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Starting land clearing/mulching business

Discussion in 'General Industry Questions' started by romanerin2011, Aug 3, 2017.

  1. romanerin2011

    romanerin2011 Member

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    Hey everyone,
    Been a while since I've posted on here. Spent a lot of energy trying to become a dozer operator. My perseverance finally paid off a few years back. I work at a coal mine as a dozer operator at the dragline. Best job I've ever had. Having said that, I'm now looking to start my own land/ mulching business. I only work 15 days a month and really want to start a side business. My only problem is I have no idea how to find work. Say I buy the equipment and then place an ad on Craigslist, then no work comes. That's my biggest fear. Is there a lot of work in that industry? Would it be safer to lease or maybe rent equipment until I see there's enough work to buy my equipment? Can you do that? I appreciate any help.
     
  2. alskdjfhg

    alskdjfhg Senior Member

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    I'm no expert by any means, but I'll bump this thread back to the top for you as I find the topic interesting.

    What are you going to be clearing? Guessing heavy bush, small trees?

    I'd maybe start with the rented stuff and then start looking for stuff that needed a little work. But clearing equipment seems like it would get beat on pretty hard (more than normal construction equipment), so the used equipment may have been rode hard and put away wet....

    I think I'd start with a skid steer and ground-shark or mulching head.

    I just had a guy quote me to do some land clearing and demolition. Wanted $1600 a day for two guys, running a bobcat with a grapple, mulcher and bucket. Not gonna use him as it's significantly cheaper to rent the machines and do it myself.
     
  3. Tones

    Tones Senior Member

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    Renting equipment is a real good option. Sure it costs abit more than say bank finance but for 15 days a month you send it back and pay nothing. If you have never worked a mulcher before, find a mate who wants same clearing done and give them a freebe until you get the hang of it. It will pay huge dividends if (a) you can learn to do the job throughly and quickly and (b) leave a good tidy product on the ground. Don't do good cheap jobs, there is no such thing.
     
    RangerJake72 and Tags like this.
  4. romanerin2011

    romanerin2011 Member

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    Yea that's what i was going for was a skid steer with a mulching head. I did go ahead and put an ad on Craigslist just to test the waters. I got the idea from a guy at work. Said that's what he did, and made good money but got tired of doing it. Renting was really what I wanted to do for a while just wasn't sure if that was a viable option. Seems like it'd be somewhat risk free, just didn't know if you could make any money by renting equipment. I've always wanted to have a side business but the fear of not finding work has always held me back.
     
  5. Twisted

    Twisted Senior Member

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    Just something to chew on.....
    If xxx homeowner can rent a rig for the same rate as you can, where's the profit for you?
    You need to bring something else to the table to get business. Owned machines, employees, experience or something. What will you offer?
    Starting a new business is fun but....
     
  6. catman13

    catman13 Senior Member

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    if you rent/buy a machine make sure you get insurance on it , and keep the engine clean . I belong to a salvage site and see a lot of mulching machines that went up in smoke..
     
  7. CM1995

    CM1995 Administrator

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    Have you checked locally to see if you can rent a skid with a mulching head and what the rates are?

    There are a couple of rental stores here that rent them but they are very reserved in who they rent to for the reasons catman posted above. Our Cat rental store has one but you have to sit through a training session and have a relationship with the dealer to rent it.
     
  8. RTSmith

    RTSmith Senior Member

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    Our Cat rental store also has a waiting list on the mulcher, in addition to what CM said. So could be hard to schedule your work I would think.
     
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  9. DMiller

    DMiller Senior Member

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    As far as advertising you should line up with the local landscapers/yard supplies stores and leave flyers. Try to get in good with anyone that plants trees, shrubs and such that do not have the machines or possibly the time to do the clearing then speak to builders and farm supply stores as to doing the same thing. Craigslist is buried most of the time as to ads, get some flyers out then see if it does not breed into a hard to fill monster.
     
  10. romanerin2011

    romanerin2011 Member

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    I've been thinking maybe a trackhoe might be a better option as far as land clearing goes. I do have a mahindra 4530, maybe I could work that until I got my name out there, just not sure how much clearing I could do with a tractor.
     
  11. romanerin2011

    romanerin2011 Member

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    I have put up an ad to see if i get any calls, may not be a good idea but I really want to know if there is actually business out there. As far as hauling it, I assume ill need a bigger truck or can you sometimes contract that part out?
     
  12. xr4ticlone

    xr4ticlone Well-Known Member

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    I'm not a fan of mulching heads on skid loaders. It's hell on the machine, I sure as hell wouldn't rent one out.

    2 other thoughts.

    1 Trucking sounds expensive until you own a truck. ; )
    2 Leaving things for extended on people's yard is dangerous...they tend to get in them and F things up. : (
     
  13. DMiller

    DMiller Senior Member

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    Almost better off with a tub grinder and a truck to drag it then just clear and grub, feed the tub which makes more fill materials.
     
