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View Full Version : Can 21" only operators be professionals?


John_99_2007
06-01-2007, 05:48 PM
Do you guys think it is possible to start a business with only 21" mowers?

I know a larger machine would pay off in productivity. But if I'm willing to take the extra time and put out the extra effort, can a 21" produce pro results.

Main questions:

1. Do 21" stripes look bad to a customer, or is the overall quality of cut the main factor? I would still complete all jobs with professional quality edging, trimming, and clean-up.

2. Do any customers or potential customers ever comment about you having only small equipment? Are they only interested why or do they have major concerns?

Thank in advance for any comments. My biggest concern is to provide quality service while building a business.

Nathan Robinson
06-01-2007, 05:50 PM
Yup. call it budget mowing!

ed2hess
06-01-2007, 06:23 PM
John ....one of the biggest companies that used to post on lawnsite built his entire business around 21" mowers. And there are getting to be more and more customers that just won't accept the big riding machines on their property. Not talking about acre lots but normal urban yards in Texas. And making marks in the grass isn't much of a deal in Texas...unless they are the big ugly tire marks that never go away and those the customer don't like.

Grits
06-01-2007, 06:47 PM
Absolutely!! Go for it! I think it could be VERY profitable if done right.

GreenN'Clean
06-01-2007, 07:13 PM
Always remember you have to start somewhere and build from there. Id only focus on smaller yards until you build up enough until you can get a walk behind or rider

Vikings
06-01-2007, 07:30 PM
My first day with a 36 today and I left turning marks ( the ground is saturated) I l left scalps I raised my axles twice today, lol. Man, what I'm wondering is can a 36" mower guy be a pro? My lines today were very bad to non existent. But man can that thing cut.

Grits
06-01-2007, 07:33 PM
My first day with a 36 today and I left turning marks ( the ground is saturated) I l left scalps I raised my axles twice today, lol. Man, what I'm wondering is can a 36" mower guy be a pro? My lines today were very bad to non existent. But man can that thing cut.

LOL!! You'll get used to it. It takes a little time.

N.H.BOY
06-01-2007, 08:23 PM
I think you can, I have a few that only wants 21" on their property. They pay extra for the time it takes and that would be my only concern in "not" getting a bigger mower. That is the time you will be surprised on how a 54" mower or even a 48 would take less time. Budget baby, budget. Good luck youll do fine

lurch
06-01-2007, 08:29 PM
i only use 21's and i'm doing fine...only been in business for about 4 months and i've already met my goal for the entire season (20 weekly clients)...all i did was a good quality job every time....no marks...left good lines...perfect edges...

personally i believe you make your money on your edging...if your edging looks like crap then you will get crap jobs...

just my .02

lawnmaniac883
06-01-2007, 09:35 PM
All that walking will catch up to you in the long run, only down side I can see.

WJW Lawn
06-01-2007, 10:03 PM
I dont know about you guys...but I started with a 21"...saved money got a 36...saved more money...put a down on Z...and built up. All other equipment including my truck is 100% paid for...not much debt. Ya gotta start somewhere...ORRRRRR You find a niche--and they are out there--and you put together a 21 route.

I dont believe its the size of your mower that makes you a professional. Its good hard, honest, legit work that makes you a pro.

ed2hess
06-01-2007, 10:58 PM
All that walking will catch up to you in the long run, only down side I can see.

Funny thing that is exactly why I started a lawn business over 25 years ago was to get exercise and to stay in shape......and to make money at the same time.

John_99_2007
06-01-2007, 11:27 PM
Thanks everyone for the encouragement. I'm mainly looking at 5,000-7,500sf lots so it sounds like you all think it's possible.

Any tips on the best quality edging and clean-up?

Do most of you edge with a trimmer? I can do a good job with the trimmer once I establish a good edge, but the first time takes some muscle and sometimes some hand work with a spade.

Or do you use stick edgers every week?

lurch
06-01-2007, 11:36 PM
i used a w/b edger to establish at first...now i 'stick' with my stick edger and trimmer....i've gotten good enough with the trimmer that i can edge and trim with it...if i have a corner lawn or a lawn with a sidewalk i break out the stick edger....

you'll get your groove and you'll do fine...

Mr.Lawn
06-02-2007, 12:27 AM
The equipment dosen't make you a pro or not, its how you handle and run your business. listen to these guys 99.99% of these guys are great. They taught me alot.

KS_Grasscutter
06-02-2007, 12:50 AM
I wish the lawns around here were all small enough to do that. I think that the biggest lawn I would want to 21" mow is about 3000 SF. I kinda like 21" lines, but there ain't no way I would (or could) use a 21" on all my lawns. Have had customers request it, and told them the price differance and they change their mind pretty quick LOL.

WHIPPLE5.7
06-02-2007, 10:06 AM
Most lots around here are 50x150 in town and out of town can range from 1/2 acre to 25 acres. Almost all the LCOs here run Toro 21" mowers and don't bother with out of town work because of the travel. Right now I'm doing some 1/3 acre places weekly with my Honda 21" mowers and next I'll be getting the Exmark 26" walkbehind to speed up in town mowing and I'll be getting a walker or Exmark ZTR for out of town jobs.

