Thinking about starting a leaf clean up business, Input needed please.

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by BobbieB, Oct 29, 2011.

  1. BobbieB

    BobbieB LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    First a little background, I'm 22 and live in a subdivision in Washington Mi, that has a lot of leaves, I mean a ton. When I bagged my yard, I end up with 40-50 bags per week. I have equipment that I use to take care of my yard, a Redmax bp blower, and a Billy Goat Walk behind blower, that I can use in my business. Everyone burns in my neighborhood and they all hate it. I have talked to many neighbors and they would pay to have them removed, so I got to thinking.

    I have no interest in starting a full lawn care business, I know that sounds stupid but I don't. Only a leaf service. I would offer full cleanups, and you rake we take deals. Figured I could work alone, maybe needing help every so often.

    My plan.

    I have thought of many different routes. First was a dump truck with a vac. I decided against that because of the cost of the truck, plates, maintenance etc. Also the licenses needed for air brakes and commercial hauling. Plus, what could I do with a dump truck when not in use.

    So I decided on a dump trailer vac system. Figure dump trailer 3,000, vac 1,800, wood/tarps/etc 500. Puts me around 5-6 k for the system. This makes much more sense to have this system. And I have a place to store it, and possible use for it as well.

    Now, I currently have a 2008 Duramax modded, which is my baby, but fully capable of doing any towing. I would just be scared of damaging my truck to run this operation. I wouldn't want to put anything in the bed, but Idk where I would fit a blower, walk behind, rakes and gas cans. But, now that winter is around the bend, I'm looking at getting a gas getter/not having to let my diesel warm up to drive 10 ft. Probably a v-6 ranger. Do you think it could pull a dump trailer loaded with leaves? My buddy's got one and tows a car hauler with a Wrangler on it, so Idk. Wouldn't really care much about this truck, it would be my "beater".

    Then money comes into play. What to charge. My yard is .75 acre and takes me 1.25 hours to blow into large piles. I would be happy with 200 for a full cleanup and haul away. Or I figure 80 for just leaf pickup. Can anyone in the Shelby/Washington/Romeo area give me help on the pricing. I figure I can be very competitive. I would have no overhead besides a trailer and equipment that I already have. Some of these guys charge crazy amounts. Before I was old enough to do my leaves, 10 years ago, we paid 400-500 to have them done. And last year, I got a week behind and had soooo many leaves that I called a company to vac them up, and they wanted $240. So I think I can make some money here.

    Lastly where to dump. Anyone know of a place near 28 and Mound that I can dump at. I assume there's gotta be a few? I would be willing to pay but free is best. :clapping:
  2. H & M Yard Improvements

    H & M Yard Improvements LawnSite Member
    Messages: 214

    Not to discourage you, but most people want someone who will do year round service for them. These insane prices that you speak of are legit companies that have expenses and families to support. The money they charge for a service doesnt go into their pockets. They have to pay taxes, employees, operating expenses etc. How much fuel do you think you will need to operate your machines? How much do you think it will cost you in fuel to take your loads to the dump? If the dump charges a fee, are you going to pay for it out of your own pocket? I assure you its not FREE as you would call it. Know your expenses and labor and charge accordingly. If I were you, and I was thinking of a leaf removal service, I would first assume that you are legit and fully insured and would have planned how you were going to do it way ahead of time and started advertising months ago, maybe even last year when you were doing it. The way you just presented yourself makes you seem like a lowballer which many on this site frown upon and you will hardly get any advise from them. Just my 2 cents! Good Luck!
  3. JB1

    JB1 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,904

    sounds like if your gonna do it, you better get to it or it will be done for this year.
  4. BobbieB

    BobbieB LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    I wouldn't attempt to start it up this year. Leaf season is over, and you can get equiptment cheaper in the winter. But for the most part I understand that these companies have opperating cost, it's not like I'm trying to put people under. I just don't think that 2-3 guys and a leaf truck is worth 500-600. I could offer the service for less, and there's still plenty of work for everyone. And most of these "legit" companies are unreliable. There never on time and always do an ok job, not all but most. There still are alot of people that do their own cutting but can't handle the volume of leaves in the fall and that's where I come in.
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  5. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,506

    Oct 30th is not the day to start a business plan for a "leaf pickup only business". You want to invest a ton of money in specialty equipment for a few week gig? To top it off you want to low ball right out of the gate. you sound like a homeowner that fails to understand what goes into running a business and why a pro has the nerve to charge 240.00. Find some kid with a rake and a roll of trash bags, maybe he will work for 10 bucks an hour. Sorry to be Captain Killjoy.:usflag:
  6. sdk1959

    sdk1959 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 909

    Problem is, you don't have regular lawn customers, which means anyone that calls you will wait till the last leaf falls then want a fall clean-up. Between the limited daylight, and the amount of leaves to deal with, you will have to hire some help.

