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Lodzin
10-27-2010, 05:26 PM
Hey Y'all,

My name's Ben and getting my s*** (don't know the forum's view on cussing) together to get my business started. I'm currently in school for landscape management at Southern Crescent Technical College in Griffin, GA. Any advice on equipment, where and what to buy, and anything else would be GREATLY appreciated.

Ben

CHEESE2009
10-27-2010, 05:50 PM
The requirements needed to be the average company;

Primary Requirements
Lawn Mower
Trimmer
Hand-Held Blower
************- Way to transport equipment

Now you have choices on how much to spend;

Lawn Mower
$300 - $2000

Trimmer
$80 - $1000

Hand-Held Blower
$60 - $250


$300 Lawn Mower Pros
-Inexpensive
-If damaged, you may be able to exchange it for store credit/replace
-Lightweight, good for hillsides

$300 Lawn Mower Cons
-It will easily break, and often
- If damaged on your part, repairs may cost you more than the price of a new mower
- Tiny gas tank



Also, as a new company you may not have an area to dump collected grass. You will have to purchase a mower with a side discharge chute, or a mulching kit.

Type of cut
Messy = Side Discharge
Clean = Mulching Kit
Superclean = Bagger


If you purchase a bagger, you will have to leave the bagged grass on your customers properties.

Many lawn mowers come with all 3 features.


I hope this helps, I'm tired of typing for now - lol!!!

Steve
10-27-2010, 06:15 PM
Hi Ben,

Welcome to our forum!

What's your plan of attack? When are you looking to open the doors and start servicing customers?

CHEESE2009
10-27-2010, 06:34 PM
To start off, you need to know exactly what you can provide in order to advertise.

In the begining, you have a lot of time - you can mow a few yards here, and weed a few gardens there.... Though as you grow and you gain new clients, you will be short on time and may have to provide less services and focus on ONE.

I advertise a lot, depending on who's helping me or not - I can only manage lawns when by myself, I am swamped.


Do what you can, though when one service of you're business blooms - focus on it 100% - when you eventually hire someone, you gain more time to re-add or add more services.


So to start, lawn maintenance is GRAVY$$$$$$ - though you wont gain enough customers the first year to keep you busy.

An additional low costing, profitable - easy to run service would be;
a) gutter clearing (ladder/blower, rake, bags)
b) garden weeding (spade, hand rake, bucket, bags)
___________
c) Fertilization/Seeding (spreader, product);

You buy the products from any store, bill your customers for the price you spent on the products PLUS whatever you want to make;

Seed: $25
Fert: $40
Spreader: $50

Now, you depending on the quantity of product your customer needs (sometimes you only need half a bag of fert/seed per lawn) - you still need to charge them the full amount and leave them the excess. Trying to sell half a bag of X product will have you unorganized with numbers and percentages very fast.

So your bill should be;
$65.00 for Fert & Seed
__________________
PLUS what you want to be making;

I recommend estimating how long the job will take you per hour only;

If a job takes you 20-30 mins, you charge for ONE hour - it's your minimum labor price. Keep it simple.

Though telling a customer you charge per hour will make him IFFY about hiring you, so keep it to yourself when giving an estimate.


So you charge $65 for both products, maybe add an additional charge for 25% the cost of the spreader OR LESS - PLUS what you charge per hour;


Example;

$65 - fert/seed
$12.50 - Spreader
$20.00 - Hourly Wage

TOTAL; 97.50


Try and give a fair price, as some will think you are overcharging - but in reality - You are only walking away with $32.50 - the rest was spent on product.


A very easy service to do - and I suggest trying it. You can also spread topsoil, which is more difficult to do (raking) but goes hand in hand with the above!

Lodzin
10-27-2010, 11:32 PM
I'm still tossing around exactly how much I want to charge in. This is my chosen profession, I'm not going through two years of school to fail at it, but a minimum initial investment would be good, especially considering I don't posses a pot to urininate in and would have to borrow. On the other hand this area has several large, slick management operations that I think I'd have a hard time competing with if I showed up on a old broken down John Deer riding mower... Thoughts?

CHEESE2009
10-28-2010, 12:41 AM
I'm still tossing around exactly how much I want to charge in. This is my chosen profession, I'm not going through two years of school to fail at it, but a minimum initial investment would be good, especially considering I don't posses a pot to urininate in and would have to borrow. On the other hand this area has several large, slick management operations that I think I'd have a hard time competing with if I showed up on a old broken down John Deer riding mower... Thoughts?


In these new days, everyone is looking for a bargain.

The reason why your competitors feel the need to charge so much, is because they have a lot of expenses to cover.

