21" for residential = better business

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by lawnpro724, Jan 13, 2007.

  1. lawnpro724

    lawnpro724 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,201

    I know most of you will not like what I'm saying but I'm saying it for a reason. Your long term business success depends on customer satifaction but everytime this topic is discussed all I hear is what you guys want. You all say walkbehinds or ztr for residential because you want it done faster and easier and you say better but I dont think so. Since when is it you who decides whats best for you customer? The 21" Toro proline or Honda commercial mower will give a far better cut on a residential yard than any walkbehind or ztr any day of the week and won't compact the soil or tear up the lawn. I'm saying this for a reason and a very good one. I have had more complaints in the last couple of years than I have since I have been in business. I see people all the time running around on their big Zs and large walkbehinds on small residential yards leaving ruts and rib rows and general damage for the sake of speed or lazyness. I hear it all the time from you guys I want to get it done faster than last year. Wake up and realize your customers want a quality job and they dont want those big machines tearing up there lawn after all they were intended for large properties anyway. My point, is that I have picked up so many residential yards in the last couple of years more than I really want and the #1 complaint from everyone is the same thing. Those DAMN BIG MOWERS are tearing up my yard!!!!!!! Everyone yard I picked up said they will pay me more if I don't use them!! You may like those big mowers but your customer won't.
  2. d&rlawncare

    d&rlawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 741

    See my question for you at the ZT vs WB thread.
  3. Prestige-Lawncare

    Prestige-Lawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 753

    You've been doing this for 15 years ... and now you are only using 21" mowers on residential properties? Most of my residential's are ¾ to 1 acre in size (or larger) ... and 21"s just aren't profitable at all for me. Most all of these properties that were mowed by the homeowner before were mowed with something larger then a 21" push mower to start with ... usually a lawn tractor that left worse ruts then my mowers do.

    If this works great on the lawn sizes you do, that's great ... but the larger properties do take larger mowers. I do agree that using a large mower on a postage stamp lot is silly ... so unless I am really pressed to do a lawn for someone with a yard that size ... I don't.
  4. J Hisch

    J Hisch LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 952

    look up the thread "customers want push mowing" For new business we will not mow anything residental larger than 16k of turf area. We will be continuing our path as we currently have in the past but the residental market is changing and looking for a company that will use 21's with some success. Therefore as the market changes so will we.
  5. lawnpro724

    lawnpro724 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,201

    I didn't say we mow 1 acre lots! I said small residential yards 50'x100 or around that. 1 acre we use walkbehinds and bigger Z or tractors.
  6. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,943

    Here is my post in another thread discussing 21" vs. 26" mowers: http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=171481

    The comments I made there are applicable for this thread too.


    I know we all have different ideas on this topic, a topic that has been discussed often, and sometimes heatedly, over the years.

    I have a 21" hand mower (LawnBoy), 36" Exmark Viking w/b, with BullRider (and Velke, one-wheel), and 48" JohnDeere Z-trak.

    For properties 10K sq ft of turf (smallest on the list), I only use the 21" machine. The 21" mower is used for front yards, side yards, and some trim work in the rear for the 0.50-0.75 acre properties. The w/b 36", or the ZTR 48" mows the rear areas of those properties. For the ones over 1 acre, the ZTR is used almost exclusively.

    The 21" hand mower is used selectively because of the terrain, the small necks and pennisulas, and the quality of job. The w/b does a nice job, but not nearly like the 21" hand mower. Nearly all of the 21" work is bagging work.

    The one-wheeled Velke for the Exmark w/b is not used any more because of the line down the middle of the pass. The wheels of the two-wheeled BullRider follow the mower wheels. But, on the better properties where the w/b is used, the BullRider is not used because of heavier tracking (much greater ground pressures on the small tires than from the mower).

    The 21" mower will mow nearly all sloping terrain, the w/b will mow most. The ZTR is the least useful for sloping terrain. For some properties, the 48" ZTR takes longer to complete the mowing task than the 36" w/b. The terrain and smaller areas must be mowed with the hand mower, whereas the w/b will mow it all.

    The w/b will tear up turf more easily than the hand mower, but can be avoided with care. The ZTR will tear up more turf in one week than a w/b will tear in a season. My point is that progressively larger machines can cause more damage to the turf.

    All of this is to say that there is no good answer to your question, without knowing the details of the properties to be mowed. Further, what is an acceptable result for some contractors is not acceptable to another one. I would be ashamed to leave the mowing result left by other contractors working the same neighborhoods. I thank them for their sloppy work as their failures always provides a constant stream of potential customers for me.

    I MOW ALONE LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,964

    lawnpro tell us how much your customers are willing to pay you to cut there 50x100' properties. and than i will decide if i think it is worth the extra work.
  8. crzymow

    crzymow LawnSite Senior Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 378

    No where in your first post did yo mention the size of the lawn you were talking about. I agree smaller lawns shouldnt be mowed with big z mowers, I actually started using a walker last year,and i think they look as good on most lawns except the very small ones as a 21" walk behind. Havent had any complaints either. I will mow with a 21", but the customer is definitly going to pay me for the extra time involved.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    Well some good points here...but you still have to stay in business yourself. Customers SAY that want smaller machines but I think if you were to give them an option, say $35 per cut with the WB OR $45 per cut with a 21" I really don't think a whole lot of them would go with the higher price. And a higher price is what you would need to charge to keep yourself in business.

    Sure people want the smaller mower, but they want YOU to eat the cost of the extra time. If they say they will pay more let them put their money where their mouth is...
  10. procut

    procut LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,852

    The majority of residential customers couldn't care less what your using for equiptment. I can only think of one request that I've had for a smaller mower.

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