Description of Job
• Using a power rototiller or similar equipment, turn over a garden patch at the start of a season to prepare it for planting.
• Mix fertilizer, lime, or other garden chemicals into the soil.
• Cut down plants at the end of the season and compost the greens or haul them away.
• Turn over the earth at the end of the growing season to prepare it for the winter.
The Need and Demand for the Service
Have rototiller, will travel. Many homeowners love to grow their own little patch of tomatoes, green beans, onions, and flowers. They look great and taste better than anything they’ll find in the supermarket. (So what if the tomatoes end up costing them several dollars apiece or if the massive zucchini squash quickly outpace their ability to eat them, give them away, or use them as doorstops?)
For many gardeners, the most difficult part of the process is tilling the earth: breaking it up to a depth of six inches to a foot to allow easy planting and faster growth. Doing it by hand is a major chore, and purchasing a power tiller does not make sense for the casual gardener.
Your appeal is that you will bring a heavy, commercial rototiller or small tractor to their property and make quick work of a job that is beyond their abili- ties, interest, or equipment.
Challenges faced by the business owner
This is a seasonal job, with most of the work coming in the spring; jobs in the fall will be less common. You’ll need to amortize the cost of the machine and trailer over a fairly short period of time.
Things You Should Know About The Business
Tillers come in front-tine, mid-tine, and rear-tine designs; in general, rear-tine machines are the most powerful, and front-tine devices are more maneuverable. Mid-tine tillers claim to balance power and maneuverability. Spend the time to research (and test, if possible) various designs to find the one that suits your needs best.
The horsepower of the engine varies; the larger the engine, the more power- ful the churning of the earth and the movement of the wheels. Some designs use the rotating tines themselves to move the machine forward; many commercial designs apply power to a set of wheels that help pull the heavy device forward while the tines concentrate on breaking the earth.
Many lawn tractors with a power takeoff can be adapted to add a tiller; they may have sufficient horsepower to do the job, but may not be as maneuverable as a special-purpose tiller.
How to Get Started with the Garden Tilling Business
Post flyers and ads at garden centers and community centers. Place ads in news- papers and shopping guides.
Ask satisfied customers to recommend your services to others; offer a bonus or discount for new business they refer your way.
Up-front Expenses for the Business
Commercial-grade rototillers cost in the range of $500 to $1,000 or more. Lighter-weight and less capable units intended for casual gardeners sell for as lit- tle as $300.
You may be able to find a reconditioned used machine through a dealer or pri- vate seller; either way, you will need a reliable source of parts and maintenance.
Other up-front costs include a trailer and hitch and a vehicle capable of pulling the tiller from place to place; you may be able to use a ramp and open- bed of a pickup truck to transport the device.
You’ll also need to pay for advertising and promotion.
How Much to Charge
Charge an hourly rate, taking into account the cost of the equipment, wear and tear, gasoline, and your travel time to the site. Add a surcharge for especially dis- tant travel and for especially difficult access to the property. Add the cost of fer- tilizer, lime, or other garden chemicals tilled into the ground.
Legal and Insurance Issues
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