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View Full Version : Hi everyone from baltimore,md.


psparaco
10-18-2009, 11:02 PM
I joined this forum back in april of 2009. roughly 2 weeks after i was laid off from my job. i was doing mechanical engineering drafting for about 2 years for this company. total experience about 12 years. the economy took a turn for the worse and out the door i went. I had to re-evaluate my income options. When i was a kid, i ran a landscaping business with a buddy of mine. he stuck with me for 1 season. i did it sucessfully for 5 seasons. til i went off to college for engineering. I should have just stuck with it and expanded. but foolish me didnt. I am currently engaged and have a 5 year old. so I not only have to support myself, but 2 others, which makes one self try to work harder to survive. I mowed my neighbor's lawn the past 3 years cause she approached me and asked if i could do her and i said sure gave her a price and went with it, but only her. when i was laid off. i did some searching online and most of my searches lead me to this site. I signed up. downloaded some contract ideas and flyer advertisement ideas. printed out several flyers and distributed to about 30 townhomes in my alley and ended up with 8 customers all within eye sight of my backyard. so i was on foot. i started out with just mowing. then after a few months added in trimming,edging, hedge trimming and cleanup utilizing old equipment from when i first did landscaping back in 1991-1996. i included everthing in my price for each property. i charged a little bit more for end of group townhomes but still had no idea what to charge and just based my estimated off my old estimates back in 91-96 plus the rate of inflation. now you try mowing with a gas mower, electric trimmer, electric blower and 150-200 foot of power cord. I was referred to a friend of one of my customers and thats when i discovered. HEYY my mower and equipment fits in my trunk of my car with the handle folded up. at that rate. i decided to expand my business to another neighbor about a mile away and BAMMM after passing out some 60 flyers. i landed an additional 10 customers. So end of season i have 18 total customers and i am looking to expand more. i recently updated my equipment. i got a gas powered trimmer from a friend who donated it to me. but stil had the electric blower. the beginnning of october 2009. i just purchased a new gas powered blower/vac. this gave me 2 additional options. 1. completely gas which meant less time to provide my service to my customers. and 2. leaf cleanup in the fall. Next year i intend to charge extra for hedge/bush trimming since thats solely electric. I do not haul away clipping but brush them under the bush for them to break down into natural fertilizer. i mulch all my lawns which again eliminates the need to bag. i am considering on expanding further into snow removal if i can sign enough contracts for it. so i can purchase a snow blower cause god as my witness. i am not shoveling manually 20 properties. i am not nuts. but thats my new/old business in a nut shell. in my off time. i like to spend time with my fiance and daughter and go biking, hiking, swimming, all the fun things to do with the family. i have more time now available for that working for myself then i ever did working for someone else. hope i didnt write too much. i'll write more as time follows. Steve you have an awesome site and all the info here is priceless to me. keep up the good work. happy mowing everyone.

Steve
10-19-2009, 05:14 AM
Welcome to our forum! I am glad you have found it to be so helpful so far!

HEYY my mower and equipment fits in my trunk of my car with the handle folded up.

I'd love to see a picture of that! It is inspiring!

What has been your view on how your previous experience in running a lawn care business has helped you this time around in getting back up and running again?

What was easier for you this time than the first time?

til i went off to college for engineering. I should have just stuck with it and expanded. but foolish me didnt.

I think a lot of people find themselves at a fork in the road when it comes to this. Can you tell us a little insight as why you decided your business was not that path to take?

What advice would you have for others in that same spot considering those options?

psparaco
10-20-2009, 10:41 AM
I'd love to see a picture of that! It is inspiring!

I'll post a picture of the equipment in the trunk later today. i have 3 customers to do my final mowing today. maybe more. have to make a few courtesy calls this morning and it could be more. I can't mow now due to the morning dew. everyone hates mowing when its wet. i just won't. bad for the mow and only dulls your blades more. so I'll spend a few hours this morning following up on calls and other odds and ends, then head out around 11am.

What has been your view on how your previous experience in running a lawn care business has helped you this time around in getting back up and running again?

It was relatively simple this time around. Last time, I used to haul around all my equipment on foot. I rigged a skateboard with a piece of plywood on it, then would put the mower on top of it to save the wheels of the mower from wear and tear transporting it to and from the job sites which at most was 3 blocks away. I also put the power cord, trimmer and blower in my little red wagon and would pull it behind me. it really was a kodak moment but unfornately. i do not have a picture of this. but you all can imagine. This time around its soo much easier, driving to a location no matter how close or how far away i need to go.

Gas powered equipment is soo much easier to

I think a lot of people find themselves at a fork in the road when it comes to this. Can you tell us a little insight as why you decided your business was not that path to take?

