Cost to run a ZTR per hr.

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by tacoma200, Jun 13, 2009.

  1. tacoma200

    tacoma200 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,426

    A few years back I read an article in the Walker magazine and a LCO with a large fleet of ZTR's had meticulously calculated the cost of running a ZTR. I posted a thread and ask Lawnsite members what they thought the cost of running a ZTR per hour was and got a mix of answers which I believe most were too low due to leaving out overlooked expenses. So I would like to hear from those that have done some research into the true cost of running a ZTR, a fleet owner, or someone with a business degree would probably impress me more than someone guessing or that hadn't done their research. This guy in the Walker magazine was from Maine and I think he really had his act together but I can't remember since it was so long ago. If you would be kind enough to tell us what figures you have come up with and how you came up with the figures I would be all ears. Tell us if you include labor, fuel, equipment, maintenance, down time, insurance, etc or what ever you think is relevant. I know many factors can vary as well as fuel prices. I believe the Walker guy came up with $10-12 dollars (before labor) per hour but I'm not sure, lost the article. Fuel alone should . Fuel alone could account for $3 to $5 per hour at this time (guess). I look forward to hearing from those more business savvy than the average guy. I could be way off so my apologies ahead of time.:)
  2. Keith

    Keith LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,979

    I've have told several people over the past couple of years that the cost is $12-14 an hour. Sure, it will be cheaper for some, but I bet that number is close for a lot of companies.

    $10,000 mower, financed, that might last 2000 hours without major problems. Figure $6 an hour for that.

    Fuel, $2.50-$4.50 depending on the week.

    Normal maintenance if you do it yourself, tires, belts, blades, oil, filters. I figure that costs a buck an hour or more.

    Maintenance for stuff like spindles, pulleys, clutches, bearings, seats, you name it. That's got to be a minimum of $1 an hour.

    That doesn't even touch on insurance, the cost of running around trying to find that belt the day it fails, or anything like that.
  3. lifetree

    lifetree LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,369

    Not sure how you arrive at $ 6.00 per hour because $ 10,000 / 2,000 hours = $ 5.00 per hour !! The interest associated with financing the machine are not "operational cost", per se ... business expense sure, but not depreciation on the machine.
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    For myself it's at least double the cost of running the Wb.

    Here, I'll expand based on this answer:

    I would agree, that is close.

    I'll be lucky if I get a thousand hours out of mine in a lifetime.
    Unlike a lot of Lco's I don't run the Ztr unless the cost can be justified, and...
    Unfortunately, I don't see how I can justify running that big bad beast on a small lot where it saves me 2 minutes cutting.
    It has to cut out 15-20 minutes at the very least or it's just not worth even loading it,
    don't forget that beast eats up trailer space AND...

    Mine guzzles 2 gallons an hour, and decreases the truck's fuel mileage noticeably as well.

    At least, maybe other guys have better luck but in 155 hours I have bent 4 blades and destroyed a spindle.
    That's on top of regular stuff, two oil and filter changes, two spark plugs, the hydraulic fluid and filter, and at least one belt.

    Yes, at least.

    The insurance is all the same either how and I keep belts in stock,
    but I do agree you need to keep a margin for unexpected expenses.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2009
  5. djagusch

    djagusch LawnSite Platinum Member
    from MN
    Messages: 4,350

    I use $16 for a Zero Turn. Some think this is high but I rather figure on that side than low. It's based off a $12K mower, $5/gal gas, 2,000 hrs oil changes every 50hrs, 2 tubes of grease every 50hr, a set of blades lasting 50 hrs, 1 set tires, and a major repair out of warranty (and some more but don't remember it all).
  6. Keith

    Keith LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,979

    Rough figure. Most people finance mowers that cost this much. And 8-12% was a fairly normal rate for a long time, and still is for many people. I figured in interest because if you made $12k in payments, it's like paying $6 an hour if the thing last 2000 hours.
  7. puppypaws

    puppypaws LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,164

    I don't think you are far off, my dealer told me once if he was trading he used $10.00 per hr. depreciation up to 500 hrs. and gradually came down as the hours went up. That is a dealer, I feel it would be less selling straight to another individual.
  8. FastMan

    FastMan LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 846

    To do a lawn job you use a mixture of equipment. As an example; say you try to get $65 dollars an hour for your time when doing mowing jobs. The amount you're charging for the trim and blow time is actually under that $65/hr, because your equipment cost is less, and the ZTR is over the $65/hr. So let's say for this example the ZTR is at $70/hr. What's your general labor charge? Subtract it from the $70 and you have the amount you're charging per hr for the use of your ZTR. Plug in your own numbers, and I bet most are over $16
  9. kaferhaus

    kaferhaus LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,444

    If you're only getting 2,000hrs out of ZTR you're buying the wrong brand. we're averaging just over 3,000hrs on engines alone. Spindles last 2yrs or longer, same with clutches. Blades are lasting 80+ hours.

    I pay under 9K for new 61" ZTRs and pay cash. And no one has figured in the tax deductions. The mower and every penny you spend on it is sans income tax at the end of the year. Same with your truck, gasoline etc.

    We have several ZTRs with over 5 thousand hours on them. A engine change out is less than 20% of the mower's replacement cost.

    Our maintenance/operating costs are exactly 4.74 per hour including fuel for the 42" mowers and 5.92 for the 61" mowers. Replacement cost is figured at 1.35 per on the 61s and 1 buck an hour for the 42s.

    This is all with "pre tax income" (those that aren't paying taxes.... oh well)

    My payroll averages out at about 10 an hour so you can deduce that it "costs" about $17 per hour with labor. Now add the truck, trailer, office, advertizing, insurance, FICA etc.... and yet guys here post that they're charging 35-40 and hour and making money.... chump change maybe, but no real money.
  10. TomberLawn

    TomberLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,299

    Interest is an expense, nonetheless, and should be included when calculating the cost of owning/operating a piece of equipment.

    I've figured the cost per hour to run my Woods is $8-9, depending on fuel usage and prices. Sounds kind of low, but I got a great deal on it and with the industrial grade Generac, it should last a really long time.

    If you finance a mower, a good thing to do is include a replacement cost recovery per hour. This will allow you to pay cash for your next mower, saving hundreds of dollars in interest. For instance, if your current depreciation and interest expense is $5/hr, calculate $9 or so and save the extra $4. After 2000 hours, you've got $8000 + interest to apply towards a new machine. Then, since you paid cash for it, the regular depreciation expense should cover the cost of the next machine.

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