  14. romanerin2011

    romanerin2011 Member

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    Had my first phone call for doing some work. It was for clearing a shooting lane. Seemed like a perfect job for my tractor. He seemed fine with my hourly rate at min. 4 hours and $55 an hour. As soon as I mentioned $135 to get my equipment out there (it was about 40 miles) he just stopped texting me. Was I too high? Should I text him back to see if he's made a decision or I reckon that's bad business ethics?
     
  15. Welder Dave

    Welder Dave Senior Member

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    It depends on how long the job will take. Nothing wrong with calling him back, worst he can do is say no. Make sure your equipment will do the do job and never take a job without looking at it first unless you know the person (repeat customer) and it's a straight forward job. Could be full of all kinds of debris and rocks or barb wire. 40 miles is a fair distance to go to the job but if the job takes a full day to complete then maybe include hauling equipment. The other thought is if you have a 4 hour minimum it is to include hauling costs. Also sometimes after you meet the potential customer you can get a really good vibe on if you want to work for them or not. Some people are shady right from the get go.

    I've done work for a couple people that wanted all kinds of work done and were really happy with the job until it came time to pay. Then they complained about everything. One job I cut the bill and half and just got the heck out of there on my dad's advice. One of many things the guy wanted was his yard rototilled but it was as hard as concrete and I wasn't going to wreck my rototiller or my tractor. He seemed OK with that but what really ticked me off is he asked if I could rototill some manure into his 50' x 100' garden. Yeah, no problem as long as there is no baler twine in it. He had 4 heaping dump truck loads delivered and it was at least 8" deep! I'd guess close to 20 yds. a load because it's light. Then he complained and bitched I didn't mix it with the dirt well enough. I said no rototiller goes more than about 6" deep max. I went home and got my cultivator and it went down into the dirt but I had to spend an hour cutting baler twine off the rototiller.
     
  16. romanerin2011

    romanerin2011 Member

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    Thanks for the response. Currently I'm hauling my 5000lb tractor with my f150, was supposed to get a 1 ton Friday but seller had a few legal issues to fix. Having said that do you think $135 is too much for that setup? What do you guys usually charge to haul your equipment out there? I originally was going to come look at the job for free but I'm not going to do that. How much should i charge for a come out fee? And I don't know why I'm nervous about doing the job. It is my first one and it's for a shooting lane, never done a shooting lane but my understanding is it's just as it sounds a cleared out lane to shoot deer. Gotta learn somehow, I mean I run dozer at dragline at work so it's not like it's my first time operating equipment.

    Anyone have any experience with legal zoom? I'm forming an llc and don't know if I should go with a attorney or legalzoom.
     
  17. Welder Dave

    Welder Dave Senior Member

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    Do you have liability insurance? You pretty much have to do free estimates or you won't get any work! $55/hr seems low though. I'm not sure you actually understood what I wrote. Include hidden costs in your hourly rate. You charge for an estimate, travelling time and have a minimum all on the same job nobody will ever hire you. They will think you're greedy and nickel and diming them. Only you can decide how you want to charge but make it clear for the customer. Maybe a 4 hour minimum from the time you leave home? You're charging about 2 1/2 hours to haul your tractor to the job. It shouldn't take 2 1/2 hours to go 40 miles. If you're a sole proprietor you don't have to be incorporated. Save your money and you can always get incorporated later on when you're doing bigger jobs. You're kind of just testing the water right now. I think you need to work for another contractor for awhile to learn more about running a business, doing estimates, etc. You're looking at a doing a shooting lane and you have no idea what you'll encounter. What if it's heavy bush and 6" dia. tree's? Drive out and look at the job for free! Much better than hauling your tractor out and telling the customer you don't have the right equipment for the job or worse it's going to cost him a lot more money.
     
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  18. DMiller

    DMiller Senior Member

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    Local contractor has flat fees for under ten miles drive time, above that he charges hour rate for truck/driver/machine from time they load at yard until unloaded at site, same for return leg.
    Bigger machines bigger money, smaller machines cheaper.
     
  19. DMiller

    DMiller Senior Member

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    Neighbor asked me to disc a field for a cover crop replant as his old drag disc was/is shot. Gave him a estimate of four hours he said OK, gave him a bill for $320 and he squalled as if shot. Told him barely covered my expenses for fuel oils and lube as well wear on the discs. He refused to pay so I said fine and walked away, also told him no three times since as to leasing from us where his property adjoined and he could use the better pastures. He failed to understand the rift he set as he thought $80 was more than enough for twenty acres disced down 8", told him was that PER HOUR originally. He has been caught twice trying to 'borrow' that disc as his is still crap, cannot get it through his head is a no deal from here out unless he coughs up for that disc job. So have had bad days too.
     
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  20. Welder Dave

    Welder Dave Senior Member

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    Sometimes friends and neighbors are the biggest cheapskates.
     
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