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View Full Version : Walk Behinds and Employees?


roberthathaway7
01-13-2013, 06:57 PM
This year, weather pending, me and my business partner really want to add a legitimate employee. I've never used a walk-behind mower or even seen one running really. I was wondering, as far as adding an un-experienced employee, would it benefit to add a walk-behind mower to my line-up? Are they easier to learn that a zero turn? Better on the liability side of things? Safer? Easier/harder to screw a lawn up (scalping, running over non-mowable objects, etc)?

I figured one of the best attributes is that if we found someone reliable enough, we could send them out in a compact truck with ramps and no trailer to do smaller yards: less overhead and no worrying about their "trailer" skills.

Any thoughts?

Mikegyver
01-13-2013, 11:30 PM
The first thing I put guys on is a Z-turn. When you let go of the walkbehind controls that thing keeps going unless you let off the safety bar and even then that's too late....it will keep going for a few feet. All they have to do to return to neutral on a Z is bring the controls back.
Maybe I'm wrong but I've seen too much stuff messed up and too many accidents or almost accidents out of both. But seems like its easier to have issues with a walkbehind.
The best one I have done so far was jam my hand between a fence and the handles on my turf tracer. I let go and it shot across the strip of grass I was mowing. The machine stopped about 12-15' later because I let go of the safety lever.
As far as cut quality, you can mess up a yard with either machine if not used properly.

jrs.landscaping
01-14-2013, 08:27 AM
The only equipment I'd put an inexperienced guy on was a trimmer until he proved he could run one. Then he could learn to run a Z around the shop and on easier jobs.

LandFakers
01-14-2013, 09:01 AM
You would be giving somebody a lot of responsibility, for somebody who hasn't worked with you for the past season and hasn't really proved to you how well they can mow and keep your good name intact

lawnkingforever
01-14-2013, 12:40 PM
Unloading a wb from a pick up bed multiple times all day with ramps would be a pita. I would take a chance and let him use a trailer than worry about my wb crashing onto the concrete
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HPI_Savage25
01-14-2013, 12:46 PM
Loading a WB with ramps is a pain and not the safest thing to do. I know from experience. I load a Encore 36" WB into the bed of my truck at times to save on gas for one particular job and its not fun. I always fear of the ramps sliding out or just something happening to cause injury and damage. Those mowers aren't light by any means...I'd rather them have a small trailer than them loadin up in the bed of a truck. Just my thoughts though.
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smitty's lawncare
01-14-2013, 02:22 PM
i agree with jrs.landscaping. someone with little experience should be the trimmer/blower guy. i feel like one of the most fundamental parts of lawn care is being able to operate all equipment in a safe, efficient manor. walk behinds are one of the most fundamental part of the business. i only use walk behinds (scag) in my business, so i might seem quite partial.

sealcutter
01-14-2013, 03:12 PM
Your partner is he a working partner? If so let him go off on his own while you train so said employee. You should also use a WB so you understand what you are up against, these machine are no joke. One of my employee's (10 plus years) took a spill this past season down a steep bank right in front of me.

roberthathaway7
01-15-2013, 12:51 AM
The only equipment I'd put an inexperienced guy on was a trimmer until he proved he could run one. Then he could learn to run a Z around the shop and on easier jobs.

You would be giving somebody a lot of responsibility, for somebody who hasn't worked with you for the past season and hasn't really proved to you how well they can mow and keep your good name intact



Unloading a wb from a pick up bed multiple times all day with ramps would be a pita. I would take a chance and let him use a trailer than worry about my wb crashing onto the concrete
Posted via Mobile Device

i agree with jrs.landscaping. someone with little experience should be the trimmer/blower guy. i feel like one of the most fundamental parts of lawn care is being able to operate all equipment in a safe, efficient manor. walk behinds are one of the most fundamental part of the business. i only use walk behinds (scag) in my business, so i might seem quite partial.

Thanks guys! I'm sorry, I definitely miscommunicated there, I wasn't planning on throwing all of this together this spring. My plan was exactly as you all suggest, to hire someone for weedeating and blowing this year, maybe have them on some wide open spaces or around the shop toward the end of the season, then graduate them to Z operator next year, then the possible independent thing the 3rd year if they show that they're capable. It almost gives me axiety attacks already just thinking of someone on a trimmer, I'm so anal about stuff. And yeah I would definitely get experience on the walk-behind first, just trying to get a preview here. What do you all think about Ferris walk behinds? That's the only WB that's sold local.

roberthathaway7
01-15-2013, 12:54 AM
Yeah, wow I just read my initial post and I don't know how I ended up typing it that way. Definitely didn't plan on putting a totally unexperienced guy right on a piece of equipment that I've never ran, even though that's pretty much what I said, haha

