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Ron H.
03-06-2011, 06:54 PM
My name is Ron and I own R & S Small Engine Service (www.randssmallengine.com), in Broken Arrow, OK. I've been involved in small engine service (lawmmowers, trimmers, edgers, blowers ... etc.) for over 40 years and I'm adding some light residential mowing to increase my business footprint. Eventually, my goal is to run the repair side of my business while a partner runs the lawn care side.
In my spare time, I completely value every minute that I spend with my grandchildren (and they are "grand" too), as well as fly fishing and motorcycling. I currently have two grandsons, ages 5 & 2, and am expecting my first granddaughter in May.

Gls
03-06-2011, 08:22 PM
Good luck to you. I am new as well and am attempting to start a landscape company. Just curious, what mowers would you recommend? Being in the repair business I figured you are the person to ask. I've herd Honda as a self propelled and I want a 36" toro walkbehind. What are you thoughts and are there any good, decently priced alternative?

Steve
03-06-2011, 09:29 PM
Welcome to our forum!

you got a great website there! I noticed you have a mobile operation, what is your view on why you decided to implement that and how do you feel it helps?

Ron H.
03-07-2011, 07:31 AM
Good luck to you. I am new as well and am attempting to start a landscape company. Just curious, what mowers would you recommend? Being in the repair business I figured you are the person to ask. I've herd Honda as a self propelled and I want a 36" toro walkbehind. What are you thoughts and are there any good, decently priced alternative?

My experience tells me that you are definitely on the right path with those choices. I'm a big advocate of Honda's s/p mowers, having a couple myself, as well as the John Deere commercial series with the Kawasaki engine, which I also have a couple of. The 36" Toro Walk Behind is a great mower and one that you should get several seasons of service out of, especially if you set them up on a regular service plan. Just remember that oil is a lot cheaper then a new engine, and be sure to keep the machines as clean as is feasibly possible. You'd be amazed at the number of engines I replace each year because the cooling fins were clogged with dirt and dust.
Best of luck in your new endeavour.

Ron H.
03-07-2011, 07:53 AM
Welcome to our forum!

you got a great website there! I noticed you have a mobile operation, what is your view on why you decided to implement that and how do you feel it helps?

Steve, I wish I had implemented the mobile service 10 years sooner; the reaction to it has been amazing.
I always had free pick-up and delivery, since most of my customers are elderly and have acreage, but don't have the ability to get their equipment to a repair shop. When the gas prices began to climb several years ago, I knew that I needed to either go way up on my prices, to cover the cost of return trips, or do something that would allow me to just make one trip to the customer. This is when the idea for the "mobile shop" was born.
I bought the trailer and outfitted it as you see on my website. I have since added an ATV jack to the trailer, which works great on all of the riders that I encounter. And this is how I implemented my mobile repair service.
A new program that we began this season is to partner with Homeowners Associations and visit their addition for the convenience of their members to bring their equipment to one site, within walking distance of their home. If some of those are elderly and unable to push their mower to where we set up, I'll go to their home after I finish servicing the others equipment.
Most people expect this sort of personalized service to cost much more than they are used to paying at a repair shop, but they are quite surprised to learn that I'm usually 1/3 the cost of most repair facilities. Just to give an example of the cost of service for a typical riding mower, I give it a tune-up, change oil, clean or replace the air filter, clean & adjust the carburetor, grease all zerks and pressure wash the mower for $64.95. If the engine is a twin cylinder model there is an additional charge of $5.00, and an additional charge of $9.95 for the oil filter. Under those conditions, the worst case scenario is $79.90, and the customers don't have to take their equipment to a shop, or wait several weeks for it to be returned. It's a win-win for everyone.

wandfsmall
03-07-2011, 10:24 AM
Nice to see another mechanic on here, I have a repair shop and had thought of the mobile service trailer but how do you setup the pressure washing with the mobile trailer? Also do you have many times you have to run for parts or how do you stock the trailer.. I am not trying to offend just wondering as I have thought about dropping back to 1 location and running a mobile station to keep up with the service from the smaller store, as the taxes at the location of the smaller store are double what we have at the main location with 4 times the space.

Also have you tried the mojack for the service trailer I can not stand it here but I would think it would work nice for your application.

Steve
03-07-2011, 09:59 PM
I bought the trailer and outfitted it as you see on my website. I have since added an ATV jack to the trailer, which works great on all of the riders that I encounter. And this is how I implemented my mobile repair service.
Could you show us some pictures of the way you have your trailer set up? This sounds really cool!

Ron H.
03-08-2011, 07:19 AM
Could you show us some pictures of the way you have your trailer set up? This sounds really cool!

