Walk Behinds and Employees?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by roberthathaway7, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. roberthathaway7

    roberthathaway7 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 115

    This year, weather pending, me and my business partner really want to add a legitimate employee. I've never used a walk-behind mower or even seen one running really. I was wondering, as far as adding an un-experienced employee, would it benefit to add a walk-behind mower to my line-up? Are they easier to learn that a zero turn? Better on the liability side of things? Safer? Easier/harder to screw a lawn up (scalping, running over non-mowable objects, etc)?

    I figured one of the best attributes is that if we found someone reliable enough, we could send them out in a compact truck with ramps and no trailer to do smaller yards: less overhead and no worrying about their "trailer" skills.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. Mikegyver

    Mikegyver LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,810

    The first thing I put guys on is a Z-turn. When you let go of the walkbehind controls that thing keeps going unless you let off the safety bar and even then that's too late....it will keep going for a few feet. All they have to do to return to neutral on a Z is bring the controls back.
    Maybe I'm wrong but I've seen too much stuff messed up and too many accidents or almost accidents out of both. But seems like its easier to have issues with a walkbehind.
    The best one I have done so far was jam my hand between a fence and the handles on my turf tracer. I let go and it shot across the strip of grass I was mowing. The machine stopped about 12-15' later because I let go of the safety lever.
    As far as cut quality, you can mess up a yard with either machine if not used properly.
     
  3. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    from Maine
    Posts: 2,715

    The only equipment I'd put an inexperienced guy on was a trimmer until he proved he could run one. Then he could learn to run a Z around the shop and on easier jobs.
     
  4. LandFakers

    LandFakers LawnSite Fanatic
    from CT
    Posts: 6,227

    You would be giving somebody a lot of responsibility, for somebody who hasn't worked with you for the past season and hasn't really proved to you how well they can mow and keep your good name intact
     
  5. lawnkingforever

    lawnkingforever LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,280

    Unloading a wb from a pick up bed multiple times all day with ramps would be a pita. I would take a chance and let him use a trailer than worry about my wb crashing onto the concrete
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  6. HPI_Savage25

    HPI_Savage25 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 192

    Loading a WB with ramps is a pain and not the safest thing to do. I know from experience. I load a Encore 36" WB into the bed of my truck at times to save on gas for one particular job and its not fun. I always fear of the ramps sliding out or just something happening to cause injury and damage. Those mowers aren't light by any means...I'd rather them have a small trailer than them loadin up in the bed of a truck. Just my thoughts though.
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  7. smitty's lawncare

    smitty's lawncare LawnSite Member
    Posts: 165

    i agree with jrs.landscaping. someone with little experience should be the trimmer/blower guy. i feel like one of the most fundamental parts of lawn care is being able to operate all equipment in a safe, efficient manor. walk behinds are one of the most fundamental part of the business. i only use walk behinds (scag) in my business, so i might seem quite partial.
     
  8. sealcutter

    sealcutter LawnSite Senior Member
    from PA.
    Posts: 256

    Your partner is he a working partner? If so let him go off on his own while you train so said employee. You should also use a WB so you understand what you are up against, these machine are no joke. One of my employee's (10 plus years) took a spill this past season down a steep bank right in front of me.
     
  9. roberthathaway7

    roberthathaway7 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 115



    Thanks guys! I'm sorry, I definitely miscommunicated there, I wasn't planning on throwing all of this together this spring. My plan was exactly as you all suggest, to hire someone for weedeating and blowing this year, maybe have them on some wide open spaces or around the shop toward the end of the season, then graduate them to Z operator next year, then the possible independent thing the 3rd year if they show that they're capable. It almost gives me axiety attacks already just thinking of someone on a trimmer, I'm so anal about stuff. And yeah I would definitely get experience on the walk-behind first, just trying to get a preview here. What do you all think about Ferris walk behinds? That's the only WB that's sold local.
     
  10. roberthathaway7

    roberthathaway7 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 115

    Yeah, wow I just read my initial post and I don't know how I ended up typing it that way. Definitely didn't plan on putting a totally unexperienced guy right on a piece of equipment that I've never ran, even though that's pretty much what I said, haha
     

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