Hey, it is Jonathan Pototschnik. The question, is what is the best lawn care equipment I can buy? I have answered this before in some other videos, so you might look back to some earlier ones addressing my lawn care equipment purchases and preferences. Here is what we like to do. Go do your own research and talk to the vendors in your market. I like to buy all of my lawn care equipment at one time, right now during the fall, and spend the money before the end of the tax year. Be sure and shop this deal to multiple vendors to get the best deal on your landscape equipment.
I will tell you we are loyal to our vendors, very loyal, as long as they take good care of us. Generally we will not move vendors unless the deal is just unreal. We care about the deal we are getting but ultimately it is the service that they provide that is the most important. Which gets me to the next thing.
When you are making your landscape equipment decision it has to depend on what is available to you in your market. We use Scag Turf Tigers. If I was in a market where the vendors did not sell Scag Turf Tigers, or I did not see a bunch of Scag Turf Tigers being serviced at my service facility, I would not buy a Scag Turf Tiger. What is most important when you buy your lawn care equipment is that you can get it serviced quickly, they stock the parts, and that whoever is going to be doing the service can get you in and out fast. Speed of turnaround when you need a repair is just critical.
We like Toro 21 inch mowers, self-propelled, with Honda engines. We like Scag Turf Tigers. We do not use a lot of walk behinds. The walk behinds we do have are Scag. I probably would consider going a different direction there simply because we do not like the braking system.
We use Stihl for most of our small lawn care equipment…our blowers, hedge trimmers, and weed eaters. We have used Red Max off and on over the years. Those are the big brands we use. We predominantly buy one brand. All powered the same. All same model.
We do something that is pretty unusual. We sell a lot of our landscape equipment off every year and buy new equipment for one main reason.
The reason we do not keep our equipment and run it into year two and three most of the time is because down time is very expensive, repairs are very expensive, and maintenance is very expensive. It is far cheaper for us to sell off the equipment, buy all brand new equipment that is going to have very few service issues for the year and do that year after year. Two years is the max we run any lawn care equipment. A lot of equipment we only run one year. That is just our personal strategy.
A question that I get all the time is, “What type of truck should I buy and what factors should I consider when purchasing trucks for my lawn care company?”
They type of truck depends on what segment of the industry you’re in…landscape, irrigation, maintenance, etc. The make of the truck is personal preference. I can’t really tell you which brand to buy.
We buy Ford primarily. When we were looking at the market between Chevy and Ford, we were able to buy Fords cheaper than Chevy. It was just easier for us to get them so, I don’t really have a personal preference on which brand is better. I personally have a Chevy truck, but our fleet is made up of Ford.
We never buy new trucks. We always buy used. I see no need to go buy new trucks in this business. They get dinged up and beat up and scratched up way too quickly to go spend that kind of money. We try to buy low mileage trucks that are older. The perfect truck for me would be a four year old truck with 30, 40 or 50 thousand miles on it.
The older the truck the better because the more valuation is lost. But, what matters most is the mileage and the maintenance. That’s what we focus on. We repaint all of our trucks as soon as we buy them. For our residential crews, we yank the beds off of our trucks and put custom built beds on them right away. We also letter all of our trucks as soon as we buy them.
Whatever we buy, in our case, we’re going to change it up anyhow so, why go spend the money to lease something or to buy something brand new that we’re going to paint and letter, change the bed on, and that’s going to get scratched up? No matter how well you try to protect your equipment, there’s just too many little things in this business that will cause damage to your trucks. Rather than suffer through the frustration of looking at your brand new truck dinged up, save a ton of money and just go buy a good low mileage used one.
I always promote the strategy of being as close to debt-free as you possibly can when you are just getting into the landscape business. Too many guys starting out in the business get excited and go buy the really big, really cool truck. They have always wanted that really impressive truck so, they justify it because now they’re going to be in the lawn and landscape business. Start out small. Start out basic.
Your goal is to make money. That’s all that matters. Make your business survive. Make it sustainable. Make a profit. That’s the goal. Make your trucks look good for your clients, but who cares about a bunch of fancy trucks or a really impressive fleet. None of that matters. All that matters is how much money you’re putting in your pocket.
From a business finance standpoint, I firmly believe the well maintained, low mileage used truck is the better way to go.
I’m not a fan of going out and buying 80, 90, 100 thousand mile trucks. There are just too many problems because you get into service breakdowns. Now, I think that could be a strategy if you wanted to go that route, as long as you bought several backup trucks as well. Just make sure they are true backups that are equipped to hold your tools and your equipment just like your production vehicles.
Keep in mind what happens when you’re down…lost productivity, lots of men sitting around on the payroll, customers dissatisfied, dropping the ball on key clients, not completing jobs on time, your reputation in the marketplace, your personal hassle factor, your personal stress factor of having to deal with it…there are just so many reasons to try to have good, well-maintained, low mileage trucks.
We buy our trucks with low mileage and we keep them well maintained into high mileages. We also maintain backup trucks. That’s our personal strategy on trucks and I have been pretty pleased with it. We’ve had a few bad apples where we made a buying mistake, even with low mileage used trucks. It happens. But it’s been pretty rare. Those rare occurrences have not offset all the benefits gained by going the route we do.
Give that some thought. See if that strategy works for you. It’s worked really well for us.