Getting your lawn care business started can mean scrambling around trying to find a bunch of basic equipment and spending a lot of cash. Some entrepreneurs are able to do this while others need to work within a very tight budget. If this is your situation, have you considered buying your mowers from craigslist? One new lawn care business owner wrote on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum and asked if this was a wise move. He asked “I want to purchase a new self propelled lawn mower but I don’t want to spend $500 for a new one. So should I buy a used one online? Also what kind should I get?”
One business owner suggested to stay away from internet classified sites “Stay away from the online classified sites! Here is my view on buying a used mower vs buying a new one from a dealer.
PROS: Great warranty, great dealer service, everything is fresh & it won’t have you guessing why it doesn’t work. If you buy used, you’ll have to check every single part of your mower wondering what the heck is the problem because it’s so old or OLDER.
CONS: It’s expensive, though you are getting your money’s worth, plus with a good warranty, you aren’t taking any serious risks. You might as well spend $1,500 & get something that will last.
Online internet classified sites are full of people selling pretty garbage. I’d only buy from such sites if I needed a backup mower, for $50.00… and maybe not even then. There is more work to be done on an old mower & it requires more maintenance. It’s a waste of time & serious money, in my view.”
Another business owner shared “I have been in business for quite some time now and all I do buy is used equipment. I do have two new Stihl FS90R trimmers and a new Stihl 550 blower, but all of the other stuff is used. Bought my truck used, trailer used, Deere M653 52″ zero used and my 36″ cub walk behind used, even bought a Stihl 600 blower just last fall for $150 and it still runs great. You have to shop around and be very, very careful. Try to stay local so you can check out the equipment before you buy.”
A third said “Online classified sites are not all bad, they are just not all good. You have to look at what you are buying. don’t buy anything site unseen. And always buy local. If it does not feel right, then don’t buy it.
This spring I purchased a brand new Great Dane Stander off of an internet classified site. A local dealer had them for sale. I saved 25% off list! I also see a lot of low hour demos for sale from time to time. I would not recommend buying used from a large landscape company. Most machines they sell are junk with a lot of hours and a lot of different people probably operated them.
I have picked up a couple 22″ commercial walk behind mowers for around $125.00 from private parties.
They’re 6.5 hp with bagger and mulching kits. I put new carbs on them and they are like new.
One thing to keep in mind is many new lawn care businesses purchase riders before they purchase their first ZTR. There is an upside to doing this but there is a downside to. I would guess one reason many newer businesses end up with riding mowers versus ZTR mowers is because riders are considerably cheaper than ZTRs. Around here you can buy a new cheap branded rider for around $1,000 or so (depending on the size, obviously), while some of the cheapest ZTRs are about 3 times that. To them it may look like the right option. And it may be the right choice for them at the time.
When I first started, I used a lawn tractor. It wasn’t long after when I bought my used ZTR. The difference that I have seen is that the lawn tractors are not built for commercial use and they were always breaking down. These are consumer mowers and they are built for consumer use. You get what you pay for. If I had my choice between a $1,000.00 new lawn tractor vs a $3,000.00 used ZTR, I would choose the ZTR.”