Mower question

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by cibula11, Sep 4, 2011.

  1. cibula11

    cibula11 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 55

    I've been asked to mow a townhouse complex for a friend who is president of the association. I don't have a business, but had some general questions.

    I'd rather not spend the money on a ZTR, so I'm looking at riding tractors instead. I found a John Deere 317 on craigslist that has been fully restored for $1800. The other route is to buy something newer from HD or lowes, etc, or find something under 1K locally. It's just the one yard.

    I was given some privy info. on a bid they received. It was roughly $95 per week and over $200 for 4 fertilizer applications. Since it would be just me and not 3 people from a big company, I don't think 95 is worth it. I'm wondering if bidding $120/week and $120 for fertilizing would be reasonable?
  2. flatlander42

    flatlander42 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,239

    3 people or 1 person would be the same total "man hours"......with equal equipment/expirence that is.
  3. Ridin' Green

    Ridin' Green LawnSite Fanatic
    Male, from Michigan
    Posts: 14,196

    Without seeing the comlex firsthand, I can't comment on the price, other than to say that that doesn't sound too unreasonable to me unless there is an awful lot of small, and/or irregualr places to mow that cut down on the time you can make, and add to trimming.

    I will comment on the tractor though since I am a huge John Deere fan. I have owned a boatload of their tractors over the years, and I know for certain the 317 is one to avoid for sure. The tractor itself is built for stout, but unlike the 316 and 318 which used very reliable Onan engines, the 317 used a Kohler horizontal shaft V twin that was plagued with tons of problems. Kohler made attempts to finally remedy the trouble once and for all with their Series II 17 HP v twin, but even they had troubles. Unless the one you are looking at has been re-powered with a Honda or Kawi, pass on it and save yourself a bunch of headaches. Whatever you do, don't buy one of the big box store versions, or one of the same ones sold at small JD dealers. They simply won't hold up well enough either.
  4. 2stroked

    2stroked LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 297

    Well, I just mow about 30 yards in my neighborhood. Since i'm not to huge I just bought a john deere l100 for 650$. It cuts good and the only thing that has gone wrong so far after a year of use is the deck bracket weld cracked. Other than that it's been pretty good, and got the crap beat out of it. Some times if your only doing one yard the cheap wrought it the way to go. If you do get bigger out could always sell the mower and buy a bigger and nicer one. i'm not to sure if you need a trimmer, but if you do get a husqvarna 128ld from lowes for 200$. You can't beat it for the price. How big is the yard anyway?
  5. JDiepstra

    JDiepstra LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,511

    Why were u asked to do the job if you dont even have a mower? Are you properly licensed to apply the fertilizer and weed killer applications? Is what you are going to charge going to be enough to oay for the commercial liability insurance you are going to need for when you throw rock, dog toys, etc through window etc?

    Nevermind. Dont even do it is my advice.
  6. mowerman90

    mowerman90 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,491

    So, lets see if I get this straight. Your asking questions of people who earn their living and support their family's about running a business without a proper business license. You probably won't have insurance and nine times out of ten you'll undercut all of the legitimate bidders for this job.:hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead:
  7. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,757

    Since it is obvious you aren't in the lawncare business, and don't seem to want to expand further than this one property, if I were you, I'd pass. You likely aren't going to see a pennies' profit for at least a year, less if you go legit and get insurance. For a $100 or so a week property, it really isn't worth it to purchase a mower and take the risk.
  8. cibula11

    cibula11 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 55

    It's one yard. That's why I asked. I hardly doubt me doing one job is taking anything away from companies that have hundreds of contracts.

    Let's say I pick up another job and want to do this legitimately....what all is required to start up? Idea of initial start up costs?
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2011
  9. mowerbrad

    mowerbrad LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,273

    If this is your "gateway" job into the lawn care industry then you may want to start looking at commercial insurance and forming some type of business out of this.

    You can go to your county court house and fill out all the paperwork to get your business registered as a "DBA" (doing business as). Other options would be to form an LLC or incorporate, but those options become more expensive and would require you to hire a lawyer to help you out and figure out which one you need. But if you stick with the DBA, you can avoid the added costs of forming an LLC.

    Some cities, townships or counties require businesses to get a business license to work in their area. Not all places require the licences but that is something you would have to find out yourself as prices vary and not everywhere requires one.

    Insurance also varies in price. You don't NEED to have liability insurance to do lawn care unless one of your clients requires that you have it while maintaining their property. However, having liability insurance makes you feel at ease in case you shoot a rock out this side of the mower and hit a kid causing him to be seriously injured, that way you don't have to foot the medical bills out of pocket, just submit them to the insurance company. Prices vary by state and area, also by the amount of equipment you will have covered. You can find prices anywhere from $500/year and up. Prices in my area seem to be around $900/year, at least for me.

    You may also want to look into commercial auto insurance if you will be using your truck/trailer for the business. Commercial insurance isn't too much more than personal insurance for me. It added maybe $100/year going to that from personal auto.

    If you want to do fertiilizing, you will need to take your state applicator's license test. The book for that costs about $20, then you can take the test and pay any associated fees with that. There are also classes you can take but I'm not sure of prices.

    Personally, I don't care if you get all of this stuff or not...its not my business afterall. Now after my whole response, I really can't tell you how much it would cost you to make this into a business as prices vary so much and needs vary just as much.
  10. flatlander42

    flatlander42 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,239

    uhhh, what are you going to be doing?

    Are these the answers you wanted?

    Mowing=Get a MOWER
    Fertalizing=Get a SPREADER
    Edging=GET a EDGER
    Trimming=Get a TRIMMER
    and so on..................

    Learn how to count man hours before you do any bidding. Price high so you don't kick yourself in a few years after you have been working for free.

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