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Three sisters?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by murrmo, Jun 8, 2003.

  1. murrmo

    murrmo LawnSite Member
    from Phoenix
    Messages: 2

    Hi everyone. I've been reading posts for a few days now. I'm learning a lot. I wanted your opinions about a few things. First, here's a little background about me.

    I live in Phoenix, and while a lot of people think it's just a barren land, there's tons of neighborhoods going up all the time. The sprawl is crazy. Driving to my job, I am always seeing landscape trucks and trailers, so many of them running the whole spectrum from an old pickup with rakes in the back, to glossy professional outfits.

    I love physical work, being outside, etc. My sister has been an avid gardener and has acquired a lot of knowledge putting in her own landscape. My other sister is equally outdoorsy. The three of us, all female, in our 20's and 30's--we're strong, hardworking, change our flat tires and our oil kind of girls. I think we could have a good run at this business, and with the three of us, be able to provide some income, especially for the one sister who has two kids and would benefit from a home-based, family run business.

    He're's my questions: As near as I can tell, as long as we stay under $750.00 per job, we don't need a landscape contractor's license (although I'd like to get one down the road). I've researched and found I can basically get started with just a sole proprietorship (file a DBA), and then also get a business license for each city (suburb) we'd actually do work in. General liability insurance. That's about it in terms of legal stuff, or am I forgetting something? Would it be okay to start off without insurance? If we're only doing small residential yards, part-time? Or is that just not accepted by the profession?

    It's important to me that we don't come off looking like scrubs--so I'm wondering this--when you guys use the phrase "licensed"--are you refering to a busines license, or to contractor's license? Just to get started with basic maintenance (excluding pesticide)--it's just a business license, correct? The AZ ROC website says you don't need a contractor's license if you're functioning as a gardener. Do you consider yourself a gardener if you're not doing all out landscape installation--just maintenance? I looked up some landscape maintenance companies in the yellow pages. Some of them are registered with the registrar of contractors, others are not. If someone advertises that they are licensed, but they don't show up in the ROC, then what are they referring to?

    Anyway, I know this is long. I just think it'd be a great thing for the three sisters to do. "Three Sisters Lawn and Gardening." If we had matching T-shirts, a logo on the truck--we'd be different--three blond women with mowers and such. I just want to do everything to make sure we do it right, that we're taken seriously. I'm thinking we can market to the young families out in the new developments, with new homes and new landscapes. Or single women. Or the elderly who can't do their yard work anymore. Try to make our gender work for us in this business.

    Any input on these ideas is much appreciated.
    Thank you so much.
  2. If nobody from from Phoenix answers I'm sure a call to the city will answer the license question since rules are different everywhere. But it sounds similar to here, if you are doing maintenance only and no pesticides the only license needed is a trade name/dba.
    As far as the insurance, check around. I only pay $350 a year for my liability insurance. To me it just isn't worth taking a chance to save that small amount. But if it isn't required by city/state then I wouldn't call you a scrub for not having it.
    Anyway - I don't think three ladies will have any trouble getting jobs. When I first started I knew of 2 young ladies paying for college doing this work and they seemed to stay busy.
    The three sisters thing is kind of cool- maybe work Chekhov into that also ;)
  3. John Gamba

    John Gamba LawnSite Fanatic
    from ct
    Messages: 10,812



    donkey resized.jpg
  4. Green in Idaho

    Green in Idaho LawnSite Senior Member
    from Idaho
    Messages: 833

    Three ladies who change their own tires and oil!!!! Are any of you single and willing to move??? j/k

    Most important thing first:
    With three people operating together in a busines activity you are forced to operate as a partnership or a company. Without any other action on your part, the IRS and the State of Arizona would classify and TAX you as a partnership by default.

    Additionally whenever there is more than 1 person operating a business,, a partnership agreement is HIGHLY recommended. If you were three brothers, my professional advice would be don't do it. Sisters on the other hand is more likely to be amicable. HOWEVER there will be someone who gets peeved, upset, or otherwise disturbed. That is when the written agreement comes in handy.

