When is it time to go full time with your lawn care business?

A lot more lawn care business owners operate part time than full time. Some of those that operate part time are very happy with their part time status and wouldn’t want to change it. While others are looking for a way to figure out how to go full time. That is the question which was brought up on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum and it brought about quite a few interesting responses.

One lawn care business owner wrote “when is it time to go out on my own? I work about 45 hr a week for my father’s company and cut grass after work on most days. I have four lawn care accounts. Three are residential and one is commercial. The commercial property is the one my father owns and where I currently am employed full time. I spend most of my cutting time here at work because it is huge and there are 4 ditches totaling about 500 feet long that have to be maintained and they are only done by weed eater and small push mower. All the rest I can do with my 36″ walk behind.

I get $100 per week for the business. But all that aside, at what point do I try to go at it alone? I like cutting grass much better than what I do now. All other customers add up to $220 a month, for a combined total of $620. That is way too low for my budget. I need to clear about $2,500 a month.

At an average of $80 a month for basic service, I figure I need about 32 lawn accounts. I could handle that many if I didn’t work at my full time though. I know it is a stupid question, but any advice will be good.

My dad started the steel company I work for back in 72′ and then he helped my oldest brother start a rebar campany. My two older brothers have been running the two companies I work for now for the last three years or so. My dad has more or less retired. Since I am family, I do what ever I have to do to get the jobs done here. From fabricating to office crap, or even deliveries. It was built for us to have.

But family is not the easiest to work for. They have very high expectations on me. My big brother is constantly looking over my shoulder with everything I do. There are major benefits to working here, but I want more freedom. I dream of working for myself. But working here I have job security, employer match 401k up to 5% on my income, and other benefits to being on a family business.

Maybe I should just mow grass on the side as I do now, and if I get soo busy in the future then I could go out on my own. As you can see, I am torn and just don’t know what to do.”

A second lawn care business owner said “part time is not such a bad thing in this business. I did it for years because I enjoyed the security of full time employment along with insurance and pension benefits. I kept my overhead low and had some outstanding accounts which brought me an extra $20-$25 grand a year for years. I started around 10 years ago and didn’t go full time until just this year. I lost my job in Febuary and decided to go full time with my business. So far it has been good.

As I went full time, I found I needed to branch out a little more into landscaping to bring in more work for my two employees. I think it all depends on your situation. I was married with children, a home, and at one time a retail business to run, so I didn’t take the chance of going full time back then. If your single with no responsibilities I would go for it.

To do it, I would at least try to get about 15 good paying lawn care accounts before you quit your full time job. I think you will find as I did that lawn care is a more hands on service business which enables you to control your destiny.

Personally I would chose lawn care/landscape any other job because of the job satisfaction . There is nothing like looking at the manicured property you just finished and hearing positive feedback from your customers.”

A third added “in similar situations to yours, the transition from PT to FT can be a difficult one to make. This business is easy to get into PT, but not so easy to jump to FT.

My recommendation is that it’s all in the timing. The middle of Aug, is not a good time to make the jump. Yes, there is business to be had, but the season is half over and you don’t want to be cash strapped coming into the off season. What you do want to do is start laying the foundation for next season. Make sure all your customers are pleased. Make sure they are going to stick with you next season. Take on new clients if possible. Then next spring, take a few weeks off work (if you can) and hit it hard.”

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