True cost to own my LCO...

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Willofalltrades, Jan 4, 2007.

  1. JB1

    JB1 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,904

    hey , he's doing his part to help the economy along.
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Yes, I agree, a new truck looks nice...
    But sitting down in those nice cloth seats all covered in dirt and sweat, and putting your grass covered shoes on that nice clean carpet...
    And when the fancy stuff breaks, it costs a lot or you do without, which on an older (or more basic) truck you don't have that crap.
    I mean, do you know how to recharge 134A refrigerant?
    I do, but it still costs money, I just spent $100 on 134A (just the freon, you still need gauges and hoses)...

    Now my '86 D-250 didn't have carpet, see?
    And you could clean the interior with a hose and soap and water, then let it air out for a day in the heat.
    Well it didn't matter, it didn't have all those fancy electronics, nothing could or would fry.
    That was my 2nd truck, lasted me 4 years, I paid $1,400 cash for it, and other than the usual maintenance, cost me around $500 / year in sudden expenses (like broken fuel pump type of crap). Cauz when a truck breaks down, you usually got the trailer hooked (think about the implications here).

    And I only had the bare minimum liability insurance on it.

    All that saved me money, which not to break anyone's bubble, but I can't afford anything newer than a '95 myself.
    Which i just bought one (yes yes, pics later), paid $2500 for it, paid for it cash.
    Had to save for it, and I looked for about a year, just kept looking and looking, must've passed up 100's of other trucks.
    It's not that special, it's in fair shape, but the price and the truck was right.
    And once again, minimum liability insurance and no payments.
    The ONLY thing that has payments is the Z because I got 0% Apr, but I had the money at the time, could've paid for it.
    At least for me, that's the way to do it.
  3. nobagger

    nobagger LawnSite Gold Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 3,065

    Yeah start off with even a newer used truck, Our 06 F250 SD is running us 525.00/mo and a diesel wasnt much more than our truck. Plus if you do get a diesel, the fuel wont cost you half that figure per month, our 5.4L gasser only uses a tank (38gallon) every 3-4 weeks pulling our trailer loaded down. Our F250 pulls our 8.5x16 enclosed trailer loaded down like theres hardly anything behind it, diesels IMO are over-rated especially for around town, stop and go traffic.
  4. matt spinniken

    matt spinniken LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 353

    Start small and think big! Improve your chances of being a lasting company and focus your money on growth not really high fixed costs. Good luck!
  5. LawnTamer

    LawnTamer LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,986

    Just a few things-

    1. buy a used bare-bones work truck, everything manual, and simple. Here's an example. I bought a used 2wd chev 2500 6 years ago, it had nearly 80,000 miles but I picked it up for $4k, I have replaced the tranny, brake parts, muffler and battery, totaling about $2,250. So I'm into it $6,250. (not including oil changes and tires which all vehicles go through) That is less than 9 months of your $700/mo payment, for 6+ years and 80,000 miles of use.

    2. If you are putting 70 gallons/week into your diesel- then you will have some serious routing problems. That's about 1,000 miles/week, which translates to about 25 hrs of windshield time. 1 thing that I learn more and more;

    3. Just get what you actually need. If your props aren't that big, then a 36" WB will get you started. For bigger props a 52" WB is a decent start.

    Good luck- we're not trying to be rude, but it's a lot better to have someone tell you these things, than to learn them the hard way as most of us did.
  6. Willofalltrades

    Willofalltrades LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,000

    I'm going to go over these costs tonight. I think I can eliminate the need for a Wright Stander by getting a simple 52" deck for my Walker.
    I'm unsure of the truck issue. I think it will all depend on financing rates when I go to buy. If they are unreal, I'll venture to the used department. If they are nice I will go new. Why buy a $16000 truck when I can get a new one with a warranty not far from that. The z plan is god sent. I am still hunting for a deal in the used department though. I started a thread in the truck forum about a F250 for $4800. If I catch a good Deal on used I would jump. Let me go over this again and I will include insurance, advertising, 2-stroke hand helds, and everything else.
  7. Team-Green L&L

    Team-Green L&L LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,775

    LOL!:laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
  8. Willofalltrades

    Willofalltrades LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,000

    Be rude its ok, I need input. Yea excessive in the fuel section. I don't need a diesel truck (i thought about it it was 100% want and 0% need) I'll get a new fuel cost tonight. I have more 3/4-1+ acre lots right now. I realistically need a 61" deck for them. I'm advertising to the 1/2 or less acre lot developments
    in the area so that I can line up 15 people in one development and zip through them. For that a 52" deck on my walker would shine.
    Talk to you people later tonight with new #s.
  9. freddyc

    freddyc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 578

    I think you're heading in the absolute wrong direction.

