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View Full Version : Do not spend $20,000 on equipment at startup.. please


ROCKKER
04-17-2007, 06:14 AM
Unless you are already rich , Do not buy thousands of $ of new equipment at the start of this or any buisness.... People dont give a ratz behind if you cut there grass with a murry or an exmark as long as you do good work and do what you say you will do and do it when you say you will do it at a price they can swallow... You must grow with your income... This way you will never get over your head with overhead and die a humiliating lawncare death... This buisness is not easy by any means... Competetion is tough.... Don't get stuck with a bunch of bills you can't pay......

martinfan06
04-17-2007, 07:33 AM
I would say at least top 3 reason most people fail in this industry, rather 'LOOK" good 1st, rather than be "GOOD" then look good.

I must have a 40,000$ truck to pull my 12,000$ zero trun mower:hammerhead: :hammerhead: :waving: :waving: in 8 months.

nobagger
04-17-2007, 08:03 AM
Good points but...I belive, you must take this serious and plan ahead. Thats one of the main problems with the lawn care industry, "anyone can pick up a mower and BOOM their a landscaper". I agree with not buying brand new equipment for 20k but you need to buy equipment that is made for your purpose. Its not the fact that a $159.00 21" Murray mower wont cut grass, its how long will it cut grass for? IMO its like a few old sayings, "ya get what ya paid for" and "the right tool for the right job". Yes the customer in most cases could care less what you cut their lawn with but you should!

garrettlawn
04-17-2007, 08:13 AM
I already had a 50K dollar truck and a 15K dollar trailer before I started this business.. so is that ok?

WJW Lawn
04-17-2007, 08:35 AM
I think Rockker and nobagger equally make great points!!! As with all black and white issues...there is a gray area...and I think staying in the gray...will help you stay in the RED!!! I see alot of posts with guys paying off 8K zturns, but only have 3 accounts and some wild dream that they'll pick up 50 more like nothing. It doesnt always work that way. At the same time...nobagger has a great point, because you need to invest something into equipment--not for looks, but for productivity. There are guys here that are successful...but say it took them YEARS to add a z-turn, and thats the route Im taking. All my equipment is 100% paid for...even my truck...I came out of pocket on my walkbehind....on my 2 cycle stuff...trailer...and well I already had my truck--it's a 93. Doing it this way allows me to put more away so that one day I can get a z-turn, and a bigger and newer truck and all that. We all know these toys are great!!! And man there are so many cool things you can buy....but I think playing it safe and building up is the way to go!

martinfan06
04-17-2007, 08:54 AM
I already had a 50K dollar truck and a 15K dollar trailer before I started this business.. so is that ok?

Thats great your a step ahead of the game,the old saying the have and the have nots.

TNT LawnCare Inc.
04-17-2007, 09:17 AM
Great Info.,But i dont want to be cutting all day with a 21 pushmower.Unless all your costumers are postage stamp size yards,I would suggest to spend wisely and buy as you need. If your solo 1 good backpack blower or handheld a good quality string trimmer and mower of your choice.

terrapro
04-17-2007, 09:22 AM
dont forget used equipment, there are many of deals out there that would save 10's of thousands when you first start out. there is nothing wrong with getting used equipment.

TGM
04-17-2007, 09:53 AM
used commercial equipment! well, you may be able to get by with push mower and crappy trimmer for a little bit if you're just starting out. at least buy a used commercial walk behind, they're relatively pretty cheap.

Darrin A.
04-17-2007, 10:03 AM
I started out with a used 36" Bobcat $350, a used 5x8 trailer $450 a new Cub Cadet 21" $400 a new Cub Cadet trimmer $150 (about) and a very used Homelite hand held blower, Free. Last year, got a 48" Bobcat $0.00 ($55.33 to make it a good machine). This year I bought a new Red Max trimmer and Back Pack blower, 6.7'x12' trailer, used and lots of maint. stuff for equipment. Currently no debt for equipment. Used is ABSOLUTELY a great option to start out.

martinfan06
04-17-2007, 10:23 AM
I started out with a used 36" Bobcat $350, a used 5x8 trailer $450 a new Cub Cadet 21" $400 a new Cub Cadet trimmer $150 (about) and a very used Homelite hand held blower, Free. Last year, got a 48" Bobcat $0.00 ($55.33 to make it a good machine). This year I bought a new Red Max trimmer and Back Pack blower, 6.7'x12' trailer, used and lots of maint. stuff for equipment. Currently no debt for equipment. Used is ABSOLUTELY a great option to start out.

