Take a look Seasoned Vets! In need of mentoring

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by wairinc, Jul 18, 2004.

  1. wairinc

    wairinc LawnSite Member
    from Denver
    Messages: 5

    Hello everyone, I am 18 Years old, and I was looking into starting a lawn maintenance company here in Denver, then I stumbled apon this site, INCREDIBLE source of information, thanx a ton. But needless to say I am now more than looking into it, I am selling my car to buy a truck or jeep that can pull a trailer. I am selling some of my business assetts from the internet company; buying / selling business I also have to use as start up capital. I am looking at about 1500$ for equipment to start,

    $500 honda 22' walkbehind
    $150 Trimmer (need ideas)
    $150 Blower (also Need Ideas)
    $350-450 Trailer (5' - 6' possibly)
    $250 Advertising, business cards etc.

    Is there anything that I am missing? Im sure there is but I am just not sure. I am looking to get around 20 lawns my first couple months as I will be doing it part time, I will be holding a full time job to pay for rent / utilities and whatnot, and I also have my internet business to help.

    Everything I make the first year will be going back into the company;

    A new truck,
    enclosed trailer,
    36' walkbehind,

    Is there something else better spent to get jobs done faster? I just want to be a solo operation, and ultimately 100 ish jobs a week to do by myself.

    Here is where I need your help ,

    I would like to here what all of your start ups were like, rocky or not,

    Do you work solo now?
    How many jobs do you have per week?
    how much do you bring in monthly?
    things like that.

    Also for your established guys, what do you charge extra for?

    Dog cleanup?
    Tree trimming?
    Hedge Trimming?

    Anything you charge extra for and how much would be appreciated,

    Thanx alot for your help guys, and I look forward to becoming an active member in the community.
  2. SouthernFried

    SouthernFried LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 273

    Since you are gonna buy a truck...forget about the trailer for now...and spend more on equipment. Use the truck for hauling your equipment for now.

    That would give you an extra 400$ to get a decent trimmer and blower...150$ each means you'd have to go to the used market for something decent. Add 100$ to each of these, and you can get some entry level new commercial stuff.

    Make sure that Honda is self-propelled...and is commercial quality (steel wheels at least).

    Your first priority (after getting accounts that is...), is to get a 36" WB asap. Forego a trailer to get one if you have to....you can use ramps temporarily to get into your truck. But get a 36"!

    100 accounts solo a week...would be amazing. 20/day with a 2 man crew is damned good, solo would be, well...if not impossible, highly improbable. Definetly something you wouldn't be able to keep up very long.

    Started Solo, have had up to 12 people (3 crews) working for me....but, am back to working solo now. Usually do 8-10 yards/day, and my goal is to "net" 250$/day.

    Could make more, if I wanted to kill myself or get more help....could make less if I want to relax...but, I'm comfortable with this level right now.

    I don't pick up dog poop...If they don't do it, and it's really a serious problem (only happened once to me)...I simply wont do it.

    I will tell you the absolute worse thing in the world to happen to you doing lawn maintenance:


    I will get rid of an account if this happens more than once. It's the one thing I will not put up with...walking around all day with little bits and pieces of dog poop stuck all over you. And people KNOW you have it on you. It's in your hair...on your glasses...shirt...eyebrows. Your scared to walk in anywhere for lunch...

    Not only do you feel like Sh*t....you literally LOOK like Sh*t!

    God...I really...really...really...hate when that happens...man!

    Er...Where was I?

    Damn, I forgot...I've got myself all pissed off.

    Figure the rest out for yourself...


    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,534

    Commerical--Commerical--Commerical---That is the only type of equipment to buy. Stay out of Home-depot & Lowes.
    Buy a truck not a jeep. A truck will work a lot better for you. and if you can swing it go full size so you are not looking to up size in 6 months.$ 1500 is not a lot of start up cash- you will be working to buy equipment for a long time. Do not look at this business to kick off to much income for a while as you need to build it up a lot.
    100 per week solo? NO No no I'm sure that someone on this site will say it can be done and they do it all the time but I say you will not be able to. Even at 7 days that is 14-15 per day and a small job will take 30min solo.Thats 7 hours of work per day-Each day of the week. Plus about 20-30hours per week to support that 100 jobs(maintenance-books-billing-getting gas-going to your dealer to buy replacement parts that you wear out-sales).
    You are 18 and full of engery so it is easy to say I can do anything but this is a real business with real work nessesary to make it fly and a lot of money needed to invest. It is not a get rich quick thing. Do a search for -trimmers-mowers-billing-how to charge-contracts-time to cut-maintenace-and what ever else you can think of. Look back on the dates as some of the older posts came from some people that I think were much more business oriented than what I see today. Read into the posts and you will discover the people who work this industry full time for a living and support their family with the income. I have learned a lot from these posts as they look to make a real profit and not just side money. On your search look up -profit -pricing- and you will learn a lot about running the business. 1 profitable job is worth a lot more than 100 jobs that you lose money on.
    Happy reading and good luck with the business.
  4. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,028

