Need some advice

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by intimidator782, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. intimidator782

    intimidator782 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 77

    This is my first post on this site, So far i am ver pleased with all the info on here. I am looking for some help in starting a business. Ive got a '95 Chevy 1500 and a 5'x8' landscape trailer. My equipment is a Craftsman 42" rider, a craftsman push mower, homelite weedeater and looking for a blower. I am looking to sell aome of this and get some commercial equipment and a 6'x12' trailer. I have been looking on Craigslist for used Echo, Stihl, or Shinindiawa equipment. Is this a good idea? Also looking for some help in how to get more customers. As of now i only have about 7 lawns and was switching out equipment all last year. Im done with residential equipment. Any help would be very appreciated

    NWALAWNS LawnSite Member
    Messages: 11

    obviously doing 7 yards you currently do this part time. Is your goal in the next year or two to do this full time of is this just going to be a way to make extra money. What size lawns are you marketing or wanting to mow as that will determine the appropriate equipment for your business. Determining the size lawns you are wanting to service will also determine the type of marketing you will need to do to get the customers you need. Smaller lots 1/4 to 1/3 acre lots door hangers do very well and are very cost effective. If you go that route make sure you put it on the door not in the driveway or on the mail box as they are not as effective at getting a good response rate. I would recommend getting full color door hangers that have a strong offer on them that encourages a response (phone call or email). With door hangers you usually get about a 1% response rate, I personally got 2 to 3 % depending on the neighborhood. As for the equipment, what type of budget do you have for the equipment? I started a few years ago and started with 21" Toro walk behind mower, I did not mow yards over 1/3 acre. It was not the mower I wanted but the mower I could afford at the time. I have since moved to the Better Outdoors Product Quick 32 Single Hydro and a Quick 36 dually. I also have a riding mower for some work I do on vacant properties. My opinion on equipment it either get something commercial as it will give you a better cut or go with small residential mowers as the grass will look good after mowing, which will help you get more customers. I personally use Echo handhelds, all of which I got my first year at Home Depot or Wise Sales. They hold up well and when you break one parts are easily available. Good Luck.
  3. intimidator782

    intimidator782 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 77

    I am looking to do big and small yards full time. I would like to do Small yards with just push mowers one day in the week and then haul the riding mower on a day when i have big yards to do. I was thinking that would keep me from pulling a trailer when im only doing small lawns. I have a fairly small budget, but was thinking i could get a high dollar piece of equipment and then use what else i have and as i get more money update all my equipment to commercial. What are some good models of weedeaters and blowers?

    NWALAWNS LawnSite Member
    Messages: 11

    I don't know what the market is like where you are. I am in Northwest Arkansas which shouldn't be too much different from where you are. As for the neighborhoods, I don't know if they are like the way they are here or not. If most of your neighborhoods are small lots, being .30 acres or less before improvements, you may be better off just using walk behind mowers. Most customers are not going to want to pay for the job a tractor type riding lawn mower is going to give. A ZTR is great if you can pay for one but to get one that has a welded deck (don't get one with a stamped deck) you will pay close to 6K for a new one on the bottom end. The stamped decks do not hold up and do not appear to mow as well. I would suggest that you either stick with 21" mowers as they are very affordable or get a commercial walk behind (32 or 36 inch) so they will still fit in most back yards. As I said earlier, I have the Better Outdoor Products mowers they run about between $2500 and $4000 depending on the model and size you get. I believe this way you would have happier customers that will stay with you year after year and it will keep your equipment cost down as well. As for the lawns you could ride, I would do them while your mower lasts and once it doesn't run anymore either replace it or mow with the smaller mowers. I find that here in NWA, there is a lot of competition for the larger yards but very little for the smaller lawns. Most of the guys around here have expensive equipment and most of the ones I have met and that were willing to talk to me had huge loans for the equipment they have. I started with the 21" mowers and paid cash for everything I have. As I make more money each year I purchase more and bigger equipment.

    As for the hand tools, I personally use the Echo brand because I have had good luck with them. We have a local company that has a ton of parts for them, so it makes sense for me to use them and I really haven't had any issues other than me abusing them every once in a while. I would suggest that you get a back pack blower, the largest one you can afford. Line Trimmer, I use the Echo SRM-260 and SRM-260S they are straight shaft trimmers which I prefer. Edger, I use the Echo PE-265S some people just use the line trimmer. I personally like the edger because it is faster more consistent and rocks don't go flying like they do with the line trimmer. When you look at 21" mowers or the handheld equipment you should look at Wisesales they have free shipping on anything that is over $200 and there prices are better than Home Depot and you don't have to pay sales tax.

