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Jack
01-02-2011, 05:30 PM
So I am new here on this forum and could use some serious help.

Last year I started mowing lawns and had about 15 clients, but I did not go bigger because I had some issues with how I organized it all. I started with the owner just contacting me when they needed my work, and I always showed up at the time they would like. So I could never get a real flow down and get alot of work. I went and mowed one place one hour and then later in the day go to another. I wasn't able to pile them all on one day and use the other days for other projects or jobs. So that is changing this year for sure!

I have 2 push mowers, a weed trimmer, a blower and a utility trailer. I think that I will stick to residential this year. But I want to make it legal and this is where I am confused. Do I NEED insurance, do I NEED to be a registered business, Do I NEED a tax license?

I really want to take this seriously, but I don't know where to start and where to lay my money.

I would love to get into commercial stuff, but I don' really know the process of placing a bid and when I should do it?
I would feel so much more comfortable if I knew I was going to have customers now. I would feel safe purchasing equipment, but as of now I am a little scared.
Is it to early to look for customers? Offer deals?

racerdude711
01-02-2011, 08:13 PM
I don't think it could hurt sending out some form of advertising. You might get a few calls, and plus it gets ur name out there. You can always send out more advertising later to the same people to try to get there business.

Hedgemaster
01-02-2011, 10:11 PM
Jack. I feel your pain.
I'm just starting out and the "going legit" part was a bit of a headache. There isn't anything outlandishly difficult about any of it - the problem is getting answers to your questions. I swear if I hear/read "consult your attorney" or "speak with your accountant" one more time, my head will explode. That was the most frustrating part for me.

As for what you "need", some of those things may depend on where you live and exactly what you are doing. (services)
Try to locate your local chamber of commerce... tell them you are thinking about starting a business and see if they can point you in the right direction.

Check out this website (http://www.score.org/index.html). They were somewhat helpful for me. I went to a small business workshop ($45) that helped answer a lot of questions. (And made me aware of other things I had never considered)

Growing Green
01-02-2011, 10:23 PM
So I am new here on this forum and could use some serious help.

Last year I started mowing lawns and had about 15 clients, but I did not go bigger because I had some issues with how I organized it all. I started with the owner just contacting me when they needed my work, and I always showed up at the time they would like. So I could never get a real flow down and get alot of work. I went and mowed one place one hour and then later in the day go to another. I wasn't able to pile them all on one day and use the other days for other projects or jobs. So that is changing this year for sure!

I have 2 push mowers, a weed trimmer, a blower and a utility trailer. I think that I will stick to residential this year. But I want to make it legal and this is where I am confused. Do I NEED insurance, do I NEED to be a registered business, Do I NEED a tax license?

I really want to take this seriously, but I don't know where to start and where to lay my money.

I would love to get into commercial stuff, but I don' really know the process of placing a bid and when I should do it?
I would feel so much more comfortable if I knew I was going to have customers now. I would feel safe purchasing equipment, but as of now I am a little scared.
Is it to early to look for customers? Offer deals?

Hi Jack,
I'm actually just starting out myself. I have the same equipment you do besides a trailer. Don't have that yet. I have a DBA right now. Planning on getting license later. I would definitely recommend insurance, besides to run commercial you would need it anyway. I only have 300k right now, but planning on getting 1 - 2 million when I move to commercial.

I'm not going into commercial yet until I have bigger and better equipment as using those push mowers would be torture.

This forum will really help you out. Great people! Keep reading a lot of the old posts as well and be sure you use the Lawn Business School that Steve has created. It is free and REALLY helps. Plus it will make you more comfortable since you will gain more knowledge.

Take care,
Matt

jymie
01-03-2011, 07:14 AM
Getting Insurance should be the top priority once you register the business. Your business will start off slow the first year, and as you go to year to year, you will notice steady growth. Register as a DBA to start, thats what I did and still have it that way today, we began in 2008. At some point, we will change that to a LLC. I think that will provide more protection to me and my personal assets as we grow. First year we had 9 steady weekly customers, 2nd year we increased to 17 weekly customers and last year we had 24 weekly customers. We also had 25 or so mulch installations this past year so that was a pleasant increase for us. Advertise, advertise and advertise to get your business out there. You will be able to do more quicker with a rider mower and a trailer to transport it around.

Matt is right, there is alot of great advice here in previous threads so use the search function and do research on what you need advise on and read as much as you can.

