leaf or yard vacuum

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by wgallagher, Sep 7, 2012.

  1. wgallagher

    wgallagher LawnSite Member
    from CA
    Messages: 32

    Hi everyone, today I found a guy that buys junk equipment and gets running and sells them. He had a 8hp brigs n Stratton motor yard vacuum for sale for $200. He said he has a small orchard there at his parents house where I seen it, supposedly that vacuum picks up alvacados in that orchard as he vacuums the leads with no problem. Does anyone have experience with this type of equipment? I am just starting and have never seen one of those around here, I was hoping to hustle that $200 for it and try to hustle leaf taking jobs asap so I can get legit quicker and have money for used backup equipment like a spare lawnmower and spare weedeater and blower. Also a guy asked me to look at his backyard and give him a price to clean it up. Its about 40/50`x30` with a 10`x6` strip on each side of his house. It is all dead grass or weeds about a foot and a half in length. He said he basically just wants me to weedeat and take it all. He does have two pits so I'm sure there will be tons of dog crap by the time I get to it. Anyways how would you guys price on something like that? I have a small 5x8 trailer and will have to get rid of the debris. Any insight is appreciated. Sorry if there is mistakes in this post I am typing off my cell phone, stupid auto correct! Thanks guys
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  2. wgallagher

    wgallagher LawnSite Member
    from CA
    Messages: 32

    Also was thinking of posting a ad on craiglist for rain gutter cleaning, i have seen some people post $1 a linear foot and others post a flate rate such as $50 or $125, in my area most of the houses at a dollar a foot i would make $20 or even less, as most houses around this area dont have long rain gutters usually just around the front of the house like a porch or just the area near the front door. So i was wondering how would a proper way to charge that be? in that case theres a huge difference between a flat fee such as those listed and a dollar a foot
  3. smallstripesnc

    smallstripesnc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 717

    I personally have a chipper/vac that is very old and made by craftsman. Its not "professional" grade and the bag fills quickly but for leaf removals it really helps and is faster than raking any day. If it has the hose for it you could blow the leaves into piles and suck the piles up with it. That's a method I use and it really helps to speed things up but as I said the bag fills quickly.

    Cleanups are always tricky to bid. I haven't done a lot of them but the few I did I wish I would of put a higher bid on it since it took way longer than expected and was a lot more work than I intended. Just feel it out and find out what the local rates are and that goes for rain gutter cleaning as well.

    When you post on craigslist make sure you have an organized ad and one tip I find very helpful is to list your "service area" within the ad. For ex in Charlotte there's many different areas and it helps to list the area's because when people go to the farm and garden section they see so many posts so they type in "dilworth lawn care" and dilworth is an area of charlotte. If that makes sense!

    I'm sure others will chime in! Good luck!
  4. wgallagher

    wgallagher LawnSite Member
    from CA
    Messages: 32

    Thanks smallstripesnc, so i think i will get that vacuum if its still available when i can get the cash, it did not have a hose, but im sure i can eventually find a hose that would fit at a farm supply store if i couldnt find one at home depot or lowes.
    yes that is my problem now i give a price and spend way more time than intended.
    I have posted a ad on craigslist to try to get cutomers for mowing, i have got one customer so far, i spent more time on their yard the other day when i did it the first time, but they were real happy with the outcome and the guys brother even asked me for a quote. so i will be giving him a price today. so far i have been putting my town as the area, luckily for me my town is not that big, i think the sign coming into town says 60,000 population now.
    I dont want to advertise too much right now for lawn care due to i dont have a license right now for it, i have a license for party rentals but the city said i can not have two licenses out of a home, and that i would have to close one to obtain a yard care business license and repay the whole $120 original fees instead of the $5 for the actual license print out. So i am trying to hustle that cash as soon as possible to be licensed so i can advertise everywhere at paint my name all over my trailer.
    Thanks for the reply, it is appreciated.
  5. smallstripesnc

    smallstripesnc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 717

    I did not know that you needed a license in CA to cut lawns. That's new to me. Here in Charlotte there's guys who do lawns but also are painters, or guys who do roofing that offer lawn care, etc...I guess it varys state to state. That's a good start when you get referrals though. That will be the best way to get business since someone will trust a "friends" word or "neighbors" word more than your word off your craigslist ad saying your the best in town. I am planning to move to the coast of NC which is about 4 hours from me now and I have completely stopped marketing, took my website down, etc...And I still get at least two calls a day from referrals.

