Teen summer lawn mowing businesses not as common as they once were
Three years ago, Billy Walker realized he wanted money to spend as he pleased and decided to earn it. So Billy, then 11, created fliers offering mowing services and passed them out in his Mount Pleasant neighborhood.
Lawn mowing for money has been seen as a natural fit for teens for generations. But being successful at this business is not automatic, says Billy Walker of Mount Pleasant who offers these tips:
Be ready to give up some of the time you spend hanging out with friends.
Keep a school and activities schedule so you’ll know when you have time to work.
Don’t think it’s going to be a cakewalk, because it’s hard work.
Have the gasoline you need and your lawn mower and blower ready to use.
Be ready to negotiate your price. You don’t want to be too soft.
Save some of your money. Having a goal helps to stick to the job.
The response was pretty good, he says. Within a year, he had bought his own lawn mower. Now he’s saving money to buy a used pickup truck to haul his mower to jobs when he’s old enough to drive.
“I like doing it, and it’s a good way to make money,” he says.
Even during the school year, Billy, who recently graduated from Moultrie Middle School, sometimes can mow up to three lawns in a day, earning $60 to $75.
Billy’s mowing services, focused on eight regular clients, might not be rare, but are becoming more and more unusual, homeowners say.
“Most of the teens I deal with are old enough to work,” says Robbie Smith, Summerville YMCA’s health and wellness programs director at The Ponds. “They have other distractions and they don’t like to be outside,” Smith says. “I also don’t think they are pushed as hard to get jobs.”
Smith says some parents would like to see kids mowing lawns for pay, but many homeowners can’t afford to hire them because of the tight economy. Those usually end up mowing their own lawns, he says.
Wendy Reed, who lives in Summerville, says residents of her neighborhood often get fliers for dog-walking or dog-sitting, but not lawn mowing. While many teens live in her neighborhood, most of the adults mow their own lawns, she says.
“We have a lot of retired folks in our neighborhood, and so they take care of their own lawns,” Reed says. “Maybe it’s a stress reliever for those who work during the week.”
The only teens Billy sees mowing lawns are mowing for their parents, he says. Some are curious about Billy’s work and ask about the logistics involved. He tells them how it all works, but that does not lead them to start their own lawn-mowing businesses.
“They ask how I get there and how I manage it time-wise,” Billy says.
Teens, including him, have sports practice or they may hang out, he says. “I have tennis and baseball, but they may have a little bit harder time managing time. I like seeing the end product, but I’m sure other people don’t like being out there.”
Billy says he does have to think carefully about whether he can take a job. He has to consider when homeowners need to have their lawns mowed, what his school and extracurricular activity requirements are, whether he can push the lawn mower to the job and, if not, whether his mother will be available to drive him there, he says.
Billy’s mother, Mary Caroline Rhea, says mowing lawns for money is providing him with lessons about running a business. When the price of gasoline recently increased, he had to spend some time thinking about profit and loss. He knows how hard it is to earn money, and that influences the value that he places on it.
Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.