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lawnchopper
12-25-2004, 11:08 AM
my co only keeps just enough equipment to do the work for the week. That is 2 mower going 5 full days a week balls to the walls and no back up mower at the shop. My boss banks on the fact that in a event of a break down the dealer will bend over backwards and get ours up and going or have a demo to use. So far we've been lucky cause the dealers have been good but i wouldnt count on it every time. The owner belives that a mower that has value sitting at the shop not producing is depreciating asset I see his point but I dont know of any company that doesnt have a back up of some kind.
My guess is that you guys problably have backups???

K.Carothers
12-25-2004, 11:13 AM
I have a small operation compared to most on this site and I do have a back up. I bought it used(48"hydro) and take it out at least once a week to keep it moving. Its like anything else in this business, time is money and I don't make any money on down time-learned the hard way with belts for the mowers.

K c m
12-25-2004, 11:34 AM
If you keep up with it you don't really need a backup. :waving:

rodfather
12-25-2004, 12:17 PM
Well I can tell you after 11 years of this full time, it's REAL nice to have backup equipment. Tell ya why...

One, as owner of the business, I can sleep a helluva lot better at night.
Two, I can't "catch up" lost mowing revenue in January.
And three, I can't rely on my dealer dropping everything everytime I have a breakdown so I'm up and running. That isn't the real world. You have a window of opportunity each week to make your numbers and once that is gone, oh well...

I will agree you can have too much equipment. The trick though is knowing what the right amount is for your operation...only you can answer that.

LawnScapers of Dayton
12-25-2004, 12:23 PM
I have a 36" Toro that I only use about 10-15% of the time. I consider that my backup ....if that were to breakdown...I have to go to the 21".....

Luckly....I have never had a failure that completely stopped me. I threw a drive tire on my 61" Stander this season...... That only cost me about 2 hours.

Derek

Albemarle Lawn
12-25-2004, 12:27 PM
Double, redundant backup is a must.

We have backup trucks, trailer, mowers, trimmers, women, blowers, did I just say women blowers?

MTR
12-25-2004, 12:43 PM
my co only keeps just enough equipment to do the work for the week. That is 2 mower going 5 full days a week balls to the walls and no back up mower at the shop. My boss banks on the fact that in a event of a break down the dealer will bend over backwards and get ours up and going or have a demo to use. So far we've been lucky cause the dealers have been good but i wouldnt count on it every time. The owner belives that a mower that has value sitting at the shop not producing is depreciating asset I see his point but I dont know of any company that doesnt have a back up of some kind.
My guess is that you guys problably have backups???

You must have at least 2 mowers, like 52-36, 60-48 per one crew, every set-up must have 2 relative mowers. You will be toasted if your 52"Z or 52" WB went down like belts snapped or something...the 36 or 48 can finish the job. In Florida, during season like March till October, most of dealers are "flooded" with repairs, and the warranty list takes priority, most of time it takes like a week or two, or 3 weeks like this year 4 Hurricane hit Florida, everyone has problems, even just as small as belt swap. What you gonna do during those weeks if you don't have a backup? probably out of biz if 40 of your accounts call and question? Renting equipment? Dealer don't have enough loaners for all of customers...tell me.

LwnmwrMan22
12-25-2004, 12:51 PM
Double, redundant backup is a must.

We have backup trucks, trailer, mowers, trimmers, women, blowers, did I just say women blowers?


I agree. I'm my own show, but have a 2002 Dodge Ram 2500 diesel as my backup to a 2003 Dodge Ram 2500 Diesel.

I've got a 24' V-Nose enclosed trailer, backed up by 26' flatbed trailer.

I've got a Kubota ZD-28 60" deck backed up by a Ferris IS4000 60" deck.

I've got a PermaGreen Ultra backed up by a 200 gallon Lesco tank sprayer.

As you can guess, my profit margins probably as good as some people, but I've never got a time where I'm down, I have no down time due to equipment failure.

Jason Rose
12-25-2004, 01:19 PM
I'm just solo, but I have back-ups too. Matter of fact, the only peice of equipment I don't have a back-up for is ME!
The best idea iv'e found for back-up equipment is one that is the same model you are currently using. That way you can rob parts from one to the other if need be. I have 2 50" commercial Dixons, both previously had catcher/blower on them but i converted my older machine into a mulcher. Still the same machine but now if my one with the catcher goes down I have to either remove the mulch kit and re-install the catcher on the other one (horrible job being a fully baffled bolted on deal) or I can rob parts and get going again till later in the day when I can order or pick-up parts. My 21" is back-up for my 33" but there is no way that either the 33" or 21" could back-up my ztrs. Not enough hours in the day to walk all my lawns. I think everyone should have some kind of back-up, it's just hard to see a 6 or 8 thousand dollar ztr sitting in the shop collecting dust waiting for an emergency...

