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thefed 02-08-2007 01:09 PM

I'm starting a lawn care business. Talk me out of it...
 
if you can! Good luck though

For some odd reason, ive always yearned for the green in the industry OTHER than the grass....so im going for it

I will work a bit myself, and have an able bodied helper who has a few yrs experience in commercial landscaping. I have some equipment lined up, and an advertising plan in the works.

Who here uses a lawn care service? Can you tell me how you like it, what they do/don't do, and what could make them better?

We will focus mainly on residential mowing,mulching, and ferts. Of course our biggest problem will be COMPETITION, as everyone and their mom owns a lawn care company, but I am confident I can fight my way in there...

This wont be a full time gig, likely only 1-2 days week, whcih I usually have available anyhow.

I am now ready for the cynicism I've gotten from everywhere else! go for it...

lets-retire 02-08-2007 01:21 PM

Re: I'm starting a lawn care business. Talk me out of it...
 
I had one when I had surgery on my foot and couldn't do it. The thing I disliked an ultimately resulted in the guy being fired was he was to come to my house once a week and he did. Unfortunately he would come on a Monday this week then Friday or Saturday next week then Monday again. My yard consistently looked like crap because of it. He started taking small short cuts, like not edging all the way or not blowing the grass out from under my truck. I figured if I was going to have to stay on the guy to get the job done, it would be easier to just do it myself, it only took an hour a week. The guy doing my yard was the owner.

A co-worker I had at the time, used a different guy and said he was calling the office about every 3 or 4 weeks to complain, because the job wasn't being done correctly. His yard was about the same size as mine but he paid half what I was paying, because his grandmother used the guy for many years when she owned the place.

KB 02-08-2007 01:27 PM

Re: I'm starting a lawn care business. Talk me out of it...
 
My only suggestion is to regularly clean your blades so you don't pass weed seeds or disease from one lawn to another. That could be a selling point because I doubt the other service bother.

You might also offer other services like aerating annually and sprinkler adjustment or repair. Total lawn care.

RedHawk 02-08-2007 01:28 PM

Re: I'm starting a lawn care business. Talk me out of it...
 
I cut lawns throughout high school. There is definitely good money to be made. I just passed out business cards to everyone in the neighborhood. I put a magnet on the back of the cards so people could stick it to their refrigerator and that worked out really good. Good luck with your business.

laurence 02-08-2007 01:33 PM

Re: I'm starting a lawn care business. Talk me out of it...
 
When you get a first house on a block, do a really bang up job and drop a little more nitrogen on that lawn, everybody will ask him who does his law. That's how the guy in our 'hood got every single house on the block. Makes for an easier work day, too, since you don't have to drive all over the place to get your houses in. I just don't see the margin, though, competition has driven the cost down so much in our 'hood.

Rich_by_the_Bay 02-08-2007 01:34 PM

Re: I'm starting a lawn care business. Talk me out of it...
 
Don't you also have a vent cleaning business? Thought that was keeping you pretty busy.

You sound like a high energy guy. Good luck - just don't overextend yourself.

W2R 02-08-2007 01:34 PM

Re: I'm starting a lawn care business. Talk me out of it...
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by thefed

Who here uses a lawn care service? Can you tell me how you like it, what they do/don't do, and what could make them better?

I have a lawn guy, if that counts. I pay him $10/mow more than my last lawn guy, and gladly.

1) He ALWAYS shows up on Thursdays at 9 AM (except in the winter). If it is raining, he is back at the first reasonable time to mow. He is absolutely, totally, amazingly reliable. My previous guy wasn't and let my lawn go for 4 weeks once without calling. The lawn was a mess, weeds took over, and it took a year for it to recover.

2) He edges everything beautifully.

3) We have an understood agreement. I leave the $30 under a pot on my patio reliably, and he doesn't call me or bug me. In the winter, he comes only when it is necessary and he has good judgment about that.

What I wish he would do, in an ideal world - - I wish he would do $30 worth of work on the bushes during the winter (cutting them back, weeding the beds, etc) once a week when the grass hasn't grown enough to mow. But, he doesn't like doing that so he just doesn't get paid on those weeks.


farmerEd 02-08-2007 01:39 PM

Re: I'm starting a lawn care business. Talk me out of it...
 
I won't talk you out of it...I ran one with about 40 lawns or so when I was in HS...made really good dough, for a kid and I assume as an adult you could do even better with some business skills.

