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Thinking of Starting a small Skid Steer Business

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Thinking of Starting a small Skid Steer Business

Old 11-05-2018, 07:14 AM
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Default Thinking of Starting a small Skid Steer Business

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Been tossing around the idea of opening a small one man skid steer business here in South Florida (South Miami Dade , Upper Keys). I started thinking about it because I'm trying to get some work done around my house and all the contractors I call are so busy itís almost impossible to get someone. I figure if contractors are busy, equipment operators are busy too. Not to mention I need a solid $3K+ of skid steer work done around my house moving boulders, laying gravel, post holes, etc. Iím thinking if this is 5%-10% of the purchase price of a decent machine Iím ahead for a few months.

I have a full time day job and I have a family member who is currently unemployed that could be the operator - he currently has no experience but I have figure he could become proficient enough rather quickly. No grading, Iím thinking post holes, spreading, trash removal, concrete removal, dirt or mulch moving. Easy jobs I would imagine skill wise?

Iím starting to do my due diligence and I figure I need

- Skid Steer (Track) & Attachments Ė Not sure what size is best for all around jobs? Not looking for a beast, just a good all-around machine. What attachments would be most useful? Post Hole digger, Grapple, Bucket?

- Trailer

- Truck

- Insurance (Cost / Month? Policy Types?)

Iím not sure whether to go New or Used on the Skid Steer Ė credit / financing isnít an issue. I can store a truck and trailer on my property no problem.

is a Half ton truck sufficient? Or is there some kind of small dump truck that can serve double duty for towing / trash hauling?

I figure if people rent skidsteers for $300 a day - I can charge average $400 / day that and have it working maybe 2 days a week or something the ROI should be a few years at most. Since this is not supposed to be my sole source of income, if if in a year or two it doesn't work I could sell the equipment for a loss and move on. I'm thinking long term side business, potential for full time down the road once if demand is high. I'm currently a financial analyst for a large manufacturing company , so analyzing / understanding operating costs is my forte'

I'm pretty handy and the operator is too, so I figure most maintenance could be done by us.

Does this sound like a money pit?
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:21 AM
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I had a T190, and it weighed about 8000#. Sold my 1/2 ton and bought a 3/4 ton truck. Those machines are surprisingly heavy.

Depending on the person, running one isn't neccesarily fun, but that's why they call it work. i bought mine to move materials, with the possibility of hiring myself out for other odd jobs. Honestly, I just couldn't stand being in/on the thing any more than I had to. Get one as comfortable as you can afford is about all I can say.

The person running it needs to have some good sense. The machines are heavy and powerful, and can be real productive and real destructive.

Sorry I can't offer much more. Sold my machine about 7 years ago.
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:23 AM
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you'll probably make more money off a mini-ex if you're only buying 1 piece of equipment, & it would do everything you described.

get a diesel truck
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:24 AM
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My thoughts, as someone who has operated this type of machine since before ROPS were required, and also been involved with business similar to your venture:

Buy a used machine starting out, but if you don't know what you're looking at, find a local excavator or mechanic to look with you.

Get at least a 3/4 ton truck , and a trailer with working brakes.

You can get a low profile dump trailer that will transport the machine, and also allow for material transport, but dropping the machine while moving material will be required.

You might want to think about a 1 ton dump truck. It will be small enough to load with the skid steer, and also tow the machine and haul a load at the same time.

Good luck!
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:25 AM
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ya might want to check on state lic-- fla is tough on that -- don't ask me how I know---
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:27 AM
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I have some experience through helping a friend build a landscaping business.

I would buy a used unit, because the odds are that you're not going to want to do this long term, and you'll likely lose less selling a used unit vs. a previously new one. Something like a JCB175 would probably be a good versatile machine for residential work.
You need to budget a healthy amount for wear and tear on the machine and general down time. Particularly with used equipment, you could be in for a random surprise with the hydraulics.

Between the machine, trailer, and other things like attachments, fuel, etc, you're probably going to be towing 10K lbs. A half ton truck probably won't cut it.

It will take your operator several months, maybe a year to get truly "proficient". Anyone can haul some stuff around and scoop dirt, but doing actual grading, avoiding damage to customer properly, and learning how to really use the machine and attachments to finesse things takes more than just a couple of weeks of time at the controls.

Your biggest headaches will probably be just dealing with homeowners. If you rent the bare machine, have a plan for how you're going to get it unstuck from the back of someone's property. If you rent it with an operator, have a plan for how to deal with the fact you are a total idiot for not being a mind reader...
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by chevyrulz View Post
you'll probably make more money off a mini-ex if you're only buying 1 piece of equipment, & it would do everything you described.

get a diesel truck
A big tracked skid steer will work circles around a mini hoe in everything but digging a hole. To the OP I have a T-250. With the machine, bucket, forks, bushhog, and tools on the trailer it was a load for my 3/4 ton. If I was going to get into the business tomorrow here is what a would have. At least a T-250 or equivalent, Drw 1 ton 4wd, tandem axle goose neck dump trailer with 8 tires.

