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View Full Version : Lawn Trucks - Is it really for the image?


Tn Lawn Man
10-07-2005, 09:30 AM
I posted this in the general forum, but received no responses. I don't think as many people read that forum.

Here is my question:


I currently run crews that have trucks and trailers.

So far all are full size 1500 model trucks with 14' to 16' trailers. The rigs are nice and appealing to the eye. They are professionally lettered/signed etc... The trucks are on average 3 to 4 years old.

I have looked into buying landscape trucks. They look nice and professional. They give the image that you are a top notch company.

C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\My Documents\pj_landscape_truck_right.jpg

However, here is the problem:

The landscape rigs run about $25k to $35k fully outfitted. Whereas, the truck and open trailer rigs run about 1/2 the price or less.

I have looked at the functionality of both rigs and cannot see a significant difference other than not having to maneuver a trailer and the ability to tow more stuff by putting your equipment on the bed of the landscape truck and towing a trailer of mulch. Yet, I rarely see that ever done.

It seems to me that the true appeal of a landscape truck is image.

Please tell me if I am wrong or what I may be missing.

And, FYI, I am excluding from this discussion enclosed trailer rigs and box truck style rigs. They are a totally different issue to be discussed after this one.

What do you all think?

J Hisch
10-07-2005, 09:59 AM
Several factor come into play.

1. The NPR Isuzu last much longer than a pick up truck. 250,000-300,000 range and still has resale.

2. Fuel economy is slightly better.

3. Easier to maneuver, but you mentioned that.

4. Yes, it has marketing ability. Meaning the appearance is more appealing to the eye.

However it main advantage, is it much easier to park, maneuver in highly populated areas. and it longevity on the job.

MTR
10-07-2005, 01:23 PM
Down here, most of guys that have high-end, high-paying accounts are those who dress casual clothes and cheap working trucks, BUT their equipment are deadly high-end machine. It is not uncommon to see guy in a 94 4-banger ranger pulling 5x10 trailer with 52" Hustler Super mini, Toro/eXmark, or 52 Stander doing lawns in million dollar homes. It is about QUALITY that sells, you cut grass and pull weed, trim bushes not modelling or auto show...
Rain, sun, heat, humidity all year, go ahead get 40k truck and you don't do good job on your lawn service, you ain't go be any different.

Jpocket
10-07-2005, 02:09 PM
I think it's all about what is best for you. Me personally I couldn't have a truck that is only good for mowing. The NPR is almost useless for anything other than mowing. When the worrk week is done you can take a pick up or even a Dump/stake body anywhere and do anything. With a truck & trailer you can Plow snow, Cruise, take the family to the shore, haul mulch, and just have another vehicle you can take anywhere.

Albemarle Lawn
10-07-2005, 02:23 PM
I have 2 straight trucks.

Mitsubishi-Fuso landscape truck. It has a ramp, and the side folds down so I can accept pallets, etc. It holds 2 ztrs + push mower easy, or any number of other things.

Parks in space of a car, esp if you back in and allow rear overhang to hang over grass.

SO manueverable. No more trailer brakes/lights hassle. Easy on fuel. NOTHING HAS GONE WRONG WITH IT! Can tow, too,


Also have 2004 C5500 encloesed crew cab. BIG truck, holds 2 ZTR + walk behind + push mower; seats 6, has "attic" over cab for bales of straw, spare tires, etc. Chevrolet junk so lots of little problems, but gets the job done. Not too convenient, but holds a lot of stuff. Can tow, too.

I call it the "warehouse on wheels"

Fantasy Lawns
10-07-2005, 04:48 PM
I believe in Image as a message to customers & public presence ... Yes

I also think that one should be careful .... with cash or reserves ... until at-least year 5 before upgrading to new trucks

I personally purchase used trucks ... in general good shape ... I don't think I will ever purchase a new truck fore work .... unless I'm in high 6 figures gross

DLS1
10-07-2005, 04:57 PM
If you got a fancy outfit then you will answer it is image, the customer thinks you are more professional,bla bla bla.

If you got a pickup and trailer you say customer doesn't care as long as the yard looks nice, bla bla.

So pick the bla bla bla that fits your current situation. :D :D

premierlawncare
10-07-2005, 05:01 PM
I was thinking and almost bought a fusu and new trailer for $45K. Then I made a list of the reasons to buy and list of the reasons not to buy. The list not to buy was huge.

The top reason for me to buy was that maybe I could make more money cutting trees etc. by being more efficient with time.


