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lots of questions!!! please look! starting off

slicknick

LawnSite Member
Location
Ohio
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I know all this has been beaten to death, and I have searched with the search feature but asking here in one post will really help me get my act together. So here we go.

1.) Im in the process of making a flyer. Would anyone be able to post a sample flyer that they have used in the past? What are the main things you include on a flyer? Referral rewards? Discount coupons? ANY flyer advice is greatly appreciated.

2.) Since I am starting out, with virtually no equipment, would it be beneficial for me to include on the flyer : As we are a brand new lawn service company, we kindly ask for a response by March 31, 2010 for equipment purposes. Or something like that, how would you word it? My problem is, I want to get my 30 people before buying a truck, trailer, commercial walk behinds, aerator, edgers, weedeaters, blowers etc. If I know how many I have by March 31, it would give me about two weeks here in north east ohio to get my equipment together. ADVICE ON THIS is what I AM MOST CONCERNED ABOUT!

3.) I know this is beaten to death and you guys are going to hate me for this. Can someone please rank the top 5 mower brands in your opinion? Based on quality, not price. All I know is SCAG and Exmark are good brands? Right? (Help!) And Im assuming I should be getting hydro equipment (I dont fully understand the difference between belt driven and hydro so if someone can touch on that quickly, it would be greatly appreciated.)

4.) What brands would you recommend for other equipment? Blowers, edgers (walk behind?) weedeaters, aerators..... Please help by listing a few that you personally would want as your own.

5.) How many hours is too many for a commercial mower? Should I be buying used or new? Im scared to buy used if someone has not properly maintained the equipment.

I'm sure I have more questions but this is a huge start for me. Thanks in advance and by the way, I AM on my way to being legal, taxes and all!
 

Jason Rose

LawnSite Fanatic
Sorry, no flyer help here.

Don't tell people that you are new or don't have equipment. Yes that's nice and honest, but a lot of people are looking for someone that knows what they are doing and that has the equipment to do the job. Some commercial jobs or HOA's will ask for an equipment list even to be sure you are properly equiped to handle the job before they will consider you. (as well as a list of reference propertys).

Pick your equipment based more on dealer support than just what people tell you is good. Grasshopper, Exmark, Toro, Scag, Walker, Bobcat, John Deere, and on and on... They all make good equipment, as do a lot of the "smaller brands" like Husqvarna, Dixon, Encore, etc.

Used is fine. I'd say stay under 1,500 hours when buying something used, but that's not always true depending on what the machine looks like. I see some with 1,000 hours that look like they are ready for the scrapyard and others with 3,000 that barely look a year old. It's all a matter of who owned it. See my "for sale" ad in my signature line. That mower has nearly 1300 hours...

I prefer Stihl handheld equipment and blowers. This hasn't always been the case, but since ethanol is becoming more the norm in gas and the EPA has killed most good 2 stroke engines, I feel that the 4 mix offered by stihl is a great way to go.
 
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slicknick

LawnSite Member
Location
Ohio
Sorry, no flyer help here.

Don't tell people that you are new or don't have equipment. Yes that's nice and honest, but a lot of people are looking for someone that knows what they are doing and that has the equipment to do the job. Some commercial jobs or HOA's will ask for an equipment list even to be sure you are properly equiped to handle the job before they will consider you. (as well as a list of reference propertys).

Pick your equipment based more on dealer support than just what people tell you is good. Grasshopper, Exmark, Toro, Scag, Walker, Bobcat, John Deere, and on and on... They all make good equipment, as do a lot of the "smaller brands" like Husqvarna, Dixon, Encore, etc.

Used is fine. I'd say stay under 1,500 hours when buying something used, but that's not always true depending on what the machine looks like. I see some with 1,000 hours that look like they are ready for the scrapyard and others with 3,000 that barely look a year old. It's all a matter of who owned it. See my "for sale" ad in my signature line. That mower has nearly 1300 hours...

I prefer Stihl handheld equipment and blowers. This hasn't always been the case, but since ethanol is becoming more the norm in gas and the EPA has killed most good 2 stroke engines, I feel that the 4 mix offered by stihl is a great way to go.
Thanks for taking the time to help me out. Good advice! Super clean mower by the way!
 

coolluv

Banned
Location
Atlanta
Your looking for a guarantee that your going to have the customers before you make the investment and that's not the way it works. Its called risk. You spin the wheel and take your chances. There are no guarantees in life. Your concerns are valid but that is why its risky. It takes money to get started and there is no guarantee your going to succeed.

With the way the economy is right now, customers are going to be fewer than when the economy is in better times. If everything is riding on you making it this year, than you may want to wait. Every area is different, some are less effected by this economy some more. Some areas have alot more competition and some less.

There are too many variables to say whether you are going to get 30 customers or not. Your either in the game or your not. Its not an easy game to play like most think. As far as equipment goes, all are good. Pick a brand that you can get serviced locally and build a relationship with that dealer. Go to the dealer and ask questions about the equipment, tell him your situation. Its all personal preference when it comes to the small equipment so it don't matter what you get there. Try to get all the same brand so that you can go to one dealer for all your needs.