Most guys in the business are like a lot of trades people, and don't focus too much on customer service...so if you do, and do a nice job, you can charge a premium and I suspect unless your area is saturated with competitors, your dance card will fill up in no time, and with little effort....that was always my result.

My nephew (17) now does the same thing...started with a couple of lawns and a push mower at 15 or so and by 17 had purchased a newer pickup, trailer, zero turn mowers, several push mowers, chainsaws sting trimmers etc...all with proceeds from the jobs he has done.

Its not hard work if you enjoy it. Good luck.

Edit: Also to consider, if you get a bunch of customers, inevitably it will lead to offers for other kinds of work - hauling stuff, minor repairs etc. That can be a good thing if you want the work, but just something to plan for (i.e. have a sub you can hire) if you don't want to. Once you start showing up on a regular basis at someones house with a truck and tools there is no telling what it might lead to. ;)


KB 02-08-2007 01:42 PM

Re: I'm starting a lawn care business. Talk me out of it...
 
What are you going to use for the fertilizer?

If you use weed and feed, don't put it near trees. The weed part is a herbicide and might kill or sicken the tree. For quick greening use ammonium sulfate.

thefed 02-08-2007 02:30 PM

Re: I'm starting a lawn care business. Talk me out of it...
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
Don't you also have a vent cleaning business? Thought that was keeping you pretty busy.

You sound like a high energy guy. Good luck - just don't overextend yourself.

yes i do, and yes it makes me money, but doesnt nearly keep me busy. duct cleaning and home repairs included,i have put in a total of 220 hrs in 19 weeks. add into that a little bit of windshield time too

i am trying not to over-extend myself, which i fear i may, but i have this burning desire for $$ and success so much/so often that have to succumb to those desires every once in a while.

thanks everyone else for your input

Moemg 02-08-2007 02:55 PM

Re: I'm starting a lawn care business. Talk me out of it...
 
If you live in Florida you are going to be rich .Everyone has a lawn service (who wants to mow in that heat ).My guy charges $50.00 a month and does an okay job but most people pay double that so I don't complain.

Texas Proud 02-08-2007 03:34 PM

Re: I'm starting a lawn care business. Talk me out of it...
 
OK... I will try and talk you out of it....

We have three people who used to work in the landscaping business... now are real estate property managers...

ALL said it was the worst job they ever had... and the money was not that good.. now, they were working for someone else (and at least on with a big time operator who made LOTS of money)..

Brat 02-08-2007 05:06 PM

Re: I'm starting a lawn care business. Talk me out of it...
 
I would concentrate on a nearby neighborhood with a lot of dual income professional households, often their kids are 'too busy' to seek that work. The other market would be Realtors with vacant houses up for sale - in a soft real estate market there are opportunities.

There are two kinds of yard folks, the mow & blow type and the plant maintenance type. In lots of communities the mow & blow business is done by immigrants (often undocumented), which means that the margins are slim. One way to, sneakily, get to know the market is to ask your friends and neighbors if they know of any lawn care folks - interview a couple. Find out what the going rate is and know thy competition's skills.

Attend classes on yard care often held for free at your local retail nursery or for a small charge at your local community college. Look at the plants around the houses in your target market so you know what to focus on.

Oh yes, many cities require that lawn cuttings be hauled away or stowed in specific recycling containers. Some prohibit or control the application of chemicals. Know the local practices.

Alex 02-08-2007 05:42 PM

Re: I'm starting a lawn care business. Talk me out of it...
 
our guy is great. He literally makes love to our lawn. Then he massages the flower beds. He carefully trims, carresses and fondles the foilage. He does it like an artist. Hell, He IS an artist! He shows up whenever the hell he wants to (somehow he knows when the place needs attention) and he gets paid by the hour. If he comes alone (rarely) we pay $15.00 an hour - with a helper $25.00. He is worth every cent!!

bssc 02-08-2007 06:33 PM

Re: I'm starting a lawn care business. Talk me out of it...
 
As I mentioned elsewhere, we had a lawn care service but got rid of it when they did what they wanted to rather than do what we asked them to.

What I didn't mention is that all the workers didn't speak English, only the guy in charge, so it was hard to tell them what to do. A friend's husband had a service but he was driven out by those services that used "cheap labor". Needless to say, this is in Phoenix.

If you are anywhere else, good luck.


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