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My equipment buy list... any red flags?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Whitey4, Feb 12, 2008.

  1. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    Going into my second year, and now I'm serious. Dumped all my "will call" accounts from last year, got certified for pesticides and got 100% legal. Business plan is as a solo, target of 40 to 50 accounts, all full service apps, planting installations, full maintenance, total IPM commitment. Small properties, most gated, with 3 to 5k of turf, 1 to 3k of beds.

    I've decided on the following equipment purchases with list prices:

    Quick 32 w/15hp Kawi, accellerator catcher-$2,700.
    Kawasaki KHS-750 hedge trimmer- $349. (30' single side cut)
    RedMax 8001 blower- $525
    Echo 265 string trimmer- $299 (with edgit, $70)

    I was looking at the Echo HC-200 hedger, but it's $459, and my dealer recommends the Kawi for 100 bucks less. I haven't seen many comments on this Kawasaki, so any feedback there would be helpful.

    The dealer was also trying to sell me on the Stihl FS-90, claiming that the linear power curve/RPM ratio was better on a 4 stroke vs. the logrithmic power curve/RPM ratio of the two stroke Echo 265. List price on both units are 299. I'm no engine expert.... any thoughts on this?

    Lastly, if I do change my mind and go with a Stihl, are these power attachment accessories durable and reliable? If I go Stihl, should I go with one of these combi-units, or whatever they call them over the dedicated FS90 string trimmer?

    As a solo, only I will operate the equipment, so it won't get abused. Any feedback, thoughts or comments are very welcome before I pull the trigger. (Yes, I can get all of this except the Quick from one dealer, and won't pay list). Thank you in advance.
  2. brianlooft

    brianlooft LawnSite Member
    Messages: 42

    Hey Whitey4,
    Seems like you had a good first year. Can you give any tips as to how you had a lot of succes in the first year? I am in the area and want to make this a full time business ASAP. Any thoughts would be helpful.
  3. Valk

    Valk LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,743

    List looks good, looks complete.

    Take advantage of BOP's Free Freight that ends later this week...this counts towards all accessories - extra blades, Pro Pack, mulch plate, etc...
  4. lawnpro724

    lawnpro724 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,201

    I would get a double sided hedge trimmer instead of single you will be more productive.
  5. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    I was a hacker last year. Honestly. I took the dreg accounts that even the low ballers didn't want. I wasn't licensed, insured... nothing. I had over 20 "call me when you want a cut accounts". Miserable. I knew this was no way to run an LCO. I was able to get about 8 properties renovated into respectability. Those are the only accounts I carried into this year. I got certified for pesticides, got all the permits and licenses, studied my butt off (I have to mention that I do have some formal training in horticulture, am an avid gardener and have won ribbons at the Nassau county fair for produce) and started this year on a shoestring budget.

    Courses, test fees, licenses, permits, et al, ran about $1,700, which is about $1000 more than it would cost elsewhwere, but this is Long Island, NY. I volunteer at the near famous Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, and use that in my ads and door hangers. I've been pounding pavement since last week distributing door hangers. My pitch is IPM, and I have to be able to back that up. I only go after small residentials..... no yellow pages. Tight route, church bulletin ads.

    Even though it is snowing here today, got my first call from the 350 door hangers I put out. Why did this guy call me? He said he never sees his LCO, and the lawn looks worse that it did when he started 3 years ago. He sends crews. I KNEW this was my edge. The tag lone on my door hanger says:

    We care for your property as though it was our own.
    As the owner, I will be on site whenever work is performed.
    We don't use large crews, so we can offer professional, personalized service.

    So, I can't claim success yet, but I think I have the right business plan, a targeted ad program, and the know how to make IPM work, and do it better than the mow and blow big crews of illegals guys.

    I had this customer sold before we got off the phone. Tomorrow, even in the snow, I will walk the property, get the square footage, look over his ornamentals. I told him I won't put down lime without a pH test, which I do no charge. "Why spend 40 bucks on lime if the pH is 6.9?" I talked about how a good turf man REDUCES the use of pesticides and saves money in the process.

    Unless the turf grub count is somewhere over 5 per sq foot of turf, no grub control in the spring. Killing overwintered grubs requires a higher dose of insecticide. Much better to kill the much more vulnerable young larvae in late summer, instead of applying grub control on the spring that will only make the surviving grubs and their young newly hatched larvae in late July more pesticide resistant.

    This customer was hearing everything he wanted to hear. Around here, they want results, and the mow and blow guys eventually lose their customers as the lawn goes to chit. I also drop off a lot of literature about IPM, proper irrigation, etc. All of this is the cornerstone of my business plan and strategy. When I can get a potential customer to talk to me, he will be sold every time, unless he strictly a price shopper. If he is, I don't want him anyway.

    Well, that was quite a tangent.... especially for a relative newbie.

    But.... my business plan and my target customer base drives every decision I make, including what equipment to buy. I don't want commercial accounts, so won't buy 48 or 60" machines. I'm looking for the customer that has a relatively small property, wants it to look like a Scott's commercial, and is willing to pay what it takes to get there. The 8 full service accounts I kept from last year will be more profitable than the 30 mow and blows I had last year.

    So, anyone ever use that Kawi hedge trimmer? LOL...
  6. lawnbutch

    lawnbutch LawnSite Member
    from Colo.
    Messages: 177

    Take a look at the kawi handhelds. You can change attachments on any of the commercial trimmers to a hedge trimmer and a twin turboblade.
  7. newz7151

    newz7151 LawnSite Silver Member
    from Tejas
    Messages: 2,419

    The 4 stroke/4 mix stuff has more torque, it just doesn't sound like it has that extra gruff power until you get a trimmer in some stringy weeds that get wrapped around the head and it pulls the trimmer out of your hands.
  8. Sal200

    Sal200 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 60

    Ya I would like to know too, as I am from Long Island as well. Im also looking to expand my business
    Edit: Never mind i read your post up above
  9. Big C

    Big C LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,642

    This does not count toward accessories....I ordered a mulch kit and an extra set of high lift blades on yesterday and was charged $13 shipping to Louisiana.....may want to double check....
  10. RonB

    RonB LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 427

    I agree, get the double side hedge trimmer. I couldn't imagine cutting to the left (or right) all the time.

    The FS 90 R has been real good for me so far. Just today I bought the pruner attachment for some crepe myrtles that were way to tall. Cost $200 but was worth it. The blade comes in handy too. Get shaft drive for sure.

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