Darryl G
01-15-2013, 01:01 AM
Can't believe you've never used or seen someone use a walk behind mower...what planet are you from?

lawnboy dan
01-15-2013, 08:51 AM
toro t bar is easy to learn on and the best wb $ can buy

orangemower
01-15-2013, 09:45 AM
How can you hire someone to do a job for your company when you don't know how to do it yourself? How will you train someone to use it if you can't?

jsslawncare
01-15-2013, 10:11 AM
Is there really enough money coming in for this plan? truck, mower, hand helds and an employee? +insurance for all.

jsslawncare
01-15-2013, 10:14 AM
Can't believe you've never used or seen someone use a walk behind mower...what planet are you from?

A funny thought I had was the next post- "How do you turn with ripping the grass up?"

orangemower
01-15-2013, 10:30 AM
A funny thought I had was the next post- "How do you turn without ripping the grass up?"

Or, should I use a file to sharpen my mower blades? Or, how do you bid on a 1 acre yard? It's a never ending list. :hammerhead:

The words "common sense" come to mind.

roberthathaway7
01-15-2013, 11:02 PM
Can't believe you've never used or seen someone use a walk behind mower...what planet are you from?

haha, yeah I hear ya. I assumed I would get that sort of reaction, even if someone didn't say it out loud. Here's the deal... you come to my little 9,000 person town (which is the biggest town in a 5 county area), find more than 2 WB's, and I'll get out of the game. It's just a demographical thing. Low SES around here, so it's either a $100 push mower or a $2000 craftsman for residential folks, or a few of us commercial guys who all use zero turns. There are hardly any fenced/gates yards here compared to what you probably mow, so the Z goes everywhere I need, and I just throw on a regular old push mower on for the three yards out of 50 that have with 5 min worth of push mowing inside a dog fence. If anyone offered WB's around here, some commercial guys would probably use them for smaller yards. Hence why I'm looking into it since we're getting a new Ferris dealer. Of course right now I'm trying to glean info on the concept/feasibility of even having one. I honestly don't see any advantage for my business, unless my idea of sending a guy out with one would be a go, but it's not looking good and I appreciate the info

How can you hire someone to do a job for your company when you don't know how to do it yourself? How will you train someone to use it if you can't?

Thoroughly read previous posts

Is there really enough money coming in for this plan? truck, mower, hand helds and an employee? +insurance for all.

As far as cashflow/profitablility goes, here's how I'm looking at it... or let me ask you this way.. Do you think that if I was just getting into the biz, I myself bought a walk-behind, small dependable truck (3-4k around here,), hand helds and insured myself properly, and magically had 20-30 clients to begin with, that I could have positive cashflow off the bat and be profitable within 2 years? I think it's pretty possible. Now put an employee in my shoes, best case scenerio that I have trained and trust them as I would myself, could I still make money? Yeah, it's pretty possible. There would be a lot more number crunching looking at total employment costs like payroll taxes and such, but it could happen. Then later he could get a trainee and they would be a whole new crew. How else do businesses grow?

BTW a big factor in this is that I do/turn away tons of landscaping which would fill the gaps between setting a rig up with 20-30 of my yards until more lawns come along. Also- I have never really advertised, and am turning people down for lawns all the time. In the spring I usually just cut a few that are a pain, and take on a few new buttery lawns. So I would like to expand because it seems like it would be no problem, just trying to figure out the best way to go about it. Thank you for the comments and questions though, keeps me exercising the idea

Or, should I use a file to sharpen my mower blades? Or, how do you bid on a 1 acre yard? It's a never ending list. :hammerhead:

The words "common sense" come to mind.

Neh. I just do a walk around and figure how long it will take me, and make sure I am making enough $ based on time/overhead. Sharpening: I made my own setup with an adjustable drop-through deck to keep my angle, and an 8" Oregon "Red" wheel, with a pedal. I DO, however, use a file to knock the bur off of my blades after I'm done grinding. Not because it makes a difference, but because it takes me 20 seconds, and it just feels good :). Actually I think that it helps to get a clean/non-ripping cut on the first lawn or 2 they hit. I need to look into a better balancer though... I just have one of those little plastic cone jobs. Luckily my dog chewed it up this winter so that will have me shopping at least.

Darryl G
01-15-2013, 11:05 PM
And what do you do behind the push mower, walk? LOL. I get what you mean though.

roberthathaway7
01-15-2013, 11:10 PM
And what do you do behind the push mower, walk? LOL. I get what you mean though.

Touche! Guess I'm out...lol.