Currently when I cut small tree limbs, palms, and bushes, I bag or tie and leave on the curb.

The top reason for not buying was the fact that $45 for a new dumptruck and trailer are going to add a huge debt load to my back. Currently I have ZERO debts and I like it very much.


The goal is to make profit. Then save money and pay off debts if you have them. Pay off your house etc. And invest your money safely.

I just bought clip and I think it was an awesome investment.


The debtor is the slave to the lender.

I agree with the guy above, old truck old trailer, new equipment.

:cool:

Jpocket
10-07-2005, 06:25 PM
I have 2 straight trucks.

Mitsubishi-Fuso landscape truck. It has a ramp, and the side folds down so I can accept pallets, etc. It holds 2 ztrs + push mower easy, or any number of other things.

Parks in space of a car, esp if you back in and allow rear overhang to hang over grass.

SO manueverable. No more trailer brakes/lights hassle. Easy on fuel. NOTHING HAS GONE WRONG WITH IT! Can tow, too,


Also have 2004 C5500 encloesed crew cab. BIG truck, holds 2 ZTR + walk behind + push mower; seats 6, has "attic" over cab for bales of straw, spare tires, etc. Chevrolet junk so lots of little problems, but gets the job done. Not too convenient, but holds a lot of stuff. Can tow, too.

I call it the "warehouse on wheels"
Chevorlet doesn't make junk buddy...theres a few bad eggs in every batch

Envy Lawn Service
10-07-2005, 09:45 PM
In my opinion, the smart ways to go with landscape trucks are:

*Enclosed landscape truck
*Switch-body setup

To me, while there is a lot of reasoning for using a landscape truck, I just don't see a lot of reasoning behind running an open one... and certainly not a lot of reasoning behind a single use open landscape truck.

The other options just make more sense.

nobagger
10-07-2005, 11:30 PM
I'm sorry but nothing screams landscaping more than the ol' 1 ton dump or full sized p/u with trailers. I think more people tend to stare more at an open trailer full of wierd looking mowers then a big moving van. :p

Pecker
10-07-2005, 11:46 PM
I think the landscape trucks are a pretty sweet setup. As for both worlds, why not use it as a family truck too (especially if you own it) - regarding trips at least. You can put a hitch on like just like a regular truck to pull your bass boat or camper. Plus with the crew cab, there's room for the whole family. The only downfall would be in trying to use it as a run-about; but even at that it can't be much harder to maneuver than a full-size truck anyway.

Albemarle Lawn
10-08-2005, 01:32 AM
its car-easy around town. I prefer the Fuso around town over my car (a 2005 E320 diesel...so that says a lot). No hood and high seating makes pulling out easy esp near hedgerows, etc that restrict vision.

dcplace2004
10-08-2005, 02:17 AM
as it pulled up to a little house to mow a lawn...I LMFAO...Makes no sense to me to buy a truck that expensive to do some little lawn maintenance...how can one even maneuver something like that...I could win 40 million in a lottery tomorrow and would not buy that stupid looking thing for any kind of landscape maintenance...

dcplace2004
10-08-2005, 02:20 AM
Hide your stuff in an enclosed trailer or truck and people don't totally know what's up...have an open trailer with BP blowers, trimmers, WBs, ZTRs, and cool stuff and people will call ya up...peace...

Sharp Services
10-08-2005, 06:55 AM
The debtor is the slave to the lender.


I have to agree .... I too believe that you need to be debt free. I use a nice looking 3 year old truck and trailer and it works good. The truck is a V-6 F150 and get great gas millage and pulls all my equipment without any trouble.

Stay away from big payments.

Just my opinion!

Ax Man
10-08-2005, 08:04 AM
In the past 2 years Iv'e picked up 2 used cabovers. ! is being tuned into a 9 foot dump with backpack toolbox The other a 16 foot stake, I added a ramp and side door to make it my mowing truck.
I have spent less on fuel so far even with the massive price increase, and I save time every day.
I guess an enclosed would give more storage, but you still have to service machiery daily, so I don't see an advantage there, plus, I know how scratched up it would get going on the prop.s I service.

