Do you want to compete by offering a lower bid than the company currently maintaining these accounts or do you want to compete by offering better service at the same or higher price?
Now THAT'S what I'm talking about!!! Thanks for you openness to how the system works. This is my goal by the end of the summer!!! Monthly contracts is where it's AT!Ditto on talking to the manager. I got a 32 residence gated community this way. Talked to the president of the homeowners association and told him I'd maintain every lawn there for $55 a week and do the playground for free if he got all 32 owners to sign up. Each lawn is between 6,000 and 8,000 sq. ft. The playground/park is 9,500sq. ft. It's a real money maker because I can knock the whole thing out in 6 to 7 hours w/ my ZTR and 32 inch walk behind. I mow, edge, and blow the grass clippings off the sidewalks and driveways.
Every month I send him the bill for $7,040 and he pays me with an HOA check. Now he bills the residents $75/week for my services. So he collects $9,600 every month. The $2,560 difference goes into his pocket. Over a six month mowing contract that nets him an extra $15,360. Chances are slim to none that I'd ever lose this mowing contract. He handles all the little BS that comes with working a neighborhood like that too.
He does the same thing with the overseeding in the fall, the aeration in the spring, the fertilization, etc. He always tacks on a little extra for himself. Last season he put a cool $25K in his pocket. That's a decent size kickback and it keeps him happy. He doesn't even entertain other landscapers. He's very happy with the work I do and with what he makes off of it. When I have to do a landscape project there's a permit/approval process that costs $500 to apply for. This goes in the boards treasury. My projects are always approved the first time and my work is never held up with "violations" to the covenants rules.
Commercial work is a game. Who do you know and how can you scratch their back so they scratch yours?
Hey Bob,Just had another thought, Orange County CA is a fairly densely populated area. I'll give you the ideal business model for a mowing route in a densely populated area. Unfortunately it doesn't work up here in northern Idaho. We're pretty spread out, lots of farms and big country homes. Too much driving to be this productive.
In an area where the average lawn size is under 10,000 sq. ft. you can have a dedicated mowing business that will make you a decent living. Figure about a 60/40 split between residential and commercial mowing.
The ideal is 25 lawns a day on a tight mowing route. That's 25 customers within 6 to 10 square miles, with lawns under 10,000 sq ft. What to charge depends on your area but I'd say $45/week for mowing, edging, weedeating the perimeter, and blowing the grass clippings off the sidewalks and driveway. This route can be done by 1 person with the proper equipment.
A ZTR w/ a minimum of 52 inch deck width. Most folks have larger front yards than back yards and a good size ZTR will knock out a front yard real quick.
A hydraulic walk behind with a maximum deck width of 32 inches. This will fit through most standard gates to cut the backyard.
A high quality 21 inch w/ mulching deck. This will cut the tight spots.
At least 2 commercial quality string trimmers w/ bump heads. String trimmers are always breaking at the most inopportune time.
1 quality edger. If this goes down you can edge with a string trimmer.
A high velocity backpack blower.
Spare blades, string, oil, fuel, and tools.
Hand tools. Shovel, rake, broom, etc.
Now ideally you want 125 customers broken down into 5 distinct routes that are close to each other and follow a logical sequence. For example if it rains on Monday you'll want to be able to spread those 25 customers over Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday without adding excessive driving.
If you do 125 customers a week at $45 a pop you can gross $5,625 a week.
You'll stay busy and if it rains for more than 2 days a week you lost that week. You'll have to push those lawns to the following week and eat the lost income.
That's about the maximum for a solo operator to do in a densely populated area. If you decide to go this route, and do nothing but lawns, you can increase your productivity by buying a dedicated lawn truck as opposed to towing a lawn trailer.
Below is a picture of a beavertail lawnbody. These are commonly fitted to trucks with a 10,000 to 19,500 pound GVWR. However they are available for trucks as small as a Ford Ranger if you can get away with a truck that small.
Hope this helps.