Starting up, advice on equipment needed

tmartin334

LawnSite Member
Well.. I'm 35 years old and I have been working in a family business (not lawn related) since I was 20 working for my grandfather at a used car dealership. Every Thursday for as long as I can remember I have done his very large yard and met his very high standards/demands for quality. My grandfather is one of those men that live in a nice neighborhood and takes pride in having the nicest lawn. One of my first ideas of an advertisment is a yard sign on his yard and have it to say somewhere "Now serving the public" or something.. what do you think? I have won him several awards, including two years ago winning the Montgomery Clean City award that is handed out by the Mayor of Montgomery to the nicest yard in town for the entire year.

Granted, I should have used that as a spring board gimmick for my lawn company, but at that time, I thought there was going to be a light at the end of the tunnel in the current family business. Both my grandfather and father live in very expensive homes and eat and buy anything they want. My grandfather has a $120,000 motor home for the last 2 years that has never left the driveway. In any event, the prosperity stops with those two and they have been content to watch me and my family struggle non stop despite our whole business being computer related, and I the only computer savvy employee. Anyway, we had one of our busiest weeks a couple of weeks ago and I was hopeful for a great paycheck. Unfortunately when i got it I still had earned less than what he pays my father on a week we haven't done any business.


So, I complain to a good friend of mine that is in the lawn business. He was forced into the lawn business after being laid off from a mill job. He started out with nothing but borrowed equipment and 3 years later he has really done well for himself. He is telling me there is so much need for good yard men around central alabama he can't even get to all the work and maybe I should look into that. Of course I take him up on his offer and he wants to help me get started.

So my first question is about the lawn mower. Take into mind that I only have my tan return money as startup, the wage I make at my family business has only gotten me by from week to week. I feel it is also important to know that I am serious about this, I really need a new line of work, and I really want to succeed at whatever I do and I know that I do high quality yard work and make the yard look very well manicured. So, I think it's a good idea to give this a shot.

My friend wants to sell me his old mower since he has upgraded. He offers a 2005 Toro 18hp 52 inch ztr. It also has a mulching attachment but is currently used as a side discharge. The motor was burnt up by the previous owner when he tried to use the mulcher on a yard that was too high. My friend said the motor is brand new and he has over 7500 in the mower. He said he would sell it to me for $3500 but I could just put part down and pay him as I start to gather work and make some money.

I have no idea if that is a good deal or not. I know typically a rebuilt motor on a car is sketchy but he is telling me I can use it and check it out first and that is it 100% ready to go.

I have a friend at a pawn shop that can hook me up with some equipment cheap but that is sketchy too. For example he has an Echo backpack blower for about $140, but it has obviously been used more than it's fair share, even the vinyl on the shoulder straps is torn.. How comfortable would you feel purchasing used equipment to get started with?

I have no idea on the name either. But check out this gimmick and let me know what you think. I'm thinking "Award Winning Lawn & Landscape" or something like that, and offering a gurantee to anyone wiling to sign a 12 month contract that they will at some point win their neighborhoods yard of the week, if they did not win, they get one free cut. I figure if I can lock a customer down for a year I'll gladly cut their grass once for free if they don't win the award.. Also, I don't want to get a chemical license, can you put out granular fertilizer like triple 13 or nitrate without the license?

Any help of any kind greatly appreciated.. I'm sure you'll be hearing more from me in the future.
 
OP
T

tmartin334

LawnSite Member
no replies?

sorry if the introduction was so long, but from reading through threads I tried to answer any questions that may come up with the OP.. as far as the when where why and who type stuff
 

CozyHollow

LawnSite Member
Well.. I'm 35 years old and I have been working in a family business (not lawn related) since I was 20 working for my grandfather at a used car dealership. Every Thursday for as long as I can remember I have done his very large yard and met his very high standards/demands for quality. My grandfather is one of those men that live in a nice neighborhood and takes pride in having the nicest lawn. One of my first ideas of an advertisment is a yard sign on his yard and have it to say somewhere "Now serving the public" or something.. what do you think? I have won him several awards, including two years ago winning the Montgomery Clean City award that is handed out by the Mayor of Montgomery to the nicest yard in town for the entire year.

Granted, I should have used that as a spring board gimmick for my lawn company, but at that time, I thought there was going to be a light at the end of the tunnel in the current family business. Both my grandfather and father live in very expensive homes and eat and buy anything they want. My grandfather has a $120,000 motor home for the last 2 years that has never left the driveway. In any event, the prosperity stops with those two and they have been content to watch me and my family struggle non stop despite our whole business being computer related, and I the only computer savvy employee. Anyway, we had one of our busiest weeks a couple of weeks ago and I was hopeful for a great paycheck. Unfortunately when i got it I still had earned less than what he pays my father on a week we haven't done any business.


