Renting a mower or other solutions

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Remsen1, Feb 20, 2006.

  1. Remsen1

    Remsen1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,020

    I've been invited to bid on a property that is much larger than my target clientelle. I know the manager quite well, he said they aren't happy with the current lawn company. My friend is also in charge of collecting the bids evaluating the operations and giving his recommendation to the higher ups, and they almost always follow his recommendation. It sounds like a good situation cause their bidding system works on a bell curve so the highest and the lowest bids are thrown in the garbage, also you can only bid if your invited and he's required to obtain at least 3 bids. Basically this leaves the bids that are submitted at a reasonable price. Then as long as they are satisfied with your work it will be yours for as long as you want it (it took the other company 2 full years of being unreliable and unpredictible and multiple chances before they put this up to re-bid. The only reason I mention all this is to paint a picture that I will be compensated fairly for this work and there will be little to no PITA factor. Now on to my question...

    My operation currently is not equipped to service an account of this size, but it is definately something that I would like to grow into. The opportunity comes at a time when I don't have the capital in cash or credit to ramp up for this in time for mowing season.

    I'm sure many of you have encountered this while growning your businesses and was wondering if you have any suggestions.

    I'm going to need at least one more 61" and a bigger trailer (minimum), and it would be nice to have another trimmer and another backpack. The aquisition of this client alone would not only support the cost of operations but also the cost of adding this equipment, salary and profit.

    Here are some options that I have thought of for the short term until I can make the necessary purchases:

    1.) Rent another mower and a bigger trailer.
    2.) Ask another LCO that I am friends with to work at an hourly rate.
    3.) Submit a price for the whole year and ask for payment in 1/3'rds, one third before the season starts, I'd be able to purchase the equipment and run my operations on this, but with no profit.

    Some of you guys have been through this growth, what got you through it?
  2. cush

    cush LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 352

    Looks like you have been in business a while and if you don't have the capital to buy the new equipment you probably wont have enough to profit on this account. The thing is if you buy a new larger mower you need to keep it in the field at least 3 days a week for it to make you money. Sometimes bigger is not always better.
  3. Remsen1

    Remsen1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,020

    I appreciate the reply. And here is some more information. My business supports itself very well (and then some) but the last couple years it has been my personal/family expenses that have put me in a situation where I do not have the capital on hand for the equipment that I need. This account will be very profitable, if I win the bid. If I loose the bid then I won't have to worry. I will not win it and have it be unprofitable (is that a word?), my bid will have plenty over and above my expenses. This account will require 2 61"s for 8-14 hours per week.

    Before my post gets side tracked (cause I'm not asking for advice on bidding correctly, or making sure I make a profit, i can handle that)....

    I'm asking what kind of creative measures have other LCOs taken to obtain equipment resources during a growth transition?
  4. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    The first thing I would do is figure out how many mowings and at what price to get some feel for a total. Then I would figure in maybe the chance for additional revenue (yes, I know it isn't using the mower) in terms of fert, aerting, mulch, etc.

    Next I would project where/how else this mower and trailer can be used on present jobs and perhaps some future ones I want. For me, I would totally forget about option 1, be very leary of option 2, and might go for 3. I think your best bet is to finance any additional equipment.
  5. mmacsek

    mmacsek LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 549

    What Rodfather said. What I have found is when you get jobs like this more will follow. Definitely try and upsell. I don't do jobs that big but I try for full service accounts. I did have to buy additional equipment at times but paid off in the long run. If you do purchase the mower and trailer aggressively seek more work to justify the purchases. Good luck. Matt
  6. deereman

    deereman LawnSite Senior Member
    from USA
    Messages: 518

    Yes I agree with the financing equipment myself. I wish I could remember a flyer from our local Deere dealer that I got last year, it was a flyer that had there rates for renting equipment such as lawn tractors and ZTR's. The lawn tractor rental price wasnt to bad, but the ZTR price was a little different. It was quite a bit more. This would only be for emergency purposes only in my eyes.And not that of all summer mowing like you said , I just dont think that would be in you or your business best interest.
  7. Trukfr8

    Trukfr8 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 22

    Well i have some wacky input. Is there any reason why you can not handle the job with the equipment you already have? I know you said you will need at least another 61", but you said you would "like" to have another trimmer and another backpack.But are the trimmer and backpack a must? I would definately look into asking another LCO for help, at least until you can get the right equipment.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    Like Rod mentioned, can't you finance the new equipment?? I know a lot of guys (not you necessarily) seem allergic to credit...but that's what financing is for, to enable you to purchase things when you don't have the money.

    There's a couple places that rent WBs around here, but I don't know if any rent anything large like you would need.
  9. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,373

    I agree with the financing.

    If you look around, there's companies that have 0% for 2-3 years.

    This is the route I go.

    I know I have more than enough work to make up buying equipment, by far, but if I can pay for it for the 2-3 years that I keep it, and it not cost me any more money, I'll always finance.

    You can buy a new mower for less than $300 / month if you finance the whole amount, pay 2 months / time in the summer, and you don't have a payment in the winter.

    If you're going to buy a new 61" mower and have it with you all the time, it sounds like you're at that stage where you're going to have to get twice the lawns to get done in order for it to be worth it right now.

    Do that for a year or two, and if you don't want to work that much, drop the accounts that you don't like and go back to the amount you have now.

    That's the only way to get ahead in lawn care, work your butt off until stuff is paid for, everything you'll need, and then you can drop back some, or hire more guys.

    In this job it's hard to be paying for equipment, AND paying for help at the same time. Unless you're getting Rodfather's fees... then it's a cake walk... :laugh:
  10. cklands

    cklands LawnSite Senior Member
    from MA
    Messages: 360

    If you do not have the cash or credit available to get the equipment you need then I would try your 3rd choice. See if you can get some cash up front from them. Or the other thing to think about is the spring clean up. From the sounds of it the property is good size. Would the spring clean up and mulching be enough to pay for the new equipment or maybe help the cause? Around here we don't usually start to mow ill the end of April or even beginning of May on a regular basis. Just a thought. Good Luck

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