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DFW Area Landscaper
07-17-2006, 09:47 AM
This weekend, I decided, before I make all the repairs to our Honda 21" mowers, I would clean them up. I stopped in at Northern Tool and bought a small electric pump that produced 1400 psi.

I lined all 9 Hondas up and started cleaning them with this thing. By the time I finished, they all looked a lot cleaner, but they were still filthy. The high pressure spray does nothing to remove the green grass stains.

So then, I got a buck of soapy water and a cloth. This required pure elbow grease. I cleaned 3 of them as best I could and it took about an hour and a half.

The next day, I decided to use a scrub brush and a bucket of soapy water. That was the ticket. I scrubbed down every square inch of these machines. I would guess each machine took about 30 minutes each. They all look very nice now.

So....my question is....assuming this cleaning would take around 15 minutes per machine if done every week or every other week...is there any reason to keep the equipment looking shiny and clean? Do customers notice it? Do dissatisfied clients of other LCO's notice it?

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

topsites
07-17-2006, 10:59 AM
I've been through this exact same process, it is the reason I now only wash my machine a few times a year but I also find it mostly makes a difference in my mind. I find the powerwashers over time strip the paint, so I stopped doing it that way.

It is still a good thing to do, I also find like you said, soap and bucket and elbow grease is the best way (not to mention the cheapest).
I like using dishwashing detergent like Dawn except I buy the stuff at the Dollar Store since I like to use lots of it to where the water is REALLY soapy lol, it helps cut the grease some... Also, a bag of rags helps, a lot of the grease just won't come off except onto the rags.

I like doing it when I got nothing better to do, or am short on work, something to keep me busy. Certainly it's still nicer to have a shiny mower than a dirty one, I DO think customers notice but it's something in the back of their minds, it's not the most important thing on the agenda for them, but if they have eyesight then they can see it :)

Brendan Smith
07-17-2006, 11:02 AM
everytime it rains (which isn't often lately) mine gets washed. i do clean the buildup of leaves/grass/dirt off of the top of the deck and from around the pulleys once a week or so, but that's about it.

stuffdeer
07-17-2006, 11:08 AM
I wash my equipment including truck and trailer once a week.

Freddy_Kruger
07-17-2006, 11:14 AM
I once tried a pressure washer on my truck (yeah just my truck; just dirt) and it didn't do anything but when I go to the car wash and use their pressure washer with heated water and soap injected it works great.

When my truck is super dirty I spray it with soapy water water then I use that giant scrub brush, then rinse. I would try and wash the mower at a car wash I haven't washed my mower yet so I don't know if it works for something so greasy. As for if customers notice I'm not so sure, I don't even notice when I check out other lco's, I suppose if it was bright red I might think they just bought a new one, probably a thief would want to steal it more.

DFW Area Landscaper
07-17-2006, 11:38 AM
Taking 9 mowers to the car wash isn't practical, for me. The only thing that worked to clean these mowers was a scrub brush and lots of Joy soap.

Our mowers were literally brown before I cleaned them. Ugly as they could be. When the workers arrived this morning, one of the crew leaders asked if I had bought all new mowers this weekend.

If there is no benefit, in terms of customer loyalty or prospects being impressed with clean equipment, I see no reason to do it. The only other benefit I can see to keeping it clean is, perhaps the workers see that if we value our equipment enough to clean it, then they would take better care of it.

So, the consensus is, there is no way to recoup the money spent cleaning the mowers on a regular basis in terms of new clients or more loyal clients????

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Splicer
07-17-2006, 11:45 AM
Believe me...Customers DO notice a nice clean shiney machine just as much as they notice a scummy, brown, dull looking machine...The same goes for your truck...

Ask yourself this...Would you want your neighbors to see the latter parked in front of your $250,000 home or would you rather them see the former???

mike lane lawn care
07-17-2006, 12:17 PM
a few of my customers would care if i had filthy, dirty equipment, over nice clean and sparkling equipment on their lawns. as theese customers have "show lawns". once every two weeks, i remove the deck scrub all the dirt of, scrub the tractor, scrub the trimmer, scrub the 21" mower, and it all lokks like it was never used before. also with the broadmoor, every once in a while i will use a paint ceaner polish and a clear coat on it to help keep it shiney. customers do notice theese things, they think, "if he can't even take care of his equipment, can he really take care of my lawn?"

Budget
07-17-2006, 01:05 PM
Yes they do notice. I got a comment on my Ferris the otherday.

DFW Area Landscaper
07-17-2006, 02:08 PM
Splicer,

I think you are right that some customers may notice the cleanliness of the mowers. I know they notice the appearance of the vehicle and trailer. The mowers are clearly less important.

