How did you guys get started???

Discussion in '<a href= target=_blank ?>Sn' started by SlimJim Z71, Nov 10, 2000.

  1. SlimJim Z71

    SlimJim Z71 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 691

    I'm working on getting my business up and running full blast, and I could use some help. How did you guys start out? Where is the best place to go for financing? I'm looking at buying a parking lot sweeper ($73,000) as well as a 2001 GMC 2500HD pickup to add to plowing ($34,000), plus some extra money to get me going.

    Any advice, tips, do's, dont's, or anything else would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! <img src=>

  2. GeoffDiamond

    GeoffDiamond LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 1,651

    well, i didn't start from scratch, so everything is a lot easier for me.

    However I think you want to buy a lot of stuff all at once, just like everyone else. The first thing I would do, is find a sub to do your parking lot sweeping, that will save ya 73K right off.

    I have no problems with buying a new truck, however, for the same cost I am sure you could find 2 used late model plow trucks. This would allow you to do more work, than with one truck. Because at the end of the day, one truck will only do one trucks work, one super truck can't do the work of 2 trucks.

    As for loans, I think your first few loans will be your hardest, to you build good business credit. You may be foreced to use dealership financing.

    Again, I know nothing about starting from ground zero, I know nothing about subbing work out. These are just a few things you may want to consider.

  3. SlimJim Z71

    SlimJim Z71 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 691

    Why would I want to sub-out the sweeping? That, along with plowing, is my business. Besides, do you have any idea how much money you can make sweeping? It's really quite a profitable area.
  4. GeoffDiamond

    GeoffDiamond LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 1,651

    Like, I said before I have never started from ground zero ( my dad started the company, and still owns a lot of it, as well as a big say in management). However a 73K sweeper is a very big investment, with very big payments.

    Even if you sub out work, I am sure you can make a good amount of money, just pushing papers. I am not a landscaper, I run a Utility Construction Company, that basicly does snow on the side. When the last snow is done, we are done for the season, I let someone else clean up the mess. So I don't have the biggest knowledge of the subject of sweeping.

    I believe I have read that most businesses fail with in the first 2 years, meaning the first 2 years are the hardest. I am not saying you are going to fail. I just think that maybe, keeping the start up cost as low as possible, might be your best option.

    Anyways best of luck, I hope you do well.

  5. diggerman

    diggerman LawnSite Senior Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 702

    Yea sweepers.
  6. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,555

    Dont hold me to this,because Ive never actually worked on them myself,but Ive been told that sweepers are very high maintance,and require more $$$$ spent on repairs than any other piece of equipment,even new ones.They suck the sand and crap up and its got to grind up all that expensive stuff.I am not saying its not profitable,just that it is very $$$ to get into,and to maintain.
  7. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 849

    There is a small sweeping company up the road from me. You should see the size of their trash pile curbside each week. Mostly sections of broom, from the "main" broom (since I don't know what to call it) which I assume can be replced in small what looks to be 4" wide sections. There is also a stack of curb brushes all worn down. I guess that means they do a lot of sweeping, and brooms wearing out is expected, and means they also generated income.

    I know when I worked for the town, the "brooms" as we called them stayed away from the curb, to help the curb brooms wear longer. This backfired sometimes, because residents would complain when there was grass growing out of the crack between the curb and the street. Then they would have to start making contact with the curbs again. I think if they made contact every other time they sweeped, the grass wouldn't grow. The other thing they hated was having to refill the water tank on the sweeper, so they didn't put down much water. I can assume a dry broom will wear out faster than a wet one. All in all I can see it being profitable, but I can also see the sweepers themselves needing A LOT of maintenance like John DiMartino said.
    Around here, there's A LOT of different companies competing for sweeping contracts. All of the smaller lots are done by landscapers with wheel blowers. I guess like all the other types of contractors around here, there's more than most would like to be competing with them.

  8. John Allin

    John Allin LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,488

    Try to locate your local SCORE organization. They will gladly help you with information and guidance. And, it is a 'no charge' service. This is an organization of retired people that help out business.

    Also, try a local university and ask if they have an SBA department. That too is 'no charge' to whomever wants help, and they specialize in assiting startups - might be able to assist you in obtaining financing too.

    Or call SBA yourself and reqest help. They might guide you to a local college that has a SBA staff assistance program.

    If there isn't one near you, call the largest University near you and ask for the Dean of Business. That office will guide you to the right people to assist you, and they should guide you to organizations/people that do this type of thing n/c.

    One other avenue.... Contract Sweepers Institute might help. They are not a big organization and are a part of APWA. Also, there is a new organization that just started up - Pavement Maintenance Association - for sweepers. They might help too.

    And, of course, there is the Snow & Ice Management Association that can assist you too (

  9. plowking35

    plowking35 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from S.E. CT
    Messages: 1,687

    We started by hiring a small business consultant. He helped us write our business plan, that we then took to the bank and used to get the loan. If you would like the name of our guy, email me off forum. And no it wasnt Phil NIllson.
    The truck should be easy, GM will finance it, and probably at a lower rate than the business loan would be. Sweeping can be very profitable, but like everything, look at all aspects not just the money end.
    I agree with JA about the Small Business Admin., they make you jump through alot of paperwork, but the end reslut is a loan at a very good rate.
  10. SlimJim Z71

    SlimJim Z71 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 691

    Thanks guys. I appreciate the info. Yes, sweepers can be high maintainance, but no more so than say a truck with a plow on it. I havn't been in this business long, but I've done a lot of homework. I'm not just looking at the money end of things, but at the same time, I want to be able to provide for my wife and daughter.

    Thanks again for the help.


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