    It sounds like your off to a good start and after time you'll be able to really get better at bidding. It does take practice to get it right.

    As far as the leaf vacuum if you know that you'll be using it a lot then it will be worth the investment. The hose shouldn't be too bad to rig up. Once your bigger you can get the real deal equipment you see the big guys using. For ex the big leaf truck and all and walk behind blowers, etc...
  6. wgallagher

    wgallagher LawnSite Member
    from CA
    Messages: 32

    Yes you need a municple city license or a county license depending if you live in city limits or not and if you plan to advertise out of your city. They really stick it to us here, im sure as long as i dont advertise too much i can get away with no license, im sure 90% of the dozens of lawn companies here dont have a license but i want to go legit as soon as possible so i dont have to worry about anything like that and i can put my name all over my small trailer to further help advertise where ever i go. Wow that is awesome that you still get phone calls after you stopped advertising, hopefully you can pick up major clients as soon as you move and get settled in at the coast, good luck.

    Thanks, i appreciate the info, i am hoping i can stay on the right track as i have a family to support, my ol lady is working but still we are scraping to get by, so i figure start doing this to build a income and business that would allow me to make money on my schedule so i can still be home in time for when she leaves for work because we got no babysitter.

    Also i know this sounds messed up but i got to make a income to feed my kids, luckily my ol lady works but we still have been struggling, so i was thinking once i got the license to post an ad something like this
    "Are you tired of your local service provider? Are you tired of feeling like "just another account"? For the next month we are running a special, give us a try, you wont be disappointed, show us your current invoice/bill from your current service provider and we will beat it by 10%"
    I know it sounds messed up in that i am stealing customers, but i gotta make money for my family, and im not trying to steal every companies total routes, i would like one or two customers from every company. Around here there are A LOT of companies, most are unlicensed, but i know that ad will piss people off and the established legit companies would probably rat me off to the city. That is the reason i want to be legit before i do that ad. I look at it like this, no one around here is willing to help you out in fear of you taking all their business, and if they were to help with bidding cost it would be to help them instead by giving you tips that would not get you business, everyone is out for themselves. This would hopefully help me get some customers sooner as well as give me an idea on how much to charge certain properties.
    Also this one is out of topic but do you pressure wash? maybe mobile homes? How would you charge for mobile homes? I have bought a pressure washer awhile back but never really used it, i figure i need to make all my equipment make me money instead of it just sitting in the garage taking up space. I wanted to start doing mobile homes because i feel it would be easier as the city does not drive in mobile home parks, and we have set watering days and set hours to water on those days, so i didnt want to get a ticket for using the water when it is not the watering day.

    so any input on my idea i would like to hear and would appreciate the feedback.

    Thanks again smallstripesnc, i appreciate it.
  7. smallstripesnc

    smallstripesnc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 717

    Wow they are pretty strict there but your doing it right by getting legit.

    That advertisement may work for a flier but it wouldn't work of craigslist or anything since mostly everyone looking in the farm and garden services section is actively seeking a lawn care provider. What I personally do is offer a flat rate special. Say $30 for 1/4 acre or under as an ex. Then when they call you and say they agree to the price and are ready to start service get the address and go to findlotsize.com and measure the property (minus the house and drive/walkways) of course and see if it fits within the 1/4 acre. If not then tell them and give them an estimate. It works and a lot of people like that idea it seems. Also I found out the hard way that a lot of people don't have time and don't want someone to come to their property to do a "walk around" with them. They'd rather you view the property online or just drive by yourself and look at it and tell them an estimate.

