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Billy Goat
11-25-2012, 08:16 AM
Hello Gophers,

My name is Bill, I will be the true test starting a lawn care business from scratch. Winter is near and I have a few months to purchase and read books, watch youtube videos, and learn as much as possible before spring is here. I have tons of questions and hope to get good advice and guidance from this forum. My plan is to have a legitmate business and make sure I have all legal requirements covered. I want to run a honest business but, unfortunately we live in a "Lawsuit Happy" society. Any legal advice will be greatly appreciated. From childhood to now with mowing residental lawns for over 35 years seems to be the easy part, it is everything else I have concerns with.

I ask my wife Michele what we should call the lawn business and she suggested Billy Goat Lawn Service. I live in Maryland and searched the Maryland business database and looks like no one has used that name in 12 years. Is this a good name or should I have a more professional name? Not sure if this will conflict with the brand name Billy Goat. I searched the internet and see others use this name is some form.

elbow300
11-25-2012, 04:02 PM
As for the name, I believe I would opt for something a little more broad than a company with "lawn service" in the title. That way, if your business grows in the years to come, and your services expand, you dont have to explain why a lawn service is estimating irrigation, tree removal, hardscapes, etc.

The legal issues are more complicated. The statutes in your state, as well as federal laws are a slippery slope. I have personally taken a common sense approach to litigation and law. I have not sought counsel from a lawyer, just due to cost. You have to mow a LOT of grass to pay for a consultation at a law office. Safety has got to be paramount in the whole of your operation. An on the job injury could sink you. Once you have awakened OSHA, there is no putting that dog back on the porch. The most interaction I have with the state and federal government is the bills I get cordially inviting me to pay my taxes. I just pay what I owe, and they seem happy until the next time they are due. Your insurance agent (if you have one you trust) is a good resource for determining your exposure to risk, and taking steps to mitigate that risk. I think your insurance agent and tax company can walk you through most of the liability/risk management issues you are likely to face.

Steve
11-26-2012, 02:27 PM
I want to run a honest business but, unfortunately we live in a "Lawsuit Happy" society. Any legal advice will be greatly appreciated.

Welcome to our forum!

What kind of issues are you wondering about when you are looking for legal advice?

ringahding1
11-26-2012, 04:45 PM
I used my last name, since it is not so common. But have branded it for the past 10 years and our company is now looked at as an authority in our direct service area.

Honesty is the best policy as most businesses are looking to cut corners. I say do not ever do this, no matter how good it may look @ the time. KARMA man!

Ask a lot of questions and think real hard(not too hard)about a company website. This is one of 3 ways my business is found.

The other 2 are:

Word Of Mouth


Trucks & Trailers have our name/number & website address all over them


Also seriously consider a well thought out flyer you can hand deliver, this is how I got my biz off the ground.

Billy Goat
11-26-2012, 07:29 PM
As far as legal advice. I want to make sure Iam covered insurance wise. Should I be insured and bonded? If a customer accused me of damage what would be the course of action on my part? If Iam at fault of course I would do the right thing and make it right but if Iam not, what should I do? Let say the customer accused me of breaking a window from a flying rock out from the mower, what should I do?

ringahding1
11-27-2012, 05:37 AM
As far as legal advice. I want to make sure Iam covered insurance wise. Should I be insured and bonded? If a customer accused me of damage what would be the course of action on my part? If Iam at fault of course I would do the right thing and make it right but if Iam not, what should I do? Let say the customer accused me of breaking a window from a flying rock out from the mower, what should I do?

I am assuming you have vehicle insurance, I would suggest asking your agent about contractor liability insurance.

LawnBoy0311
11-27-2012, 06:42 AM
Where in MD are you? Stay out of my area! For our laws we have to do over a certain $ amount to even be legit. If you do it part time, it may not be worth going legit...the govt will consider what you do as a hobby, therefore they won't let you fill out the paperwork. Full time is a different story.

