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hansons_lawncare
09-26-2010, 12:46 AM
First off I LOVE this site. Thanks.

I have grown my business from nothing, I hated my job and I wanted more out of my life. I needed a mower for my house anyway so I decided to go this rout. I have some time to share the mistakes the goods the bads, the reasons for doing this and the things I want and need advice on. So if your up for it PLEASE give me some feed back.

I first got a mower that wasnt a comercial zero turn. Break downs every week. AVOID. I traded up for a comercial zero turn, never had a problem.

I try and base my business on ALL other businesses. If you pick any business think of the things you like and dont like... in general terms, such as mcdonalds, you get affordable prices, and your in and out quickly. EVERYONE eats at mcdonalds so they are doing something right. On the other end of things, look at a perkins, they take longer, and the price is higher. But you get beter quality, and better service. I look at every business and look at what makes them work and try and incorperate as many of their good things into my business.

That being said, there are people out there that try and do a business without proper equipmment, In my mind go all in or dont go. Word gets around FAST. going back to my other business reference, If a new place opens up and you go there and have bad service, and quality, as you live your life someone will say what do you know about that place, and you say the service was lame and the food wasnt that great, that person will not go try it. But if you use comercial equipment, have a good appearence and good service, the word passed on might be passed on that you gotta try this place. If you follow that.... Im mainly saying EVERY first encounter is the most important.

I worked a full time job, mowing on the side. After I saw the potential, I started mowing full time. Picking up yards as I go. ANY new business needs to understand that by under pricing yards to get work you are hurting yourself and the whole market around you. Your cost may not be very high, and you can do it cheeply. As soon as that happens you will have truck problems, your house will flood, your insurence will go up, you will have a child. DONT overlook the fact that this needs to pay for all of your business expences but it must pay you. if you figure 10 bucks an hour for yourself, thats not liveable. AND as a business owner you dont work 40 hr weeks, you work 100 hour weeks, if you make 10 bucks an hour profit after doing that, I want to be you.

I have learned that building too fast is a bad idea, I jumped in and got an f-150, it turned out to be not enough truck, I went into the dealership and traded it for 2 cube vans, that i can drive my mowers into. Its a great set up, but now my payments went up along with my insurence. Shortly after I needed a dump truck for leaves and landscaping. When you look at the 2 huge trucks and a dump truck and the zero turns and all of the things, month to month is near impossible to get by. So many of the things I am talkin about may not apply to you existing businesses, because you are thru this point or you had money to begin with. I know there is money to be made here or I wouldnt still be doing this.

Employees are a scarry thing, your taking someone elses life into your hands, If something breaks down and an employee needs to get paid you need to be able to work without that equipment. you MUST treat an employee like a piece of equipment, you need to put money into it to keep it working, gas, oil. but every once in a while you add an attachment, a striper a bagger, you need to take care of that employee the same way. Buy them lunch, or a pop at the gas station, treat them well. If you lose a good employee you have to re train and you spend a lot of time and money there.

Does anyone know of an off brand place to buy belts and parts, the dealership over charges and the hardware store has general sizes that dont fit perfectly.

Gopher scheduling, billing, has been a LIFE SAVER. I wish there was a better way to track things but without this program I would be lost. If anyone out there has the skills, using it on a cell phone is nice, tracking the incomeing and out going payables would be nice. I know it offers some of that in the program but it should be an easier project. Also I need to take a lot of that blame, I work all day everyday, I put things off and no software can make up for human lazyness. How many people have a shop. I have a house full of papers, a garage full of mowers, a town full of customers a brain full of ideas and somehow i gotta squeeze a life into that. Does anyone hire an office assistant.

I typed this all up and my battery died, lost it all. so if im repeating things I appologize. I am heavy on the residential side right now, I want to be all comercial, but I have noticeed that a lot of those are bid every year, if someone comes in and under bids me I am out of work for the summer and soon after forever.

I have done a lot of looking around at comercial bids, if you call in or stop in and the answer isnt from a supervisor dont take that. I have called places and they have "left a note" i never heard back and then I hear they took a bid from someone 45 min away that is charging way more than you would have. How do you find the correct person to ask, when is the right time. I have found that most appartments are owned in groups, fight to get into talk to someone, and they probably own another. I strugle with townhomes, there are boards and people in charge, but you cant tell because every house is the same. i have thought about going for a walk through those areas and asking a random person outside.... Any advice???