TURFLORD
10-08-2005, 08:42 AM
If all your doing is cutting, no bag, then a pickup is fine. When you start to offer other services you'll need something for the extra weight and volumn, For example: I do turf applications mostly in liquid form. My 200g tank doesn't stay full very long so I carry drums of water and refill as I go. This requires weight AND volumn. Customers don't like to see some dirty white boy in a dirty white truck sloppin chemicals about. You NEED to maintain a professional image. You don't see Chem-Lawn, excuse me True Green, driving around in '88 C30's

mrusk
10-08-2005, 10:37 AM
Cab over trucks with either a landscaoe bed or an enclosed body do not cost all that much. They cost alot if you waste your money on a super duper lawn care truck made in GA. You can buy a cab over for proably 40k with a landscape body. That truck will last your 250k easy. You could proably get 300k out of it. When discussing the practicallity of these trucks, price should not be an issue, only function should.

Matt

Ax Man
10-08-2005, 10:53 AM
I paid 6000 for a 87 ud stake with 40000 miles, it had been in an estatesale and sat for parts for years.
I paid 5g for gmc/isuzu 4000 cab/chassis 135000 miles
niether is rusty which is remakable considering where we live.

JB1
10-08-2005, 10:55 AM
Got a f-550 with a landscape body on it, best thing I ever bought, easy to get around, we haul the mower on it, six pallets of sod or whatever else you have on pallets, its used to haul the skid steer to sites or we have hauled the batwing tractor with it. you can pile on a load of limbs or anything else with it. Kinda like the Jeep commercial if you don;t have one you don't understand, and I'll bet it cost a less than some of your big truck and trailers.

Az Gardener
10-08-2005, 11:55 AM
I learned a long time ago to let the # tell me what to do. Try dividing the cost of your vehicle new or used by the milage you expect to get out of it. For instance a used diesel P/u with 100,000 miles cost 16,000 figure you are going to get another 100,000 repair free miles, that comes out to .16 per mile now take a new reg gas truck at 22,000 and you expect to get 150,000 repair free miles (its a ford) thats 14.6 per mile Now if you can get 300,000 miles out of that 40,000 truck you will be at .13 per mile. I use this formula whenever I see a used truck that I think is a good deal. The math rarely works out. Of course I don't have a multiplier for maint and gas costs but I have to think its more on diesels. My $ 22,000 ford f-150 bought new with 143,000 repair free miles has been my best buy.

TURFLORD
10-08-2005, 12:10 PM
I learned a long time ago to let the # tell me what to do. Try dividing the cost of your vehicle new or used by the milage you expect to get out of it. For instance a used diesel P/u with 100,000 miles cost 16,000 figure you are going to get another 100,000 repair free miles, that comes out to .16 per mile now take a new reg gas truck at 22,000 and you expect to get 150,000 repair free miles (its a ford) thats 14.6 per mile Now if you can get 300,000 miles out of that 40,000 truck you will be at .13 per mile. I use this formula whenever I see a used truck that I think is a good deal. The math rarely works out. Of course I don't have a multiplier for maint and gas costs but I have to think its more on diesels. My $ 22,000 ford f-150 bought new with 143,000 repair free miles has been my best buy.
I'm all for new trucks. I thought buying new would get me away from repairs for a while, but no. The little gremlins saw that juicey new '04 F550 Turbo Diesel and couldn't resist. 2 recall notices, new trans, crank, and I'm still not done. Is it just me? :confused:

PROCUT1
10-08-2005, 02:20 PM
It has a lot to do with the size of the company and the workload also...

We have sold most of the maintenance business but still have 2 Isuzu Npr landscape trucks...... They are absolutely the most efficient mowing trucks you can get...... No worrying about trailers and super fast to load and unload....

We use them for everything, moving tractor, mowers, tools, great for pallets and great for anything that you use a flatbed truck for....

I do agree that they are limited though..... No use as plow or sander trucks as the amount of work and money to convert they are not worth it.... And no dumping bed also...... But we do use them in the snow for the sidewalk crews..... Sure beats moving snowblowers in a pickup with slippery planks...

If I was working solo or only needed a couple of trucks I probably would use an f-550 dump or similar with trailers...

PROCUT1
10-08-2005, 02:24 PM
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Fantasy Lawns
10-08-2005, 02:36 PM
THAT looks Nice ;-)

Albemarle Lawn
10-08-2005, 03:23 PM
Ford is ******ed.

I know an ambulance service, all Ford fleet. Most of their rigs have had between 3-5 transmission overhauls and they are just a transport company, no emergency runs, just easy highway cruising.

Ford should have all money extracted from their bank account, redistributed to Ford owners, and all Ford vehicles crushed and dumped at the Ford family farm in Michigan. Ford needs to be exterminated.

