Thinking about getting back into the game...

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Scag48, Feb 21, 2007.

  1. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,067

    Seems like forever since I've been on the commercial mowing forum, spend most of my time on the heavy equipment forum of LS. I browse through here sometimes, see a few screen names that ring a bell and quite a few that don't. Anyway, if you check out my join date, I've been here a while and I recognize those that have been here as long as I have.

    I posted a thread on here when I sold off my lawn maintenance business after graduating high school. Since then, I now live 160 miles away from "home" and am attending college. 2 quarters left until my AA is completed, then I'm planning on getting a 2 year ATA in Landscape Design.

    While sitting here living in the Seattle area, I've realized that I had many great opportunities living in my home town. I had a shop, somewhere safe to store my tools and equipment, a truck, and rent was cheap! Now I live in a 900 square foot box, no garage, nothing. With all that said, I'm thinking about somehow trying to get back into the business. I sold my dad my truck, but it doesn't really get driven, so I might be able to talk him into letting me pay him for it's use. My dad bought a Stihl backpack blower for a job we were doing last summer, but other than that, it's brand new and doesn't get used. I have an older FS85 that's sitting in the shop back home that doesn't get used as well. All I'd need to do is come up with a 21" and I'm back in it. I have a couple options as to how to structure the business, could run it as a satellite location for my dad's landscaping business, or I may hit it on my own. Either way, I'm dying to get out of my restaurant job and get back to work that I enjoy. Probably still work full time at the restaurant to make sure I have a consistent stream of cashflow coming in until I can get completely out of there. I only take 10 credits at school, I just can't make rent if I take any more than that, so I do have quite a bit of spare time to work during the week. I was pretty good at cutting grass (not like it's complicated, right?) and my reputation still lives on back home and I've been out of there for over a year. I was home last weekend for the first time in 4 months, went to a basketball game, and had about 3 people ask me if I was still cutting grass because they'd heard I was pretty good at it. Needless to say, I've been out of the game for 1.5 years at this point, not even living there anymore, but it's a small town, 5,000 year 'round residents. Needless to say, I know what I'm doing in the business, I could get going with what I've already learned and accomplished very, very easily.

    I know this is a bit of a rambling thread, but I hope some of you older guys remember me. Haha. I spent the last 2 years running heavy iron for my old man, really enjoyed that and may still go that route long term, but the costs of getting into that business for yourself are astronomical.

    If there are any guys in the Seattle area willing to meet up with me and give me some marketing ideas for this area, that would be great. I was working with a much different demographic back home, I don't even know where to start marketing over here, I feel a bit lost as to how to go about advertising and reaching customers that I'm looking for in a larger market than I'm used to. For some reason, something keeps telling me I need to get back in it and give it a go. I just sold an F450 yesterday to a guy who is friends with the guys at the dealership where I bought my Exmark over 5 years ago, it's a small world.

    Anyway, just thought I'd throw this thread out there. Like I said, hopefully I'll see some familiar screen names. I should be browsing on the lawn care forum daily now that I have this crazy idea in my head!
  2. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,028

    Hi buddy, I've been wondering how you were doing. You are a bright guy and whatever direction you go in I know you will do well. Pick something you enjoy because as you are learning, there are plenty of restaurant type jobs but you aren't going to culinary art school.:laugh: Without knowing your dad or his business I would be seriously thinking about helping in that line of work. Ya the cost is high but your dad has alot of that taken care of and I am thinking he would be happy to have the company continue in the family if you know what I mean. I am no where near Seattle so I can't help you there and my market is only about 150,000 but I would start by not getting to far ahead of yourself with lawn jobs. The Scag48 could cut a decent amount of lawn, a 21 might just make you hate the business. This is especially true if you get behind because of rain (it does rain there doesn't it?) I know you like working outside and I will throw a thought at you. Since you are in school for Landscape Design, why not contact some larger contractors in your area and try to get on with them for a while. It would be like an apprentice program for you and who knows what can come from that. Keep studying and enjoy this part of your life, the real world of work lasts for a heck of a long time. Have some fun and learn all you can. Take care and keep checking us informed how things are going.
  3. MikeLT1Z28

    MikeLT1Z28 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,732

    i've been away from the game for a while too, just recently started getting back on the sites and getting equipment ready. best of luck to ya.
  4. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,067

    Well, I don't have any equipment at the moment. Like I said, have a backpack blower and an older trimmer that aren't being used that could join the arsenal. I'd definately like to get a larger W/B as soon as possible, that's for sure, but at this point I just don't have the funds. Plus, I may find that most of the lawns I might potentially be working on might not even require the use of a larger W/B. And lastly, if I'm only mowing 10 lawns a week, I surely don't need the producivity that a W/B would provide, at least until I get to the point where I have too much to do and not enough time.