Steve, I've tried to upload a picture of the inside of my trailer, but I keep getting an error message that says the Gopher Forum database has encountered a problem. I'll try to upload the picture later. In the meantime, anyone who is interested in seeing the layout of my trailer can go to my website, www.randssmallengine.com, click on the "Services" button and scroll to the bottom of the page for a picture of the inside.
At the front of the trailer is a small workbench with a vise, saw chain sharpener and parts bins (spark plugs, carb kits ...etc.) mounted on top. Under the workbench is storage for oil filters, battery charger, oil drain pan, tubes of grease ... etc. I've secured several milk crates under the bench to hold the previous mentioned items, plus some. On the left wall, viewed from the rear, is a mounted roll-around tool box, with wire wheel and grinder mounted on top, and the blue plastic drum is a water holding tank that feeds my pressure washer. I mounted a small pump on top of the tank to feed water to the washer. Next is the 1800 cfm pressure washer. Since this picture was made, I've built a holding rack that secures an ATV jack along the left wall by the rear door.
On the right side, next to the entry door, is my mounted air compressor, with air hoses and extension cords mounted to holders on the wall. Behind the compressor is another milk crate that holds quarts of oil, then two racks for fuel cans, one with straight gas and the other with mixed fuel. Then there is another milk crate with two small jacks and blocks of wood. Finally, closest to the rear door is a 6 gallon container for waste oil.
Sitting crossways between the two sides is my 6500 John Deere generator. This is anchored, with a strap, to anchors on the floor to prevent it from rolling around when in transit. When I get to my job site, I just remove the strap and roll the generator outside.
I wired two four-gang electrical outlets, one on each side of the workbench, and wired them to an exterior outlet that's mounted on the outside of the trailer. I made a short heavy gauge cord, with male plugs on each end, which connects my generator to the trailer through the exterior outlet. With this system, when I start the generator it powers the entire trailer and allows me to run any accessory that I want to run from the outlets on the bench.
Sorry to be so long winded.

Ron H.
03-08-2011, 07:48 AM
Nice to see another mechanic on here, I have a repair shop and had thought of the mobile service trailer but how do you setup the pressure washing with the mobile trailer? Also do you have many times you have to run for parts or how do you stock the trailer.. I am not trying to offend just wondering as I have thought about dropping back to 1 location and running a mobile station to keep up with the service from the smaller store, as the taxes at the location of the smaller store are double what we have at the main location with 4 times the space.

Also have you tried the mojack for the service trailer I can not stand it here but I would think it would work nice for your application.

To me, the trailer is totally invaluable and something that I wish I had done many years earlier. Overhead is essentially non-existent and my customers are equally excited about it.
To run my pressure washer, I took a plastic 55 gal. drum and made a siphon tube out of PVC, with holes drilled along the side of the tube toward the bottom. I drilled a hole through the small bung of the drum and ran my tube to the bottom of the tank. The tube is cut at an angle on the bottom to aid in picking up the water. I bought a small 110 v swimming pool pump from Lowes (about $20.00) and attached it to the siphon tube on the suction end, with a short piece of RV hose running to the pressure washer intake. A small piece of 1 x 4 board on top of the drum secures all of the pump assembly. When I'm ready to pressure wash equipment, I plug both the pump and pressure washer into the outlets on the workbench and get to work. I have had this set-up for the past 5 years and it has always worked flawlessly. There are probably better ways to set this up, but I haven't found them yet.
I'm not familiar with the mojack, but I'll look into it. I just happened to have the ATV/Motorcycle lift sitting around and found that it works great for lifting riders and only uses a small footprint in the trailer.

Ron H.
03-08-2011, 09:21 AM
Could you show us some pictures of the way you have your trailer set up? This sounds really cool!

Steve, I think the picture linked to this response. I'll post and see.

Steve
03-08-2011, 08:17 PM
Ron that is brilliant!

A new program that we began this season is to partner with Homeowners Associations and visit their addition for the convenience of their members to bring their equipment to one site, within walking distance of their home. If some of those are elderly and unable to push their mower to where we set up, I'll go to their home after I finish servicing the others equipment.

How do you market your services? I could imagine you doing something similar to what lawn care business owners do, where you drop off door hangers on your customer neighbors doors. Or maybe you could create a route and visit these different locations each month?

Maybe you could contact the local fire stations or volunteer ambulance buildings and park at their building once a month and tune up their small engine equipment as you take other customers off the street as well?

Could you upsell certain products while you were there like, ear protection or eye protection?

If you were to make a new mobile set up now from scratch, what would you do differently? Would you go with a trailer again? Or maybe a cube van? Or something else?

wandfsmall
03-08-2011, 08:54 PM
I like the setup, the only things I would change are the Mojack, a blade sharpener, and possibly a vacuum oil changer due to working away from the shop to cut back on the mess. I would still have to come up with a system for breakdowns, receipts, inventory like belts air filters and blades and figure out what about insurance. My mechanics are covered by liability insurance here but offsite I am not sure if they are covered.

Ron H.
03-09-2011, 06:21 AM
Ron that is brilliant!



How do you market your services? I could imagine you doing something similar to what lawn care business owners do, where you drop off door hangers on your customer neighbors doors. Or maybe you could create a route and visit these different locations each month?

