PDA

View Full Version : Decisions Decisions...Seeking advice starting out


forgop
12-07-2004, 10:02 AM
I am looking to get started this spring in the biz and trying to figure out what equipment to get. I'm really torn between getting a Bob-cat ZT219 w/ a 19HP Kawasaki and 52" deck that only has 72 hours on it for $4k or getting a pair of Scag Walk Behinds(36" & 48" belt driven) locally that I might get both for $3k. I think the Bob-cat would be a steal for the money, but just don't know if I want to start off with that high of an expense for a single mower. Buying the 2 Scags would get me something more multipurpose, but looking at the Bob-cat, I know I'd be sure of getting something that will last as the Scags have been used for a couple of seasons at least. Also, buying the Bob-cat would require having to buy a trailer, whereas I think I could get a Scag in the back of my Envoy.

I will primarily market to local homeowners this year as I could say there are easily over 1k homes within a 10 minute drive with almost all of them being in the 150k-300k range. I figure I might be in the market to pick up 15-20 yards max starting out. I know I could pick up a commercial account for 2006 at an apartment complex pretty easily and might focus on commercial accounts at that point. I thought I'd start off using door hangers for these homes at this point. I just wanna start off smart at this point, so giving what you know now, how would you start off if you were me?

Norm Al
12-07-2004, 10:07 AM
1) go get work, before you get equipment!

2) start out with a used self propelled 21" lawn mower

3) new line trimmer, new blower, hand trimmers

as you add work and your week becomes full because you are using a 21" mower, then add the necessary mower needed to fullfill the new work added!

only purchase what you need when you need it!

WANTS=things you can live without but will cost you mucho denero!

NEEDS=things you cant live without!

Norm Al
12-07-2004, 10:08 AM
and guess what,,,,,you will get a ton of work when people see you using a small mower!

for some reason residential people love small mowers!

ztoro
12-07-2004, 10:11 AM
If you have another job as well(part timing). Spend the money if you can afford to.

Z's are great, cuts down on time and energy, allowing you to do more.

Walk behinds are fine, allow you to cut properties that are hilly and a Z couldnt do... (dentention ponds, etc...)

I need to have both a Z and WB... If I dont have a WB it limits me to the lawns I can cut... and currently I am trying to except every customer I can..

Norm Al
12-07-2004, 10:16 AM
Spend the money if you can afford to

this is BAD advice!

if you can afford it,,,,,buy what you need when you need it,,,,not one minute before!

ztoro
12-07-2004, 11:13 AM
this is BAD advice!

if you can afford it,,,,,buy what you need when you need it,,,,not one minute before!


If you can afford it you should buy it.......


not sure how you find that bad advice.........????????????????????????

I guess I should have said if you cant afford it buy it............!!!!!! ;)

Keep in mind that not all people can afford good mowers.. But if 2 guys showed up to my door and one had 20 inch mower and the other had 48" mower. Guess who I would give the job to.....? These people dont know that some 21 inch mowers cost 900 dollars they just see bigger and assume more professional.. Looking professional helps business...

Norm Al
12-07-2004, 01:02 PM
if you can afford it=you can make the purchase at any time!

you dont need it now if you dont have the work and i would bet you could get more work with a push mower than you could with a large one! residential work that is!

if you get a big job,,,,go get what you need at that time!

out4now
12-07-2004, 01:32 PM
if you can afford it=you can make the purchase at any time!

you dont need it now if you dont have the work and i would bet you could get more work with a push mower than you could with a large one! residential work that is!

if you get a big job,,,,go get what you need at that time!

I'm inclined to agree. I like the fact you've said more or less buy as you go but you left out one thing. Invest the money and if need be borrow against it.(although you should try and avoid that if possible)GOAL= get $ to work for you instead of you working for the $.jm.02

Norm Al
12-07-2004, 01:40 PM
now thats some good advice,,,,out4now!

Norm Al
12-07-2004, 01:41 PM
having a bunch of money invested in equipment without work will leave a guy feeling like this.....:)
http://www.brownlog.dreamhost.com/photooftheweek/2000/2000q1/20000130.jpg

ztoro
12-07-2004, 01:50 PM
I am looking to get started this spring in the biz and trying to figure out what equipment to get. I'm really torn between getting a Bob-cat ZT219 w/ a 19HP Kawasaki and 52" deck that only has 72 hours on it for $4k or getting a pair of Scag Walk Behinds(36" & 48" belt driven) locally that I might get both for $3k. I think the Bob-cat would be a steal for the money, but just don't know if I want to start off with that high of an expense for a single mower. Buying the 2 Scags would get me something more multipurpose, but looking at the Bob-cat, I know I'd be sure of getting something that will last as the Scags have been used for a couple of seasons at least. Also, buying the Bob-cat would require having to buy a trailer, whereas I think I could get a Scag in the back of my Envoy.