Get off the computer and go to a dealer and check it out. You can buy used equipment at the dealer most of the time. Used or new depends on your cash situation. If you have to finance everything then your not ready. Customers aren't guaranteed but those payments every month are.

Dave...
 

Green Industry Pro

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Tyler Texas
I am in the same spot as you. I'm wanting to start a business. Also Ive been dogged over not using search etc... so I know how you feel. OK , let's get to business. First off, flyers. Ive made my own business cards and flyers. I searched the internet and had a hard time finding a good template(I would try to give u a link to the ones I have used but I cant because I cant find any link to send you, so sorry for that). Try going to your word processor program-Word, Word Perfect etc...- maybe u will have a template listed somewhere that u can use(thats how I made my business cards). Sorry but I cant help you out much in way of business cards and flyers. I wouldn't ever put on my flyer anything to do with your business just starting out(equipment isn't any concern of the customer)you need to have everything you need without mentioning it to anyone. On your flyer you should have,your business's name/slogan, a list of the services you provide(DO NOT PUT PRICES ON ANYTHING) the location/ means of contacting your business etc...Feel free to personalize it however you feel is best(there isn't a good way and a bad way, its just what you like). If you have any other questions about cards/flyers or anything else, then just post and I will try to help you.


P.S. I'm making another post on this thread for equipment info.:usflag::usflag::usflag::usflag: I hope this helped some, and sorry I couldn't find a way to send you those links.
 
OP
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slicknick

LawnSite Member
Location
Ohio
I am in the same spot as you. I'm wanting to start a business. Also Ive been dogged over not using search etc... so I know how you feel. OK , let's get to business. First off, flyers. Ive made my own business cards and flyers. I searched the internet and had a hard time finding a good template(I would try to give u a link to the ones I have used but I cant because I cant find any link to send you, so sorry for that). Try going to your word processor program-Word, Word Perfect etc...- maybe u will have a template listed somewhere that u can use(thats how I made my business cards). Sorry but I cant help you out much in way of business cards and flyers. I wouldn't ever put on my flyer anything to do with your business just starting out(equipment isn't any concern of the customer)you need to have everything you need without mentioning it to anyone. On your flyer you should have,your business's name/slogan, a list of the services you provide(DO NOT PUT PRICES ON ANYTHING) the location/ means of contacting your business etc...Feel free to personalize it however you feel is best(there isn't a good way and a bad way, its just what you like). If you have any other questions about cards/flyers or anything else, then just post and I will try to help you.


P.S. I'm making another post on this thread for equipment info.:usflag::usflag::usflag::usflag: I hope this helped some, and sorry I couldn't find a way to send you those links.
Thanks for chiming in. One question, why not put prices on anything? Reason I ask is this. I'm offering a basic weekly package, mow, trim, edge, cleanup. I want to price based on the square footage of the total lawn area. I have taken the square footage from a few lawns that I did last season, including my own. I factored in how long it takes to do the work based on the size, and now I want to offer on my flyer xxxx-xxxx square feet 35.00 xxxx-xxxx 40.00 and so on. This way, if I get called I can go over there, measure out in front of them their square footage, and give them a fair price. It helps me and helps them. Just my opinion.
 

Darryl G

Inactive
I have 5k square foot lawns that take me as long a one acre lawns. It's the detail work that eats time. A tight small lawn with a lot of obstacles and poor access can take a lot of time.

As far as getting work before you get equipment, that just doesn't sound right to me. So if you don't get the number of lawns you want, are you just going to bail out on the whole idea or what? Start out with basic equipment and build the business from there. Depending on lawn size in the area, you may want a 21 inch pusher and a 36 incher, a handheld blower and a string trimmer and just a full sized pickup to start. Ramp the stuff into the truck bed. Then as you grow add a trailer and a bigger walk behind mower or rider.

As far as equipment, Exmark mowers have treated me well as has Shindaiwa handheld stuff.

As far as belt drive vs hydro. Belt drives use belts to drive the wheels and you apply brakes to turn. The reverse gear on a belt drive is more like a reverse assist, you have to muscle the machine around a bit. On a hydro, there are two type, single and dual. They use hydraulic motors to drive the wheels. On a dual hydro, you have independent front and reverse on each wheel, so you can literally spin them around around on a dime, thus the term zero turn. All my equipment is electric start and hydro drive, even my 21 inch mower, but if you're just starting out, that may be more of a luxury than a necessity.

The problem I see with most start up lawn care business is that they are way under capitalized. They literally don't have any money to start off with, so the smallest glitch can put them out of business. If you can't afford to put new brakes on your truck, a new motor on your mower, or replace a piece of handheld equipment and do so without interupting the services you provide, you're not ready to start a business in my opinion. I'm not picking on you...that's a general statement.

Well good luck.
 
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slicknick

LawnSite Member
Location
Ohio
I have 5k square foot lawns that take me as long a one acre lawns. It's the detail work that eats time. A tight small lawn with a lot of obstacles and poor access can take a lot of time.

