New Employee or Riding Mower?

Discussion in 'Employment' started by Trevoryard, Oct 16, 2009.

  1. Trevoryard

    Trevoryard LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    Hi all. This is my first post/visit on this site. I have been in the industry on and off for 12 years and getting back into it full time since recently laid off. I have picked up 25 weekly customers since April and have a 50 and 36 inch walk behinds. My goal is to get to 50 or 60 customers weekly. I am debating on whether or not to get a new employee at $8-$10 hr or get a $6,000 - $8,000 ZTR for next year. I am very particuar so it is hard to let someone else d the work but I know is going to kill me eventually. I haven't ever owned a ZTR so I am not sure how much easier/quicker it makes te work load ot to be. 95% of my customers are 1/8 acre lots and will hopefully be picking up a few HOA with large plots of land. 3/4 acre plots around the neighborhoods. I know this may get biased answers, however, I am looking for some good points you may make. Thanks to you all.
  2. Shasta Lake Landscaping

    Shasta Lake Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 436

    I would say ZTR, If you want to know how much quicker and easier it is over a W/B just demo one, there amazing, You'll increase your productivity so much. Another word of advice, don't take on a HOA as a solo operator.
  3. gandk06

    gandk06 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 509

    If most of your lots are an 1/8 acre a ZTR will be overkill. I run solo so a can't say too much on having an employee but I don't think with your current load I could justify adding a ZTR or an employee. I would stick with what you have unless you change your plan big time.
  4. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,157

    once your schedule is full with your current inventory of equipment, at that point in time is when you need to consider an employee or a new machine. personally I'd opt for the machine...a lot less headaches.. and then once your schedule is full with the new machine... then you need to consider adding an employee.

    Sell off the 50" and get a 48 or 52" ztr... use the 36 as a backup machine/gated yard machine.
  5. Horizon Lawn

    Horizon Lawn LawnSite Member
    Posts: 128

    I would stick with WB mowers. We mow on average of 20 acres of grass a day and we use ztrs and walkbehinds but when my Zs break down we use our backup WBs and it is just as fast if not faster. I know that doesnt sound possible but we have done it on several occasions. I am changing over to all walkbehinds next year. I might keep one Z for great big areas just because i like to ride. We are usually a crew of 8 guys with 4 to 5 mowers running at one time. I usually go out on the jobs and help just to get out of the office. I would really stick with the WB because they are so versitile and you can use them everywhere and u cant use a Z everywhere.
  6. J&R Landscaping

    J&R Landscaping LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,096

    Based on the size of your lots right now, I would stick to a wb mower if you need the purchase now. If your two current mowers are in decent order, I would hold off and wait to see what jobs you pick up. New jobs may dictate your needs one way or the other.

    I'm not sure what your mowing schedule is like in NC but around here, the season is about over. I would think you would be going to an every other week schedule if you'll even still be cutting. If thats the case, it means a bit less work for your existing machines and less revenue coming in. Now may be a good time to get out, see what your dealers have and see if there are any deals!
  7. punt66

    punt66 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,538

    I no longer own any walkbehinds. Too unproductive. I wouldnt even be in business without a ztr.
  8. Trevoryard

    Trevoryard LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    Thank you guys for all the replies. So many different opinions though! My goal is to have 75% residential and 25% commercial accounts. Like I mentioned, most of my lots are small and a 48-50 inch W/B has been woking very well but my gravely is 12 years old and is time for an upgrade. So I think I am going to stick with what works...the W/B. But many of you, like me, have to be frugal to be productive in this business. I've had a pulley system W/B and it has been great to me...very little and cheap repairs. I like that aspect, however, a hydro w/b makes great turns and may be more efficient. Is the hydro system really worth the extra $2,000 upgrade?
  9. punt66

    punt66 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,538

    wrong move. :waving: But good luck to you.
  10. Trevoryard

    Trevoryard LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    Well tell me why then. You just said you wouldn't be in business if you didn't have them. W/B's have always worked fine for me. I haven't owned a ZTR so I a wondering why you think it is so "do or die" to have one over a w/b.

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