Medical insurence, if your maried i guess its not a big issue, but if you are anything like me and NEVER go to the doctor its hard to spend thousands a year just incase. But as soon as i cancel ill have a heart attack.

I like the price calculators they have for the businesses, they are helpful. knowing what you need to make is key, especially if your sitting in an office while others mow. you MUST make money on every job, i have talked to a few people that say take the good with the bad... NO if you are even breaking even get out. we do this to make money.

advertising is tough where i am, I pass out 100 flyers and get 1 call, i put an add in the paper and get a lot of calls, but the paper just keeps raising their prices, Maybe I should start a new news paper.

If you need to raise a price have a list of things you can use as an example, dont make excuses, like i said we do this to make money, explain the tires on your tuck are 200 bucks and you need 4, insurence went up, gas went up, whatever it is, dont raise a price and have NOTHIGN to give them back.

I know I do A LOT WRONG, i try to fix things, study, do whatever i can to get better but no business will be perfect. I want to hear what people think, as we get closer to winter i want to share a lot more and try and fix what i can.

Finally I live in a smaller town, 20,000 people, we have about 7 or 8 lawn businesses so there isnt much freindlyness, I havent been able to learn from the local guys, so im relying on the people who arnt my compition to help, THANKS

Steve
09-26-2010, 04:43 PM
That is a fantastic post!

I have done a lot of looking around at commercial bids, if you call in or stop in and the answer isnt from a supervisor dont take that. I have called places and they have "left a note" i never heard back and then I hear they took a bid from someone 45 min away that is charging way more than you would have. How do you find the correct person to ask, when is the right time.

There is a chain of command you can follow. Find out who the manager is, find out who is in charge of property maintenance. Get their number and call them to find out when they want bids submitted. I would say, don't leave a note, be proactive and find the contact person.

What would you say are the top 5 mistakes new lawn care business owners make?

hansons_lawncare
09-26-2010, 08:01 PM
#1 Make a business plan from the beginning and stick to it. I started to make some money on the side. If i would have stayed that way I would be better off now. If I would have decided to go all in and make this a real business I would have been able to buy the proper equipment from the beginning. By knowing where you want to be from the start you will have more success.

#2 Have a weekly stratagy and a back up plan. My first year was a very dry year, Every week I made a scedule and found out many times the grass wasnt growing. To keep my new customers happy I wouldnt mow when it wasnt necessary. If you have an employee or even to stay ahead of things by yourself, know what to do with your day. If you have 10 yards to mow that day and only 5 need it, have a plan in place of things that need to get done in that free time. If you have some great customers that you want to keep go do a little extra, do some edging, do somthing that doesnt cost you a lot but goes a long way for them.

#3 Spend time with your customers, Dont obsess on getting through your day. After you finish the yard, talk to the customer, see what is new with them, know them on a personal level. after a summer of doing that you will have a cusomer and a personal friend. Expanding off of that, go to church, go to parades, be in public, let people see you, YOU are the best advertisement for yourself.

#4 Before your commit, take some classes, learn about small engines, learn about marketing, budgeting... ANYTHING. I cant think of a business that requires more levels of knowledge, You have to be a weather, mechanic, accountant, marketing, lawn, public speaking, person, there is so much more that you have to be, so many hats you have to wear. A big business has a person for all of those jobs, in this profession it all falls on you.

#5 Be a sponge, you dont know everything, you will never know everything, I was un prepaired for the crazy requests that some people ask of you. Take in what EVERYONE has to say, know what you want and stay on that path, but I have talked to people ranging from all kinds of back grounds, a man used to run a grounds crew at a golf course, a man who ran his own business and talked me through general business things. You may think your smart but you are NEVER smart enough.

Steve
09-27-2010, 09:29 AM
Very interesting!

How important do you feel it is to be able to offer a variety of services to your customer base, kind of being a one stop shop vs. focusing on a single niche?

hansons_lawncare
09-27-2010, 05:45 PM
I think that in the beginning you need to concentrate on what you do best. Over time adding what you can handle without stretching too thin. I have a lot of customers that dont want to hire someone else, or they ask if I know someone who can do whatever it is they want done. Since Im there mowing the lawn, I can aerate, dethatch, spray, without any cost in advertising or travel cost. I was already there. I would say offer as many services as you can handle, It assures work if another aspect of your business lacks. But dont go away from what you do best

Steve
09-28-2010, 06:55 PM
What are some of your big plans now for the next year and the future? How far ahead do you like to plan in your business plan when it comes to growth?

