View Full Version : Planning Ahead

06-28-2007, 09:31 PM
Hi, I have been reading this forum for a while, and found some great help. Here is my situation: I am hoping to start a lawn mowing business at the beginning of next mowing year (whenever we get rain and people are thinking about it), so I have some time to ponder what I should do and have a good plan before then.

I was thinking that I would try to get the weed eater, edger, blower, chain saw, hedge trimmer, and trailer, all without going in to any debt. But I will have to in order to get a zturn mower and truck (I am 18 and have no vehicle yet). I was looking at either Dixie Chopper, Exmark Lazer, or Hustler, and thinking I would start with at least a 50 inch deck. But this would probably make me about 20k in the hole to begin with. I have been working part time as a plumber's helper, and could probably keep doing that until the business got going.

So, my question is, do you think that that is starting out too fast? Should I instead go with a Cub Cadet, or something cheaper to begin with? Or would that just mean an upgrade later.

I would love to hear what you guys think.


Colin Thomson

Supper Grassy
06-28-2007, 09:54 PM
buy the items as you get the money.
The items that are needed the most are Trimmer, Blower, Edger (good to have), Mower, Truck, or something to haul equipment with.
i would try and find USED equipment, you sould be able to get some fairly cheap beacuse of drought

06-28-2007, 10:05 PM
So would you say a used brand name, or a new cub cadet or something?

Colin Thomson

06-28-2007, 10:29 PM
Colin, I have started a lawn care this year. What i did was went to the local hustler dealer (in Lakeland) and got a start up package. I got all the hand equiptment (stihl) and a 54'' fast trak (residental mower). This mower was about $5,000 less than a commerical one. This zrt will get me started to making enough to get a commerical mower. I paid about $8,000 for all of it to get started. I was also approve through hustler financing which it $80 a month for 2 years then it goes to like 6% of whatever is left. I was told many times dont go cheap on the equiptment. I didnt want to just start out new get new clients and had crappy equiptment to where I wasnt able to service them because the equiptment was broke down. My suggestion is to buy inexpensive new starting out. The payments arent much. If you go with the home owner equipment and work up from there.

Supper Grassy
06-28-2007, 10:37 PM
Turf is right.

No crap equipment, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR this happens to be one of the truest things in lawncare. help your self out, don't go to hope depot and get residental equipment.

like turf said, go to a dealer and see what he can do for you, mabey he can hook you in to special financing, or a package deal.

Look for a used mower, cheaper, and the owner should give you some help, or tricks

06-28-2007, 10:40 PM
Don't go into debt on a mower unless you absolutely have too! The minute you do, you start losing money. Save until you can pay cash for something; it works out better in the long run.

06-29-2007, 08:47 AM
So when the time came to get the used mower, do you think that e-bay is a good way to go? I would have to go pick it up, but is seems tough to find used good mowers around here. Something like this might be a really good deal (though I would have to add up the gas costs):


Thanks for all your help. When I do end up doing this, I want to do it right.

Colin Thomson

07-02-2007, 04:51 PM
Any more opinions?

Colin Thomson

07-02-2007, 05:02 PM
Well is it neccessary to start off with a riding mower? Why not start off with one or two 21" mowers and target smaller properties. Save your earnings and then invest in a riding mower a few seasons later if desired.

I know when I get into anything, I always want to start big and skip the whole building up phase. But for me and a lot of others, money prohibits that. So anyways, we all have to start somewhere.

07-02-2007, 05:21 PM
A ZTR is not necessary for the first year. Look at getting a Quick 36 Walkbehind or something similar. This will give you the ability to do 1/2-3/4 acre properties without taking too much time and will be small enough to do some of the postage stamp lots in new developments.

Also, debt is not always bad. If a $500 monthly loan payment for equipment can enable you to make an extra $750-1000 per month, I think the loan makes sense. You alway have to be tihnking of cashflow, not total amounts.

For the truck & trailer I think you can get a decent truck for $5k-6k and a trailer for $1k. You can always get a new truck for '09.

Lohse's Lawn Service
07-02-2007, 05:36 PM
I started mowing at 15, but was an employee to a fireman, and I was able to use his 32" Toro walk-behind. I turned 16 and used a 21" Craftsman push mower and had a weed-eater, blower, and a few misc. items (string, fuel, etc.)

The very first question I would ask you is this: how interested are you in turning your pondering thoughts into a business? You sure do not want to buy expensive equipment and then want out of the business in a year. The smart thing would be to start small and work your way up. That's what I did, and that's what most everyone else on here has done.

The necessities you will need to start out:
1) push mower, either 21" or possibly a used 32"
2) weed-eater, and learn to edge with it (it will save you from buying an edger)
3) hand-held blower
4) hedge-trimmer
5) rake
6) misc. items (weed-eater string, fuel, tools, etc.)