Metro Lawn
12-25-2004, 01:33 PM
If you keep up with it you don't really need a backup. :waving:


I can see that no thought was put into this comment. The best maintenance program in the world can't stop every problem. There are many factors that don't have anything to do with basic maintenance. Electronics go bad without warning, normal wear items, and the never ending list of things that are caused by outside forces. Take a look at your local dealer. Over 50% of the machines there for repair are close to new. If you don't have a back up, you are a fool.

JPLAWNSERVICE
12-25-2004, 07:16 PM
If you keep up with it you don't really need a backup. :waving:

Even with the best preventive maintenence schedule, if you are in the business long enough you will have equipment failures. The bad thing is that equipment never seems to tear up while you are at home or not needing it. Just like metro said, go by the local dealer and see what they are working on, if he does much business with lco's, then it is usually fairly new equipment.

Kelly's Landscaping
12-25-2004, 07:29 PM
I want back up equipment so bad its not funny but to date I have run very lean thing is a back up ZTR is quite expencive for something that sits around. But as I get larger I will start to get back ups for most of my larger items its a must.

Precision
12-25-2004, 07:41 PM
As far as a back up ZTR goes. That is nice but not needed. Especially a new one. If you use a 50-60" ZTR then a used 48-60" WB is fine as a back up. Secondly, if you have two pieces of equipment, use them in alternating weeks. That way you prolong the life of the new one and keep the back up running so it will actually work when you need it.

I am lucky or more likely foolish. I have a 60" ZTR and back up 48" ZTR a 36" WB and 2 back up 36" WB.

As a solo operator this is way too much, but on many occasions I have had to use a back up WB due to a lost tire, or busted steering linkage, or other thing that is minor to fix over the weekend but hell in midday.

My 60" also went down with a hydraulic problem (with only 55 hrs on it) 2 days in the shop to fix and that was with the rep overnighting the part. Happened on Wed. With the back up 48 I was out 2 hours to drop of the broken and back to the shop for the back up. And I spent a few extra hours cutting, but without back up I wouldn't have ever caught up.

TClawn
12-25-2004, 08:04 PM
this is how you should think about backups, if you have 3, you have 2, if you have 2, you have 1, if you have 1, you have NONE.

YardPro
12-25-2004, 08:41 PM
you don't need a new mower for a backup.
we have an old toro pro line ( about 10 years old) as our backup.
we also have an old (12 year old) exmark viking fixed deck side discharge ( all other mowers are mulchers) as a worst case scenerio backup.

Itsgottobegreen
12-25-2004, 09:52 PM
I'm just solo, but I have back-ups too. Matter of fact, the only piece of equipment I don't have a back-up for is ME! .
So true, so true. My back up is one of my employees


The best idea iv'e found for back-up equipment is one that is the same model you are currently using. That way you can rob parts from one to the other if need be. .
exactly why I buy the same machine again and again. More than once I have put one machine out of commission to put another back in service. Even when I go out mowing solo, (2 of the 3 mowing day per week) I take two stander. Break something steal it off the other.

EVERYONE NEEDS A BACK UP. PERIOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mycannon
12-25-2004, 10:19 PM
I have a 60 ztr, 44ztr, 32wb, and a 21 If I loose either one of My Mowers I feel helpless but we survive till I can fix it. I just try to reroute if I loose a certain Mower that I need for those lawns

LLandscaping
12-25-2004, 11:05 PM
We use 2 Scag Tiger Cub 48s but it one breaks down we can get by with one, but the dealer lets us borrow a mower if one goes down. We have two Toro Proline mowers and will probably add another next year because one is about 5 seasons old. We also have 3 trimmers, 2 blowers and two trailers main 7X16 backup is 5X10. We only run one crew so it something breaks we can still work it might just take a little longer.

SproulsLawnCare
12-25-2004, 11:22 PM
Iím just getting started and donít have the ability to purchase backup equipment yet. You can bet I will at the very first opportunity that I get though. I am using John Deere mowers and know full well that my dealer is going to service the $250K combines for farmers before they work on my equipment! My only saving grace is the warranty. But until I get backup equipment, I know that I will be down until itís fixed.

LwnmwrMan22
12-26-2004, 12:26 AM
Obviously it depends on the accounts that you're mowing as well.

I do all commercial accounts, from 1/2 acre to 40 acres. I'm not going to be carrying around a 36" wb as my backup. If you're doing mostly residential, or gas station / strip mall locations, then yes, you can get by with a smaller unit as backup.

