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View Full Version : When do you decline mowing..?


Turf Commando
03-01-2008, 03:28 PM
With a 48''walk-behind, how many acres does it take before you say wait, I'm not prepared for this size scale lawn...?
What measures would you take, if you really wanted this property....?..Joe

Ramairfreak98ss
03-01-2008, 03:35 PM
lol, hard question and im sure it varys greatly.

A 48" walk behind is descent i guess. I personally wont buy anything else walk behind because the options to "ride on" that are available just outweigh me every having to walk while mowing again.

My only walk behind is a 34" simplicity hydro, its ok, does 5mph, not too fast at all. If i ever buy any smaller machines, they'll be gravely FX standups, 34-48", 10mph speeds, 19-27hp, but youll pay a premium to not have to walk.

Most guys buy walk behinds, belt drives because theyre cheap, 3k or less and they have a descent width mower. Even the gravely 34"/19hp standup is $4400 i think.

i have "push mowed" 1.5 acre properties before, it was a propelled troy built i hardly ever touch now but i pushed it because i could get done faster than letting it go at .000000234 mph lol. And faster meaning, within 3hrs hAHA!

Even if i only had my 48" ferris zero turn, i wouldnt turn down anything thinking its too big unless it was like 10+ acres or something that would take me over 4+ hrs, even at that, if you can profit, why not do it?

I made money push mowing the 1.5 acre lawn, but i was so damn tired on a hot day, refueling, etc, and it didnt look great, but was a new/crappy lawn that was dry anyway.

Maybe think about a cheaper 30-40" walk behind for your yards you NEED it for, and use a 48-61" zero turn for everything else then dont worrya bout size anymore :) A 5ft deck can eatup a lot of lawns,

My 61" eats up so much more than the 48" that im getting a 72" just because im anticipating it doing that much more than the 61".

lawnwizards
03-01-2008, 03:40 PM
its too big when you bid on it and get smoked by someone who can do the job with a WAM.

bohiaa
03-01-2008, 03:52 PM
hi JOE:

I have been turning down customers left and right here lately.

not so much due to size more of JUNK lawns.

you have to ask yourself the question.

is it really worth it to me.....?

capelawncare.com
03-01-2008, 03:56 PM
I dont have a WB, But i have been declining plenty lately. Generally, the grass is well over a ft high, with a for sale sign that says short sale on it.

The customer usually wants to work out some kind of billing arrangement too.

ProTouch Groundscapes
03-01-2008, 04:06 PM
i never turn down lawns, just charge accordingly. i make sure if they do want me to do it, then it is well worth my time, but it is usually them turning down the price when there grass is a foot tall

Turf Commando
03-01-2008, 04:24 PM
hi JOE:

I have been turning down customers left and right here lately.

not so much due to size more of JUNK lawns.

you have to ask yourself the question.

is it really worth it to me.....?

Thanks for the advice bohiaa ...

topsites
03-01-2008, 04:37 PM
As for turning a lawn down there exist too many reasons to list, but size specifically?

Speaking from personal experience I find the 48" does best in yards 1/4 to a full acre in size. It really stands out inside those size yards, much smaller than a 1/4 and it feels like I'm using an 18-wheeler to move an office chair... And on the other end sure enough right around the one acre mark the 48" starts to drag, I can just start to feel that 'this is taking forever' thing.

But I've done 1.5 before with the 48", the trick is to section it out into 4-6 sections then tackle it one sector at a time, knock it out in pieces. 30-45 minutes on the 48" is a good little stretch, but much past 1-2 hours it begins to suck.

A velke helps tons, I wouldn't dare get into even an acre without, thou I've done it once or twice before.

So you can go past an acre without too much trouble, but to a point, 1.6 and probably 1.7-1.9 even.
Not sure if I'd want to do much past two, it just gets to that point when it drags beyond tolerance...
As was said, a 60" Ztr is better cut out for much past an acre, then beyond that you'd want even bigger.

Turf Commando
03-01-2008, 05:13 PM
A velke helps tons, I wouldn't dare get into even an acre without, thou I've done it once or twice before.

So you can go past an acre without too much trouble, but to a point, 1.6 and probably 1.7-1.9 even.
Not sure if I'd want to do much past two, it just gets to that point when it drags beyond tolerance...


I will keep this information for future references since, there's limitations to the walk-behind thanks....Joe

topsites
03-01-2008, 05:25 PM
I will keep this information for future references since, there's limitations to the walk-behind thanks....Joe

Yes, so mind if I tell you there's limitations to the Ztr as well :laugh:

Here's what I found:
My 60" Z is not efficient in lots under 3/4's of an acre, it eats too much fuel and takes too long to maneuver around, by the time I'm done with a 1/2 acre I could've done it as fast if not faster with a smaller machine...
Hence the 48" really does stand out in smaller lots.

