When did your business take off?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by stevenf, Oct 21, 2008.

  1. stevenf

    stevenf LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,612

    Right now I am 20 years old. Been doing lawn care for two years now, one of which was legal. My parents have the mind set that a man has to work at a plant to make any money. I decided not to take that route and have a completely different outlook on things.I attend a community college. I wasnt going to go at all, but I figured if my plans failed, I will have a two year degree or atleast a year of college under my belt.
    My first year I pulled in about $6k for the year. By the end of this month, I will have pulled in $13k this year. This winter I am working on my applicators license, switching to $2mil liability, and plan to really hit the advertising for 2009.My goal is to get to $40k solo on maintenance before getting into landscape installs. Just trying to get a few thoughts on things.

    Did you guys put a deadline on your success or did you just try year after year? Did you steadily increase the first few years or were there times you second guessed your decision?
  2. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,286

    I seem to be in a similar boat as you. Looking to gross $15K or so this season compared to like $3K last season (which was my first). I do maint + landscaping + odds/ends outdoor work.

    I don't have an ultimate deadline or goal to reach. What I try to do each year is set my annual sales and customer goal a % higher than last season. If I did have an ultimate goal, it would be to increase my biz as a solo op until I couldn't handle anymore. Then I can look at taking the next step.....

    I think there were times I have 2nd guessed myself. Like last season, with just a couple customers, and NO ONE responding to my ads - not enough work. This season, a fair bit better, and people around town starting to recognize me. Patience and a no-quit attitude are essential for success here.

    Best of luck to you next season in your 3rd year!
  3. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    I'm 53.... and something of a seasoned sales and businessman. I went legal this year (last year did some mowing on the side for extra $) and got certed for pesticides this year, and bought commercial equipment. I also have 2 years of formal trade school learning in Ornamental Horticulture... so my starting point is different.

    I will likely gross about 35k this year, my first. I'm targeting 70k for next year. I can see me topping out at 100k as a solo in year 3. ( I also had some on the side part time gigs this year, like being an advisor for Scotts/Ortho/Miracle grow)

    The profit margin in mowing is eye level to a toilet bowl. Get into the apps (legally) and soft scaping as soon as you can. If you see a foundation bed at a regular cusoromer, and it's over grown and over crowded... where the shrubs and plantings are suffering from this issues... learn how to upsell.

    Show the homeowner how the dark side of the plant that gets no sunlight has no healthy growth. Take a couple courses on horticulture... it will boost both your knowledge and confidence. Jobs like these are gravy... using existing plants, moving them into newly created beds, adding some other smallish stuff... dwarf ornamental grasses, flowering perennials.... you will make more money, have more fun, and the material costs are low.

    Too many LCO's get caught up in getting more and more mow accounts. Look for the mulch jobs, the annual plantings, the transplanting jobs. When you are ready, you can design new beds.

    This was my approach, and so far it's worked well. Use more brain, less brawn. Get the high profit stuff. Apps, installs, in short... landscaping.
  4. I totally agree with Whitey. I learned this already that the mowing gets you in the door. Once the customer is pleased with your work, then you can hook them for everything else. It also sets you apart from other guys when you have knowledge in plants,turf,pesticides,ferts,etc. Mowing can still be profitable down here in S. Florida, but the real dough is in all the other stuff.
  5. jrc lawncare

    jrc lawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    Started slow, grossing about 30k a year. This year, will gross well over 100k, depends on how bad you want it........
  6. yard_smart

    yard_smart LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 590

    WOW I thought i posted that lol . . . Although my numbers are substantially different from you, I too am 20 and go to a comm college. Could have went to a four year and played football but decided that there was money to be made and man o' man do i love my bread! This is my first year as an LLC and I'm Projected to do 35k Gross.

    Keep at it and most importantly get a sales forecast together, decide what you want to make in Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. March April May . . . .and so on . . . I'm looking to Gross 75k next year . . .

    A marketing plan is also a great idea also . . . be organized and plan you different adds your going to run!

    Also set personal short term and long term goals.

    Just an example of mine
    Age 22 - Add First Crew
    Age 23 - Gross 100k
    Age 24 - Get out of the field in Lawn Care
    Age 25 - Add another crew
    Age 26 - 100k Salary
    Age 27 - Continued Growth
    Age 28 - Buy A Porsche
    Age 30 - Be out of the field completely
    Age 31 - Buy First Apartment Complex
  7. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,624

    Whitey your 53?

    Im just hoping to get a real good start next spring and dont know really what to expect.

    This year Ive been part time and just butting back all tha part time money for equiptment
  8. yard_smart

    yard_smart LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 590


    This is one of the best quotes I've ever seen its from Alice in wonderland

    Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
    The Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to
    Alice: I don't much care where.
    The Cat: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.
  9. meets1

    meets1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,857

    Tot he ? at hand - business is taking off everyday! Good to have a goal but those in college and don't take this wrong but I have seen more come and go than you can shake a stick at. In my area alone, there has been at least 20 guys that started there own, or worked for someone fulltime - all 2-4 yr college guys - now they move on. One company was paying big time, benefits, cell phone, palm pilot, labtop, truck.

    All depends on what you want to do in life. Grossing 10 - 50 - 100K in nothing. BOTTOM LINE is where it is at. I understand maybe you have new equipment, etc but to no the business you need to be in the business - not letting a crew go out cuz your the owner and watch the cash come in. Until you have that 50 - 100 plus account, you should be able to handle most of that yourself, unless there 10 acre account each.

    Next valuable lesson - no your cost. Don't low ball. In fact you should be the high guys in the market due to your expense ratio.
  10. PTP

    PTP LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tulsa
    Messages: 1,398

    My business took off when I found someone who was successful in this business and imitated them.

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