Awsome sounds like great deals and good example of quality but simple start plan good luck with your business.

NELawnCare
04-17-2007, 11:11 AM
Unless you are already rich , Do not buy thousands of $ of new equipment at the start of this or any buisness.... People dont give a ratz behind if you cut there grass with a murry or an exmark as long as you do good work and do what you say you will do and do it when you say you will do it at a price they can swallow... You must grow with your income... This way you will never get over your head with overhead and die a humiliating lawncare death... This buisness is not easy by any means... Competetion is tough.... Don't get stuck with a bunch of bills you can't pay......

There are two sides to this story everytime a post like this is made. I was one of those newbs that invested $14K in new lawn equipment, $6K in new pressure washing equipment, and $4.5K in new snow plowing equipment. I planned my business start up over a few years and saved my money in order to do it.

Let's discuss one crucial point about failing in the lc business (or any small business for that matter). I would venture to say that 99.9% of the lcs that fail, fail due to a lack of business strategy experience. These are folks that have never had any real business management experience yet they expect to be immediately profitable. Most lc startups don't have enough business experience to put in a teaspoon. Although I still consider myself a newb, I have two small businesses. My new lc company and my computer consulting business. They off-set each other during slow times. I realize that most people don't have 2 businesses. However, I know that if you do the homework, study your competition, understand what your rates must be to turn a profit, identify your market target, plan an effective advertising campaign, and plan for the first 1-3 year period where nearly all startups (regardless of industry) are not profitable, then you can be successful.

I see post-after-post here where someone new states "starting up, what do I quote?" I fully understand this Forum is a learning environment and I, myself, learned a great deal here. But you MUST do your business plan homework and understand the financials BEFORE jumping into the lc business. Business planning, learning the industry, and preparing financially should be done long before you "go into business".

Just my 2-cents.

martinfan06
04-17-2007, 11:46 AM
There are two sides to this story everytime a post like this is made. I was one of those newbs that invested $14K in new lawn equipment, $6K in new pressure washing equipment, and $4.5K in new snow plowing equipment. I planned my business start up over a few years and saved my money in order to do it.

Let's discuss one crucial point about failing in the lc business (or any small business for that matter). I would venture to say that 99.9% of the lcs that fail, fail due to a lack of business strategy experience. These are folks that have never had any real business management experience yet they expect to be immediately profitable. Most lc startups don't have enough business experience to put in a teaspoon. Although I still consider myself a newb, I have two small businesses. My new lc company and my computer consulting business. They off-set each other during slow times. I realize that most people don't have 2 businesses. However, I know that if you do the homework, study your competition, understand what your rates must be to turn a profit, identify your market target, plan an effective advertising campaign, and plan for the first 1-3 year period where nearly all startups (regardless of industry) are not profitable, then you can be successful.

I see post-after-post here where someone new states "starting up, what do I quote?" I fully understand this Forum is a learning environment and I, myself, learned a great deal here. But you MUST do your business plan homework and understand the financials BEFORE jumping into the lc business. Business planning, learning the industry, and preparing financially should be done long before you "go into business".

Just my 2-cents.

Also very good advice as always knowledge is golden in any thing you do.

kevin11946ny
04-17-2007, 12:27 PM
i'm already profitable. i spent $500 on a redmax blower and did 5 cleanup jobs and made $2000 cash, and iill be cutting there lawn for the season. They also said i did great work and will be refering me to there friends.

this is all from hanging up 20 flyers in stores last week. I can only imagaine how much more proitable this will be.

