View Full Version : "You are judged by your equipment"

08-13-2002, 01:21 PM
That old saying holds more truth in this business than any other that I've ever seen. (And probably for good reasons.) Not only judged by your customers or prospective customers but by your competitors as well.

Makes me think of this old fellow that I knew a long time ago. He was what I would call a "master" golfer. When he went out to play a round or two, all that he carried with him was a #1 iron. He did it all with this one club - putted, drove, etc. Not only that, but he could beat 99% of all the other golfer out there. He was really something to see. Can't remember his name but I just remember him as looking like he was in his mid-late 60's and kind of rough around the edges. If someone would to judge him from their first impression, they would have been wrong.

At any rate, sorry to get off on that tangent - but if an LCO or individual has late model, clean, state of the art equipment chances are he knows what he's doing. Has anyone ever seen any exceptions to this rule?



08-13-2002, 01:59 PM
More than I can count.

08-13-2002, 02:04 PM
Quote: - but if an LCO or individual has late model, clean, state of the art equipment chances are he knows what he's doing. Has anyone ever seen any exceptions to this rule?

Know of a couple former companies that had new trucks and equipment. Went out and bought all the stuff, but did they have "business sense?" Must not of, they aren't around anymore.

And why does new equipment and a new truck mean that someone knows what they are doing? Most anyone nowadays can get a line of credit. It doesn't take much to sign your name on the dotted line for a new a truck.

An example of one "company" that comes to mind. Owner went out and bought a new truck and a new Z.
"Wow, I'm impressed. NOT!"
We know exactly where he lives. If his house is worth $15,000 I'd be surprised. So does that mean his business is doing good?

New equipment and vehicles doesn't guarantee a good business.
Appropriate sized equipment for the lawns a company is maintaining, and a good reliable clean truck(s) is what is important in this business.
Bells and whistles are not needed here. Smart planning and setting goals for your business is.

08-13-2002, 02:18 PM
Although I do believe our 'outward image/personal appearance' has a lot to do with our success, I feel that the quality of our work (and our 'people skills') is what really keeps 'em coming back for more.

A $100,000 equipment list wont make a business succeed if the work is sloppy and the attitude is bad.

08-13-2002, 02:49 PM
New equipment and vehicles doesn't guarantee a good business.

I agree 100%

One can go out and buy "new everything". But without customers, planning, and a good finished product, it will sit on the trailer.

but if an LCO or individual has late model, clean, state of the art equipment chances are he knows what he's doing.

No, this means that the LCO is in debt. Or, has enough revenue to finance these expenditures. Either way, It still does'nt represent a knowledge of the business. It represents the knowledge of the fact that new and shiny stuff are appealing to the eye. That is one small selling point for your business. The rest of your business' succcess lies in you ability to manage and satisfy your customer base and its assignments.

Being in the "service" industry, we rely on what others need and what we can offer. These "others" are called customers. Customers are not binded by employment laws that hender them from firing you without proper reason. At any given time they can call you and say "your work sucks, therefore you are fired" (along with all your shiny brand new equipment).

Bottom line here is that if you are not a "go getter", if you are not managing your operation to the penny, if you dont take pride in your job, and you dont intend to satisfy the customer and only yourself, you will not succeed. (then the bank calls tells you they are coming to get all then new and shiny stuff)

08-13-2002, 02:50 PM
i agree with your statements as to peoples impression of lcos. thats just facts . now as to whether it is a measurement of his ability and standard of work. the only man i know for sure that is better than i am ,at what i do, uses
his whatever lt. mr eudy just leaves a perfect everything for the folks he can still do. he got cancer and im inheriting his wk, as he slowly pulls out of it to fight his fight.my equipment is the best in my opinion. but when i used a lt ,my work was just as good as now.just faster now.
i dont know for sure ,but suspect that mr. stone, a past member of this forum, uses older dependable toro walk-behinds. some of his work is pictured in older post. in my opinion he did what he did well.in summation ,i suspect your post to be for the most part accurate. but there are exceptions to most rules.later now:)

08-13-2002, 03:07 PM
he who dies with the most toys... wins. not true there is always an exception to the rule. i started out with non-comm. equipment,
so i was more aware of the job i was doing took my time and beleive it ir not my job looked as good if not better that the comm. cutter. since however i am strictly commercial and i must say that they do a much better job and a lot quicker.
i was also worried about what people thought on the first impression but it was the last impression( when i was leaving their driveway with the check in hand)that really counts

dont always judge a book by its cover, because that book might take YOUR business

Richard Martin
08-13-2002, 03:10 PM
We have a saying in the music industry.

The best guitar in the world won't make a crappy player any better but the best player in the world can make a crappy guitar sound great.

It applies to lawn equpment too.

