Newbie here - need some advice (starting own business)

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Johnson1999, Sep 2, 2003.

  1. Johnson1999

    Johnson1999 LawnSite Member
    from NY
    Messages: 4

    Thinking of starting a landscaping business with a friend of mine. Need to know 1) what kind of equipment we'll need and also 2) what that equipment costs - to figure out the start up costs.

    We figure we'll need some sort of transportation (truck?) - two professional grade mowers (which brand/model should we get???), two blowers, and two edgers to start.

    Any advice on what we'll need or things to look out for when starting out in this business would be great!

  2. battags

    battags LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 607

    Walk before you decide to run......

    It's easier to start small and build a solid base as opposed to planning to run a huge opperation and find yourself in over your head.

    Use the search function on this site to help you along and good luck!

  3. Rick Jones

    Rick Jones LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 427

    What type of accounts are you looking to service and what is your budget? Those are two important questions that will help you make sensible equipment purchases.
  4. Johnson1999

    Johnson1999 LawnSite Member
    from NY
    Messages: 4

    We are initially looking to start small - 20 small residential accounts (maybe one or two small commerical ones as well) to learn the business. We have up to about $25K to invest - however if we can spend less - we will. We want to get equipment that 1) will last and 2) we can use as we get more/bigger accounts.
  5. TLS

    TLS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,943

    Thats your FIRST mistake!!!

    Go on your own. Partnerships are tough, and will SURELY end your friendship.

    Why do you need him? Or does he need you?

    Sole Proprietorships are far less of a hassle, and easier to do the bookwork.

    Just my thoughts.
  6. Rick Jones

    Rick Jones LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 427

    This is JMO, but, I would go with a 36" Hydro walk-behind, or maybe even a Stander, and a 60" ZTR. The 36" will allow you to fit thru gates that others with larger mowers will pass up, plus when coupled with a sulky, it can still mow larger areas fairly efficiently. I have found that many of the LCOs around here run 48" and larger walk-behinds and won't do gated areas. The 36" enables you to get into those backyards and charge a pretty good rate because nobody else wants to do it.

    Brand selection is largely dependent on what types of dealers you have nearby. If the only thing around you for 50 miles is Scag dealers, that's probably what you are going to want to use.

    I don't know what exactly you are looking for in a truck, but I do know for about $4-5 grand you can get something reliable that looks respectable as well.

    You'll also need a trailer to pull your equipment. I'd recommend at least a 6 x 12. That should allow you to put your walkbehind on sideways in the front and pull the ZTR in behind that.

    I see you have mentioned 2 edgers in your list. What about the string trimmers? I would only get 1 edger unless you are going to be doing a ton of edging. Trimmers you will probably want to have two, but you can get away with just one to start. Just make sure the trimmers/edgers/blowers are a good name like RedMax or Shindaiwa.

    This is just a little bit of info to get you started. Like Battags said, try the search function. There is a wealth of info archived here. Also check the New in the Business Forum and maybe even subscribe to some trade publications. The more you know the better off you'll be.
  7. Rick Jones

    Rick Jones LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 427

    Agreed, TLS. Although, it seems like most of the time when LCOs begin as partnerships it is due to the lack of startup capital.
  8. yardmonkey

    yardmonkey LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 341

    I agree with TLS - business and friends don't mix. (You guys may be the rare exception, though). Also complicates the accounting. Might be better for one of you to employ the other. Or just each go into business for yourselves and you can work with each other when you need help. Just make sure you have a good understanding with each other of how things work.

    Most guys would say you need a trailer. I don't use one and you can do without it, but probably you should get one.

    The first rule of equipment is ALWAYS buy commercial quality.

    Most here would probably advise get a big mower. Probably you can do what you need with 21" mowers. I use Honda HRC215's, which are about $800. The more powerful 216's are over $1000. There are different features available with these mowers - I use the ones with BBC (blade brake clutch) and self-propelled. (HRC215SXA, I think). Toros are good too. Tons of discussions here on lawnsite about which 21" mowers are the best.

    I don't use edgers, I edge with string trimmers (weedeaters).
    Currently using Honda HHT25S trimmer - about $300. Lots of discussion here about trimmers too and also about trimmers vs. edgers.

    Lots of guys use super-powerful backpack blowers but you can get adequate blowers for $250 or so.

    You might want to get a chainsaw - I like the Echo CS300 - about $200.

    And you will want to get a bunch of smaller tools - loppers, shears, pruners, shovels, rakes, etc. A.M Leonard is a good source for quality tools -

    Maybe some good ladders - I use 6'and 10' fiberglass stepladders - for tree trimming, gutter cleaning, trimming larger shrubs, etc.

    You need to find out what to do with yard waste. In my city we get to take it to the compost facility at no charge. Some LCOs actually buy land to dump stuff on.

    Keep all your receipts, record all your transactions and try to find an accountant you like.

    And get all the books you can, and keep reading lawnsite!

    Good luck.....
  9. CNYScapes

    CNYScapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 916

    If you can go new, then do it. But if you want to save the dough until you get some accounts, there is nothing wrong with buying some used stuff. When I started out this was my setup:

    used 1- 60" Ferris 3 wheel rider - $1000
    used 1- 36" Snapper WB - $500
    1- Crapsman blower- $100
    1-Echo trimmer - $200
    1-Echo hedge trimmer-$250
    Miscellaneous rakes/shovels - $150
    used 6X12 Trailer - $500
    Ad in local paper - $200
    I already had a truck

    $2900 total and thats all I had for my first summer. I picked up about 15 lawns that summer and made about $9000 after working my regular job. This was about 6 years ago. Good luck starting out! :blob3:
  10. Johnson1999

    Johnson1999 LawnSite Member
    from NY
    Messages: 4

    Thanks for the input - its greatly appreciated!

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