Maybe you could contact the local fire stations or volunteer ambulance buildings and park at their building once a month and tune up their small engine equipment as you take other customers off the street as well?

Could you upsell certain products while you were there like, ear protection or eye protection?

If you were to make a new mobile set up now from scratch, what would you do differently? Would you go with a trailer again? Or maybe a cube van? Or something else?

I do market using a lot of what I've seen on the forum and am currently in the process of having 1,000 door hangers hung on doors in surrounding neighborhoods. I paid a neighbor's son $100.00 to walk around putting the hangers out, and made that back off of the first call that I received. I have the benefit of having a stepson who owns his own advertising business, which helps tremendously.

The trailer, which is professionally lettered, is also a "traveling billboard" which draws responses on a regular basis. An occasional Saturday cruise through WalMart parking lots usually results in a call or two as well. It's a rare occasion if I don't have at least one potential customer stop by for a look when I'm servicing equipment in an addition. As you can imagine, the potential is unlimited.

What would I do different? I've given thought to using either a box van or cube van, both of which have some strong points, but I still believe I'd go with a trailer again. Oh sure, there are some limitations due to space, but nothing that has made me regret the decision that was made. I have plenty of room to stock the fast moving items, as well as a pretty good supply of belts and filters. My limited space has taught me to do a little better job of questioning my customers when we're in the process of setting up an appointment, which makes returns, due to lack of needed parts, very rare. I suppose that I might choose a 20' trailer next time, and will probably go for a 6' 4" rear door opening height too. At 6' 2" myself, I have, unfortunately, found the top of the rear door opening, with the top of my head, a few times too many.

Ron H.
03-09-2011, 06:29 AM
I like the setup, the only things I would change are the Mojack, a blade sharpener, and possibly a vacuum oil changer due to working away from the shop to cut back on the mess. I would still have to come up with a system for breakdowns, receipts, inventory like belts air filters and blades and figure out what about insurance. My mechanics are covered by liability insurance here but offsite I am not sure if they are covered.

You certainly have some great ideas that would work well with mobile service. I looked into the Mojack after you mentioned it yesterday, and I can see where it could be a benefit, but I'll probably stick with my ATV jack, which looks like it would take a little less space in my trailer.

Mobile service does have it's limitations, but has it's benefits as well. Having done this for several years now, it works great for me.

wandfsmall
03-09-2011, 01:19 PM
You certainly have some great ideas that would work well with mobile service. I looked into the Mojack after you mentioned it yesterday, and I can see where it could be a benefit, but I'll probably stick with my ATV jack, which looks like it would take a little less space in my trailer.

Mobile service does have it's limitations, but has it's benefits as well. Having done this for several years now, it works great for me.

you might want to really think about it when you get some money built up as the Mojack is a lot safer, I have had jacks lead down with me under equipment before, and when your on your own that could be bad. Just be careful.... if you need any parts breakdowns you can not find also let me know I will see what I can do to help. I am authorized on Kohler, Kawasaki, Honda, Briggs and Stratton, Subaru, Generac, Hydrogear, Pearless, AYP, MTD, Bobcat, and Hustler for starters and lots more info stashed away.

Basically I can get you a breakdown for anything except all of the stihl products(most of the older ones but not all) you can email me at rwaters@alloutdoorparts.com if I can help.

jymie
03-09-2011, 01:39 PM
I think you can fold up the mojack and hang it on the wall of your trailer.

wandfsmall
03-09-2011, 05:31 PM
I think you can fold up the mojack and hang it on the wall of your trailer.

You can the small one but not the heavy one that will pick up a 72" mower

Steve
03-10-2011, 01:26 AM
An occasional Saturday cruise through WalMart parking lots usually results in a call or two as well. It's a rare occasion if I don't have at least one potential customer stop by for a look when I'm servicing equipment in an addition. As you can imagine, the potential is unlimited.


Could you set something up with the local wal-mart to repair/service customer's mowers during a certain time frame and maybe purchase some supplies through walmart?

Maybe some kind of synergy with them would really help you reach out to more customers.

Also, could you go to the local schools and teach outdoor power equipment safety to the students and give them some coloring pages on the different issues that could be taken home and shown to their parents to teach the parents safety too?

That could help you reach out to many families in your area.

wandfsmall
03-10-2011, 07:38 AM
Could you set something up with the local wal-mart to repair/service customer's mowers during a certain time frame and maybe purchase some supplies through walmart?

Maybe some kind of synergy with them would really help you reach out to more customers.

Also, could you go to the local schools and teach outdoor power equipment safety to the students and give them some coloring pages on the different issues that could be taken home and shown to their parents to teach the parents safety too?

That could help you reach out to many families in your area.

All of those options would take lots of insurance as walmart will not allow you to operate on their property without charging you and requiring at least a mill prob 2 liability. And if you think mowing insurance is high try mechanics liability insurance.