hansons_lawncare
10-11-2010, 08:23 PM
as for the future I want to start spraying lawns. The biggest problem I have is that I started without a proper biz plan and to survive I had to buy to meet the demand. So for my future I need to concentrate on getting out of debt. Im to the point now that I have as many yards as I want, but I need to get them in a smaller area. The way to make money is to do yards in the same neighborhood. if you have one yard on one end of town and one on the other and you jump around your are waisting fuel, employee pay, wear and tear on a vehicle, and just a waist of your own time. I suggest keeping a log with start and end time, you may see that you spend more time in the truck than mowing. So my next goal is to make a list of my best and worst customers, look around for more yards in the good neighborhoods and weed out the bad.

Steve
10-12-2010, 07:09 AM
What kinds of things do you want to do, as far as marketing goes, to start picking up other properties near your current customers? And ultimately make your routes tighter?


The biggest problem I have is that I started without a proper biz plan and to survive I had to buy to meet the demand. So for my future I need to concentrate on getting out of debt.

If you could have done it all over again, what would your plan have included that you didn't include up to this point and what kinds of things did you buy that you didn't plan on buying initially?

hansons_lawncare
12-03-2010, 03:24 PM
Fall hit and i got busy. My advertising plans for getting a full neighborhood are pretty simple. I have a customer or 2 in the area, I will talk to them about getting neighbors to join, and offer some sort of deal to them for ever new account I get. After that I will look for lawns that are obviously mowed commercially. Some may see it as stealing a yard, but if they are interested in talking they cant be 100% satisfied, build off of the new customer. Tell them that if they get a nighbor to join you will give them a great deal. I am a strong believer that YOU are your best advertisement, but a nighbor is a trusted person and not a random guy telling you that he is good. Go door to door, talk to a few people. I may have said it before but this last summer I took a notebook and put a start and an end time on all of my yards, mow times were between 18-30 min and drive time seemed to be another 20min. so knocking out that drive time adds half a day plus gas and truck use.

One thing I know big businesses dont have much of a problem with, but as a small one or 2 guy show, when yo go out, you want to bid a little lower, because you think thats what it will take to get the job. but if you notice its not the little hardware stores or grocery stores selling the cheapest. If you cant do it that cheap, DONT. You can figure in, i will use my mower this long, and gas and maybe advertising and insurance, but there are things you dont account for. HOUSE PAYMENT, GAS, ELECTRIC, PROP. TAX, GARBAGE, WATER, INTERNET, TV, PHONE, this is your job, If you went out and had to get a job somewhere you would add all of these things up and if they offer 8 an hr you would say no because its not enough, you know you need atleast 12 to survive. so when you are out doing your estimates, know your costs, but dont go below our only going to hurt yourself, it doesnt pay to work just to break even. also a problem I had this year was equipmnet break down, in the past things were under warenty, now that im a little ways into this i have to make repairs on my own. take a class, if you ever hire a worker, make sure they are mechanical, because its not just the cost of the repairs, its the down time. once i get going its had to stop, Ill leave it at that for now.

hansons_lawncare
12-03-2010, 03:53 PM
now that I finally have a chance to catch up and get all of the things done that get put off, I am going to work on my shop, does anyone have some pictures or examples of where to even start. I have a 3 car garage, half of one bay is an office, when i got the place i was thinking 3 car garage, I can fit everything in here....... Its full and I put up another cold storage shed thats 12wx20lx14h. NEVER enough storage. But if there are pictures or examples or anything let me know. I hope to get into a bigger place, I bought this place as a forclosure and fixed it up, but you have to stay 2 years to avoid being taxed like crazy. so for the next 2 years i need to have a shop that can work on everything.

Steve
12-03-2010, 04:08 PM
and offer some sort of deal to them for ever new account I get.

What is your view on the types of deals that should be offered to gain more referrals?

How important is the referral offer to get referrals versus, can just asking for contacts do the same thing or no?

MrLank
12-04-2010, 04:49 AM
so for the next 2 years i need to have a shop that can work on everything.

There are quite a few guys around here that rent storage garages. A fairly cheap monthly payment and most are big enough to store any and all equipment.

