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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am 14 years old and live in Statesboro, Ga. I am considering starting my own lawn service. I already mow 6 lawns and do the flower beds. I make about $200 a week. I am seeking advice from anyone on what equipment to buy. I have an echo weedeater, a 28 inch Snapper, Shindowa stick edger, and a WeedEater blower. I would like to increase my accounts to about 20 yards. The main problem is that after next summer i have to buy my own vehicle, so I can't blow all my money on equipment unless it is an excellent investment. I am VERY intrested in a zero turn mower, maybe a 42 or 48 inch cut. Thanks for any response.
 

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Do you pay taxes on that money? Do you have liabiltiy insurance? Do you have your own transportation? Do you have your business license from the city and county? Take care of these things and you will be on your way to starting a business.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I do not have to file taxes as long as I am 14-16 years old and am self employed. I am planning on getting an insurance policy, my dad said he would pay for that part. I am planning on buying an old truck as transportation to pull my 8x14 trailer(I know how to back a trailer and drive.) My dad is planning on getting the bussiness license for me. I appreciate your response but I was looking for something more along the lines of advice maybe(equipment?)Thanks
 

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expect a lot of those responses. i dont know if people feel threatened by the many people entering the business but established business do not take kindly to anyone operating without insurance, business licenses, etc. That's understandable.

Oh, and you do have to pay taxes on that. I'm sure the IRS wont come knocking but technically, you do.

As far as getting started, six lawns a week would be kept fine with a 21" mower, decent trimmer, and a hand held blower. If you have that, focus on advertising.
 

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I say go for it and good luck. Dont let the crappy old guys get to you..
those people are part of the reason why we dont have more young guys fixing these machines nowadays.
 

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Don't blow any money on new equipment. You will do fine with that Snapper and the other handheld equipment. I would say that buying your own truck would take a lot of cash, even if it's an old beater. And if you do get your own truck, don't get the oldest and cheapest thing you see, if it broke down or worse, you would have to pay for repairs. Totally forget about a zero turning radius mower, but if you do want a new lawn tractor, get a Craftsman LT1000, for $900 brand new. That would be something to consider rather than a $3500+ zero turn mower. Hope it works out for you though.
 

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Forget the ZTR at this stage. I would suggest banking a little for those unexpected breakdowns and replacement costs on the equipmnet you currently have. Nothing wrong with buying used stuff either. You found a good site. Ask as many questions as you like. You can also search old posts by typing in your topic under the search tab towards the upper right if you need faster responses.
 

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also...about used equipment-

classifieds are gold mines. you can get used WB's relatively cheap. a 36 or 48 should be your first mower, though on six properties, you are only working 12 hours a week tops, i would imagine.
 

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I didnt think about this earlier.. but i would check around on ebay for a used truck.. i got my 1979 F-250 supercab for 800 off ebay.. it is a beater, but it's easy to work on, parts are cheap enough as well.
 

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How much do you currently charge for different jobs aka mowing, trimming, ect? Maybe we could also see if you have room to increase your rates and give some advice on prices.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well my cheapest yard is $25(elderly widow), my most expensive is $45 to mow, plus I to seasonal maintance(flower beds, etc.). I am looking to expand to about 20 yards. How much time would I save if I did choose to buy a 42 or 48 inch zero turn?I appreciate all of the helpful responses, and I will keep in touch.
 

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The other guys are right.. you really should get a walk behind before a ztr...the ztr is limited to fairly flat ground and properties with large gates...they cut fast and the cut looks great ...but so do the walk behinds when you get good at it, and the walk behinds are much less expensive.
 

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To begin with, congratulations on starting your business and I hope you keep up your enthusiasm... it will help get you through all the rough spots.

You may be noticing a pattern here... the guys with all the experience don't seem to focused on what equipment to buy, and you've got your mind set on that zero-turn! Well, there's a good reason...

The equipment really doesn't matter. Get the best professional gear you can afford that can be serviced by whatever local shop you like working with. Sit down with an accountant so you can depreciate any expenses... you will probably be rolling your profits back into the business for the next couple of years and won't have to pay much in taxes.

Your real focus should be on customers and customer service. Work on expanding your customer list in the areas you are already working, and offering a wider range of services to the customers you already have (getting more juice out of the same orange!) I have found that the lawn cutting returns a modest profit, but most importantly gives you access to the customers for the extras -- and that's where the good money is.