The Ztr does best in wide open spaces, the further a Z can run straight out, the better. That's because the Z pretty much has to stop to turn, and then it usually takes a 3-point turn to keep from tearing turf... A smaller Wb in that same time done turned around and is a 1/4 way down the turf, time the Z catches up the 48" is easing into the next turn, and so on.

What I also found is sitting down on a Z is not more comfortable than riding a velke. It looks like it would be, but with all the bumps and ruts and branches in the face it's actually about the same level of comfort, as in, it's still work. Doesn't even save time until we get into acre and larger lots, meanwhile it weighs a lot more so it makes the truck more fun to drive (at least I have to drive slower with the Z in back than the 48").

Very interesting stuff, had I known this I would've waited another year or three before I bought the Z... As things stand I used the 48" for my first 5 years exclusively and still use it today most of the time. The Z is nice, but for myself it's as much a status symbol than a lawn mower, oh and I'm still paying for it the dang thing cost more than any car I've ever owned.

You'll be fine with the 48", as likely you can finish lawns under an acre in as little or less time than guys doing the one across the street on a Ztr, don't let it fool you those 48's kick tail! I would say if you ever think you can get around a dozen acre+ lots on your schedule or you have at least 6 that are an acre, then you might start thinking about a Z.

Roger
03-01-2008, 05:41 PM
When I started, all I had was a 21" s/p Snapper. One of those who responded to the first advertisement (the only one I've ever done) was a lady with 1.8 acres. Yes, I mowed that property for nearly the entire season with the 21" mower. I think it took about four hours, and 5-6 tanks of fuel. But, it got me started.

I had another that was close to one acre. I too mowed it for nearly the first season with the 21" mower.

After I got my 36" w/b, I was able to finish those jobs more quickly. I did take a 3 acre job -- took about 3 hours with the 36" mower. I dropped it after one season. I was using a one-wheeled Velke.

I don't have a 48" w/b, but have a 48" ZTR. The 1.8 acre jobs take about 1:30, sometimes a bit less. I would consider this a top-end size for a 48" mower. In these parts, very few mowers are more than 48" because of the terrain -- some at 52, some at 60, certainly nothing at 72. There are some places I work where a 60" would work, but too many where it would not.

Having said all that, I would prefer the small properties for best profit. I make best money ($/hr) on small properties that I work with a 21" hand mower. If I had my choice, I would jettison the w/b and ZTR, work only my 21" and have small properties. I would net more income. But, that is not the mix of residential properties in this area. I never use the 36" machine on small properties (10K sq ft) -- terrain, and small features. The rates with regard to time spent, equipment to be used, decline as the properties go larger. This is nothing profound -- it has been discussed on LS many times with the same outcome.

mowerbrad
03-01-2008, 07:30 PM
Start to decline the properties if they get to be such a size that they don't allow you to pick up any more small properties. For me the small properties make me the most money, I'm their for 15 min and done.

Exact Rototilling
03-01-2008, 07:53 PM
". . . .
What I also found is sitting down on a Z is not more comfortable than riding a velke. It looks like it would be, but with all the bumps and ruts and branches in the face it's actually about the same level of comfort, as in, it's still work. Doesn't even save time until we get into acre and larger lots, meanwhile it weighs a lot more so it makes the truck more fun to drive (at least I have to drive slower with the Z in back than the 48").

Very interesting stuff, had I known this I would've waited another year or three before I bought the Z... As things stand I used the 48" for my first 5 years exclusively and still use it today most of the time. The Z is nice, but for myself it's as much a status symbol than a lawn mower, oh and I'm still paying for it the dang thing cost more than any car I've ever owned. . . . " :laugh:


Topsites,

Excellent post my suspicions have been confirmed. I think far too many people believe they need to buy a big ZTR to be profitable in this biz. I am toying with the idea of a Toro 48" WB floating deck hydro mower with a mulch kit if I land sufficient accounts this year. With the fold up Velke it will be a poor mans mini ZTR.

LwnmwrMan22
03-01-2008, 09:03 PM
Coming from a guy that targets larger properties (3+ acres) that can be done with 72" upto my 15' tri-deck mower, I would agree to stick to the smaller (1/4 acre) sized properties if you can.

You can get $120+ per acre, if you can stack enough close together to make it worth your while, whereas I'm knocking out acreage at $20-25 / acre.