JS Landscaping
10-08-2005, 05:08 PM
I don't get how some people say that an open trailer will draw more attention. Sure you can see the equipment, but how much room do you have for advertising? My enclosed 20 foot trailer keeps all my mowers, blowers, trimmers, edgers secure and dry. I have the whole trailer logo'ed up, and i have received more "i saw your truck and trailer and got your number while you were at ______ property" then I ever did before wtih my open 16 foot trailer. Personally I think a Cab over dump with an enclosed trailer is probably the most versatile, you can still haul bulk materials, dump, and have your mowing equipment hauled in the trailer while advertising all the time. Not as maneuverable at a regular mowing truck but the ability to use it for multiple purposes outweighs the con's I think. I also believe that image and work quality is everything. If you want the nice commercial properties here and the high end residential you need to be professional looking and the work has to be the highest quality. Customers to take note and notice when a company is staffed with uniformed and clean cut employees and when their vehicles are well kept. We get many complements on our dress code and the neat appearance we create from our equipment and personnel. It the same reason why these people buy expensive cars such as Mercedes and BMW, its about image and keeping up with the Jones'. But everyone has their own opinions.......happy mowing y'all :waving:

Lawnworks
10-08-2005, 05:47 PM
Landscaping body trucks are the way to go... hands down. The hassle of big trailers is a headache. I sure as hell would not want to use the same truck to run around town as to run a mowing crew with. I don't about yall but my work trucks smell like fu$%ing ten year old horse piss. And if you work them 50 hours a week year round... they get "well-used" if you know what I mean.

Az Gardener
10-08-2005, 05:48 PM
I don't get how some people say that an open trailer will draw more attention. Sure you can see the equipment, but how much room do you have for advertising? My enclosed 20 foot trailer keeps all my mowers, blowers, trimmers, edgers secure and dry. I have the whole trailer logo'ed up, and i have received more "i saw your truck and trailer and got your number while you were at ______ property" then I ever did before wtih my open 16 foot trailer. Personally I think a Cab over dump with an enclosed trailer is probably the most versatile, you can still haul bulk materials, dump, and have your mowing equipment hauled in the trailer while advertising all the time. Not as maneuverable at a regular mowing truck but the ability to use it for multiple purposes outweighs the con's I think. I also believe that image and work quality is everything. If you want the nice commercial properties here and the high end residential you need to be professional looking and the work has to be the highest quality. Customers to take note and notice when a company is staffed with uniformed and clean cut employees and when their vehicles are well kept. We get many complements on our dress code and the neat appearance we create from our equipment and personnel. It the same reason why these people buy expensive cars such as Mercedes and BMW, its about image and keeping up with the Jones'. But everyone has their own opinions.......happy mowing y'all :waving:I have thought very seriously about going that route but don't like the thought of pulling a train. Isint a Isuzu dump wiyh a 20 trailer a bit much? just asking. Around here poeple have one or the othe,r A pick up and a 16-20 ft trailer (me) or a Isuzu and a stubby short trailer. How does that thing turn around in a cul-de sac?

Lawnworks
10-08-2005, 05:55 PM
I would never buy an isuzu to pull a trailer. I just don't think they have enough power. A Ford or chevy 450 -5500 would be better I think.

JS Landscaping
10-08-2005, 07:56 PM
I dont think a cab over and 20 foot trailer is much, unless you are talking about a long chassis ona cab over. They have great turning radius and you can really see whats in front of you. With a cul-de-sac i guess it all depends on how tight of a radius it is. I believe the 20 foot trailer the cab over is about 40 feet long all together. I have never found it to be hard to manuever around by me but it is mainly rural around here still, just during rush hour in the center of towns you gota keep your eyes on your mirrors a little harder, nothing too hard to get used to. Just gota swing the turns a little wider. I think they have enough power for a mowing crew with mowers. Hauling a skid steer or mini-x and they are underpowered. Reliable as hell tho. One day I do hope to have a Box truck with the ramp to use on the mowing crew, once I have enough accounts to where they are cutting 5-6 days a week. Get it lettered up and its one big rolling billboard :cool2:


James
JS LANDSCAPING

AintNoFun
10-08-2005, 08:34 PM
i like the isuzu trucks but we can't plow with them or i'd be all over them. trailers suck i hate them, slowly but surely we are going to phase them out. just bought a truck in the spring, i think its a 14' chevy 3500 stakebody with a lift gate, and all i can say its great. while we don't have a tremendous amout of room on it you can easily get 2 riders and a walk behind on it, still plow and still landscape out of it......