I could care less about looks i have a 21" tore self propelled great for 1/3 acre lots and i throw it in the back seat of my car with my blower and trimmer.

its about the quality of work you do like another person said not how great your equipment looks.

this way im not over my head in bills and im making a profit already having paid my equipment off.

could easily see making $30k this first year in profit part time.

remember im in the hamptons on the east end of long island where everyone has money and the people are older.

robbo521
04-17-2007, 01:42 PM
aint nothing wrong with a Murray!i gots a 20'' 5hp that is 8 yrs old and it still does a fine job.

ozark
04-17-2007, 02:26 PM
I am somewhat new to the business this year and i invested 14k my first year. I dont even have a 1 lawn commitment as of yet! I didnt start my business until i knew i could financial take a loss my first year. I finally got my bills in order and this year i started out on my own. I look at it like i bought a 14k vehicle. I can afford it and i know this first year will be hard. I would not recommend every person to start out with new equipment. Everyones situation is different. I went with all new because i didnt want to limit myself to certain jobs and clients. I can do anything from a 10 minute lawn to a huge commercial lot and have faith in my equipment. With the recent trend in lowballing hitting our area its going to be even harder this year. I know that the next years will be getting better because they wont be able to stick around with those prices. Many other lco's in my area are old and someday they will want to retire. Thats why i will be working on my business image and hope to take over their clients when they retire.

NELawnCare
04-17-2007, 02:39 PM
Everyones situation is different.

Absolutely. Well said. What is right for one person may not be right for another person.

Herrick
04-17-2007, 02:44 PM
i'm already profitable. i spent $500 on a redmax blower and did 5 cleanup jobs and made $2000 cash, and iill be cutting there lawn for the season. They also said i did great work and will be refering me to there friends.

this is all from hanging up 20 flyers in stores last week. I can only imagaine how much more proitable this will be.

I could care less about looks i have a 21" tore self propelled great for 1/3 acre lots and i throw it in the back seat of my car with my blower and trimmer.

its about the quality of work you do like another person said not how great your equipment looks.

this way im not over my head in bills and im making a profit already having paid my equipment off.

could easily see making $30k this first year in profit part time.

remember im in the hamptons on the east end of long island where everyone has money and the people are older.


I think this is a good way to get in trouble real quick... I think it takes both doing a good job and having the right equipment for the job. There are a lot of things it doesn't sound like you are taking into account that could put you out of business real quick.

sandman23
04-17-2007, 03:17 PM
Ok tell me this...

I started my business toward the end of last year. I am fully legit (inc., lic., ins., etc...). I still have a full time job but I am looking to hopefully break away by next year.

I have more work than I can handle (part time). I am having to turn work down. Currently I have 12 accounts ranging from $25.00 to $90.00 per cut. Most recently I have picked up an entrance to a sub (800 x 14), a 32000 sq/ft. res., and another 24000 sq/ft. res.

I have about $6,000 invested (used 36" metro hp, new BR600, new FS90 trimmer, used 5x8 trailer and a few other necessities).

With these new accounts I am starting to feel the need for a NEW Z. I tried the USED route and did not fair well. I already have $500.00 in repairs (belts, tires, spindles, etc...) on the Metro. For a few hundred more I could have bought NEW with warranty.

At this point in my venture, does a new Z sound like a warranted purchase? By the way, I am considering a LazerHP 19/46 for $6799.00. Any input will be appreciated.

TJLANDS
04-17-2007, 06:22 PM
Ok tell me this...

I tried the USED route and did not fair well. I already have $500.00 in repairs (belts, tires, spindles, etc...) on the Metro. For a few hundred more I could have bought NEW with warranty.

At this point in my venture, does a new Z sound like a warranted purchase? By the way, I am considering a LazerHP 19/46 for $6799.00. Any input will be appreciated.