I will primarily market to local homeowners this year as I could say there are easily over 1k homes within a 10 minute drive with almost all of them being in the 150k-300k range. I figure I might be in the market to pick up 15-20 yards max starting out. I know I could pick up a commercial account for 2006 at an apartment complex pretty easily and might focus on commercial accounts at that point. I thought I'd start off using door hangers for these homes at this point. I just wanna start off smart at this point, so giving what you know now, how would you start off if you were me?

Considering he didnt ask if he should get a 21" mower your comments are moot.
I wouldnt recommend mowing 15-20 accounts with a 21" mower......

If you can afford a WB I would buy one. I didnt start off with a 21" mower... I started with a 52" WB. Properties are no smaller than an acre....

I had the money to pay for it..... It has paid for itself many times over.....

3-4,000 should be easily recoverable in a season or two depending on how long your season is....

GreenMonster
12-07-2004, 01:57 PM
I would think a 36-48" used w/b would be a good compromise.

pushing around a 21" can get old fast. I do a lot of hardscape which means shoveling, raking, humpin' block and pavers.... nothing I hate more than 21" mowing :realmad:

JMHO, take it for what it's worth... probably not much :waving:

ztoro
12-07-2004, 02:02 PM
here is what you will look like if you keep mowing with a 21.....

Norm Al
12-07-2004, 05:02 PM
hahahahaha thats some funny shizz their toro!

DennisF
12-07-2004, 05:28 PM
Mow with a 21 until you have at least 15 accounts locked up. Then invest in a good 48-52 walk behind and use that until you have 30+ accounts. Once you're into it full-time you can afford to invest in a new ZTR. You can then use the walk behind for back-up and for steep lots. Buy a couple of new Stihl KM-110R multi-tools and 1 each of the trimmer attachment and edger attachment. This way you have a dedicated trimmer and edger that can back-up each other if they have to. Buy a good backpack blower as well. Nothing beats a backpack for clean-up work.

Mo Green
12-07-2004, 05:29 PM
A decent 36" belt drive is better that any 21" mower for 10 -15 properties. Buy something that you can afford to start with. As you need more and can afford more, then buy more.

RedWingsDet
12-07-2004, 05:59 PM
and guess what,,,,,you will get a ton of work when people see you using a small mower!

for some reason residential people love small mowers!

this is very true. I started this past march working out of my truck. I had about 25 customers in about 5 weeks, then I finally got a 5x10 trailer and 48", got lisenced and insurance.

I think maybe its because the homeowners see the small mower and think your cheaper than the other guys, when in fact your not, I hope. When I have to use the 21" I charge more... I have one client who I started off in March with the 21" and she has gotten me over 12 customers.

Again, alot of this business is your quality of work, and getting into your customers heads (not to screw them, but to maybe think your cheaper than the other guy).

Such as, I found that making really crappy cheap looking signs with "Lawns Cut $18" posted over the place got me more business than the professional lawn signs that I paid $30 a pop for. That shows you right there that in alot of cases its about getting into their head. Then of course when you get there you charge more than $18....

But I only used the cheapo method for about a month to gain about 15 customers. I didnt like representing myself like that, which is why I had the $30 made. And I also find that people LIKE TO BE CHARGED. Why do they like to be charged? Well, it makes them feel like they are getting better quality (which they are), but the more you charge the more it makes em feel they are gettin better service.

It may be different depending where you live, but I find around here, to start off, use cheap advertising and start with the 21" and you'll get alot of customers and then buy the nice equipment and look really professional and then people will realise your in this for good and those customers will reccomend you to their freinds, and then people will also see your work and call you. Then once you get the accounts you'll have enough income to buy the nice signs, get the truck lettered, get the nice trailer and nice mowers.

to break it down. Start small, do some cheap advertising. Then get the nice trailer/mower/and advertise professionally and the people will FLOCK to you! At least this is what happened for me.
I was not expecting to have 50 accounts my first year, and I did. Im sure some people had more their first year starting off, but being 16 and going to school I think ive done well.

Good Luck. I hope some of this made sense!!!

Cobra Jock
12-07-2004, 05:59 PM
Mow with a 21 until you have at least 15 accounts locked up. Then invest in a good 48-52 walk behind and use that until you have 30+ accounts. Once you're into it full-time you can afford to invest in a new ZTR. You can then use the walk behind for back-up and for steep lots. Buy a couple of new Stihl KM-110R multi-tools and 1 each of the trimmer attachment and edger attachment. This way you have a dedicated trimmer and edger that can back-up each other if they have to. Buy a good backpack blower as well. Nothing beats a backpack for clean-up work.

