Don't Laugh...Please!

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Revival1906, Sep 26, 2006.

  1. Revival1906

    Revival1906 LawnSite Member
    from Alabama
    Messages: 44

    Have I wasted my money?

    Started out thinking that my 3 sons (13, 13, and 9) would cut grass to make some cash, but decided to start a full blown (part-time) company. Without having a lot of money to invest into it, and knowing that I would do more work than my kids in the company, I purchased two self-propelled mowers (John Deere and Troy Bilt), a weed eater (Troy bilt, electric...bought it for personal use...will get a gas one soon), edger (Troy Bilt), two blowers (first one was electric so I went back and bought a gas one), a 3,000 psi pressure washer, and a 5 x 8 trailer because my wife said I was tearing up the Expedition.

    I don't have any commercial grade mowers, blowers, etc., only the residential kind that Lowes sells (believe me...Lowes is in love with me!) Have I wasted my money or can I use this equipment to start a legitimate lawn care company?
  2. All_Clear

    All_Clear LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 443

    Some wont agree to this but it's all in the eye of the beholder....

    First suggestion is to upgrade as soon as you can afford to.

    It's a start and we all started somewhere, some had better, some have had worse.

    Electric anything is going to slow you down.... period.

    Use what you have, have fun and most of all no matter the equipment you have Make Money!

  3. MO TOYS

    MO TOYS LawnSite Member
    Messages: 31

    How long ago did you buy it? if you can, take it back and get commercial grade equipment. Sure it will cost more but "pay me now or pay me later".
    If you have already used the equipment wich more than likely you have. make the best of the situation and use it to make $$$$$ for commercial grade equipment. But to ease your mind a little lots of people start out just like you are. Just take care of your stuff.
  4. WJW Lawn

    WJW Lawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,330

    Different people will have different experiences, but let me tell you mine. First off...I think the AMOUNT of clients you have...determines the life of your equipment since it's residential.

    When I started...I purchased a 500 dollar John Deere JS40 from lasted 2 weeks, and I took it back. I also purchased a Husqvarna trimmer... it lasted me 3 months...I sold it. In no way am I telling you that you pissed your money away, because I may just be really hard on equipment. But if you build up a solid customer base that you service on a regular yourself a favor...and keep those reciepts!! cant beat commercial quality equipment...its built for everyday use...where residential is built for once a week use for a few hours, and it simply won't handle a full work load...even part time if it's 10 to 20 clients.

    Were you buying residential equipment to save money? Cause you know what they say.... To make money ya gotta spend money. I learned my lesson, and I only buy commercial stuff now...and even try and do my homework on that as well. But if its too late to take the stuff back...then use up...and buy COMMERCIAL!! It pays for itself in the long run. Remember...Red Max has a 2 year warranty!! You cant beat it!
  5. MO TOYS

    MO TOYS LawnSite Member
    Messages: 31

    O and almost forgot congradulations on your buis.....
  6. Lawnaholic

    Lawnaholic LawnSite Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 103

    When I first started out I had nothing but residential equipment. No commercial equipment whatsoever and I made some great money with it. However, it only lasted me one season(atleast the mowers that is). Then next season I went out and started building my equipment up "commercially" and so on. It took me a good "three seasons" to have a trailer full of totally commercial equipment. The biggest difference is now I don't spend as much time or money on repairs like I used to that first season which is a major factor in this business.
  7. Revival1906

    Revival1906 LawnSite Member
    from Alabama
    Messages: 44

    Thanks for the replies...please continue cause I need all the help I can get.

    Why did I choose residential equipment? A couple of months ago, I started out with only my personal lawn mower and an electric weed eater. I told several friends and family members that I was going to start a lawn care business and instantly had three customers...a $100 job (twice a month taking 2 hours), a $60 job (once a month taking one hour) and a $50 job (twice a month taking 30 minutes). I then realized that we could do the work faster with an additional lawn mower and blower.