Gene $immons
06-02-2007, 10:28 AM
Just remember -3 or 4 guys cutting with 21's is like using a very large mower.

Plus it looks much better.

Don't buy the large rider until you come across a property that can't possibly be done with 21's.

Vikings
06-02-2007, 10:34 AM
Just remember -3 or 4 guys cutting with 21's is like using a very large mower.

Plus it looks much better.

Don't buy the large rider until you come across a property that can't possibly be done with 21's.

Salaries are more expensive then mowers.

Busto963
06-02-2007, 02:24 PM
Salaries are more expensive then mowers.

Amen to that...

Trimmer Man007
06-02-2007, 03:43 PM
I am running one 22" and another 21" and seem to be doing fine, mind you it is a challenge even with two people to get the equipment around without a truck and trailer.

Gene $immons
06-02-2007, 07:06 PM
Salaries are more expensive then mowers.

OK, never hire any employees. Now that looks unprofessional.

Vikings
06-02-2007, 07:19 PM
OK, never hire any employees. Now that looks unprofessional.

You don't seem to understand.

3 guys with snowblowers will make me more money then 3 guys with shovels.

*maybe I should have used the analogy of 10 mexicans with string trimmers vs. 1 guy with wb and 1 guys for trimming*


Hey, on a side note. When I was 11 years old I got Gene Simmons autograph when they toured through Winnipeg:)

Allens LawnCare
06-03-2007, 12:41 AM
Last I checked Midget Strippers are proffesionals......why not....just kidding. Cust are looking for someone who will do a good job...plain and simple....the bigger the yard the bigger the stripes always worked for me. you can't go crazy and cut an acre lot with a 21" mower. What do you have for a mower. you have to realize that a 21" will die quickly if your using it 24/7 and it's not a commerical machine, are you gonna bag everything.....it sounds like a good idea but I don't take my 22" off unless its a small apartment building or a two pass stripe along the road side. I'm sure you've seen your neighbor cutting his lawn with a 21" for two hrs.....time is money, remember and for the price of a great 21" mower you can buy a decent used walkbehind

NMS0219
06-03-2007, 01:04 AM
Their is a guy here in town that mows every lot with 21". Mind you he has six guys with mowers and himself with the trimmer. I'm always shocked at how fast they are. I'm also shocked at how much overhead he has.

LindblomRJ
06-03-2007, 01:19 AM
21" can fill an imprortant niche in the market. They can be profitable and the end result is often important to the customer.

Around here there are some homes that are landscaped such that a 21" will only work. On larger yards they might not be as efficient as a 36" or what ever you run.

In fact I am planning to update my 21" shortly.

John_99_2007
06-05-2007, 05:09 PM
Sounds like Toro's Proline is the clear winner.

How many hours can I expect from a new machine?

How much are used models?

instyle
06-05-2007, 11:11 PM
I have been running for 7 years. I have 2 - ZTR's, and 4 21's. I use nothing but 21's on my residientials. I would be fired withing minutes if I were to try to use a ZTR on a reidential lawn. The way I look at it is...if i cut 25 lawns in a day with 21's, then the next week I used my 48's, it would take me longer because i have to haul the trailer. Having a trailer slows me down alot.
In terms of being proffesional...absolutly. A cut is a cut.
Now... if you were to rototill a persons garden with nothing more than a 12" mini tiller; that would not be professional....just due to quality.

instyle
06-05-2007, 11:12 PM
How many hours on a 21? no idea. But I would say if i can get 3 years...i will be happy.
I am using Honda HRX217's.

John_99_2007
06-06-2007, 10:38 PM
On a 6,000 the 7,000 sq. foot subdivision lot with only a few thousand sq. ft. of grass, it seems like a 21" would hardly be any slower. All the lots in my neighborhood have gates so the only other option is a 32" or 36". And half the mow time is always going to be backing up and turning.

I can't imagine a bigger machine would save more than 5 or 10 minutes.

I know that adds up, but so does large equipment prices.

Am I way off?

Lawn_Care
06-10-2007, 10:42 PM
70% of my clients can be done with a 21” mower and I make a 50% higher mark up on the smaller 5000 sq ft properties. My experience has been the larger the property the smaller the profit margin.

stroker51
06-11-2007, 01:39 AM
I'd say 85% of us in my area only use the 21" if we absolutely have to. There have been some guys who try to keep the overhead low and mow with just 21's, and it isn't too long until they have a walk-behind, then a mid-z, etc. I only use mine on 3 properties that i can think of right off the top of my head, one is around a swimming pool, one is half of a duplex that i mow, and the other is a back yard with stairs all around. It probably all depends on where you work, here I can make a smaller, by our standard, lawn look really good with my 48" w/b, layin some killer stripes. i think the smallest that i do with the w/b is about a 2700 sq ft lawn.