The reason that I run new equipment, is because I want the depreciation against my tax rate at the end of the year, as well as I want something that I know is going to run as soon as I pull it off the trailer.

I trade in my units every other year, for a difference of $4-5,000. So each year I'm purchasing a new $9-11,000 mower for @ $5,000.

Now I realize that most people look at that as a waste, especially if you're making $50,000 or less, but my mowers make me $80,000 / year +, and I look at is as though a $5,000 investment to keep up on the difference value is well worth it.

Granted, yes, I could keep a mower for 4 years, especially a backup, but then it's going to cost me close to $10,000 for a new mower, not to mention the other mower that I have to buy.

It's a business philosophy that one has to start with I guess. I've got buddies that run older equipment, I know they beat on it as well, and they're always broke down, spending more money than they make with it, always broke.

I don't want to be that way. I want to get up in the morning, hop in the truck, drive to the yard or two for the day, and drive home. Grease / maintain on a Sunday morning / rainy day, and do it all again. I don't want to be up until 12 midnight doing maintenance / belt replacement, or be doing it when I could be mowing.

I know it's somewhat selfish, I know it's half a dozen of one / six of the other. If I didn't have new equipment for backups, I wouldn't have to work as much. But then I'd be trying to get stuff running / replacing belts / etc.

I look at it, you can run mowers, pretty much about 1500 hours before you have to do ANYTHING at all with them. I run synthetic oil, and change the oil 3 times / year.

When I trade my mowers in, they've got 1300 - 1500. My dealer's happy because he can sell them to a homeowner for $5-7,000 and I'm happy because I'm paying less than 1/2 for a new mower.

mdmowerman
12-26-2004, 11:47 AM
i know a lot of companies that buy new mowers every other year, it sounds expensive but when u think about how much some of the companies that do this much mowing, its not quite as bad.
considering how much these mowers get beat up, by the 3rd year they arent worth much, even though they dont have more than 1000 hrs on 'em.

if i was an employee for company that didnt have back-up mowers, and one went down, id just do what i could w.o it, and not worry. its not your problem. atleast you show some concern about the issue, as long as youve said something to mr boss man and he dosent seem to care, well you did your part. seems only on this site i hear of employees that actually look out for the future of companies, but almost every 'real world' employee i know dosent do squat extra for their company....

hockeygoalie
12-26-2004, 12:11 PM
Iam mostly a solo operator. I have a buddy that I have trained so when I get behind or take on more than I can chew, he runs my back up. I have an extra 48" walk behind that comes in real handy for break-downs or "catch-ups". If you can afford one, I would recommend having one. Like any other part of the business, its a cost vs. benefit item.

Bray
12-26-2004, 02:15 PM
I didn't have a backup till this year. I bought a mower to use at my house so I didn't have to unload anything. I bought another used 36" snapper WB so if I do have a mower go down I can use it. It gets used once a week. Altho I have been fortunate that this has never happened to me I couldn't get the thought out of my head.

65hoss
12-27-2004, 12:02 AM
You better have a backup plan. Whether its equipment or something else. I have both. I have a backup to everything. Mowers, trucks, trailers, trimmers, blowers, aerators, whatever. Then my backup plan is several friends in the biz that I can call anytime I need them.

HOOLIE
12-27-2004, 12:22 AM
If you don't have a back-up, at least have the cash on hand to buy one should the need arise. Still, you might not be able to get the machine you want that same day. My dealer gets its shipments every Wednesday, so if you have a breakdown on Thursday, it could be 6 days until your mower comes in. Just something to keep in mind. At least have a back-up PLAN...

Fantasy Lawns
12-27-2004, 01:04 AM
My mowers averge +650 per year in hours (4) of em ..... n yes they go in fore "regular maintanence" ...... but without a "back up" I'd HAVE NO "back-up" sooooo.... yes I have a back up Walker ..... Plus the "back-up" allows me to get the full time cutter into "regular maintanence'

As a Solo ...n I remember WHEN ... I was much like most .....n hoped when a 'Problem" came up I was back out n cutting with in 24 hrs

brucec32
12-29-2004, 03:46 AM
There is a pretty big void when it comes to basic business knowledge in our industry. A guy with a fleet of mowers can rotate a spare in and have minimal cost relative to his revenues. Basically the cost of the interest on his investment is his only cost, since using the "spare" means it saves depreciation on other units. On a $7,000 mower that's a few hundred a year. Certainly better than the disruption caused when a crew suddenly is short a mower, frantic trips to the dealer for a loaner, etc. It probably costs more in the big picture NOT to have a backup mower. A solo op can always pick up a used model and still keep costs very low.

