Things I learned my first Year

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by drmiller100, Sep 12, 2004.

  1. drmiller100

    drmiller100 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 562

    Well, the mowing season here is about over.
    Things I have learned.
    To bid a job, you have to learn. So, you end up bidding low to learn. The good customers snicker, let you mow it, and then come up to you at the end, tell you what you did wrong. FIX IT no matter what they want. The good customers will then tell you what they expected to pay. If you do a good job, they want you to stick around, and they will pay you fairly.

    I bought a JD 737. It is the biggest mower in the county outside of the golf courses and schools. The second biggest is a 36 inch walker that is about 6 years old. It is COOL to show up on a job with my helper, blow through the lawn, then wait for my helper to finish trimming while I BS with the competitor crews as they are dumping clippings. When done, we spend 20 minutes on a lawn including trimming, blowing, picking up stuff, adjusting sprinklers on new lawns, and load/unload. Their crews of 3 take 40 minutes.

    I bought a JD push mower. 6.8 horsepower. Way more mower then I thought I neeeded, and I squeaked HARD when the salesman wouldn't sell me a cheaper one. I bought that salesman 2 lunches. He was right.

    I bought a JD trimmer. It sucked. Badly. My big Stihl is cool. The hedge trimmer attachement I bought I made like 1000 bucks with cutting out brush. Ever use a DR push trimmer? What a frigging joke. My stihl with hedge trimmer is about 3 times faster, works in rocks, uneven ground, and basically anywhere you can walk or rope yourself into. Plus the 4 foot shaft REALLY lets you reach out there. WAY COOL TOOL.

    You never say "gee the chain saw i bought was too big". Husquavarna makes good saw, as does Stihl.

    Clippings are a PITA. 7 iron mulch kits are way cool. My customers don't know I mulch. I had one lady that INSISTED I bag. I told her the price doubled if I bagged, and I'd mulch it once for free. She let me mulch it with the 7 iron. To be fair, I used gator blades. The factory blades are not as nice. Remember the salesman? He wouldnt' sell me a grass catcher. Said life was too short.
    We had one lawn that was steep enough we HAD to do it with push mower, and push mower mulcher sucks, so we bagged. Clippings suck. We rolled the push mower twice this summer cuz when the bag gets too full the center of gravity gets too high and the push mower rolls over sideways. It is kind of steep.

    We didnt' have a lot of regular lawns. I'm a little embarassed how few hours I put on my big mower this year. But I feel better because I figured it out and I made about 70 bucks an hour on the big mower on average.

    At the end of the summer my big mower is worth slightly less then it was at the beginning of the summer. Cost of steel is going up. If I take care of it, it will last me a LONG time.

    I started first of June. Newspaper ads in the service section was the best lead generator, excepting of course for word of mouth.
    Parking the trailer with huge sign on the side with mower parked beside was also beneficial, although I did get a few calls "what is that green thing parked by your trailer."
    Remember the competitor crews I mentioned? I was friendly, nice, and showed them my trimmer and how the big mower works. By end of the summer, they were referring potential customers to me because they were sick of pushing mowers around, and we wanted more customers.

    August here traditionally everyone goes to cutting every other week because "lawns quit growing and start going dormant." I fertilized First of august for all my customers without asking, and sent them the bill. My customer's have the best lawns in the valley. And they needed mowed every week.

    The contractors up here use PVC and a trencher to put in a sprinkler system in an established lawn. I explained what a vibratory plow was to the local rental store. They got one in, and the cable guy has helped them pay for it already.

    The changing of the seasons has me worried. But, I'll make some money somehow. Lots of dead trees that need removed up here.

    And snow is coming.
    thanks for all your help.

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