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Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Doogiegh, Nov 10, 2001.


    MIDSOUTH LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 320

    Why Larry, I thought you would admire that 21" toro he has. LOL
  2. Doogiegh

    Doogiegh LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 871

    Why would I need 2 of everything at a job site if I'm only 1 person working by myself? Sounds to me like a huge amount of start-up expense, only to not need the equipment for a 1 person job.

    I think for the 55 year old couple, kids off to college in la-la land, guy doesn't want to do the leaves anymore after working his job, I'd come along and do them for them.. Using yes, residentail equipment.. But for their 1/4 to 1/3 acre property, I don't think I need a 60" ZTR to get through what might possibly be a 30" gate into the backyard.. We're talking about smaller properties here, the ones that many of the professional guys on here have long since "skipped over" to go to bigger ones or get commercial bids.

    Think back to what your first customers were, I bet for many of you that's back in the 70's or 80's. It was probably a 21" "residential" brand mower, maybe a rider if you were lucky..

    I don't think too many people just take $10,000-$15,000 and invest it all in 1 shot on a bunch of brandy-new cutting equipment and then go out looking for customers.

    I need customers first, and I'll service them 100% myself. If I get too many where I can't handle it, I'll back off and not accept any new ones. If this gets going really good, and I feel the need for "If I only had a 36" Scag walkbehind, this would be soo much faster..", then I'd start to Upgrade into that market.. And if I got a 36" scag and then starting saying, "Gee, if only I had a 48 or 60" ZTR, this would be cake...", etc..

    That's all for now. Enjoy
  3. Guido

    Guido LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,087

    Don't let Mr. Stone's form of creative writing scare you! He as absolutely correct, and most of the guys on here will back that up.

    What happens if your one mower or one blower goes down. You can not perform service that you promised to a customer.

    If you ever want to be more than the kid down the block that does odd jobs, you will want to get a commercial outfit, thus moving your resedential equipment to your back line of defense.
  4. They way it works brother is that you are either in this business full time or you can just spin your wheels working for the most undesirable customers WHILE working a full time job.

    To make any money as a full time contractor you will the following equipment as a minimum:

    52" walkbehind
    32" walkbehind
    2- stand on sulkies for the above
    a junk 21" mower to pass thru a 2ft gate.
    2-brush cutters (aka weedwackers)
    2-hand blowers
    stick edger
    Power rake
    power plugger (aerator)
    Push spreader (in stainless)
    $10 pos hand spreader for tight areas
    2-can sprayers

    If you don't have the min. of the above equipment you are not going to be able to produce a quality product. And if you can't produce a quality there are already contractors like myself who can.

    Those little riding tractors are useless. If it isn’t zero turn forget it.

    And BTW you don't need new equipment. If you go to at almost any time of the year you will choose from 6 or more Toro walk behinds for sale between $800 and $1500.

    A LOT of guys go belly up in FLA in the winter. Take your truck and cash down over the winter when you visit the mouse and load up some iron for the ride home. has 3 lesco 52" hydro walk behinds for sale between $1k and $1.5K with big twin kohlers.

    Being in this business is not for lightweights. This is a man's job therefore you need men’s equipment. Homeowner crap will put you out of business ASAP.
  5. stslawncare

    stslawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    from DE
    Messages: 1,484

    guido good way to describe mr stone, and mr stone i do agree with you. this reminds me do u have pictures of your setup, maybe use as an example for this new comer? would like to post them on my site?
  6. Prasino

    Prasino LawnSite Member
    Messages: 43

    Mr. stone, i do agree with you on having back up equipment but i totally disagree with the list of pieces of equipment you would need to be a "succesful contractor." In my area the contractor that is most reputable runs 6 Lb and his largest mower is a 32. This contractor does some of the best work. Seems like you guys are doing some bashing, then trying to help him out. I think you should use the rider and make some money, and then tryto sell it and buy yourself a 36in wb. The toro should last you pretty long, and by the time that goes you should have made enough money with it to buy yourself a nice commercial piece.
  7. Doogiegh

    Doogiegh LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 871

    Thanks, Prasino, for the "backup".