    I mulch leaves in the fall for customers over 2-6 visits depending on how wooded their lot is, instead of collection and removal. But I'm only able to do that because I have regular customers and can schedule leaf mulching visits. There would be far too many leaves to mulch at once if my customers wanted it done all in one shot at the end of the season.

    With your business plan you only have one option-leaf collection and removal plus most people who would want that done already have a lawn service and will ask them first to do leaf clean-up- not look in the paper or phone book for someone else to do it for them.
  7. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,725

    You sure know how to piss off half the landscapers on the planet. You described half a day 500-600 with a 3 man set up is half a day. So they will do 2 jobs that size if all goes well and they can get the truck emptied in time for another clean up. So now you know they bring in 1000-1200. How much do you think men expect to be paid in this trade ill tell you 150-200 a day each. So now there goes 450-600 dollars of that. You still got 50 dollars in fuel cost then we get to spend 5 dollars a yard to dump the leaves and that's 60 a truck. You haven't touched on rent, insurance, banking fees, billing costs, equipment repairs, equipment replacements, truck repairs, truck replacements, tires all those F U fees that go with employee payroll. And then you may want to actually have a modest profit for yourself and trust me in fall clean ups at 1000-1200 a day for a 3 man crew its really modest..

    So you blatantly show off how much you don't know what your talking about. Including the whole truck air brake bs you mentioned. You need air brakes on trucks over 26,000 gvw what size do you think that is? my ram 4500 is only 16,000 gvw and shes huge. You can get 6500s that are 26000 even an avoid that cost or any truck less then 6500 will be under 26000 and exempt from the air brakes. Further more if a truck with air brakes was bothering you what did you think would happen with the dump trailers you are allowed 10000 and then move up to a CDL. So minus the 3k or so the trailer will weigh then add in box and vac and you got a 6k payload. Where you could have 10k plus on a larger truck that still doesn't have air breaks and not need a CDL either.

    Now if this is your dream they do have several leaf trailer options out there with the vac built in place but that does lead us to one other point you are missing. The wear and tear on the vac is huge the liners go the hose wears out the tips wear off the impeller wears down. Then the engine is in about the dirtiest place in the world so you will get all sorts of engine issues over the years. Basically I have 2 20hp giant vacs and have worked out the repairs vs the hours we use it OUR cost and that means what we pay to use it so OUR cost is over 60 and hour to use a vac. Nothing is a cheap as it seams so think hard on this before jumping in. If you want the low cost rake and bag approach knock yourself out the reason we get what we get is we pay to do the jobs quicker that's our investment. Is a guy with a ranger and a rake and a few bags worth 60 an hour absolutely not. Is a 5 man crew with self propelled blowers leaf plows on ztrs with vac systems leaf trucks with 20 plus hp vacs and brand new br 600s for every man worth 300 and hour you bet your ass it is.
  8. H & M Yard Improvements

    H & M Yard Improvements LawnSite Member
    Messages: 214

    That just about sums it up lol! And thats just leaf clean ups! Imagine the mowing and landscaping side of it. Some people just havent got a clue. Know it all lowballers suck! I really liked your reply. Good post!
  9. BobbieB

    BobbieB LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    I like your reply. Seems you have alot of free time. Instead of writing me a three paragraph response you should be out working. So I can just tell how your business is run.

    But if it takes your crew half a day to clean .75 acres, you need to clean your crew up. They clearly arnt performing all that well. My yard is .75 acres with aprx 90 large trees and I can have it plown cleanly to the road for burning in under 1.25 hours. That's around all tress, beds and every picking up almost every leaf. That's by myself with a 7100 redmax. Now if I had a guy running my push blower I'd be done way faster. With a vac I could do my property in 1.5-2 hours. And would be happy with 2-300. I understand how business work.

    Secondly, I'm not looking to spend a ton on a truck. All the small under cdl trucks are 10 k, the older bigger trucks that are cheap have air brakes. Plus you need a vehicle inspection sticker over 10,000 plus insurance etc. Don't forget laws very in every state.

    I know it's the end of the season, that's my plan. Have time to think and research before I do anything. Also here in micigan things get real cheap this time of year. But I've looked at alot of set ups on this site. Some of them are amazing, some arnt even close to professional. I'm not looking to go all out and build a crazy rig, just looking to make money and offer honest pricing. For yeas people have been gravytraining leaf pickup. Now there going under because companys charge an arm and a leg, then wonder why they don't get call backs.

    I never claimed to be a pro. I had an idea that I though could work. But seems like you guys are more into character bashing, than constructive criticism.
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  10. 93Chevy

    93Chevy LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 42,005

    Why would he be out working at 430 on a Saturday? No thanks...

    You want constructive criticism...come back to us with a better plan and higher pricing.

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