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awake
08-28-2009, 06:11 AM
hey all,

the names ryan, and this is my first post here on lawnsite. growing up, i dabbled in lawn care for about 6 years, from 12-18. i worked my way up to about 30 lawns, and was making some serious coin for my age. i also gained a lot of experience, and a pretty good reputation around the community.

im now 26, and have taken a serious break from outdoor work to explore some other options, and while they have been pretty lucrative, i miss being outside and the satisfied looks on my clients' faces.

since those days, the lawncare business has seen a serious boom. a recently the economy has me shaken a little about having another, bigger, go at this business.

obviously for me now, this isnt a "spending money" type of job anymore. this is going to support my family and my current lifestyle, and obviously help me get to retirement.

i know that i need to be a lot more versatile this time around. a little push mower and residential trimmer and blower aren't going to cut it anymore (no pun intended).



so my question is: what equipment do i need to acquire before i start to take off. i want to make sure i have all my ducks in a row before i start this thing again. and without getting too personal, i have the money to realistically get whatever i need and want before i start.

id like to be able to tackle small, cookie cutter accounts with small yards, as well as have the equipment to tackle larger commercial accounts. i dont want to buy too big of a mower for the smaller yards, but i also want to be productive when tackling the accounts with larger areas to mow down.


is there a good happy medium in the mower market? or should i go for a nice 36" or so commercial WB, and a larger ZTR?

having both would be nice i guess, but if its not necessary, i dont want to waste the money on both.

obviously a good backpack, and comm. trimmer will be in order.

i will be going at this with a partner, and have no problem hiring 1-2 guys for help if need be.


any advice would be appreciated.

thanks, ryan.

awake
08-28-2009, 06:39 AM
i should also add that i am not one of the "clueless new guys" that i so often see everybody here complaining about. i won't be tackling any of this until next spring. (searching for accounts this winter)

i have managed $5M/yr. businesses with 100+ employees for the last 6 years of my life. i know how to run a business, and deal with clients in a polished and professional manner, while also having a firm grasp of how to run a business and manage finances.

just looking for equip advice, as a guy who has been "out of the loop" for a bit.

TIA, ryan.

Stillwater
08-28-2009, 06:40 AM
#1 Loose the partner........

awake
08-28-2009, 07:13 AM
#1 Loose the partner........


well the partner is a family member (father in-law) who has a VAST understanding and skill-set for repair and maintenance on any and all lawn equipment. and who is more than capable of running a mower, trimmer or blower.

the way i see it. 2 people increases our productivity, and maximizes profit, and saves us TONS on PM and repair on our equipment.

jada86
08-28-2009, 07:18 AM
I agree, lose the partner. If you have the experience and know-how what do you need him for?

Get one 36" and one 60" ZTR and that way you can do both residential and commercial. Get a nice edger and long and short trimmers too.

Two Seasons
08-28-2009, 08:39 AM
I'd have to concur about having a partner too.

Two Seasons
08-28-2009, 08:52 AM
Let me explain why.

Years ago in a startup (I've done three and the same partner in all three) my partner and I chose to go full-time with our third venture. We were developing close ties to people that would become our distributors. I could not get him to go on the road with me, no way and no how. Finally figured it out that he would get nervous being around other people, casual or business. And I'd known him at that point for several years and didn't have a clue about his fear.

Anybody that doesn't have the exact same skill set as you with the exact same desire for outcomes, will become a problem IMHO.

Stillwater
08-28-2009, 11:18 AM
Ill add to what 2 seasons has said....

It really is simple landscaping is a labor intensive endeavor, you cannot fight a war and win if all your foot soldiers are generals. Their will in the future be issues over the division of labor, allocation of resource's, billing, distribution of investment and equipment purchase. Businesses often don't turn a profit right away could be a few years how will that be handled, how about lost money, how about profit what are you going to pay the company? the company needs to be paid to grow and sustain itself who has access to it who makes the decision as to what direction the company goes in. Equipment breakage and repair how is that going to be handled. It is 99 degrees outside one of you needs to be shoveling the 8 yards of wet loam down the hill and one needs to sit in the air conditioned truck and meet the next customer for a est.? who dies in the heat. resentment and anger and frustration will surface... one of you is going to take this more seriously than the other, paying taxes, who drives the shiny new truck who gets the beater. Personal sacirfice is massive long hours of unbillible hours who does it for no pay?... up all night to 3:30 am fixing the trailer so lawns can be mowed a 8am. Both of you going to do this.? who answers the phone, who writes the checks, whos the boss? a partner is expensive,,, for every dollar invested 1 dollar should be put in escrow so when one quits their is money to buy out and continue. No escrow?? no buy out business fails your family is in the street.
If Charles is in Charge then who's the boss? sounds harsh hu? well thats because it is. 50/50 partnership will likely fail one has to give orders and one needs to jump without delay whos that?

richonsa
08-28-2009, 11:56 AM
Partnerships are tough. The previous poster nailed this thing on the head. Do it on your own. Or, pay your relative to work for you. Then, you can fire him if he becomes a problem.

