View Full Version : Do I Invest or Not?
10-18-2001, 09:32 AM
For those of you who were beginners at some point in time.
Did you invest in some commercial equipment like a 36" WB or did you just use the Ole' John Deer homeowner bagger model till you built up your wallet.
Give me some advice for what we have. Our goal is to do residential only for now till we can afford the equipment.
John Deer R72 Ridding mower with excellent bagging system.
Craftsman Push with bagger 23"
Honda self propelled with bagger 23"
Craftsman gas blower
John Deer weed eater
Homelite Weed eater
Please recommend a package of equipment that would be sufficient for a commercial operation. I'd say less than $2500 for now.
This is a great site.
10-18-2001, 09:38 AM
under $2,500 look around for some used w/b if that is as high as you can go.
you can get a new 36" for about $3000. If you can make the payments on a loan I suggest getting one. They make a world of difference in your time plus it is good for your immage to the customer.
look around for guys getting rid of walkbehinds. When I was looking to start I got two 95 scag walk behinds for $1500, a 36 and 48. Both of these mowers were in excellent condition. Now I still use them and have a dc 2001 xw2300
10-18-2001, 12:59 PM
If your JD is paid for and you are satisfied with production and quaility of cut I'd stick with it. Use your money to upgrade your supporting equiptment.
Shindaiwa T-230 string trimmer $240.00
Stihl BR 400 backpack blower $400.00
6X12 new trailer $1000.00 +-
Use the rest of your money to get some fliers printed up, get business insurance and have a little operating capital.
A professional appearence can be built around the JD. Homeowners recognize the brand as being a high quality rider. As time goes on you can upgrade to the walkbehinds and ZTRs. Just do the best job on every lawn that you service, charge a fair price and good things should come to you.
10-18-2001, 06:13 PM
Lots of times we try to wait it out till we can afford it. If you need it everyday and to earn a living, you need it now. The sooner you buy reliable, productive equipment, the sooner you make more money. You can't wait for all the lights to turn green before you leave for work because it will never happen.
I learned this on a motivational tape.
Personal exmple. Some years ago I thought it would be nice to have a bed edging machine. I told myself I couldn't afford the $1,000 to buy a good used one I knew of. Then I listened to the tape. The mesage made sense in a way I had been in denial about. I made the purchase and immediately began edging a billion feet of beds. We used it for edgeing before mulching in the spring. On new landscapes we'd kill the area for weeds a week prior with round-up then machine edge, plant and mulch the next. We cut edges to install plastic and metal edging in. We could edge hundreds of feet per hour easy with one man. I said I couldn't afford it. I couldn't afford not to buy it in reality.
I had been thinking about a Perma Greem spreader for a year or two and and pulled the trigger to buy it. This spring my applicator tried to muscle me for $ and I said good- by and bought the Perma Green I couldn't afford and now do all my own apps part time and got rid of a pain in my a.. to boot.
10-19-2001, 12:58 AM
I had alot of the smaller equip: 21" mowers, 18" chain saw, ect...
1 - 62" Toro liquid cooled
1 - 32" Toro w/b with sulky
1 - Stihl bp blower
1 - stihl trimmer
1 - 16' Wells cargo enclosed trailer
1 - 99' Ford F350 4X4 flatbed
Since then I have purchased SEVERAL additional item:
1 - Stihl trimmer/edger
1 - 4 gal. Lesco sprayer
1 - 14" Echo chain saw
Various hand tools
I haven't missed a payment yet :blob3:
10-19-2001, 01:55 AM
You could find a used exmark w/b in the $1200-$1500 range. A good commercial grade trimmer (2 is better,you'll need a backup at some point), backpack blower, stick edger is great, hedge trimmers, and 14' trailer.
I run all stihl equipment. I love them.
trimmers: $275 each
used trailer: $500-$700
hedge trimmers: $ ?? Don't remember less than $400
I assume you have a truck. You can get started w/o hedge trimmer and pick them up in the early spring. 1 trimmer until a few months in. Just my opinion and also what I did.
10-19-2001, 01:55 AM
23"? i haven't heard of that before 21"???
10-20-2001, 06:25 AM
Money is real cheap now and hopefully it will be in the spring. Go to the bank and talk to your banker. Put the 2500.00 up along with whatever else you feel comfortable with to help secure the loan. You can get as much as you want but if you are serious I would go with commercial equipment off the bat. You will find that the homeowner stuff will not hold up in a commercial environment.
