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What should I buy to start my service next year?

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by slicknick, Sep 20, 2009.

  1. slicknick

    slicknick LawnSite Member
    from Ohio
    Posts: 194

    First let me say Im sooooo glad I found this site. I love reading everything and getting smarter as I do so!

    I've been cutting neighbors lawns since I was 10 years old. Im 18 years old now, and this past year I cut 6 lawns around my neighborhood. I have a 2003 Trailblazer which I throw everything in, 2 22inch self propelled mowers, one craftsman which is 10 years old and running strong, and a toro which I got 6 months ago. I have a weedeater, edger, blower, trimmers, lots of other stuff. Next year, I plan on getting a trailer since my trailblazer has a hitch on it so I can pull stuff around easier.
    Heres my situation. I want to try and get multiple accounts next year. All the money I made this year, $4000, can be spent on next years stuff. I really want a commercial mower of 42 inches, preferably a ride on zero turn (I know its expensive starting out, but I want to be able to do this professionally next year). What mower do you recommend? What's a good 42 inch mower to start off with? How much would you spend on it (if you only had 4000 total to spend on everything). What size trailer would you recommend getting? What other necessities would I need to become a "professional" company? How do I get accounts without putting flyers in their mailbox (which is illegal)? Any tips on how to get started would be amazing. I really want at least 20 next year. What would you charge on a 10000sqft lawn normally? I live in ohio so basically grass can be cut from march to october, give or take a few weeks. When do you start advertising/getting the word out of your company in the spring?

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Nick!
  2. JShe8918

    JShe8918 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 944

    Well to start off with you aren't going to find many commercial grade 42" ZTR's i don't think. 48" is kinda the standard. I would recommend a small 6x10 trailer, 48" walk behind or stander, and of course the essentials (blower, edger, trimmer). I like toro's walk behinds the best. Stihl makes good hand tools. I priced out all new stuff today for a FS130 edger, FS130 weedeater, and another BR600 the total was 1200 after tax. Four grand is hard to start with considering you don't have a trailer. So a trailer is roughly 800. So now your down to 3200. We will say 800 for hand helds like edger, trimmer, and blower. 3200-800= 2400. 2400 isn't enough for a walk behind or rider. So....... I dunno what to tell you.
  3. LR3

    LR3 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 722

    First, register with the state as a business. I used a company that did all the leg work for me for $500, but it's been said that YOU can do it for around $250.(this is important)
    Second, shop around for the cheapest insurance you can find to insure your business and your vehicle. (also important) Let's say a down payment of $250 with another $150 or so a month thereafter.
    Now, regarding equipment, don't go out and buy a ZTR, initially, it would be overkill and you will be kicking yourself in the butt because you didn't allocate what money you had more wisely. A good, used 48" commercial walk behind would be more than sufficient for you to start off with and if the yards get too big then you buy a sulky. You can find a good commercial walkbehind for $2000 or under, check craigslist under your state, town and farm&garden. You will find what you are looking for. Again, don't make a mistake in buying a ZTR, I bought mine too soon when a walk behind would have been enough. It may take longer, you may work harder, but you are 18. Take the time between now and spring to find what you are looking for and you will be able to make that 4k stretch to get you up and running. Don't be hasty, take your time and do some homework in finding what's within your budget so that you can get everything you need to get you going. And don't forget, register with the state and insure yourself. Good luck!:waving:
  4. LR3

    LR3 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 722

    Two minutes of looking-http://cleveland.craigslist.org/grd/1383403931.html 3k or best offer, so bring cash and offer $2500 for the package. Once he sees the green, he will most likely not let you leave without accepting your offer.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2009
  5. jblatti13

    jblatti13 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 26

    i just started out this year as well, and this site is an amazing place to find every answer you need. ill try to answer some things the other guys havent yet.... start looking now!... search the internet, classifieds, everywhere for used mowers. you can find a ton of used commercials equipment for your 4k. a 6x12 trailer you can get for less than 800. trimmers and blowers you said you have... so look hard for a good mower, do some research, test some out, see what others think about each one.

    advertising is huge. start coming up with ideas now. also, a little plug for sean adams, check out lawncaresuccess.com... hes got a book in there and ive read it 3-4 times already, and i still am trying to find ways to use his information. advertising is simple. go to vistaprint.com or some online sites, get some business cards, truck magnets, flyers, whateevr else. in february start pounding people with these. get your name out there. do everythign u can, legally, to make sure everyones sees u and ur business. also, dont just put flyers out once, people need to see it a few times before u stick in their head.

