How hard is it to be a one man landscaper using simple hand tool (shovels, wheel barrels, ext.) and no bob cats or such; while trying to turn a good profit. What are some of your key pieces of equipment?
you are definitely limiting your profit potential by not using machines or any labor help.if you have enough work you should have some help.i have been in the industry many years and recently started my own buisness and the bobcat has been the most helpful.i currently rent but my first major purchase will be a bobcat.
I think it is much easier and cost effective to start as a solo lawn Care operator than a Landscaper, but even there your profit potential is limited, but enough t6o get by. I mean it is easy to make $200.00 p/day. The trimmer and blower are pretty light. comared to landscape materials.
After 2 years of solo lawn care work I took on an occasional part timer last year for the more labor intensive lawn and landscape jobs. I think labor costs last year were about 6K. This year I bought a ASL300 Compact Loader to assist in many areas and cutting some labor costs were one area. My goal this year is to do more landscape work and less lawn carework for it pays much better.
I have been doing it solo for 3 years now and making good profit. I sub out my tractor work and hauling and do the rest myself. I do not have many fancy tools, but i would say the most important i have and the one thing that helps me with time is a bededger. You do not need the largest fanciest tool out there. You can find little things to make you more efficient in being a one man show. I have enjoyed it and will continue to be solo as long as i can.
Your body is your most valuable commodity. If you get a job that entails a lot of labor, rent the equipment you need until you are able to buy and as you get busier, try to find good part time help.
I started in lawn maintenance and as years passed, I slowly worked on getting landscape installations. Now my total workload is about 50/50.
Your body at 30 years old is not going to feel the same when your 45. So work towards something that will make the work easier on you as time goes along. You don't need to start with alot, but you want to be able to finish the race and still be able to right yourself after putting your socks and shoes on.
Working for a small company (three people, I'm the only employee), I know a lot about labor.
We have 2 trucks, 2 trailers, a JD 4300 tractor, a Bed Shaper, a sod cutter and a broke-a$$ tiller. 3 attachments for the tractor. Various small 2-cyle tools.
In our small market, we do fine. We are roughly 50/50 landscape maintenance/installs. No mowing, don't ever intend to get into that.
Would another piece of equipment help? Certainly. However, it would need to be utilized an awful lot to pay for itself. IF the next purchase is another piece of equipment, not a truck or a trailer, it's a toss up between a Dingo/MT52 and a fullsize skidsteer. We'll have to weigh our options when the time comes.
You can do a lot with your hands. You can also do a LOT more with rental equipment! Get a good credit account, and write in the cost the equipment into your jobs, whether you own it or rent it. Learn what options you have at your local rental yards. A mini-excavator is a wonderful thing, one you will use enough to rent on occasion, but probably not enough to purchase. A skidsteer is the same way if you are small and starting out.
In our case, a tractor to load mulch was a must-have, as there was no where close to buy it in bulk. Closest place is 25 minutes+ away....
Get good at what you do without equipment, you'll be even better once you can afford to buy the larger stuff.
Look at one of these if you are considering a Dingo: http://www.asvi.com/rc_30_specs.cfm
The Polaris version is the ASL300. (Exact same machine)
This will outperform any Dingo and right now these things are under 15K! I just bought one. Get a special adpater plate from ASV and you can step up to the UQA smaller Bobcat attachments or just do the quick disconnect and step down to all the RC-30 attachments.
Let me know if you want any further info