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Starting a lawn care business. How to start a lawn mowing business, lawn care business, or landscaping business. If you are starting a lawn care business, ask your questions here.

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Starting a lawn care business.

How to start a lawn mowing business, lawn care business, or landscaping business. If you are starting a lawn care business, ask your questions here.
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  #1  
Old 02-20-2013, 10:49 PM
EricS EricS is offline
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Hello everybody,

I have been lurking around here for a while and have read a lot of good threads with some great advice. I have been in landscape construction for 8 years and last year (2012) I told my boss I was moving 2 hours away and not coming back. I have dreamed of owning my own business for a while now (my boss was a tremendous douche), but I am very nervous and have lots of questions.

I am going to continue offering landscape construction as I love it, but I am a realist and understand it would beneficial for me to not put all my eggs in one basket. The plan is to devote 2 days per week for maintenance to supplement my income and have constant stream of revenue. I do not want to be a mow, blow and go company, I am a very thorough person. I have been studying lawn maintenance for about a month now, but am still unclear about some things.

So enough of the background information, lets get to some questions.

The area I moved to is all beach sand (and cool season grass). The whole town is beach sand. I'm not sure but I assume the surrounding town are also beach sand. From what I gather beach sand holds NO nutrition or water and thus making it nearly impossible to maintain a healthy lawn. Would top dressing with compost or triple mix help add and maintain enough nutrition to benefit the turf? Or should I "upsell" potential customers to rip up their current lawns and install 6" of triple mix?

Is there anyone here that uses non-commerical organic fertilizers bought from a farm store? I was planning on using Corn Gluten Meal as a pre-emergent at the recommended 20lbs per 1000sqft, and I know that contains a great amount of nitrogen which makes it almost a weed n feed, however it contains no P/K. Should I add other organics like bonemeal and greensand, Or should I just use a product like SumaGreen Turf instead?

The aeration process... does this sound correct...: in spring or fall (preferably fall) dethatch, then core aerate, spread compost, overseed and then fertilize? How far apart should each of these services be? All in one day? spread out of a couple of weeks?

To figure out my pricing I have done calculations that revolve around the average of the numbers I have found doing my research and how much I want to be paid. Perhaps you would induldge me and compare your pricing / profit with mine? I do not want to underquote and make no money, but I do not want to overquote and lose potential customers.

@$50/hr ($0.833/min)

WALK MOWING AT 4ft/s WITH A 30 MOWER = 10sqft/s
with this number, to mow a 1000 sqft area should take 1.66 minutes.
round up to 3 minutes.
At $1/min and 1000sqft taking 3 minutes = $3/1000sqft

TRIMMING
AT 0.5 LNFT/SEC I CAN DO APPROXIMATELY 30 LNFT/MIN.
adjust this number for easier rounding to 50 LNFT = $1.50

BED EDGING
approx 25lnft/min
$0.10 /linear ft

BLOWING
$5

Example:
3000sqft yard (15 km away from any other job) w/
300 linear feet of trimming and 100 linear feet of bed edging
+ blowing + $20 business expenses + $15 driving (gas+time)
__________________________________________________ __
$63 (this seems a little high??)

I know I'm probably overthinking it but like I said I am a very through person and I would definitely prefer to conduct my business based off of a predetermined formula, I figure this would be the easiest way to quote. Rather than looking at a property and guessing how long it will take.

(approximately $35 of it should be profit for about 30 min of work)



thanks for going through this long post, I look forward to seeing your responses.

Eric
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  #2  
Old 02-21-2013, 07:15 AM
krzys666 krzys666 is offline
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unless that 30" machine is a true commercial walk behind with a velky you will never mow 4mph.

a little to much for the traveling. you should have more jobs close by

what is your business expense?
just wondering how you got that number

and were do you see a 35 dollar profit?
i don't.

here it is a 35-50 dollar lawn
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Last edited by krzys666; 02-21-2013 at 07:19 AM.
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  #3  
Old 02-21-2013, 08:34 AM
LawnBoy0311 LawnBoy0311 is offline
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In a perfect world, you'd be correct. But it will never be a perfect world. Every lawn is different. Flat, Hills, straight edging, curves in the edging, trees, gardens, kids toys, dog logs, front yard and back yard or just front?

Sometimes over thinking the easiest things can make life real difficult. It's great that you want to know your costs and exactly what you'll be earning.