    An alternatives to a partnership is one of you being the sole prop and hiring the other two. Then if someone doesn't like the situation 4 years from now it is easy to adjust.

    Another alternative is to operate three separate sole props. One of you do one service like sprinklers, one do mowing, one do flower bed maintenance. All working together for the synergy though.

    See other threads on here about partnerships and you will read one consensus: Avoid them.

    The other stuff re licenses and such all depends on state and local laws.

    Rather than mowing, have you considered offering other services that are not so cut-throat?

    For example here there is business that does only "gardening." They have a high-end clientele like $500K plus houses. They go to a property and instead of mowing they water the flower pots, prune, dead-head, weed, plant, rearrange, decorate patios, sell flower pots, rotate annuals, etc. And they would do one time things for people having receptions and outdoor parties. High dollar per hour, minimal capital investment and service a niche market. And they would subcontract with the other lawn businesses who had no design sense or any idea what attention to detail means. Also focusing on drip irrigation to water patios and planter beds, and using drought-tolerants is another speciality. Build teh business it to your designs, and your 'touch' and then get a couple helpers for each of you to serve those large estates in Phoenix.... just ideas.....

    My point is I believe ladies have a better skills for design, details, and such and would be more profitable at something like that than chasing a mower. It's finding a niche that suits your talents and competing in a market that is NOT saturated.

    But if chasing a mower competing with a 10,000 other people floats your boat- good! You are on your way.

    As far as your comment about making your gender work for you in the mowing business, I think the customer market is obvious and it's NOT elderly ladies. Although r. it can be a double edged sword. You may end up noticing all of your cancelation calls are from the lady of the house and never from the men. :mad:
    At the risk of revealing my animal instincts I'll stop here... :blob4: :D :blob4:

    Good luck and please keep us updated...
  5. Rex Mann

    Rex Mann LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 621

    I am located in Phoenix. You are accurate about the license only needed if the work is over $750.00. Also, no license needed if you are a gardener. I'm not sure what the definition of gardener is from the the ROC.

    A license is not needed for each city. However, you have to file paparwork saying you'll be working in their city. Reason is so they can get their share of the tax you collect on your goods. Remember their is only tax charged on goods and not labor.

    You can go to one of the ROC branch offices and pick up a license package and they will answer any questions you have.

    I would get general liability insurance. For what you'll be doing it will be relatively inexpensive.

    If you do decide to forgo the license for now....be upfront with your potential clients. If they ask you directly, tell them the truth. To many "contactors" here try to play like they have one when they really don't!

    Good luck.

  6. stevo22

    stevo22 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 344

    i really think you must post a, i mean several pictures of you and your two sisters before we can give you 1st rate suggestions!!!:D :D :D
  7. murrmo

    murrmo LawnSite Member
    from Phoenix
    Messages: 2

    Thanks to everyone for the info. I'm meeting with the city to go over some business plans. Been looking into the detail oriented gardening--patios, flowers/annual rotation, container gardens. It's good advice and there's unlimited info to learn. A good market too--many small yards, full of gravel and a forlorn shrub or two. Could use some brightening up on the porch.

    Also, all three sisters are spoken for. Sorry!
  8. Green in Idaho

    Green in Idaho LawnSite Senior Member
    from Idaho
    Messages: 833

    Be sure to check into drip irrigation too for the containers.

    When I set-up a patio container I run a 1/4" line through a drain hole up to the top of the soil and attach an emitter or several or another line. At the bottom of the line I leave a few inches beyond the bottom to attach to a permanent 1/4" line from the sprinkler systems. That way I can disconnect a spring pot and switch to a summer pot and then a fall one without messing up sprinkler lines. The line stays in the pot. The connection is just like a hose connection, easy-on easy-off. Also I get the drip line to match the color of the house so the little bit that trails up to the bottom of the pot "blends" well instead of the black stuff.

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