If there is one thing (and there are hundreds) that Lawnsite has taught me, it is be professional and use professional equipment. I wish Lawnsite was around when I started.
If you plan on staying in the business get commercial now, you can't afford not to. What kind of equipment depends on what type of jobs you are doing. For that info you have to "search".
Now I will tell you a little of my story. I started with a Toro lawntractor with a bagger. I had a Craftsman 22"WB a Ryobi/Singer hand blower/vac and a Homelite string trimmer. I bought a 12' homemade trailer and had a gate welded on it and I pulled it with a Jeep Cherokee Chief. I had 10 customers and it took me about 18 hours to mow. In the middle of year 2 I had 400+ hours on the tractor and it was down for repairs again and I made the call to the Walker dealer. I had about 14 customers and I was getting good at keeping around 20 hours per week. The Walker dealer said he would take the tractor in trade and let me use a Walker until my new one was delivered. I couldn't pass it up. Now a Walker isn't for everyone, I have alot of high end residential properties and lots of small spaces to mow and this was a gamble but I didn't know if it was the right mower or not.
I went to the bank and borrowed the money (new Walker was 9500.00 then) and went to increase the customer base. The 3rd year I had 26 customers and I did them all in no more than 18 hours. I paid the Walker off in 6 months and more than tripled my gross. There is NO WAY I could have done that with a tractor.
Can you use your tractor - sure you can but you will be limited as to how much you can do. Time really is money and the more time you spend on a slow mower is time I spend taking jobs from guys that use slow mowers.
If you find yourself being frightened about not knowing how to go about things then take some time over the winter and go to a community college and take some small business and accounting classes. Spend your free time on the "Search" feature in all of these Lawnsite forums.
Yes I remember starting out and I spent lots of money on trial and error equipment purchases. There is always another level to get to. If I had Lawnsite when I started I wouldn't had to start in the sub-basement. Good Luck.
10-20-2001, 06:47 AM
i started out with a 48 inch scag walk behind.
10-20-2001, 07:59 AM
You sure can start out using your "HOMEOWNER" equipment. I did and that only lasted a month! Not to sure about the area you live in, but my area has properties rangeing from 2500 square feet to 100,000 square feet of lawn. I was turning down anything over 10K square feet because it was just taking to long! TIME IS MONEY! Then you will notice the equipment was not made for every day use. My Craftsman curved shaft trimmer gave me such a back-ache I had no choice but to buy a commercial one. I wanted to do larger properties, so I had to go out and buy a used walk behind, and so on. I purchased needed items as I needed them, most good quality used. Then you will get into the problem I had, Transporting equipment to and from jobsites. In the begining (5 months ago) I put all my equipment in the bed of my pick-up (*NOTE* only a 6' bed!). I spent more time at a customers property unloading and loading than I did performing my services there! So, next came a trailer! Here is a breakdown of what I have spent TO-DATE for equipment:
USED RANSOMES 48" WB----$700.00
USED TANAKA TRIMMER------$ 80.00
USED 16' LANDSCAPE TRAILER-----$800.00
NEW LITTLE WONDER 8HP BLOWER---$740.00
That puts me at $2600.00 for right now. I am going to be purchasing a ZTR this winter, not sure If I am going to go used or new yet on that. You found a good website, use it, use the search feature, and even do a search on all MY posts, I got some great answers and I'm 100% sure you are going to have the same questions that I had/have! Good Luck!
10-20-2001, 04:36 PM
My friend started his business with mostly all "homeowner quality" equipment. I purchased this his business nearly 2 years ago, and pretty much everything has been replaced with "commercial grade" equipment. I went from using a Murray tractor to operating a Walker ZTR. It was worth the money. In most cases, I can shave 20 minutes off every hour. Use this forum, IT WILL HELP!!! Educate yourself. Pretty simple.
10-21-2001, 11:02 AM
I agree with most of everyone else, look around for some quality used equipment...there is ALOT of it out there for sale. Then you might think about commercial accounts because that's where most of the money is then you can get whatever you want. Best of luck.
10-21-2001, 10:13 PM
If you are not in a position to find a dealer who is willing to give you a start-up package you can always try the Landscaper Supply route:http://www.landscapersupply.com/catalog.html
Although they are not the best mowers on the market, they WILL be able to get you into a deck, trimmer, and blower for your price range until you can upgrade later in the season.
Hope this helps some.
10-22-2001, 11:42 AM
used toro 36" w/ bagger-------- $1483.16
toro personnel pace--------------- $ 530.56
good ol' walmart weedeaters----- $80
this is what i started out with:blob4:
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