Raymond McDannell
12-04-2010, 05:27 PM
I like your information alot, very helpful. So if you can make it in a town of 20,000 i certainly should make it good if i have 2 surrounding towns each having 100,000 people.

thanks, Raymond

Executive Lawn Care, NH

jasonw
12-04-2010, 09:03 PM
I gained several yard from people who complained that they were in a contract and had to pay even when the lawn never got cut. I feel this is a HUGE rip off on the part of the people in our industry. What I do is, well normally they will call and tell me not to come if it dose not need it but if for some reason they dont and I show up. I will wash their damn car if they want. I was expected to work that day, I planed to work that day and they paid for work that day so why should they not get it. I totally agree with taking time to talk to your clients. 80% of mine are elderly and love having someone to chitchat with. I am never on a tight schedule and its not uncommon for me to have a cup of coffee and shoot the bull for an hour with a client. All my clients are my friends, listen to them, care about who they feel and what they say and it will take you a long way. This is not just for our business but for all of them. The idea of all business all the time is dieing fast in our country. The only ones that are going to survive are not only the one that care for there work but the ones that care for there people. Anyone who disagrees with that can goto Google and search for Gary Vaynerchuk and read then come back and say sorry for disagreeing lol

Steve
12-05-2010, 04:09 PM
I gained several yard from people who complained that they were in a contract and had to pay even when the lawn never got cut. I feel this is a HUGE rip off on the part of the people in our industry.

If this is something that you hear a bunch of times, have you considered using that in your marketing? It could make for a great headline and grab people's attention.

search for Gary Vaynerchuk and read then come back and say sorry for disagreeing

How do you feel reading Gary's work has effected your business or the way you go about operating your business?

jasonw
12-06-2010, 10:36 AM
If this is something that you hear a bunch of times, have you considered using that in your marketing? It could make for a great headline and grab people's attention.



How do you feel reading Gary's work has effected your business or the way you go about operating your business?

Steve, putting that in the marketing is not a bad idea. As far as Garry's work it is getting me out of the lawn care business and getting me into things I enjoy more. Gary is huge on "If your not happy dont do it"

Steve
12-06-2010, 01:56 PM
As far as Garry's work it is getting me out of the lawn care business and getting me into things I enjoy more. Gary is huge on "If your not happy dont do it"

With the other field you are working in, what have you found yourself doing differently that is improving your results? Or is it simply you enjoy the field so much, that in itself is the reward?

hansons_lawncare
12-07-2010, 09:27 AM
asking for a referal is always a good way to go about things, but if a person asked me i would give them some of my friends or other people i know who are interested. Thats great, but the idea of this would be to get people on the same block, in the same neighborhood. a lot of times those are people that they arnt as close to. so having them talk to those people as another satisfied customer they are doing work for me. If I sent out an employee the results might not be as good, and I would be expected to pay my worker. If a customer does that work for me, I should give them some sort of deal, even if its something small. free edging, come by and pressure wash a patio. something that really costs me a few dollars. but shows that i appriciate all that they do not only as a customer but talking to people and getting me more work. Advertising is expencive and will continue to get more expencive all the time. build up the word of mouth and when you get a good schedule and you are at the point you could turn down a customer, because you are set. now you can cut out advertising expence and make more money. I live in minnesota, does anyone know of lawn conventions, or things that you can go get an idea of how other people do things. or other products out there that would make like a lot easier,

Steve
12-07-2010, 01:21 PM
I live in minnesota, does anyone know of lawn conventions, or things that you can go get an idea of how other people do things. or other products out there that would make like a lot easier,
Did you check this out?

http://northerngreenexpo.org/

T.J.F.
12-31-2010, 10:18 PM
Just wanted to say that "What I have learned" thread was very well put. I work full time approx. 60 per week just recently (2009) began a small lawn mowing business...had know idea it would do this well out the gate. I currently have a business plan that covers the next 3 years that covers everything from equipment purchases, future employments, expanding from mowing to fall cleanups and snow removal. Eventualy Taking the plunge going from part time to full time.
I know it may sound old fashioned but I have pain stakingly tried not to get into debt. And believe you me its hard not to buy that new ZTR, or that Walk be-hind when it pulls its magic spell on you wispering "you really need me, C'mon you know you do..." yeah I know this is'nt for those that are well established but listen. I work for an industry that turns over 3.5 trillion (yes, I said TRILLION) dallors a year, and the number one thing they are always watching is their overhead. So my hats off to this chap for his learning experience and sharing it.

