View Full Version : Canadian Content
10-24-2010, 12:09 AM
Hello to my fellow lawn care experts.
Actually I should not say fellow as I am just starting out and trying to create a business in my neighborhood, so I acknowledge I am far from an expert like I suspect a number of you are. But thanks to these forums etc. I feel I will learn a lot about technique, both in my physical work as well in gaining more customers and pricing out my jobs.
My aim here with this message is to seek out Canadian members, more specifically Ontario, even as close to home as Durham area. I notice that most content and especially the offered contract examples etc. are mostly if not all american based. I don't know if and how the prices suggested etc. compare to our area here.
Also if any members from the general area, your experience with frequency of grass cutting, snow removal etc.
With leaf removal, do you wait till pretty much all leaves are off the offending tree and hope it is not too late that it snows, or that it does not keep raining therefore never giving you ample opportunity to get out there with the blower vac... Talking of that, how many bother with vacuuming/mulching leaves compared to just blowing them and bagging them as is?
Thanks for anyones 2 cents worth and taking the time to read my requests for information etc.
10-24-2010, 05:48 PM
I stop cutting grass on October 16th, I vacation until November 1st. *CANADA MONTREAL*
November 1st I start looking into fall leaf removal services.
Though it's really hard to estimate when to start, with snow on the way.
You're best bet is to do them all starting November 1st, and maybe go back to the ones you started earlier for little touch ups. You're customers will like this, though you do waste a bit of money.
You could always tell them, "i will charge you to re-visit"
You can get to know your properties, understand which ones will have all the leaves down earliest, get them out of the way.
A lot of my properties have no leaves now, but half of them still do. So at least I know where to start and end... Hopefully I'll be fine and wont need to go do touch ups.
As for equipment, use what ya got!
Lawn Mower: Mulches leaves, cuts grass at the same time = better outcome, more room in bags give or take.
Vacuum: Sucks up leaves, doesn't suck up grass = you did your job, and because you didn't suck up grass maybe you ALSO saved room in bags....
Hard to compare... Though I'm sure mulching leaves over a maintained lawn will be the best bet.
Mowing would make you stand out, giving lawns that one awesome manicured look before winter.
10-25-2010, 01:16 PM
My aim here with this message is to seek out Canadian members, more specifically Ontario, even as close to home as Durham area. I notice that most content and especially the offered contract examples etc. are mostly if not all american based.
Early on, I wouldnt worry too much about using contracts for lawn care. I'd suggest just get your feet wet and start trying to get customers and work to do a good job. As you go, you may find you want to add lawn care agreements, but you also may not. Depending on your relationship with your customers.
Talking of that, how many bother with vacuuming/mulching leaves compared to just blowing them and bagging them as is?
I think this comes down to, what equipment do you have at your disposal. Also how do you plan on dealing with the leaves you collect.
Some mulch them and then leave them in a small pile on the customer's property. Some dispose of them at a local recycling center.
There are ways to do it that are faster than others and cheaper than others, but I would think, just start doing it with the equipment you have. Get a feel for it and then scale up as you find you need too.
10-25-2010, 08:29 PM
Thanks Steve for stepping in and giving some advise.
I am not so worried about gaining contracts per se, I am all about verbal agreement and hopes that a customer will continue to use my services. My goal is to be fairly cheap based on continued work, rather than getting screwed into a cheap cut for a one time deal, but of course you just have to roll with the punches and take what comes. Eventually it all leads to something good if we provide a good enough service.
As for the leaves... I have acquired a Craftsman Leaf Blower this past week that vacuum's and mulches as well. What I do find is that I am emptying the bag quickly and often, so that part kind of discourages me. I would like to possibly blow it right into a waste bag or into a compost pile where applicable.
My personal preference at this time is to either bag or set it up for compost, I don't have a good setup for going into the dumps at this time. Are the leaves mulched up a good compost as is, to be added right into a garden or is it something you add to a compost and it gradually breaks down to something good?
I am kind of lucky, I have a fairly big property of which I care for in return for parking for my 12 X 6 trailer, so I get to play with my riding lawn tractor, leaf blower etc. while cleaning up this couple's property and bringing it back to livable condition.