    Commercial Equipment is a must. Customers are absolutely necessary.
    You can start with small stuff but you may fail quickly. It depends on what types of properties you will be getting. 20 5000K lawns is still alot of walking with a 21" mower. That is a trim mower. You have to kind the means to finance the equipment. Otherwise you are competing with the 14 year old who can do the same as you even cheaper.
    Lots more to learn, good luck.
  5. number1dad

    number1dad LawnSite Member
    Messages: 30

    I once started out as you have described. All these posts are correct that you need to spend the money up front on "COMMERCIAL" equipment. Trimmers and blowers are not cheap when you go to a commercial dealer. I did start off at residential equipment and learned the hard way. I now run with commercial equipment (Echo and John Deere). It handles better, more reliable, and gives you a better finish. Listen to these guys on this site, you will learn alot here and you will also learn as you go. Sounds as though you have a great deal of enthusiasm, which is great. Do not try to get too big too quick. I mowed my share of junk to get started and my name recognized. This time of the year may be hard to get new accounts. The best time would be in the early part of the year. Try to in all occassions get a contract signed. Some customers do not like to sign a contract, so give them a 15 to 30 day out, along with yourself.
  6. dishboy

    dishboy LawnSite Fanatic
    from zone 6
    Messages: 6,043

    I would consider with your limited capital buying a truck, some QUALITY pruning tools along with a tree saw [one handed] & hedge trimmer and do shrub and bed maintenance until you can afford commercial equiptment. If you have another full time job pruning is easier to schedule around and you can take time off when you want to play.
  7. wairinc

    wairinc LawnSite Member
    from Denver
    Messages: 5

    Thank you for all of the helpful replys guys, Do they not sell any type of commercial equipment at lowes or home depot? that is where the mower was at.

    Also Ive decided to wait until next mowing season to start, to beef up my capital, I figure in the next 7 months I can get a pretty hefty capital account saved, and start out with the 36''.

    I know that it would be easier for me to get a truck, but the jeep I am buying lowers my monthly payment almost 300$, is it impossible to use a jeep to pull a trailer?

    I never thought about the 100 customers like that, I figured a half hour for each, but there is drive time, and all the book keeping, and whatnot, I just want to make a comfortable living. Thanx alot for all of your help guys.

    You guys didnt answer a few of my questions though. I know you charge extra for taking the mulch and whatnot, what extras do you charge for and how much do you charge?

    Thanx alot again fella's, I really need the help
  8. SouthernFried

    SouthernFried LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 273

    In a labor intensive job such as this...everything is time related.

    I need to make, "net", 30$/hr.

    If it takes me an hour to throw down 1 yard of mulch and the mulch costs me $25/yard...I charge them 55$/yard. You can charge more if you able to. If 2 jobs take the same amount of time, but one is physcially harder...I'll charge more. Remember, drive time as well...and include that in price. I may be able to make more, but I always make sure I'm making at least 30$/hr.

    If it takes you 30 minutes to pick up poop...charge 15$. If it's a job you don't wanna do...increase the cost to make it worthwhile. I'd ask $50 for that job. If they agree to pay me the 50$, I'd ask them for 75$...and keep raising my price 'till they decide it's too expensive...cuz I ain't gonna do it!

    Forget the jeep. You can pull a trailer with it...but, it ain't gonna help you in your business at all. If your actually serious about this business...you HAVE to have a truck.

    There is basically nothing at Home Depot I'd buy...mebbe gloves. That Honda your looking at there...will be a residential model. Honda's have some good commercial equipment tho. Their residential stuff is good too...for a one yard a week residential customer. It will not hold up commercially.

    Find a good commercial equipment dealer...go there and learn.
  9. number1dad

    number1dad LawnSite Member
    Messages: 30

    Home Depot sells oil and some hand prunners, possibly a broom, shovel and/or racks. Stay away from their products, they may say commercial; however, they are "VERY LIGHT COMMERCIAL". Nothing like you would get at a commercial dealer. Spend the extra money to get good equipment.
  10. PMLAWN

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,534

    I will cut the grass, trim the grass around the beds, edge the grass on concrete, and blow off the clippings for a set fee. Everything else is a serperate invoice. My labor rates start at $50.00 per man hour.( do not tell customer you rate) figure how long the job will take and plug in your labor rate. Material is added on to that with the proper mark up.
    Do the search on "pricing" and you will learn all about it.

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