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View Full Version : The "next step" threshold


mark123
03-26-2012, 06:53 PM
I just got an email from my last estimate accepting my offer for mowing and fertilizing his lawn. I'm officially over, or maybe directly on, the threshold for the next level.

I don't quite have what I need to justify a bigger, faster mower but I'm right at the point where I can't take another job with the one I currently have. If I get a larger mower, I'm going to also need to add a trailer to the mix. The difference between the "enough for a bigger mower" and "too much for the walk-behind" thresholds is about 6 lawns but I'm not sure I want to jump in. I'm sure I'll get more during the year and there is only one payment left on the walk-behind. The bigger mower will surely make my current route easier and also make me able to compress it into less days so that I can begin building a new route day.

What do you think?

CHEESE2009
03-26-2012, 07:15 PM
Whenever it comes down to money, don't ever take my advice.


I buy, and worry later.

mark123
03-26-2012, 07:24 PM
Whenever it comes down to money, don't ever take my advice.


I buy, and worry later.HAHA, yeah. That is one thing I don't want. I definitely have a business plan that I'd like to stick to. It's just that I've grown faster than expected.

JeffK26
03-26-2012, 08:24 PM
You say you have 6 lawns in the threshold...does that mean you can now take 5 more lawns after this one or this is the absolute last lawn you can take?

For my personal question, you say adding a trailer to the mix, you do not have a trailer? or need a bigger trailer? this question has nothing to do with the answer, it's personal, because I have a 36" walk behind without a trailer for a couple weeks and if i can push it off a bit more I would like to. I'm just the type of guy that has $200 bucks to spend on work boots and go shop for workboots all day, and look at my current workboots and think "I can wear these for another two weeks" and go home without making a purchase.....

Hedgemaster
03-26-2012, 08:59 PM
^^^ I think he's one of those nutcases who loads a walkbehind in his pickup with ramps.


:D

JeffK26
03-26-2012, 09:16 PM
HA! I'm a nutcase that likes to hold off on a purchase unless absolutely needed :D, which means I'll probably be getting a trailer this weekend.

mark123
03-26-2012, 09:47 PM
You say you have 6 lawns in the threshold...does that mean you can now take 5 more lawns after this one or this is the absolute last lawn you can take?
I mean that I can't take one more with this walk-behind mower but I'd need 6 more lawns to justify the cost of buying a larger mower. :) There is no overlap in the two scenarios.

For my personal question, you say adding a trailer to the mix, you do not have a trailer? or need a bigger trailer? this question has nothing to do with the answer, it's personal, because I have a 36" walk behind without a trailer for a couple weeks and if i can push it off a bit more I would like to. I'm just the type of guy that has $200 bucks to spend on work boots and go shop for workboots all day, and look at my current workboots and think "I can wear these for another two weeks" and go home without making a purchase.....
This will be my 4th year of running my 36" walk-behind with ramps into the bed of my truck. No trailer. I couldn't fit a trailer into some of my job locations so moving up to a trailer and stand-on may mean dropping a few clients or keeping one day with a walk-behind in the bed of the truck.

Hedgemaster
03-26-2012, 10:36 PM
^ Yeah, you've seen my "cargo carrier"... Now that I have the walk behind, I HAVE to use the trailer when I am using it. I'm freaking out trying to reschedule all my "city jobs" for days when I can just use the carrier - a trailer just isn't an option for several of my clients.

Maybe I'll grow to the point where I have to drop my city jobs entirely at some point.

Everyone has to work the clients they are best equipped to handle, or, as you are saying "upgrade", and make a shift in the types of clients you service.
As far as "problems" go, growing your business the way you are, is a good problem to have.

JeffK26
03-26-2012, 10:41 PM
I mean that I can't take one more with this walk-behind mower but I'd need 6 more lawns to justify the cost of buying a larger mower. :) There is no overlap in the two scenarios.


This will be my 4th year of running my 36" walk-behind with ramps into the bed of my truck. No trailer. I couldn't fit a trailer into some of my job locations so moving up to a trailer and stand-on may mean dropping a few clients or keeping one day with a walk-behind in the bed of the truck.

Ahh, gotcha...I wish i had that problem ha!....
Now this is based on what I would do because I like to play it "safe" and I'm a noob, but based on you growing faster than expected....Since you have one more payment on your current walk behind, after that last payment I would put it aside to take a big chunk off the price of a bigger mower so I wouldn't have the "worry" of getting more clients to justify it.

It's basically what I did with the new walk behind i just got. The magic number for a walk behind was 10 clients. I hit that and got it...now I want to get a few more clients for a trailer. I mow two days of the week, I don't see the point in spending money on a trailer to cut 5 lawns on two days....

