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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello GTT Family,

With the new year starting the wife and I have made a decision to get ahead this year. One of the biggest things we want to do is start travelling around the country, grab the dogs hook up to a 5th wheel and go somewhere for a few days or a week or two. We both work full time for the same county government and usually have the same days off so it will be wonderful to do things. Not to mention the endless house projects we have. But, as many of you probably experience funding these ideas is a huge issue. So the idea has been in the back burner for the past three years to put my tractor to work during the evenings and weekends.

Tim Marks and his YouTube channel have been giving me a big case of jealousy and now I am really wanting to start making this happen. To do some I am trying to figure out the best way, I know I want to be insured for my own protection, but beyond that I am kinda lost. I've done odd jobs for people from time to time for flat rates, usually well under charged. And I am not looking to get rich off this but want to cover expenses and earn a little extra for implements to expand and help pay down the debt overhead.

To do this I would really like some help from those of you that have a business doing this. What challenges have you run into, what pricing have you set, other thoughts?

I have experience, grew up in a rural farming area, I have operated heavy equipment, I know my limitations, but the business side is really baffling me.

Thanks everyone.

Eric
 

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The chance that you can actually make money totally depends on you location.
Where I live, there is Z E R O chance to profit from tractor use.

Why?? because in my case, everyone has a machine,,
or,,
they are too cheap to let go of a dollar,,
AND,,
there are too many neighbors that will do work for free,, just so they can "tractor ride".

If you have a few rich neighbors, that want work done,,, maybe,,,
but,,, then again,,
the neighbors got rich by not letting money slip through their fingers,,, :flag_of_truce:
 

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Based on my experiences, keep it simple. People get hard to please when you go from doing it for free or pennies on the dollar to charging a fair price. Like mentioned your location is a factor but in general I have found if you can level dirt/gravel, work up some ground, and cut the weeds down there's people who need those services done. Again keep it simple, a bushhog, tiller, and a box blade has potential to keep you busy on your days off and/or weekends.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The chance that you can actually make money totally depends on you location.
Where I live, there is Z E R O chance to profit from tractor use.

Why?? because in my case, everyone has a machine,,
or,,
they are too cheap to let go of a dollar,,
AND,,
there are too many neighbors that will do work for free,, just so they can "tractor ride".

If you have a few rich neighbors, that want work done,,, maybe,,,
but,,, then again,,
the neighbors got rich by not letting money slip through their fingers,,, :flag_of_truce:
Well where I am located is horse country, but the majority of the residents have .5 to 1 acres with a few having a little more. Many people have riding lawnmowers and ZTR but they don't have the ability to do tilling, leveling, raking, augering, or spreading fertilizers and such. I have only done a couple of jobs for neighbors and it has all been word of mouth with no advertising. There are a lot of people with larger tractors with multi blade mowers that get the 20-200 acre mowing projects but, nobody in this area is catering to the smaller guys needs. I am not interested in finish mowing, too many respectable landscape companies out there for that.
 

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Well where I am located is horse country, but the majority of the residents have .5 to 1 acres with a few having a little more. Many people have riding lawnmowers and ZTR but they don't have the ability to do tilling, leveling, raking, augering, or spreading fertilizers and such. I have only done a couple of jobs for neighbors and it has all been word of mouth with no advertising. There are a lot of people with larger tractors with multi blade mowers that get the 20-200 acre mowing projects but, nobody in this area is catering to the smaller guys needs. I am not interested in finish mowing, too many respectable landscape companies out there for that.[/QUOTE

I understand the word of mouth statement. I am very blessed to stay fairly busy with my tractor. Same thing here with finish mowing, tons of competition but I keep the blades spinning on the bushhog quiet a bit on tracts ranging from 2-50 acres. Past that the land owners either have tractors or hire guys with 20' batwings. Based on what you typed, I think it's possible to form your own market. Some people don't know they need you until you show them that they do, then that word of mouth statement comes back into play.
 

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Well where I am located is horse country, but the majority of the residents have .5 to 1 acres with a few having a little more. Many people have riding lawnmowers and ZTR but they don't have the ability to do tilling, leveling, raking, augering, or spreading fertilizers and such. I have only done a couple of jobs for neighbors and it has all been word of mouth with no advertising. There are a lot of people with larger tractors with multi blade mowers that get the 20-200 acre mowing projects but, nobody in this area is catering to the smaller guys needs. I am not interested in finish mowing, too many respectable landscape companies out there for that.
Believe it or not, I believe my biggest issue is that the city folks here have no idea what we can accomplish with Johnny. One guy said "I'll have to cut a post off so that you can fit in the fence". I said, "Forget it, I can pull the post". He could hardly believe it. ...all of you guys know that stuff like this is trivial with a sub-compact, but our potential customers have no idea.

I think I could camp out in front of the local 'rental store' and get all the work I wanted...but I would have to convince folks that I could do it cheaper, easier, and more relaxed than them renting a tool they don't know how to use, and attempting to get stuff done fast so that they can take the tool back.

