Need Some Advice On Equipment

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Trinity Lawn Care LLC, Dec 23, 2005.

  1. Trinity Lawn Care  LLC

    Trinity Lawn Care LLC LawnSite Senior Member
    from NJ
    Posts: 946

    Hi All:

    I am hoping to get some input, and I apologize in advance if this becomes lengthy.

    I am currently using a 36" Exmark Metro as my main mower. I have a couple of other mowers 48" ZingWing Cub Cadet Ztr, 33" wide cut, and a couple of 21"er's.

    Here is my dilemma. I do not get much use out of the ztr(175 hrs all season). Many of my accounts require me to bag and this unit is not capable of bagging or even mulching. However, I do have a couple of monster accounts that would be a killer to walk (Big fields). The 33" I do not even use. I have maybe 25 hrs on it all season. I had a meeting today with my Sr. Employee. He recommended that I sell both take the money and buy a bigger wb. He said that he would be happier with the bigger wb than the cub, because we could increase productivity. I shared with him that the amount of money that I could probably get for the machine would be less than I still owe on it. His response was he understands, but the increase in productivity would more than make up for it.

    After the meeting I spoke with my wife about it. Her opinion was that we buy a used wb and keep the ztr for the bigger jobs, and then try and sell it next year. She feels that for the little amount of money that we could probably get for it that it would be worth trying to get one more year of use out of it (for the fields and bigger properties). The problem with this is that I am not mechanically inclined. Apart from regular PM work I am not capable of doing much more on the machines. If I buy a used wb then I am inheriting someone else's problems.

    I would like to find out other peoples opinions as to what they would do. Would you sell the two machines and use the cash to buy another wb, would you keep what you have and buy another used wb, or would you buy a new wb? Or would you add a little extra cash and get another ztr like 60" Exmark with bagger? Also, would I see that noticeable of a difference in production with a 48" or 52" over the 36"? Thank you in advance for your thoughts...
     
  2. LLandscaping

    LLandscaping LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,016

    We are in a similar situation, we have two Scag Tiger Cubs 48/19 kawasaki's (ZTRs), 37in Toro midsize, 2 Toro 21's. We cut some large properties but we are also bagging about half of accounts need to be bagged.(3,000-12,000sft) We are going to purchase a Walker with a 42in deck in April to cut the yards that need to be bagged. If you need to bag small to medium size yards I would suggest a Walker. Right now the properties we bag we cut with the 21's and the Walker will allow us to cut all the properties we bag but 2 that are steep hills. I would keep the ZTR and add a Walker. I would sell the 36 unless there were steep hill you cut or places a Walker wont fit.
     
  3. lawnprosteveo

    lawnprosteveo LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tulsa
    Posts: 1,930

    If you buy the bigger walkbehind with a sulky, wouldnt that still help you out on the really big properties... It wont be as fast but it shouldnt be all that much slower. I would sell the Z and get a 48" wb with a sulky.
     
  4. marko

    marko LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 963

    One thing to think about is if you don't have the accounts to support the 48" and 33", get rid of the mowers AND the accounts! It stinks having to have special equipment for a minority of your business. In the end you lose due to the costs fo buying and owning vs profit. Use your new free time to get more clients that the 36" can be used on and be profitable. Also try to educate the client that bagging is over rated, and not needed. Show them how mulching or side discharging will save them money (less time on the property, less waste in landfills, at least 1 less fertilization a year), but also be almost no difference than bagging.
    Keeping your 33" for another year might make sense on the surface, but really think about it, attempt to trade it in on something you need, and write it of to a cheap education (Atleast you did not buy a 60" for an account and lose that!).
     
  5. Trinity Lawn Care  LLC

    Trinity Lawn Care LLC LawnSite Senior Member
    from NJ
    Posts: 946

    Marko - I hear ya. This was my first yr in biz and I got some bad advice from a friend of mine who had his own little lawn company. He had the 33" and swore by it. I purchased it based off of his recommendation. I used it maybe 10 times all season. It is to slow and handles weird. As far as accounts go. I am currently around 60-70(I just picked up a few for next yr., but haven't actually done work for them yet).

    I am expecting I'll pick up another 20-40 accounts by cut time.
    Do you think that adding another larger wb would improve productivity
    Most of my lawns are between 1/4 to 1/2 acre, I have a few 3/4 to 1 acre, and a couple of 2+ acre's. Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks...
     
  6. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,995

    Advice:
    the mowers are not the problem. bagging is the problem. I am hoping that you are charging at least 30% more for bagging as opposed to discharging. 50% would be even better.

    Suggestion:
    adopt a new policy of no bagging or bagging surcharge. When you give your pricing on new accounts say $ 100 , oh you want it bagged, $140. they will either decide bagging isn't so important or ask why. Then explain the added time, effort and cost of dumping. Then explain that discharging is like fertilizing every cut and all the other benefits of not bagging. Don't take the account if they don't agree to discharge or agree to pay SIGNIFICANTLY extra for bagging. Bagging large (over 1/2 acre) lots is insane.

    Which is better, doing 40 bagged accts or 60 discharged accounts in the same time. Pretty easy math to me.

    As far as mowers. I would get the largest ZTR that would fit on your properties. I can use a 60" on most of my 1/4 acre lots. We have really flat ground though. On 1/4 acres my 36" ZTR is just about as fast as the 60". But anything over 1/3 acre the 60" is faster. Anything over an acre and the 60" saves 40-75% on (mowing) time.
     
  7. Rhett

    Rhett LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,071

    If you owe more then you can get for the equipment would run it till I could justify selling it. After dumping the 33 would then replace the metro with a hydro. Replaced mine with a 36 viking and cut my gated mowing time by a third.
     
  8. jtkplc

    jtkplc LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,646

    From my experience, a 52" Wright Stander is awesome on 3/4 acre and under lots. Check them out...
     
  9. 6'7 330

    6'7 330 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,823

    Dump It all but the metro,and get the 60 inch Exmark Z-turn.IMO your productivity would go up.Faze the bagging out,or put a surcharge on it.
     
  10. jc1

    jc1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,653

    I was in a similar situation last year. I had a 36" that only was used 60 hours in 2 years (bought the wrong mower for most lawns) Last March I traded it in and bought a 60" surfer. I lost over 2k in what i paid verse what i got in trade. But It made me so much faster, the increase in productivity more than made up for it finacially. The few lawns i used the 36 on I now use a 21" and increased there prices $5 to make up for lost time. I could never have increased my customer base and income if i kept that mower so that i wouldn't take a loss.
     

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