Billy Goat
11-27-2012, 08:03 AM
Where in MD are you? Stay out of my area! For our laws we have to do over a certain $ amount to even be legit. If you do it part time, it may not be worth going legit...the govt will consider what you do as a hobby, therefore they won't let you fill out the paperwork. Full time is a different story.

This is exactly why I joined this forum. I dont want to "Bark up the wrong tree" Iam here for good advice from the pros of the business. I dont want to invest in thousand of dollars in equipment then soon fail due to lack of customers or under bidding. I want to do it right from the start. When does the government consider your hobby to be a business. No one for the most part pays cash anymore. Most people use credit/debit cards these days and others pay by check. All of these are paper trails.

Steve
11-27-2012, 04:27 PM
When does the government consider your hobby to be a business.

I think it comes down to when you start making a profit.

Should I be insured and bonded?
Bonded, only if required to get the job by a commercial customer. Insured, it's a good idea.

If a customer accused me of damage what would be the course of action on my part?
You can either talk to the customer and resolve the issue, possibly by fixing it yourself or file a claim with your insurance company.

If Iam at fault of course I would do the right thing and make it right but if Iam not, what should I do?
This is one of those catch-22s where even if you are not at fault and you decide you want to stand your ground and not give in on a customer's request, there is a good chance they will drop you and then bad mouth you, so you got to weigh it all out and see which path is the best for you.

stevef1201
11-27-2012, 04:56 PM
As far as legal advice. I want to make sure Iam covered insurance wise. Should I be insured and bonded? If a customer accused me of damage what would be the course of action on my part? If Iam at fault of course I would do the right thing and make it right but if Iam not, what should I do? Let say the customer accused me of breaking a window from a flying rock out from the mower, what should I do?

Insurance is about risk. If your mowing what kind of riak do you have- athrown rock a broken window, a acratched paint job? Less risk than cutting tree limbs over a house.

Call an insurance agent and ask them about business liability insurance. I got half a million for 50 bucks a month.

As I have added services, and risk mine has gone up.

Billy Goat
11-27-2012, 05:18 PM
I noticed on alot of construction/home improvement trucks/vans put they are licensed, insured and bonded. Is this a good selling point to add for a lawn care business cards, signs, etc? Of course I will be insured. As far as I know you do not have to be licensed in Maryland if you are just cutting grass only. Bonded from what I read is more for government stuff.

Steve
11-28-2012, 02:51 PM
Well the construction companies may be required to be bonded because they work indoors as well as outdoors and with that comes the temptation for theft. The bonding helps protect the homeowner from loss. You wouldn't be running into the same problem if you are outside mowing a lawn.

LawnCareMan280
12-02-2012, 06:03 PM
As for the name, I believe I would opt for something a little more broad than a company with "lawn service" in the title. That way, if your business grows in the years to come, and your services expand, you dont have to explain why a lawn service is estimating irrigation, tree removal, hardscapes, etc.

The legal issues are more complicated. The statutes in your state, as well as federal laws are a slippery slope. I have personally taken a common sense approach to litigation and law. I have not sought counsel from a lawyer, just due to cost. You have to mow a LOT of grass to pay for a consultation at a law office. Safety has got to be paramount in the whole of your operation. An on the job injury could sink you. Once you have awakened OSHA, there is no putting that dog back on the porch. The most interaction I have with the state and federal government is the bills I get cordially inviting me to pay my taxes. I just pay what I owe, and they seem happy until the next time they are due. Your insurance agent (if you have one you trust) is a good resource for determining your exposure to risk, and taking steps to mitigate that risk. I think your insurance agent and tax company can walk you through most of the liability/risk management issues you are likely to face.

Welcome to the forum Cool I have been mowing for 12 years

Cashin H&P
12-02-2012, 06:05 PM
Welcome to the forum Cool I have been mowing for 12 years

Sorry to hi-jack the thread but, LawnCareMan arent you 13? How have you been mowing for 12 years?