Now, granted, I'm doing over 100 acres / week, more towards the 200 acre part, which you'd never do with a 48" or even a stand alone 72", but still, if you could do 50-60 (1/4) acre lots by yourself with a 21" push, and get paid halfway decent to do it, your percentage on your profit margin would blow me out of the water.

However, I bet my gross would be bigger than your gross. :hammerhead:

Turf Commando
03-01-2008, 11:27 PM
My plan of attack was and still remains residential accounts nothing, beats mowing 20 lawns @$20= $400 a day ...Let spring come soon..payup

LwnmwrMan22
03-01-2008, 11:45 PM
My plan of attack was and still remains residential accounts nothing, beats mowing 20 lawns @$20= $400 a day ...Let spring come soon..payup

huh?......... you charging nothing for residential accounts?

Turf Commando
03-02-2008, 12:11 AM
huh?......... you charging nothing for residential accounts?
If the yard only takes me 15 mins for everything, your saying, I'm to cheap....?
whats the rate then....please share

retrodog
03-02-2008, 01:06 AM
I have a different outlook than most LCO's in my area. I say absolutely never turn down a yard period, if its gonna make you money its worth the hardache. You can get 1 new $150 a week yard, and step up and finance you a big nice zero turn. Even if you have to buy a trailer, that one new 3-4 acre yard will pay for all your new equipment in 1 year. Get zero interest for one year, and pay it off. You will make a ton of alot more money with a full size Z. Worst case scenario you start getting more yards than you can handle and you have to buy a new truck and new rig, and hire a kid to run it. Again, let that one new account pay for your entire new rig. I will never turn down any business at all period....as long as it makes $. Honestly, I bid on a 230acre job, a 100acre cemeterie, a 140 acre job, 2 50 acre jobs, and many other smaller jobs fully prepared to break the bank in loans to get the equipment to handle all of it. Keep in mind that I didn't bid on the jobs to get them, I bid on them to make a little money. I still got a few though, and will prolly end up getting a few more before the year is up, because the people that won the bids are not coughing up for the equipment they need to handle them. There are so many LCO's around here that simply will not take a new yard because they are already "full". That has got to be the most ******ed thing I have ever heard from a business stand point. Do you think that Crest Toothpaste sold their first 100 tubes of toothpaste, and then started telling people that that was all they were going to produce?......That is kinda extreme, but it gets you to thinking......this is a gold mine for the business minded. A friend of mine that I went to high school with the day we graduated threw a pushmower and an electric weedeater in the trunk of his corolla and moved to Fort Worth. He went door to door knocking and asking if he could mow their yard. He then got a little s10 truck and a couple more weedeaters and pushmowers, and started picking up a couple of Mexicans at the gas station everyday. He now runs 9 mowing rigs and 3 landscaping rigs in the metroplex, and has 42 guys working for him. He said he would take care of his guys, buy them lunch, drinks, and they started fighting over who was going to work for him everymorning. He said these guys never call in sick, they love working for him so much. They will be push mowing and throwing up at the same time...lol. He said if it wasn't for those first 2 Mexicans he picked up he would never be where he is today. Nearly everyone of the 40+ is family or friends of the first 2. He has a million dollar + business, and all he does is mow grass, plant flower beds, delivers cokes and pizzas a couple of times a week, and cares. He said his average mowing rig makes between $1200 to $1500 a day, and his landscape rigs average around 2000 to 4000 a day. Could be a little bragging going on, but I don't doubt it. He owns 12 white 4 door chevy, and 12 trailers that are no more than 3 years old ever, that I know of. I am going to meet with him next week to try and get him on the Bad Boy train...lol. He has like 20 big mowers I know of, and many more walk behinds and little zt's.

captn
03-02-2008, 01:11 AM
Retro,

smart advice as long as the ROI is one year on the supporting equipement. Even if you can only hold on to the job for one year -- if it pays for the new equipment, and still turns a profit, you are golden. The problem is, if the revenue generated can't support the investment, you lose the deal, and the abiltiy to pay for equipment you purchased to run it.