So, I complain to a good friend of mine that is in the lawn business. He was forced into the lawn business after being laid off from a mill job. He started out with nothing but borrowed equipment and 3 years later he has really done well for himself. He is telling me there is so much need for good yard men around central alabama he can't even get to all the work and maybe I should look into that. Of course I take him up on his offer and he wants to help me get started.

So my first question is about the lawn mower. Take into mind that I only have my tan return money as startup, the wage I make at my family business has only gotten me by from week to week. I feel it is also important to know that I am serious about this, I really need a new line of work, and I really want to succeed at whatever I do and I know that I do high quality yard work and make the yard look very well manicured. So, I think it's a good idea to give this a shot.

My friend wants to sell me his old mower since he has upgraded. He offers a 2005 Toro 18hp 52 inch ztr. It also has a mulching attachment but is currently used as a side discharge. The motor was burnt up by the previous owner when he tried to use the mulcher on a yard that was too high. My friend said the motor is brand new and he has over 7500 in the mower. He said he would sell it to me for $3500 but I could just put part down and pay him as I start to gather work and make some money.

I have no idea if that is a good deal or not. I know typically a rebuilt motor on a car is sketchy but he is telling me I can use it and check it out first and that is it 100% ready to go.

I have a friend at a pawn shop that can hook me up with some equipment cheap but that is sketchy too. For example he has an Echo backpack blower for about $140, but it has obviously been used more than it's fair share, even the vinyl on the shoulder straps is torn.. How comfortable would you feel purchasing used equipment to get started with?

I have no idea on the name either. But check out this gimmick and let me know what you think. I'm thinking "Award Winning Lawn & Landscape" or something like that, and offering a gurantee to anyone wiling to sign a 12 month contract that they will at some point win their neighborhoods yard of the week, if they did not win, they get one free cut. I figure if I can lock a customer down for a year I'll gladly cut their grass once for free if they don't win the award.. Also, I don't want to get a chemical license, can you put out granular fertilizer like triple 13 or nitrate without the license?

Any help of any kind greatly appreciated.. I'm sure you'll be hearing more from me in the future.
Hey t,

Curtis here. 45 years young. Owner and operator of Cozy Hollow Landscaping & Firewood. This is my first year. Did exactly what you're going to do...took tax monies and gave myself a budget of 3 grand.

Picked up a USED 4 year old (i believe) Snapper 36" mower and purchased a Velke/Sulky to go with it. Bought a brand new Husqvarna Blower and Weed eater. Looking into a used Edger but if that doesn't pan out I'll get me a Husqvarna Stick Edger for around $400 and then I'll be set.

You'll actually find some guys here starting out with a 22" push mower...it's all in the heart of the man.

My advice is simple. Get what you think you'll need. A 52" is an excellent choice but like you already questioned...is it a wise investment to go with one with a replaced engine? Me? I wouldn't. Other guys here? Maybe some would...

Now I'd love to get a nice 52" walk behind (cheaper) or a 61" rider...money is key.

Anyway, back to my advice. Start with what you can afford. When shopping, MAKE ABSOLUTELY SURE the weed wacker, blower and edger is commercial. Sure you can do it without commercial equipment, but I'm looking for longevity...I'm completely doing my business "cash on the barrel". No credit cards for me. A local landscaper told me to purchase a BRAND NEW blower, edger and trimmer (weed whacker)...so I took his advice and did just that. I was also told to get a 6 foot wide (at least) trailer for when I decide to get a bigger mower.

Now my ideal start would be with a 36" AND 52" (or larger) but money is key...and eventually I'll get the larger...

Next (which is one in the same) ADVERTISE, ADVERTISE, ADVERTISE! Some here actually go door to door sales and meet with people on "cold calls".

Me? Notta. I simply ordered 1000 business post cards from Vista Print that came with 250 FREE business cards. $99.00!!! (before tax).
Vista Print offers already tailored post card designs that you add your own wording to...and they also offered a nice business card (free if you don't add a bunch of "up sell" stuff they try and sell you). I go door to door and LEAVE the post card ON the door or slid BEHIND (not in) the mailbox, sticking out of course. I run local ads in local papers here. FREE, FREE, FREE is what I take advantage of for now...once I start making some revenue then I'll step it up.

The name you chose is pretty good! Just GO FOR IT! If it's in your heart then ABSOLUTELY NOTHING can stop you. Get your equipment. Shop around on Craigslist...just DO IT! You'll find what you need and the rest will be up to what you want to put into it. So far every landscape owner I've talked to face to face said GO, GO, GO! It's SO EASY the money we can make and every Landscaping owner I've talked to NEVER ONCE gave me a negative response when it came to opening up my own business. I'll be a SOLO Operator and plan on staying that way...looking to make $120,000.00 a year and be fine with that...and I'm only going to do lawn maintenance...cut, edge, trim, blow AND spring/fall clean outs along with shrub trimming and small tree removal.

Good fortune my friend and about no one replying quickly...I'm fairly new here and find the site more active on the weekends.
 

CozyHollow

LawnSite Member
Left out the miscellaneous equipment. Shovels (20" handle spade and 40" round point shovel) Pitch fork, hard rake, "soft" rake" and wheel barrow. You can get good deals and decent stuff at Home Depot/Lowes whichever offers better prices.

I forget the name of the thread started here a week or so back but it had a WEALTH of info. for us new guys...little things that really aren't so little! Stuff like Wasp Spray, Sun Screen, portable air pump, etc. PRICELESS! I gotta find it again and take down some notes...
 

Jay Ray

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
d"Iberville MS
If you can use the same equipment you use on your grandfather's lawn it is not written that you have to buy a mower immediately.

Might be of no help, but just another way of looking at it.

If you put a sign on your grandfather's lawn just put your business name and ph. number.
 

MR-G

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
CENTRAL FLORIDA
no replies?

sorry if the introduction was so long, but from reading through threads I tried to answer any questions that may come up with the OP.. as far as the when where why and who type stuff
...YOU MUST have new or almost new commercial grade handheld equipment !!! mower can be used if in good shape....if you dont have any experience in repairing lawn equipment....learn!!! we do all our own repairs including engine rebuilds, hydro drives, even transmissions in our trucks....a basic mechanical skill is a must in this business.....good luck and keep at it...it will take time.

:usflag:
 

Five Points

LawnSite Member
Location
Ontario,Canada
Yes Go for it, buy a used walk behind to start you dont want a big zero turn

on a small lawn or cut it with a 22 inch. after you are in it for a bit you willbe

able to buy mowers suited for different size yards. you are in a business

enviroment which carries a lot of clout when starting any kind of business

and you have expierence in manicuring yards. so you are not going in blind.

you are abit older so you will be responsible and life expierienced also. and

probably know lots of people, like your friend in the business who may send

some work your way when he gets busy. sound like you are off tothe races.
 

Set Apart Lawn Care

LawnSite Member
Tmartin, there is really so much to tell someone starting out. Here's my 2 cents on some things

Equipment:
As has been said, buy commercial!! I couldnt afford it, or so I thought, my first year. I got half way through before one things after another unraveled and had to buy commercial. On smaller things I also agree with buying new, weedeaters and edgers in my opinion just dont have the life good mowers have and I feel like its to risky buying something used that may have been used heavily. My first mower was a 36" gear drive John Deere walk behind I bought for $1,000 from a guy who mowed his own 2 acre property for 3 years with it. On mowers I think it's a good idea to buy used a first to keep cost down so you can see if you really want to be in the lawn game.

My worst mistake starting: bidding low because I was desperate to get accounts. there is so much work out there, especially starting this time of year, time spent doing money for cheap customers couldve been spent passing out flyers to get the good ones!

2nd worst mistake: Not having a good way to get money, if you can sign them up for auto debit or online payments or pay in advance etc. do that. It seemed I always had a months worth of income "out in the world".

Biggest helps: Target marketing certain neighborhoods so you can have your business concentrated in small areas. At first I was spread so thin we 2 guys could only cut $500 in a day, now we cut atleast $700 and usually a little more in a 9 hour day.

Also, Door hangers have been our best marketing by far. Ive done yard signs, direct mail, google, buying internet leads, etc. Door Hangers have yielded dramatically better results than the rest.

I could probably write a book on starting out, as several people have. These are a couple of the main things.
 

AMBoss

LawnSite Member
Location
Splendora, TX
TMartin:
I too am in the startup phase as this will be my first year to attempt to start a business here in the North Houston area. I got experience in Minnesota when I was up there running a snow removal company from 1999-2006. Previously, I did custom carpentry and can not express how much money you will save by having all new equipment of commercial grade, except maybe the walkbehind and zeroturn mowers.
Personally, I will be starting out with my personal homeowner tools, albeit they are Stihl as I am not one to buy cheap tools, a 16' lowboy trailer, and will buy a new 22" self-propelled push mower. Everything else from there will be decided as the work comes in over time. SETAPARTLAWNCARE has a great idea with the door hanger method and the targeting of one area (at least in my opinion).
When I started my snow removal business in Minnesota, I used the local newpaper as a way of advertisment, but so few people read them these days I feel that is probably not a good source of obtaining new business. However, I went from an idea on the snow removal to more work than I could handle the first year, so it is more about how much effort you put into making the customers that you acquire happy than the equipment you have starting out!
 

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