Growing Green
01-01-2011, 12:53 PM
Just wanted to say that "What I have learned" thread was very well put. I work full time approx. 60 per week just recently (2009) began a small lawn mowing business...had know idea it would do this well out the gate. I currently have a business plan that covers the next 3 years that covers everything from equipment purchases, future employments, expanding from mowing to fall cleanups and snow removal. Eventualy Taking the plunge going from part time to full time.
I know it may sound old fashioned but I have pain stakingly tried not to get into debt. And believe you me its hard not to buy that new ZTR, or that Walk be-hind when it pulls its magic spell on you wispering "you really need me, C'mon you know you do..." yeah I know this is'nt for those that are well established but listen. I work for an industry that turns over 3.5 trillion (yes, I said TRILLION) dallors a year, and the number one thing they are always watching is their overhead. So my hats off to this chap for his learning experience and sharing it.

Haha that is funny. I feel the same way when I see the ZTR. I'm also really bad when I go to the Stihl distributor. I want everything. I'm like a kid in a candy store.

Matt

Steve
01-05-2011, 04:47 PM
I currently have a business plan that covers the next 3 years that covers everything from equipment purchases, future employments, expanding from mowing to fall cleanups and snow removal. Eventualy Taking the plunge going from part time to full time.

Could you tell us more about your business plan and the future steps you want to take to go from part time to full time? I am sure this could help many of the members especially the newer businesses.

hansons_lawncare
02-18-2011, 03:17 PM
How does everone do all of their bookwork. I have tried bringing a computer in the truck, or doing everything when I get home. Sometimes the end of the week. It really starts to add up if you don't stay on it right away. Quick books or gopher help but trying to put in every expense u have sending out bills, keeping track of people who have paid. All the little things seem to take a back seat.
I start my morning going over weather, yards for the day, best routs possible, bills that need to be paid and repairs if any on equipment. Workers show up we go work 10 hr days with a stop home to get the mail and some lunch. I finish the day sending workers home and now I stat all over, record bills, sharpen blades, get gas, plans for tomorro,make a new schedule, return calls. If I did everything I'm suposed to do everyday I would run out of hours, so it gets put off til a rainy day or when it stops raining and the grass slows down. There has to be a more simple approach. I have been looking into tablets and programs that let u use ur cell to manage on the go, does anyone use a program like this. Maybe I'm in a unique spot, just small enough to do everything but not big enough to hire, but I need to figure out something as spring is approaching.

LawnMoore
02-18-2011, 09:51 PM
Yea im stir crazy over paperwork and books too, actually its my taxes im worried about, i am just now finishing remodelling a reoom in my house into an office, im about 90% done!
So this years taxes are great!
But last years, i have let slip a little and it really tought me to keep up better with my books.
Ill manage to get copies for enough expenses to cover my income as i spent 15k of my personal money into this biz.

I have a house full of papers, a garage full of mowers, a town full of customers a brain full of ideas and somehow i gotta squeeze a life into that. Does anyone hire an office assistant.


no but i need to lol, i feel like this, minus the town full of customers, i only have a town full of ppl i need to advertise to ;)

hansons_lawncare
02-19-2011, 03:09 AM
I know a guy who mainly does irrigation systems, i dont have the time for that, and he is the go to guy in town so i stay away, but i have refered a few people to him and he has done the same for me. I ran into him at the gas station and he came over and we got to talking, he said he strugled with new customers calling, if he lets it go to voice mail the people could move on. if he answers he looks around the truck and grabs some old mail and jots down the info. He always gets out to give his estimates and does the work, but when it comes time to send a bill.... that old envelope is long gone.

He told me he hired his mom, and it was the best decision he ever made. she answers the phone and has a copy of his schedule, she knows roughly how long a job should take, so when someone calls she sends him a message with the details and logs all the information. after he finished his estimate, he calls her up, gives her the details and its all saved. his business is a little different, getting new customers everyday, unlike spring and fall being our busy call seasons.

Im sure thats not a spot many people are in, having someone who is available and knoledgeable that isnt going to cost you tens of thousands a year. But i have been thinking of a way to build off that. maybe find someone in town i trust that doesnt have a very busy schedule, I know a guy that runs a computer repair shop, or a lady that runs a daycare, to them its a 5 min phone call away from their day, to save me hours of book keeping hastles later. they will be doing you a huge favor but you dont need to give them 10 bucks an hour, they would probably take 10 bucks a day. I havent done this but its an idea i have been working on, maybe i send my kid to that daycare or i get my computers fixed there.

