your advice appreciated

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by wantstolearn, Feb 23, 2006.

  1. wantstolearn

    wantstolearn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    Hi all,

    I am new here and could really use some advice. I recently lost my job as a machinist, and am tired of working for the 'big guy'. I only have about 1 yr of legitimate 'lawncare experience' that comes from taking care of banks around the southern Minnesota area for another company. This has become a do or die situation for me and I plan on putting everything I have into it (as I have a wife and 2 children that are counting on me).

    But enough babble, my first question of the thousands to come ;) is this. I have run across some equipment for sale as listed below and was wondering if you all think the price is right? And I do realise some of it may not be commercial grade, but I can always sell or use it for a back up when needed. I currently own a Husqvarna rider which I will be using until I can afford a ZTR and figure the Troy Built will be an emergency back up.

    6x12 trailer (with racks, etc.)
    42" Troy Built rider
    36" Snapper walk behind
    22" Murphy push mower
    Echo trimmer
    Echo edger
    Echo blower
    Stihl hedge trimmer

    The seller said all the equipment is less than 1 yr old, and it all is under manufacturers warranty (except the Snapper walk behind). He is asking $3500.00, does this sound like a reasonable price? Thanks in advance for any opinions and/or advice.

    p.s. seller says he only mowed on weekends (and not every weekend) so the equipment has low hours.
  2. grass disaster

    grass disaster LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,751

    can't help you much.

    all i can relate 2 is the stihl trimmer. i have the commercial one and i like it.

    where did you work in owatonna? just curious what your job title was?
  3. wantstolearn

    wantstolearn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    I actually worked in Faribault as a tool/die maker for Northern Tool. When I was doing lawn care it was for Pride Professionals out of Faribault, I thought this was going to be a long time position but it turned out the regular guy was on an extended leave of absence and I was let go when he returned .
  4. mike lane lawn care

    mike lane lawn care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,707

    for 3500 you could get a good used commercial mower and then work from there. those ridders are not made of the right parts to last long in commercial use
  5. wantstolearn

    wantstolearn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    Thanks for the reply Mike. I currently have a 42" Husqvarna with a 20hp Kohler cast axles, hydrostatic tranny. I realise this would not be the first choice of a lot of people either, but am on a pretty limited budget right now. The main things I would be purchasing this package for are the trailer (which i really need), the walk behind and the blower, edger, etc. I was thinking of selling the other rider or maybe keeping it just as an emergency back up.

    Is the snapper walk behind a decent mower? Considered commercial grade?

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,534

    Great deal for him -- bad deal for you, For $2000 you could get the trailer and the hand tools "NEW" and still have $1000 left,. You have the Husky so you don't want the other mowers any way. And you do not want the Murry or the Troy bilt.

    Keep looking.

    Now I do not know your exact situation but
    Very little money to start-- 1st year-- Wife and 2 kids to support,
    This business is very labor intensive--very equipment intensive and very low paying for a start-up. Did you do a business plan. Can you survive on less than 20K a year for a year or 2 , or even less.
    Did you look at banking what you got and getting another job. Just a thought.
  7. daveintoledo

    daveintoledo LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,587

    he is 100% right..... you dont want that equipment,.... spending money on homeowners stuff is the biggest mistake you can make, if you read the what would i do different if i just started thread you will find that is the most common response....should not have bought the homeowner grade stuff

    and it will be a rough go at first.... be prepared to work every weekend and no days off, and you still might need a part time job to survive....

    not trying to discourage you, just point out the realities of the situation... you will make very little if ANY money the first couple of years, after expenses, licence, and insurance, advertising, maintenance... all adds up really fast..

    good luck

  8. tjsquickcuts

    tjsquickcuts LawnSite Senior Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 943

    Be prepared to work every weekend. That is the truth. Also, try to be reliable as possible. I got some many accountants from customer because their landscaper was unreliable either cause they had to many people, or they werent prepared. Just watch your spending, and only get what you need. Also, get some friends and family together for a dinner party one night, and tell them about your plans, and see if anyone is interested in helping you out by investing
  9. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    Your first thing to do right now...


    If you can start landing some accounts before the season starts you will have a better idea of what your monthly income will be. This will allow you to budget for equipment, commercial equipment that is.

    Start talking to your local dealers about some used commercial equipment. They might know someone who is trading in a mower for an upgrade, new, etc, or just flat out know a company that is looking to unload a 36 WB belt drive...
  10. Grn Mtn

    Grn Mtn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 863

    I can appreciate your situation having 3 kids and a wife. If you are the sole bread winner than you will want to do things in steps, and be prepared for lots of lonely work.

    First off, don't buy the list of EQ! If your serious you'll want to start building a relationship with a local company. I have bought just about everything (except trailer) from one place. Every couple months I buy something and DON'T ask for a discount, so now when I come in they great me by name and if I need something asap, I get put at the top of the list, sometimes I get a discount too.

    Buy a new 6x10 single axle for around $1000. NOW I know people are going to say you need bigger AND YOU WILL, but priority dictates you spend as little as necessary.

    What size is your mower, if it is wider than 36" that is good, but you will need something to get thru gates. So get a 21" push mower. I bought the most basic TroyBuilt for around $250, its a mulcher. I did not want to get the $99 special MTD because you need it to start every time, and last longer that 6 months. It also must have POWER. Power is key to mowing fast, tall and wet. I got the mulcher because there will be times that you need to mow near the house or landscape beds that you can't do with the rider without blowing grass all over.

    Buy the Stihl BG 85. VERY powerful handheld blower, perfect for residential, and for the fall you can get the vacuum leaf shredder attachment which I have found invaluable for sucking up leaves in planted beds and blown into corners etc. Just don't be the idiot trying to vacuum the hole dang yard:laugh:

    Buy the Stihl KM 110. Its a split boom power head, the best thing is when you bid a new job say planting some tulips, you just go and buy the tiller head instead of a whole other machine.

    Get a DBA, or better yet an S Corp for way increased liability. And Insurance. Now the insurance will be the tough one, but since this ain't a part time gig anymore, you have to do it:cry:

    Have magnetic signs made up for your truck, get business cards, and fliers made up. If you have a printer, get some cheap t-shirts and screen print your logo on them.

    Start handing out the fliers and hit the same neighborhoods 3 times a year. Drive thru them all the time. Park your truck with the signs at the entrance to the grocery store, etc. You need to get your name out there and often.

    I hope this helps, take our advice and do it right from the start.
    BTW, if you need help with a logo let me know--NO CHARGE (so don't delete this post please moderators, I spent a lot of time typing it:dizzy: )

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