What works and what doesn't!

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by hotwired, Jun 26, 2008.

  1. hotwired

    hotwired LawnSite Member
    from maine
    Messages: 49

    What works and what doesn't

    I read an AMAZING article by Steve Pavlina recently (www.StevePavlina.com ) where he talked about a successful friend of his and this friend's secret to successes. I'm paraphrasing, but basically he said "keep track of what works and what doesn't and learn from it". What philosophies or ways do you have that repeatedly lead to victories? What habits do you repeat that seem to get in your way, time after time? I had a pretty good example recently with a piece of equipment purchase, and I wanted to share it with you. The "mistake" cost me around $1,200, some wasted time, and a bruised ego so I want to at least get the pleasure of writing and article about it ... and maybe saving someone else the trouble!

    Year after year, we've put off buying a dump trailer. My reasoning was simple: 1. they're 4 times more expensive than the $1,000 - $2,000 single and double axle landscape trailers we use now, 2. They're heavy and have more "parts" and will be more expensive to register, inspect and maintain, and most importantly, the part that ties the other 2 together, we only dump an estimated 30-40 loads per year (and this is being generous, it could very well be half that.) Often times, we have a couple wheelbarrow loads, or a full load of brush that will easily slide off a regular trailer anyway.

    So, this analysis being neat, complete and closed, what did your truly do this year? I bought a $5,800 dump trailer to replace my $900 single axle beaver tail 12' landscape trailer which I'd been using for 4 years and not put a DIME into except 1 tire. I sold the trailer for $700 to boot, meaning it only cost me $200 to use it over 5 years! So we bought it in April. My reasoning was the following; 1. We don't need any large equipment purchases this year, and I've budgeted 10k for purchases, so now we can have our dump trailer which will make life easier with those early spring cleanups as well as our larger jobs where we have to haul away large amounts of dirt and sod. 2. Where we have NOT had a dump trailer in the past, we probably will now use this trailer for a lot of things we haven't even thought of, maybe taking on some deliveries, hauling more loam, etc.

    Now do you see a difference between the logic of NOT getting the trailer and GETTING the trailer? I do! The logic of not getting it is clear, concise, and very little vagueness or uncertainty. We know how often we would use it, and therefore, the expense is not justified. Simple, clear, concise. The logic in getting it is a different story. Kind of muddy, isn't it? We 'might' do a couple of things we didn't' before. Like what? How often? When I re read it, it actually looks like a different person made the first decision than the second.

    Also, I didn't do much research as to what I'd need to do D.O.T. wise with the higher weight limit, etc. but soon found out. I had to INSPECT the trailer, first of all, because it was over a certain weight limit ($70) - I had to boost the weight rating of BOTH trucks (we use both trucks to haul the trailer at different times) which cost $200 give or take. The insurance was $60 per year which wasn't too much over the $30 a year for the old one, dollar wise. I spent at least 3 hours getting the shop to get the brakes working right (bad plug) and used WAY more gas than the old trailer.

    So that being said, so what? Did you get use of it? Did it make your job easier? Not really. We used it to dump 6 loads in the spring, then I had to haul it around empty every day just to haul a ladder and wheel barrow because they wouldn't QUITE fit into my truck bed. So I have made arrangements to sell it. I put it in the local "Uncle Henry's" for $1,000 less than I sold it FIRM and I have a buyer. I will then get a USED 10-12 foot trailer with ramp OR tilt bed even. Single axle, enough to haul a yard of loam, but nothing more.

    I'm praying and trusting that this error in judgment helps me avoid more in the future and you too! I think the key is putting the ego aside and allowing yourself the "pain" of your "dumb moves" so you can analyze them and not repeat them. Here's what I learned from this process. 1. Trust myself. When you have a good clear reason for doing or not doing something, stick with it. When tempted to go the other way, revisit that logic. 2. Don't spend money just because you've budgeted to do so. Save it until you really need something.
  2. TPnTX

    TPnTX LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,775

    a. you should have kept the old trailer regardless.
    b. If you project significant growth in your business, the dump trailer should pay for itself. If not then how much do you spend on delivery currently.

    youre probably right, it's too much trailer for your needs.
  3. JohnnyRoyale

    JohnnyRoyale LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 616

    Good points. Could you not have kept the landscape trailer and bought a smaller dump trailer for those times you needed it?

    I personally wont buy a new unit unless I have the work for it to justify its expense. If a piece of equipment costs me more to rent it month after month, than to cover a monthy lease, I'll make a purchase.

    Our first Bobcat was purchased on that principle, and we just bought a mini-ex this week, and traded in a older Loader I no longer needed for it. I will admit that not all of my equipment is used daily, however, its there when we need it.

    I believe in using a new purchase for as many diffrent applications as possible. Oftentimes it means added costs. Our dump trailer doubles as our watering trailer-we simply slide our tank and pump on it and we're off. All of our wheeled units (skid steers, backhoes, etc) get used in the winter.

    I look at new purchases as a component of business, and long term (temporary) relationships, and part with them when no longer needed.
  4. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,349

    Geeezzzz I have made more purchases like that than I care to mention. Im 43 and anything to make work eaiser I buy it, even if the return is low. Plus a lot of stuff I have purchased used and could sell it for more than I paid for it so its like money in the bank.

    Emplyees suck.......Equiptment is more reailble and more fun to operate.

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