    As far as power washing is concerned I do not do it. I don't have one but I do see a lot of companies do that offer it.

    I completely understand. I have a family to support as well and that sucks that its so competitive. I'm always very nice to my competition and have met good friends around the area. Sometimes they only offer the same services as me but when they offer more and I have a client ask for "mulch" which I don't do or "weed control" but don't want to hire tru green then I refer them to my client and I know they won't steal my business. It really depends on the person and how busy they are. Personally I get so many calls I'd happily give the business to someone else since I'm near my max of 11 lawns a day a few days of the week and I like the other days to be a little less busy just in case it rains and I need a back up day. Plus I like to get home at a reasonable time.
  8. wgallagher

    wgallagher LawnSite Member
    from CA
    Messages: 32

    Wow 11 yards a day, that would take me forever lol. i hope to one day have around that much, hopefully with a helper though. Wow i never knew there was a website to check out someones lot size, that is great thanks for the handy advice as all your replys have helped me out with information.

    As of right now i have a small party rental business, i have one bouncehouse and some tables and chairs. It is pretty slow and most of the money goes into gas since im dropping the kids off across town to grandmas to watch them while i deliver, ill drop off the rental to the customer, pick up the kids, drive back home across town, just to repeat it all over again. So i was thinking do yard work and maybe sell the bouncehouse.

    The guy that has the vacuum just buys used equipment working or not and fixes them to sell. Now i was thinking of possibly talking to him into a trade equalling what we are both asking for our stuff. I will post pics in a few minutes of what he has that i am interested in, if you could tell me what you think and if you think it would be worth it i would for sure appreciate the feed back. Thanks again smallstripesnc
  9. wgallagher

    wgallagher LawnSite Member
    from CA
    Messages: 32

    this is the info in his ad on craigslist:
    "commercial yard vac with high strength briggs and stratton 8hp engine. comes with 55 gallon bag catcher. really heavy duty. perfect for trash and leaves. $200"

    I saw this in person, on the opposite side there was a few spots of silicone on top of the vacuum right around where the fan sucks up leafs and debri, so im assuming it had some small holes in the plastic frame around the metal fan inside. if that makes sense.

    "great wood chipper. it has a 5hp briggs engine. very powerful. it has big wheels for easy transportation. im asking 140.00 obo."

    "murray select 42 inch riding mower. runs great. very low hours. it is in amazing shape. asking 600.00 obo. "

    So on the yard vac he said he originally had it for $300 but hes had it awhile and so he figured get the $200 he got it for in trade, he says it is strong enough that it had picked up avacados and dry walnuts in the orchard behind his parents house. My ol lady brought up a good point, what if he started to mess it up by sucking up those avacados and walnuts?

    I still rent out the bouncehouse, it has just been slow and most of that money goes back into gas, but it is nice to get $65 for renting it out for 4 hours and all i got to do is drive, set it up, and take it down. But i was thinking of seeing if he would trade since he did seem interedted in the bouncehouse. for those 3 items hes asking $940 obo and im asking 1200 firm so i figure maybe ask to trade the bounce house for all that and $150 or 200 cash (to get my city biz license for lawn care)
    But i am a bit worried of trading for all that and it turns out to be junk. what do you think? You think if i can convince him i should just trade and be coming out ahead, or should i just hustle the cash for the vac? I dont necessarily need this stuff at the moment, just thought it would be nice to have for when i do grow, and also for if and when i get leaf raking jobs or branches to cut. Any input and advice is appreciated thanks.

    commercial yard vac.jpg

    wood chipper.jpg

    murray riding mower.jpg
  10. zippy-phil

    zippy-phil LawnSite Member
    Messages: 41

    if you go legit then you might have to start keeping records and not just cash. Don't forget about taxes and the IRS too. I would also talk to an account, its not that expensive. Good start though. We just started out also. We have still have to borrow mowers sometimes. we have been doing some serious door knocking/door hanging for 3 weeks and have 5 or 6 regulars now. My goal is in 90 days to have 50 accounts.

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