    You need to determine a couple things before you do what you're doing on the financial analysis side.

    The first thing you need to do, is figure what kind of business you're doing---that alone will dictate your equipment, and thus your cost. Are you only mowing or when the next shiny truck pulls by are you gonna decide you want to start mulch, snow removal, whatever. Without this understanding (at least a starting point--called a business plan) just go to Burger King and ask for the paper hat job. You WILL buy the wrong equipment unless you do the best you can to determine your needs.

    The second problem is that the mentality of I need a huge truck, and all new stuff will put you in the poorhouse quicker than a cat can climb a tree. Without business (read customers) you're gonna need marketing and lots of it. Word of mouth is best but you need to get your name out're not going to get any business by just riding around with your new truck hoping someone flags you down.
    These guys are all right---buy what you need, learn to budget your earnings and the true cost of your business will fall out. Remember one thing if nothing else..... you can't plan for everything and its you're fallback that will eventually save your azz.


    Buy an older decent used truck....but first, figure out how far you're driving. You don't get paid to ride around. Forget the F350 and forget the diesel. You don't need a big block to tow a 6 x 12' trailer, and its a waste of money. Just get something w/decent paint so you don't look like sanford and son.

    Get the best commercial equipment you can--new or used. Dont go buying a 60" mower if the only customers you have are on 2000 ft lots. Good used commercial equipment will save you a ton and work well for a long time w/ decent maintenance. Look in the want ads for some stuff---theres a million guys who thought they knew last year and realize they didnt this year. There are REALLY good deals this time of year in the used market...most stuff barely used. You just have to beat the rest of the lawnsite members to it! Good luck, they're fast!

    Because you're new, reserve some mentality and financial support for growth into other areas (if you plan on more than mowing). THIS IS DIRECTLY RELATED TO YOUR BUSINESS PLAN! In short, you aren't loading a lot of soil or pavers on a 6 x 12 open might want a small dump someday or maybe a trenching machine if you get into irrigation. Keep an open mind here----and remember, you can't do it all right away.

    And last, sorry, but your numbers are whacked. You're way too high in a lot of areas--being conservative is good, but try to hit it within 20% of actual if you can.... example... $1500 annual for a trailer....are you buying a new trailer every year????

    Try to get a tight route, buy a used F150 or equiv., a decent trailer--used is OK too. Get the best mower, blower, and trimmer you can, and then figure out a good marketing campaign. And remember, some guys made out OK using only aRanger and a 21" mower. You're not Donald Trump...........yet!
  10. Ed Ryder

    Ed Ryder LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 541

    Absolutely get a used truck. I picked up a 91 Ford F-150 XLT last February off of ebay. V8, manual, 4WD, bedliner, extra leaf springs, just 71,000 miles on it with 6000 on the engine. Paint is really decent. I paid a premium for it at $3600. Except for horrible gas mileage, nothing yet has gone wrong with it. The truck gives a good impression. I'm completely happy with it, and it was so much less than a new truck.

    My previous truck was an under-powered 86 F-150 6 cylinder junker worth about $50:laugh: My customers didn't care what my truck looked like. They cared what their lawn looked like. It was my only truck from 1991 till 2005 and it got the job done. No radio. No AC. Had trouble going up hills with a load (full 6x12 trailer).

    All youngsters want a new car or truck. It's a very common financial mistake for people just starting out. (The value is in buying used automobiles.) Usually, no matter what the older/wiser say, the young still go out and enslave themselves to new car payments for 5 years or so.

    However, it's okay to buy the best you can afford in equipment.

    By the way, I still have my old 86 F-150. It looks like crap, but it runs perfectly. It's my back-up truck for when the 91 breaks down.

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