    make sure you are legal. file a DBA, and get a business license. make sure you have auto insurance and liability for accidents and your equipment.alk to an accountant or do sum research to set up a business acct and how to pay taxes and so forth. do everything you can, ive had people ask me for my license now a few times, and if you dont have one and u already did the work, they dont have to pay u cuz ur doing business illegally.

    and lastly, keep reading lawnsite, and if you do snow plowing, check out plowsite. there are people from all over the country here to offer ther input, advice, answer any questions u have. thats all i got man, hope it helps, this is all i do is follow along here and try to use everything i learn to improve.
  6. adrian

    adrian LawnSite Member
    Posts: 22

    I would definitely take a WB over a ZTR if I was you. I just bought a new Exmark Metro 48 WB for $3300, so I'm sure you could find a used one even cheaper. Like someone else said, If you need to mow big open spaces you could buy a sulky for around $200. Good luck!
  7. RedMaple Lawns

    RedMaple Lawns LawnSite Member
    Posts: 34

    Alright, my first suggestion is to purchase a commercial walk-behind, not a ZTR -- I would only use a ZTR on lawns that are 1+ acres. The walk-behind will save you a heap a money, and when you get 1+ acre lawns, then buy a ZTR with all that money you saved up!

    Second, YOU have to figure YOUR price. Every LCO's price is different depending on overhead cost, labor, etc. An easy way to do this is time yourself on the 6 lawns you have now...and answer, how long did it take and with what equipment? Once you have that figure, calculate costs...whatever they may be...and most importantly, set your hourly rate (what you want/need to MAKE an hour). Most people charge by the square foot/acre...so go by a measuring wheel for $30.00, measure your lawns, and hit start on your stop watch ;).

    When pricing DON'T lowball! Set your price and stick to it.

    10,000 sq. ft. is about a 1/4 an acre.

    I have a 8,000 sq. ft. customer billed at $25.00/week with a commercial walk-behind (36").
  8. slicknick

    slicknick LawnSite Member
    from Ohio
    Posts: 194

    wow this had so much good info in it. For that 8000 sqft lawn, how long does it take to mow it, trim, edge, etc. Are you doing it alone? See if I measure a lawn, Id have no idea how to begin to price by the square foot. Any suggestions on that?
  9. J & D Greens

    J & D Greens LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 763

    I have a 8,000 sq. ft. customer billed at $25.00/week with a commercial walk-behind (36").[/QUOTE]

    Low-baller! Just kidding with you. But seriously in this day and age of pricing. You have to get as much for your work as possible. Try to get your accounts to pay enough that you are not using a stop-watch to see how long it takes you to cut a lawn. When you get your accounts just do a great job and in no time you will find that you will be able to say $30-$40 to a customer for what you thought was worth $25 and settled for $20 just to get work two years earlier (don't sell yourself short or you may as well stay at home!). And either they will take you up or not either way you will be far better off. You see my first year I have one of my easiest lawns, about 600 square ft.-$25. did it for her for two years. This season I was raising a lot of accounts cuzz I just wasn't charging enough (but not hers). She comes out at the beginning of this season and says she remembered that I was getting $30 this season. I wasn't going to argue!!!! Now I do another $30 lawn and a $15 for the front of smiler size property (all three at the same stop). That just became $75 for about 1 1/2 hours worth of work. And That is still really not enough money for what I have going in overhead. But if you could get 125 accounts (tight route like that) and 2 workers. I think a guy could come out alright,
  10. alf500series

    alf500series LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 257

    well speaking from experience ---MAKE SURE YOU ARE PROPERLY COVERED WITH INSURANCE!:wall i learned the hard way this year(15,000+)loss. i had my truck broken into, hot wired, and burned at a state park. o and the truck and trailer had ALL of my landscaping equipment in it. including the zero turn mower that i still owe $2000 on. long story maybe for a later date.

    secondly, if you are thinking about a zero turn mower. consider the type of terrain you will be using it on. if you are mowing an area with fairly steep slopes you don't want a zero turn. there is no braking system on them and if the terrain is steep you will slide and leave marks with the tires. not to mention the pucker effect you will have traveling down a hill towards a tree or other obstacles with no way to stop. if the terrain is flat then they are great!

    another point you need to consider is maint. when you buy equipment. Just because you have some money and you need all this equipment-dont go buy lots of cheap stuff. when doing landscaping think long haul--or as my wife says i am "high maintenance". if you can only buy one or two really good items-thats okay. get them-it will save you lots of time and money in the long run. trailers--just keep an eye out. craigslist is a great resource. equipment-i personally like the stihl line...a great backpack blower is the br550 trimmers I've had echo,stihl and loved them both. as far as push mowers go--wow-there are tons out there, but i would look at getting at least one that has a bagger on it.

    well i better save some more for next time--good luck!!

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