View Full Version : No truck or trailer--can it be done?

06-25-2004, 06:10 PM
Hi, I'm new and interested in starting a small part-time residential business. However, I don't own a truck or a trailer. Is it feasable to try to work out of a car? (I can fit my 21" mower in my trunk.) Should I wait until I save up enough to buy a trailer and attatch it to my car? Or should I just hold off for a pickup truck? Anyone else been in this position? Any advice would be appreciated!

BTW, I'm a woman. . .but I'm pretty strong and determined, in need of extra income, and I really enjoy cutting grass. I've done lots of searches but I haven't found any that address this issue. :)

Canadian GreenScape
06-25-2004, 06:31 PM
I started hauling an old craftsman mower (with a broken self propelled transmission) around in the trunk of my Moms 87 Jetta ... and my Mom had to drive me b/c I didnt have my license yet ... you gotta start somewhere. You're image when you pull up is going to look kind of bad for awhile and you might have to do some crummy jobs b/f you build things up. Guys are going to give you a hard time with the "scrub" word etc but hey go for it. Just charge what you should.. dont work for cheap.

06-25-2004, 07:04 PM
when I was really young I had a mower in the trunk of my car.

06-25-2004, 07:08 PM
Step van..........

06-25-2004, 07:09 PM
Ii used to mow lawns from trunk of 78 buick electra while in high school...(I actually did lawns between classes, I had 2 periods off in a row.... but a truck is soooo much better and more efficient so you'll make more money faster. Skip the car thing if you can, but if not do what ya gotta do!

Mowin Mac
06-25-2004, 07:43 PM
Prayturtle, welcome to lawnsite. This has become my absolute favorite place on the web. I have learned more from these people than I ever would have thought possible. They are the best in the world at this profession. They post some pics of lawns that are amazing. They also have a great sense of humor. And from time to time they love to display it.
Now for your question. Start any way that you can. Save as much money as possible. By the finest commercial equipment that you can afford when you replace your 21.
This business in not a fast track to a quick buck, it requires hard work and determination.
Good Luck

Blades of Steel
06-25-2004, 07:53 PM
Gee Vee,

Are you still running from your step van? I almost did that prior to a new truck and trailer. I had to go that route because of city code "NO BUSINESSES RUN FROM THE HOME"> So I still run it from my home I just put everything in the garage and and hid it.


06-25-2004, 08:00 PM
My advice would be to work for a large LCO in your area. Learn all you can, save your money then start your own business when you are ready. Right now you are not ready.

all degree
06-25-2004, 08:07 PM
Pray turtle I just sent you a private message I may be able to help you out with some used eq.

06-25-2004, 08:57 PM
Pray turtle I'd say go for it, eat lot's of ramen and save all of your profits to reinvest in your biz.

06-25-2004, 09:38 PM
You can do it but it is not fun. We started with our 97 Chevy malibu. It was hell on the car and our time. We then got a 81 Ford F-150 cheap and things were so much better. Then We built a trailer and that was the biggest help with time savings. It can be done with your car but your time is money. The more time you spend dealing with equipment that is not made for the job the less money you will make. Good Luck with this venture!

Kelly's Landscaping
06-25-2004, 09:45 PM
I'm with you Avery I don't think she's ready. Can you work with out a trailer of course you can. Can you work with out a truck this may not be practical. What happens when you need to trim some hedges or you need to bag a lawn or what happens when fall comes and you have no means to haul away any leaves? What about mulch jobs or topsoil I honestly could not do this trade with out a truck. Yes I know some will say you can but I don't think I could deal with all that extra BS before is said screw this and got a job.

Being on your own is one of the greatest feelings in the world and I think you will love it but save some more money and start this trade off right. The fact that your a woman doesn't even enter in to this perhaps some customers will hold that against you but I think most will listen to what you have to say and if you come across as completely inexperienced and incapable then they will turn you down but not because of your gender.

06-25-2004, 10:06 PM
Work for someone else, learn the business after a few years, and then go out on your own. The VERY last thing I want to see is someone picking up a mower out of the trunk of their car here in NJ...unless it is a homeowner going to a shop repair place.