Back then i worked for a warehouse in the wintertime and my sister asked me the question. are you going to be a forklift driver your entire life? i poked around on different subjects and decided to do computer aided drafting and design at a local trade school. It looked fun and i like to draw. So i went to school for it, graduated in 2 years and followed that career path and the lawn business just slowly dryied up. i told my customers i would no longer be servicing them the next year and i was sorry that i was going off to college which i was. Everything happens for a reason right. Doing landscaping as a teenager helped me get back into the groove this time. Back then i didnt deal with flyers, or budgets, or nuttin. I mowed the same lawns on a weekly basis the exact same day i mowed it previously. unless it rained then i offset the day by 1-2 days before or after that day. this time around i distributed flyers out to every townhome in on my street and the properties opposite me across the alley. and only those who i didn't see a mower in the back yard. no mower meant possible client. around here there is no rooom for a shed. people just left their stuff outside as do I but i cover my mower with a clear plastic bag when not in use. I keep my blower and trimminer locked up in my basement. so out of 2-30 flyers sent out. i signed 5 customers. 6 if you count the one who wanted it done once. cheap skates lol. my thoery was this landlord charges us 60 per week its not mowed. i charge 20 middle of group. 25. end group and save everyone money and make me money in the process. and so the story unfolds.


What advice would you have for others in that same spot considering those options?

If you love to mow lawns its a profitable business. It does require alot of hard work, advertising, budgeting, taking pride in what you do and always be friendly. I saw someone trying to start their mower. took time from mowing the one lawn and walked over to help. found it they bought it from a pawn shop and its not working. i offered to mow thier lawn for the rest of the year for 20 bucks per week which includes mowing, trimmering, edging, cleanup. they smiled and said they would love that.i have them as a customer ever since and i plan to sign them on for another year. So i started out with 6 clients. and i have grown my client base to 18 total properties now. my proposed goal for 2010 is to increase my client pool to 50. if i cross the 50 mark. i intend to hire a part time helper. i figured out that i would pay him or her 15% of each property they assist me with. doesnt seem like much but if it took me 15-20 min to mow/trim/clean up and i made 25 bucks. thats about 100/hour. so say i pay them 15% of 25. thats 3.75 per lawn. we end up doing 15-20 lawns that day. thats 56-75 bucks for their help that day. not bad wages if you ask me. also it mean i make more an hour. roughly 150/hour. and i spend less time out mowing and mow time home with my family.

now off this topics. i realized i can not put a gas powered snow blower in the trunk without disassembling it every time i transport it. so i am going to have to go with a toro handheld electric powered snow shovel. and buy 100 foot of heavy duty 14 gauge power cord. i am not fond of using electricity in the snow but they wouldnt make it if it wasnt safe to a degree. it saves me 340 buck and since most who want snow removal cant afford to pay me for the entire seasomn would rather pay per push so i am stuck with charging $30 bucks for driveway, sidewalks and front/back of home and front/rear steps. some i will have to shovel by hand which sucks but its life without a truck. some did however tell me 30 was too expensive and i simple said if you change your mind. you got my number. my i gotta get to packing up so i can start my day of mowing. i'll attach a pic later when i return. later steve and the gopher forum members. also i loveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee the gopher software. i am using the trial now and intend to buy irt as soon as the money is available.

Steve
10-21-2009, 04:34 AM
What type of car do you have? Can you put a hitch on it? Possibly a class III ? If so, you could put a hitch caddy or something similar on the back of your car and put equipment like a gas snow blower on it.

http://www.rittenhouse.ca/asp/product.asp?PG=953
http://www.rittenhouse.ca/content/images/big%5CCADDY1.jpg

Or even something like this could carry your mower.

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1390/965928171_fb6151f1a1.jpg?v=0

Back then i worked for a warehouse in the wintertime and my sister asked me the question. are you going to be a forklift driver your entire life? i poked around on different subjects and decided to do computer aided drafting and design at a local trade school. It looked fun and i like to draw. So i went to school for it, graduated in 2 years and followed that career path and the lawn business just slowly dryied up.

Looking back now, you have run a lawn care business, you went to college and got a job doing mechanical engineering drafting. Now you are back to running a lawn care business. You have done a lot!

What is your view when it comes to comparing running your own business vs. working at a job they way you did? Do you prefer one over the other? Are there things you could point out that readers here should consider if they have a job yet have a yearning to run their own business?

psparaco
11-18-2009, 10:24 AM
I have tried the gopher software and due to the fact my business has slowed down alot due to the weather. Not many clients have leaves and those who do dont want them cleaned up. Anyway I have like 8 days left of the trial of the software. Do I have to pay the 99.95 for basic all upfront or can i make payments on it and pay off the rest in march when my business starts back up in full force?

Let me know.

On another note. I am not buying any snow removal equipment except some snow salt and thats it. Most cant afford to sign a snow contract with me and prefer to call me on a case by case basis. So i cant justify the cost of the equipment, if i do not have the work lined up to pay for it. So for this year only i hope I will probably only do snow removal for 5 existing clients. The problem i have with leaf cleanup. I can go door to door but most people arent home during the day. and its dark by the time they get home and most dont like answering the door after dark. I could do door to door on weekends but then thats my time with family. So i am taking the leaf cleanup 1 day at a time. Well gotta go but let me know as soon as you can about the payment option for the gopher software.

Paul Sparaco of Sparaco Lawn Care:)