ZTR's & Walk Behind's To Heavy !

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by eXcel Lawn, May 18, 2001.

  1. eXcel Lawn

    eXcel Lawn LawnSite Member
    from KC, MO
    Posts: 9

    I came to the conclusion years ago that commercial ZTR's and walk behind mowers are to heavy for residential lawn applications. Continuous use causes ruts & breaking irrigation heads is often. Also seems that most commercial operators are reckless and run into houses, decks, trees, tree roots, etc, etc, etc.

    Most residential customers are weary of big commercial equipment from the beginning. They just feel like they have no other choice because they are convinced that all companies use this equipment.

    So, a few years ago I capitalized on this. I took a chance and bought 4 nice 21" commercial units, and the other typical needed power equipment.

    I made flyers explaining my service using the smaller equipment and made the fears seem a reality in my writings. I charged $60 minimum for a typical 4,000 to 7,000 square foot lawn. I placed these flyers in choice communities. In 3 years I have accumulated 75 accounts. Myself and 2 employees finish all work in 4 or 5 days depending how hard we work. All lawns are mowed weekly ( all 75 have irrigation and fertilizer applications ). I gross around 18k a month and pay my employees $600 each a week. As you can imagine I have a very nice bank and an even nicer savings account )

    My equipment costs are minimal.. I average 2 new mowers a year.

    You might think I'm over charging but these customers were willing to pay more money to have their lawn cut the way they used to cut it. As you can imagine I targed older clients in the Johnson County Kansas region.
     
  2. 1MajorTom

    1MajorTom Senior Moderator
    Posts: 6,073

    $60.00 for 4,000 square foot?

    I don't see people around here even doing 4,000 square feet with a ztr. They probably do use a 21 inch, not even a 36 walk on a yard that small. And I can guarantee no one around here would pay 60 bucks.

    Sounds like you are doing fine in your area though. Congrats!
     
  3. eXcel Lawn

    eXcel Lawn LawnSite Member
    from KC, MO
    Posts: 9

    85% of my clients are 7,000sq, only a few are 4,000.

    Seems like they cram these 1/2 million $$ homes as close together as possible.. then they shove as much landscape in there as possible.

    You would be surprised what retired people with lots of money will pay for piece of mind. Most of my clients used other commercial services in the past and received bad service. Most picky people hate a lot of things about big walk behinds. It pisses people off that they pay a company $30 or so for 5 or 10 minutes of work. Most walk behind operators also rip the turf on turns and refuse to bag also. The complaints go on and on. I just took advantage of those errors.
     
  4. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,360

    You don't think those little tires on a 21" don't make ruts? They can make some very unsightly ruts. I personnally don't like the looks of all those little tire marks, it doesn't look as smooth. BUT, I'm glad you found a niche that works well for you. Keep up the good work. :)
     
  5. lawnman_scott

    lawnman_scott LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,547

    I dont agree, commercial properties have sprinklers also, and they will get ruts a s well, if you dont change your pattern once in a while, but im sure your doing great. I know of quite a few people who would probably pay more for that type of service around here. Its not for me though, when they come out with a riding weedeater ill be the first on to buy one.
     
  6. eXcel Lawn

    eXcel Lawn LawnSite Member
    from KC, MO
    Posts: 9

    Your right! If your not careful any repetitive movement on turf grass will leave a rut. I'm lucky enough to have clients that spend thousands annually on their lawns. They overseed every year, aerate twice, fertilize, pesticide, etc, etc, etc. So, those little wheels ride nice over a blanket of thick grass. It has been wet around here and a lot of my clients have been getting cut twice a week.
     
  7. casey

    casey Guest
    Posts: 0

    What 21" Commercials are you using?
    I can do 4000Sq feet faster with a LB commercial than with my 36 WB. I leave the Exmark in the trailer for small residentials.
     
  8. eXcel Lawn

    eXcel Lawn LawnSite Member
    from KC, MO
    Posts: 9

    I started using Toro's and now I use the commercial John Deere.

    One simple reason I use the John Deere ( besides its a nice cutting unit ) ... I use the JD because it is a very popular brand name and the customer associates with it. Most home owners think JD is the best unit out there.

    They think im doing a better job just because my mowers are green and yellow.
     
  9. turfguy33

    turfguy33 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 121

    :blob3: Within the last 2 years, I have realized that residentials are so, so picky that it is just easier for me to push mow, ( I mainly mulch, but do have several bagging accounts) than to hear complaints about tears in the grass or ruts. Personally, I believe the push mower actually makes the lawns of smaller size look much better. Now, whenever I place a bid on a residential up to 8000 sq feet, i automatically estimate it as a push mowed lawn, unless they want me to cut costs, then I'll place my 36' or 48 inch walk behind on it. But, as the man said, customers want a lawn that looks nice, we see it once or twice a week, they see it everyday, and have the right to have the lawn looking the way they want. Congrats on your niche in the biz. As for me though, I don't think I would want to push mow 75 accounts. I only have around 15 small residentials, and that's enough for me, guess my scag and dane made me lazy.
     
  10. kutnkru

    kutnkru LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,662

    I have to agree with Hoss that many of the homeowner model units will leave ruts just as easily as the larger deck units.

    We have adapted to using a wider rubber tire and steel rim for our trim mowers and have found the results to be rather pleasing from the input by our guys.

    I wish that we were able to get that kind of $$/M SF here in our area. We do have some clients who are willing to pay extra for us not to use the deck mowers on their lawns but we are not getting what you are.

    Hopefully things will continue to work out well for you in the future as well.

    However, I think that as far as damage goes that its dependant upon the operator. I have a friend who uses only the z-riders and he can cut as well if not better with a 60" deck than a guy with a 36" w/b.

    It all comes down to how you operate and control your machines. There have been discussions on whether a "c" style turn or a "k" turn is best, and how to avoid the divots from tight turns at the end of the pass.

    Kris
     

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