    Outside of that I would suggest you get a website if you really want to look professional. Get some door hangers, and get them early you should be passing them out in the Middle of February around here. You will be scalping yards in March so you will only have about 3 or 4 weeks to get your flyers out. Then you can pass some out the End of March and get a few more customers.

    If you need any help let me know.

    Executive Lawn Services
  5. motorscot

    motorscot LawnSite Member
    Messages: 133

    I started with 5 yards using a troy bilt bronco 42" rider from Lowes, a troybilt rwd self propelled 22" from Lowes, and troy bilt multi tools (edger, trimmer, pole saw), and electric blower. I pulled a 5x7 trailer with my 92 Accord. That was in 2006.

    In 2007 I picked up a 98 model Bunton walk behind for $750 and that was the best $750 I ever spent. I later sold the Bronco for $900 (paid 1600) and bought a used Toro 62" ZTR for $2000. Used it for a year and sold it for $3000.

    Bought 3 other WB mowers over the interim and gave the Bunton to my church. It finally blew the motor at age 11.

    Keep paying cash and working your way up. Overhead will kill you if you let it. Buy used Commercial (not Consumer) equipment as you can afford it. Even mowers with 1200+ hours have plenty of life left if they are well maintained. has great deals on business cards and other ad stuff (like magnet signs for your car/truck). Buy magnet packs from Home depot and instead of using one card sized magnet per card, cut them into 10 pieces each. Cards can be put on mailboxes and then later on the person's refridgerator door. For $100 you can get a couple of thousand cards which could lead to 40-100 customers (based on 2-5 percent return)

    Good luck

    NWALAWNS LawnSite Member
    Messages: 11

    I would have to agree with motorscot on getting used equipment if you can find it for mowers. I personally wouldn't get used handhelds because by the time someone gets rid of them they are typically not worth getting, unless somehow you get lucky and find some that are barely used. I have looked at getting a used mower but I just can't bring myself to buy something that I haven't touched off of the internet that is used. Everything around here that I have seen used is either worn out or is the larger mowers that I really don't need because of the size lawns that I service.

    Vistaprint has some good deals, I used this year for business cards and post cards. Right now the business cards are 50% off so you can get 1000 glossy cards in full color front and back for about $40.00. The post cards I got for commercial business, I also got from they were 60% off and got 2000 full color front and back with a glossy finisht for about $110.00. has sales each month so just check the site and you can see what they are running specials on. You might also look at, I used them last year and order 10,000 door hangers from them. They have sales each month you just have to check and see what is on sale and get what you need then. I got the 10,000 door hangers with the cuts in full color both sides glossy for about $500.00. They also have a sale each month.

    Motorscot said something in his post that I believe makes or breaks most people in this business, especially when they are just starting out. "Keep paying cash and working your way up. Overhead will kill you if you let it." I have a few friends that tried to talk me out of doing lawn care several years ago because they had done it before and they said you couldn't make any money doing it. They all had the exact same story which was they financed most of the equipment and trailers they had and could not make the payments in the off season. They had large expensive equipment, and they were looking for customers with larger lawns which is what most of the competition wants as well.
  7. Jay Ray

    Jay Ray LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,510

    Most guys on here will not buy used 2-cycle equip unless they know the person selling it very well.

    imo the 1st best thing you can do is to buy a good, new commercial trimmer, $320 to $400. Keep the Gnomelite for backup. You couldn't give it away for free to most guys on here.

    The 2nd thing, if you do leaves, is buy a new high output bp blower, $450 to $575. Or a good dealer bought handheld blower could get you by most of the time, $150 to $200. No big box stuff.

    Keep your eye out for a really good deal on a commercial z, and grab it quick if one comes into sight. You might keep the 42" for backup. It won't bring much money.

    You can search this site and learn a lot about specific equipment before you buy.
  8. Grass Shark

    Grass Shark LawnSite Senior Member
    from Zone 7
    Messages: 660

    Redmax Trimmer. You can buy a new 2401-S trimmer for about $320 or you are going to pay $200 for a used something that is ready to die with no dealer support and no warranty. As for mower I would buy a 36"-48" walk behind depending on the size of the properties you are doing. DO NOT BUY ANYTHING from Home Depot, Lowes, etc. You need commercial grade which they do not sell "true" commercial grade and you need dealer support. When your trimmer breaks and you take it to home depot for warranty and they tell you it will be back in 5-10 days what do you do?

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