Do everything by the book when it comes to insurance, licensing, etc. And with every decision you make, look at it with a cold eye and only one criteria... does it put more money in your pocket at the end of the day? Shiny new machines get old fast; trucks are great until you need your first and second transmission, brake job, etc. The best asset you have is your customer list and the relationships you have with those clients.

I started 20 years ago with a 21" trimming mower cutting 11 lawns a day... and did myself a big favor when I could afford my first 48" walk-behind. I realized there was a limit to how much money I could make with my own two hands -- and for a lot of guys keeping it simple is worth it -- but the only way I could keep growing was to get away from doing the labor and into running a business.

For reference, I now cut 200 lawns per week with 15 men (I've had as many as 36 employees, but I wasn't making any more money and the headaches were unbelievable!) The most profitable division is in new landscaping. Don't be afraid to subcontract the work you are not skilled or experienced enough to provide... you can start up relationships with local masons, irrigation companies, etc. and make a little profit on their work. As I said, it's all about relationships...

Again, good luck to you
 

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Well put SJK. Since you have seemed to established a custom base, this wouldn't be a bad time to increase you rates by a small amount such as bumping the $25 yard up to maybe $30 or such and increasing that $45 yard to $50.

I couldn't answer how much time you would save by buying a 48" ZTR, but lets figure the cost. Around $3400 for a ZTR, and you make around $200 a week, but you also need to buy an old truck, figure around $1200 for that.

NEW EQUIPMENT: $4600
INCOME: $ 200
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4600/200 = 23
You would need to work 23 weeks at $200/week to buy this stuff. After that you would start bringing in income to be kept. You would probobly cut your mowing time in half if you bought the ZTR, and if you increase your yards to 20, than the time would play a more major factor than it does now. When you increase your yards to 20, then I might consider a ZTR because you would have less time to do more work. Time is more valuable than money.

One last thing, mowing is only done in the summer, take that into consideration when and if you buy a ZTR. You won't be earning very much profit in the fall or even spring since you have school. And summer lasts for appx 16-18 weeks and you need 23 weeks to pay off that ZTR if you purchase one. Good luck though.
 

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Just thought of something to add. Do you advertise your service? If so where at aka newspaper, radio ect? Do you have flyers posted on local store windows? If not, print a few up and see if you can post them in a hardware store, convenient store, ect. If you keep on doing an excellent job for your current clients, they will most likely refer you to others they know and that's how you can increase your earnings and be that much closer to buying a ZTR. When you have more work and less time to do that work, a ZTR would make more sense and it would really be something to contemplate over. So good luck and keep us posted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks for all the suggestions. Ya'll have helped me decide not to buy a ztr........just yet. But I would like to work my way up to one or even buy maybe a 48 inch wb. For right now though I will stick with what I have. I am still intrested in buying a truck. My dad said since we live in a small town I can drive around the 8 neighborhoods that are close to my house. I do advertise with flyers but I want to get business cards printed and go door to door in the 8 neighborhoods and hand the flyers/business cards out. I do have flyers at the local plant nursries, 2 convenience stores, my church, and any where else I can find a public bullitin board. Thanks again for all the suggestions.
 

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hey good for you .. I would invest in some commercial equipment that you can rely on .. like a redmax blower and a stihl weedeater.. a 36 inch walk behind stihl edger.. a cell phone.. some nice uniforms.. advertise more .. stuff like that... c
 

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I disagree, he has everything he needs. Investing in all this new equipment wouldn't make any sense especially the cell phone and new uniforms. Why would you need a cell phone when your going to cut 10-14 yards? As for the new uniforms, when you work around the yard and flower beds ect, these would get dirty very quickly and would take even more money. He has all the equipment he needs, and as long as it is in working order, he doesn't need to invest his profit into more equipment. And he is doing residential areas that aren't very large in lawn size, so commercial equipment would be out of the league and price range.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I already have a cell phone. I put that number on the business cards that I ordered today:) Thanks for the suggestions. I like the edger that I have now, I have used a walk behind and hate it, unless it is a yard that has never been edged before and has thick grass overgrowing the side walks. But I still do not see that as a justifyable investment. Thanks again!
 

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The best investment that I have ever invested in is a 6-pack at the end of a hard day. But in all seriousness, you seem to know what you're talking about, and as long as you keep up the hard work, you should do very well. I'm glad to see teenagers like you trying to earn money and not have eveything handed to them.
 
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