As far as getting work before you get equipment, that just doesn't sound right to me. So if you don't get the number of lawns you want, are you just going to bail out on the whole idea or what? Start out with basic equipment and build the business from there. Depending on lawn size in the area, you may want a 21 inch pusher and a 36 incher, a handheld blower and a string trimmer and just a full sized pickup to start. Ramp the stuff into the truck bed. Then as you grow add a trailer and a bigger walk behind mower or rider.

As far as equipment, Exmark mowers have treated me well as has Shindaiwa handheld stuff.

As far as belt drive vs hydro. Belt drives use belts to drive the wheels and you apply brakes to turn. The reverse gear on a belt drive is more like a reverse assist, you have to muscle the machine around a bit. On a hydro, there are two type, single and dual. They use hydraulic motors to drive the wheels. On a dual hydro, you have independent front and reverse on each wheel, so you can literally spin them around around on a dime, thus the term zero turn. All my equipment is electric start and hydro drive, even my 21 inch mower, but if you're just starting out, that may be more of a luxury than a necessity.

The problem I see with most start up lawn care business is that they are way under capitalized. They literally don't have any money to start off with, so the smallest glitch can put them out of business. If you can't afford to put new brakes on your truck, a new motor on your mower, or replace a piece of handheld equipment and do so without interupting the services you provide, you're not ready to start a business in my opinion. I'm not picking on you...that's a general statement.

Well good luck.
Thanks. Basically what Im learning from reading everyones responses is that I need to get the equipment and take what I can get with the customer response. I have $10,000 cash set aside for start up, and I am looking to buy two of everything. I look at it as, if I buy everything, and I fail somehow, I could still resell it and recoup at least 80% of my investment. A small price to pay for the reward that could benefit! Im looking into snapper pros, I have heard good reviews on them based on quality and bang for the buck. What would you have to say about them? Good as intro mowers? As for the rest of the equipment Im going Stihl. Everything from Stihl.

One thing though, can I get two stihl trimmers, and swap out the heads for an edger blade, a hedge trimming blade, etc, so that way I dont own 6 different machines?
 

Darryl G

Inactive
Well, 2 of everything may be overkill. I also started out with 10K. I bought a 48 inch Turf Tracer HP, a Shindaiwa EB630 backpack blower and a Shindaiwa multi-tool which can take different attachements. I agree that's a good way to go. I added a custom 6 x 12 landscape trailer quickly. I already had a 3/4 ton pickup truck, a 21 inch mower and a landscape tractor with front end loader and backhoe and hand tools. I'm not a big Stihl fan...I bought a Stihl trimmer at first and that's what it did best, sit still, lol, but that was back when they were having carburator probs. I brought it back to my dealer..actually I practically threw it at him, and got the Shindaiwa instead.

I don't have 2 of everything but I have stuff that can fill in. I have one walk behind and one rider which can each do the job. You could get one backpack blower and one handheld. They each have their place but if your backpack goes down you could blow driveway and walks off with the handheld. It's not a bad idea to have a second power head for your multi tool, but maybe buy one light one for basic trimming and then one larger one for running the more demanding tools. In other words, I wouldn't recommend getting 2 identical pieces of everything, just stuff that can do the job but also has another purpose as well...some overlap in capabilities. But if you don't need it, don't buy it until you do. I held off until getting the power pruner attachment for my multi-tool until last year when I got a job that would pay for in one use. Bascially the increased efficiency I gained with it over using hand tools paid for it in saved time on the job.
 
OP
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slicknick

LawnSite Member
Location
Ohio
Well, 2 of everything may be overkill. I also started out with 10K. I bought a 48 inch Turf Tracer HP, a Shindaiwa EB630 backpack blower and a Shindaiwa multi-tool which can take different attachements. I agree that's a good way to go. I added a custom 6 x 12 landscape trailer quickly. I already had a 3/4 ton pickup truck, a 21 inch mower and a landscape tractor with front end loader and backhoe and hand tools. I'm not a big Stihl fan...I bought a Stihl trimmer at first and that's what it did best, sit still, lol, but that was back when they were having carburator probs. I brought it back to my dealer..actually I practically threw it at him, and got the Shindaiwa instead.

I don't have 2 of everything but I have stuff that can fill in. I have one walk behind and one rider which can each do the job. You could get one backpack blower and one handheld. They each have their place but if your backpack goes down you could blow driveway and walks off with the handheld. It's not a bad idea to have a second power head for your multi tool, but maybe buy one light one for basic trimming and then one larger one for running the more demanding tools. In other words, I wouldn't recommend getting 2 identical pieces of everything, just stuff that can do the job but also has another purpose as well...some overlap in capabilities. But if you don't need it, don't buy it until you do. I held off until getting the power pruner attachment for my multi-tool until last year when I got a job that would pay for in one use. Bascially the increased efficiency I gained with it over using hand tools paid for it in saved time on the job.
your right, two of everything would be overkill. i still want two multi tools, one as a full time weedeater and another as a full time edger. one for me and one for my partner to use at the same time to save time overall.
 
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