the point as well,

    "Master something before moving onto something else."

    Basically research and learn before moving onto something you are not fimilar with.
  4. AcutAboveLandscaping

    AcutAboveLandscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    Actually I worked for 2 seasons doing lawn care so I have experience with the equipment. I was very unclear of what I was trying to say. I was already planning on purchasing the things that I had listed, the 48" WB mower as well. I was just curious as to see if my idea would be good if I had enough customer base to support purchasing additional equipment such as a ZTR or another WB.
    The name would actually be A Cut Above Lawn Care and Landscaping. I would like to do some landscaping but keep away from doing any major planting for the time being because I am not very experienced in this.
    I have in fact put in a new lawn for my uncle and it came out great besides the grubs that devoured it when he forgot to fertilize before going on vacation for 3 weeks to Hawaii.
    Another question is where would I find out about attending a landscaping class or lawn care class?
    Thanks for your questions. I know what you are saying. Thanks again.
  5. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    by the way, welcome to the site:)
  6. fraz001

    fraz001 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 34

    1# i like the name of you'r buss.

    2# my best luck has been flyers i put up all over town

    3# welcome to 2 the site it's been a big help 4 me
  7. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Messages: 4,739

    Don’t waste money on newspaper ad in February, no one will be looking for a lawn service then. Wait until March for a newspaper ad. BTW, I found a paper ad more cost effective than fliers and with no time involved other than to place the ad. Fliers take forever and a day by yourself, if you got two people you can knock out a street in decent time but certain neighborhoods just aren’t going to hire someone, like the neighborhoods where a young couple lives in a nice house and drives two brand new cars, these people are the cheapest in the world because they are so much in debt for their toys that they cannot afford life’s luxuries. Go for middle class, these people have the loosest wallets for luxuries. If you plan on doing leaf removal, target areas that have mature trees, not newer neighborhoods. Fliers do not always mean a tighter route, but that just depends on the response rate and type of neighborhood again so that’s up to you to make it work. I’ve never gotten a lot of success with fliers, I waited till mid april to put my ad in the paper, after most folks already had a service and I got a lot of customers from that. Money well spent IMO. But wait till about a month before the grass grows up and greens up to advertise, then keep advertising until a month after it starts that way the slow people have a chance and the people who hired one guy then dropped him for any reason. If you can afford it, keep the ad through the summer, lots of people get tired of doing it then or have problems with their LCO during the heat times? On commercial places, figure out a good way to bid and anytime after new year’s call up places or go to the office and ask if they are accepting bids for lawn care/landscape maintenance, if so ask the specifications (ie, how many mowings, height requirements if any, etc.) and maybe ask someone to show you around the place if you think you would need it. Spend this winter working on contract templates and agreement templates, organization methods, etc. I’d suggest a used walk behind since this is your first year and doing it part time. They are still very reliable and a lot cheaper. You could get all your 2 cycle equipment new and a used 48 hydro w/b for $3,500 I would think. I gave $2,000 for a ’99 eXmark Turf Tracer HP hydro floating deck 52” 17hp twin and I thought that was a pretty decent deal. If you just want to price shop or even buy equipment, check out they have scag, toro, echo, lawn boy, and other stuff too. I found their prices to be similar to the local dealers (but then you have shipping). If you can afford it get a sulky for that walk behind, but if money is tight don’t worry I’ve seen long legged guys going at a good walk behind them at 4 or 4.5mph which is probably not much slower than with a sulky (I go 6 on mine with sulky). Figure out what properties your equipment would be most efficient on, example don’t take on 4 acre lawns with a 48” w/b, because to do so you would have to price it as if you had a 60” ZTR which is at least twice as efficient, so therefore you will be working for half the money when you could make more than that half on smaller lawns. You can mow small lawns an hour that take 25 minutes for $30 each and have 10 minutes to travel, that’s $60 an hour. To get a 4 acre lawn you’d have to be at about $30-35 an hour. The smaller lawns are easier on you too, more time in vehicle (breaks, drink/eat, rest, get air conditioning if you want) change of pace (not on mower an hour at a time). Know where you will be most efficient and target such areas. Know how long a yard will take and price accordingly or you’ll kick yourself in the butt when you have to double cut a $25 lawn and it takes 45 minutes to do all that. Been there done that lol.
    Good luck!
  8. WeatherMan

    WeatherMan LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 692

    Hello first things first your name you picked out is already being used in the ohio region by 2 companys I know of so do a search at the state office and see if it is reg. and acourse John Deere mowers and 2cycle equip. is the best way to go in my mind, because "Nothing Runs Like A Deere" Before you go and seed a new lawn you might want to research it first, it's not as easy as may think

    Good Luck
  9. Qdriver

    Qdriver LawnSite Member
    Messages: 186

    WOW! Frankenscag, a lot of good info there. Thanks.

    Jacob, welcome to the site and the biz.

    As for equipment I prefer Toro and Stihl. I am starting with a '36 w/b hydro drive/floating deck. Look to see if your sites have a fence. Make sure your mower will fit through.

    Your local SBDC (Small Business Development Center) is invaluable for business and marketing info. Chamber of Commerce is a big help too.

    I am starting part-time as well. I will focus on the High end customers at first. I feel targeting areas in your city that have the best potential for high income earners is best to provide your biz with needed cash at first. Focus on those areas of new development.

    Any thing you can do to make your biz different and better than the other guy is a plus.

    Good fortune!
  10. AcutAboveLandscaping

    AcutAboveLandscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    FrankenScagMachines- Thanks alot for the input. I've heard mixed things about flyers so I think that I might put out a couple hundred of them and then concentrate on the newspapers and possibly the Yellow Pages if I have the funds to pay for the Yellow Pages.
    The dealer that is about 10 minutes from my house has a Scag Hydro that is a 48" cut for $2500. It has somewhere around 250 hrs on it I think, the guy that looked it over when it came in said that it's in great shape and they'll throw in an extra set of blades and sell me a new velky for cheaper then I'd get it for if I wasn't buying the mower. I think that I might go this route.

    Weatherman - Are you serious? I haven't seen the name in my phonebook and I thought that I came up with a decent name because I hadn't heard of it before. CRAP!!! Oh well.

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