Can I run my lawn care business with a smaller truck?

As gas prices go up, more people are looking for ways to save money at the pump. One of the ways to do it is to drive a smaller, more fuel efficient vehicle. But how would using a smaller truck effect a lawn care business owner’s ability to make money? That is a question that popped up on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I am looking at lawn care trucks to buy at the end of this month. I was wondering if any one pulls a loaded 12′ trailer with a Chevy S10 or equivalent. I find myself leaning towards getting a Ford f150 or Chevy c1500, but I am wondering if any other lawn care business owners use smaller trucks and how they perform under the loads. I will be hauling a 33″ walk behind and a 48″ zero turn. I only have $3,500 in my budget to spend on a truck.”

Another lawn care business owner wrote “I started with a Ford Ranger but found I needed to add coil over shocks in the rear to carry the added load. It worked and I would have stayed that way but my lawn care business was growing and I had to start putting a 2nd ZT in the trailer & a 3rd guy in the truck. My little Ranger just wouldn’t give me the kind of towing capacity I needed so I decided to scale up to a bigger truck. For my next truck I went with an Ford F150 super cab. It’s a good truck but the fuel economy BLOWS. I got the bigger 5.4L power plant to boot. The Chevy’s are a bit better on gas.

When I only had one mower to haul, I kept it centered on the trailers axle. In adding the 2nd mower, one goes all the way to the front which adds a lot more tongue weight and the other is right behind it. Between the 2 they are basically from the front to the rear of the trailer.

As I began to haul more equipment, I found that I really needed to upgrade my truck because of the weight. Some jobs required me to load the trailer with 500 or more pounds of brush and that really caused my little truck to struggle. The thing was, my Ranger was paid off so I figured it would be better to trade it in before I blew it up and made it worthless. Ultimately though, to allow for growth I would have had to either trade it or limit my business size. That smaller truck did have 4 doors but the back seat was only really fitting for an 8 year old.

The new full size truck is better but even still, I had to put coil over shocks on it too. Next spring I plan on adding a 2nd truck and crew so I needed to get a lawn truck that I was comfortable with using and that would get the job done.

As far as gas mileage goes, the smaller Ranger got about 20 mpg normal and about 13 towing. The F150 gets only 8.5 - 9 mpg towing. I have no idea about normal driving as the trailer never comes off it for long enough to tell. I don’t use it for any personal driving around, it’s just used as a work truck.

So if you are just getting started and are hauling around smaller equipment, I think you could get away with a smaller truck for a while. But as soon as you start adding a second mower or are taking on larger jobs where you need to haul away debris, you will be wishing you had a full size lawn care truck to get the job done.”

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The GopherHaul Lawn Care Business Show Episode Guide.
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