I am on the other side of the fence. My suggestion would be if you really are looking into staying in the business, buy new equipment. All of it.
The truck, even though it is the most important piece you will buy, is the only thing I would consider buying used. Having said that a brand new 2500
truck stripped with only the tow package will cost you 400 a month. And a warranty.
A brand new ZTR 300 a month.and a warranty (5 mowing accounts total?)
You have a much better chance of not showing up on time to do a job if you buy used equipment, just my oppinion.
When I sell used stuff, it is used big time, might not look like it but it is.

fiveoboy01
04-17-2007, 06:37 PM
I agree. You need the proper equipment to do the job correctly. Everyone thinks they can just jump into the LCO business with a residential mower and a wal-mart weedeater. I've already seen two hack businesses today now that the grass cutting has started this week. Junk equipment, junk trailer, no names on the truck, one guy is sitting on the trailer while the other is cutting, scrubby clothes etc etc.

What if you get into a situation where you have the opportunity to bid some larger properties? You gonna push mow them with your 21"?

Do what I did, save some capital, get some GOOD commercial equipment to start off with, license and insure your business. Plan ahead, and do it right. You might start out with zero accounts, but when the opportunity comes to service them, you won't have to say "OMG! I don't have the equipment to do this!"

FiveOJoe
04-17-2007, 07:34 PM
I agree that you don't need to spend a lot to get started. However....
I bought a new trailer, a new 36 Hydro WB and a New 61 Bobcat, with no customers. Got 2 years 0% interest on the mowers and paid cash for the trailer and small tools. I already had a duramax truck. It also helps to have a full police pension. I am a one one band and also wanted easy to operate equipment because I'm not a spring chicken any more.
This is my second time in the business and I knew what I wanted this time. I also had a reputation from the last time around and knew the customers would come.
I have 15 customers so far and really haven't gotten off the ground because of the weather yet. Looking for about 25 total.

So far I'm loving it. I plan on doing this for 3 or 4 years until my wife retires. :usflag:

garrettlawn
04-17-2007, 10:38 PM
I agree that some people do not need to spend thousands upon start up. Some people can and will make it just fine. If you are asking how to bid a job and what to charge and asking about cutting other peoples prices then no you do not need to spend thousands on equipment because you are most likly going to be out of business within a year or two and just be that much more in debt. If you have a head on your shoulders and have an understanding of business and the costs of running a business and the risk in running a business then I think you will be just fine. Go get the equipment and get the jobs. The Lawn business consists of two things - 1.Hard work 2.Being able to sell a service. If you can do these two things you will make it. (as long as your work does not get you thrown out of neighborhoods)

ROCKKER
04-18-2007, 02:35 AM
I should probably give some input on some aspects of my buisness plan so, My point is more clear.... I worked golf course maintainance for a year and worked for an established LCO for another year before starting my own gig at the end of last year.... I am still cool with my old LCO and we still toss accounts back and forth... When i started out on my own i was honest with my self and went for (quality equipment And Insuance) ....But only what i needed to find out if i could generate acounts.... This stuff had to last at least 2 yrs... My plan did and still does focus on mowing properties 1/2 acre or less... Also i do small clean ups... debris removal... My equipment is a new 21" toro recycler mower, New Echo 413 blower, Best ryobi trimmer i could get from home cheapo, 2 rakes from wallyworld, 3 large tarps, ol'fashon manual hedge trimmer, stanely hand saw for low hanging tree branches, wallyworld pruners... ($1000 Sharpest around 1984 S-10 durango with nice camper shell)to keep my chit dry and locked up...... No need for trailer yet.... All paid for in cash.... Im pulling in $100.00 plus a day...... I've only had to turndown 2 jobs so far this year because the job was too big for my mower... I just tossed those to my old LCO... He tossed 2 back that was too small for his time.... but was perfect for my toro and got me an extra 70 bucks for a couple hours work.... I plan to get a trailer and a zrt mower but, Only when the time is right, My # of accounts and Income justifys the expense of thelm... There is a PRIDE one gets from having the biggest best tools in the hood... But, Overkill can quickly turn into more stress and worry than the bottom line justifys..... I am simply saying be carefull and grow in moderation... I dont want to see anymore great deals on new ztr mowers in the newspaper..............Or do i ??? ,.....Kidding.......I think?......lol :usflag: