Some start up questions...

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by dfwblackls, Dec 9, 2006.

  1. dfwblackls

    dfwblackls LawnSite Member
    from TX
    Messages: 8

    Not NEW to business.. I have been mowing residential yards for ~10 years as extra income. Since I work a regular job (for insurance and stable income), mowing has always been for extra money... 2007 will present a special challenge. I will be getting married in October (my fiance' is also my "coworker" as she helps me with the landscaping) and we plan to finance our wedding with money from mowing... so I have a few questions about expansion... as I would like more than my 10 or so yards a week.

    To keep overhead low, I have been borrowing my brother's truck. Over the last year, I have purchased a new Echo line trimmer, edger and blower (to replace Homelite units that worked great for the first 10 years of business). I will be buying some new equipment this year and have some questions.

    1. Trailer. I am planning on buying a trailer just big enough for my mowers. I do not tow heavy equipment and do ~95% of my work is in fact just mowing. Since storage space is currently limited for me (city ordinances prevent outside storage of a trailer), I will be looking at getting something like a 4x6 trailer. Is this going to be enough for a 32/36" WB and a 21" walk behind? Everything else goes into the hatch of my car (a gutted Acura... only has seats for the two of us).

    2a. Mower. I want to buy a 32/36" WB this year... I think. The biggest chassis I can get away with and use in both front and back yards will be a 32" mower... because I only do residential work right now. Will it really be beneficial to me to have a 32" and a 21" as opposed to just upgrading one of my 21" mowers? (I currently use two 21" mowers... again, to keep overhead down since this is a part time gig). I have done some searching but it looks as if Skag may be the only company that makes a 32"... I know thie can't be true... who else should I compare?

    2b. What about a 36"? I wouldn't be able to use it in the back yards of many places... I was thinking I should stick with a mower that I can use in the most places. Am I wrong with this line of thinking?

    3. Being legit. With a potential substantial increase in productivity this year via a contract for a private camp ground, I think it is time I think about becoming legit... that means insurance and becoming a real business. Looking for some tips/advice on doing this. I don't know what to ask exactly... so I will leave this open ended.

    I was happy to find the forum one night while at my full time job... :) I am a part of several car forums that have been very helpful through the years... it looks like this will be no different. :) This is a preemptive "Thank you" for the help you give me :)
  2. Uranus

    Uranus LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 1,624

    I'll only touch on 2b- I'd buy a 36" In the past 8 years of mowing I've only ran across 1 gate that I could not get a 36 through. 36 inches is a standered size for gates then you add in the space the latch and hindges take up and your looking at atleast 38 inches. I'd use the 36 over a 21 any day.
  3. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,988

    4x6 should be big enough for a WB and a push mower. What kind of Acura is this? Be sure you have enough brake to stop in an emergency. Is it a 4-cylinder car? You're not going to have a ton of fun hauling with that...

    Off the top of my head, I know Ferris offers their Hydrocut mower in a 32" size. Bigger is always better when it comes to size - increase in productivity - this isn't to say you should/want to use a 72" deck on a 1/4 acre lot. Match the mower to the property.

    Well if a lot of your yards are gated and you can't fit a 36", then by all means use a 32". Still beats the snot out of a 21"er.

    Call your insurance agent. They can set you up with a company to provide you with liability insurance. Shop around as prices vary greatly.

    I didn't notice what state you were in, you may or may not need a business license/seller's permit to conduct business. You'll need to file with the state as an LLC, INC, sole proprietor, etc to make yourself legit.
  4. dfwblackls

    dfwblackls LawnSite Member
    from TX
    Messages: 8

    Thanks for the replies.... :)

    As for my car, it is a 1991 Integra that has been upgraded for racing duuties on the weekends (bigger brakes, gutted interior, etc)... I am not too worried about the power to tow a small trailer... it may not be fun, but it will get me by for another year (and if things do get really good, I have no problems picking up a small truck for the duties).

    And yes... it is entirely possible to fit a 21" WB, a 22" WB, my trimmer, blower, edger, hedge trimmers, gas cans, trash can, 6' step ladder and yard broom into the hatch of an Integra ;)

    From poking around it looks as if I have made a few "good" decisions in equipment... right now I am using:

    Husqvarna 21" WB; Honda powered (can't find model # and I don't feel like walking out to see; bought in 05)
    Craftsman 22" WB; Tecumseh powered (yes... a Craftsman... it has been doing its thing all ten years now... :) )
    Echo PB-200 blower (does the job I need it to; bought in Oct 06)
    Echo SRM-230 trimmer (bought in 04)
    Echo PE-230 edger (bought in Oct 06)
    Craftsman 25cc hedge trimmers

    Nothing special at all... I have tried to buy equipment that won't fail on me and require down time... so far, I have not missed any work in ten years due to downed equipment... :) so something has been going right.
  5. J&R Landscaping

    J&R Landscaping LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,095

    If your looking for a good 32" mower, someone on ebay has an Exmark viking (hydro drive) 32" with a 15 hp kohler engine at a pretty good price.

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