    I know this is a "Commercial" forum and a very professional web site. But I don't think that a Toro 6.5 HP 21" mower or a John Deere 30" riding mower is going to blow up resulting in vast amounts of down time if I cut 3 or 4 1/4 acre properties once a week. Everyone on here talks about engine maintenance and upkeep... How many residential people have installed an hour meter on their Craftsman or MTD or Murry Home Depot brand lawn mower.. I'll tell ya right now, no-one I know has an hour meter on their 21" mower.. But I do.

    I know everyone, from my dad to father in law to neighbors to friends and co-workers, everyone of them changes the oil in their mower in the spring and then maybe sometime around 4th of July, if they even do that.. I figure if I do 5 jobs total (my house and 4 others), and each one takes 1 hour, that's 5 hours a week.. So if i change the oil every 5 weeks, in a 32 week mowing season (april through november), I'll be changing the oil 6 to 7 times, whereas the homeowner would of changed it once, maybe twice.. So I'll do the maintenance part.

    And here's the math part of things.. I would have the 21", the Ryobi trimmer and blower for my own house anyway. I bought the 30" JD rider for $550, the trailer for $400. So I'm out around $1000 all said and done. If I can make back the $1000, and then another $2000 in profit before all of this equipment "blows up", then I'll have $2000 to go get a 48" Scag WB or whatever.. So I need to make $3000. Even if I get back only $150 per weekend, well, after 20 weeks of this, I am dead even and have a $2000 profit as I said.. Then I can get bigger and more professional..

    Sure, all of the pro's on here have some terrific equipment and have "2 of everything", etc to make their job easier and easier and provide terrific service. But it's also their full time bread & butter. I'm looking to see how I can do first on weekends only and then take it from there.. Right now, I can't cough up $10,000 to get everything at once, just quit my current full-time job and go into landscaping with currently 0 customers. <G>

    All in time...
  8. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,028

    You'll be fine in the biz if you keep thinking that way. I started with a Toro garden tractor, a craftsman 22" a homelite st and a singer blower on a homemade trailer and a 85 Jeep Cherokee.
    I got 1 and a half seasons of use out of the Toro tractor and I knew that as my customer base grew I needed to go commercial.

    I took a home equity loan out and bought a Walker and it was the best move I made. I paid that machine off in less than a year and increased my customer base 100% as a part time, solo LCO.

    I didn't have Lawnsite back then so I learned some things the hard way (and that includes spending $$$ on some bad purchases) but I do see the logic of what you are doing.
    In the off season, it would be helpful to spend some time in Search and find out all you can about elements of the business. Get your costs figured and mayby even project your costs in your future (set up a company with equipment you want). Above all, make sure to charge commercial rates now even though you are still growing, the expenses get higher because the commercial stuff will be a necessity when your customer base gets bigger.

    Now to answer the question, yes get out there and put the flyers out. I started out with them in targeted neighborhoods and I made them in the form of a short letter explaining that I am new and looking for work. I got a bunch of calls and things went up from there. Just do it.

    Good Luck with all of this and I know you will find lots of good info here at Lawnsite.
  9. kutnkru

    kutnkru LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,662

    No.. no.. no.. Buddy Row -LOL!!! Youve got it all wrong brother man. ;)

    What you need to do when the time comes for you to invest in a deck mower is to buy a wb with 52" deck. Then you will be able to maximize your productivity. This will allow you to expand your markets and still keep you at the top of your game. You will find that 98% of what you can cut with a 36 can be cut with the 52" increasing your efficiency.

    You can then use your push-jobber to get you thru the gated props like you did before. Then when you buy another machine get a 36" and you will have interchangeable blades.

    Then once you have the wb set-up you can decide if its time for a Z or not. This will also allow you to get into your market and see what the general census is from the homeowners about those machines and if you can sell them on you cutting their properties with it. ;)

    Good Luck!
  10. scott's turf

    scott's turf LawnSite Senior Member
    from NH
    Messages: 949

    I agree with turf dude. Stay in the corporate world and start out little with your biz. I am a full time engineer and run my biz as well. I only work about 350 hrs a year so it is not that bad. I only profit about 15k but on top of a 60k salary for sitting behind a desk it ain't bad. I love working outside as much as all of you guys do but it is very hard to pull in the same amout of money after all the expenses that you can make using your education. Not to mention the benefits. I know that there are exceptions out there. There are probably many of you guys that bring in much more than I to afford those beautiful trucks and enclosed trailers. It doesn't happen over night though.


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