ztoro
12-29-2004, 09:10 AM
I now how a backup..... Depending on how much work you have some people have the time to be without a mower a day or two... I couldnt think of anything more un professional than having your mower crap out in the middle of a 750K home's front yard..... Then leaving it half mowed for a few days while you get your mower fixed..... I would expect to be fired if I did that..

lawnchopper
12-29-2004, 11:40 AM
I think this is typical of how a owner op & employee see things vs a manager or someone who makes decisons behind the desk. The employes and owner ops see it as if a mower goes down it affects them it affects the mngr and owners in the pocketbook alittle. The bos says if something happens "well just have to make do" Im like....."whats the we shyte" its the employee that has to cancel his night plans or screw up his saturday because not haveing something to grab back at the shop. The GM goes home at the same time every day.
our surfer is worth about $3200 on trade the owner see's that as 3200 sitting around, depreciating and not making $$$. I do see the point. Perhaps invest in a $1000 "52 wb would be acceptable.
We have a exmark dealer in our backyard and they have a good policy on giving you loaners or getting you back up and running so thats is good. The only thing were not the only ones that have exmarks.

PMLAWN
12-29-2004, 11:51 AM
Depending on the mower it can be bringing in between 50-75K per year. If you mower stops the money stops coming in but the money still goes out. The man pushing that mower is still on payroll, If the tool is broke he can not do the job. One mower can be a back-up to many, and if it is not used too often than it will last forever. Fixing equipment is part of this job and has been figured as part of the overhead. The one thing that really gets me is an employee standing still.
The other thing to remember about your dealer is that he is the next guys dealer too and he may have 10 mowers in the shop all of which need to be fixed for LOC's. You may get pushed ahead of homeowners but not other LOC's.

PMLAWN
12-29-2004, 12:02 PM
Lawnchopper- do you get payed overtime? As an owner I do not want to ever have guys stop working and I do not want to pay any overtime. If the work stops in the middle of the day and the crew works late to catch up than I loss a ton of money as I already paided for the time once and now I have to pay again and it is overtime too. To be honest most of my guys could care less as they don't do anything after work anyway and they will take as much $ as possable. If you want your nights and weekends tell your boss how much it is really costing him. He may change.

Precision
12-30-2004, 09:56 AM
PMLAWNS,

scrub owners are like slum landlords. They are penny smart and dollar foolish. It is all about where they see the money going.

I worked for a guy for six months before I started my own. He would have us burn down weeds in Large beds with the weedeater instead of spraying with round up. His rational was that round up is expensive. Sure, it is, but Paying a guy to spend an hour weed eating or 10 minutes to spray a gallon of round up. He could never see the savings in the spraying. Despite the fact that when we burned it down we had to do it again next week.

When a belt would go on a belt drive walk behind, he would buy one replacement. Then 2-4 weeks later the other belt would go and we would be down again. And yes,again he would buy one belt.

Our "back up" mower was a 52" scag ZTR. This was a back up for 2 52" JD standers, and 2 52" toro WB. In theory this was great. In fact, it had no battery, 2 tires were dry rotted out and he didn't have proper blades for it. Why even have the thing.

Kinda long winded, but some people just don't get it and any employee pointing that out to them (repeatedly) will just get themselves in trouble.

Tn Lawn Man
12-30-2004, 10:11 AM
Funny thing is the only thing I do not have a back up for is my 22" self prop mower. LOL But I don't use it nearly as much as the others. I could use another one anyway...so I guess if it goes out I will buy another...much cheaper than the big ones.

lawnchopper
12-30-2004, 11:02 AM
"Lawnchopper- do you get payed overtime?".

Yes, I get OT only after 48 hrs. I dont mind working longer on some occations the fact is that we have such a small crew and taking on big commercial accounts one thats 14 acres with a mon-fri packed schedual the a mechanical failure can scew up the week. I would think the chief would want a insureance policy ie: backup mower instead of relying on the dealer, like you stated, guys would be standing around and those are all non billable hrs.

ribbie78
01-01-2007, 03:30 PM
Starting off solo, my plan was to start off with one brand new 48" hydro; but after reading this thread I'm changing the plan to buy two 2005 exmark 48" hydros for the same price as the 1 new one.

-hopefully this will keep any downtime to a minimum, and as someone else said the backup wb can be used by someone else if I take on too much at once.

DuraCutter
01-01-2007, 10:48 PM
If you keep up with it you don't really need a backup. :waving:

True if you run only a few pieces or are solo and really small. Maybe you could elaborate as some new people might take you seriously...

Backup machines is a standard for anyone who runs balls to the wall.

KS_Grasscutter
01-01-2007, 10:57 PM
I don't really have back ups, except for 21"s, but I am sure I could borrow a unit from a couple different friends if I was really in a bind.