How to make leaf removals quicker and more profitable?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by smallstripesnc, Nov 21, 2012.


    JLSLLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,979

    Yardguy, you mentioned this before in another thread i think- i did this as well on a job and had good results too, should of mentioned that in my 1st post lol.
  2. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Have you tried just running over them with the mower in transport position instead of using the blower? I forget if you use walk behinds or riders.
  3. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,725

    Briggs makes the vanguard engine and they have a very good track record. Now the old cast iron block ones we use to use in the 90s the 8hp and the 11hp briggs they were 300 hour motors tops and complete junk. But I have 2 18 hp vanguard motors on my 2 self propelled fradan leaf blowers. I keep one as a spear and in the old days we would bring 3 or more ground blowers to a clean up now the one 18 does the work off all of that. And it frees up the guys to use the br600s which makes cleans ups very quick indeed.

    Now you mention the hill issue and that's always something I prefer to do with backpacks but the fradans can handle some decent hills and if you got the upper body strength it's all part of the job. What I don't miss was the old push versions and fighting to get running starts to try to man handle them up inclines.
  4. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,725

    I am still amazed at the 80 dollar clean up number, we run a 4 man crew 2 owners and 2 employees and if we make less than a grand in a day we feel like total failures.

    This time of year is always fun to see 2 aspects of this trade getting ignored as we all speak as if we lived in the same place.

    First is the money it costs to outfit yourself, some of us bit the bullet and have high end toys that make this go a lot easier. But many if not most can't afford or justify the upfront costs. The 2 big items are ground blowers which can cost a few hundred to 10,000 or so and leaf loaders which can cost a few thousand to 20-30,000. The trucks you already own the mowers you own the back packs you own same with the trailers. But those 2 items cost a small fortune and have very little use in the rest of the year. Seriously were talking 6-8 weeks a year total usage. It's not like a ztr that mows for 30 weeks and gets to help in the clean ups so we get close to 40 weeks use a year from them. That's easy to spend money on but vacs and blowers is much harder.

    I did a quick inventory the other day when I was doing a clean up and realized I had 173,000 in trucks and equipment with me. Now its not worth that any more all things depreciate but that's what I paid and it was quite an eye opener. But in the clean up only category we had only about 16,000 the rest gets used year round.

    The second thing is location and if your not in New England no offense but you don't know what leaf season is really like. Some people get away with mulching that won't work to well here. Some speak of bagging with the mower and doing the clean up that way :laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh: yea right. I am not emptying my trac vac 50-200 times to do a clean up here. Here we have two options blow it into the woods it its available and if not blow it to the street or driveway and suck it all up. Iv had a single yard produce 400 cubic yards of leaves to be sucked up before. Many guys here do not get that from all their clean ups combined.

    So I could give the original poster my set up and advise him but he doesn't live near me and we have very different prices and expectations here. And I do not know if hes willing to perhaps go a fall season with out making any money because he planed long term and got a truck loader. What I can tell him is a vac with a 12 inch intake will massively cut your time over hand loading. I can tell him the right ground blower and a leaf plow can shave off hours per clean up. But none of that does you any good if you cannot justify the purchase.
  5. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    I think he was probably referring to the Briggs Intek engines that were put on a lot of blowers. They were prone to head problems...spitting out valve seats and bending/breaking rods etc.
  6. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Some of it is a matter of preference. I have both a leaf loader and a wheel blower. I don't use the leaf loader anymore and the wheel blower gets little use. For me it's a big backpack blower and my mower/bagger. A lot depends on the mix of properties you have and crew size too. I've done some properties over the years by hauling leaves in bulk, vaccuming them up and picking them up with the mower and it turns out about the same for me on the ones I have done all 3 on. Sometimes it's easier to bring the machine to the leaves than bring the leaves to the machine...ya know. Again, depends on your setup, your properties and preferences. If I had to haul from properties with a lot of leaves on non-turf areas my leaf vac would be getting used instead of taking up room in the corner. One time clean ups may require different methods than if you're making multiple visits too.
  7. RSK Property Maintenance

    RSK Property Maintenance LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,504

    I'm the same way, I'm only a 3 man crew, 2 workers plus 1 owner and if i don't do close to 1000 a day i feel like i'm failing. having workers that can hardly follow instruction doesn't make my job any easier, I hate constantly telling my workers what to do or that they are doing stuff wrong. I didn't think leaf clean ups are that hard. I actually have clean ups in heavily wooded parts of ct that can be done by blowing the beds out and then bagging it as long as, I have been cutting the lawn and bagging the leaves 4-5 weeks prior to doing the final clean up. but for most clean ups where the customer does their own lawn, you are correct mulching them or only bagging them is completely useless, 2 guys on back packs, good ground blower, leaf plow on rider, and leaf vac, and then you are efficient, everyone knocks those giant vac leaf loaders with only 15-16hp but my old boss has one that is 25 years old and if the leaves are dry, it will keep 3-4 guys busy raking a pile of leaves up to the 12" hose.
  8. kyles landscape

    kyles landscape LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 331

    i feel like 1000 dollars a day is a ton! good for you guys! how long have yoiu been in business? how long did it take you to get there?

    and how the heck do you change for a 400 yard leaf pickup lol
  9. maelawncare

    maelawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 442

    We dont' do leaves to make money. Not very much money to be made in leaves.

    I started doing when I was solo because people were asking for it, and if we didn't do it then someone else would. And chances are good that someone else also mows. So we don't want to risk our customers having the competition on their lawn.

    Now that I have 4 employees. We basically only get about 2% profit on leaves. I have only kept doing it and advertising it is for my employees. We normally stop mowing round the first week of November. Leaves keeps us busy through the middle of December. So we get over a months worth of extra work out of leaves. Customers are happy, Employees are happy, and I keep them off unemployment for an extra month. So while they job sucks, we don't lose money on it.
  10. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,725

    Darryl you've said on many posts your mostly solo and if I were solo the wheeled blower would also see little use. The reason is you need to cut out the edges and deal with beds and trees and such with the backpacks and who wants to keep switching back from one piece to another. But as long as I have 2 guys with me I can put one on each flank and the big blow and leaf plow really show their worth.

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