Let me ask you this. What is he bringing to the table that will add to your organization? Does he have a certain skill or ability that you lack that is absolutely essential for your venture to succeed? You've cut grass before and you've managed $5M/year businesses, to include client interaction. What more do you need?

Mckenzie's Maintenance
08-28-2009, 01:28 PM
Well on the equipment note...I would go with stihl handhelds...these other guys have the partner issue covered.....although I agree with them on solo ownership

awake
08-28-2009, 03:17 PM
well the partner is a family member (father in-law) who has a VAST understanding and skill-set for repair and maintenance on any and all lawn equipment. and who is more than capable of running a mower, trimmer or blower.

the way i see it. 2 people increases our productivity, and maximizes profit, and saves us TONS on PM and repair on our equipment.


^^ this is a lot of what he brings to the table.


i understand what you are saying about partnership....for some reason i can't imagine that the cons would outweigh the pro's though.


i guess thats something that ill have to reconsider, and put some thought into.

richonsa
08-28-2009, 04:00 PM
^^ this is a lot of what he brings to the table.


i understand what you are saying about partnership....for some reason i can't imagine that the cons would outweigh the pro's though.


i guess thats something that ill have to reconsider, and put some thought into.

It appears that he can repair equipment and cut grass. Anyone can cut grass, you can do much of the maintenance, and the major repairs can be done at a shop. Yes, there is a cost for that, but you have to decide if having a partner is necessary to save some money for major repairs. IMO, taking on a partner for the cost savings on repairs in not wise.

If you can't imagine how the cons would outweigh the pros, you should reread the posts in the thread. One, in particular, made a strong argument against partnership. But, you must decide what is best for you.

Billie Bob's LLC
08-28-2009, 05:24 PM
from someone who has basically lost a best friend of 8 years to this.. I got to the point where I was putting much more "work" in and I didn't like how he reaped the benefits. His desire wasn't like mine and it became a problem. We began to argue everyday and eventually split up. And splitting up isnt just ok. You took a business and the work load that was planned to be done by two people, splitting up makes some of those tasks by one person. thats not always easy for planning ahead, dealing with customers.

Find a way to allow him to be apart of the business but not half owner. Make it so that if there is a problem and there most likely will be, make it easy for him to leave with no problems. Again were talking about your father-in-law, not just a friend. You have more experience than most out there and they make it fine with no partner. He adds less than what you are thinking and it's going to cut down on your money. You can do all by yourself, but if he wants to be part of it let him, just pay him and not split it up. If your not worried about the money than pay him what he'd normally make if it was 50/50 but still it be your company.

sorry for long post,
my 2 cents

TSB group
08-28-2009, 10:52 PM
Wow, thats a mouthful....huh? I work with my brothers, and vice versa on 3 different jobs. We all have an understanding about what is going on, and pool labor employees between the 3. The job we are on has one boss, even though being the oldest brother I have a hard time. We agreed early on this was the only way we could make it happen.

Partners are tough, but family is tough too. Its nice to have the bond, but the employee/employer bond can be very strong also. Pay well, pay on time and be respectful and your people will work for you like a partner should. The busier you are, the more they can work and the more money everyone has!

AS for equipment, dude......go with some nice used stuff. I hate to say it, but take advantage of someone else's misfortune. There are lots of failed businesses out there, and lots and lots of low hour equipement. In the long run you are helping them off load equipment for much needed cash.

kabrac
08-28-2009, 11:55 PM
hey all,

the names ryan, and this is my first post here on lawnsite. growing up, i dabbled in lawn care for about 6 years, from 12-18. i worked my way up to about 30 lawns, and was making some serious coin for my age. i also gained a lot of experience, and a pretty good reputation around the community.

im now 26, and have taken a serious break from outdoor work to explore some other options, and while they have been pretty lucrative, i miss being outside and the satisfied looks on my clients' faces.

since those days, the lawncare business has seen a serious boom. a recently the economy has me shaken a little about having another, bigger, go at this business.

obviously for me now, this isnt a "spending money" type of job anymore. this is going to support my family and my current lifestyle, and obviously help me get to retirement.

i know that i need to be a lot more versatile this time around. a little push mower and residential trimmer and blower aren't going to cut it anymore (no pun intended).



so my question is: what equipment do i need to acquire before i start to take off. i want to make sure i have all my ducks in a row before i start this thing again. and without getting too personal, i have the money to realistically get whatever i need and want before i start.

id like to be able to tackle small, cookie cutter accounts with small yards, as well as have the equipment to tackle larger commercial accounts. i dont want to buy too big of a mower for the smaller yards, but i also want to be productive when tackling the accounts with larger areas to mow down.


is there a good happy medium in the mower market? or should i go for a nice 36" or so commercial WB, and a larger ZTR?

having both would be nice i guess, but if its not necessary, i dont want to waste the money on both.

obviously a good backpack, and comm. trimmer will be in order.

i will be going at this with a partner, and have no problem hiring 1-2 guys for help if need be.


any advice would be appreciated.

thanks, ryan.