08-13-2002, 03:15 PM
Hey, I have an '84 F-350, beefed up the springs a bit, but it isn't anywhere close to new, but it is in good mechanical condition, and I keep it clean and polished ... same with my '97 (6x12) Haulmark enclosed. I try to keep everything as clean and neat as I can, even the mowers, and I stay on top of maintenance and repairs. I continue to keep most of my customers happy, am getting new one from time to time, and plan on being in this business for many years to come .... unlike a number of knuckleheads I know that have gone out and bought a business, sold all the equipment so thhey could buy new, and honestly, I never see them around anymore ... Gee, I wonder why????

08-13-2002, 03:15 PM
"Never judge a book by its cover" & "Looks can be deceiving"

I don't agree that if one has a nice set-up that he/she knows what they are doing.. However I do believe that some people think so..

I did have a client comment to me one day.. "I'd rather have your nice rig in front of my house instead that jalopy down there" (pointing to another LCO). It was the first time he had seen this LCO and knew nothing about him or his work.. yet he judged him purely on looks.

I do believe it is important to look good as a professional but it doesn't mean I know more than the next guy.

08-13-2002, 04:35 PM
I am going to take this one step further. Have a female employee/ owner. People feel very comfortable (residential) with a female working around their property. My fiancee (now ex) was my partner for 2 years and my customers just loved when she was around and never complained about anything, now I get a few more complaints and they don't come out to chit-chat as much. And she knew nothing about this business except what I taught her. BTW, she was by far the best employee I have ever had!

AGG Lawn Maintenance
08-13-2002, 08:22 PM
Some of the best companies in my area have old trucks. As a matter of fact I just saw a guy I worked for 15 years ago. Guess what he still has the same trucks. And they had about 5 years on them when I worked for him. I had to laugh. He told me that one of the trucks just hit 100,000 miles. His work his top of the line and thats what really counts. Travis

08-13-2002, 09:05 PM
I've been using the same truck since 1984, and believe it or not, some of the same equipment, too!:cool:

08-13-2002, 09:28 PM
Although I agree that the appearance of one's equipment says nothing about the knowledge, talent, or quality of service of a company, I also have to agree somewhat with the original statement....

"You are judged by your equipment"

It may not be right, but I know that it happens sometimes.

Shawn Burns
08-13-2002, 10:35 PM
I think that a well maintained, well used piece of equipment says alot more about an lco than a bunch of "shiny" new equipment. I have some older folks(mostly men) that come out and look over my trailer every spring to see if i have any new "toys" to work with. They usually all say the same thing "still using that same old so and so, sure is in good shape. You must take good care of that thing".
To me, a trailer full of new equipment usually means just another new lawn care company.

08-13-2002, 10:43 PM
I couldn't agree more with the fact that good equipment is not the only thing going. It plays a HUGE part, but not the whole story. One local LCO have good enough looking rigs, but most people don't like them, or keep the commercial part of their biz coming back year after year. The residential side has a different forman and from what I hear does OK.

I had a really nice set up, 2000 F 250 all mowing equip was less than 4 years old, I got a LOT of comments on the way things looked and how they thought I was jam up because of looks. So that is a big part of the game, keep you stuff looking nice even if it isn't new. People can tell when you try to look pro! Jim Lewis is a good example of that. He runs older trucks, but they are in TOP condition.

Premo Services
08-14-2002, 12:45 AM
I have to agree that new, or nice looking equiptment, truck don't have anything to do with how you operate your business, or what you know. It does help though, I am always told from potential customers, and my customers, that they see the care that is put into keeping my equiptment, truck clean. While talking to a new customer(female) about the work that I would be doing, she actually told me that if I put half of the care into doing their work, that I put into keeping my truck, etc. nice they would be more than happy. That was 6 years ago and she and her husband are still happy.......:D
On a side note, I use a 1994 gmc 4x4 truck with 104,000 miles that still looks showroom new.

08-14-2002, 01:49 AM
I have noticed many lcos updating their trucks recently with some of these "deals" nowadays. My neighbor just bought a 2nd f450 grain body dump in two months as well as new 20ft enclosed trailer and f350. he said biz is booming.
I like new equip since any of my used stuff is unreliable and i see what some of the local lcos do to their equip. *ie running new lazers into walls trucks over grave stones etc* but shinny equip fades fast. I will say that nicely painted and well organized setups attract attention and promote biz. as for me i have a 95 f250 xlt 4*4 with 165k miles and looks almost new. ppl cant believe it has that much mileage on it. Keep them mowers and trucks washed and blown off and good luck in thebiz.

