A way to earn mow money Enterprise: A new book insists there's big money to be made in a youngster's traditional summer job.

June 12, 1998|By Stacey Patton | Stacey Patton,SUN STAFF

Out of school? Looking for a job guaranteed to bring in the big bucks?

How about an internship at a stock brokerage -- or the White House? Or as a Web page designer or software writer for a computer company?

Those are all good jobs. You wear a suit, drink coffee, sit in air-conditioned office. But if you'd rather have fresh air, lots of exercise and your own schedule, and still make big bucks, the answer is much simpler: cut grass.

All a young entrepreneur really needs, says Robert Welcome, is grass, some rain, sunlight and a set of wheels with a sharp blade.

It might sound dubious. But Welcome says there's more to mowing than meets the blade. Enough that he's written a 157-page book on the subject: "How to Make Big Money Mowing Small Lawns" (Noble Publishing, $10.95).

Mowing lawns, Welcome says, is a great way to earn money. "It's healthy, outside work with plenty of fresh air and good exercise." It's also free of the hassles of interviews and filling out applications. And prospects are always growing.

"There is an immense amount of grass everywhere to be cut," he says. "We see lawns at golf courses, cemeteries, schools, parks, houses and along the sides of roadways."

OK, but what's that you say? "Show me the money!"

According to Welcome's book, a dedicated mower can earn three to four times the minimum-wage rate. The going rate for mowing lawns is anywhere between $10 and $12. If you mow lawns for eight hours a day, that adds up to $96 a day, $480 a week.

Welcome says a little drive is also key.

"If you're ambitious, you can make big money," he says.

Welcome started mowing lawns in 1948 when he was 15 or so, and definitely not for big bucks. His first jobs paid $1 per lawn. Still, he continued to mow lawns throughout his high school summers.

Many years later, when his 14-year-old son wanted to make extra money but wasn't old enough to get a regular job, he decided to mow lawns. Welcome noticed that there was no information available to help him get started.

"My son had so many questions," he says. "But even the library didn't have any research for us." Despite the lack of information, his son had great success mowing lawns. "There were some weeks when he brought home $1,000. And he paid taxes," Welcome chuckles.

And that inspired Welcome to write his book.

But with all the other how-to books out there on making big money, why would someone turn to one on mowing lawns?

"That's easy," says Welcome. "This book is not going to make anyone go bankrupt. It is a low-risk, high-return business."

Welcome says he's learned that many young people who mow lawns do it only on a part-time basis and with little business know-how.

"They do it strictly based on the 5 percent practical knowledge required to push a mower," he says. "In this business, it's quite easy to compete with them. They're hardly aware of the other 95 percent of business knowledge that would improve their overall efficiency and earnings."

Of course, you'll have to spend a little money to make money. Welcome estimates a new mowing mogul will have to dish out $175-200 for start-up costs: mower purchase, maintenance, operating costs and advertising. But he promises the gross over time will make that output look like small change.

Welcome himself got out of the lawn-mowing business long ago. Today, his wife mows their lawn at their quaint home in Lee, Mass.

Welcome's book also tries to teach proper business etiquette -- XTC how to be reliable, make business contacts, pay taxes and invest earnings.

He is convinced that his son became a preacher as a result of mowing lawns.

"Mowing lawns builds character and at the same time you make your big sum of money," he says.

Saftey first

Robert Welcome's book also emphasizes safety. Mowing lawns is more complicated than checking the gas, pulling the lever and keeping one's feet away from the blade. Here are some safety guidelines to remember:

* Avoid collisions.

* Properly maintain mower by following the manufacturer's instructions.

* Know the controls and how to stop the mower quickly.

* Always wear appropriate foot wear.

* Mow only during daylight or in good artificial light.

* Look over the lawn and remove any loose items such as sticks, wires, stones, bones or any other foreign objects.

* Don't operate mower in wet grass.

* Don't run mower over loose objects.

* Watch out for pets.

* Keep a firm hold on the handle and walk. Never run.

* Don't place hands or feet near the mower housing when engine is running.

* Keep the engine free of an accumulation of grass or excess grease and oil.

Pub Date: 6/12/98

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