To combat comments above about customers being picky, I try to take jobs where the customer is willing to participate. If they are wanting professional 'complete' service, then they should probably look elsewhere...formal landscape companies for instance. I want to 'assist with projects'.

I hope that is helpful.
 

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I am not interested in finish mowing, too many respectable landscape companies out there for that.

The respectable landscape companies all to frequently get the call.

I knew a guy (Bill) who came over and mowed the lawn of a neighbor of me,, for free,,,
he thought he was helping George out,,,

Well,, George never gave Bill a dollar,,,

Then, one time, George had a landscape service mow,, the fee was over $300.

He tried to go back to having Bill mow,, Bill never returned,,
George was stuck with the >$300 mowing after that,,,

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm,,,,, :dunno:
 

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Believe it or not, I believe my biggest issue is that the city folks here have no idea what we can accomplish with Johnny. One guy said "I'll have to cut a post off so that you can fit in the fence". I said, "Forget it, I can pull the post". He could hardly believe it. ...all of you guys know that stuff like this is trivial with a sub-compact, but our potential customers have no idea.

I think I could camp out in front of the local 'rental store' and get all the work I wanted...but I would have to convince folks that I could do it cheaper, easier, and more relaxed than them renting a tool they don't know how to use, and attempting to get stuff done fast so that they can take the tool back.

To combat comments above about customers being picky, I try to take jobs where the customer is willing to participate. If they are wanting professional 'complete' service, then they should probably look elsewhere...formal landscape companies for instance. I want to 'assist with projects'.

I hope that is helpful.
Read these words ^^^^^^^^^^^^ this is all spot on information
 

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Tim is 100% correct on people not knowing what these tractors can do. I had a 24 horse kubota that people would laugh at and make some jabs at me for having when I showed up to do work. They called me via word of mouth and expected me to have something much larger when I arrived. Often they would say "I don't think you'll be able to do it but your welcome to give it a try if you aren't afraid of breaking something on it". By the time the job was finished I swear this to be true, they were asking me to sell them the tractor and equipment. Like mentioned, we all know what we can do with these compacts but many people believe you gotta have something that requires a tandem axle truck to haul it to get the work done.
 

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Before you go much further, check with your insurance agent. Be prepared to tell them exactly what you will be doing.

I had a contractor's policy for my mowing only business which was quite reasonable. That meant no digging - not even scraping the ground. The cost for that insurance was very expensive.

Also what I found out recently - my tractor itself is insured under my home owners policy. Once I take it off my property I would have to have a rider just for the tractor.

Get all the details and cost first. And don't think that the other person's home owner insurance will cover you.
 

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Before you go much further, check with your insurance agent. Be prepared to tell them exactly what you will be doing.

I had a contractor's policy for my mowing only business which was quite reasonable. That meant no digging - not even scraping the ground. The cost for that insurance was very expensive.

Also what I found out recently - my tractor itself is insured under my home owners policy. Once I take it off my property I would have to have a rider just for the tractor.

Get all the details and cost first. And don't think that the other person's home owner insurance will cover you.
This is all true as well. The companies I'm contracted to require I have general business liability and errors and omissions. The general liability isn't bad but the E&O policy is not cheap. If I was using my equipment for only the side work I do I would drop the E&O and cut some items off the general liability. They do in fact want detailed descriptions of what your doing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yup. Already started looking into some of that. The other thing I require is a DigTess before any ground engagement occurs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
I would have quoted you Tim but for some reason it disables my spacebar. :dunno:

Yes. In Texas "DIG TESS" is Texas Excavation Safety System, most of the time is is referenced now as Texas811. National program that the petroleum and utilities pay for so we don't hit their lines. Called different things in different places. Call 48 hours before you dig.

Yes. Always have the property owner make the phone call. For some reason in some places if a non property owner calls they will charge that person for the service locate.
 

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Spend time with a trusted agent

Before you go much further, check with your insurance agent. Be prepared to tell them exactly what you will be doing.

I had a contractor's policy for my mowing only business which was quite reasonable. That meant no digging - not even scraping the ground. The cost for that insurance was very expensive.

Also what I found out recently - my tractor itself is insured under my home owners policy. Once I take it off my property I would have to have a rider just for the tractor.

Get all the details and cost first. And don't think that the other person's home owner insurance will cover you.
Very good advice. Be very upfront with your insurance agent about what you are doing. You want to find out about coverage before you need it, not after a rock has gone through someone's window or worse. Another thing to consider is that your health insurance may have issues if you get hurt working on a job. Typically, worker's compensation is the first coverage but if you are working for yourself and don't have workers comp coverage it can get dicey.

The same issues arise when moving equipment. Your private auto insurance may not cover you for work related accidents. A commercial policy may be needed. The good news is that it might not be any more expensive, depending on the coverage and company.

All of those are why I won't accept payment when I do something for the neighbors. That might change in the future if I had time to make it a real business but for now, I'll give up the few bucks and save the hassle. Your situation may be different but you need to be aware of the issues.