Ax Man
08-14-2002, 08:51 AM
Well My 81 Ford has 183000 and still going strong.
I bought it from a college buddy who ran it on his dads business.
Visited him a few years back and it was parked in the weeds.
Bought it for a song, replaced the cab and its been making money ever since.
I have a blend of old and new stuff, as long as it is productive I keep it.

In comparison a kid I know went out and bought a new ztr, Dually truck, gooseneck trailer etc. Then tried breaking into the market in a college town 25 miles away.
All he got were the PITA customers, now the bonehead is ready to throw in the towel.

Used equipment sale!

bubble boy
08-14-2002, 09:36 AM
Originally posted by Ax Man

I have a blend of old and new stuff, as long as it is productive I keep it.

that is the most important thing. i see i guy with crappy equipment i assume at some point, whether for rain, breakdowns, etc he will let his customer down. that assumption could very well be wrong. but i admit i think it.

and potential customers are impressed with new trucks and equip. i don't doubt that. but you can get away with an older truck. minivans and cars you might have an image problem.

one thing about trucks, where i am, new trucks can be important in the winter, when the snow piles. just allows me to be more reliable.

08-14-2002, 09:57 AM
my old mower i practically gave away (honda 36 hydro wb sold for 200 dollars )cut a lot better than the new mower i bought this thing is only 2 yrs old has under 300 hrs and i feel it is hurting my bizz

scott's turf
08-14-2002, 10:42 AM
We must keep reminding ourself that this is a business. The main priority should be profits. Toys are nice but is it really a toy. Yes a truck maybe but lawn care equipment should not be. First off I feel that a truck used for you business should be strictly a business vehicle for a complete write off. Trucks are probably the biggest expense that many have and make the least profit for you business. Will a $600/month truck make you more money than a 10 y.o mechanically sound one? Also it seems that many others are purchasing equipment and not using it to its full potential. For instance buying a new ztr and using it for there 9 lawns they mow when they could go out and buy a 48" belt drive for a third of that. Typically businesses buy more equipment or better equipment when they reach capacity.

08-14-2002, 11:59 AM
Image is everything, for most of the time. Plenty of people that we work for see our stuff and say "Wow look at that. He must know what he is doing." Which isnt true. Just because you may have lots of new toys dont mean you know how to use them or when to use them.

I think the more important issue here is keeping everything you do have clean and in repair. I see so many guys running around with a dirt ball mower on the trailer or truck. No its not new stuff, but a little wash here and there will make it look so much better.

And what does this do for image? "Well at least they keep their stuff clean", which might translate into, "If they keep their stuff so well maintained maybe they will keep my yard that way as well". Or "If they care that much about their mowers....." And so on.

New stuff only means 1 thing, its new stuff. Just try to keep your paid for tried and true truck, mower, trimmer or whatever working in top shape and clean.

dr grass
08-14-2002, 04:12 PM
i couldnt disagree anymore with this thread. what your equipment and your appearence looks like has never mattered to me at all. what does matter is your work ethnic, job quality, and your friendliness. my dad is a biker and he has told me since i was a little boy ... " people want to judge you by your appearence and have no desire to get to know you on the inside, their not worth dealing with." thats how ive ran my business since i was 10 years old. i could give a **** less about the people that are too snooty to give you a chance because you dont have a new truck or you have an earring. thanks, but ill do business with the other 98% of the people in the world. i have tattoos, my ears pierced, wear baggy pants, and big shirts. i rarely have a problem landing a job because of this. like i said , those people are not worth dealing with. im not going to wear my hair a certain way, or wear clothes im not cumfortable in to hide my tattos. im not gonna comform to anybodys rules for appearence but mine! if i died tomorrow, all i want people to say about me is 2 things .... he was a nice guy .... he was a hard worker. and for the people that dont give me a chance to prove this to them .... and thats my .02....

Shep :blob2:

08-14-2002, 04:44 PM
Your work "ethnic"?... uh-oh. just kidding.
It doesn't matter if you disagree with the thread, reality is what matters. If people are willing to pay me what I charge for my work, I don't care if they only used me on the basis that my equipment is late model.

08-14-2002, 06:29 PM
i agree wholeheartedly with shep........i keep my stuff up and i dont change how i look to conform to their expectations.......i am me, and if i give my word that it will be done like u want it, then that is what u will get.....nothing else........i dont go out looking like a bum but i dont dress up for them either........i go out on the basis that this is a job and i have x number of customers to make happy today......as long as they are happy, i am happy(especially wyhen the check comes in the mail).......i present myself professionally in other ways rather than by looking good for them

08-15-2002, 12:31 AM
Guys that looked like they belonged on a custruction site never got a job working for Brickman Lawn Care. I had entirely too many older folks that were old school, they never would have put up with it. Some of the guys that did work for me pushed their tolerance to the line. And I got to hear about it from the customer.