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Starting a Lawncare Business


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#1 SearsYellow OFFLINE  

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Posted July 31, 2015 - 07:55 AM

I am planning to start a Lawncare business for 2016. As of right now I am looking at a 2015 Ferris IS600Z. I plan to buy a Exmark walk behind (used). I have Echo SRM225 weedeater, Stihl BR550 backpack blower, backpack sprayers, 20 gallon electric sprayer, cheapo Poulan Pro hedge trimmer(200 bucks @ Lowes).

I also plan to buy rakes, shovels and a good pair of loppers.

I am wondering what do yall think is the best zero turn for the money? I like the Ferris mowers and the fact that the mower can mow up to 10 mph and cost 5k. Plus it comes with a 2 year or 500 hr warranty up to 4 years.

Is there any other items that appear necessary?


Any good advice for a newbie? All items are going to be paid for so no payments.

Edited by SearsYellow, July 31, 2015 - 07:56 AM.


#2 bh115577 ONLINE  

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Posted July 31, 2015 - 08:38 AM

To me, after sales support is key. If your local Ferris dealer isn't known for good support it might be a good idea to shop around. Not saying they make a bad machine, the factory is only about 15 miles from where I live and I know some people that build them.



#3 toomanytoys84 OFFLINE  

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Posted July 31, 2015 - 08:40 AM

Two of everything.  I had a guy cutting my grass when I purchased my first home as I was working shift work and it was difficult to get to.  He would call up, "hey my tractor is broken, won't be able to get you this week"  After the 4th time of that I told him to pound sand.


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#4 Bruce Dorsi OFFLINE  

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Posted July 31, 2015 - 08:44 AM

I suggest buying some tarps or drop-cloths to wrap around the base of shrubs while pruning, trimming, etc.  ...These will catch most of the clippings, and make clean-up faster and easier.

 

These can also be used to cover nearby plants to prevent clippings from getting imbedded where they would need to be removed.

 

A few large plastic "garbage cans" will also come in handy.


Edited by Bruce Dorsi, July 31, 2015 - 08:46 AM.

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#5 JD DANNELS OFFLINE  

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Posted July 31, 2015 - 09:01 AM

To me, after sales support is key. If your local Ferris dealer isn't known for good support it might be a good idea to shop around. Not saying they make a bad machine, the factory is only about 15 miles from where I live and I know some people that build them.

As has been posted already, a dealer who will support you, carry a good supply of parts and not let your mowers sit in his shop for days is far more important than the brand of machine you use. As was said, if equipment is down your customer will show you the road.
In my area, most of the machines used are Grasshopper, ExMark, and Toro.
I worked in DES Moines for 28 yrs, and by far the most commercial operators were using Skaggs.
I say this based on my experience mowing up to 17 lawns a week 30 yrs ago.

Make sure your in it for the long haul. I would start out in the spring with about 12 lawns, what I could do while working a full time job. By fall I would have 17-20 lawns.
The high school kids would take jobs but by August, would quit to play football or some other thing and people would be coming to me.
I have considered doing this now that I am retired, but I can not drive across town without seeing 3 rigs on the job. So I think the market is saturated, the work is hard enough I am not interested in getting into price war and not making any money.

Edited by JD DANNELS, July 31, 2015 - 09:11 AM.

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#6 boyscout862 ONLINE  

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Posted July 31, 2015 - 10:18 AM

Your truck and trailer are the most important investments. They must be in good shape and big enough. One of my brothers has been doing yard maintenance since the early 60s. He has 4 1968 to 1972 Chevy trucks, several trailers, many mowers of all types and a hand full of employees. Each winter he rebuilds one of the trucks in his garage. Like the military, each truck has a complete set of tools onboard. Most equipment gets overhauled too. Taking care of the equipment himself and keeping it in good working condition saves time and reputation which yields greater profits.

 

A big enough shop to store and work on the equipment is very helpful.  You may be best off buying and rebuilding the equipment you need. I am retired and my legs are pretty worn. A good GT with bagger or vacuum trailer makes more sense to me.

 

Start small and slow, there are alot of ways to get shafted when you are in business. The liability insurance got so expensive that I closed my engineering shop 15 years ago. Good Luck, Rick


Edited by boyscout862, July 31, 2015 - 11:02 AM.

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#7 JD DANNELS OFFLINE  

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Posted July 31, 2015 - 11:05 AM

As boyscout said maintaining your equipment is the key.
If you want to work an 8 hr day.
Figure 5 hrs a day on the lawns. The other 3 hrs will be sharpening blades, lube and oil changes and belt changes and adjustments so your ready for the next morning.
Work in the cool of tHe mornings and your rig should be loaded and ready to go right after breakfast.
The heat of the afternoon you can be in the shade of the shop.

I worked after putting in 8 hrs in the factory till dark( hottest time of the day). The heat in August, high humidity) will separate the men from the boys. And make you an old man with a. Bum ticker.

Edited by JD DANNELS, July 31, 2015 - 11:06 AM.

