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golfnpreacher
07-05-2009, 05:44 PM
Is it me or am I missing something. Reading through the forums it seems like a lot of people are continually replacing or upgrading their equipment. I don't have any built in opposition to that, however while it might be a pain to properly, key work properly, maintain equipment, too me it is cheaper than replacing it.

At what point do you decide to replace your mower. (Beside the obvious - ie it died) Is it just hours on the machine? Or is it like a car... I've seen the same make and model, one craps out at 90,000 and the other looks good at 190,000. One is used, the other maintained. Or is the lawn care industry just hard on equipment?

Or do people just want "bigger and better" - "new and improved"

FloridaBoy
07-05-2009, 07:29 PM
Great question,, I think there are many different reasons.......
* Businesses need the tax right off
* Appearance is a big deal (good equipment=good clientel, crappy equipment= well you get the point)
* some people don't have any machanical skills to do own repairs, so in turn choose to buy new instead of in the shop all the time
* and refering to the previous statement, down time on a equipment has to be the worst, if you dont have back up, your going home and not cutting
* and some companies just need new stuff to feel good, whatever works

These are just a few, and only my opinion.

picframer
07-05-2009, 08:10 PM
Floridaboy hit most of the reasons I do...

First is growth, we are adding commercial equipment every week, I just added two post hole digger attachments for the tractors due to a big job this coming week, advertised it in the paper Saturday and now have 9 requests.

Next is tax write off

Appearance is everything to me...well just about, it is key, I rarely keep any piece of equipment or tool more than two years and generally when I trade it in it looks mint so I get top dollar for it.

Repairs, we pound a desperate amount of hours on the equipment and items like the tractors work year round, I can't afford down time and yes even with new equipment it does happen but not that often, I can fix pretty much anything myself however I like the warranty and the deal I have with John Deere, if something brakes, they give me a replacement until it's fixed.

In a two year span chances are some feature has been added that can make the job better or faster.

That pretty much covers it in my case.

musician/lawnman
07-05-2009, 10:15 PM
Avoiding down time is my motive. What point is building a good clientel if you lose half of them because you couldn't get there this week due to mechanical failure of your equipment?

Tax write off is misused & misunderstood. Too many people think asthough something is free because it's a write off. It's not.
Let's say at the end of the year you end up in a 15% tax bracket. (paying 15% of your net). When you buy a $10,000 mower all that did was save you the taxes on that $10k you spent. So it's more like getting a 15% discount on the product, not a free mower, you still spent $8,500 that would otherwise still be in your pocket.

StartALawnCareBusiness
07-05-2009, 10:22 PM
I think many new lawn care business owners scrimp on their initial purchases of lawn care equipment. Though this is understandable, buying cheap residential equipment gets them into the business faster but it doesn't last as long as more expensive commercial equipment.

A residential machine might only last 1 season before repairs and downtime make a new mower necessary.

Personally, I prefer purchasing commercial equipment that will last a few years before breakdowns and downtime become serious issues.

Keith

turfmaster
07-05-2009, 11:45 PM
A residential machine might only last 1 season before repairs and downtime make a new mower necessary.

Personally, I prefer purchasing commercial equipment that will last a few years before breakdowns and downtime become serious issues.



I agree.
I keep seeing guys buying or talking about buying $3000.00 to $4000.00
Garden tractors for their new business. That is throwing the money away in my opinion. For $3 or $4 grand you can pick up a good commercial walk behind. Heck this year I bought a brand new 52" Great Dane Stander for $3800.00. Not to mention a lawn tractor is way to slow!!

picframer
07-06-2009, 05:09 AM
I agree my ZTR is probably 15 to 20% faster than the garden tractor however keep in mind some of these guys are considering other services rather than just mowing, attachments for a tractor are a fraction of the cost of stand alone and one doesn't have to worry about maintenance on numerous machines.

For attachments we use lawn sweepers, sprayers, dethatchers, aerator (although we use a spray that is better, some people simply want core aeration) we use a dump cart on clean up jobs as it's easier and faster than a wheel barrow on large properties, a spreader for grass seed, 48 & 60" lawn roller, Rotary broom to sweep large driveways or we use it for cleanup after excavation, some will add a plow or snow blower.

In short, other than mowing we make $45 to $60 an hour just for the tractor plus operator time and the product being used. just my opinion, it is a very wise investment as you can now add a host of services that are not a labor intensive and you will get more hours out of the staff as they will not be so tired from doing these task manually in the heat.

I have a few, not many, clients that will not let us on the property (yet) with the ZTR however they will allow one of the tractors.

picframer
07-06-2009, 05:35 AM
Avoiding down time is my motive. What point is building a good clientel if you lose half of them because you couldn't get there this week due to mechanical failure of your equipment?

Tax write off is misused & misunderstood. Too many people think asthough something is free because it's a write off. It's not.
Let's say at the end of the year you end up in a 15% tax bracket. (paying 15% of your net). When you buy a $10,000 mower all that did was save you the taxes on that $10k you spent. So it's more like getting a 15% discount on the product, not a free mower, you still spent $8,500 that would otherwise still be in your pocket.