I just don't know if it would be worth the extra payroll expense to keep all the mowers clean and shiny. That is a lot of work. The number one reason clients cancel service is because of reasons beyond our control...moving/laid off/new car payment. I am sure the reasons are similar for other lawn mowing companies.

When clients sign up for service, they are usually calling from word of mouth or a paid form of advertising. They don't see the mowers when they sign up for service.

The only possible benefit I can see for paying for mower washing is that a client who is dissatisfied with another lawn mowing company might notice our equipment. Cleaner equipment might translate into better, more reliable service in their mind.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Del9175
07-17-2006, 04:50 PM
Find a cleaning product called Greased Lightning. They sell it at walmart. I spray it heavily on a mower that is dry and with very little scrubbing they come really clean. By far the best universal cleaning product on the market bar none. My mom and my aunt who both own their own house cleaning businesses and are particularly anal about things being clean have started using it after I introduced them to it. This stuff cleans anything.

MOturkey
07-17-2006, 05:00 PM
Two weeks ago, when I didn't mow due to the dry conditions, I cleaned up my Gravely. Even put on a coat of wax and used silicone tire shine on the tires. Looks almost new. Well, at least it did until I mowed again. :)

Precision
07-17-2006, 05:08 PM
Two weeks ago, when I didn't mow due to the dry conditions, I cleaned up my Gravely. Even put on a coat of wax and used silicone tire shine on the tires. Looks almost new. Well, at least it did until I mowed again. :)
And there in lies the rub. for all the work it only lasts about a day.

I am of the opinion that you squirt them down with greased lightning or equivalent, let that soak in, hit it with a low setting on the pressure washer and what comes of comes off. Same thing with the stick equipment.

Do this once a month or so and be done with it.

Just add it into the maintenance routine.

Daily oil check, filter check, tire check, blade changing
weekly greasing, deck cleaning, truck vacuuming, rain-x and armor all
monthly exterior washing, wheels and tires cleaned

I have it printed right on the timesheet for what maintence needs to be done each day. I find doing a little something everyday gets them in the habit and then it only adds 10 minutes or so each day. And nothing for Fridays.

gqnine44
07-17-2006, 05:48 PM
Daily oil check, filter check, tire check, blade changing



No. Paying someone to scrub your mower on a regular basis is not a good use of money. Neither is paying someone to take the blades off and sharpen them everyday or checking air filters every day (unless your are mowing in dust storms). No wonder you guys cant make any $. :) Our mowers probably each cut around 50 lawns a week. We sharpen once a week and most of the time they are still very sharp. Air filters get cleaned once a month or so and they are usually totally clean. Maybe you guys are mowing dusty, rock infested properties or something?

Our mowers look good as we take care of them and regularly blow them off, etc. When we change oil, every month and half (synthetic oil) we usually hose them off. The main reason I do this is for resale value and we usually are able to do quite well when we sell used equipment. Potential equipment buyers like a machine to look new, customers dont give a damn as long as you show up on time and your mower doesnt blow up on their front lawn.

Keep your employees billable and not wasting time at the shop. Just my humble opinion...

muddstopper
07-17-2006, 06:19 PM
I keep one of those pumpup garden sprayers full of Castrol's purple cleaner in my shop. Whenever something needs cleaning, I just spray it down with the cleaner and fire up the pressure washer. For a lawn Mower, it wouldnt take more than a few minutes to have all the dirt and grime rinsed off. I suspect you would get the same results using the greased lightning. I dont do this for looks, I do it to keep myself clean when getting on or off or when working on the equipment. Nothing worse than tightening up a bolt only to realize you now have black grease on your elbow or back of your arm, which somehow always gets transferred to the seats in the truck, and then your shirt or pants.

DFW Area Landscaper
07-17-2006, 06:42 PM
I am thinking I agree with what GQNINE44 said.

It is nice to have your equipment looking shiny and clean, and I feel that is important with the truck & trailer.

The cost of clean, shiny equipment is probably not justifiable. It makes you feel better when you look at your equipment, but I think that is about all there is to it.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

6'7 330
07-17-2006, 07:18 PM
Things we consider important to keep cleaned , accumulated grass cleaned out around the blade belt and pulleys on top of the deck assembly, the cooling housing on AC engines, as well as cleaning the cooling fins and carb linkages periodically.Cleaning those areas on the mower I consider part of routine maintenance .As far as importance of customer or potential customer perception , a clean lettered truck in good mechanical working order,and if your towing a trailer, good clean looking trailer.