Expanding | saving vs financing

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by LPSiowa, Mar 11, 2019.

  1. LPSiowa

    LPSiowa LawnSite Member
    Messages: 78

    Hello all,

    I apologize for the somewhat rambling info-dump to follow...

    So I've been doing a lot of reading here, and other sites. I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos on the subject as well. My question is kinda in the title.

    I previously ran a company, and it didn't go under per se, as much as I got deployed to the middle east. It was a surprise type deal so I didn't really have a chance to keep my customers set up with a replacement in my company or recommend another company in the area. I was only able to give them a few weeks notice.

    Moving on, I've started a new company, and it is an LLC this time rather than a sole-proprietorship that it was before. New name, and more professional overall.

    I no longer have a trailer, and those are mildly important. I still have my Lesco 48" walk behind mower. I need to pick up new hand tools like a trimmer and blower. I've been looking at what it may cost to get me a zero turn, so that I could get into some of the larger properties that are in my community and the larger metro area 15 minutes away.

    Do you think it would be worth it to look into getting one? Or should I just rock my current mower?

    If I do get one, should I save up money from profits for it? Or would looking into possibly financing it be a good idea?

    I have been doing snow removal so far this winter with relatively good success. Not making a killing but I've been profitable, especially seeing as its just been me mainly with an occasional helper with shovels and spreaders for ice melt.

    Current customer list for snow removal is around the 15-17 mark, at least half have said that they would like to keep me on for lawn maintenance. I've also recently been contacted by a couple of property management firms to take care of some commercial properties as well, one of which includes the local Best Buy. That information may make some difference in what is recommended, seeing as I would like to go after commercial properties.

    Again, I apologize for the information dump and look forward to any advice y'all may have. If y'all need any clarification, please let me know and I'll answer it as best as I can!
  2. EricC

    EricC LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 313

    I am not in lawncare, but what kills more business than anything is lack of cash flow to start. I'd get clients and a route that fit what you have, get cash flowing and when you see more opportunity with larger lawns and different equipment, get it when the cash flow is there to get it.

    If you don't think you have equipment to make money, decide what kind of lawns you want to focus on, sell what you have and get the minimum you need to start making money on those lawns and build from there.

    No sense starting a business with new, new and 20-30K in obligations and zero money coming in. Even the best plans die fast if the cash flow doesn't start quick enough when you need it.
    Ferris Man and LPSiowa like this.
  3. Mowing monkey.

    Mowing monkey. LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 453

    I would finance and put the new more productive mower to work now. I’m looking at adding another mower to my fleet this year and the 0 percent financing is an attractive option. Some will say and they’re probably right that it’s not really 0 percent but it’s an already factored in price that you’re going to pay anyway. The local dealer says the price he has to pay the manufacturer is exactly the same rather I pay him the whole price in $100 bills or finance. I have the money to buy outright if I wanted to but I’m not seeing any good reason to outlay 7k upfront when I could invest that money elsewhere and send a monthly check to them. Another option to consider is I probably wouldn’t pay another $1000 cash for the fuel injected mower but it’s only $16 more a month. That’s like 5 gallons of gas and if it’s half as good as it’s supposed to be it would save way more fuel than that.
    LPSiowa likes this.
  4. Garrett1234

    Garrett1234 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 449

    I’d get the trailer and hand tools you mentioned you needed first. I mean you can’t do what you want without those right. When the sting of that expense softens and you need a morale boost because the days seem to drag on and on, treat yourself to a reward of the new machine. By that time you should have a good read on which mower would fit your clientele best anyhow and you’ll have some cash flowing in. In regards to financing vs purchase when that time
    Comes: If you need it you need it. Wether it be to grow, perform, work, passing on jobs because the WB isn’t fast enough. If you have the cash pay for it. If you don’t, then finance what you must. Some people refuse to finance. You give me zero % and i finance it. Even 3% or lower i do. I just don’t think the bank balance that still exists because I didn’t pay cash is available. Best wishes
    hort101 and LPSiowa like this.
  5. OP

    LPSiowa LawnSite Member
    Messages: 78

    I know of a trailer I can pick up incredibly cheap. I have a commercial walk behind. I need to get the power hand tools. All told I'm looking at roughly $1200 for what I need to get started. I still have a lot of remnants of what I had before as far as basic tools go.

    I wasn't looking at financing a $15k Scag by any means. But a dealer near me has some decent used models of exmark, Scag, ferris, etc for much lower price points at relatively low hours and in good condition.

    For what it's worth, in the area where I'm doing the majority of my work, the average yard size is probably 1/2 acre. Quite a few 1/4 but a lot are right around that 1/2 acre mark. I'd say probably 9 or 10 of my current customers are at the 1/2 size.

    I really do appreciate the feedback from all y'all though!
  6. EricC

    EricC LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 313

    I would agree, if you have the jobs to make you money with it. It all depends. If you're starting from nothing, I think i'd get cash flowing and when you think your equipment is now starting to cost you money, jobs, or time you could be doing something else enjoyable or time you could be using to make more money, then get the bigger mower.

    If I had jobs and getting a bigger mower would "likely" land more jobs on my route, I'd get it. If I had no jobs and was just hoping it would, I would use what I had to get going. Or if I had my jobs and they were making me money, but a bigger mower would get me done in in half the time and allow to pick up more jobs, a different part time job, or go catch more of my kids baseball games, I'd get the bigger mower.
    hort101 and LPSiowa like this.
  7. hackitdown

    hackitdown LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,811

    I agree with the other responses. Work with what you have for now. You can pull the trigger on a larger mower any time. Wait until you need it.

    Set a goal for yourself in terms of monthly revenue you need to justify the larger mower. When you reach your revenue target, reward yourself with the new mower. At that point you will need it, and you will more likely be able to afford it.
    Ferris Man, hort101 and LPSiowa like this.
  8. OP

    LPSiowa LawnSite Member
    Messages: 78

    I'm thinking I'm agreeing with all of you.

    I have work lined up, and I guarantee you a decent ztr would get the work done more quickly, which then translates to more $/hr, and time home with the family. However, the mower I have now can certainly mow a lot of grass. A 15HP 48" WB isn't exactly a slouch when it comes to daily money making. And I paid cash for it, so any money it makes me is free and clear aside from y'know, gas and maintenance.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that I will probably need a ztr this season, seeing as I've been having people come and talk to me while I'm working from all over the neighborhoods that I've been working in this winter and they're all high end properties with large yards.

    But until then, I'm gonna put that Lesco to work!

    And just had another thought, do you think it's even worth it using a ~21" push mower at all? I'm gonna be honest, I'd really rather just avoid those properties where those would be necessary if I can. But if most recommend having one on the trailer too, then I guess I could drag one along with me.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2019
    hort101 likes this.
  9. whammer33024

    whammer33024 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 545

    it will depend on properties.

    i don't carry a 21, but i have a 30" i use the same way. i'm guessing you will want something with you that's smaller than a 48, but that's kind of up to you and your properties
    hort101 likes this.
  10. hort101

    hort101 LawnSite Fanatic
    Male, from S.E. New England
    Messages: 17,105

    a 21 is a swiss army knife of mowing it depends on your yards and style some guys would rather string trim the areas the big mower doesnt hit

    21 is good for tight areas and wet conditions
    What handheld equipment do you have? Plan on buying?

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