If you start out small like this and remain patient, your business WILL grow. You may start next year and completely want out. I hope not, but it happens. Good luck and look for used equipment, you'll save. Keep an eye on this site; the people on here offer good information, for the most part.

07-02-2007, 09:31 PM
Thanks for all the info. I was just wondering if I would need the bigger equipment later, if I would be wasting money to go with smaller. But I understand that it is good to know what you are getting into before going all-out. I have no truck right now, so I will have to get that. I could probably have enough money saved before it is time to start to cover the smaller stuff and the trailer, but I will have to make payments on the truck. So you people think that it is better to go with the smaller overhead and less possible income over more risk to begin with, but more opportunity?

Thanks for all your help.

Colin Thomson

Lohse's Lawn Service
07-02-2007, 09:45 PM
Yes, definitely would need the bigger equipment later. Starting out small will minimize the amount of money you will need to invest in order to get the business started. Besides, you will make more money in half the time than your friends who have full time jobs. That is just one perk of the lawn mowing business.

I know you are planning on getting a truck, which is a must. The trailer - you can get by without one for a while, but it will get old loading/unloading a 21" push mower. If you can afford a small trailer, it will make your job easier. Just be financially prepared to invest in commercial equipment after a while. You will need it to mow day in and day out. Good luck bro. Any questions, send them my way. I will try to help as best as I know how.

07-02-2007, 10:24 PM
I agree with starting with a walk behind. I've got two now and they do everything I need them to do.

Only buy a larger Z when you actually NEED it. They're expensive, and you need to cut a lot of grass to pay for one.

07-03-2007, 03:49 PM
I live out where there are a bunch of 5 acre lots, and I was hoping to focus my marketing there. But that is pretty large for a walk behind. Is it too much to hope for bigger lots to begin with?

Colin Thomson

Lohse's Lawn Service
07-03-2007, 11:09 PM
Colin, have you ever mowed a 5-acre lot before? Some businesses would rather concentrate on the residential, city yards. I like to have both. Nothing beats the feeling of sitting on an Exmark Lazer Z earning money. I mainly have city yards, but, I do have one country cemetery, and about 8-10 yards that could not be done without a riding mower. And of course, I use my ztr on a lot of front yards. Some will disagree with that, but I have no complaints, and I get the job done faster.

With all of that being said, I still say you focus on getting a w/b first. Like I and many others have said, you don't want to invest a lot of money into something you're not going to enjoy, such as starting up a lawn care business. Good luck.

07-04-2007, 11:31 AM
Ok. Yes I have mowed 5 acres, our yard is 5 acres, and so is our neighbors that I have mowed for in past years (using his mower).

Thanks for are the advice, and good to see another Christian in the business (even though this Christian isn't actually in the business yet).

Colin Thomson

Lohse's Lawn Service
07-04-2007, 11:39 AM
Colin, I imagine mowing 5 acres every week (your lawn) gets old! I think if you bid well on the 5-acre lots you are looking at, it might be possible to buy a used ztr. My first two ztr's were purchased used. Definitely stick with commercial equipment and preferably look at the mowing equipment that is sold in your area. It will make a difference when something goes wrong, you'll have dealer support nearby. Depending on how serious you are about getting in this business will decide on what kind of mower you will want to purchase. You may want to go to your local dealers and meet them face to face and tell them what you plan to accomplish and they may be able to point you to the right ztr.

"Even though this Christian isn't actually in business yet." You work hard, have the right mindset, and make the Lord #1 in your business, you will be blessed.

07-05-2007, 03:55 AM

If you are interested I have Lesco 48inch Belt driven WB with sulkey. It needs a seal replaced on the gear box. But in good shape otherwise.

If your interested I am close by, and will part with it cheap.

07-05-2007, 05:50 PM
Thanks for the offer, but I am not getting anything yet, as I am not planning on starting for some months and don't want to need to keep something up on the meantime that is not making money. I appreciate the offer, though.

Colin Thomson

08-21-2007, 11:15 PM
Alright, I made this thread, so I will keep using it for my questions. Like I have said earlier, I hope to be starting a lawn business beginning of next rainy season, and am planning on targeting the lawns around where I live, which are mostly five acre lots, so I would like to start out with a zero turn. But I also don't want to go to far into debt on something if I might want out of it in a couple years. So my question is, would the Hustler FasTrak 54 inch be a good option for me? I know that it is not a commercial grade mower, but new it is around 5k, MUCH better than most of the commercial grade ZTRs. So, are homeowner ZTRs a big no-no for the lawn business? has anyone had experience with the Hustler FasTrak? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

Colin Thomson

08-22-2007, 03:40 PM
Don't go into debt on a mower unless you absolutely have too! The minute you do, you start losing money. Save until you can pay cash for something; it works out better in the long run.