I love that this site lets people with the same ideas and thoughts get together and really learn from eachother. In my area there is almost a little dislike for the other businesses that i dont understand. there are 2 companies that have been around for 25+ years and they almost look at it as I am stealing from them, or this is there town. so without a place like this my brain would be going crazy with things i want to say but no one loves a nice lawn as much as i do.

Steve
02-20-2011, 12:17 PM
What about hiring a local senior citizen that is retired and looking for something to do?

hansons_lawncare
02-27-2011, 11:38 PM
Yea that's a good idea. As long as they have a little knoledge of what I'm doing and how long it takes to do it. I would need a second cell phone. It might be nice if something comes up to have someone who can run and get something or whatever comes up so I don't have to slow down. I just got a scooter for doing estimates and all the running around. Its hard to compete with gas prices. If I'm mowing a yard for 30 and I need to add for gas, truck, zero turn blower trimmer edger its very easy to use a gallon or 2 of gas, at 4 bucks a gallon I eat over 26% in fuel. If I add a fuel charge I'm afraid of not only losing a customer but also the customer thinking that its just getting to be too much and they buy a mower, hire a neighborhood kid. Now the town loses a customer not just me. So I need to find a way to walk that line. Raise a price so I can still make money but not scare away a customer. It would be ok to make a little less profit for a year if I knew prices would go down but I'm worried that this will be a life long problem. They improve vehicle milage but I don't hear much about mower advancements. Ill wear a soler panel hat. if prices continue I could see that putting a lot of guys out of business

Steve
03-01-2011, 04:26 PM
It would be ok to make a little less profit for a year if I knew prices would go down but I'm worried that this will be a life long problem.

If you think this is the way it is going to go, are there other options you could choose to improve your business?

hansons_lawncare
03-02-2011, 10:18 PM
Well we have talked before about keeping routs in the same neighborhoods to avoid drive time and fuel, Im looking into some of the stand on or even walk behind mowers with the smaller engines. I have even looked into the idea of push mowing yards, but then it becomes an issue of labor time and the ability to do many yards in a day. I have already eliminate the tailer and use a cube van with a ramp, my pickup was getting about 10 mpg. the bigger stronger truck can do 15 in town easy, and haul everything i could ever need. but theres only so many cut backs you can make before affecting quality. I want to move to a bigger city, where the minimum prices are MUCH better than in my town, but its hard to relocate and try and start over. I suffered to get where im at, i dont want to start from scratch in a new neighborhood with no reputaion or local references. I have considered doing more landscaping or other services that lawn companies provide and they all have large time and expense. I currently have one employee and we usually ride together, unless we are going to other ends of town. I would worry about bringing someone on to work and not have enough work, even as a part time guy people really cant drop everything when i need them, and sit around waiting so i can save money.

hansons_lawncare
03-02-2011, 10:32 PM
these are a few pictures of where I am today.
1st trailer
2nd Truck during fall clean ups with leaf box
3rd Dump truck
4th making the dump truck leaf box
5th the isuzu, it has a ramp on the back. bad angle

3607

3608

3609

3610

3611

Steve
03-04-2011, 01:10 AM
I have already eliminate the tailer and use a cube van with a ramp, my pickup was getting about 10 mpg. the bigger stronger truck can do 15 in town easy, and haul everything i could ever need.

That is fantastic! You improved your gas mileage by 50% by doing that!

Have you found any downsides to switching from your pickup with your trailer to your cube van?

What about leaves? Do you use a trailer to collect leaves with your cub van?

I also noticed you have two different cube van trucks. Did one work out better than the other?

