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Leaf cleanup idea

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by mowerbrad, Oct 18, 2010.

  1. mowerbrad

    mowerbrad LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,268

    I know its alot of money to spend on equipment for a service that would only be offered for a few weeks every year but I think it will pay off. This would be an investment in my company....I don't really need it to pay for itself in its first year (that'd be really nice though). But to have it paid off after 2 leaf seasons would be fine by me.

    But like I've been saying, I still need to talk to people in my area to see if there is even a market for this type of service. Once I start talking to current customers, neighbors, friends, family, etc...I will have much better idea whether this service would be profitable for me or not.

    The whole reason for me posting this on here, is to get responses from you guys...especially ones who have offered this type of service. I want to make sure that I know what I'd be getting into. I don't want to make a poor decision and regret buying $8000 worth of equipment.

    I'm very dutch, so spending money doesn't come easy to me. I about had a heart attack when I wrote the check for my truck.
  2. russ and sons

    russ and sons LawnSite Member
    Messages: 151

    a couple things you have to consider.

    How much is your dump charge? How many loads can you really get in a trailer. 13 hp leaf loader is not very efficient , You are running against daylight .

    For a 8x8x6 (14 cubic yards) box , i get charged $30. to $40. for dump fee. you will also wait 5 -10 minutes to wait in line to pay. , most dump trips will take at least 45 minutes to get back to work.

    sometimes i only get one load in my truck. i have to charge more for those piles.

    i had a 11 hp billygoat with 8 inch hose, not very fast, i have upgraded to 16 hp giant vac this year . should be alot faster and pack better.

    you can,t fight daylight too much. i have installed lights for nighttime pickup. but most people don,t want to have load noises after 6 or so .

    good luck,

  3. yardguy28

    yardguy28 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,463

    i'd say for the noise issue. as long as your within the law, don't worry about it.

    noise ordance laws in my neck of the woods are 8am - 9pm, mon thru sat. and 9am - 8pm on sun.

    as long as i'm within those hours i could care less what people think about me making noise.
  4. mowerbrad

    mowerbrad LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,268

    Actually my dump site is free. I can dump as much as I want to and there is never a line. So the dump issue is not an issue. Plus the site I dump at is within 10 minutes from the majority of my accounts and service area, so it is fairly quick to get to.

    I'm still not sure what leaf loader I will get. I know the 13hp won't be as efficient as an 18hp unit, but I'll jump that hurdle when I get closer.
  5. andyslawncare

    andyslawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 812

    Good idea. I've been thinking of enclosing a dump trailer with a leaf sucker/mulcher/reverse blower (whatever you call it), with a big hose and the motor attached to the front of the built up part of the dump trailer. Holding a hose is always easier than holding a 30 lb back pack blower, and pushing a button to dump is always easier than moving leaves twice.
  6. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    If you're gonna do this, skip the 13 HP unit. There's a world of difference between the 13 and 18 HP units, probably more due to the hose diameters than anything. Mine is the 16HP Billy Goat which the 18 replaced and even that sucks a lot slower than I'd like. I think we all picture them sucking up a huge pile of leaves in no time, but unless you've got a large tow-behind unit, that just isn't the case. Note that I don't even use mine anymore...I keep thinking maybe I'll mount it again every year and never do. I just either haul them in bulk or ground up with the mower.
  7. mowerbrad

    mowerbrad LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,268

    Well, I've been thinking more about this whole idea. While I think the concept is great, I think I will be waiting a little longer to pull the trigger on everything. If I bought this unit next fall or even toward the end of summer, I think I'd be trying to save some money and not get everything I should. I have decided to purchase a second mower this spring, so I really won't have enough money in my budget for a whole dump trailer/leaf loaders set up that I'd want. I'd be purchasing a smaller dump trailer and a smaller leaf loader than what I would really want/need.

    I already know that I should have a leaf loader that uses at least a 10" diameter hose, 12" would be better for me.

    When the time comes for me to do this, I want to do it right the first time and not have to regret buying something too small just because I didn't have the extra money in my budget at the time.

    This whole thread has given me a great deal of information for when I do pull the trigger on this idea. I will know how to do it right the first time.
  8. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    I say get yourself something that dumps and take it from there...dump insert, dump trailer. Even if you don't get a leaf loader, they're quite useful and will complement leaf cleanups even with your current setup.
  9. mowerbrad

    mowerbrad LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,268

    Once I can justify a dump trailer better, I will start looking into one more. I have a clue what I want as far as size goes, I would just need to have more work for it during the whole mowing season, not necessarily just in the fall.

    But I think you're right, I can get a dump trailer first and use that for a while and then eventually get a leaf loader for it, should I decide to go that route.
  10. mowerbrad

    mowerbrad LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,268

    So I need to bump this up again...

    This year our city has stopped their curbside leaf pickup, which has me thinking again. The city announced earlier this year that they were stopping their pickup services and have no plans to bring it back. For years they offered the curbside pickup, it was for every resident within the city (over 10,000 people). Many residents have no place to go with their leaves which leaves them the option of paying for the yard waste removal from the garbage company, which requires the leaves to be bagged or in the yard waste can...no rake to the curb and be done with it.

    I was approached by one of the fire fighters I work with about taking care of his leaves this fall. I have an account just down the street from his house, so he stopped by when I was there. Because he has no way of taking care of the leaves, he needs them taken away for him.

    So this got me thinking again. An entire city that was used to the curbside pickup, now has to find other options to dispose of their leaves. And there is still no company in my area that offers curbside pickup, so I feel that there is an even bigger market now for this.

    I have wondered about scheduling and I am thinking that I would offer the curbside pickup on certain weekends and have customers call in if they want their leaves picked up those weekends or not. This will still allow me to do my regular customers and then do the curbside pickup on the side.

    One thing that I have to figure out is the pricing. I'm sure after doing this for a while, I will have a better idea of how long piles will take and how much they will fill my rig. So I should have a better idea after being in this for a while. Obviously I'd have to have a minimum price and I would have to be paid at the completion of the pile (so the client would have to either be home or leave a check for me at the door). If payment isn't received at the jobsite, no work will be performed...unless I know the people of course.

    I guess, I'm just trying to get the creative juices flowing again. It probably wouldn't be until next year that I start offering this service (if I even do). But thought I'd bump it up and get some more feedback as the market has obviously changed around me.

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