4MPH for a mower is fast. I agree with the above guy...you have a velky right?

Your blowing cost is $5. But what are you blowing off? Just the driveway? What if they have a porch or a back deck? I blow off all hard surfaces...even if there are no clippings.


Sometimes taking a look at a yard and figuring out how long it will take you works best. Also much less of a headache. The more you do it the better off you'll be. When I first started I had a tough time, but quickly got used to doing it. Now I'm just about spot on. Some yards that I do with kids toys I over estimate. Because it takes time for me to move them....some weeks the toys are left out, other times they aren't. I factor in every time the toys will be out.

Keep it simple.

Where did you get a $20 business expense? What is a "business expense"? Shouldn't you factor that into your price for mowing instead of tacking it on at the end? $15 just for gas and driving????? Your quote of $63 is very high for a 3,000 sq ft property.....I'm pretty sure no one in the country charges that much.

With your background I know you can do VERY well. Like I've said over and over....these side projects are the big ticket money makers. I love the fact your adding in mowing to keep the income steady. It's a smart move, but make sure you quote right. Try calling other companies in your area and see how much they charge. I never suggest doing that because all companies have different expenses. But in your case, you'll see how high you are compared to all of them.

Last edited by LawnBoy0311; 02-21-2013 at 08:41 AM.
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  #4  
Old 02-21-2013, 08:49 AM
EricS EricS is offline
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sorry I was getting tired last night and jumbled some of my numbers. the expenses should have been $15 not $20, but final quote reflected $15 anyways.

The mower I was looking at is what seems like the best one in my price range. The Toro 30" TimeMaster. My research results yielded that the average person walks at a speed of 4 FT/S (NOT MPH).

I have gone and altered my business expenses from a broad generalization to be based off a more specific number of customers. This changes my pricing but makes it much more variable. This is obviously my first year in a new area of with only about 10,000 homes. I am hoping to procure 20 full time maintenance customers however I do not want to base my pricing off of 20 customers because I do not know what to expect. Remember I am only looking at having 2 days of maintenance per week with a maximum of 20 customers, 10 per day.

below is my expenses list with a new example of what it would do to change the price of a job

****-

STATIC EXPENSES (DAILY FEES FOR CUSTOMERS)

BUSINESS INSURANCE EST.
$1000/yr = $2.74 per day (ROUNDED $3/DAY)
BASED OFF OF 10 CUSTOMERS: $3 per customer / per day
BASED OFF OF 20 CUSTOMERS: $1.50 per customer / per day

TRUCK/TRAILER INSURANCE EST.
$1200/yr = $3.29/day (ROUNDED $3/DAY)
BASED OFF OF 10 CUSTOMERS: $3 per customer / per day
BASED OFF OF 20 CUSTOMERS: $1.50 per customer / per day

COST TO CONTINUALLY REGISTER BUSINESS NAME
$0.10 PER DAY PER CUSTOMER

DIESEL EST $0.22 per KM (ROUNDED $0.25/KM)
DRIVING TIME (AVG at 60km/hr) 1km per minute = $0.833/min

TOTAL DRIVING EXPENSES ROUNDED
$1/km (CAP AT $15 REGARDLESS OF DISTANCE)

PHONE: EST.
$100/mo = $3.33 per day
BASED OFF OF 10 CUSTOMERS: $2.50 per customer / per day
BASED OFF OF 20 CUSTOMERS: $1.25 per customer / per day

OFFICE SUPPLIES
$50/mo = $1.66 per day
BASED OFF OF 10 CUSTOMERS: $1.25 per customer / per day
BASED OFF OF 20 CUSTOMERS: $0.62 per customer / per day

TOTAL $11
10 CUSTOMERS: $9.75 per customer
20 CUSTOMERS: $4.97 per customer

VARIABLE EXPENSES (LAWN MAINTENANCE)

GASOLINE/OIL FOR TRIMMER/MOWER/BLOWER EST. $20/DAY
BASED OFF OF 10 CUSTOMERS: $2 per customer / per day
BASED OFF OF 20 CUSTOMERS: $1 per customer / per day

LINE FOR TRIMMER EST
$10/MO = $0.25 per job per day

COST TO REPLACE TOOLS EST.
$1 per job per day

****-


So as for my example, a 3000sqft yard to **
MOW: $9
TRIM: $9
EDGE: $10
BLOW: $5
10 CUSTOMERS EXPENSES: $13
20 CUSTOMERS EXPENSES: $7.25
DRIVING: $15
__________________
10: $61
20: $55.25


