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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.

A bunch of questions


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 04-08-2010, 08:17 PM
stew6371
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Default A bunch of questions

Hey all, I have a bunch of questions and would appreciate any responses I get. These are probably stupid questions as I tend to overthink things, but I'm just trying to make educated decisions. Well here goes:
1)How many of you started out or are still doing just mow & go.

2)Trailers- enclosed or open and why.

3)Have any of you bought any of these "how to" programs off the internet?
If so, which ones were helpful.

4)How far from your base do you usually limit your travel for jobs?

5)How receptive are customers to prepaying a month at a time. I'm thinking of offering a 10% discount to prepay and a 10% discount for the first month of a new season for signing up for the next season early.

6) How bout this. I read where a guy makes up postcards and puts them in a ziplock sandwich baggie with a couple rocks. He then drives around and throws them onto potential customers driveways much like a paperboy. It is much faster than doorhangers.
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  #2  
Old 04-08-2010, 08:36 PM
CHEESE2009 CHEESE2009 is offline
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Hey now! Your questions are perfect!!!


1)How many of you started out or are still doing just mow & go.

I am not, it's more profitable to have customers scheduled for the complete season. This avoids customers letting their grass grow a few feet, & wearing down your equipment.


2)Trailers- enclosed or open and why.

Closed, It takes a little more time to grab your equipment, but only by a second. Other than that, the advertising space on a closed trailer is superior. You don't have to unload this trailer at the end of the day either, & no one will steal your equipment. It is safer, & better for business for a higher cost.

3)Have any of you bought any of these "how to" programs off the internet?
If so, which ones were helpful.

No idea what you mean, though how to videos off of youtube are nice little reminders. This site beats any how to-anything.

4)How far from your base do you usually limit your travel for jobs?
I don't like to travel more than 30-40 minutes away, especially if I'm not strong in a certain area. No point in driving for an hour only for a few bucks.

5)How receptive are customers to prepaying a month at a time. I'm thinking of offering a 10% discount to prepay and a 10% discount for the first month of a new season for signing up for the next season early.

Many customers prefer this, because your not grabbing all of their money right away. Payments are THAT much easier than paying in full. You also get to greet your customers (most of the time) & catch up on what he/she is feeling about your services. Though if a customer has a problem with it, they usually tell you right off the bat that they want to just pay you in full right away. Other than that, I wouldn't lower it. Do not say, "payment is due every week/two weeks" that would get annoying. You also don't want to charge your customers every 2 months either, because them letting go such a big wad of money at one time will really turn them into your companies biggest critic!

6) How bout this. I read where a guy makes up postcards and puts them in a ziplock sandwich baggie with a couple rocks. He then drives around and throws them onto potential customers driveways much like a paperboy. It is much faster than doorhangers.

DON'T do that, lol. As someone else said, it's just preparing the ad for the garbage bin. Ziploc bags aren't that cheap either, hahaha!

I would be pretty angry with whoever had me walk onto my lawn to pick up their mess/ad. Unfortunately I would consider them very LAZY rather than clever. I'd say, "why couldn't they just put their ad in my damn mail box? Right to the garbage without a peek, that's it.
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  #3  
Old 04-08-2010, 08:40 PM
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1) Mow and go as you put it was the business plan in March of last year, I changed it in April and again in May to offer a host of other services, had I not changed we would be out of business. We now have a lawn care side that supports 6 f/t employees but it took some time to get it there.

2) Trailers - we use both and they both have advantages over the other, I like cargo as you can keep the gear locked up but Cargo will not haul a lot of our gear.

3) No, I have run to many companies, have my MBA and a host of other credentials so buying a program offered nothing to me.

4) Our limit is 25 kilometers, about 15 miles

5) Never asked a customer to do this, generally a sign of poor cash flow by the company offering the service, how many people pay for cable, telephone etc a month in advance. On Landscaping/excavation a 50% deposit is required, everything else as soon as we are finished.

6) Tacky, for our target market this type of approach would be shooting yourself in the foot, I am not afraid of cold calling and it has taken my company from two employees in April of last year to 22 employees in May of this year.
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Old 04-08-2010, 09:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stew6371 View Post
1)How many of you started out or are still doing just mow & go.
Mowing is just to make some cash until I can fill up a fert and squirt route.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stew6371 View Post
2)Trailers- enclosed or open and why.
Neither. I prefer to not use a trailer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stew6371 View Post
3)Have any of you bought any of these "how to" programs off the internet?
If so, which ones were helpful.
I don't know what this means.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stew6371 View Post
4)How far from your base do you usually limit your travel for jobs?
Local calling area.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stew6371 View Post
5)How receptive are customers to prepaying a month at a time. I'm thinking of offering a 10% discount to prepay and a 10% discount for the first month of a new season for signing up for the next season early.
Some like paying up front. Some refuse. If I were to ask for prepay and offer a steep discount like that I'd want more than one month in advance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stew6371 View Post
6) How bout this. I read where a guy makes up postcards and puts them in a ziplock sandwich baggie with a couple rocks. He then drives around and throws them onto potential customers driveways much like a paperboy. It is much faster than doorhangers.
No. You'd get in big trouble around these parts. Imagine the $300 fine for littering times how many postcards you make. It's really tacky. I wouldn't hire anyone that would market like that or by putting anything in my windscreen wiper.

