New mower advice.

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by johnnyjay, Jan 13, 2001.

  1. johnnyjay

    johnnyjay LawnSite Member
    Posts: 42

    If you have been there I want to hear from you. I plan to purchase a more productive mower this spring. What should I buy and why?

    I started business last summer, solo, with a 36” ExMark Metro belt driven WB with Mulching Kit and a Velkie. All my customers were residential plus one cemetary. My services was mostly mowing, edging, trimming, and blowing. Average mowing time per yard ranged from 30 minutes to 45 minutes. I want to double or triple my business over the next year. I plan to buy either a 44” Lazer ZRT or 52” Lazer ZRT or a 52” WB Hydro. If you have been in my shoes, please give me your advice on upgrading. I plan to keep my 36” WB. Thanks in advance.
  2. HOMER

    HOMER LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,183

    Since you already have the small mower and plan to keep it, buy the biggest ZTR feasible for your applications. I would buy something bigger than a 44", try to go to a 60". The only way your going to double your business is to get movin' and bigger is better in most cases. It really depends on your application. I went from a 40" to a 48" then to a 50" and a 72". I use the 72" on more yards than I do the other ones..................if it fits it gets used.
  3. mowerman90

    mowerman90 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,491

    Keeping the 36" WB is a wise decision. It never hurts to have a spare and you may need something that small to fit into gated backyards. I have a 52 Grasshopper w/25HP Kubota and don't know how I ever got along without it. My smallest lots are 80x125 and the largest are 1 acre so this size suits me well. Working by myself it usually takes no more than 15 -20 minutes to do the 80x125's, 45 min to do the 1/2 acres and about an hour to do the acres. Remember, that's working by myself. Since you're by yourself also I wouldn't even consider anything other than something you can ride. YOU are the Business, you can't afford to be twisting your ankle or getting blistered feet from being dragged all over by your machine so the more you ride, the higher your endurance and the less likelyhood you will be injuried. I think you'll get to the point that if the WB has to be run, you'll higher someone to run it. Best of luck to you!
  4. Tomslawncare1

    Tomslawncare1 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 47

    Johnnyjay, I started my buss. 6 years ago with 1 48" exmark viking. Used that for 2 years and bought a second 52" Turf tracer. I use 2 guys to mow. This year I'm buying a 60" Exmark Lazer Z 27hp LC unit. Can't wait to see how much time it saves me. Upgrade as mush as your budget will allow. I think going with a 2nd 52" mower WB or even some type of rider is wise.
  5. Eric ELM

    Eric ELM Husband, Father, Friend, Angel
    Posts: 4,831

    I agree with Homer. The smallest mower I use is a 60" Chopper and I have no problems even when I did small lawns. You will get a lot more done and not be so darn tired at the end of a hot day. My production rate doubled when I went from a 38" JD tractor to a 50" JD tractor. It went up another 25% when I got the 60" JD. It then doubled again when I got the Chopper 60", even though it was the same size cut, the extra speed of turning is what doubled the production.

    I can mow over twice as much with a 60" DC as some guys next to where I mow does with 2 48" w/b mowers. The moral of this is, get the biggest you can use and afford to be the most productive and get a good brand name ZTR.

    [Edited by Eric ELM on 01-14-2001 at 11:52 AM]
  6. kutnkru

    kutnkru LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,662

    Just think things thru before you purchase.

    Yes it is true the larger your deck size the greater your daily production. However, unless you have the cash to buy your new unit outright, customers are not going to want to see an increase in billing just because you bought a more productive piece of equipment. They were much happier to see you EARNING their money last year.

    I would evaluate your current pricing structure and see if at these prices you can "afford" to operate and maintain a larger piece of equipment. If the answer is "no" then I would adjust your prices in the spring, and wait until after summer to bring the new piece on board. This will give you 2/3 of the season to justify the increase and let them see that the quality has not decreased weekly.

    Now when you cut this fall you will have a better way to attack leaves and this will make them happier to see a new piece of equipment on board because now they will be thinking that it should be possible to save some of their clean-up expenses.

    Of course your price should stay the same and production will obviously increase.

    I would also keep in mind that if your properties are in the 7500 to 15000 sf range that you may want to go with a hydro wb and sulky. Some customers may "object" to a tractor unit on the property as well. To avoid this we have a crew running a 52" hydro w/sulky on the back lawns and a 48 hydro out front. With several lawns per block they average 25-30 lawns per day.

    Hope this helps.
  7. Acute Cut

    Acute Cut LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 980

    I know that i am in the minority here but i have been rethinking my view on this. I agree that a lazer would be the best if you can use it. I would say that the 52 would be easier to fit into the res lawns than the 72. I am wondering though, how will the striping look? 5000 sf with a 72 will have like only 4 or 5 stripes.

    I am personally trading in my 36 belt drive for a hydro. The time difference is amazing. I noticed a huge time jump when i went from 2 21" to a 52 wb. I guess i couldnt miss on that one, but just think about how the customers lawn will look afterwards. WIll it make them happy?

    I have one commercial account that looks 10 times better with stripes from the smaller mower, than the two stripes my 53 leaves.

    I am NOT disagree with the above people, just looking at it another way.

    Have a good one.
    Acute Cut
  8. kutnkru

    kutnkru LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,662

    Is how I refer to the stripes we create on our canvas' we call lawns.

    Can a deck width have an impact on how the end result will turn out. DEFINITELY. But the tragedy is when our clients drive thru the neighborhood all they want to know is that their lawn looks a step ahead of the Jones'.

    You all may have at least one finatic customer whose an avid golfer that grills their superintendant. Then pays to have us cut the standard four directions and then add rotating 30* angels to complete the mowing cycle. Power rake in early sring, aerate and lime in late spring, attack with an IPM program until our nose bleeds from so much chemical exposure, then slit seed in the fall, and lime again.

    Try to charge these clients for the "ribbon cut" to show off their investment and they'll laff you into bankruptcy.

    I guess my babble is this. The only one who appreciates and critiques the value of our stripes are fellow contractors.

    Just my .02
  9. Jusmowin

    Jusmowin LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 727

    I too started out with a 36 Exmark and the next year I bought a 52 wb Toro (best mower Ive ever had) but should of got a 52 Toro Z100. Even with a velke , a 52 walk behind cant cut as fast as a 52 Z 100. Just my 2 cents.
  10. Some of you guys are missing the point. Speed is not everything.

    A 52" Toro WB w/ a two wheel sulky will be more productive vs. a 52" Toro ZTR on sites that are less than a 1/2 acre.

    This is because the deck of the WB is offset a full 14" from the drive tire and will do a better job of trimming around crap vs. ZTR with almost no offset.

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