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Where to begin

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Cruz717, Aug 9, 2010.

  1. Cruz717

    Cruz717 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    Hello Everyone...
    Allow me to introduce myself, My name is Jose L Cruz.... I currently am working for a medium sized lawn care business. I have been grooming lawns for about 10 years now. I am currently the foreman in charge of the cutting crews..
    I am 36 and as time goes by I see really no future unfortunately where I am. So after years of thinking of going off on my own I believe I am ready to start taking steps to start next year.
    I have savings of 16,000 that I have been stashing for years just for this.
    Basically there's alot of info as to where to go, and how to go about doing it, but what is the Very First thing you guys recommend I do.
    Do I spend my money on the equipment and hope costumers call, do I find customers first, do I register first with the city and town. Do I open a bank account under the business...
    And if this question has been asked because I am sure it has please link me.
    I would like to concentrate on Mowing lawns, mulching, replacing sod, slice seeding, dethatching, things I routinely do, and have knowledge of.
    I value your advice here on the forum, I want to be one of YOU successful lawn service professionals.... Help me be one
    With many thanks,,,,,
    Jose Luis Cruz
  2. xclusive

    xclusive LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,054

    Start off by looking into what it would cost you to start the business i.e. registering a name, getting a gen liab policy, how much advertising would cost you. I def do not recommend quitting your job and and just depending on a new business to bring money in for you. If I where you I would continue to work for the company you currently do and try to pick up some lawns to cut on the side maybe after work or on your days off and build from there. DO NOT steal customers away from your current employer or take business away from them.
  3. SkinnyVinny

    SkinnyVinny LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 262

    Hey man, welcome to the site! First things first do you own a truck? because I would say next to finding out the Licensing requirements in your area, that would be the first thing you will need. If you don't have a truck and only have 16,000 dollars to get it off the ground, you might struggle for the first year but im sure it will pick up. After you get the truck and all the equipment you need, you will need to get licensed, insured, a tax i.d and all that great stuff to function as a legal business. Whatever money you have left, you can throw into advertising. I would say the best decision for you right now is to keep working for the person you do now until next spring and go crazy with advertising! Running a business is fun and filled with uncertainty, if you stick with it and keep charging forward no matter how hard it gets, you will be fine! Hope I helped and good luck! Keep us updated for sure!
  4. Greenhouse

    Greenhouse LawnSite Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 11

    I'm also pretty new here, and I skimmed through about the first 100 pages in here and learned a ton of info on how to start up.
  5. Cruz717

    Cruz717 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    Thanks guys I really appreciate the help. I think so far a a key piece of info that I have gotten is not to quit my job. So I have decided to look into the paper work side, ie insurance, license etc. And also since I am not going to quit my job right away I have decided to go ahead and put something together as far as getting my equipment and looking for a few accounts. i would never try to take business from my boss or steal his customers. but I am gonna approach him and let him know what I am doing, hopefully it will go over well.
    As far as the truck, i have decided to buy a used 14 foot box truck, I know there are mixed feelings on the box truck, but for me right now I believe it's the best option, at this time being I do not have a garage or a place to really store my equipment. Besides I am a big fan of the box truck conversion, just because I believe it makes for a neater appearance, easier to maneuver, especially on the back roads of mass.
    Any way getting off of the subject..... So as it stands I am gonna acquire all necessary paper work, insurance and such, at the same time purchase decent used equipment and start Grooming some lawns.. I will keep you all posted
    Thanks for all your help
  6. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,220

    The way most of us started, was from the ground up.
    a G-Sale push mower, family/friends lawns, then build up to ZTR's larger trucks and trailers.