Sorry MJS i couldnt disagree more with you in this case, especially if you are getting 0% financing for two years...if he dumps 5 grand right off the bat (not sure what your budget is) but if you are just starting i am assuming you do not have a large amount of capital at your age...if you can get the financing at 0% for two years TAKE IT!!, if i remember reading that $80 payments for 2 years and 6% on whats left at the remainder, pay the rest off then...this will leave you with plenty of cash for advertising, repairs, day to day expenses, etc....lets say you payed 5grand right off the bat and something happens to your truck mower, or you didnt get as many accounts as you were planning on having when you started....you are going to need that cash, using all your cash up front would be like paying for a home with everything you have, then you realize you have no money to pay for the property taxes, utilities etc and then you get your house repo'd....it is always important to have cash......heres my advice, take the 0% financing for 2 years...make your down payment, and keep another grand or so for miscellaneous unforeseen events, you will be making enough money off of your clients to easily cover the measly $80 payment...take the remaining $3,000 or whatever is left after down payment and some wiggle cash, put it into something like a CD at your bank (or something like that) for 2 years...sit on that, when it comes time to pay off the rest at 6% pay off the balance immediately.....now instead of paying 5 grand cash for a mower, you have stretched out $1,920 over two years ($80per month 24 months) and you still have a balance of roughly 3grand to pay off, which you will take from your CD and the initial 3,000 you put in will probable be up to $3,600 or so..make your 3,000 payment and boom you made $600 doing absolutely nothing but stretching out your payment at no extra cost...if you payed all cash up front, your mower wouldn't spit out free money at you

If you can ever get 0% financing for anything (which is reasonably expensive and an assest) instead of paying cash you should most of the time take it, its no going into debt since you are not paying any additional $ (the interest) you are just stretching out your payment, leaving you money to invest in something else and that money will make money on another asset and so on

Sweet Tater
08-22-2007, 03:42 PM
and a 54'' fast trak (residental mower). This mower was about $5,000 less than a commerical one. .

Yes they are cheaper and less expensive, but check the warranty. I checked about a res John Deere and they told me if a warranty repeir comes in and it has commercial (too many) hours it will void the warranty.

Sweet Tater
08-22-2007, 03:57 PM
So my question is, would the Hustler FasTrak 54 inch be a good option for me? I know that it is not a commercial grade mower, but new it is around 5k, MUCH better than most of the commercial grade ZTRs. Colin Thomson

I don't know about Fla but here you can get a new Exmark 46" or 50" for about tht price, and it is commercial.

08-23-2007, 12:23 AM
I haven't gotten much of a chance to check out the prices at the dealers (which I will do, hopefully soon), but Exmark does not have any MSRP on their website, whereas Hustler does, so I cannot compare the two.

KingOfCupCar20, what you say makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, I just plain don't have the money. When I start out, I hope to have maybe $2,500-$3,000, possibly less. So paying up front never really was an issue. It will take everything to just get stuff moving, and then hopefully I can keep it up until I have enough accounts to make it work. Like I said before, I am working as a part-time plumber, and if the lawn business can't pay for itself for a while at the beginning, I think I will be able to get through it with plumbing work. Also (and I bet this is rare), I teach piano. :cool2: Interesting combination, I know. Plumber, Lawn maintenance guy, piano teacher. But, hey, it is the things I know how to do (sort of on the plumbing, and we will see on the lawn:) ). But, before anyone says anything, I have done a lot of mowing in the past on our 5 acre lot, and even for pay on our neighbor's 5 acres. So I do sort of know what I am getting into.

Thanks for all the replies.

Colin Thomson

08-23-2007, 12:51 AM
You'll be fine because I read in you about where I was when I started, if I made it to 6 years so can you, but there are a few things I'd like to add... Not much into piano but I can build a mean web site from raw code, and I worked at Applebee's prior, see what I mean.

I had some help from a guy who had been doing this for 8 years prior, and he said to me to wait an extra year, because I had 2000 like you do, and he said to wait and work your tail off and keep saving until you have at least 5000, and I did, and it paid off mega. So I'm passing the advice on to you, save at least 5 grand brother, one more year of working like a beotch slave nigga, because you'll thank yourself later.

Pay off all your bills, revolving accounts, anything accruing interest clear that crap out from over your head, once you do that you might see 6-8000 which would be even better, try and pay your auto insurance premium in one lump sum every 6 months helps also, I assume you're on minimum liability, if not maybe you should be, working on a perfect driving record (no tickets ever) helps even more.

Well that's it for now, man you really do need at least 5g please trust me, and good luck to you.

08-23-2007, 06:43 AM
Thanks for the advice. I will definitely think about it, and consider what you say.

Colin Thomson

08-23-2007, 06:41 PM
So when would you people suggest would be a good time to start advertising? I don't think I will get the equipment until pretty close to when I will start, so is it possible to advertise before I am willing to take anything yet? Any tips? Thanks.

Colin Thomson