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Branching Out..

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by TC Lawns, Jul 17, 2009.

  1. TC Lawns

    TC Lawns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 57

    I currently have a commercial lawn care business that has been in business for 9 years and has 3 full time employees. We have many commercial and residential accounts and have plenty of work for the 3 guys I have cutting every day. We also do landscaping, anything from mulching a customers yard, to new contruction landscaping and renovation. I have always considered the landscaping jobs as "on the side work" since jobs come and go. The lawn maintenance side takes up most of our day to day operations. I have been running commercial mowers and lawn equipment for 9 years, and have recently brought my brother on as a supervisor with our cutting crew. As many of yall know, you can get a little burned out cutting grass every day. I really enjoy bidding on landscaping jobs, putting projects together, running equipment, and you get alot of satisfaction out of your finished product. And plus landscaping is where the money is at. I want to expand the landscaping side of my business so that I am doing that on a more day-to-day basis and let me brother run the lawn maintenance side. I dont have trouble finding landscaping jobs, its just that when we get a big one (sod or renovation job) my costs are high because it cuts into my cutting schedule and we rent most of our equipment. (skid steers, trenchers). I need some advise on which direction to step in terms of purchasing equipment (trucks, skidsteers...or just continue to rent). I see that my expenses are high because I am renting, but dont have alot of money to currently put up for a new piece of equipment. I also like doing site prep and dirt work. I would like to incorporate this into my business as well. I know that some jobs would require renting larger equipment but I am pretty good at getting jobs, bidding, and doing just about any type of site work.

    I really enjoy doing landscaping and would like to increase the percentage of jobs that we currently have. Any advise on searching for jobs? Renting vs buying. And what piece of equipment should I start out with (dingo, bobcat)

    Thanks in advance for the advise.
  2. fl-landscapes

    fl-landscapes LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,542

    if you want to move towards the install side more I would say finance a used skid steer or track steer or even a mini like the toro dingo.
  3. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776


    That last three years I've been seeing how my landscaping biz was going to settle, and what equipment I was going to need to buy. I thought about tillers, bed edgers, etc.....

    I've come to the conclusion that a mini would be the best investment and I am currently in the market for one. A mini will get into tight places and eliminate a lot of the manual labor involved.

    Otherwise, I really haven't found a reason to make any other purchases.
  4. Thebottomline

    Thebottomline LawnSite Member
    from GA
    Messages: 23

    As far as finding work goes, do you advertise?

    I think a mini will probably be an invaluable tool for you. My company has a Dingo and a Takuechi track loader. Needless to say the dingo gets used EVERY day and the track loader once per week.

    And do yourself a favor and DO NOT finance it. If you have to finance the machine, you cannot afford the machine.
  5. esnipe8

    esnipe8 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 264

    I would disagree with that last part. If you have good credit, you can finance a new piece of equipment at 0%.
    We have gone both ways. Bought equipment cash (2-mt-52s, 1-463), and have financed 3 skids, and trucks (all paid for now, accept 1-F350).

    I have come to the conclusion that sometimes it is better to not blow all your cash reserve, and take the free money, 0% financing.

    Of course every situation is different, and only you know if you will have enough work to support a purchase.
  6. Thebottomline

    Thebottomline LawnSite Member
    from GA
    Messages: 23

    With the economy volatile, financing seems foolish. Either you can afford it, or you can not.
  7. lifetree

    lifetree LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,369

    I have to disagree ... even in the current economic environment there are business situations which indicate may be the better alternative ... it just depends on the business situation for that particular company !!
  8. Thebottomline

    Thebottomline LawnSite Member
    from GA
    Messages: 23

    By "business situation", do you mean "broke?" If you are running a good business, there is no reason to finance. Don't believe me? Go read ETWs thread.
  9. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,889

  10. TC Lawns

    TC Lawns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 57

    thanks for the advice guys, I was moving more towards the dingo as well. It would see more work than a skid steer just because how versitile it is and is not overkill for the smaller jobs. I am looking to pick up a used one pretty soon.

    As for the "financial" argument above. I see both sides, if you have to finance something, you need to make sure you can afford it, but if you have the cash, pay cash. My situation is....I have the demand to a new piece of equipment, i have plenty of work, and I could probably pay cash for just about anything used that I need. But i like to keep a good amount of cash in reserve to pay employees, fix equipment when it breaks down, pay for landscaping materials, and keep me going when a large group of customers are late on payments. I think if you have good enough credit to get 0% for a year, then purchase something and pay it of before the 0% is up, no brainer. That way you dont blow your reserves. And you have to start somewhere, not everyone who gets into the landscaping business has tons of cash upfront to purchase all the equipment they will ever need.

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