10-25-2010, 09:03 PM
Leaf vacuums will be the death of you my friend.
Use a bagging lawn mower - it'll increase your speed dramatically.
A vacuum sucker/blower isn't very powerful and unzipping/detaching the bag every time u need to empty it - well, that's a pain because I'm sure it holds less than what you get bend down & grab with your hands in one shot.
I've had experience with these things, and they don't do nearly enough.
What I do;
I use a backpack blower to blow all the leaves on the property into the middle on the lawn - while also trying not to make one big pile.
I could then use my tractor and have the job done in 2 seconds... OR;
I use my walk behind bagging lawn mower... I could take the bag off and mulch the leaves up on my first pass... Then on my second pass, I attach the bag and mow up the debris. It's easier on the machine, and the bag is able to hold more.
A tip; When cutting leaves on the first pass (without the bag) angle your mower so that the front tires aren't touching the ground - the leaves will mulch and your machine wont clog and/or stall...........
If you only have a handheld blower instead of a backpack blower, use it together with a rake. Handheld blowers wont make the leaves jump out of tricky corners or steep areas.
If you don't have a lawn mower, get a wide rake.
You can rake the leaves (but this is the fun part) use the rake as a shovel, by holding the pile with your free hand as you lift the rake up and into a garbage can. (make sure you put a garbage bag inside of it)...
THOUGH, once you put one pile of leaves in the bag, which is in the garbage can. REMOVE the bag - or else it will get stuck in the garbage can.
Don't forget to sit on the garbage bag to compact the leaves, you will usually get 50% more room to put leaves by doing this and save $$$ on bags!
10-25-2010, 09:18 PM
Scott that is sound advise. I used the blower/vacuum once on my (what I call) practice property, and yes I concur, seems to be more hassle. I do like it for it's blowing though and have been thinking of just blowing into one pile than scooping. I will try the lawnmower idea. I don't have a rear bagging unit, always think they are a pain in the butt, but you make a valid point.
I will work on some of your ideas and see if I can make things work for me. I have a lot of big properties near by of which I am hoping to land, but really question myself on the amount of leaves these people have. I can see myself grossly under pricing, but I don't want to scare away any potential full time customers.
I think I seen somewhere (might have been a contract proposal on here somewhere) an idea of going for the initial clean up then offering a weekly low price of coming by to clear up any further falling leaves till the last one falls. Thinking something like $75 for the initial yard clean up and then $10 a week to come by and tidy up...
I personally don't mind raking leaves etc. But the blowers are fun and I was concerned with how many more bags it would take compared to mulching them with a vacuum unit. (supposed to use less bags)
Thanks again, appreciate yours and all comments...
10-25-2010, 09:45 PM
After your first fall cleanup you learn a lot.
I went in and had quite a nightmare.
You could charge the same as your competitors, but the safest thing to do is charge a little more. Because you may end up being at one property all day.
One big property;
Rake, Blower, Bags - 6 hours
Blower Lawn Mower - 1-2 hours
Backpack blower & Tractor - 20 - 40 minutes
There is a big difference on time, and your competitors may have the advantage, it wont beat the crud out of them to charge what they do - as it may be that much easier for them to do, then it is for you.
I charged $80.00 last year, one yard I didn't bring much with me - took me all day. I regretted it and promised never to do it again.
I can do the same property today with more equipment and make a killing.
So you have to ask yourself if it's worth it?
$80.00 is great, the less time I spend at a job - the more I profit!
If I spend 5 hours at the job charging $80.00..... I would have wished that I had stayed home and watch tv.
ALSO, depends on how you look at it;
Spending an entire day on one project generating $80 = good for an employee / bad for a business owner
You should actually go out and try what you can. It's an amazing experience. You cannot fail, you really learn a lot to improve on so it's worth trying.
Then when you get a tractor with a bagger, imagine how happy you'll feel knowing your making the same money you did, plus MORE and by doing less work. You could drive down a street with a sign saying ... hell.. "$25 leaf removal, front yard only"
Fall is the time to catch up on profit, get out there and do what you can. Winter is another story for those of us who don't do jack all.
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