What would you do?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by LawnMowerMan2003, Oct 14, 2003.

  1. LawnMowerMan2003

    LawnMowerMan2003 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 768

    This year has been a real struggle, so I've hated to let go of some of the lawns that I felt were not worth it, since I have so few customers. I am debating whether to let a big one go, because I have already raised the price on a large corner lot on a hill to $55. It is not the largest lawn I've ever done, but it is currently taking 2.5 hours, partly due to crappy equipment, and since the whole thing is on a hill, it seems like 5 hours, having to do alot of pushing when the self propel on my old John Deere just isn't enough. Then the weedtrimming takes me nearly an hour with my crappy Echo curved shaft, and it seems like I have to stop and replace the line about 300 times or so. I have started to hate this lawn, and if I had more customers I would have dropped it by now, but part of me hates to lose one of the few customers I have, and I wonder if better equipment will make the yard worth it. It's not the customers fault that I have junk for equipment, but I wonder what other services would charge for this lawn. He said he already had 2 services who mowed it once and never came back and I told him I wouldn't simply dissapear, but I really need a larger mower for his lawn and a bigger weedtrimmer. I could realisticaly get a better weedtrimmer, depending on how the winter goes, but I'm nowhere close to a walkbehind with the customer base I have. If you had only a few customers would you still tell him you couldn't continue to do it?
     
  2. proenterprises

    proenterprises LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,297

    i would hang on to it for the moment. if is one of the few you have left and you should keep it to build the base of your bussiness. maybe buy a new trimmer and work you way up to a walkbehind.

    i dont think dumping the account now is teh answer,trust me you need it.
     
  3. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Posts: 4,739

    Here's my philosphy: If your schedule is not so tight that you have another more profitable/easier one to replace it then keep it unless you are only coming out even or losing on it. Money is money even if you don't feel like you are getting enough for it. Stick it out the rest of this year, then next year do heavy advertising and get a small bank loan and get a used w/b and sulky. I got a 52" hydro with sulky (the Scag) for $800 and you would be able to get a 48 or 52 belt drive cheaper than that in reasonable condition. Maybe you could borrow a friend or family member's larger mower (lawn tractor) for this one account, or ask them to help back you financially. Send me an email I bet I could find you a cheap used commercial trimmer at a friend's place but it would cost you the shipping, not too bad though. He also has a 48" John Deere fixed deck w/b belt drive with 14hp Kawi for $500 and it has a new set of drive belts with it that need put on. I ran it a minute and it seemed fine if you put the new belts on. How far can ya drive? How much money can you put toward upgrades in equipment? I will try to help ya if you get in contact with me. I am always able to get good deals on stuff.
     
  4. LawnMowerMan2003

    LawnMowerMan2003 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 768

    Well, I tried to email you, but it was disabled. The reason I am using that crappy equipemnt is because I haven't had the money for better stuff. However, it shouldn't be all that difficult to come up with $500-$800, if I can find a good commercial machine. One of the problems with this area is that the vast majority of the lawns here have 36 inch gates making anything bigger almost useless for residential. But the problem is I haven't even been able to replace my truck since I wrecked it, which is one reason I haven't spent more on equipment. I hope I can come up with some good money in the fall somehow. At any rate what would you consider heavy advertising? I think that has been my toughest challenge so far. If I could do well enough on the advertising I would have no probelm getting the equipment next year.
     
  5. gramps

    gramps LawnSite Member
    Posts: 241

    I agree. If you want to stay in the business,keep what you have . Improve the equipment you have until you can up grade. Like what your doing or do something else. Thats how I see it .:D
     
  6. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Posts: 4,739

    Sorry I forgot email is off. address is eric@cuttingedgelawncare.biz
    I know why you haven't been able to upgrade, been there done that. Do you have a backpack blower? If so, get some leaf removal jobs , if your city does curb pickup all you need is a blower, rake and tarp. There's a slight possibility I might have a 36" belt drive walk behind fixed up by spring time to sell and I could give you a real good deal on it. I haven't got it yet though and it would need alot of work, if I get it it will be a winter project. I've built a couple sulkies before so I could make you one too. If you don't have a truck, you could rent one to drive up here with.
    Advertising: if you can afford it, a newspaper ad is just as effective for the money as fliers I have found, but require practically no effort in comparison. Unless you get a real high response rate, fliers won't give you a tighter route. In early spring, at least a month before cutting starts, talk to small commercial property managers about submitting a bid. You have a computer, spend some time in the winter designing contracts, bid sheets, etc. Find ways to organize your customer information, service records, financial records, etc. If you're not organized you will be wasting time, which is money. Good luck and shoot me an email at the above address or private message me.
    Eric
     
  7. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Posts: 4,205

    It is a catch 22,If you don't have the equipment to properly service all those new accounts how will you keep them?
    Keep that account and find a way to get some better equipment.
    I know it is sometimes easier said than done but.......
    Good luck and best wishes.
     
  8. LawnMowerMan2003

    LawnMowerMan2003 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 768

    Well, a good 21" would be adequate for most of my properties. I would not make the money as fast, but that's not a problem unless I have alot of business. However, the cheapest new 21" I would consider buying would probably be at least $400, which could be a good chunk of a used walk-behind. But unless I have a truck a 36" will do me no good. I wasn't even going to try to start up my business again this year, but I happened to try fitting my mower in the truck of my car and noticed it fit. I think that I did OK for starting with practically nothing, since I lost what little equipment I had last year. At least I was able to buy 2 used mowers, which work well enough to get by on, and a Home Depot special Echo. And I probably have at least 10 customers, so there's a start for word of mouth and a better start for next year. I have a hard time motivating myself to do flyers, they are so slow for the ammount of work you have to put in. I guess I will try some newspapers early next year. I've built up at least 30 accounts in one year in the past, but it seems more difficult recently. I think the economy is just tighter. Anyway, I must be pretty determined to do this, so I guess I still really want to do it, despite the difficulty. No backback blower, just a handheld, so leaves would be very time consuming, but my dad may help with a truck if I cut him in on some tree trimming. I'm even going to try doing some fences. Those big projects should add up for more cash in the Spring. I've been working on organizing more, but I could still use more work. At least I made a customer database this year, which is convenient because I can print names addresses and phone numbers all on one page and take it with me. I remember when I first started I was 15 and didn't even have any vehicle or a weedtrimmer, and I managed to get started on my street. When I got my first truck I went door to door with flyers hand drawn with a marker and still found some customers. I had just hoped to do a little better this year, and maybe get a truck, but there's still the fall/winter.
     
  9. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Posts: 4,205

    Determination is the key........Keep at it.
     
  10. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Posts: 4,739

    Hey we got some good and cheap trucks up here too :)
    Handheld blowers can move leaves too, don't be fooled they are alot better/faster than a rake. For $4000 I could set you up with a nice truck, trailer, 36 or 48 w/b, 21 w/b, commercial trimmer and b/p blower.
     

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