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Getting ready to start this Spring

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by mowingpreacherman, Oct 25, 2007.

  1. mowingpreacherman

    mowingpreacherman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 69


    30 years old, wife and 3 children=very serious about making money and enjoying the work.

    I'm stoked about starting a lawn care business this Spring. This forum is great and has helped a lot. Currently, besides my preaching work, I work part-time (22-30 hours) at Sears in hardware & lawn and garden. I'm hoping to make some extra $$$ over the holidays to start a lawn business. Then, I can be my own MANager, and put those 22-30 hours where I want them--weather permitting.

    So, that's my story. I'm going to have to get all of my equipment together. All I have right now is homeowner stuff. I'd appreciate some help to make good choices.

    I have a 2004 Chevy 1500 with 4.3 v6 (towing mode, Flowmaster and K&N filter).
    ----I plan to get a Valley Class III 2" hitch. Are they any good?
    ----How big of a trailer will I need to start with for a couple walk-behinds, a 21 incher and all my other power goodies?
    ----Will I have trouble towing the "rig" with my truck--taking it easy starting and stopping?

    Here's the good news--one of the deacons at church is a Stihl dealer rep for the region. So, I think I know what kind of power tools I'll get!
    ----Which Stihl models do you recommend for trimmer, blower, edger, and maybe a hedge trimmer?
    ----I'm not sure I want to start with a backpack blower (~$500). Can I get away with a hand-held starting out?
    ----I will not be able to afford Stihl stuff for backups too, since I am starting out. Is it necessary to have doubles of all these. Since I am starting, should I get some cheaper stuff to carry as backup?

    I'm asking a lot of questions, so I will end it with the most fun of them all.
    ----Right now I am thinking that I should get a 48" hydro, floating deck walk-behind and a 36" gear or hydro WB for backup. Sulkies, too. Does that sound good or not?
    ----Starting out, I expect to mostly do residential, but I may pick up some bigger stuff quickly, so I hope a 48 and 36 would do the trick.

    Thanks, Tony:)
  2. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,778

    Sounds like you have a plan, and since you are a deacon at your church you probably will have no problems gaining customers.

    Your truck will be a little on the underpowerd side, but I am sure it will work as I tom my equipment with a smaller Toyota Tacoma 4x4. The hitch you suggested should be fine coupled with a 6x12 open landscape trailer (Try to get one with a fold down gate in the rear and also in the front right/left). Starting will probably not be as easy as slowing down as a 1500 is pretty heavy but will be fine (Like I said, I tow with a Tacoma).

    Take a look at my signature and you should be able to get all of that for about $9000 (Do not get the Exmark Metro 26" though, get a trailer instead)

    I would look into the Stihl Kombi system as it will save you a little money and there are a wealth of attachments for it. You could even get a home owner power head as a backup for this system. As far as a backup for WB, not sure how much you want to spend, but starting out I think I would just use a 21" as my backup and rent/loan a WB in the event your large mower is down.
  3. mowingpreacherman

    mowingpreacherman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 69

    Thanks for the answers. Actually, I am a preacher and one of the deacons is the Stihl rep. I'm going to talk with him soon, but I figured I would ask people on here who use them in the field.

    This is probably a dumb question. Do I need to get a commercial 21" when I start out? I have a brand new 22" Craftsman self-propelled. We had a Honda on clearance for $99 Tuesday where I work. I shoulda bought it probably.
  4. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,778

    Sorry about the mis quote about the deacon, I saw your name and it still didnt register!

    Yeah, $99 for a Honda is a good price. As far as starting out with a commercial 21" that is up to you...do you want to buy it again? When you are talking about buying 2 commercial mid sized WB the Commercial Tor 21" is a small price to pay.
  5. mowingpreacherman

    mowingpreacherman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 69

    True. How much for one of those bad boys?
  6. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,778

    Somewhere between $900 and $1100. (I will probably get toasted for writing this) But honestly I would get a Snapper commercial ($750-$850) before I got the Toro as the bag is easier to remove and the speed control is more thought out and has more speed options. The only thing that sucks about the Snapper is changing from mulching to bag...its a PITA because you have to remove 2 nuts, but I think they do make a mulch plug for them now and that may eliminate the removal of the chute. As far as maintenance on the Snapper the only thing that will give you any problems is a $10 dollar drive wheel maybe once per year.
  7. All_Toro_4ME

    All_Toro_4ME LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,578

    You could get by without a backpack blower. It is true, the BR600 (Stihl) runs right at $500 + tax. Stihl has a handheld blower model BG 85 D, commercial model, that costs around $220 or so. It has a lot of pipe speed as well, 180mph or so. Most of the backpack blowers are in this range, and some in the 200s. So as far as pipespeed mph, you'll have the same air velocity as most backpack blowers. As far as backups for walkbehind its a good idea. Shops usually take at least (during peak growing season) 2 weeks or more turn around time to fix your equipment. Just keep your eye open for used, low hrs if you can find it. And in some cases, high hrs wouldn't be a bad choice either. Even if it lasts you a year, you will more then make your money back from it. Your craftsman walkbehind should be "ok" for a short while. The transmissions are the achiles heel in those mowers, as I have had my fair share of them going out before I got comm. stuff. I would strive to get at least one comm. walkbehind mower. Use the craftsman as a backup, or rainy days, save your commercial mower from the weather....
  8. Herrick

    Herrick LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 506

    The truck should handle your load ok... you're really not talking about a whole lot of weight with the walkbehinds. If you end up with a couple of Z's, then you're in a different situation.

    Check out my list below for the Stihl stuff... Used it all year and love it all. I looked pretty hard at everything before I bought, and this is the stuff that I concidered to be a good value for the money. I wouldn't worry about backups for the first year if you're buying all new stuff. I've only had my trimmer in once when the throttle got sticky. Probably could have taken care of it myself, but I was feeling lazy at the time. The Kombi's are great, but I figured out that I was only saving money with it if I got 3 or more attachments... just couldn't justify it at the time. Also, for the blower, look at the SH85D (same as a BG85D, only with the vac attachment). I've found it very handy for getting the leaves out of the harder to reach places quickly.
  9. mowingpreacherman

    mowingpreacherman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 69

    Thanks for all the good info!
  10. Wells

    Wells LawnSite Member
    from SLC UT
    Messages: 0

    I don't want to rain on the parade here but what do you have in the way of clientelle? Do you have a marketing strategy that justifies all those purchases.

    You are considering purchasing a new trailer, 2 commercial hydro walkbehind mowers, a commercial 21" mower, Stihl trimmer, edger & blower with a set of backup equipment and you have (0) customers.

    This is why people go out of business in this industry, they make large purchases up front and hope and pray the customers will come, but what ends up coming is equipment payments.

    With your current business plan you'll end up equipment rich and cash poor. Ask yourself if a solo operation just starting out really needs (2) walkbehinds and a commercial 21", and if your buying new equipment why do you need a set of backup equipment right now?

    I would suggest purchasing in minimum that you need to get yourself started and then make the other purchases as they are needed and can be justified.

    just my 2 cents.

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