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View Full Version : Running solo and using a dual purpose work and personal truck


Mr. Magpie
10-18-2004, 11:16 PM
What are you guys' thoughts on these two strategies for acheiving lower risk and cost in business? Have you found that running solo does not generate enough income and profit? Why or why not? Have you found that using a truck for both purposes has any drawbacks to it?

Creative Lawn Care
10-18-2004, 11:28 PM
I run solo 90% of the time. I have done ok by myself. Not getting rich but my wife is able to stay home with my youngest child while I send my older two children to private school. We are getting ready to build a new house. Again we are not rich but are able to provide an above average income for our family with my solo company. Anyway as for keeping your expenses low...If you decide to add one helper, the only major increase in expenses should be the cost of his labor. 1 or 2 people can basically operate with the same amount of equipment. As for the work/personal truck combo, thats the best way to go for as long as you can to keep your overhead down. I have been in bus. several years and still drive my chevy truck for work and personal

jajwrigh
10-18-2004, 11:31 PM
Using a truck for both works fine, but remember that the vehicle will endure increased wear and tear!

trying 2b organic
10-19-2004, 12:04 AM
One truck, I will not buy my wife the second car like most do. We manage, I personally think a second vehicle is such a huge cash drain I will avoid it if at all possible. I told my wife I would rather have one kick ass truck than an old truck and used car. (.. well Ford of course) :p

Bray
10-19-2004, 03:57 AM
I use my Ford as a personal work truck. My wife has an Acura suv that she hauls me and the kid around in. I wouldn't want to pay the extra upkeep on another vehicle but a dump truck would be nice to have at times.

Mr. Magpie
10-19-2004, 12:21 PM
So, for all the guys out there who have multiple trucks and large crews, have you tried solo first and found it to be not lucrative enough to have an acceptable living? Or maybe you are just growing it so that you can build wealth in the company so that you can sell it someday? I am just having a hard time understanding, probably because of a lack of understanding of large businesses, why I hardly see any solo operations in my neighborhood while I am cutting or just driving around.

Mr. Magpie
10-19-2004, 12:32 PM
I run solo 90% of the time. I have done ok by myself. Not getting rich but my wife is able to stay home with my youngest child while I send my older two children to private school. We are getting ready to build a new house. Again we are not rich but are able to provide an above average income for our family with my solo company. Anyway as for keeping your expenses low...If you decide to add one helper, the only major increase in expenses should be the cost of his labor. 1 or 2 people can basically operate with the same amount of equipment. As for the work/personal truck combo, thats the best way to go for as long as you can to keep your overhead down. I have been in bus. several years and still drive my chevy truck for work and personal

Oh, so you don't have to have any insurance coverage (idiot ins.) for one helper? What if he leaves the trailer door down after a stop or he throws a pebble into a window? (My buddy just had one of his crew leave down the trailer door after a stop.... luckily no equipment fell out!)

Also, maybe there aren't many costs but what about risk added for one helper? Risk is a "cost" if you ask me.

Come to think of it, I think part of the attractiveness of the large crew is that you don't have to work as hard (sit in the truck for a while if you feel like it, ect.). Is this part of it?

Liberty Lawncare
10-19-2004, 12:43 PM
I am solo now I use my truck 3/4 ton GMC for work and personal. I have an old 81 1/2 ton with broken transfer case I will fix up to have an additional truck when nessary next season. I have a worker hired for fall cleanups and next season. With two of us we will get alot more work done. The drawback is workers comp insurance and dang taxes. But I think the extra worker will bring in more money and haveing a helper is great.

1MajorTom
10-19-2004, 12:51 PM
Matt and I run the business ourselves. We have two trucks that we use solely for the business, and two cars that we use for personal use.
I personally do not think it is a good idea to use the work truck for pleasure. The truck is your money maker, if it breaks down, then you're screwed, you better have a backup. I think it is risky to put the extra wear/tear/and abuse on the truck if it's not necessary. Keep work and pleasure vehicles separate.

MMLawn
10-19-2004, 02:01 PM
As far as your question on Workers Comp Ins it will depend and be regulated by your State. For example in NC you only HAVE to have Workers Comp Ins when you employee 3 or more people in the business. Of course if you want it you can buy it for 1 or more employees. Also most policies that I have seen will NOT cover the business owner.

Randy Scott
10-19-2004, 03:14 PM
There's good and bad in both scenarios.

mastercare
10-19-2004, 03:53 PM
IF you're solo, I can't see much reason in having 2 trucks. The only downside to having 1 truck is deciding how to insure it (commercial or personal).

Think of it this way: We're all in business to make money. That includes making investments in equipment. Trucks (vehicles in general) don't usually do the work, they just get you and your mowers from point to point. Sure, you need to have a good reliable truck, and maybe even a backup, but that only emphasizes my point.