    Then I realized that I needed gas equipment versus electric, so I went back and bought a gas edger and a gas blower. I already told you about wifey and the Expedition so I bought a 5 x 8 trailer. I thought I was making great investments thinking that I already had 3 customers paying a total of $360 a month. Subsequently, my $100 job can only afford service once a month, my $60 job is slow paying (it's the home of my Fraternity...professional men mind you) and I lost my $50 job to my brother in law who cuts it for free just to use their mower on his yard!

    Anyway, that's when I realized what all of the heavy hitters in the area had on their trailers (I didn't notice all of the trailers on the roads until I bought one myself) and became discouraged with my purchases. I'm hoping to make enough cash with what I have until I can get some more customers. I'm leary right now without any regulars. Please keep responding.
  8. WJW Lawn

    WJW Lawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,330

    You should put out some flyers...dont lowball...but sell yourself...and save up for commercial gear.
  9. All_Clear

    All_Clear LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 443

    Door hangers or fliers would be a good start.... Cover the areas you would like to work, also don't spread yourself all over, keeping a tighter route keeps cash in your pockets.

    Advertise anywhere that will let you.... within reason, you want to look professional. Don't fall for the yellow pages as a new business, try the newspaper or penny saver first.

    Most of all do quality work, thats what everyone see's.

    Make the most of what you have, do your best and keep at it. Like others said sell yourself and price accordingly.

  10. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    No problem, I am sure you got tons of good stuff coming, here's mine:

    I have a D-250 3/4 ton truck, it has enough torque to pull your expedition down the road, I tow my cars with it at times and I have a 6x12 that I sometimes load just past it's limit of 3,000 pounds which puts my total weight over 8,000 pounds... With me so far?

    But even with all that torque and power, I have to take it REAL easy on the throttle, even with the trailer empty I go light on the gas. Here's why:
    - It took me years to figure this out, but I change my transmission fluid and filter every 10k miles and back in the first 2-3 years it always had shavings inside the pan, roughly enough to just cover the palm of my hand (that's a lot for 10k miles)... and I couldn't figure out why, with such a strong truck...

    And that's with a 3/4 ton, 2-3 years into it I had to have it serviced because of a trans leak and they told me: Your tranny won't make it another month.
    That's when I started taking it real easy, and that was over a year ago.
    Miraculously, the issue with the shavings in the tranny pan disappeared almost completely... There's maybe enough in there to cover the fingertip of my pinkie nowadays.

    Fact is, don't think of PULLING a trailer, but think of easing it down the road, let it come along almost on its own, you truly need to go lighter on the throttle than when you have NO trailer, I know it sounds funny but... Let the truck accelerate real slow: So long the needle is moving up, you are accelerating, doesn't matter if it takes 2-3 minutes to get to the speed limit, when I'm loaded I hardly make 10-15 below the limit, it's just that heavy.

    Other benefits: Your front tires take most of the braking and cornering, they will last 4-8 times longer taking it nice and easy. Same with brakes, you will eat those pads in 5-10k miles if you don't really watch it. Last but not least, should you have to stop suddenly, you should have more time now. Oh and on that note, practice 'backing' through packs of traffic, being the slowest stay on the right and let them go, don't try to keep up but DO try to always increase and then keep your following distance at a minimum of 4 seconds thou 6-8 seconds from the car in front of you is even better (yes it's a long ways, but please trust me, it saves money).
    So, stay WAY back and drive nice and easy, let them go, they're all in some kinda race and since there is never any competition for last place, that's the place to be is always last. (btw, you actually won't waste nearly as much time as you think)

    So, think of going about half as fast on the acceleration, then do it some more. Also, let go of the gas way early if you even think you will have to stop, such as at a traffic light intersection: don't try to beat it, if you lose when trying to beat it, you lose far more than when you lose slowing down, every single time. Last but not least, the idea is to not even have to touch the brakes until you're down to about 20-25mph, and then just barely (you may notice that by this time the light has turned green again, so now you don't have to stop, and watch all the rest of the morons racing from light to light as you mosey along at 30-40mph in a 45mph zone.

    It took me 3-4 years to get good at it, but I'm one of the few on here who can boast 14-15mpg with a 20-year old carbureted engine (EFI's should get 16-18 or thereabouts, but most guys get 10-12).

    Hope that helps.

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