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smallstripeslawncare
11-13-2011, 09:59 AM
Hello everyone,

Every time I search anything about lawn care on youtube I see gopher. I've been watching a lot of the videos. I'm 21 years old, married with almost two year old twins. I'm located in the Charlotte, NC area. I am currently unemployed and can't find work (or work that pays more than minimum wage) and need cash to support my family. Plus I love lawn care!

I'm currently just starting out and of course with this being the wrong time of year I'm kind of on hold until February to start marketing and of course starting to do work in March.

Right now my equipment is as follows:
-Howard Price 48' walk behind
-Toro 22' personal pace
-Lawn Boy 19' push mower
-Echo SRM-225 line trimmer
-Home lite backpack blower
-Home lite hand held blower

I do not have a trailer or hitch yet. I'll be hauling with a 1983 BMW 320I (I hate to haul with it but its the only thing I have right now. Once I get cash I'll definitely get something else). All summer I was just using the 22' Toro so I was using my parents dodge durango to haul it in the back which worked.

Most of my business was off of craigslist which was definitely working at the time but I was low balling my prices. So my goal for this coming spring is to get off of craigslist and try some real marketing and real pricing.

I know this may look REALLY bad at first but I plan on renting a Uhaul trailer or see if I can find someone on craigslist to let me use their trailer for chap for the first month or so until I can save to purchase one.

I came to this forum for advice and of course to learn more about starting a lawn care business!

So far my business plan consists of this:

Business name:
-In the works (was Small Stripes Lawn Care but since I have a walk behind now that really won't apply. Plus it just doesn't sound too good.)
*OPEN TO SUGGESTIONS! Have even though about "Keith's Lawn Care" thats my name.

Marketing: NO CRAIGSLIST
-Flyers
-Website in the works
-Do estimates so I don't get hosed out of money and to build a relationship with the client.

Equipment:
-Shown above

People in business with me:
-Zero (starting solo)

Services:
-Basic lawn maintenance (Mowing, line trimming, edging, blowing)
*I plan to start here instead of taking on a ton of services so I can have time to really learn the business and build a client base.

Commercial or residential:
-Residential to start

Other:
-Charge 30% more for clients only wanting bi-weekly cuts
-Get liability insurance, and business license.
-Possibly using google earth for estimates? ADVICE PLEASE
-Try to get a bunch of lawns in same neighborhoods and break up my work by region by the day of the week.

*EX. North Charlotte Monday & Tuesday, Ballantyne/Waxhaw area on Wednesday, etc...

As far as estimates go I plan on NOT going lower than $25 for 1/4 acre or less. Starting at around $50 to $60 per hour. Of course not charging by the hour but when I give an estimate figure out the time it'll take and by the time it takes say 30 minutes then charge $30.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something but please any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Also some inspiration would be great as well!

Steve
11-14-2011, 11:02 AM
Welcome to our forum.

You have a lot of great points to talk about here so we will probably be going back and forth on this for a while.

-Possibly using google earth for estimates? ADVICE PLEASE

I'd suggest not doing this because using google earth tells you nothing about the current state of the property. For example, is the lawn 3 ft tall? Furthermore, you don't get the opportunity to meet the customer in person and put on your sales presentation along with your bid. This is the best chance you have to sell them on the services you see they need.

I'm currently just starting out and of course with this being the wrong time of year I'm kind of on hold until February to start marketing and of course starting to do work in March.

Are there services you could perform in that region starting now and bringing you through the winter season?

smallstripeslawncare
11-15-2011, 08:58 AM
As far as Google Earth is concerned that is a good point. While it could save gas and eliminate the need to go to the property but at the same time like you mentioned it could be 3ft tall or be full of branches that need picking up so I do agree going in person may be the best bet.

Right now I'm only offering mowing services because I want to specialize in just that. There's so many guys out there that do the mowing and all but don't really do a good job. There's always grass sticking up behind the mower and just don't do a good job in general. I'd rather gain the customers trust by doing an amazing job and adding more services later on when I get a client base built up.

We don't get a lot of snow here in Charlotte, NC. Its a once a year thing usually but when the time comes I could always offer snow removal "when the weather says snow for next week" I can go put out some fliers before hand. But I've never done snow removal and don't really have the tools to do it. But I suppose I could always put the rock salt out for people (Price of bag/bags to do it + my labor charge) and if any snow needs removing after that then I could shovel it.

I'm still trying to think of other winter services I could offer that I don't need a ton of equipment to do.

Steve
11-15-2011, 11:01 AM
Right now I'm only offering mowing services because I want to specialize in just that. There's so many guys out there that do the mowing and all but don't really do a good job. There's always grass sticking up behind the mower and just don't do a good job in general. I'd rather gain the customers trust by doing an amazing job and adding more services later on when I get a client base built up.


This is good. This gives you a unique niche to inject into your marketing material.

If you can get pictures of poorly mowed lawns and then compare those lawns to yours, you can educate the potential customer on why choosing you is their best option.

ut I suppose I could always put the rock salt out for people (Price of bag/bags to do it + my labor charge) and if any snow needs removing after that then I could shovel it.

Yes, this is good. Also, don't be afraid to ask around. Your customers, friends, family about what kind of services they need during late fall, winter.

Could you help with their holiday decorations? Could you perform some yard clean ups?

As you ask, there will be services that come up which you hadn't thought of and then you could start marketing them as well.

People always need a handyman around their property to help with things.

Early on, if you can be a jack of all trades, you can bring in some money that will allow you to stay afloat and build up a business where you focus on a few services you really enjoy and perform well.

Rodriguez11
11-15-2011, 08:48 PM
Right now I'm only offering mowing services because I want to specialize in just that. There's so many guys out there that do the mowing and all but don't really do a good job. There's always grass sticking up behind the mower and just don't do a good job in general. I'd rather gain the customers trust by doing an amazing job and adding more services later on when I get a client base built up.

.

Just quick suggestion, when starting off I would definitely not try to narrow down what work you do and just specialize in mowing. When I first started I took whatever work I could do that I could handle tho. If you find people wanting mulch, dirt whatever like that. give it a try. You live and learn on pricing stuff and will learn what your work is worth to you. Just give it a try and see what happens

Steve
11-16-2011, 11:29 AM
When I first started I took whatever work I could do that I could handle

What's your advice on how to get the word out you can perform all these various services? Do you simply ask your current customers what they need or did many of these jobs just come to you and you kept saying yes you could do them?