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Need Equipment within my budget

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by CoachLinz, Jun 4, 2003.

  1. CoachLinz

    CoachLinz LawnSite Member
    Messages: 126

    I'm kind of new here and sort of new to the business. I've done a few lawns for the past 8 years that I've been doing since college. I've also done some landscaping and mulch for the same people. Well, with the birth of our second child, my wife is no longer working and I gotta make some extra cash to make end meet. So, I decided to take what I've already been doing and go to the next level. I'm a high school business ed and computer teacher full-time. That means my budget is very limited, so please keep this all in mind as you read below and make recommendations.

    I already have a Bobcat 48" w/b and a usable trim mower.
    I have $3,000 left to purchase the following:

    Pickup Truck
    New/Extra blades
    Miscellaneous stuff

    I'm looking to do about 15 weekly lawns plus small landscape projects and mulch. I already have 3 lawns that I've been doing for several years and I am giving an estimate on another on Saturday. I also already have several landscape and mulch jobs lined up. But I still need the equipment listed above to do this right.
    What would you recommend for the lawn equipment? Keep in mind I need all of it for the jobs I've got and We're probably talking about $500-600 total for it all. I know that's not much but with buying the truck (see below) that's what I will have left. I'm not averse to buying cheaper grade stuff until I can pay our savings account back for the initial investment. After that, I plan to re-invest 50% of all profit back into the business. I was looking at a Toro with the interchangable attachments - mainly for trimmer and edger. I also looked at a Homelite (I know...) backpack blower. Seems like some of the handheld blowers I saw have more power though and cost less. Would any of these do for most or all of this 1 season to get rolling.
    How about the truck? I'm looking at a 85 GMC Sierra (305, 1/2 ton) that runs and looks brand new for $2400 or an 86 F-350 (351, 1 ton) w/ 10' flatbed for $700. The Ford will need some work to pass state inspection, the GMC will not. This is pretty much all I've found locally and can't afford to wait long to purchase something or I'll lose these landscape jobs and they are going to make me about $350 profit on each.

    I know it's long and a lot of questions, but I could really use some guidance from those more experienced than I. I want to do this right and I'm not some lowballing scrub. I don't do any jobs that bring me less than $40-60 per hour. That's about the going rate around here except for the really big companies, but my overhead and cost structure is much lower than theirs. Please help constructively. Thanks guys!
  2. Toroguy

    Toroguy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,075

    My formula was to double yearly every year for three years, the formula was out the window faster than the one third rule! You might want to shoot for ten, then upgrade the equipment? One customers demand will not indicate the majorities. Don't be blinded by how many customers many of the folks here have, worry about servicing the ones you have or will have.

    You can fit all the above equip into the 3K figure...if your willing to.
  3. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    I never recommend debt and payments. But it's sems you are in a bit of a pinch right now. Is there any way you could take a small loan for the truck?

    If so the $3,000 should take care of what you need and you should still have a bit of your nest egg left ;)

    Oh, and I find that Echo handheld equipment is a lot of bang for the buck.
  4. glenjr10

    glenjr10 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 98


    i would not buy a dedicated edger. when i started 9 months ago, i purchased one. although i bring it on my trailer every still, i have not used it at all this season. the only reason that i would see using a stick edger would be for new edges, or for bed edging. i would save the 300 and use it for something else.
  5. TaussigLawnCare

    TaussigLawnCare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 206

    $150 echo blower
    $350 echo straight shaft
    $50 blades
    $50 misc
    $600 total
    that would leave you with $2400 for a truck which is not to shabby but remember don't buy something for looks if it is gonna be a landscaper it will get scratched up I promise
  6. thartz

    thartz LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 486

    Keep in mind your most important tool in your vehicle.I would try to get the most bang for your buck there.If you have 5000 dollars worth of equip. but nothing to get it there you are really up a creek.If you buy the truck for 2400 you still have 600 for tools.I'm sure you could get a good weedeater and b/p blower with that easily.Do you have a trailer already? Skip the dedicated edger for now;you can learn to edge with a weedeater with some practice and if you get a big job then rent an edger for it.Some people on this site don't like Lesco equip. but I think some of the Kawasaki hand power tools are very good.
  7. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,028

    I am gonna give you my advice and I don't want you to take it the wrong way. I understand that you are in a tight budget situation and want to do the right thing. You say that you want to take it to the next level, you really have to believe that.