    I'd team up with my old man, but his operation is 160 miles away, and I'm 2-3 years away from being done with school. Plus, cutting grass in my home town is getting to be too competitive, not enough potential customers to physically support 10-15 LCO's in a town with a year round residency of 5,000 people. Ever since the apple industry took a severe dive, all the amigos who were picking fruit are now cutting grass. I can't compete with $10 an hour, just no way. Since I left, service prices have gone down while expenses such as fuel have gone up. Doesn't make much sense, even if I was still living there, to even try to get back into that market.

    The Seattle area, on the other hand, sure there's a lot of guys doing it, but it's a HUGE market! I'm not shooting to put anyone out of business, at this point I'd just like to get myself established, keep working my restaurant job as a steady form of income, and when the time comes I'll bail on the restaurant job. I'd like to own a house in 3-4 years and a $1500 month revenue just won't even come close to making that a reality. In 3 years, I'd like to be making enough cutting grass to be able to put down a hefty down payment and get myself out of paying rent.

    Logistically as far as actually cutting the grass goes, I currently have 2 days off a week and I can keep it that way, my seniority at the restaurant allows me to keep good weekend shifts and get rid of crappy, low tipping nights. My school schedule does have the possibility to change every 3 months, but I usually try to take morning classes so I'm done at 9:30. This will change drastically by the time I'm in the landscape design program as they do have classes during the middle of the day, but they're usually 2-3 hours long and only 2 days a week. As far as rain goes, they cut in the rain here, so getting behind is not an option. If it's raining, you mow anyway. Bagging will be required most of the year, which I won't be used to, I mulched exclusively back home with a TTHP 36" and loved not having to get rid of grass. But, I'm not there anymore, and I have to tailor to the wants/needs of a different market.
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Being that you'll be part time, I'd seriously consider a 3-5 year-old used 48" Wb for around 1-2 thousand.
    You'll have to LOOK, so start asap lol. Even 6-8 y.o.'s should be ok, but you'll have to do the looking.
    Chances are, if your area is as big as you say, this shouldn't be too hard.

    Oh yeah, if the mower comes without a bagging system, that would be a bonus (yes, I said without and bonus).
    I used to think I HAD to bag too, until I found that when bagging is not an option, you just can't do it.
  6. LindblomRJ

    LindblomRJ LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,570

    Scag you seem to have a good head on your shoulders. Life is to short to do something you don't like. I like making money however it is not by basis for happiness.

    You come a long line of landscaping. You should be applauded for going out and trying other things and you seemed to have found something that you enjoy. Its your decision - do something you enjoy.

    Topsite I think scag has a pretty good idea about equipment and what works and were to procure it.
  7. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,067

    If it wasn't for all the rain and actually cutting in the rain, I think there might be a chance of not having to bag. We'll see how things go, I'm merely speculating at this point, but it seems that absolutely nobody mulches over here with all the moisture. The lawns are pretty much dried out in the summer because the price of water is astronomical, so the growing season is roughly September thru May or June I'd say, with massive amounts of growth in April and May. Speaking of which, anyone know of a good mulching 21"? Like seriously great at mulching, almost as good as the Exmark TTHP 36" I had? I bought a Deere JX85 the about a year and half before I sold out, man that thing sucked at mulching. The thing about getting a larger W/B is that I don't have a garage or anywhere to store any tools, getting a trailer would be no problem at all, it's just that I currently do not have a place to park one. My plan of attack for storing a 21" and a few hand tools is to rent one of those tiny 5X5 storage units for like $100 a month and just go pick them up everyday. Then when I get a trailer I could graduate up to a larger storage unit. Until I get a house and out of an apartment, I have no garage or covered parking whatsoever.

    I still have some connections with dealers, etc., so if I really need a larger used W/B I could probably find one in decent shape. But, until I really get going, I just don't see the need for a large mower which requires a trailer and a $200 a month storage unit. But, I gotta have something to shoot for, because you're right, running that 21" is not the cat's meow and I'd love to have my TTHP back, but any mower is fine with me so as long as I can get back to the field of work I actually enjoy.

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