We get lots of questions concerning the possibility of using a sub-compact tractor like a Deere 1-series, or a Kubota BX to do custom project work for others. Usually, folks are saying that they aren’t really interested in doing this full-time, rather they want to “make some money on the side” in order to make the payments on their new toy.
In this article, we will investigate some questions which you should work through before you decide to go with this approach.
Will you make enough money to make it worthwhile?
Many projects (like tilling) are viewed as relatively simply jobs by most folks. They reason that they can buy a tiller for ~$500 or rent one for $50 or so to till their garden. They won’t be willing or able to pay a huge amount to have their garden tilled.
More broadly, the “rental equipment” market has a huge influence on the pricing. Most folks that we help are DIY type folks. They are evaluating our services against renting the equipment themselves.
Also, loading/unloading and transport take lots of time. Adding all of this together contributes to a relatively low hourly rate for your work.
Do You Have Sufficient Experience?
Using your tractor on personal projects around your property can be incredibly fun and rewarding. You can go at your own pace, learning as you go without severe time or financial commitments to finishing the project.
Working for hire is different. The client expects that you already know what you are doing. They expect that you will make the correct (optimal) decision for each situation you encounter.
They expect the project to be done right, and to be done efficiently.
Christy and I both grew up on farms, doing the type of work we do now on a daily basis during all of those growing up years. I can’t say how long it would take to gain that same experience starting from scratch, nor can we readily share all of that experience with you via YouTube. Much of it must be learned by making mistakes, or trial and error. There just isn’t much room for error on a customer’s site.
It is important for you, and for the rest of the tractor community for you to have the appropriate experience before considering doing work for hire.
Do you have the right equipment for the job?
I’ve often commented that a sub-compact tractor is a wonderful compromise. It will do MANY different things well. That is a tremendous advantage for the property owner. You can buy one piece of equipment and handle many different types of projects. However, when doing work for hire, the sub-compact tractor might not be as fast, or as optimal for the job as some other piece of equipment. A good example of this is the backhoe. A Mini-excavator is a much better digger than a sub-compact backhoe. No worries for home projects, but when doing work for hire, are you really being fair to the client by making them pay high rates for less than optimal equipment?
More directly, do you have a trailer? Do you have a suitable tow vehicle? If you don’t need these for your own projects, this additional cost will make it even harder for you to make a profit on your work.
Are you prepared for the business aspects?
There are several more questions which I will ask, but not answer in this article. You will need to think about them for yourself.
- Are you appropriately insured?
- How will you handle a situation where a customer is unsatisfied?
- Do you really have the time to do the work, especially on the customer’s schedule?
- Will you be able to keep this going, or is this simply a way to justify the expense of a tractor to the finance committee?
Like lots of other scenarios, at first this seems like ‘easy money’. It seems like the perfect answer, providing a way for you to get your long desired new toy. However, the old saying “there is no such thing as a free lunch” definitely applies here.
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