Is my equipment good enough to start

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by mmrunyan1, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    I believe I recommended he have some cash on hand for when his equipment failed and asked some questions that still haven't been answered. Isn't my post still visible to you.

    I see so many guys in this business start out under capitalized, to the point that when one thing breaks they're out of business. 5 x 10 trailers are quickly outgrown; I'd recommned stepping up to a 6.5 x 12 footer. I would stay away from Chineese lawn mowers. And I would recommend buying a decent sized commercial backpack blower not a cheap one...but....I still don't know what he already has other than the brand name. Does he even have a suitable vehicle or is he going to be carting his stuff down the sidewalk?

    Now that I know a little more, I'd recommend he forget about the idea entirely if he's only going to have 4 or 5 customers. That's not worth the trouble and cost to set up and insure a business and the extra paperwork at tax time. He's cash poor and doesn't want to finance his purchases. Sounds to me like he's not ready to start a business.

    JLSLLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 8,029

    Upgrade when you can, save as much as possible for when the equipment breaks- ( it will, everyones does!) Also maintain and fix the equipment goes a long way good luck
  3. mowerbrad

    mowerbrad LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,268

    There is nothing wrong with using residential grade equipment (mainly when you start out), it keeps your start up costs to a minimum and prevents you from getting into debt at the start...especially should your business not work out.

    You said you already have the craftsman equipment, which I will guarantee you won't deliver the quality and efficiency that a commercial machine would give you, however, that's why a craftsman costs $1500 and a Toro costs $8000. Sure the craftsman may cut decent when you use it on your own home, but after doing multiple lawns a week things start to break and the quality will suffer without proper and frequent maintenance and repair.

    You said you would like to get about 5 lawns to cut each week, I'm guessing you won't be driving a truck and trailer around, I assume you'll just drive your lawn mower down the street? 5 lawns is not that many...even just doing this part time I would look into about 15 lawns a week and set that as my goal. I understand you want to keep the work load manageable as you "test the waters" in this industry but you still need to make a little money for the business, especially as you just start up.

    My suggestion would be to use the equipment you have while you can. Upgrade your equipment as you see necessary and as you can justify it. It is hard to justify a purchase of a commercial mower with just 5 lawns a week...much easier when you have 15-20 a week. Look for some used commercial equipment as you upgrade, it is much more cost effective than buying new.
  4. mmrunyan1

    mmrunyan1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16

    Hello again everyone. I have viewed the responses very carefully, and have discovered two very distinct groups of people.
    Group 1: People that are honestly being helpful and honest and are interested in the success of another person as well as ensuring the quality of the industry.
    Group 2: People that seem to be more interested in having people shut out, doing it only one way (their way) and people that seem to be arogant and snobbish and insult those with less experience.

    After reviewing all the repsonses, looking at other forums, researching equipment on line and in person, talking to several people locally that are in the industry, speaking with about 50 people that utilize the types of services I will be offering, I have had to come to a few realizations:

    1) If I am to make it in this industry, I am going to have to be willing to invest in professional grade equipment that will last and give professional results. This is not a problem. Contrary to some of the comments, I am not "cash poor". I can afford upwards of ten grand if need be. And no, I will not risk my credit on a start up business that may or may not succeed. That if were to fail, it could risk my home and my other business. That is called intelligence and secure investment.

    2) I will have to be willing to go bigger at the start than originally planned. I will indeed need to have a target of 20 repeating customers to make it worthwhile and have a chance of growing the business. This is no problem either. I am no stranger to hard work, long hours, and dedication. I already have a successful retail business that is backed by internet retail and advertising. I have built that from the ground up and approached it in the beginning the same way I am this. I now have enough time to venture into other areas and leave a legacy to each of my children that will give them options in their futures. I have managed other companies and proven myself a competent business man.

    So, with all that said, I will be purchasing professional, quality, used equipment at a reputable local dealer that provides service in my own home town. I am preparing the advertising campaign online, in mailings, and in local media as well as the basic door to door and footwork. I have already secured an account with my church to do the lawn care for them (weekly service at $ 75 a week for what will take me an hour a week).

    I am confident and secure that I will be successful in this. So, let's move on and get to the reccomendations of brands, sizes, and types of equipment and methods.

    Thanks to all of you. Positive and negative, your honesty has been helpful.
  5. Will P.C.

