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What works and what doesn't!

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  • What works and what doesn't!

    What works and what doesn't

    I read an AMAZING article by Steve Pavlina recently ( ) where he talked about a successful friend of his and this friend's secret to successes. I'm paraphrasing, but basically he said "keep track of what works and what doesn't and learn from it". What philosophies or ways do you have that repeatedly lead to victories? What habits do you repeat that seem to get in your way, time after time? I had a pretty good example recently with a piece of equipment purchase, and I wanted to share it with you. The "mistake" cost me around $1,200, some wasted time, and a bruised ego so I want to at least get the pleasure of writing and article about it ... and maybe saving someone else the trouble!

    Year after year, we've put off buying a dump trailer. My reasoning was simple: 1. they're 4 times more expensive than the $1,000 - $2,000 single and double axle landscape trailers we use now, 2. They're heavy and have more "parts" and will be more expensive to register, inspect and maintain, and most importantly, the part that ties the other 2 together, we only dump an estimated 30-40 loads per year (and this is being generous, it could very well be half that.) Often times, we have a couple wheelbarrow loads, or a full load of brush that will easily slide off a regular trailer anyway.

    So, this analysis being neat, complete and closed, what did your truly do this year? I bought a $5,800 dump trailer to replace my $900 single axle beaver tail 12' landscape trailer which I'd been using for 4 years and not put a DIME into except 1 tire. I sold the trailer for $700 to boot, meaning it only cost me $200 to use it over 5 years! So we bought it in April. My reasoning was the following; 1. We don't need any large equipment purchases this year, and I've budgeted 10k for purchases, so now we can have our dump trailer which will make life easier with those early spring cleanups as well as our larger jobs where we have to haul away large amounts of dirt and sod. 2. Where we have NOT had a dump trailer in the past, we probably will now use this trailer for a lot of things we haven't even thought of, maybe taking on some deliveries, hauling more loam, etc.

    Now do you see a difference between the logic of NOT getting the trailer and GETTING the trailer? I do! The logic of not getting it is clear, concise, and very little vagueness or uncertainty. We know how often we would use it, and therefore, the expense is not justified. Simple, clear, concise. The logic in getting it is a different story. Kind of muddy, isn't it? We 'might' do a couple of things we didn't' before. Like what? How often? When I re read it, it actually looks like a different person made the first decision than the second.

    Also, I didn't do much research as to what I'd need to do D.O.T. wise with the higher weight limit, etc. but soon found out. I had to INSPECT the trailer, first of all, because it was over a certain weight limit ($70) - I had to boost the weight rating of BOTH trucks (we use both trucks to haul the trailer at different times) which cost $200 give or take. The insurance was $60 per year which wasn't too much over the $30 a year for the old one, dollar wise. I spent at least 3 hours getting the shop to get the brakes working right (bad plug) and used WAY more gas than the old trailer.

    So that being said, so what? Did you get use of it? Did it make your job easier? Not really. We used it to dump 6 loads in the spring, then I had to haul it around empty every day just to haul a ladder and wheel barrow because they wouldn't QUITE fit into my truck bed. So I have made arrangements to sell it. I put it in the local "Uncle Henry's" for $1,000 less than I sold it FIRM and I have a buyer. I will then get a USED 10-12 foot trailer with ramp OR tilt bed even. Single axle, enough to haul a yard of loam, but nothing more.

    I'm praying and trusting that this error in judgment helps me avoid more in the future and you too! I think the key is putting the ego aside and allowing yourself the "pain" of your "dumb moves" so you can analyze them and not repeat them. Here's what I learned from this process. 1. Trust myself. When you have a good clear reason for doing or not doing something, stick with it. When tempted to go the other way, revisit that logic. 2. Don't spend money just because you've budgeted to do so. Save it until you really need something.
    Kenneth LaVoie III
    LaVoie's Landscape Mgmt. Inc.- Winslow, Maine

  • #2
    Hi Ken,

    That was really insightful! It makes me think back to the book you wrote and the podcast we had together. In them you talked about "iron addiction." How we all want to buy more and more equipment. Maybe this is just a guy thing and we all very much enjoy playing in the sandbox with toys. Small toys when we are little, but as we grow, our desire for larger and larger toys grows as well.

    Do you think this dump trailer purchase falls into that category? Are you still glad you bought it to try it out and see how it fit into your toolbox?

    Is it possible that you could have found more services to offer that would have utilized the dump trailer better but ultimately that wasn't a direction you wanted to go?

    Sometimes I wonder if such purchases can actually help us grow because it then gives us a new tool to experiment with that we didn't have to experiment with previously.
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    • #3

      With this particular purchase, it was more of a luxury purchase when it comes down to it. My employee and I were both dreading another spring cleanup season pulling tarps full of leaves, sticks and sod off our trailer. But all in all I am glad that I had the experience. I got the following benefits and lessons:

      1. I got one more 2 x 4 in the head that says "hey, trust yourself!" - I knew my logic was sound for NOT getting it, but I got it anyway. So this lesson stung enough so that hopefully it will stick when a BIGGER choice comes along! (like my recent thoughts about investing in rental real estate!!)

      2. I got to test out the benefits of the dump trailer for the future.
      3. I got a valuable lesson to share with others. Not so much the specific issue, but more the lesson of self trust and listening to good logic!

      Thanks Steve, hope all is well with you and yours!
      Kenneth LaVoie III
      LaVoie's Landscape Mgmt. Inc.- Winslow, Maine


      • #4
        Ken, thanks for the insightful look into a dump trailer purchase. I have been looking at them (not shopping for them) because they would make some thinks easier. I haul a lot of brush, but I usually tie and pull my loads out without any trouble. Also if I got one, it wouldn't replace my existing trailer, it would be in addition to.

        Also, I am the type of person that waits and waits and when I come across a GREAT deal, jump on it. Like buying one from a friend, or someone dies (I know that sounds bad, but someone has to buy the dead persons stuff right!) haha.

        Anyways most of the stuff I own I have purchased at unbelievable deals. I guess thats just the way I was raised. But I really appreciated your post Ken, it made a lot of sense.
        Northern California


        • #5

          Whats on your list of things you would like to get but are waiting on for a better deal?
          - Subscribe to my Lawn Care Marketing Blog Feed and get daily tips sent to you. Free!
          Download your Free trial of Gopher Lawn Care Software.


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