retrodog
03-02-2008, 01:45 AM
thats why i like the one year pay off deal. chances are, unless you do a really bad job, you are going to have that new account for a year. If you spend 9000 on a nice zt and a new trailer, and pay the $150 a week straight to the bank to pay it off off the new yard that you got. Add your normal monthly payment, and pay for it with one more new yard that you got with your new ZT, and bam you have it paid off. I bought a lightning last year for $7495 and paid for it this way. I got a new 5 acre yard, and they pay me $150 a week (little low on price, but they want it mowed every Friday). It takes me exactly 1 1/2 hours to mow bymyself, then I trim up and blow off. If I bring a hand its done in that time completely. I mowed it 36 times last year which paid me $5400 almost enough to pay for the mower entirely. I also picked up a local 10 acre cemeterie after my mower purchase. They pay me $600 a cut, and also want it mowed on Friday. It takes me and 1 hand 6 1/2 hours to completly finish (spot trimming of course). I ended up mowing that account 32 times last year which got me $19200. I got to where I could mow 3 more accounts that same Friday which got me another $5000. So for mowing on Friday just through mowing season I made $29600 last year with my $7495. I didn't put costs in because they are pretty minimal. after the machine write off their was no taxes, and the gas and string costs I took from my smaller yards that more profit margins were made. With that 1 machine if I am sitting on it, I atleast make $1 a minute, or its not worth it. On some of my accounts I am making around $2.30 a minute. You could never accomplish that kind of productivity with a WB. Now to be honest, a 36 WB would save me tons of time on the smaller yards, but if I'm going to have to pay 3 to 6000 for a WB, I would rather have a really beefed up 34 or 36" zt. The Dixon Black Bear is a full blown commercial ztr with a 34" deck with a kawasaki engine and a ground speed around 10mph for $5699!!! That would be my choice over a WB anyday! That little machine is a tank! I made enough $ last year on my BB that I was able to buy a diesel out right, and I even started selling the mowers because I liked them so much. Again that was me actually running 1 lawn mower and my mowing on a Friday through the season grossed me $29600.00 for the year (not including the other days of the week and my landscaping). I live in a podunk area where our average household income is $16000 a year!! (check it...74743 zip on the net...lol). If I can do that you can. I never even mowed a yard before 3 years ago...lol. This is the same zip code that I have moved 21 Bad Boy mowers through this winter...lol. Their cheapest mower is $4495..lol.

retrodog
03-02-2008, 01:54 AM
Sorry to take over your post and talk so much, I just cringe when I hear someone turn down a job due to not have a big mower, or that they think they have to many yards. I have 5 LCO's that give me their leads for new accounts and yards that they can't handle or take. I mow 1 guy's 10 city lots when the city is trying to give him a ticket for them being to grown up. Usually the grass is taller than my mower...lol. I charge him $1000 a cut, and am at each one around 30 minutes...lol. just off him I made an extra $1000 a month last season with absolutely no weed-eating edging or blowing, because noone would even consider mowing his lots like that for him....

captn
03-02-2008, 02:08 AM
I'm fairly new to commercial mowing, but my business partner has been in the business for a while, yet he is afraid of investing into the business. Most people try to take the risk out of staring a business by going small, and end up going out of business for the same reason.

I'm pushing expansion slowly on him by purchasing used equipment, and a new ZTR mower for myself (07 52" Fastrak) that will also be used for the business if needed.

topsites
03-02-2008, 03:30 AM
All I'm saying is this:

- DO accept lots UP to an acre, maybe a little beyond, up to two, fine.
But once you have those, do them a few times, see how it suits you.
Just don't take on no dang 12 acre momma until you've done a few 1-2 acre lots.
Now if after you've done a certain number of those you decide it ain't hardly warming up your engine why then by all means take on bigger, if that's what you think you want, or if you think it would be no problem.

Besides in my area most lots are 1/4 acre and thereabouts, but that does vary.

lifetree
03-02-2008, 04:20 AM
its too big when you bid on it and get smoked by someone who can do the job with a WAM.

What's a WAM ??

lifetree
03-02-2008, 04:23 AM
... i have been declining plenty lately. Generally, the grass is well over a ft high, with a for sale sign that says short sale on it. The customer usually wants to work out some kind of billing arrangement too.

I've seen this type of situation and learned the hard way ... stay away from them !!

lifetree
03-02-2008, 04:26 AM
i never turn down lawns, just charge accordingly. i make sure if they do want me to do it, then it is well worth my time, but it is usually them turning down the price when there grass is a foot tall

Great if this works for you, however, at some point it becomes counter productive to keep making so many quotes with no new business generated to pay for all the traveling to various customer locations. I say if you can ferret out the losers over the phone then you should do that and not waste your time, otherwise.

lifetree
03-02-2008, 04:27 AM
... I have been turning down customers left and right here lately. not so much due to size more of JUNK lawns. you have to ask yourself the question. is it really worth it to me ... ?

Absolutely !!

lifetree
03-02-2008, 04:30 AM
... As was said, a 60" Ztr is better cut out for much past an acre, then beyond that you'd want even bigger.

My 50" ZTR does very nicely on 2 acre properties !!

lifetree
03-02-2008, 04:37 AM
... What I also found is sitting down on a Z is not more comfortable than riding a velke. It looks like it would be, but with all the bumps and ruts and branches in the face it's actually about the same level of comfort, as in, it's still work. ... The Z is nice, but for myself it's as much a status symbol than a lawn mower, oh and I'm still paying for it the dang thing cost more than any car I've ever owned. ...

