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View Full Version : Hello All. New to this part of the business looking for advice.


Lawnboy2k
12-14-2010, 10:33 AM
Hello everyone. I've worked in lawncare for roughly 6 years now as a chemical tech. agent for a local company. Most of my experience involves weed control/ fertilizing.

Realizing that there is not much of a future in the business as an employee (At least where I work) I decided to go back to school and get my nursing license. I've been going part-time for 2 years while working part-time. I was recently laid off for the winter and am unsure wether I will be going back or not as I will be going to school full-time in the spring. I have to weekdays that I can work, but my bosses aren't sure they want me for such a short amount of time.

I say all this because a friend of mine who does contract work for a local factory called me a few weeks ago to tell me that the property manager of the factory mentioned being unhappy with their current lawncare company. He said they would be taking bids in february. My friend was wondeerring if I would be interested in going into business togetether and placing a bid on the job. I toldf him i would so some research on it and see what we could come up with. The PM is supposed to give him the bid info sometime in january, so the only information I have is that it is roughly 20-25 acres with 50/50 sloped flat areas. I haven't been out to look at it yet, so can't confirm the slope/flat ratio. Just going off what my friend said.

While i'm concerned about placing the bid, there is one major that will have to be addressed before going forward: Equipment. I have none. Not even a truck to haul it in. I have considered attempting to get a small business loan to get it going, but am usure about how successful that would be. We would definately have to get the contract before attempting this as I figure this job will be what pays for loan. Another option would be to see if any of the businesses offer a credit plan of some sort.

Ideally, I would need:
2 z-turn mowers
1 push mower
2 edger/ trimmers
2 blowers
1 trailer
and a truck

Not counting other odds and ends.

I figure needing $20-30k startup.

Does this sound right?

Push comes to shove I could drop a mower, blower and trimmer, but I will have to have at least one of each.

Since I started looking into this I have developed other leads that could offer more work for us, but it all would hinge on us getting this big one to bankroll the business.

I've read about how others have pretty much started with the equipment they had before going into business, but that's not an option for me. I apply for the nursing program in the fall. When that time comes i have to make a decision. It's either lawncare or nursing.

I love doing lawnwork, and have always wanted my own business, but have always held back, because of uncertainty. I figured nursing is a safe bet for a well paying job, but I wouldn't not making as much if I was doing what I liked.
I also figure with my background in weed control, I could get my commercial license and branch off into that area within a year or two, but am concerned about getting this off the ground. I feel stuck in a "you have to have money to make money" situation.


Sorry for being so long winded. Any information, advice, comments are welcome.

jymie
12-14-2010, 11:23 AM
Here's my 2 cents worth, you do not necessarily have to get new stuff to start up with. Check on craigslist for some of the equipment you may need. Then as the season goes on, if the income is there you can then upgrade where you need to upgrade. This is a commercial property so don't expect that the pay will be there right away, they typically take 30 - 90 days before they pay. Not trying to burst your bubble here just trying to be realistic. You bill at the end of the month, then they usually take another 30 days before they pay.

Lawnboy2k
12-14-2010, 02:22 PM
I've taken that into consideration. I have enough money to get by on from student loans (I was going to be doing that anyway). My wife works so we have her income too, but we will be scraping by.

I'm primarily concerned about having enough financing to get the operation off the ground. New or old equipment, I'm still gonna have to come up with the money to buy it. Has anyone else had any experience with business loans or customer financing for equipment?

Lawnboy2k
12-14-2010, 02:25 PM
Should I have posted this thread in another forum? I just realized it'd probably be better in the starting a lawncare business forum.

Steve
12-14-2010, 02:41 PM
This is really a fantastic question.

Here is my view on it. You have previous experience in the industry which is a bonus.

What you are trying to do now is something that is going to be very difficult and I will tell you why. You are trying to line up three things that are tough to take on individually.

The three main issues I see is.


Starting a business with a partner.
Trying to land a single customer who is a large commercial property.
Needing to scale up from no equipment to all that commercial equipment in a short time.


If any of these things go wrong, you are going to have some problems.

If you want to get into the lawn care business, I would advise, start with what you have and market to customers you could more easily service and get paid faster from.

In the long run, it is better to take your time and scale up. You will learn as you grow. Versus trying to put all this together at once and go into debt doing it.

Can you make this happen? I am sure there is a chance you can, but there are so many variables that are going to be working against you, why do it this way when you can increase your chances of success over the long haul with step by step comfortable growth.

What's your take on all this?

I'd love to hear about your concerns and issues.

Lawnboy2k
12-14-2010, 03:33 PM
I understand the reservations about the partner for many different reasons including the split profit issue. This isn't really something i'm too concerned about. He's my best friend and the one person i'd trust to get into this with. As for the profit issue, I can handle not making a killing off the business the first year.

My hope would be that this account could cover the cost of my equipment. In essence pay my loans off within a year. I know that this can be tricky with relying on them to pay on time, but I think i can make it work. I would just have to come up with someway of getting a loan or whatnot. My credit rating is pretty good so maybe that will help.

I intend to start trying to pick up more business after this job is secured. I have a couple businesses that would be interested. The view I take is that these would be where I get my profit from. At least for the first year. After that I would have my equipment paid for and could look at expanding

As I said, I have no equipment. I have a riding lawnmower that cuts unevenly. While that is fine for me, I wouldn't want to use it in somone elses yard. I've tried to have this fixed, but it didn't work. Plus no way of getting around. Whatever I do i'd have to come up with some money to get any kind of equipment.

I'd really like to spread into the chemical application part of the business as this is where I have more experience, but most people tell me it's even more expensive to start with and recommend starting out mowing to build a foundation.

I realize I hang all this on getting this one account. I'm pretty much looking at it as a what-if scenario. If this doesn't pan out, I can always continue my education, but if it does I need to come up with a plan. I have nothing to lose by making a bid. I figure at the least it will be a learning experience.

Thanks for the response. Any thoughts at all are welcome.

Lawnboy2k
12-14-2010, 03:36 PM
I'd like to add that if I can make $100-200 a week profit I should be able to squeek by so I really don't have to earn a huge profit the first year. I can take a hit if it means my stuff will be paid for.

Steve
12-15-2010, 02:01 PM
The PM is supposed to give him the bid info sometime in january, so the only information I have is that it is roughly 20-25 acres with 50/50 sloped flat areas.

Can you get information on the previous year's bid too, to see what kind of ballpark you are working with?

Lawnboy2k
12-15-2010, 02:38 PM
I'll see, but not sure how long it will take. You're wanting to know the actual acreage and amount of sloping, etc correct? I'm going to try to head out to the property as soon as holidays are over to walk it off. Will take pictures and try to figure out how to post them then.

Assuming all goes well we place the bid and it get's accepted, what would you reccomend we do next?

Steve
12-15-2010, 02:49 PM
I'll see, but not sure how long it will take. You're wanting to know the actual acreage and amount of sloping, etc correct? I'm going to try to head out to the property as soon as holidays are over to walk it off. Will take pictures and try to figure out how to post them then.

All of that would be good along with how much the current company is charging. Once you look it over you may find it is worthwhile, or you may find it's not. The more information you can get, the better off you will be.

Assuming all goes well we place the bid and it get's accepted, what would you reccomend we do next?

I would think you would want to get the needed equipment, register your business name and get what ever level of liability insurance they are going to request you have.

Lawnboy2k
12-15-2010, 03:14 PM
Doubt that they will be willing to let us know what current company is charging. I told my friend to milk as much info as possible. So maybe he can get that. May take some time, though.

Steve
12-16-2010, 12:15 PM
Keep us posted on how it all goes.