A word of advice

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Busa_bill, Dec 9, 2007.

  1. Busa_bill

    Busa_bill LawnSite Member
    Messages: 179

    Glad I found this site on a search today. Lots of valuable info to be had.

    I'll keep this short so I don't wear everybody out.

    5 years previous experience commercial and residential mid to late 90's.
    Starting from scratch in the next couple of months w/ 40k initial invest and 12 month pass on drawing a paycheck. Going after anything I can get for now will goal of developing tight routes. Have my 23 year old son with recent 3 year crew leader experience to run operations while I develop client base. Setting up equipment for one crew, 48", 36" 21", accessories etc to get it rolling. Fairly sure I can evaluate used mowers, so wanting to buy second hand. Echo blowers, trimmers to be purchased new. Used truck and trailer. Wanting to setup all maintenance on 12 month contract, but will accept week to week in the beginning.

    Anything you can add? Appreciate any advice from the pro's here.

  2. yardmanlee

    yardmanlee LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 898

    business license and insurance
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Keep as much as you can of that 40 in the bank.

    Don't compromise further than you plan to, but I like your attitude on buying used.
    On that note, remember performance comes before looks.
    As a rough rule if it looks like crap it may work like it, but shine and bling also costs money you don't see in the end results.

    You'll have to weigh the pros and cons yourself, but you'll likely want to take a blue book approach for the truck and mowers.
    Get a 3/4 TON!!!
    Don't settle for less!
    Also you'd be better off getting a basic work truck with a standard cab, vinyl bench seats.
    Yes I know, but all that luxury costs, you want function and performance first, bling bling and cold a/c last.
    I drove for the first 5 years without radio and no a/c.
    It's hot out there anyhow, I dare say I got as much if not more done back then, now the a/c spoils me.
    So, basic work truck, no slt's or xlt's, but DO get a 250 / 2500!
    You'll want to start looking now, they're semi rare to find a good deal on.

    The trailer I would buy new, here's why:
    - They don't get much cheaper used.
    - 1 year no questions asked warranty (well, basically).
    - A local trailer dealer also usually happens to own welding equipment.
    > Less to no waiting in line if you ever need a weld, cheaper too.

    You bet, I might've paid 1,500 for my 6x12 single axle, but I need something welded I can go there and usually I get it done for 25 bucks right then and there (unless they're way too busy). Guy up the road whom I did not buy my trailer from does welding also, 45 dollars and it can wait a week or two.
    See how that works.

    I get all my hitch and tires for the trailer from my trailer guy also, it's worth it to have someone in the know on your side with these pieces, same if you end up with a wiring problem (omg).

    Anyhow, just my 002, good luck.
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    arg ran out of edit time...

    I have some good examples of what I mean about the truck in some pictures.
    They're both Dodges, 3/4 tons.
    The red one is my 2nd truck, a 1986 it lasted 4 years and I paid 1,400 for it, no a/c no radio no nothing, she got 14mpg.
    The newer slt cost me 2500 upfront and 1500 in parts and labor for initial upkeep, she's sweet as a ride but deals me a blow at the pump with a lousy 11mpg. Yes sir, that nice club cab and back seat and a/c and 5.9L and what have you adds literally 1 TON of weight.
    Both are a bit rough, but after some initial maintenance they run pretty good, that's all I care for in the end, rips in the seat is nothing seat covers can't fix, etc.

    And you can also see what I mean about function and performance before looks.
    Anyhow, here's the pics:

    other notes: The 86 is gone by now, ran it till the wheels (almost) fell off.
  5. Pietro

    Pietro LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 855

    Spend other peoples money, buy new machines. GE moneybank has great financing offers on Toro machines. I got my 60 inch diesel for 0% financing for 3 years, and I bought a 48 inch Z with a bagger for 1.9% for 3 years. Monthly payments suck, BUT having that $ in the bank is good if you get in a jam.....or you could put it into an ING account, get 6% interest on it, and profit a little for doing nothing. Pay the monthly bills as they come, and when you are getting extra work, make bigger payments....before you know it the balance will be getting down there. Used machines are a pain in the ass, Ive learned the hard way. Buy new, you get a warrenty, and you know the machines are going to last. I paid 11,600$ for my diesel Z master 2 years ago......But I take great care of it, and plan on putting 6,000 hours on it before it dies....remember.......you get what you pay for.
  6. Busa_bill

    Busa_bill LawnSite Member
    Messages: 179

    Appreciate the replies.

    Business license is a must. Liability insurance when the 1st commercial property asks for it.

    On used equip: logically, any "new" equipment you buy will become "used". Unless you trade your machines out every year (or two) you're going to deal with repair issues. My goal was to find low hour machines over the Winter to get the ball rolling. If I can save 35% - 40% over the price of new, I would rather pay cash to equip the first crew. Luckily, my son spent the last year servicing the equipment for a busy service co. I think he knows what to look for in a used machine.

    On 21": I had 2 speed Honda's. As mulcher's, these mowers had many thousands of residential and small commercial properties on them without a major failure. Yes, at $900 they better be good. Is this still the mower of choice in propelled 21"?

    Thanks again,
  7. yardmanlee

    yardmanlee LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 898

    I would still be getting the insurance, better to be safe than sorry
  8. davisyardnlawn

    davisyardnlawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 15

    Liability insurance when the 1st commercial property asks for it.

    I thought that, too! Then I turned a corner on a property and the 3 year kid next door was right there, hanging on the chain link fence watching me mow...he was on the discharge side...came out of nowhere! Now god forbid, I don't want anything to happen to him, but a golf ball, a stick, and that cute little boy in front of a jury and my house was gone....the next day I had business insurance. I spend about $350 a year for it...best peace of mind I could have. Go to one of the major insurance companies....brokers cost me about $6-700 a year until I learned better.

    Just my two cents worth.
  9. greg1

    greg1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 139

    insurance is cheap. get it.
  10. lifetree

    lifetree LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,369

    Excellent advice !!

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