Nice information topsites, however, you should check out the seats on Dixon ZTR's ... they are the most comfortable I've found on a commercial ZTR !! Oh, by the way, that's an expensive status symbol !! :cool2: :cool2:

lifetree
03-02-2008, 04:45 AM
... There are so many LCO's around here that simply will not take a new yard because they are already "full". That has got to be the most ******ed thing I have ever heard from a business stand point. ...

Don't be so quick to judge these LCO's ... making a million dollars is not necessarily the most important thing in life !! Maybe they are where they want to be in life, while you still have some extra energy.

lifetree
03-02-2008, 04:50 AM
... Now to be honest, a 36 WB would save me tons of time on the smaller yards, but if I'm going to have to pay 3 to 6000 for a WB, I would rather have a really beefed up 34 or 36" zt. The Dixon Black Bear is a full blown commercial ztr with a 34" deck with a kawasaki engine and a ground speed around 10mph for $5699 !!! ...

I have to agree with this ... the Dixon Black Bear ZTR is a hell of a nice machine !!

topsites
03-02-2008, 05:15 AM
What's a WAM ??

Wide Area Mower.

Not really sure on deck size but I think at least 72" but probably more like 90" and I do know they go all the way to 112" and maybe even past that, I mean it's a unit with articulating decks and stuff... Usually used for golf courses, I think.

Pics at bottom (A JD 1600)

Don't be so quick to judge these LCO's ... making a million dollars is not necessarily the most important thing in life !! Maybe they are where they want to be in life, while you still have some extra energy.

I LOL'd.

Nice information topsites, however, you should check out the seats on Dixon ZTR's ... they are the most comfortable I've found on a commercial ZTR !! Oh, by the way, that's an expensive status symbol !! :cool2: :cool2:

8500, that's what they go for.
Now I buy my cars used, but for that kind of money I can get an exotic car!
A nice one at that, not quite a Ferrari and even the rest I have to look long and hard to find one within 500 miles...

But an Alfa Romeo for sure, and for 9g a beautiful red Bmw 850 just popped up.
The front end looks 'tweaked' but more than a few 850's share this, not sure why.
A bit weak 0-60 in 7 seconds but 12 cylinders and 155mph.
The 850 is a rare car, it's been compared to the likes of the Aston Martin.

Also added pictures.

brucec32
03-03-2008, 02:20 AM
Many good points. I also use a 48" ztr as a good compromise between small/large props, but I pass now on anything much more than an acre. I find that per-hour of my time people are just not going to pay as much on those. A bigger mower might help make a particular lawn profitable, but the cost of it outweighs the minimal time savings on a few props.

I had the typical Ztr/smaller midsize wb/21 setup but gradually almost phased out the 32/36" wb size. Anything the 48" or 44" ztrs and a 21" won't handle I can just pass on.

I also have found that going to just one big mower and a tiny 21" means I can use a more fuel efficient and easier to maneuver truck and a smaller trailer.

Ramairfreak98ss
03-04-2008, 09:42 AM
well like topsites said.. considering many of you speaking about walkbehinds are using velkes and such... I was referencing walk behinds and actually WALKING behind them 100% of time time like i do lol. If i have to stand on something or ride, im on the ZTR.

Ive used my 61" for properties in developments that took 4 minutes to cut or shorter lol, and ive used teh 48" ztr on four 2 acre properties in a row, that takes a while.


I agree though, 48" at 10mph machines is good for most 1.5 arcres and under, 61" is good for most props .5 acres and larger

72" is good for all 1.5+ since i have a lot that are that size even in developments 1.5-2acre plots, ill be glad to use the new 72" vs the 61".

Ramairfreak98ss
03-04-2008, 09:50 AM
My plan of attack was and still remains residential accounts nothing, beats mowing 20 lawns @$20= $400 a day ...Let spring come soon..payup

you cut lawns for $20? how big are they? In jersey at least, most places wont even stop at a site unless its $28~+. I start everything at $30 unless its a tiny lawn right next to one of my others in a development, then ill quote them out $28

Ramairfreak98ss
03-04-2008, 09:58 AM
My 50" ZTR does very nicely on 2 acre properties !!

lol, yeah you think that until you do the same prop on a 60-72" deck machine going faster, then the 48-50 feels like its taking all day again :)

WAM=Wide area mower, anything over 72" basically, ussually has fold down side mowers like the JD 1600 turbo or something, get ready to spend 25-40g on a mower though