06-25-2004, 10:11 PM
Thanks a lot for the responses! I value all the advice I've been given.

I'm already working a full-time job but I need add'l income. My hours are different every day so I need another job which allows flexible hours. I've received offers to do some co-workers lawns which led me to thinking that I could invest into making this a legitimate second job. Since I began researching this, particularly after visiting this site, I am hopeful to eventually transition into a full-time lawn business.

But how do I get from here to there? (While keeping my current full-time job) Who else here had humble beginnings (as an adult, not a teenager--I used to cut grass when I was 12, and my dad used to drive me to my jobs too!) Did you save money until you could purchase the truck and the trailer? Or did most of you already have a truck?

06-25-2004, 10:15 PM

How'd the trailer you built turn out? I'm interested in doing that myself.

06-25-2004, 10:33 PM
Prayturtle, the trailer is great. Looking at making a bigger one. It is always good to hear from people trying to get things started. My wife and I started this back in Feb. We are now aproaching 140 accounts. it all started with that push mower in the back of our car. We also worked for another Lawn Service during the day then mowing our accounts in the evening. Now we have two trucks and are busier than we ever expected after five months on our own. The money is good. As far as your trailer buy used or build your own. Good Luck. Any questions we would love to help. This site is a great resource.

06-25-2004, 10:41 PM
I READ all the above posts and to my utter amazment, not one of you guys said SCRUB. Im proud of you all. LOL

Kelly's Landscaping
06-25-2004, 11:08 PM
How did I start simple I worked for another landscaper after a few years I was the boss I ran all sorts of jobs not just lawns in fact outside of planting work when the owner was on site I gave him orders. To me he was just another worker despite being the owner and to him it was a day off from thinking since being the boss does take a toll on you. I planned on going on my own for years and had several set backs along the way so much for the Clinton wonder economy hehehe. I finally had a large chunk of what I felt I needed to build the business the way I wanted to so I took on a partner and together we put up our life savings and made ago of it. Its now month 14 and from scratch we have a built a 30-40 k a month business in little more then a year. Sounds better then it is we still put back close to 95% into the business since we are rapidly expanding. My partner had no experience in this trade at all. This week for the first time heís been driving his own trailer and running his own cutting crew. To say I'm like a proud father is an understatement simple fact adults may be harder to teach but it sticks better and maturity goes a long way. No way would I have a kid with 1 years experience running a lawn crew but a 36 year old that spent an entire year learning my high standards I have no problem with that at all.

It sounds like you will be having more humble beginnings that I started with but I still think even an old beat up truck is better then no truck. When I started we bought 2 trucks one cutting truck an 98 1500 ram and one 89 gmc dump truck I got questions like do we need a dump truck and I can't believe we will ever need something that big or fill it. That lasted a few weeks till we did our first clean ups and brush jobs he quickly took back his remarks and questions when we filled the 12 foot bed not once but 3 times in one day!

06-25-2004, 11:22 PM
Go for it. "Humble beginnings??" A good friend, who was helping me out "at the beginning", still recalls the day we were planting at a jobsite, using the customers tools, and I burst out; "Just think about all the money I could make if I owned a shovel!!!!"

06-25-2004, 11:29 PM
I here you on the shovel!

06-25-2004, 11:44 PM
why don't you sell you car, and buy an equivalent priced pick up? I don't know what kind of car you have, but if you get enough, you could buy a cheaper pick up, and have some funds for alittle more equipment and tools. start small to get the hang of the rountines.
you could carry it in you car i guess, but image is important in picking up new clients. sounds like you have drive, that's good. but it will be a much more positive experience with a pick up. you're pick up can double as your everday ride anyways.

good luck either way though!!!!!!!!!!!

06-25-2004, 11:57 PM
I started with a 21" oil burning push mower that had to be pulled 10 times before the engine even thought of starting operating out of the back of a station wagon......To day we have 5 trucks and 2 trailers running.....Hard work and determination will eventually pay off.....Just do a good job and keep at it i....t'll work out.....Good luck!

Garden Panzer
06-26-2004, 12:21 AM
I started out of a 1984 Subaru Wagon ( 4x4) used to have weedeaters bungeed to the roof racks and gas cans up...then take the handle off the mower to close the hatchback!!!!!