    I know there are a couple of diffrent way's to start, I wa afraid to spen a ton of money then try to get customers.

    with word of mouth spreading it wasn't untill about 2 to 3 months before I needed a ZTR,
    and had NO problem getting it. then Business Quickly Grew. it grew to the point I could No longer claim myself, with out cheating on taxes. so I had to go learn it.
    from there with simple ads in the local newspaper business took off like a rockett.
    I was hireing helpers. and purchaseing more equipment.

    my process was a kind of learn as you go. this may NOT work for everyone, but I had almost NO start up money. and I was making money from day 1.
    my fast track. on taxes and money was a bust. I found myself needing help QUICKLY,
    however it came very fast. and I found meself running around " Putting out fires" with the money.

    I started this company 4 short years ago. and today I have 4 employees. 3 trucks, an accountaint. a new house. with a cleaning lady. my personal truck in a 3/4 ton Superduty. with all the bells and whilstles. and NO you can not put brush in the back of it. LOL
    from my way of starting, was the poor mans way, and after a few bumps it come out GREAT. I did pay a find for taxes once. and only once.
    now it's streame lined. as far as employees, it's VERY HARD and costly to put togather a team.

    BEST of luck to you
  7. Cruz717

    Cruz717 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    Thanks man for the story,,,, thats the kind of stuf that keeps me, all of us motivated to reach for that dream...
  8. PerfectEarth

    PerfectEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,734


    I am rarely positive to anyone on this site (hehehe) but I really commend you on your choice and intelligent thought process as you start up a business. It's refreshing to see someone who has saved money, WORKED for another lawn care company and has EXPERIENCE, and has the smarts to want to do it RIGHT. I wish you the best of luck! It seems you have a really good head on your shoulders- I feel your current employer might really support your choice (though they are probably going to hate to eventually lose an excellent employee, which I assume you are) and this can be a good thing, as you can "start-up" on the side while keeping a steady paycheck. Who knows?

    Anyway, Best of luck.
  9. Lefet

    Lefet LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,887

    bohiaa's singing my song. Ground up starter,OJT, learning with the lumps.
    Was fortunate to get some equipment from my Dad.
    Still have no start up money, and invest EVERY penny back into the business, of course I just started though.

    Good reading I've found here also is this thread:


    Best wishes to you.
  10. fivestarlandscapes

    fivestarlandscapes LawnSite Member
    Messages: 58

    I am just south of you down in taunton Ma. I did exactly what you want to do, except I have been doing it since april. Let me help you, I have just gone through everthing you will go through. The very first thing you do before you do anything is forget the box truck, you will kick yourself later for that idea, I understand that they are cheap and will give you secure storage but it will leave you with limited services you can provide. Get yourself a decent 3/4 ton longbed pickup and order a loadhandler from northern tool. Spend $25 bucks at home depot and put sides on the bed of the pickup. This will allow you to do mulch jobs, and will let you be easily able to dispose of debris you generate. Second, you cannot just mow lawns starting out. You need to do landscaping also. I got very few lawn accounts starting out. But, I got a lot of landscaping work which led to lawn maintenance. If it was not for edging and mulching jobs, I would not still be in business. Third, scour craigslist every night for used commercial equipment. Get all your equipment used to start off. You can get good equipment used for so much less than new. Once you have the equipment to do the work, put ads up on craigslist for your service, get business cards (Nice ones) there cheap. Get doorhangers and go hang em up everywhere. If you get a call for an estimate, get over there as soon as possible, same day. Drop what you are doing if you have to and go do the estimate and talk to the customer. Chances are you will get that job. The most importabnt thing is do not lowball the bid to get the job and end up losing your shirt on the job. Know your hourly rate and stick to it. If a customer askes you to do a little something extra, just do it. Chances are they will give you a little something extra, if not at that time, in the future with a referell or more work. I started with a dodge ram, landscape trailer, old 52 inch scag wb, and crummy echo handhelds. Now, four months later, I have a 2008 exmark navigator, a nice 96 f-450 diesel dump truck, stihl powerheads, shindaiwa blower etc. I have no kids, am 24, and focus only on my business, I dropped all other interests for the time being. What has helped me a lot is i am a mechanic and welder also.

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