Hope it helps! :)

CHEESE2009
03-27-2012, 11:56 AM
Well let's consider the pros and cons of getting a trailer.

Cons;
Very expensive at first
Recurring expenses (registration, tires, treatments)
Takes up space

Pros;
You look professional, as though you will be in the business for awhile
Advertising space (people will be more likely to hire you)
Easier to get to your tools with the added space
You'll be happier


Basically, if you have the room to store it, get one.

You really want to aim high though, don't get something that you'll want to upgrade within a year. Make sure there is room for the tools you want to lug around; tractor, self propelled, hand-held tools, trimmers, gas cans, etc...

No matter how big your trailer is, you will always end up wanting a bigger one lol.

-

If you are nervous about driving/reversing with a trailer, don't worry too much. It's pretty simple, and the slower you go, the easier it is to control while reversing. Good luck my friend!

Steve
03-27-2012, 12:14 PM
The difference between the "enough for a bigger mower" and "too much for the walk-behind" thresholds is about 6 lawns but I'm not sure I want to jump in.

What's your view on the average solo operator's point where this happens. I think a lot of start ups are reading this and are concerned to know at what kind of range of customers should they be looking forwards to having to deal with this?


I mean that I can't take one more with this walk-behind mower but I'd need 6 more lawns to justify the cost of buying a larger mower. There is no overlap in the two scenarios.

With a ride on mower, how many more additional customers do you feel you could mow this season?

mark123
03-27-2012, 04:33 PM
What's your view on the average solo operator's point where this happens. I think a lot of start ups are reading this and are concerned to know at what kind of range of customers should they be looking forwards to having to deal with this?
I'd say it happens right around 50 customers unless your routes are super tight. If you have more larger lawns then you're doing less driving and more mowing so the number will be higher in that situation.



With a ride on mower, how many more additional customers do you feel you could mow this season? I imagine I could easily add another full $300 day.

brian'slawncare
03-27-2012, 08:16 PM
Wouldn't it make sense to expand where you can? So if you think you have the potential to get enough clients, "gopher it!" (haha see what I did there steve?) Having a trailer could also open up a window for bigger landscape projects, thus generating more profit.

Hedgemaster
03-27-2012, 09:27 PM
Speaking of trailers - OMG this SUCKS compared to just driving my truck with the push mower on the cargo carrier.

Last year I only used the trailer for cleanups. Today I took it out with the mowers and the load/unload is slower, driving is slower, finding somewhere to park slows you down, gas mileage is surely going to go down.

There's something to be said for working a ton of tiny lawns with a truck and a push mower.

I'm starting to think that the best money for your effort exists at the far ends of the spectrum - the guy with a truck and a mower who mows a million lawns in the city, and the big guys with the 20' trailer and ZTRs to mow a few large lawns for big bucks.

The new walk behind is nice, but it adds time and effort to the mix as a result of the need for a trailer to haul it.

CHEESE2009
03-28-2012, 05:34 AM
I agree with the threshold being about 50 clients. It gets tough alone.

A zero turn will make a huge difference in time you spend, while increasing your threshold, leaving room for more clients, but even then it can still be exhausting.

If you hire someone to work with you, your speed will triple.

I use the tractor while my other guy uses a self propelled. When I'm done on the tractor I start to trim. When he's done with the self propelled, we're often racing each other to use the blower. It's a neat system, but expensive.

The only reason one should use a tractor and an assistant, is usually to make your job easier (even if it costs you money). It helps make the days shorter, so you can relax and have a much needed mental break. Working 8-5pm is not what I ever want to do and I wouldn't suggest it.

With 100 lawns per week / 20 lawns per day, you should work 8-2pm. It's comfortable and you wont hate your company :P

Plus, after about 3pm, that's when the mosquitoes come out and people are arriving home, avoiddddddddddd :D

CHEESE2009
03-28-2012, 05:40 AM
Speaking of trailers - OMG this SUCKS compared to just driving my truck with the push mower on the cargo carrier.

Last year I only used the trailer for cleanups. Today I took it out with the mowers and the load/unload is slower, driving is slower, finding somewhere to park slows you down, gas mileage is surely going to go down.

There's something to be said for working a ton of tiny lawns with a truck and a push mower.

I'm starting to think that the best money for your effort exists at the far ends of the spectrum - the guy with a truck and a mower who mows a million lawns in the city, and the big guys with the 20' trailer and ZTRs to mow a few large lawns for big bucks.

The new walk behind is nice, but it adds time and effort to the mix as a result of the need for a trailer to haul it.


It's surely something to think about. Realistically, a truck is sufficient enough without anyone actually needing a trailer. A trailer is mostly for show, as it's been the trademark of lawn service for years.

When I first began, I would have loved to have one of those cargo carriers that attach to the hitch... Very cool stuff! I was never able to find one!!!