I wish we had your tax rates, here the profit from your company is taxed as personal income, that can put you into a 40%++ tax situation pretty quick, the way around this is to incorporate and rather than take a salary pay a dividend, it brings you down to 20% +, however incorporation costs a few thousand dollars so most do not go this route, they either do everything under the table or try to reduce taxable income by investing in equipment.

The other advantage is the balance sheet, should you get a big job and need to finance equipment, from a lenders side assets are as good as cash, for the owner having the assets means you can offer the service.

But you are correct, most do not understand the tax write off side and end up with no cash.

justin_time
07-06-2009, 07:14 AM
My residential Husqvarna tractor was getting to a point it was about to get 450 hours and it's only 3 years old. I was starting to be in the shop all the time for some repairs so I had to get myself a ZTR because I have 5 school contracts and I didn't want those take me down. I still kept the tractor for a spare mower

golfnpreacher
07-06-2009, 08:27 AM
I'm not buying the breakdown issue. For me that is more a lack of preventive maintenance rather than equipment failure. I worked in a service industry for over 20 years and we scheduled work to prevent breakdowns. It can be done and is (generally) cheaper than equipment replacement.

A couple of years ago I basically gave away my truck. It had almost 300,000 miles on it and I could count the breakdowns on one hand and have fingers left over. But I didn't wait for parts to fail before I replaced them. I scheduled not only service but maintance, changing thing because they were "due" not because they broke. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that during the "off season" of lawn care, I can basically rebuild any piece of equipment using the time that would have been used mowing.

But you guys have "been there" in this business longer than I have. What am I missing here. Is it easier to replace it than to maintain it? Or is it good marketing by companies that make us unsatisfied with our current equipment and want the new bright and shiny?

turfmaster
07-06-2009, 08:38 AM
I agree my ZTR is probably 15 to 20% faster than the garden tractor however keep in mind some of these guys are considering other services rather than just mowing, attachments for a tractor are a fraction of the cost of stand alone and one doesn't have to worry about maintenance on numerous machines.

For attachments we use lawn sweepers, sprayers, dethatchers, aerator (although we use a spray that is better, some people simply want core aeration) we use a dump cart on clean up jobs as it's easier and faster than a wheel barrow on large properties, a spreader for grass seed, 48 & 60" lawn roller, Rotary broom to sweep large driveways or we use it for cleanup after excavation, some will add a plow or snow blower.

In short, other than mowing we make $45 to $60 an hour just for the tractor plus operator time and the product being used. just my opinion, it is a very wise investment as you can now add a host of services that are not a labor intensive and you will get more hours out of the staff as they will not be so tired from doing these task manually in the heat.

I have a few, not many, clients that will not let us on the property (yet) with the ZTR however they will allow one of the tractors.

I agree Tractors have their place for sure. I have a John Deere that I use for a lot of the services that you mention. But if your primary services are mow, blow and go you can't make good time with a tractor.

If your just pulling around attachments like sprayers, spreaders, lawn sweepers etc. you don't need a $4000.00 tractor unless your working with large acreage. You can pick up a lot of tractors for under $1000.00 to do that.

picframer
07-06-2009, 06:30 PM
One can maintain the heck out of a piece of gear and still have issues, keep in mind even the best we can buy is not made the way things used to be.

I have a 1947 International Super H tractor in the front yard, I bought it when I was 15 from the original owner, in the 32 years I have owned it, total expenses would be less than $500.00, I can't tell you how many thousands it has made me plowing snow.

I run Volkswagon vehicles, I have a 1993 Diesel Jetta, 315,000 on it, mint condition and works like brand new, I will keep her until she dies, my son drives it mainly, I have a diesel Passat and my daughter drives a diesel Golf I bought her two months ago, we will run these into the ground which takes a very long time, they are very, very well made vehicles.

I can take a top of the line piece of John Deere or any other manufacturer and at the rate we go, maintain the heck out of it, every machine gets a check up on Sundays and come year 2+ little things will start to happen but then again things start to happen long before that also.

One of our tractors by year two will have 2,000++ hours on it.

About a month ago I bought another new excavator, it has been down four times, has around 200 hours and it's not due to abuse, the factory put the wrong cogs on the drive wheels, had to fly a new set in from the states, down three days, then it started running very rough, took it in, factory had not put an air breather on....down four days, due to dust they had to take it apart, injectors had to be replaced, two Sundays ago I was digging some rocks in my front yard, blew a hydro fitting, this is a new model, no one had one, had to fly one in from the states down three days no one can tell me why it cracked as it is in a hidden spot, yesterday the rad started leaking, faulty welding, it will be down three days.

It's not just Deere, I bought a $17,000 Bearcat diesel wood chipper around 6 weeks ago, made in the USA considered one of the best going.....five sensors have gone so far and the fuel pump went Friday, it went back this morning and am waiting for a replacement.

The only piece of gear I have that has never caused me an issue is a 2305 John Deere, had it around a year and a half and my stihl chainsaws.

Even my new Billy Goat let me down last week, it might have 60 hours on it, the cogs that enguage the pull cord cracked or broke, it will be down a week as the dealer doesn't have the parts.

Anyhow it's just a business expense for me and I will continue to trade after two years, sooner if something starts to act up.