Put your money into mowers, equipment, and ONE truck. A truck is a depreciating asset. That means the day you drive it off the lot you lose 30% of its resale value. Let me ask: is that a good investment? Of course not, but its necessary. So, pour your money into one GREAT truck, and save your other money for advertising, mowers, etc. Why dump money into 2 trucks which will lose their value that quickly? Some say that its more wear and tear. Sure it is, but you're getting twice the use out of it. If you buy 2 trucks and sell them 5 yrs down the road, they're still 5 years old, no matter how much wear and tear you gave them. They may be in better shape, or have slightly lower miles, but how much will that affect the sale price? I would guess not so much....compared to the extra money you'd be dumping (and losing) on a second truck, and commercial insurance.

Put your money where its best used, and has more potential to earn money for you, not lose it.

SellPoint
10-19-2004, 07:29 PM
I use my one truck for work and personal. Shame of it is I'm not sure when the last time I went somewhere in it that I wasn't working. ;)

Lawnworks
10-19-2004, 07:34 PM
I have 2 work trucks and one personal truck. I have maybe 7k in my dodge flatbed after painting, lettering, tires, cd player, etc. It is a diesel, and I think it is to point where it won't depreciate any more. I just got my isuzu for a second crew, but if my truck ever broke down I would just rent a f150 for $40 a day. A truck that you work in will get destroyed!! My flatbed smells like @$$, but when the guys spill their powerades and cokes I don't even flinch. When you reach a certain point I think a work truck will be nessecary.

precisioncut
10-19-2004, 07:40 PM
I currently use my truck for both,we have a car that gets used alot more for personal use than the truck, but i do use every now and then. I will be purchasing a new truck soon and I will do the same thing. I will have my old truck sitting around for a back up though. No problems here, just keep you business miles separate from your personal use miles.

Evergreenpros
10-19-2004, 07:44 PM
You can always subcontract your one employee. Let them take out their own insurance, pay taxes and such. It will cost more upfront but in the long run there's far less paperwork, headaches, and risk. Just have a good subcontractor's agreement drawn up.

grass-scapes
10-19-2004, 07:48 PM
Have a backup truck....Someone said they would rent a f-150 for 40 bucks a day....HA.....
first of all, if they know its for business, they won't rent it to you. if they rent it and you have an accident and using it for business, get a good lawyer. My truck was in the shop for 2 weeks...I had to rent a truck from Hertz equipment rental.... it cost me 1000 bucks for 13 days. It was a F-150 and it struggled to pull my equipment. Im looking for a backup now so if it ever happens again, I will be prepared.

JustMowIt
10-19-2004, 08:22 PM
So, for all the guys out there who have multiple trucks and large crews, have you tried solo first and found it to be not lucrative enough to have an acceptable living? Or maybe you are just growing it so that you can build wealth in the company so that you can sell it someday? I am just having a hard time understanding, probably because of a lack of understanding of large businesses, why I hardly see any solo operations in my neighborhood while I am cutting or just driving around.

The reason you don't see many solo's in your neighborhood is a lot of guys either burn out & quit due to the heat & hard work; or they figure out how to multiply themselves. It is possible to making a living either way, depending on what "an acceptable Living" is.

My partner, TJ started out solo making around $30K per season, then as he signed more customers, & with 2 helpers, made around $50K but getting real tired of it. To be able to leave the truck at this point without a large cut in income is the roughest bump to cross over. In our case, I purchased another guys business about the same size as TJ's which allowed TJ to leave the truck & move to the office. Granted, that 1st truck makes $38K now without TJ (Mexicans can mow more yards that him) , but now we have 11 trucks. This is how we multiplied & achieved TJ's goal of raising his income & getting out of the truck.

Regarding building a company to sell. Why would you sell a cash cow & the only thing you know how to do? . We have read about some of the guys that sold out to Tru Green that regret it!
MJ

cantoo
10-19-2004, 09:30 PM
My wife does most of the lawn work, I do the repair work. We have a cube van to haul equipment that is licenced commercial. We have a 89 ford f250 dump truck for back up that isn't licenced or insured until needed. We have a lumina mini van for personal and to go do estimates with this way it can be used as a business write off. We have an 93 chev 1 ton diesel dump truck that I use to go to my day job every day. It is licenced commercial and is used as a complete write because I use it everyday for our business. We also have a motorcycle that is used for estimates and I use it to go help my wife when I get home from work, we load it right into the cube van. It is also a business expense.

Picman
10-19-2004, 10:14 PM
I new this yea in the business but i find it much easier to have 2 guys with me. My brother goes on the rider and my other helper and I do the weedwacking/edging. In comparision to going solo its like your barely even working

Lawnworks
10-19-2004, 11:01 PM
Have a backup truck....Someone said they would rent a f-150 for 40 bucks a day....HA.....
first of all, if they know its for business, they won't rent it to you. if they rent it and you have an accident and using it for business, get a good lawyer. My truck was in the shop for 2 weeks...I had to rent a truck from Hertz equipment rental.... it cost me 1000 bucks for 13 days. It was a F-150 and it struggled to pull my equipment. Im looking for a backup now so if it ever happens again, I will be prepared.

