View Full Version : When is it time to buy a ZTR?

11-08-2002, 03:53 PM
I have spoken with a few LCO's in my area most of them have quite a few jobs and crews working for them so in my eyes as a startup they have a fair sized business. As I was talking to them the conversations switched to larger mowers. When I mentioned something about ZTR's they looked at me as if I had 10 heads. They said that they cost to much and aren't worth the investment. So I quickly asked what they use instead they all rattled off Stieners and John Deere. They all appeared to be older guys so maybe they were set in their ways. The one thing that they kept saying is for the cost of the ZTR they could buy 2 walk behinds and hire another crew.

Now after going through this board I have seen that many of you run ZTR's. So here is my question at what point in your business (I am a solo operator now and plan on being one far at least 2 more years) would you think it would be a good idea to upgrade form a walk behinds to a ZTR?


11-08-2002, 04:04 PM
The ZTR will undoubtedly decrease teh time it takes you to do your jobs. Yes,in most cases they are relatively expensive, but the time you save is completely worth it. When I started it was just regular lawn tractors and push mowers, then acouple of additions to properties came, money increased to over 1500 a week, and we decided that it was time to purchase our first ZTR. It has saved a ton of time, and really increased our productivity. It depends on how busy you are now? Money income from your business? You have to also consider the space of the properties you wil be cutting. 1/4 acre customers don't always like having a 1/2 ton machine in there small yards, they think its over kill. I use mine in large properties, I have no complaints, but next year I am starting on the residential side as well, and have to invest in a walk behind too. :blob2:

11-08-2002, 04:33 PM
I agree with rross

Maybe you could buy two walk behind but not enough to pay another crew, I think it's the other way around, for the money that you pay one guy you can buy 2 ztr, or maybe 3.

If you can afford one now buy it because that would be the best investment in this kind of business, but you have to have a walk behind too, probably star wit a walk behind and then buy a ztr.

bubble boy
11-08-2002, 04:43 PM
from their point of view, buying a WB may be ok as they aren't the ones sweating behind it. hire someone, let him do the walking and pocket the the diff in MSRP.

but even that theory is weak. it's all about productivity. Z cut more grass. if you can fit it use it.

if i were solo i would be on a Z. make your days easier. get more done without hiring. looks like you have an opportunity to be a trailblazer in your market, if your lawns permit.

Richard Martin
11-08-2002, 05:13 PM
I am a solo now. I can't tell you when to buy a ZTR but I can tell you what happened when I bought mine.

Before the ZTR I was working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week with a helper on Fridays.

After I bought the ZTR I am working 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, got rid of the helper and my revenues have increased 30%.

Most of my lawns are 1/4 to 1/2 acre with a few 1 and 2 acre jobs thrown in.

LB Landscaping
11-08-2002, 05:18 PM
Ditto to what Richard Martin said. I am a small one man operation with 40 lawns. I have 5 thart are pretty big , the rest are any where from a quarter acre to a full acre. I bought a ZTR half way through the season and it was the best theing I have done. Not only am I a lot more productive but I'm not as physically tired when I get home.

11-08-2002, 09:40 PM
I have a ZTR but mine is a walk behind. You should probably by a rider when you can justify the expense and it will earn its keep. If it can't earn its keep than its nothing more than a waste of hard earned money. Personally I like the excersize.

11-08-2002, 10:14 PM
Once again, I'm the oddball. I had a Z and a w/b, now I have two w/b's. The Z was nice, don't get me wrong, but for MY paticular situation I find I'm better off the way I am now. I never realized how much I depended on my w/b until I bought a Z. When my w/b had to go into the shop for coils I had to borrow a w/b because I had alot of areas where I couldn't use a Z or didn't feel comfortable using it. Now with two w/b's if one goes down, no problem. Both are setup to run my Exmark sitdown steerable sulky. I am in no way saying that a Z is a waste of money but for MY paticular situation two w/b's are just more productive. I will be very supprised if I don't catch flack for my post.

11-08-2002, 11:54 PM
Buy the blet drive you don't need anymore than that.

Heck buy a Craftsmen, they all cut grass.

Albemarle Lawn
11-09-2002, 12:41 AM
It will be more reliable than any employee. Forget what those old farts are saying about buying two walk behinds and hiring help. Jibberish.

11-09-2002, 02:56 AM
When you can pay for it.
No doubt, it will be your best investment. But if your only cutting $10,000 worth of grass, would a 7- $8,000 peice of equip. be worth it?

Just guessing on those #'S. But if you can afford it, Now.

Better yet, in the spring so your not sitting on 4-5 months of payments and a warrinty running out.

11-09-2002, 11:47 AM
I agree with Phishook. I bought a 60" ZTR and put (2) 42" tractors and a push mower to bed and I can still finish my work sooner. Not only do I save time on the turns, but I can travel faster on the straight-a-way. Also remember that $8000 is a big tax write-off. And if you finance it your payments will be less than $250/month. A helper will cost you more than that. Buy in the spring like he said.

11-09-2002, 12:03 PM
If you can afford the payments in the off season, now would be a good time. Wait until the last day of the month and see what kind of deal you can get. Make some obsurd offer and see what happens. Everyone in sales has quotas right now they are not being met. Thats in your favor. As far as warranty they deffered it start date until the spring. Get the Z it will be nice.

11-09-2002, 12:40 PM
Hey guys thanks for the info and support. I will have to keep an eye out for a ZTR. I have checked local dealers and teh only place that I have seen a ZTR is at a Cub Cadet Dealer, So I guess I am going to have to make a road trip if I want to find that Dixie Chopper or that Exmark!

Anyone know of any dealers in my area?


11-09-2002, 07:49 PM
When you can pay cash for it. If you can, go tomarrow and buy one.

11-09-2002, 07:55 PM
i got 6 months same as cash

11-10-2002, 07:29 AM
well from a guy whos been full time less than a year I find the following:
1.the Z is wonderful...especially when its 95 degrees
2. the speed of cutting is tremendous
3. you can do leaf removal better/faster..gives you another service to sell
4. a Z does not work well on properties with lots of beds and turns...the patterns look like crap regardless of how you mow
5. very heavy and must be careful on residentials after rain
5. they DO NOT like slopes

and heres what you dont want to hear...you need both mowers ...to be honest if I had to do over I would have started with the w/b and then buy the Z...I did it the other way around...but...if you have more wide open proporties then the Z is your money maker...I realize we cant predict what our future properties will look like...good luck