What is the most profitable?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by ProspectLS, Oct 8, 2019.

  1. ProspectLS

    ProspectLS LawnSite Member
    from NC
    Messages: 5

    I’ll try to keep this brief but wanted to give a little background first. I currently work in the corp. world and have been at same company for past 14 years. I see the advances in technology and know that my position is not going to be around too much longer. Not leaving until the ship sinks but want to have my stuff together to at least try my own thing for a while when that day comes. I just can’t see starting over investing my time and effort again for someone else. Before my kids were born i did a fair amount of lawns on the side but decided to drop the side work so I could spend my time with my kids. My biggest question is what do you feel is the most profitable piece of equipment you have or in general where is the area you feel the best money is? I have a few friends in the business and they say that mowers are 2x what they used to be, fuel is 3x what it was when they started, and the price of maintenance is same as it was 15 years ago because there is so much competition. While I do see that being true i still see plenty of people out there that at least appear to be doing well in this line of work. I still have my equipment as well as several other things i didn’t have before. I have 19 acres so most of this i picked up just to make my own life easier to up keep my property.


    Here is list of what i currently have

    2008 silverado 3500

    1998 F800 single axle dump truck

    Hustler 66z

    Honda 21

    Trimmer/edger/blower/chainsaw (all good stuff ex: echo pb8010, husq 562)

    ASV RC-50 track loader (4n1/brush cutter/stump bucket/wood splitter)

    John deere 870 tractor (land leveler/bush hog/box scrape)


    I already have a 7x14 enclosed that is pretty well set up for lawn maintenance and have an 18ft open trailer for the tractor and skid steer. I know i could make money with what i already have but just wanted opinions on what direction those who are established thought was the best direction to go as not to even try to compete with the kid with a mower doing cheap lawn maintenance. My initial thought was with my current equipment i could do final grade/landscaping for new construction. New construction is booming right now in my area but know at some point that will slow with the economy again so wouldn’t want that to be 100% of what my long term business model looked like. Any advice is appreciated.
     
  2. Jeff@diyokc

    Jeff@diyokc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 169

    I would point you in the direction your thinking of , final grade, dirt work , perhaps hard scapes like retaining walls or ponds.

    Obviously I don’t live in nc, so perhaps your friends are a good sounding board for what you want to do! It seems the guys on here from nc also echo your friends description of the pricing remaining flat for a number of years!

    perhaps mowing could be a plan b when construction slows! Jeff
     
  3. Matthews Lawn Care

    Matthews Lawn Care LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,741

    Installing new lawns or really any tractor/grading work is my most profitable. Albeit those jobs aren’t as consistent as mowing but when they come around they usually run a couple grand. In my opinion being full service is where it’s at. Around 60% of my gross sales is mowing and the other 40% is apps, landscaping, etc. I’m on pace to hit $75-$80k solo.
     
  4. BigJlittleC

    BigJlittleC LawnSite Fanatic
    from Chicago
    Messages: 6,451

    Installs, gardening, squirt and fert in that order are my most profitable.
     
    Cam15 likes this.
  5. LawnVeteran

    LawnVeteran LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 287

    Major installs like like installs or hardscaping seems like it would benefit your setup the most.

    personally, by myself the most profitable is spray applications. I don’t spray constantly throughout the year but when it comes to my expenses and my Labor pains, the zspray is the most bang for my buck
     
  6. OP
    OP
    ProspectLS

    ProspectLS LawnSite Member
    from NC
    Messages: 5

    Thanks for the feedback. I was thinking I need to do my research on the liquid applications as I have no experience with that. Would probably be good idea to go ahead and start working on required license for that just to have if needed. Was also thinking about getting a little more into the arborist side but from the feedback so far seems the spray is more popular route to go. Ideally I would want 2-3 days a week of maintenance for regular income and have 2-3 days a week to take on bigger jobs.
     
  7. GRANTSKI

    GRANTSKI LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,812

    Biggest mistake for mowing I see is the majority running 3 riders on each trailer and driving a 3500 just to do lawn maintenance. Gas cuts into profit and this setup doubles gas expenses - over Say a 1500 with 1ztr and 2wbs. And that’s a whole $10-$20k less in mowers per crew. Unless your lawns avg an acre+ then it’s just a lazy move and bad ROI. Running a reliable 1/2 ton and smaller mowers - the mileage write off can really work in your favor.
    I’ve been mowing 20 years and I can say atleast in my case that ztrs are only more efficient on wide open lawns. 1/2 acre or less they barely save time over a wb or stander.
    Mistake 2 is always upgrading every few years just for the “write off”. This makes sense for large operations cuz when you make 1/2 million+ they are going to take a huge amount of your $ anyway. But for guys w 1 or 2 crews I think it’s wasteful. I know guys running 15-20 year old machines w only 1 engine swap. Guess what I’m getting at is - you can make much better profit by running lean and mean. No damn need for $45k in mowers to cut 100 lawns per week
     
  8. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Male
    Messages: 16,318


    Oh you’re looking for profit?

    skip investing in lawn mowing altogether.
    The profit in lawn mowing is in extreme volume and picking up the extra work.

    you would be far better served picking up something like carpentry or painting.
    Decks, fences or interior textures and color, outdoor painting is almost worse if not already worse than lawns as far as competition and profit margin.
     
  9. Hayduke

    Hayduke LawnSite Member
    from Oregon
    Messages: 143

    Most profitable as in highest profit margin or most profit volume? There is quite a distinction. My highest profit margin jobs by far are irrigation installs for habitat restoration projects. But we only do 1 or 2 a year so the profit from these jobs is a small percentage of my total. Any business model can be "profitable" otherwise the industry that supports it wouldn't exist. Sure competition is tight in the mow and blow but you better believe there are folks making good money doing it because they have figured out the right formula to make it work for their business model, whether solo or multi-crewed. I'd get you're head off of thinking about what is most profitable, and start thinking about whether or not you have what it takes to make it -which is mostly determination, willingness to learn new tricks (mostly business management), and plain old hard work.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    ProspectLS

    ProspectLS LawnSite Member
    from NC
    Messages: 5


    Think you are missing part of my point. I know that the maintenance isn't very profitable. With what I already own, I can go to work without incurring any debt. My question was more so of what other things besides just mowing are more profitable to fill in such as hardscapes/turf spray/tree work/new landscaping/sod/excavation. What do those who are established have the most request for from customers as far as the "extras" that are more profitable?
     

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