You are going to the wrong place to rent trucks. They rent commercial trucks. I specified I needed a hitch to pull my landcaping trailer. I would rather spend $250 a year renting a truck than spending 10k on a reliable work truck that got used 500 miles a year.

txlawnking
10-20-2004, 01:17 AM
The reason you don't see many solo's in your neighborhood is a lot of guys either burn out & quit due to the heat & hard work; or they figure out how to multiply themselves. It is possible to making a living either way, depending on what "an acceptable Living" is.

My partner, TJ started out solo making around $30K per season, then as he signed more customers, & with 2 helpers, made around $50K but getting real tired of it. To be able to leave the truck at this point without a large cut in income is the roughest bump to cross over. In our case, I purchased another guys business about the same size as TJ's which allowed TJ to leave the truck & move to the office. Granted, that 1st truck makes $38K now without TJ (Mexicans can mow more yards that him) , but now we have 11 trucks. This is how we multiplied & achieved TJ's goal of raising his income & getting out of the truck.

Regarding building a company to sell. Why would you sell a cash cow & the only thing you know how to do? . We have read about some of the guys that sold out to Tru Green that regret it!
MJ




Magpie.. You sound like a guy who is where I was earlier this year.. I wish I had the fountain of wisdom that Mike ^^^^^ and his son Terry provide this site earlier.. If so, I may not have made the several bad biz decisions that I did. But either way, I'll tell ya what I learned:

1 Buy a truck ( the cheap, reliable kind.. Doesn't hurt for it to be plain, white and presentable either) and dedicate it soley for your business. Better yet, buy a small one, or just big enough to safely do the job.

2 Hell would freeze over before I'd ever work solo again. You will just wind up owning a JOB like some on this website. No offense to those who do, It just ain't my cup a' tea..

3 If you want a sucessful BUSINESS, take advice from those who have them.. Just Mow It Is the absolute best example That I can give on Lawnsite.

grass-scapes
10-20-2004, 08:32 AM
You are going to the wrong place to rent trucks. They rent commercial trucks. I specified I needed a hitch to pull my landcaping trailer. I would rather spend $250 a year renting a truck than spending 10k on a reliable work truck that got used 500 miles a year.

Well, Since I went to every single rental place in the greater greensboro area, I didn't have much of an option, did I. I asked every single one who actually HAD trucks if they had hitches. No was the overwhelming reply and their policy didn't allow the use of trailers. Maybe it is different where you live.

grass_cuttin_fool
10-20-2004, 09:02 AM
I work solo and my comment is on the trucks. I keep 2 trucks, 1 is for personel and 1 is for work. I choose to look around and find nice used trucks. Alot of times you can get 2 good trucks for the price of 1 new one. And if the work truck is down for repairs I can use the other truck till it is fixed. I just put a new work truck in service 2 weeks ago, 1985 full size chevy with 95,000 miles , the truck is a creme puff and I gave $2500 for it. I put a new radiator and transmission cooler on it and a new hitch. I spent around $325 for thoose. My yearly miles are about 4000 so I should be able to get 5-6 years out of this truck with not many problems

65hoss
10-20-2004, 09:15 AM
To me, its as elementary as 2 seperate checking accounts.
Starting out 1 truck is fine. Most of us started by using our personal trucks to get us mowing. You really need a second truck for personal and backup.

One thing that could really piss me off and burn me out every day was having to line the truck up to hook up the trailer. Takes to much time. I prefer to go out, get in, and get going. There are some days you need more than 1 truck on a job.

I buy new. I bought my F150 and used it for 2 yr. Then had another older reliable truck that I put in the business for several years. After the F150 was paid off, about 2 yrs later I bought an F250. I put 1/2 down in cash and financed 1/2. Miles are divided up, that way one truck doesn't get all the miles so everything stays working and making money over the long haul.

Sometimes having the tax deductions is a must.

DSIM
10-20-2004, 09:19 AM
It is a nice luxury to have a second vehicle for personal use. I'm a solo operator and have used my 85 chevy 3/4 ton since 1998 for both work and personal. My wifes car was only available after 7:30 p.m. when she got home. The unhooking the trailer everytime I needed to go somewhere was getting old. Then there were the days of when the truck was filthy and I needed to go somewhere dressed up and it wasn't a pleasant experiance.
I just now, bought a Honda Civic ( 38mpg!) for my personal use. It stays clean and my work truck gets a little more rest now. My 600 watt stereo system gets a new home too :)
So, if you can afford it, I recommend it.