You don't.

So you only really need to charge enough to maintain your business.

___The best way to charge per lawn, is by playing out a scenario of you doing the work in your head.


In a perfect world... a lawn would be a flat rectangle with zero obstacles.

You must charge by the size of the lawn, and by the cons of it.

Look out for;

Hills
Obstacles
Fast Growing Grass
"irritating customers"
& restrictions...

Restrictions;
1) I see the perfect lawn, but I am unable to use my tractor in the backyard due to a small gate opening. = I lose time, and the job becomes less attractive.

2) The lawn is small, not much to cut - but in order to get into the backyard I have to drag my mower through a bumpy pathway, sometimes my lawn mower gets stuck and I have to lift it over the stones as they are not level.

3) I can do this lawn in 15 minutes, but my customer wants it done their way - this job now takes me 30 minutes

4) The lawn is perfect, though there is always dog crap I end up stepping in or riding my lawn mower through.


those are minor examples.



Charging is all about knowing the details.




EXAMPLE:


I charge a lot for one property because the front yard is a very steep hill - it's a pain in the arse as they also have 3 trees spread 10 feet away from each other... This is a double whammy!

Though I took a chance with my tractor, and I have gotten used to riding on a deathly angle. This property took me 1 full hour before, now it takes 30 minutes.



My point;

Imagine if I put my price low, because I had a tractor and the job was easy? What if my tractor broke, the job would become difficult and worthless.


So when giving an estimate, always play out the worst case scenario - every job estimated is imagined done with a walk behind with a bagger.

Imagine removing the bag every few stripes and emptying it into a garbage bag - that's dreadful.

CHARGE FOR IT - I'm saying all this as a precaution. That's how you succeed IMHO!

mcscapes
10-28-2010, 05:41 PM
Hey if all you have is the old john deer thats all it takes if you have knowledge and a good work ethic. We are right around the corner from you and have property's in griffin email me through my website and I will talk with you about this market. Guys you dont need the latest and greatest when you start out I start crews with 1 res mower and weed-eater edger combo and pack blower thats it when the route makes money the eqpt gets better people pay for service not new eqpt.

Steve
10-28-2010, 06:59 PM
when you start out I start crews with 1 res mower and weed-eater edger combo and pack blower thats it when the route makes money the eqpt gets better people pay for service not new eqpt.

Do you harness your employees to build the route? How do you suggest they do it?

Also, what equipment do you like to scale up to once the route is profitable?

Lodzin
10-28-2010, 09:12 PM
MCScapes, You looking for any employees? I'd rather work with someone for a year or so before trying to go out on my own, but haven't been able to find an employer around here. I'm a hard worker, got enough learning to get myself into trouble without guidance (joke), and will happily take an entry-level position.

Lodzin
10-28-2010, 11:15 PM
Res=Residential? Like non-professional grade?

AccucutLawns
10-29-2010, 10:27 AM
My name is David and I am currently trying to expand my parent's lawn care company. We have been cutting on commercial property for the past 12 years. I have now decided it is time to grow the business. We are located in the Lake Oconee Area of Georgia and it is a gold mine around here as far as business. I already have alot of the equipment that is needed and i was wondering if anybody and any pointers as far as finding customers and what to charge.

Steve
10-29-2010, 05:37 PM
Res=Residential? Like non-professional grade?

It sounds like that is what he meant.

My name is David and I am currently trying to expand my parent's lawn care company. We have been cutting on commercial property for the past 12 years. I have now decided it is time to grow the business. We are located in the Lake Oconee Area of Georgia and it is a gold mine around here as far as business. I already have alot of the equipment that is needed and i was wondering if anybody and any pointers as far as finding customers and what to charge.

Hi David,

Welcome to our forum. How do you bid your current commercial properties now? Do you have a rate based on sq ft? Or what do you do? Could you apply the same estimating technique that you learned from your commercial work to your residential work or do you think that would not work out too well?

mcscapes
10-29-2010, 06:50 PM
residential yes. lodzin we will in January we will be needing groundsmen we have a shop in locust grove and one in villa rica Steve the eqpt depends on what type of work primarily bobcat but ive been kickin around walker, echo sticks or redmax ,blowers echo or redmax the smallest trailer and truck combo possible. All I used to buy was Chevy but not until the government gets out of the car industry so anything used and cheap.

Lodzin
10-29-2010, 08:52 PM
A Little outside my range. Does anyone know of anyone in the Tyrone/Peachtree City/Fayetteville Georgia area that might be hiring?

Steve
10-30-2010, 07:00 PM
Do you harness your employees to build the route? How do you suggest they do it?