Treefarmer
 

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Usually when you go from being a hobbyist to doing it as a business, you have to work so hard at making the business profitable and working within the customers' time constraints, that you are no longer able to enjoy the freedom that you are seeking. Think VERY, VERY, LONG & HARD before jumping in with both feet. Is the little extra money worth all of the time, headaches & heartaches that you WILL have to deal with. I used to be self-employed, got tired of the B.S. & went to work for someone else who will assume all of the liability, provide all of the fringes & at 4PM, I clock out & go home. Work is left at work.
 

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Yes. In Texas "DIG TESS" is Texas Excavation Safety System, most of the time is is referenced now as Texas811. National program that the petroleum and utilities pay for so we don't hit their lines. Called different things in different places. Call 48 hours before you dig.

Yes. Always have the property owner make the phone call. For some reason in some places if a non property owner calls they will charge that person for the service locate.
Here in New York, the responsibility to place a locate request with Dig Safely New York (811) lies with the excavator: the person moving the earth. I looked at Dig Tess and it appears that you are governed by similar laws. The excavator has to make the locate request and mark the area to be excavated. I do not rely on homeowners or friends to make my service requests, as to do so could turn out to be extremely costly for me if services are damaged or disrupted because the request was improperly handled or important information was not communicated.

I get the part about not having to pay for locate services if the homeowner calls, but these type expenses are part of the cost of being in business or just helping friends for free. Fortunately, the locate service is free for both homeowners and excavators in New York. I can't speak for Texas.

I don't usually hire out, but I do carry fire, theft, liability and excavation insurance on an Inland Marine policy because I help out friends on their property quite often. I pay roughly $900.00 yearly for the tractor, implements and trailer. It's not cheap, but neither are uninsured damages for which an operator is responsible.

I hope I didn't come across as a jerk. Just trying to tell of my experiences.
 
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You should look into forming a LLC to protect your personal assets. Say a kid falls in a hole or someone gets hit in the head by a rock; they can sue the LLC and maybe bankrupt that, but not take everything you own personally.
 

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Believe it or not, I believe my biggest issue is that the city folks here have no idea what we can accomplish with Johnny. One guy said "I'll have to cut a post off so that you can fit in the fence". I said, "Forget it, I can pull the post". He could hardly believe it. ...all of you guys know that stuff like this is trivial with a sub-compact, but our potential customers have no idea.

I think I could camp out in front of the local 'rental store' and get all the work I wanted...but I would have to convince folks that I could do it cheaper, easier, and more relaxed than them renting a tool they don't know how to use, and attempting to get stuff done fast so that they can take the tool back.

To combat comments above about customers being picky, I try to take jobs where the customer is willing to participate. If they are wanting professional 'complete' service, then they should probably look elsewhere...formal landscape companies for instance. I want to 'assist with projects'.

I hope that is helpful.
I know everyone has already confirmed Tim's answer but I will add this. I have been that guy. Before I had my SCUT and was only doing finish mowing using my ZTR, I had several projects that involved grading, adding stone, etc. I found a local contractor who would provide what I wanted. He was not pushing for a final package but was willing to do the work I needed for a fair price. His pricing, therefore, was generally by the hour (for machine and operator) and by the load (to haul fill or have stone delivered). For me, the challenge was having some idea up front how many hours I was expecting to need. I think that is the challenge as a new guy doing certain projects. If you can find people who will let you bill time and materials, they will likely want a decent estimate for those two line items. Jeff was good at estimating within a couple hours and loads of material. Then when finished, he gave me a handwritten invoice for just that.

I have since done similar projects with my SCUT. It has been humbling for me. I take much longer and my finished result is not usually the same quality (mostly because I have other tasks to move onto). But, I am getting seat time and not spending the money to hire out.

I find it difficult to find contractors around here that will let me work with them. In my mind, when I do, I am potentially saving a few dollars and getting closer to what I wanted in the end. It is refreshing to think that there are people like Tim that seeing that as a mutual benefit to the contractor and the customer. I don't find that around here often. In my experience, contractors want me to stay back and let them do their job!

Lee
 

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When we first moved down here I needed to make some money. At the time I had a 425 AWS, tiller, MMM and front blade. I advertised in the local paper for tilling and mowing. I didn't make a lot of money but did make some and it kept me busy. With a cat 0 nobody around here ever heard of a tractor (garden tractor) do anything but mow. I surprised some people. I told one after I arrived to do some tilling that they won't have to pay me when I got done if it wasn't done to their satisfaction. They had told me I couldn't do it because it needed to be plowed and that is what they thought I was going to do. Then when I got done they tried to low ball me on the price I had quoted them. They were impressed and did pay. When I went to trade for a 4x4 Kubota I was told that they wouldn't trade because there was no market for cat 0 tractors with implements. Then the 2210 came out and I went with what I wanted to begin with, JD. I'm saying all this just to let you know there are people out there that don't have any idea what you're going to do, with what or that it can be done. One even thought I was going to use a walk behind tiller as the area was to small to get anything else in there. I did that job too, with the tractor. Ads in the local paper can get you started. There are some people that don't want a landscape service to do the work because they think the cost is to much. Good luck.
 
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