Steve
01-05-2011, 07:23 PM
I swear if I hear/read "consult your attorney" or "speak with your accountant" one more time, my head will explode. That was the most frustrating part for me.

Which questions do you feel stood out for you early on, where you heard that as an answer? Did you eventually find answers? Could you share with us some of your insight on them because I bet others are dealing with those issues or will deal with them in the future.

Last year I started mowing lawns and had about 15 clients, but I did not go bigger because I had some issues with how I organized it all. I started with the owner just contacting me when they needed my work, and I always showed up at the time they would like. So I could never get a real flow down and get alot of work. I went and mowed one place one hour and then later in the day go to another. I wasn't able to pile them all on one day and use the other days for other projects or jobs. So that is changing this year for sure!

Hi Jack,

Welcome to our forum.

What is your view on why you felt it was difficult to get all your jobs in some kind of order where you could do them all one after the other?

Also how do you plan on changing your operations this year? What is your ideal?

Do I NEED insurance, do I NEED to be a registered business, Do I NEED a tax license?

If you enjoy it so far, I would go to your local county court house and register a business name. I think you will really like having a name and it will make everything seem more real and legit.

The need for a tax license tends to depend on your geographic area. I would think you could go to your town hall and ask them if you need a professional license and a tax license.

It seems most of the time, sales tax is not collected on lawn cutting but it is collected on landscape projects.

I really want to take this seriously, but I don't know where to start and where to lay my money.
I'd only buy what you absolutely need to have early on. Then you can scale up as equipment breaks down or your needs increase.

I would love to get into commercial stuff, but I don' really know the process of placing a bid and when I should do it?

I wouldn't bother with this for a while. Give yourself a year or two. Focus on polishing your business operations while you work with residential clients. When you feel comfortable with the way you are running your operation and want to scale up to servicing commercial clients, read the articles on my Lawnchat.com blog on how to get commercial lawn care customers (http://lawnchat.com/?cat=39).

There is a ton of information there and then feel free to ask questions as you go.

I would feel so much more comfortable if I knew I was going to have customers now. I would feel safe purchasing equipment, but as of now I am a little scared. Is it to early to look for customers? Offer deals?

It's never too early to look for customers. Talk with everyone you know and try to get them to sign up as a customer. Also give them business cards to pass out to their friends. Ask them for their help in getting the word out about your business.

With any business, you never know if you will get customers, that is why you have to take it step by step and scale up your spending as your revenues increase.

Does this help?

Jack
01-05-2011, 09:21 PM
Can someone help me out? I have been reading and I read that I don't need a license or anything, and then I came across this.... If I do need this licens, I do not qualify. I don't really understand what this is, some explanation would be great!
Thanks

http://www.dora.state.co.us/la/Statute.pdf

Jack
01-06-2011, 02:04 AM
Nevermind guys, I figured it all out. Someone misinformed me, but I did some more research and found my answer.

I was wondering, when someone calls you wanting to have there yard mowed do you have set days where you JUST mow yards? Or do you just do it whenver? I could see mowing Tuesday and Thursday for weekly customers and Monday and Friday for Bi-Weekly and leave the other days for same day calls.

Steve
01-06-2011, 05:30 PM
I would try to look at your customer route and pack as many of the customers you can in on one or two days. Make the routes as tight as possible.

The less driving you do, the more profits you will make.

As you grow, expand into mowing on more days.

Nevermind guys, I figured it all out. Someone misinformed me, but I did some more research and found my answer.


What did you find?

xpertlawnman
01-06-2011, 07:49 PM
Make sure to open a business checking account and use a program like Quickbooks to keep track of everything. Insurance will run you about $500 a year for 1mil$ in coverage. Make sure you create a mowing schedule for your customers, and stick with it. As you grow, referrals will become a valuable resource for new business, so make sure your customers know you appreciate their business. Also make sure you bid high enough to cover your costs, gas prices are suppose to spike this spring also. Thats all for now. Good luck.

Jack
01-06-2011, 08:29 PM
I would try to look at your customer route and pack as many of the customers you can in on one or two days. Make the routes as tight as possible.

The less driving you do, the more profits you will make.

As you grow, expand into mowing on more days.



What did you find?

I just learned that Landscape Architecture is a whole other field of work, and that what the license was for. I think that I will stick to res. this summer, would $1 million in insurance really be needed? I was thinking more like 500k. Also, is it just like any other insurance? Pay Monthly, 6 month, or yearly?