Keep in mind repairs for heavy equipment in mind boggling expensive. If you do not have a plan for that ahead of time it can break you.
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:33 AM
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Thanks guys - I have been exploring the New vs Used part. I figure if I buy new, I should get a few years trouble free out of the machine and my operating costs (including R&M) should be relatively "fixed" but high for a while. Id rather budget high then have to deal with surprises as I'm getting my feet wet.

Plus if I don't like it a few years down the line, I'm would guess a low hour newish machine would fetch decent coin compared to a high hour beat up one.

But I admit, I dont know much.

Is there a place where I could look at package deals? Like trailer / skidsteer combo's?
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:45 AM
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Having been in the const. business for 35 years in upstate ny, now retired, I can only wish you the best of luck.
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:51 AM
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If you want to be legit, Step 1, Get a contracting license, or at least find out what it costs to get one. There will be minimum required insurance, experience, etc., for this kind of work. This might be where I'd start. I'd also consult with an attorney and an accountant to get an idea of risks, cash flow, etc...

Things I'd be worried about: Being legal. Getting customers. Successfully doing work. Getting paid.
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by mskin314 View Post
Thanks guys - I have been exploring the New vs Used part. I figure if I buy new, I should get a few years trouble free out of the machine and my operating costs (including R&M) should be relatively "fixed" but high for a while. Id rather budget high then have to deal with surprises as I'm getting my feet wet.

Plus if I don't like it a few years down the line, I'm would guess a low hour newish machine would fetch decent coin compared to a high hour beat up one.

But I admit, I dont know much.

Is there a place where I could look at package deals? Like trailer / skidsteer combo's?
Around here, most equipment dealers (Cat, New Holland, Deere, etc) also handle a line of trailers....(EagerBeaver, Interstate, TrailKing, etc) I'm sure they'd be gald to put a package together for you.....don't know about adding a truck to the mix though.......not familiar with a Ford, GM or RAM dealer that also sells skid steers, but I bet someone here will know of one....LOL
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:53 AM
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1/2 ton is way to small to use. My trailer alone that I haul my Case 1845 weighs 7000#.
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by MSChE View Post
If you want to be legit, Step 1, Get a contracting license, or at least find out what it costs to get one. There will be minimum required insurance, experience, etc., for this kind of work. This might be where I'd start. I'd also consult with an attorney and an accountant to get an idea of risks, cash flow, etc...

Things I'd be worried about: Being legal. Getting customers. Successfully doing work. Getting paid.
Something else to very aware of is liability......the visibility to the rear of these machines and many others is terrible, even with a camera. Backing into a house, garage will eat up all of a job's profit, and then some. Backing over someone....well you get the idea. (and yes it has/does happen)

Good luck
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Old 11-05-2018, 08:07 AM
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If neither you or your cousin has experience operating equipment, just get your work done when someone has an opening, and move on. Big difference in driving and operating a machine. I can drive the hell out of one, but am not a remotely competent operator, and have a few hundred hours of seat time. Even if you aren't planning to take on grading work, if you don't know how to do basic finish grading you will not be able to properly clean up when you are done doing other work. Great way to end up in small claims court.
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Old 11-05-2018, 08:10 AM
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Something else I'll add... Pulling a skid steer on any kind of decent trailer with 10,000# capacity with a 3/4 or 1 ton truck for commercial use will likely require some level of CDL and/or DOT inspection.

Liability insurance will be nothing to sneeze at. I'd want at least a 5 million liability umbrella.
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Old 11-05-2018, 08:10 AM
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Buy used, lease or rent to own. 1 ton dump is ideal. Track or wheel machine. Start with smooth and a tooth buckets. Rent attachments as needed assuming dealer nearby. I had an auger, grapple, 4 in 1 bucket, and demo hammer when I owned one.

My bobcat dealer had a "school" you could send your guy too. Being proficient can take a while. They aren't toys
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Old 11-05-2018, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by autobaun70 View Post
If neither you or your cousin has experience operating equipment, just get your work done when someone has an opening, and move on. Big difference in driving and operating a machine. I can drive the hell out of one, but am not a remotely competent operator, and have a few hundred hours of seat time. Even if you aren't planning to take on grading work, if you don't know how to do basic finish grading you will not be able to properly clean up when you are done doing other work. Great way to end up in small claims court.
I was going to say this but I didn't want to be a Debby downer.
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Old 11-05-2018, 08:22 AM
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As others have said, 3/4 ton truck at minimum, but I'd lean towards a 1-ton for sure. Especially because you will be hauling landscape material (i.e. topsoil, stone) at some point in time.

As for a trailer, think about a large capacity dump trailer. The good ones will hold the skid-steer and have enough room and weight capacity for a yard of material. That will save you several trips of hauling gear and materials.
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Old 11-05-2018, 08:41 AM
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So I'm thinking about $100K start up cost?

$30-$50K Machine
$30K Truck
$10K Trailer?

Could I get away with cheaper?

Anyone have ideas on insurance costs?
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Old 11-05-2018, 08:42 AM
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Picked up a GEHL this summer for odds and ends around the farm. Great machine wish we had one 10 years ago. For attachments just buy them used from an auction sale. Richie Brothers always has a ton for sale at there big sales. Most of the attachments are brand new up for sale
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