Tell Me What You Think

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by clallen03, Feb 4, 2007.

  1. clallen03

    clallen03 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 514

    This is my situation.

    Last year I did lawn care (mostly maintenance) part time. I think I did OK, I grossed about 13K during the growing season with 1 helper. I had about 30 accounts, mostly bi-weekly, mostly 1/4 acre lots. Most of these lawns were in new subdivisions with very little trees, so the leaf season isn't even worth mentioning.

    My equipment is 36" Exmark, 37" Toro Proline, 2 Stihl 550 blowers, Stihl FS100 trimmer, FC80 Edger, Stihl 81T hedge trimmers, Stihl Kombie w/ pole saw, and line trimmer attachment, Lesco spreader, Lesco Backpack Sprayer, 6X12 Trailer, and 93 Ford 150XLT.

    This year I'm leaving my full time job to go into the Green industry full time. The accounts that I have are not very easy to up-sell anything to and just want the basic mowing service and hedge trimming and we all know in these new 120-150K homes the hedges are not very large so there is not much money in that. It was like pulling teeth to get them to refresh their pine straw.

    This year I'm planning to advertise in the more upscale subdivisions were people want more then just the basics so there neighbors wont complain. The only thing is that these lots are normally 3/4 to 1 acre and mostly sit up on pretty steep hills. Don't get me wrong I'm still going service these small lots too but I need more up-selling potential. I know that there is not much more money in these lots but I'm sure I can up-sell them on extras like fert and squirt, mulch, seasonal flower beds, etc.

    I'm up in the air about buying new equipment that will make me more efficient or just sticking with I have to service these larger lots.

    My questions to you'll is from your experience do you think these lots will allow for more profit? What do you think will be the best types of mowers to be efficient on these types of lots? What type of advertising is most affective on these types of client? Can I be efficient on these larger lots with what I have? And any other advice will be greatly appreciated.

    i don't know if you can tell but I'm very anxious and ready for this challenge but I know I need all the help and advice I can get.

    Thanks in advance
    corrie A.
  2. lawnpro724

    lawnpro724 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,201

    You only made $13,000 last year and that was gross and you had to pay someone to work with you? What was your net? When I got back into this business after taking a few years off I made over $16,000 the first year back and only had 7 mowing jobs 2 commercial 5 residential and I was working solo. I think your rates may be to low you need to check how long each lawn takes and figure your hourly rate say around $35-$40 per man hour and $5 hr equipment charge. Divide your fixed cost by the time it takes to mow each lawn to come up with a more proffitable so a average lawn that takes 15-20 min with two people would be $35.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    It can take some time to upsell customers, I didn't get a lot of upsells my first couple years, but over time more and more clients have come to me for the 'extras'. So one strategy would be to just go after more of these 'cheap' customers and load up on mowing accounts...certainly some of these will hire you to do more. Often with the larger lots you don't do as well profit-wise on the mowing vs. the smaller lots. Maybe come up with a full-service plan for the more expensive homes, all or nothing, so if you land them you make some money off each client.

    I know Atlanta is hilly, I would definitely want a hydro if I worked down there!
  4. pjslawncare/landscap

    pjslawncare/landscap LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,410

    I would plan on getting a 52" or 60" hydro walk behind with a sulky for the bigger yards with hills. I would not go building your business too quickly, but instead grow as needed. You will know when it is time to upgrade your equipment and what type of equipment you need as you fill your route. Too many times Ive purchased a piece of equipment thinking I will make some good $$ with it just to see it sit (last one was a $1400 snow blower Ive used twice the past three years). Also research the products well before you invest
  5. cantoo

    cantoo LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,910

    New houses usually means lots of customers needing fences. If you can't find enough mowing jobs then learn to install fences and fill your day up. The upsells will come as the properties get nicer. Build or install play centers garden sheds etc. Do a few other things to get them usedd to calling you when they want something done.
  6. clallen03

    clallen03 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 514

    Give me a break I only worked like one day a week and that was on Sat about 12 hours. I net about 9K for the first season. Thats over $1100 a month for one day a week not great but i'll take it for part time work.

    I spoke with another LCO in my area that gave the same advice. What is it about those hydro mowers that make them good on hills?

    Thanks for your advice. Any more suggestions?
  7. mowerman90

    mowerman90 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,491

    I'm 56 years old and do most of my 1/4 acre lots (mow, trim and edge street-drive-walks and beds)in about 20 mins each by myself. I'd say the first thing you need to do is learn how to work more effeciently. By doing that you can eliminate your biggest expense, which is your helper. Grow your business slowly, and let your equipment needs be dictated by whatever dealer can service you the best. I've always pumped my money into more efficent equipment that can return my investment in the shortest time possible while making my life easier.
  8. clallen03

    clallen03 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 514

    Thanks for your reply mowerman90,

    I'm always looking for ways to be more efficient, so can you tell me the type of equipment you are using and how you approach your 1/4 acre lots? I'll tell you how I do mine.
    When I pull up to the account my helper grabs the trimmer from the trailer and starts trimming around the beds, house, and tree rings. I grab the mower and start on the lawn. When my help finishes the trimming he grabs the stick edger to edge walkways and driveways. normally when he is almost finished edging I'm grabbing the blower to blow off all walkways and driveways. we normally finish about the same time, load up, and drive away. This process normally takes about 25-30 mins tops.

    Now if you know of a better way with the equipment I have please let me. Like I said I'm always looking for ways to be more productive.

    Thanks :)
  9. sikagrass

    sikagrass LawnSite Member
    Messages: 238

    I was reading on another thread about how tough Atlanta was,guess youd know better than me. What Im thinking those high end accounts arent always what they are cracked up to be.
    Certainly get more accounts, the more you get, then you can cull the bad ones,if you double up this year, couldnt you afford a z to help you bring in more dollars per hour without the fatigue?Myself I dont always do better with the more expensive houses I do better with volume,in , out,pay me.
  10. pjslawncare/landscap

    pjslawncare/landscap LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,410

    Smooth power with infinite speed range and reversal with the squeeze of the grip. Once u learn the 3 point turn around on hills, you will only want hydro

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