No one likes debt. We all know that having too much debt can really get you into trouble. But what about debt that brings a return over time? If you had the opportunity to scale up your business and take on larger, more profitable jobs, would you? Even if they required you buying larger lawn care equipment? That is what one lawn care business owner wondered when he wrote on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum about his current situation.
He wrote “this sucks! So I’ve finally started to get some business and I’ve gotta give it away!
First call I got today was from another lawn care business owner in a different county. He’d received a lead for a client who had FOUR ACRES that she wanted mowed. He doesn’t operate in my county, so he referred her to me! This would’ve been great, except that I’m brand new, and all I got is a 21″ push mower. A job of that capacity would take me AT LEAST a full day with a tiny little pusher.
Second call was from a guy who has 1 1/2 acres. This is more manageable, and I may actually give him an estimate but still….at least it’s not FOUR acres, right?
Unfortunately right now I just don’t have the money to buy a rider, and I’m a very much against using credit cards. My wife and I are working to eliminate the debt we built up prior to taking that position.
Credit isn’t the issue. Well, sorta. I have a credit card, but we’re in the middle (technically the beginning) of becoming debt free - no credit cards, no mortgage, no car payment, etc. The objective here is to just not be a slave to money but rather, make it work for me. So taking on MORE debt would be counterproductive at this point.
As long as I know I’m not shooting myself in the foot for having to actually turn down business initially, I can live with that. Fortunately this isn’t my main source of income yet!
Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to not feel RIDICULOUS while I’m literally giving away business?!?!”
Another lawn care business owner said “you are just going to let 5 1/2 acres of mowing go? I would do what I could to get those jobs and go out and buy a 54″ commercial ZTR mower with a monthly payment plan. Get the job first and then jump on it!
It’s my opinion that turning down reasonable business for any reason is to shot yourself in the foot. The only job I ever turned down is mowing 2 acres of dead weeds with my mower in the middle of fire season for obvious reasons. The last thing I wanted to do was throw out a spark and see the place become engulfed in flames. Other than, when I get a request, I give the job a bid, get the job then go buy what I need to do it efficiently. Then the next time a similar job comes up, I already have what equipment I need.
I found out very fast that in order to keep up with demand one should have at least $5k to $10,000 in bank in reserve. When you do what I do which is buy equipment as you need it you can rack up a lot very fast but you never have to turn down work.
How did I come up with that $5k to $10,000 number you may ask? Here is what I initially spent money on when I got started.
- Used truck - $2,850
- New weed eater - $300
- Used riding mower - $1,200
- Other misc tools such as chipper, trimmers, maintenance items for equipment- $400.
It adds up fast. I started out by giving myself a personal loan for $5,000 and have about expended that and still don’t have everything I need. I still want a nice tiller and plow attachments for riding mower, new trailer, and so on and so forth. It’s important to note that one does not need what I have or what I want to run a business like this. One can just as easily keep a customer happy mowing 2 acres with a push mower. While I do the same sized property with my ZTR, I will be done a lot faster and moving on to my next customers. The lawn care business owner who uses a push mower will be filling up there 24th tank of gas trying to finish before the day is over and wondering why they are not making any money. Get in, get out, and get paid.
I used to use a small tractor to service my properties. Then I got a ztr that was a lot faster. I bought it on payments and all I got to say about that is I wish I would have gotten the ztr sooner. I would have been making more money and faster with that piece of equipment.
For me, learning that valuable lesson was a great insight. If you can’t swing the larger costs, then go with the start small and scale up approach. However if you start with a certain level of equipment, the return on your investment will be a lot higher and a lot faster.
I know you are against going any deeper into debt but having these opportunities available to you must make you wonder which way is best. Ultimately though you gotta do what is best for you in your specific situation.”