    Will P.C. LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 966

    Obviously, you start however you can and use the cheapo stuff until it burns out. Even if only wanting to do part time, there comes a point and time where you have to jump in with both feet and stop pussy footing around. Most Craftsman stuff is barely fit enough for a homeowner with a small and well cared for yard.

    Having any piece of equipment go down will put you out of business and give your customers the opportunity to find someone else more legit.

    Not having the right gear makes the job more difficult for any job and you lose money this way.
  6. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    You gave the impression that you did not have "thousands upon thousands of dollars for new equipment, which sounded to me like you were cash poor. Well, $10,000 is thousands upon thousands of dollars isn't it?

    I'm still interested in what equipment you have. Others seem to be under the impression that you have a Craftsman zero turn mower, but I don't see that anywhere. Do you have a lawn tractor, a zero turn or a push mower? A trimer? A blower? Do you have a truck? A trailer? How can we help you if you don't respond to simple questions?

    My point was that it would be very hard to be profitable with 4 or 5 accounts due to expenses such as insurance and bookkeeping, and if that was your goal it wouldn't be worth it. One of the posters here fails to mention that he mowed lawns for money for "the better part of a decade" before starting his business just this past season. That is in my opinion not the way to do it.
  7. CowboysLawnCareDelaware

    CowboysLawnCareDelaware LawnSite Senior Member
    from DE
    Messages: 583

    Here are my final thoughts now that we know you have some money:
    Trailer: 5x10 up to a 6.5x12 $1200-$1500
    36" Walk behind: World Lawn $2,200
    Toro/Exmark/Scag, etc. $3,400
    I really like my Toro Proline t-bar 36"
    without a sulky
    Weedwacker: Echo 230 or 266 $300
    (Im an Echo guy)
    Backback blower: Echo 265 or 500 $270-320

    The range would be $4000-$5500,
    plus $500 worth of shovels, rakes wheelbarrows, maybe a hedge trimmer( I have the Echo 150, now its the 152. It works great for me and I did 4 major landscape clean-ups were trimming was needed, and used it around 40-50 times for regular trimming.)

  8. knox gsl

    knox gsl LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,255

    If you have a truck that can safely tow 4000lbs then you can easily get started for $6k with quality used gear. Watch the sale section of this site and CL for deals on a trailer and commercial mower. You will need a least 1 trimmer, blower and hedge trimmer, buy these new unless you can score a really great deal used as these are already fairly cheap. Pick up some hand tools at yard sales and pawn shops. Plan on advertising alot in your first year so that you can have a second year. I made some simple 1/4 page flyers at kinkos and passed those out with a 3% return, much better than the nice color ones I did last year for nearly $600. You will need a basic 21 mower nothing fancy. Keep a tight schedual and don't work or peanuts. PM me if you need any more help.
  9. JCLawn and more

    JCLawn and more LawnSite Fanatic
    from MI
    Messages: 5,281

    Here are my thoughts now that the game has been changed. Here is what I would buy if I was starting out again with that much money. I have found that I am always in need of 3 types of mowers, a 32inch, a 52inch, and a 72inch. If you have a narrow 36inch gate how are you going to fit a 36inch mower that is actually 37 and change? Next are your normal suburban lawns about 1/2-1 acre and now all the walk-behinds are to slow so now a 52inch is perfect and its not to wide if you have a bagger on it. Now when you get those big accounts that 52 wont do it efficiently so thats where the 72 fits in. I would even get a diesel where you can because your fuel bill will go down dramatically and against popular opinion of those who don't own one its way cheaper to maintain. Here are what I think are perfect all around machines to start with and id get 52inch in all of these, go smaller than a iz2000),, or

    Now if you can handle it I would not go smaller than a 18ft trailer for your first one. My 18ft is sooooooo handy when I have to bag grass, leaves, remove trees, haul lots of prunings. If you had a 10 or 12 ft there is no way you could do the big job efficiently. Then if you have to haul mulch, rent min skidsteers + haul dirt and so on. I've hauled 3 yrd of dirt plus a dingo on a trailer before. Its so handy.
  10. CowboysLawnCareDelaware

    CowboysLawnCareDelaware LawnSite Senior Member
    from DE
    Messages: 583

    All that I will say against your post is that maybe your geographic are in the great lakes has a lot of large accounts, that first timers can get a hand on but more likely you won't get those big jobs. To buy a 36, 52, 72 and equipment your talking about $20k easily.


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