You say my driving expense is high, should I not charge for my time while driving? Should I calculate an average driving time and charge all customers equally? If I were to only charge the fuel it takes to drive those 15km my price would go from $15 to $3.75 but that is not adding wear and tear to the truck.
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:08 AM
EricS EricS is offline
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Because everything can be so highly variable, for the blowing I chose a fairly arbitrary nunber based off of how long I figure it should take me to blow off all surfaces for an average job. 6 minutes ($5) seemed like it would be a good average.

Me padding my mowing time from aproximately 1 1/2 minutes to 3 minutes per 1000sqft was me trying to average in hills, poop, toys, etc.

I call it business expenses as a broad term for myself of everything it'd take to run my business. It would be factored in to a single quote of the mowing for the customer as would the driving expenses. They would only see the price for the job... which brings me to another question, is it a good idea or bad idea to itemize the quote?

I cannot bring myself to call the other businesses around here I would just simply feel guilty wasting those peoples time if they had to come out and I knew they were not going to get any work from me.
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:24 AM
LawnBoy0311 LawnBoy0311 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EricS View Post

You say my driving expense is high, should I not charge for my time while driving? Should I calculate an average driving time and charge all customers equally? If I were to only charge the fuel it takes to drive those 15km my price would go from $15 to $3.75 but that is not adding wear and tear to the truck.
Your basing your charges off how many customers you have? Maybe I'm reading this wrong.
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:28 AM
LawnBoy0311 LawnBoy0311 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EricS View Post
You say my driving expense is high, should I not charge for my time while driving? Should I calculate an average driving time and charge all customers equally? If I were to only charge the fuel it takes to drive those 15km my price would go from $15 to $3.75 but that is not adding wear and tear to the truck.
I charge .75 cents a mile (national average I think is it .35 cents a mile). I also reduced my drive time this year to make a smaller service area.
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:36 AM
EricS EricS is offline
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originally i did not base it off of the number of customers. My $15 expenses was just a general how much should each thing cost. I made the additions of per customer basis this morning. I judge by your reaction that is not a smart way to calculate my expenses . I was simply looking for a way to get my price down without having to pay myself less.
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:37 AM
LawnBoy0311 LawnBoy0311 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EricS View Post
Because everything can be so highly variable, for the blowing I chose a fairly arbitrary nunber based off of how long I figure it should take me to blow off all surfaces for an average job. 6 minutes ($5) seemed like it would be a good average.

Me padding my mowing time from aproximately 1 1/2 minutes to 3 minutes per 1000sqft was me trying to average in hills, poop, toys, etc.

I call it business expenses as a broad term for myself of everything it'd take to run my business. It would be factored in to a single quote of the mowing for the customer as would the driving expenses. They would only see the price for the job... which brings me to another question, is it a good idea or bad idea to itemize the quote?

I cannot bring myself to call the other businesses around here I would just simply feel guilty wasting those peoples time if they had to come out and I knew they were not going to get any work from me.
It's a bad idea to itemize a quote. You'd be opening up a whole other can of worms.

Like I said before, it would be best to call a competitor and see what they charge. If they are coming in at half your costs....good luck trying to close deals with customers. You'll find customers are more than willing to pay a higher price for better service, but if you and I are offering the same service and your charging $80 and I'm charging $40, theres a problem. If you can't bring yourself to waste their time....what do you think customers are going to do to you? Plenty of customers will call looking for a quote, but are really just price shopping.

If you've already come up with your plan, then why are you asking for advice? Good luck to you, I'm tapping out on this one.
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:49 AM
EricS EricS is offline
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I would not have a problem with potential customers shopping around, it is understandable and expected. I would just personally feel guilty about wasting another LCO's time to compare quotes.

Quote:
If you've already come up with your plan, then why are you asking for advice? Good luck to you, I'm tapping out on this one."
I'm not sure I understand? Yes, I have a shell of a plan, but how do I know which aspects of said plan are good? Already there have been some issues pointed out with my pricing. I'm asking for advice because this forum is full of professionals who have been in the industry for years. I thank you for your replies, but am confused as to why you are opting to remove yourself from the conversation.

Eric
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