Don't throw crap in my driveway. I'll make you miserable.
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  #5  
Old 04-08-2010, 09:39 PM
stew6371
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Thanks for the quit replies. When I said mow and go I was meaning just mow,trim and blow. No additional services. This may be the way I have to start out. So do your customers pay when service is done or do you bill them? Also, I was talking to my local dealer about equipment and he basically told me to stick with a 21" commercial mower since my target market right now is residential. I was looking at a 36" walk behind, but it didnt have a mulching deck and some people dont want the grass clippings thrown on there lawn. Plus I wasnt sure if it would fit through most gates. Once again thanks.
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Old 04-08-2010, 10:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stew6371 View Post
... Also, I was talking to my local dealer about equipment and he basically told me to stick with a 21" commercial mower since my target market right now is residential. I was looking at a 36" walk behind, but it didnt have a mulching deck and some people dont want the grass clippings thrown on there lawn. Plus I wasnt sure if it would fit through most gates. Once again thanks.
Your local dealer probably has a 21" mower that he's paying interest on and he has to move. (Yeah, I'm suspicious of everyone). My 36" will fit through most gates but not usually through a chain-link fence gate. Actually, you'll eventually want both. The 36" will make you more money than the 21".

Another point about making stuff to throw in people's driveways. If you look around you'll notice that the only people that encourage this sort of marketing are the people that offer printing services for such things as items to throw into driveways. Seriously!

Last edited by mark123; 04-08-2010 at 10:03 PM.
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Old 04-08-2010, 10:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark123 View Post
Your local dealer probably has a 21" mower that he's paying interest on and he has to move. (Yeah, I'm suspicious of everyone). My 36" will fit through most gates but not usually through a chain-link fence gate. Actually, you'll eventually want both. The 36" will make you more money than the 21".

Another point about making stuff to throw in people's driveways. If you look around you'll notice that the only people that encourage this sort of marketing are the people that offer printing services for such things as items to throw into driveways. Seriously!
I'm pretty suspicious myself, but he didnt try to sell me any one particular mower, but who knows. Do you have the mulching deck on your 36"?
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Old 04-08-2010, 10:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stew6371 View Post
I'm pretty suspicious myself, but he didnt try to sell me any one particular mower, but who knows.
I'm just used to dealing with my local goofballs. Every time I go in and ask for something they always say "this is the one you really want".

"Yeah, but that's a snow blower and I asked for a mower."


Quote:
Originally Posted by stew6371 View Post
Do you have the mulching deck on your 36"?
No, I side discharge. I'd never make it through the fertilized lawns in the spring with a mulching deck. If I don't get 8" of growth per week on some lawns I'd be surprised.
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Old 04-08-2010, 11:40 PM
stew6371
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Quote:
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I'm just used to dealing with my local goofballs. Every time I go in and ask for something they always say "this is the one you really want".

"Yeah, but that's a snow blower and I asked for a mower."
lol.



No, I side discharge. I'd never make it through the fertilized lawns in the spring with a mulching deck. If I don't get 8" of growth per week on some lawns I'd be surprised.
Wow. The clippings dont leave a big mess? Also, what do you wear jeans, shorts, or some other type of uniform?
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Old 04-09-2010, 11:06 PM
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Ok, this is my plan as of now. Please give me all the feedback you can from your own experiences on why this will/will not work and so forth.

I plan to start with a new stihl trimmer and edger(I'm not good enough to edge with a trimmer yet), a stihl blower and my 21" personal push mower. I plan on doing this part time until I have enough accounts to do it fulltime. At that time I will upgrade to a 34" ZTR, probably either exmark or toro. Most of the yards here will be fenced so I need the smaller deck and this will be alot more efficient than the 21". I think hedge trimming and gutter cleanouts will be my first add-on services. I would like to make up a flyer and send it out in the newspaper, but I only want to target certain areas and I haven't checked to see if this is possible and the cost of doing so. I will get business cards and signs for my truck. I also plan on getting yard signs and place them at certain intersections. I'm still trying to figuere out how to price my work. I will stop there for now and take in your feedback. Thanks for all the help.
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