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new business versatility?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by awake, Aug 28, 2009.

  1. awake

    awake LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    hey all,

    the names ryan, and this is my first post here on lawnsite. growing up, i dabbled in lawn care for about 6 years, from 12-18. i worked my way up to about 30 lawns, and was making some serious coin for my age. i also gained a lot of experience, and a pretty good reputation around the community.

    im now 26, and have taken a serious break from outdoor work to explore some other options, and while they have been pretty lucrative, i miss being outside and the satisfied looks on my clients' faces.

    since those days, the lawncare business has seen a serious boom. a recently the economy has me shaken a little about having another, bigger, go at this business.

    obviously for me now, this isnt a "spending money" type of job anymore. this is going to support my family and my current lifestyle, and obviously help me get to retirement.

    i know that i need to be a lot more versatile this time around. a little push mower and residential trimmer and blower aren't going to cut it anymore (no pun intended).

    so my question is: what equipment do i need to acquire before i start to take off. i want to make sure i have all my ducks in a row before i start this thing again. and without getting too personal, i have the money to realistically get whatever i need and want before i start.

    id like to be able to tackle small, cookie cutter accounts with small yards, as well as have the equipment to tackle larger commercial accounts. i dont want to buy too big of a mower for the smaller yards, but i also want to be productive when tackling the accounts with larger areas to mow down.

    is there a good happy medium in the mower market? or should i go for a nice 36" or so commercial WB, and a larger ZTR?

    having both would be nice i guess, but if its not necessary, i dont want to waste the money on both.

    obviously a good backpack, and comm. trimmer will be in order.

    i will be going at this with a partner, and have no problem hiring 1-2 guys for help if need be.

    any advice would be appreciated.

    thanks, ryan.
  2. awake

    awake LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    i should also add that i am not one of the "clueless new guys" that i so often see everybody here complaining about. i won't be tackling any of this until next spring. (searching for accounts this winter)

    i have managed $5M/yr. businesses with 100+ employees for the last 6 years of my life. i know how to run a business, and deal with clients in a polished and professional manner, while also having a firm grasp of how to run a business and manage finances.

    just looking for equip advice, as a guy who has been "out of the loop" for a bit.

    TIA, ryan.
  3. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,889

    #1 Loose the partner........
  4. awake

    awake LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    well the partner is a family member (father in-law) who has a VAST understanding and skill-set for repair and maintenance on any and all lawn equipment. and who is more than capable of running a mower, trimmer or blower.

    the way i see it. 2 people increases our productivity, and maximizes profit, and saves us TONS on PM and repair on our equipment.
  5. jada86

    jada86 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 124

    I agree, lose the partner. If you have the experience and know-how what do you need him for?

    Get one 36" and one 60" ZTR and that way you can do both residential and commercial. Get a nice edger and long and short trimmers too.
  6. Two Seasons

    Two Seasons LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 791

    I'd have to concur about having a partner too.
  7. Two Seasons

    Two Seasons LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 791

    Let me explain why.

    Years ago in a startup (I've done three and the same partner in all three) my partner and I chose to go full-time with our third venture. We were developing close ties to people that would become our distributors. I could not get him to go on the road with me, no way and no how. Finally figured it out that he would get nervous being around other people, casual or business. And I'd known him at that point for several years and didn't have a clue about his fear.

    Anybody that doesn't have the exact same skill set as you with the exact same desire for outcomes, will become a problem IMHO.
  8. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,889

    Ill add to what 2 seasons has said....

    It really is simple landscaping is a labor intensive endeavor, you cannot fight a war and win if all your foot soldiers are generals. Their will in the future be issues over the division of labor, allocation of resource's, billing, distribution of investment and equipment purchase. Businesses often don't turn a profit right away could be a few years how will that be handled, how about lost money, how about profit what are you going to pay the company? the company needs to be paid to grow and sustain itself who has access to it who makes the decision as to what direction the company goes in. Equipment breakage and repair how is that going to be handled. It is 99 degrees outside one of you needs to be shoveling the 8 yards of wet loam down the hill and one needs to sit in the air conditioned truck and meet the next customer for a est.? who dies in the heat. resentment and anger and frustration will surface... one of you is going to take this more seriously than the other, paying taxes, who drives the shiny new truck who gets the beater. Personal sacirfice is massive long hours of unbillible hours who does it for no pay?... up all night to 3:30 am fixing the trailer so lawns can be mowed a 8am. Both of you going to do this.? who answers the phone, who writes the checks, whos the boss? a partner is expensive,,, for every dollar invested 1 dollar should be put in escrow so when one quits their is money to buy out and continue. No escrow?? no buy out business fails your family is in the street.
    If Charles is in Charge then who's the boss? sounds harsh hu? well thats because it is. 50/50 partnership will likely fail one has to give orders and one needs to jump without delay whos that?
  9. richonsa

    richonsa LawnSite Member
    from georgia
    Messages: 66

    Partnerships are tough. The previous poster nailed this thing on the head. Do it on your own. Or, pay your relative to work for you. Then, you can fire him if he becomes a problem.

    Let me ask you this. What is he bringing to the table that will add to your organization? Does he have a certain skill or ability that you lack that is absolutely essential for your venture to succeed? You've cut grass before and you've managed $5M/year businesses, to include client interaction. What more do you need?
  10. Mckenzie's Maintenance

    Mckenzie's Maintenance LawnSite Member
    Messages: 47

    Well on the equipment note...I would go with stihl handhelds...these other guys have the partner issue covered.....although I agree with them on solo ownership

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