Don't understand the equipment investment stats

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by south jerz, Aug 7, 2005.

  1. south jerz

    south jerz LawnSite Member
    Messages: 87

    I don't get how you could invest so much in your business. 500,000; 750,000; 1.6m? This is the "commercial lawn mowing forum" isn't it? Landscaping maybe. But even huge excavators and backhoes rarely clear 100k, or am I wrong?

    I'll be liberal and say that a very stacked lawn mowing crew would have about $30,000 (two blowers 1k, three trimmers 1k, 2 big Z's 18k, one big wb 5k, one small wb 3k) tops in new equipment/trimmers/blowers/gas cans/you name it. A huge open trailer runs under $2000. I don't get these people buying their $40,000 and $50,000 brand new trucks to cut lawns. To be blunt that is stupid, you can't convince me otherwise. Why not buy a small to mid-size used truck in good condition for about $10-12k? You can't tell me that a truck in that price range can't pull your equipment for 5-6 years. Plowing requires some power, but again that price range should do it. That's 40k for a crew that should be able to at least 150 medium 1/4 acre lots a week. Actually more like 200 or more with that equipment. Even with say three crews cutting close to 500 a week, which is pretty damn good and more than most people on this forum seem to have. That's $120k invested for three crews, which was lower than average investment. I usually see LCO's in the 30-60 account range, if you're dropping 100k on the equipment you're going to be in the hole for a long while.

    In my area you could buy one 17 year old kid a 21" mower, trimmer, and blower, tell him to put it all in his car and mow you 60, 70, 100 small $20 lawns a week; paying him $10/hr + gas money. That's a crew for about $2000 equipment. Yeah I know that's not "legit." But will he really do any damage to himself or anyone else with a 21" mulch (discharge blocked) mower? With careful trimming he's fine. He gets in a car accident and he was on his way to pick up his sister at school. Lighten up before you flip on me for that one.

    How about justmowit?. I'd venture to say his 11 crews each cost no more than $25,000 to run. Unless that's an F150, I thought it was a Ranger. So figure 300k for the whole operation. He cuts over 2000 lawns doesn't he? Somehow I don't feel the 10 or 15 people who posted triple his stats are knocking out anywhere near that many. If there is one LCO in my area doing 1/3 that many, they are not legit and are cutting with crews in disguise as scrubs and likely collecting in cash.

    The biggest landscaper in my area (Lipinski), who is HUGE, probably puts up a few million for equipment. Maybe we just had a meeting of the biggest LCO's out there on that post, but somehow I doubt it.
  2. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Messages: 10,178

    lawnboys as a whole, are suckers, and are not businesmen
  3. r_snowrider

    r_snowrider LawnSite Member
    Messages: 102

    I drive 91 f250 460 I bought with 119,000 miles for 3900 from my uncle. But I can understand why people invest a lot for that stuff. I mean when people see you driving around town with a nice truck with your logo on the side they take your business more seriously, it sucks, but thats how people are. My stuff gets banged up too quickly so I prefer something that I don't mind beating up. But I don't blame people for having that nice stuff. I think it's more of a marketing tool than anything. Your equipment quality is what really counts for doing a quality job, but it can be more difficult to get that work when your driving around in a beater like mine. But I love my truck to death. 8 mpg, that's effecient.
  4. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    I personally take offense to that comment.

    TURFLORD LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 834

    I'm a solo LCO these days. Last year I bought a new F550 turbo diesel because I got tired of looking like a dirt bag, spending good money for repairs on a p.o.s. old chevy, and overtaxing a truck under powered for thejob. This new status symbol cost $50,000. And it does attract a better type of customer. Back in '03 I bought a new F250 xlt shortbed. This is my personal truck. I know desire is a sin but after so many year as the "lowly lawn guy", I want nice things for myself. Isn't that why I go to work everyday? A good image says to other people... No, I'm not white trash and yes, I have intelligence. This is why we buy new trucks.
  6. Shuter

    Shuter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,171

    Impressions are a big part of my business. I show up with a newer, very clean truck. The newer trailer has new clean equipment. We wear the same company shirts and hats. If we get very dirty on one job, we change before the next. The cheapest home I service now is in the area of $650,000. These type of customers expect to see quality vehicles and equipment, nothing dirty and shabby. I don't agree with that way of thinking, but I am making a good amount of money playing along. So spending a good amount of money on equipment is part of the game.
  7. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,373

    I'm a solo op.

    I've got a 2005 Dodge 2500 with the diesel and a 2003 Dodge with the diesel.

    The 2003 is my backup.

    I've got an enclosed 24' V-Nose trailer that I can haul everything I need, including (2) 60" ZTRs, a 2003 Ferris IS4000 and a 2004 Kubota ZD28.

    At the same time I can also haul my PermaGreen Spreader, a 36" Ferris Hydrocut, a 22" Toro Pushmower.

    Plus there's a wheelbarrow, 2 trimmers, a gas powered pole saw and 2 blowers in the trailer.

    My other trailer is a 26' Flatbed which carries my 2003 Kubota 4310 with cab. I have the cab so I can have air conditioning for when I'm mowing the fields for the school district I maintain, along with the parks that I maintain.

    I pull a 11' Bush Hog Tri-Deck mower with the Kubota. Plus there's the 6' brush mower, the 5' tiller, the snowblower, not to mention the other buckets and pallet forks for the loader.

    Plus there's the 2 Boss snowplows.

    Then there's the Multikek Firewood Processor that I bought in January for $43k, along with a conveyor and the concrete slab that I put in to stack the wood on, so I can just load it with the grapple bucket when it's time to sell.

    Plus there's the 16' 14k lb dump trailer I have to haul all my materials, instead of having another truck sitting around.

    Now, I will say that I'm overkill for a solo guy, always have been. However, when the truck went down with a bad rearend about a month ago, (the 2003), I don't have to worry about what to get for a backup.

    All in all, I'd say I've got about $175k or so invested, give or take.

    I don't do small little 1/4 acre lots, there are very few of those where I'm at, about 30 miles north of St. Paul MN. Most lots are an acre +, plus I target small to mid-sized commercial accounts, stuff that's 2-5 acres of grass, of which I can put on contract, so I'm paid whether it rains or not, so I can have a legit budget.

    I'm not trying to brag, or puff my chest out with this post. I know there's many guys on this board with multiple crews that can spend me under the table. :D

    I'm just trying to show how it doesn't take too much to rack up over $100k.
  8. fastlane

    fastlane LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 347

    I've had my garage on 1and 1/2 acre s for over 25 years. Zoning does not allow business out of home. Add that to your costs.
  9. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Messages: 10,178

    you know what i take offense to? people who i thought i could trust, stabbing me in the back
  10. Woody82986

    Woody82986 LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,128

    I can understand how some guys can have $100K to $1 million racked up in their business. It's easy to do. Turflord and Shuter are right. In some areas, clients want a clean looking newer set up parked on their property. I don't have a big new set up by any means. I have grown my business very slowly over the past 3 years because I didn't have much money to start out with, but I still make sure every day that my rig looks clean and my equipment looks good. It makes me feel better about what I am doing and in my opinion it attracts a better paying client. My entire rig excluding my truck ran me about $9K. If you add in what I paid for my truck, my entire rig runs $25K. I am going to upgrade equiptment and buy a dedicated work truck next year. In all honesty though, there are many different ways to run a lawn care business... some choose to spend alot of money to make alot of money... some choose to keep overhead low and grow slowly only buying what they can afford at that time... and some lay somewhere between those two scenarios. I can understand how people can spend that much cash on rigs and equipment though. If I could, I would.

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