    I would advise you to reconsider the way you are gonna proceed. If you know that you will be able to increase business then you should use that 3000.00 as a base to start with to buy commercial equipment. If you do it the other way with homeowner equipment I will guarantee a few things will happen. You will get very tired of getting tired. Homeowner equipment is slow, its made to be used for a short period 1 time a week. It is hard to blow off a sidewalk filled with wet grass with a blower that is weaker than some ceiling fans.
    You have to ask yourself how much demand there is for edging in your area. Do people expect it every week? Are other LCO's charging for it? If so then you have to research what they use and get a commercial machine.
    String trimmers are a different story for me. I personally do not have lots of heavy trimming to do. I literally have about 1 hour of trimming for 20 hours of mowing. I get by with a homeowner model, but I have burned up 2 of them in the past 8 years. I still would recommend a commercial trimmer.

    Take it to the next level with a decent vehicle that will get you from job to job every week. If you have to take a home equity loan out then do it. That is buying into the business. That will make you seek out jobs to pay for your investment.

    I started with a lawn tractor and homeowner stuff. I burned all of that up in a year and I was starting to not like lawn work. I threw lots of money away. (more than the 3K you have to start) I did not have Lawnsite to get advise from at that time.
    I started with 2K in cash and took out home equity loans to buy equipment. The loans were secured by equipment and my house. It was a great motivator to increase sales. It worked. I now have over 50K in equipment and vehicles all paid for. It can be done if you have the right motivation. You obviously know about business as you teach it so you have a leg up on many people.

    If you buy commercial you have a market if things don't work. If you buy homeowner, your market is a nickel on the dollar garage sale.

    A little long I know and I could go on, I'm trying to help. Good Luck.
  8. CoachLinz

    CoachLinz LawnSite Member
    Messages: 126

    OK, I've been looking on ebay and I have found some commercial stuff that I can get for less than normal store prices.
    I went and drove the GMC truck last night and that's definitely going to be the one I get. It runs and looks like it is brand new. I know looks aren't functionally important, but where I'm getting jobs, I can't roll up in something that looks like it's falling apart either. The guy who is selling it is a 62 yr old retired gentleman who races and builds classic street rods as a hobbie. He has kept this truck in mint condition and rebuilt the engine himself. If I really search for good prices I think I can swing it all. Thanks.
  9. CoachLinz

    CoachLinz LawnSite Member
    Messages: 126

    OK, I bough the truck. Talked him down to $2,100 on it. Picked up the title today, pick up the tags tomorrow afternoon and then pick up the truck after dinner. Now I can get started for real. I've been limping by without a truck. My 48" w/b has been in my garage and not on any lawns, so now I can hit it. Just got a call on my first decent landscape job. They accepted my bid. Should make about $300 profit on about 5-6 hours work.

    So that leaves me still needing a trimmer and blower. I can afford to buy a real nice trimmer and a cheaper blower or the other way around. I'm thinking go for the better trimmer and scimp on the blower. I just can't get both right now. So if I pick up the Echo 260 trimmer, I can afford to get:
    A) the $100 handheld gas blower which supposedly puts out 185 mph/385 cfm
    B) Echo 260L backpack blower for $209 which supposedly has less power - 155 mph I believe.

    What do you think? I want to buy this stuff this weekend, so any help you can give is great. Just don't tell me to go buy a $350 trimmer and $350 blower. Not going to happen right now. If I get the Echo blower I may even have to drop back to the Echo 230 trimmer instead of the 260. Can I get away with the cheaper blower for a season (not doing leaves)? That way I could swing a real good trimmer and a few miscellaneous little things I need.
  10. Lawn-Scapes

    Lawn-Scapes LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,810

    The 230 trimmer will work fine.. get the best blower you can with the $$ you have left. Good luck to ya!!!

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