You answered your own question about equipment needs. You got 30 account with a push mower and a weedeater. Having a 60"ztr, a WB and new equipment doesn't give you magical powers. I wish I would have remembered how I started out, in a 1987 ford ranger that we bought for $100 and a toro push mower...tha's it. And you know, come to think of it, that was when I was most satisfied as far as an operation goes. I got more business more quickly then and so on. There is somthing about starting out from humble beginings that makes the best and most successful businesses. I wanted a 60'' Kubota and a 20' heavy duty trailer. I'm glad I thought things over and settled for a 48" WB and 16' trailer. And even now I look at it and it is still too much. You see lawn companies everywhere with a ztr and a wb and think if I can be like them I'll be successful in this business. No, just slow down. I liked my push mower set-up and ranger so much that is what I'm trying to get back to. Much lower overhead, won't need as much insurance, won't have to spend as much on gas, etc. I'll still keep my wb for the bigger accounts, but my dream is to get back to where I began! Humble Beginings!

awake
08-29-2009, 04:07 AM
while i do appreciate the humble beginnings point of view. that doesnt really work for me. i dont want to have capable and plentiful equipment to look cool, or conjure up magical powers.

i want to be versatile. i want to have equipment that will be accessible in a smaller setting, and also have equipment that will maintain productivity in large acreage accounts.

i dont plan on turning away any business on my end. if someone doesnt like my bid, so be it, but i want to put a bid on everything, and not fall back on excuses about my equipment no being able to handle, or access the job.


i want to work this for about 10 years, and work my way off the mower in that time. i have a strong background in management, and building capable, driven employees. after 10 years, i want to be managing my business, not working it.

i guess my questions have been answered in a roundabout kind of way. i think i was right in my first inclination. ill spend this fall shopping for a nice 36" WB, and a larger ZTR on the used market. and splurge on a few blowers and trimmers.

TSB group
08-29-2009, 08:34 AM
Go for the equipment. Equipment is there to cut your time, and increase your profits. You already know what it takes to make a profit, let the equipment make up your time. All season I have been getting faster and faster providing the same quality and I am very glad I bought a 60" ZT and a 36" walker. There is nothing I cannot do. I bought almost everything from the same dealer.

I went in and got the 60", a push mower, line trimmer, stick edger and echo's PAS sytstem. I also got most of my hand tools from him. The best part of the dealer to me was, he told me to slow down. He has seen too many people load up on gear, and then go under.

The biggest issue with going under is failure to plan in most cases. The biggest failure in planning is having to say no. Damn, its not like you are getting everything 2 by 2 to start up.

Get some toys bro!

Maple Wood
08-29-2009, 01:19 PM
Every persons situation is different. The equipment set up that works perfect for me might be all wrong for you.

Your available capital is very important in considering what equipment to purchase.

You should avoid getting very much debt.

I would rather buy more efficient equipment than hire help.

richonsa
08-29-2009, 01:52 PM
while i do appreciate the humble beginnings point of view. that doesnt really work for me. i dont want to have capable and plentiful equipment to look cool, or conjure up magical powers.

i want to be versatile. i want to have equipment that will be accessible in a smaller setting, and also have equipment that will maintain productivity in large acreage accounts.

i dont plan on turning away any business on my end. if someone doesnt like my bid, so be it, but i want to put a bid on everything, and not fall back on excuses about my equipment no being able to handle, or access the job.


i want to work this for about 10 years, and work my way off the mower in that time. i have a strong background in management, and building capable, driven employees. after 10 years, i want to be managing my business, not working it.

i guess my questions have been answered in a roundabout kind of way. i think i was right in my first inclination. ill spend this fall shopping for a nice 36" WB, and a larger ZTR on the used market. and splurge on a few blowers and trimmers.


I think you approach to equipment aquisition is wise. I have a 36" mini z, an edger, and a trimmer. I need backup gear, a blower, a bigger ztr, and a 21". I'll pick up the big stuff on the used market and probably buy the smaller stuff new. A used $300 trimmer for $200 that breaks 2 months later and needs a $125 repair is a risk. So, I say get the trimmer/edger/blower/saws new and the big stuff used in the winter. That's my plan.