Hedgemaster
01-06-2011, 09:22 PM
I just learned that Landscape Architecture is a whole other field of work, and that what the license was for. I think that I will stick to res. this summer, would $1 million in insurance really be needed? I was thinking more like 500k. Also, is it just like any other insurance? Pay Monthly, 6 month, or yearly?


Yeah, the whole "licensing" thing gets confusing because it varies wildly by state.
Here in PA, you don't need a license to mow lawns, but you do to apply weed control type fertilizers and such. And yes, landscaping is a whole different ball game with all sorts of extra things you need to be aware of - at least here in PA.

Also, for someone like myself, who is currently doing small home repairs as well, I need to register with the state, as all home improvement contractors who expect to make over $5,000/yr must pay/register bi-annually - otherwise, you may not legally operate your business - can't even advertise. The PA# that you are assigned must be placed on EVERYTHING that bears your name. Business cards, contracts, bids, any advertisement you run, your truck (if your name appears on it)...

I know that for that registration I mentioned above, the state mandates a minimum of $500,000 liability insurance to be carried. Note that the difference in your premium between $500,000 and 1 Million coverage is literally a few dollars, and it doesn't even pay to buy "less". You'll find this out when you start calling for quotes. Also, every company is different as far as payment plans are concerned. I noted that the "cheaper" policies often wanted payment in full for the year up front, while other ones offered several payment options. Most times if you pay monthly they add a few dollars as a service charge, but it's sometimes easier to spread it out like that. I'm paying mine off in 3 consecutive, monthly payments, and I'll be done for the year.




TAX NOTE!!!

As Steve mentioned it previously, I will mention that you need to determine if lawn care is a taxable service where YOU live. Here in PA, it IS taxable, believe it or not. It's absolutely INSANE the way they break things down...
mowing grass - taxable

Here... I know it may not apply to you, and don't let it overwhelm you, but I'm sure someone reading will be interested in hearing this tax insanity.

"From PA Code 55.6. Lawn care services."
Examples of taxable services. The following are examples of taxable lawn care services:

(1) Fertilizing lawns.

(2) Mowing, trimming, cutting or edging lawns.

(3) Dethatching lawns.

(4) Applying herbicides, insecticides or fungicides to lawns.

(5) Raking grass on lawns.

(6) Applying treatments for weed, pest, insect or disease control to lawns.

(7) Watering lawns.

(8) Applying lime to lawns.

(9) Aerating lawns.

(10) Providing lawn evaluation, consultation or soil testing services on lawns, if purchased in conjunction with other lawn care services, regardless of whether the costs of the lawn evaluation, consultation or soil testing services are separately stated on the invoice.

(11) Overseeding, sodding or grass plugging of existing lawns.

(12) Trimming or pruning shrubbery when performed in conjunction with other lawn care services.



Examples of nontaxable services. The following are examples of services which are not taxable lawn care services:

(1) Seeding, sodding or grass plugging to establish a new lawn. Seeding, sodding or grass plugging in conjunction with building construction will be presumed to be a new lawn.

(2) Trimming, pruning or fertilizing trees.

(3) Planting or removing shrubbery or trees.

(4) Providing lawn evaluation, consultation or soil testing services, if not purchased in conjunction with other lawn care services.

(5) Designing lawns or landscapes.

(6) Applying herbicides or fungicides to shrubbery, trees, flowers or vegetables.

(7) Maintaining shrubbery, flower or vegetable beds, such as by mulching, tilling, weeding or fertilizing.

(8) Separately stated charges for leaf raking.



Hope I didn't scare you with this post!

Growing Green
01-06-2011, 09:36 PM
Those taxes are ridiculous! Freakin gov't needs to chill out on all this tax bull crap. Ugh!

Matt

xpertlawnman
01-07-2011, 12:12 PM
Is it any wonder the population of "Taxylvania" shows no growth year after year. Who in their right mine would move here with all of the money you have to shell out for taxes. The real estate taxes in my area are insane, and the local school board just raised them again. I thought all of this gambling revenue was going to be used to reduce our property taxes. Then they just raised the tolls on the PA Turnpike by 10%, it cost me close to 5 bucks to go 50 miles to see my inlaws for the holidays. Sorry for the rant guys.

Steve
01-07-2011, 07:26 PM
I think that I will stick to res. this summer, would $1 million in insurance really be needed? I was thinking more like 500k. Also, is it just like any other insurance? Pay Monthly, 6 month, or yearly?

I would think that could work.

As far as payment, you might find you get a break if you pay more upfront than if you pay monthly.