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Help on best Z Mower and deck size?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Happy Frog, Aug 14, 2007.

  1. Happy Frog

    Happy Frog LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,224

    Well, this is my first post here and of course I do need some help:
    I am not at all in the lawn care business but I have the opportunity to get an annual lawn mowing contract in the community next door common areas.
    This single contract will bring about $15,000 per year for one day of lawn cutting / edges trimming per week.:dancing:
    I'm not sure about the acreage but the current contractor does it all by himself (single handed).:dizzy:
    I believe this to be a good enough deal for me to start a small business and add customers along the way during the first few months is it not?

    Looking around for equipment I have elected to buy a Toro Z Master Z558 (28 HP Kaw engine) with a 60" Turbo Force deck and use the Honda HRX 21", the Toro trimmer/edger and Poulain Pro blower I already have to start doing the job (I expect to have to buy a bigger edger and blower).:rolleyes:

    I would appreciate greatly any comments concerning this equipment and size choice for the deck. Is it the right size or is it too big for easy transportation and use on smaller lawns? Is there a better choice of brand for quality of cut and durability :confused:

    Does anyone knows if I can fit this equipment in an enclosed trailer or small truck (the one with the rear door used as a loading ramp) I could leave outside in the rain?:usflag:

    Thanks a lot for helping me, I have just a few weeks to put everything together and send my bid out...:weightlifter:
  2. Lohse's Lawn Service

    Lohse's Lawn Service LawnSite Member
    from US
    Posts: 213

    I don't see how it would be a bad deal for you to start your small business with. I haven't seen the property, but to work one day a week all year long for that job alone and bring in $15,000, think of how much you could make with that job, along with some residential customers! You could work 4-5 days a week, solo, and probably be comfortable financially. I don't know your situation.

    The 60" Toro would probably be a good choice, but I have never used a Toro ztr. I do use Toro 32" walk-behinds and they do their job day in and day out. I am very impressed with Toro. I use my 60" ExMark on a lot of my lawns. Others may or may not agree with that, but if you know how to handle the ztr, you can use it just about on any yard.

    I just bought an 8'x20' enclosed cargo trailer this year. Keeps everything out of the weather, and locked up. You need to see what kind of equipment you are wanting to get, and then get you a trailer that is bigger. You will most likely expand, will you not? Then make sure you have a reliable truck and is able to pull all the weight. Hope this helps. Good luck.
  3. Happy Frog

    Happy Frog LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,224

    Thanks for the info, I appreciate it very much.
    I was a bit concerned about the overall size of the ztr with a 60" deck as I have never used one before.
    I understand that since everyone has a different situation, it must be tiresome for experienced members to see all these requests about "best this" and "best that" but I find quite difficult to get the right info and avoid pitfalls concerning the choice of most is probably the most expensive and critical equipment of this business.
    I have a full time job wich usually leaves me most of the weekends and one or two days during the week. I thought I could start this business for my wife who would do most of the cutting with me helping on my days off.
    Nice thing is I can start really slow and add a few residential customers along the way or try to get one or two more "big" contracts since I would already have a the right ztr for almost any job...
    How do you like the ExMark? Would you say they are better built than Toro or are the Toro more toward the high end of the ZTR's?
    Lastly, how about the handheld equipment? I noticed that no one is talking about the kind sold at Lowes or Home Depot stores. Is there such a big gap in reliability or performance between what they sell and the "pro" versions?
  4. Lohse's Lawn Service

    Lohse's Lawn Service LawnSite Member
    from US
    Posts: 213

    It takes a little time to get used to the big ztr. I would definitely practice on your own yard first in case there are any accidents! Drive one at your local dealer and see if it's something you could see yourself riding. I enjoy reading posts about "best this" and "best that." It gives me a chance to share my experience, possibly make life a little easier for those just starting or seeking advice.

    I am hooked on ExMark. I would always be willing to try another ztr, but at this point in time, I don't see myself switching to anything else.

    As for Toro, I have not driven one of their ztr's, but I'm sure you would be pleased. I am pleased with Toro's walk-behinds.

    Lowes and Home Depot mainly sell the type of equipment that home owners should purchase. They do not sell the commercial grade stuff that you'll find at a local dealer that specifies in lawn care/landscaping equipment. You'll get what you paid for. If you are in this for the long haul, I'd say buy commercial equipment all the way. You won't have to replace it every 2 years, considering it is maintained properly.

    Any other questions, just ask. Good luck.
  5. ALarsh

    ALarsh LawnSite Silver Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 2,412

    Starting a business based off of one account is not a good idea at all. That gives your new founded business a very weak foundation and your whole company is riding on that single account. Lose that account and you are out of business. Go ahead, you can do it, but you have to consider the posibility that you will not have that contract in the following seasons.

    I have built my businesss where not one account makes up more than 8% of total gross revenue. If I lose one account, so what? I am still good to go in business. Yes I will start advertising more when I lose a couple but i'm not out of business. I'm not saying I wouldn't take that contract now, but the big contracts can make or break you.

    Good luck.
  6. Happy Frog

    Happy Frog LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,224

    You have a very good point.
    What makes this deal possible for me is that I can start with no debt and do not depend on it to make a living. It's just a good oportunity to start a business for my wife for her own pocket.
    Adding more customers will just better the deal make the business stronger. Losing the big contract after only one year is something I have considered but is unlikely: I am about 30% cheaper than the nearest competitor bid and will provide a better quality of service (so I believe). Even if I do loose it, I can resell the business with equipment for cheap and still get out in good shape.
    Life is good...

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