hansons_lawncare
03-04-2011, 02:51 PM
It was the best i could do in the situation. I had an 06 pick up, that couldnt handle what I was putting it through, I went to the dealership and they had 5 cube vans from a large vending company in town that was upgrading that they pushed me towords. The first was a diesel F350 big jump from my F150. It has the huge 7.2L engine that I worried would eat up my milage but it really doesnt. It has the large frame and box that i dont notice if im pulling anything, very smoth ride. They had it listed at 9,000 with 145,000 miles. For the same Model in a Pick up was around 15,000. I saw the room for advertising and decided I would do that. The problem was my pick up was worth 17,000 and they didnt like the idea of trading down. so i looked at a few smaller trucks, telling them that I had the ford for power and needed a get around truck that i could do estimates or maybe throw a weed whip in the back and run around in the morning when its 2 wet to mow and knock out some trimming without having to have an employee to pay. so we found a little ford ranger, no towing power, small box, and surprisingly bad gas milage. So i took the weekend to study up and found out that they had 1 isuzu that was a 4 cylender diesel engine. I read the reviews on the isuzu NPRs and couldnt find a bad review. they are build with just the chassie and you can add anything to the back of it. I got looking around and found a site that takes these isuzu frames and makes a custom lawn truck for 70,000. I decided i could take a crack at building my own. so i went back to try the isuzu and from the moment i got inside i LOVED it. it is built like a small semi. its very simple but made to last. I am confident that this truck will last. They had it listed for 10,000 with 140,000 miles. we talked for a while and they did an even trade with me. So i got to work building the ramp. that was a chore. i want it to be light enough to lift but strong enouh to trust. when it was finished and i felt good about it it ended up beeing a little over 800 pounds. now i had a new problem, i tried a winch, a boat crank, considered adding hydrolics. finally decided on a garage door torshen spring. now i can drive in and out in seconds and flip up the door with 1 hand. i mounted weed whips and blowers on the wall and have a work bench in the front to store tools and gas cans. It truely is a 1 car garage. When i got the ford it was going to be my leaf truck. I had a lot of designing and hours and hours of strgle with this one and i had to give up on the idea. easy to get leaves in, a terrible half a day dirty job to get them out. I decide instead to build a box on the front of my trailer and set the billy goat in the back of the truck shooting into the trailer box. i put doors all around it so i could open them up and drive forward and close it up...... NOT how it works. the billy goat chops up so small and tight that it was a solid wall all around. It would take me 2 hours every night to empty it. on busy days i would do it 2 times. after a year and a half I decided my health and my time could be better used somewhere else and got the dump truck. i went with the metel box to cut down on places for leaves to catch when i dump, and so it wouldnt break during the summer when I take it out to do multch or rocks or whatever jobs it comes in useful. After all of this is done the things i woul consider doing differently... I would have gotten a dump truck with 4 wheel drive. Im not plowing with it so i decided i wouldnt need it. I would buy 2 isuzus over the ford. the power i gain is nice in a few cases but the milage and ease and manuverability are un matched. I have driven around in the larger cities in the fall and have seen comanies with huge leaf trucks, I wish there was a way to use the ford but i cant figure out how to get them out. It is nice however to have a safe spot to keep blowers and rakes and gas, anything you could imagine in the back of a 8x16 box truck. Ive even considered building a wall and making a little office in the back, and add a printer to do bills and everything on the job sight. or have a generater in the back with a few outlets on the out side to be able to use some electric tools. an electric chain saw is MUCH cheaper than a gas, and for the amount i use it.... just an idea. I may also use the isuzu ford for chemicles, i could have the tanks inside with the line running out the side, similar to how true green does it. I could have a VERY large tank on that frame.

950thomas
03-04-2011, 03:19 PM
to get the leavs out of the truck mount a pallet to a chain and pull them out

hansons_lawncare
03-04-2011, 03:24 PM
with the amout that would be in the tuck i bet i would need another truck to pull that chain, but thats an awesome ideal. i was thinking of it all wrong i was thinking about somethng that would push out, do you think the pallet will stay strait or will it twist and only pull out a small amout. is this something you have tried

950thomas
03-04-2011, 04:44 PM
We dump at a much yard and the front leaders will pull the chain with the pallet off 4 us

950thomas
03-04-2011, 04:50 PM
I don't use that method but most companies where I live use it u can rig the pallet where it will stand up till u get the leaves in it to hold it up the pallet will pull out most of the leaves

hansons_lawncare
03-04-2011, 05:02 PM
alright cool, that just makes one of my trucks much more useful. how do they vent the truck for the air to get out. i have seen 2 different ways of doing it, where the back door only comes half way up. and a way where the hose fits tight in a hole. i prefer using the hole, so there is less of a mess and i can fill the box more.

950thomas
03-04-2011, 05:10 PM
they make a vent for those trucks that u can put on or u can buy a cloths dryer vent and cut a hole and put in

SLPettet
03-05-2011, 12:32 PM
Have you tried Partstree. com or smallenginewarehouse.com?? You can get cheap mower blades at expressmowerparts.com also.

Steve
03-06-2011, 03:35 AM
I decided i could take a crack at building my own. so i went back to try the isuzu and from the moment i got inside i LOVED it.

Do you have any pictures of the construction process? I'd love to see what you did.