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#8 EricFromPa OFFLINE  

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Posted July 31, 2015 - 11:51 AM

My buddy has 2 Ferris mowers 1 is a 48" walk behind with standing scully and the other is a zero turn.He likes the walk behind alot more than the zero turn.Says it turns sharper,mows better and it mows hills.The zero turn is not very good on hills but better for larger lawns and fields.

 

He said he's going to trade in the zero turn for a slightly larger walk behind.Most of his yards have hills and lots of bushes,shrubs and fences.Oh and the walk behinds are a good bit smaller(length wise) and more maneuverable.Trailer space is always a factor with a Zero turn.You can fit 2 walk behinds on a medium sized trailer but only 1 zero turn and still have enough room for trimming equipment.


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#9 48willys OFFLINE  

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Posted July 31, 2015 - 11:58 AM

Talk to the parts department too, see what they say about it. Do they sell a lot of big ticket items for that model and do they stock the basic parts that will leave you sitting watching the grass grow? They won't tell you a certain mower is junk but most will try to point you in the right way. As pointed out, a lot of it is support, if you are broke down and can't get your mowing done you will lose customers.
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#10 SearsYellow OFFLINE  

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Posted July 31, 2015 - 01:32 PM

I went and visited a Scag Dealership and a Bobcat dealership today so I believe my choices have changed.  I really like Scag but as of right now 8 grand is not in the budget (considering Im playing cash for everything). My choices are Scag Freedom Z or Bobcat CRZ. Look them up and see what y'all think. Leave your feedback here. Oh yeah.. btw. IF any of you can draw I need a Logo for my company. I am willing to pay someone if they come up with a good logo. My business is called Nature Trails Landscaping.


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#11 Bill 76 OFFLINE  

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Posted July 31, 2015 - 06:17 PM

I can't tell you what kind of equipment to buy but running your own business can really eat up your time as said your going to spend several hours a day maintaining things and then there is the dreaded paper work along with insurance,tax permits if needed -workers comp if you hire anyone--doing all the required paper work to depreciate your equipment from year to year--and the governor trying to pick your pocket and so on----Also everyone's favorite  the dead beat customer.

I am not trying to talk you out of trying to start up your own business , Lot of guys try it and some make it lots don't.

I wish you the best of luck and hope you achieve your goal of running your own business.      


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#12 Bolens 1000 ONLINE  

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Posted July 31, 2015 - 07:54 PM

I can't tell you what kind of equipment to buy but running your own business can really eat up your time as said your going to spend several hours a day maintaining things and then there is the dreaded paper work along with insurance,tax permits if needed -workers comp if you hire anyone--doing all the required paper work to depreciate your equipment from year to year--and the governor trying to pick your pocket and so on----Also everyone's favorite  the dead beat customer.

I am not trying to talk you out of trying to start up your own business , Lot of guys try it and some make it lots don't.

I wish you the best of luck and hope you achieve your goal of running your own business.      

 

That is a good point

I'm not sure if NC has sales tax or not but you may want to get that straightened out before you start as well if you have to charge sales tax on top of the price.

The book keeping is alot of work as well and the key is keeping it organized.

It may be best to stock one of each part you think you may need such as extra blades belts ect so you can be up and running quickly.


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#13 bh115577 ONLINE  

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Posted August 01, 2015 - 05:02 AM

I lived in Florida in the mid 90's and worked at a mower shop as a mechanic. Almost 70% of thier business was commercial landscape companies. They sold Gravley, Toro, Dixie Chopper, Scag, Exmark, and Ferris. They sold more Scag mowers than all the others combined and we worked on them the least.

 

Right now I work 2 full time jobs.

I'm the Equipment Manager (service manager) for the golf and grounds department of a resort with 5 golf courses and 6 full time Equipment Techs. Here I'm responsible for the maintenance and repair of almost 800 different pieces of equipment ranging from chainsaws to dozers and dump trucks. Best advice I can offer is don't skimp on preventive maintenance. Buy the best grease and oils you can. Many years of oil sampling has me convinced that synthetic oil is a good choice and worth the cost. The grease I use here is Swepco 103 and have been for about 4 years. I'm not a salesman for this company but I highly recommend it and can put you in touch with someone if you'd like. We don't have grease related failures at all anymore. Not a single one.

 

I also have a repair shop at home that is licensed and insured. Quick books works for me and it tracks everything the accountant needs. I mostly sharpen and repair golf course equipment but I picked up a few landscapers a few years ago. Other than the reel mower sharpening the bulk of the work I get is from lack of preventive maintenance. Usually in the hydraulics.

 

 

 

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#14 karl OFFLINE  

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Posted August 01, 2015 - 05:38 AM

lawn care companys in my area are a dime a dozen. a lot of them also plow snow during the winter. I cut my own lawn. but it  seems my neighbors always have a NEW GUY. There's a lot of them out there. good luck!


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#15 sacsr OFFLINE  

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Posted August 01, 2015 - 06:13 AM

My nephew used logocontest.com to have someone create his logo. Not cheap but seems to be s good alternative to have a lot of input from different designers
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