Should I start a lawn mower shop as a second venture?

It can be really frustrating taking a broken lawn mower to your local mower repair shop, only to have them not get it fixed for weeks because they are swamped with work. Such situations might actually get you to think about starting your own lawn mower repair shop. But should you do it? In this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, we hear from someone who has done it and they give us the pros and cons of going that route.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I have been considering starting a small lawn care equipment sales and repair shop.

Let me back track a bit here to explain how I got to this point. Back last summer, I broke my line trimmer. Trying to get it started, I pulled the cord out of it and there it lay dangling in the wind. So next I took it to the one and only local mower repair shop.

After it sitting there for a week, I got really pissed off at not getting a straight answer on the phone from them. I go over to get my broken line trimmer back, even I could have figured something out in 4 weeks. I get there and low and behold they are working on it. It had a broken pull cord assembly. The cost was $25.00 for the parts and $40.00 for the labor.

Going through this experience got my thinking. If this mower repair shop is so backed up that they are a month or more behind, maybe I should look at getting a couple of small engine techs and opening a mower repair shop of my own. It could possibly be a profitable venture or a great big hole to throw good money after bad. Either way it just might be some fun.

If I did do something like this I would remove myself from the lawn care operation. It would be run at arms length, that is even if I did keep it. I would only get involved with this type of venture with lots of research and a very wealthy partner.

This is all because I saw a possible demand. I’m not going to let it go but I am not going to jump in right now either. I think starting up one company at a time is enough.”

A second lawn care business owner said “as someone who has done it and started up their own mower repair shop I have some experience with this.

It is really important you check up on the laws before you open up a shop. If you are effected by carburetor laws you will have a lot more expense or risk involved. You are also looking at a large investment. Although customers come back to shops they always complain about us.

While I agree taking a month to finish this repair is a little extreme I also understand it is not profitable to work on a trimmer, so most shops put the entry guy on them.

The other thing to consider is, where are you going to get the tech and how are you going to pay them through the off season. Good technicians are hard to find. With my shop, I mainly make money on the sales of parts as the mechanic side barely breaks even in good times.

To get a dealership license for equipment requires more costs. One engine manufacturer for example requires over $2,000 in training and another $1,000 in useless parts you need to initially stock. Then you would have to invest around $10,000 in parts that you actually sell. To be able to distribute a mower line, the costs start in the $40,000 range. A 2 cycle line costs in the $10,000 range.

The total investment to open the doors can be in the range of $150,000 to  $200,000, plus the building. You also have to pick up every 2cycle line you will repair the equipment because you can only buy parts for the lines you carry.

When it comes to training technicians, sure part of that learning may come from practicing on customer equipment but you do need some experience and training to start out with or you will be overwhelmed and close quickly. Can you open a mower shop as a second venture? Yes you can, but I feel you can do better with your mowing service as that can allow you to get a full weekly schedule of repeat customers with a predictable income.

In the end, I feel your best bet is to learn to work on your own lawn care equipment. Running a shop can be more profitable than a mowing service but it takes years to get to that point and a lot of investment. A mowing service requires a lot less time, money, and energy to get up and running quicker.

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