Kelly's Landscaping
06-26-2004, 12:42 AM
Garden Panzer I'm not sure what variant the picture on your name is but itís definitely a Panzer Mark III. Only hard part is the letter to go with it that version they got as far as the letter N

06-26-2004, 12:56 AM
It's pretty hard to give you any advice without proper information. I'll be the first. Pics please:)
You can start anyway you want but it will be difficult to get good$ jobs unless you have the look and the equipment.

06-26-2004, 01:12 AM
you have been presented with some very good advice here.. i agree and say work for someone else and learn all you can. if you do work out of the trunk of your car, never, ever, tilt the mower with the carb. side down or it will fill with oil, smoke like it's 25 years old or perhaps not even run right. also, by the end of the day, you will be exhausted from loading and unloading. also think of room for other equipment, trimmer, blower, fuel can (not good in a trunk really), tools, etc...

Mowin Mac
06-26-2004, 01:15 AM
I can't believe that this thread is on the third page, and all we have heard are words of encouragement. Congrats to all of you who have responded. I have only been on this site for a few months, and I have enjoyed the posts concerning the scrubs, the PITA customers, and the outrageous behavior of some of the competing LCO's, but the HEART

06-26-2004, 01:18 AM
i think the main reason you are seeing so much encouragment is because she is actually trying to get some honest information before going out and doing what we say we see most scrubs doing. this is my 1000th post, feels kinda good to be in a thread trying to help someone!

Mowin Mac
06-26-2004, 01:18 AM
of LawnSite is the advice that we can get from these experts.
(sorry about the two part post, sometimes the fingers get a little fat).

06-26-2004, 01:41 AM
No truck or trailer?? Could try one of these options.....

Found some of these pics in the lawnsite archives.

06-26-2004, 02:20 AM
Thanks again. Great responses! (And great pics Wells!)

Ok, so I'm beginning to think I won't plan to work out of my car. . . I do value presenting a professional appearance and once I get started I want to do it right. Like fga suggested, I will look into trading my car in for a used truck. If that doesn't work out, I plan to look into building a trailer myself.

Lawnmedics--Since you built your own trailer, can you give me any idea of the cost involved?

MikeLT1Z28, thanks for the advice on lawnmower positioning! I'm so glad I found you guys, your advice is priceless.

I plan to do my co-workers lawns the only way I can for now (out of my car), but I will not solicit any other customers until I have acquired more equipment.

May the scrimping and saving begin!!! (and bring on the ramen noodles!)

06-26-2004, 02:59 AM
i say it depends on ur expectations....

if u are doing it part time buy a small trailor drw tite from walmart and buy a small trailor ....

i think even if u move up slowly to a 36" wlkbhd u could still manage

i see a lot of ppl doing this sorta thing

I started off with an 86' Toyota single cab that i saw sittin up in a garage . Kept my eye on it , It never moved i went and asked the guy he said the Clutch was gone. It hadn't moved in 2yrs

I said 200$

he said come back tomorrow and let me think

I went back the next day with 200$ crisp in my hand so he could see it and

Hauled it off

put a clutch in did a tune up and used it for at least 9 months b4 i did the same exact thing with another 1ton toyota i found

and sold both for 500$ over what i paid and had in it ...

those older toyota are extremely good
for starting off they are sooooooo cheap to ride and repair.

06-26-2004, 09:19 AM
Pssst. Step Van.

Covered locking storage, aluminum wont be rrusting away in your chemical environment.

Cost as much used as a used pick em up, but will likely out-last four or five......


No, I have liquidated all of my vans. I still have one Walker 36" GHS to sell, since I won't be keeping it for myself.

My son still runs the business, but he has downsized. He doesn't offer irrigation, only does a few landscape installs where he has everything delivered, and offers no chem service.

He took over one of the enclosed trailers and the equipment he wanted, everything else, I sold.

He still has a coupe of years of college to finsh, then I will sell off those accounts and equipment.

You couldn't get away with a Step Van w/o logo on sides?

I'd move. Deed restricitons and covenants are good sometimes- others not.