Great advice. IMO, half the people with ZTR's now can't justify them! A nice hydro walk-behind on most small lots will be done quicker than the Z. A good Snapper/Commercial Honda 21" is good for starters. my 2 c

Harleyboy52
12-07-2004, 08:13 PM
[QUOTE=PremierLandscaping] Again, alot of this business is your quality of work, and getting into your customers heads (not to screw them, but to maybe think your cheaper than the other guy).

Such as, I found that making really crappy cheap looking signs with "Lawns Cut $18" posted over the place got me more business than the professional lawn signs that I paid $30 a pop for. That shows you right there that in alot of cases its about getting into their head. Then of course when you get there you charge more than $18....

"not to screw them" "when you get there you charge more than $18." You just want them to believe that you will not screw them. Right? I'm still learning.

KINGjosh
12-07-2004, 08:39 PM
I think the best purchase would be for you to get the 2 scags instead of the other thing. Your new so you wont even be missing a hydro because you never had it! Plus a 36" and a 48" is a great combo in its self. If you have those 2 mowers you can do just about any lawn IMO.

BOTURF
12-07-2004, 08:51 PM
Not trying to be a smart a$$ but please dont stick a scag in the back of your envoy, maybe if your going to do and do it right buy a good used truck to work out of if you cant afford a small trailer at this time , that is one good way to mess up a really nice envoy and thos things aint cheap

RedWingsDet
12-07-2004, 09:43 PM
You just want them to believe that you will not screw them. Right? I'm still learning.

Wrong....

You dont screw them, you charge a reasonable price that is slightly higher than you competitors when you get there, and you MUST explain to them the quality of work they are getting. See, by charging more, they do not only get a better job, but it makes them emphasize the quality of work more, and makes them feel alot better about spending the extra cash.

In my book, charging more than your competitiors, your not screwing them, and you will find that most people will pay it. However, DO NOT EVER GO LESS, no matter what they say to you, they will either pay it and be a happy customer, or you say "have a nice day" and walk away if they dont want to pay. Hell you might even make more money by persay cutting 15 lawns at a higher rate than if you were to lowball to get 20-25 lawns. and you'd be done faster with the 15.

Just think about what your customers will think in their head. And dont ever forget that most people, (as odd as this sounds) LIKE TO BE CHARGED.

YardPro
12-08-2004, 07:57 AM
Take an accounting or business class. It will help you more than anything else, or at least buy a few books.
remember the most important aspect of your business is the business side.

the best most relaible landscaper in the world will go bankrupt if he has no business skills.

forgop
12-08-2004, 09:20 AM
Take an accounting or business class. It will help you more than anything else, or at least buy a few books.
remember the most important aspect of your business is the business side.

the best most relaible landscaper in the world will go bankrupt if he has no business skills.

No issues there. I have a bachelors degree in aviation management (shows how good the airline/aerospace industry is here huh) and a masters in aeronautical science. I'm good working with people, so I can handle dealing with clients. I've been working as a production supervisor the past 3 years, so I've got good budgeting/time management skills. Sure, I can go out there and make $100k if I want to, but I just don't want to have to be at work 12 hours a day, 6-7 days every week like I've been doing the past 3 years. It's too hard on the family when you have 2 girls under 2 and I'll get stuck working myself to the point where I'm not there to see them growing up.

I'm not going into this saying it'll be easy. I know it'll take hard work, but at least I'll be in control of what happens rather than some union employee giving me hell over something I have no control over every single day or upper managment selling me out every chance they get. I'll go in this slowly so that maybe I'll pick up 15-20 yards this summer and still work my job as I work afternoons. I'll grow it so that I'll keep my job until I have the ability to leave and do it all on my own and still lead the same kind of lifestyle I currently have. I already have a good idea that I'll pick up a commerical account at an apartment complex I lived in for '06(he signed a deal for '05 just 2 days before I decided to do this)which is probably worth at least $4k for mowing and $200 each visit for snow removal. I'll do some snow removal, but the winter months will be my time that I'll take off and any income used for that will go to just make a lump sump payment on the house at the end of the snow season.

jtrice11
12-08-2004, 10:22 AM
I agree with PremierLandscaping guy, people in our area like to feel they are being serviced by a professional outfit, I live in a relatively "rich" town and people like to feel they have people working for them, it must make them feel good. I don't mind, the money spends the same.

moremowing4me
12-08-2004, 12:39 PM
Not trying to be a smart a$$ but please dont stick a scag in the back of your envoy, maybe if your going to do and do it right buy a good used truck to work out of if you cant afford a small trailer at this time , that is one good way to mess up a really nice envoy and thos things aint cheap

Dido what he said.I was thinkink the same thing when I first read the post.Also my opinion would be to go with the scags as they will give you more versatility and they are cheaper. I bought a JD 48" walk behind when I first started for 300$ and I still have it today.It is by far one of the best investments I made