The new guy needs help!

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by golfatsage, Jun 7, 2008.

  1. golfatsage

    golfatsage LawnSite Member
    Messages: 11

    I spent many summers and all of my college life working at golf courses cutting grass. I loved doing this. I worked for sprint till they decided to do cut backs again today and this idea is running strong again. The problem is I dont know where to start....

    It appears starting with residential rather than commercial is the way to go. I currently have a Toro self perpelled mower, an edger, blower and weed eater. I know i need to get a ridding mower adventually but this is what i have and I dont want to put a lot of money in start up costs. Will this work or is it a must to have a ridding/commercial mower?

    Also when yall say your charging $35 and upwards per yard what does that include? Do you charge extra to throw out fertilizer, trim trees/bushes? Also I know I need to get a license but is there anything else legally I need?

    What do you do as far as winter time? I am in the south and almost everyone lets the turf die off, do you still charge and what do you do if your charging?

    I know I have thrown all kinds of questions out there I just want to be theral before jumping into this.

    Any help would be great!
  2. dura to the max

    dura to the max LawnSite Silver Member
    from georgia
    Messages: 2,246

    you can start w/ the equipment you have, however depending on the size yards you cut you wont make as much. for instance i have a 48" commercial w/b if i charge $35 for the yard it takes me about 20 minutes to do the entire yard. it takes you over 25 minutes to just cut. so a bigger mower would be nice. look at the quick mowers from better outdoor products, never had one but heard great things about them.

    $35 is my basic cost, includes cut, trim, edge, and blow. this is basic lawn maintenance. extras cost extra, to fertilize charge 1.5 times the fertilizer plus your hourly rate to put it out.

    winter is when i prune, straw, mulch, cut trees, landscape, hunt, watch football....(and try to take it easy)

    you need to have general liability and workers comp too.
  3. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,758

    What Dura to the max said plus I wanted to throw out a few:

    1) If you tell your client you are going to be there on a certain day, be there! This is one big complaint I hear from clients I have interviewed. If something happens and you can't, CALL them and let them know. This is being professional and show them you care.

    2) The equipment you have is ok for a short time but you will want to get you a decent COMMERCIAL mower. You can pick up a good used walk behind for about what a new residentual cost and any used commercial (assuming it has been taken care of) is better than any residentual. The 3 main pieces of equipment are a good mower, used,anywhere from 1000 to 4000 depending on a ztr or walk behind, a new commercial weedeater, anywhere from 225 to 325, and decent hand held blower for around 175. You wll want a BP blower if you are doing leaf cleanup but that can come later, anywhere from 299-499.

    3) Remember, this is your biz, the try to educate the client for what is best for their lawn. If they start griping or tell you how to do it, WALK. If they start telling you what day and time you have to be there, WALk (there are exceptions for this in rare occassions especially on commercial). If they tell you the "other" guy did it for 20, let this be a warning, people will lie to you in a heartbest to lower you down, never lower your price. Never let them start slipping in all the freebies like "you did not weed the flower bed,trim the shrubs,roll the trash can to the road, wash the car, etc... these are extras and charge accordingly, unless you are going to include that in the price.

    4)PUT EVERYTHING,and I mean everything in a written agreement you are going to do and the price and have them sign it. This is very important!! I turned over 2 this week to the collections for non payment and the lady commented "you have yourself covered", with these signed agreements.

    5) If a person has a ligitimate complain, TAKE CARE OF IT as long as it was your mistake and be nice about it. We are human and do make mistakes but when you correct them its is very impressive to a client.

    6) Do not be a lowballer and cut the going price in your area, you know what you need to make a profit and don't take a 50 dollar yard that another LCO is doing and do it for 20, this hurts the market badly.

    7) I know insurance is not required but the first time you bust a windshield in a Jaguar you will be glad you have it, or even worse,hurt someone.

    8) Try to get as many yards in one area as possible, this will save gas and drive time, my big killer!

    I also think its unprofessional to be on a clients property with a smoke hanging out yer mouth, no shirt on is tacky looking, and certainly no beer on the job!

    I'm sure I can come up with more but thats off the top of my head, Good luck!
  4. JOhanthegnarler

    JOhanthegnarler LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    Next year the committee board is putting a recommendation letter to 99 of their houses in a high end sub to use me because:

    1. I always look professional.. lets admit it.. not many of the yuppi customers i have want to see me in dread locks and a goat tee smoking cigs in my cut off jeans and my beer belly hanging out.
    2. NO smoking on their lawn.
    3. I do not start before 8am! (thats a big one believe it or not in my area)
    4. I don't leave grass on the sidewalks or road!
    5. My customers always know whats going on with their lawn! If they have grubs (i tell them! i want that grass to keep growing!)
    6. Nearly every customer i have (which is only 22 :( because i'm new to this as well ) are within the same subdivision.. i have some houses 3 in a row.

    Oh yea.. no clumps in the lawn.. i've had customers comment that my lawns look very clean (and yes i use a mulcher in wet conditions..double cutting for the lose :( )
  5. dura to the max

    dura to the max LawnSite Silver Member
    from georgia
    Messages: 2,246

    QualityLawnCare4u has some great advice (mostly). the only thing i disagree w/ is the blower. go aread and get the b/p. more versaitle, and you will outgrow the handheld quickly. i dont know about where you live, but the part of SC that im familiar w/ has a lot of trees, meaning a lot of leaf cleaning. you cannot charge a competitive rate and make money if you have equipment that causes you to take twice as long as the other guy. mower, you can make the push mower or a 36" last a while. blower, go ahead and get a b/p. trimmer, get a pro grade that has changeable heads (stihl kombi). you can have trimmers, edgers, pruners, saws, sweepers, etc... on this unit. i like having dedicated equipment, but this is a great commercial grade piece of equipment that allows you to have more great tools for less $$$. start w/ a trimmer and edger, and when you need the pruner go spend just $80 and have it. i spent $400 on my pruner b/c i had to have it then, the $80 one will last you a good while for start-up.

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