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Homeowner ZTR

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by flakebortch, Nov 3, 2007.

  1. flakebortch

    flakebortch LawnSite Member
    Messages: 86

    For a couple thousand less than I'd pay for a commercial ZTR I can get a homeowner's model brand new. Is there any reason why I shouldn't? What's the difference(s)?
  2. Total.Lawn.Care

    Total.Lawn.Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 840

    What is your intent? If you plan on using this mower commercially, the residential model will not hold up in the long run. I have seen them, the metal that the frames and the decks are constructed from is quite a it thinner than what you will find in most commercial mowers. The overall durability of a commercial machine outperforms a residential (homeowner) model any day.
  3. Leaf Jockey

    Leaf Jockey LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 376

    Commercial units are made to last longer without breaking or wearing out. An example might be a home unit may use a bushing where a commercial unit would use a bearing. Another example might be where a home unit has a control rod and the ends are just bent 90 degrees and have a cotter pin. The commercial unit might use a heim joint. Frame stiffness and deck thickness are also better on a commercial unit. The list goes on. If you plan to run the mower everyday then a homeowner unit won't last long.

  4. J&A Lawn Care

    J&A Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 436

    yea if you could have seen the man that cuts the yard across from my house on his 1/2 season old Home Depot cub cadet ZTR today that would have been enough to make your decision.That peice wouldn't run 2mph and his helper would get behind him and push him to get up the slight inclines.What I am saying is that the mower can't have 100hrs on it and the pumps are trash already.I have seen him several times working on it
  5. newz7151

    newz7151 LawnSite Silver Member
    from Tejas
    Messages: 2,419

    Did you know those units have a 125-150 hour factory warranty limitation?
  6. Jay Ray

    Jay Ray LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,510

    Yup. The transmissions are not serviceable -- when the oil goes bad you just keep using it until something breaks, then buy a new transmission for the bad side, and you know the side that still works is on borrowed time. IMHO that is the weakest point on the CC RZT.
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    What they're saying... With this business you really have to think in terms of thousands of lawns cut, literally, over the years sure, but it doesn't take 2 years even to get over the first 1,000...

    By the time you got 3-4 years you've serviced 2,000+ lawns, 5-6 years in you're on your way to having cut 4 thousand lawns. It's mind boggling to think of four thousand cuts, but a commercial mower is designed to last 8-10-15 years, which I reckon is somewhere in the range of 4 to 10 thousand lawns cut, some of these machines even last 20 years, but at the absolute least 5-8!

    In terms of a homeowner, we're talking 20 cuts / season at the most. Of course most homeowners who buy such a beast have a large lot (acre+) so you could say each cut of his could equal 2-3 of the average, still much past 40-60 cuts a season it doesn't have to run, in comparison. I'd say if that mower lasts 20 years then that homeowner just got the first 1,000 lawn cuts under his belt, not all their machines last that long either. And, their mowers get serviced every year, and sometimes in between.

    You need a machine that, with minor daily maintenance, runs flawlessly the entire season, 800 lawns cut later it finally needs an oil and spark plug and air filter change, along with several other things that come in time and with a seasonal maintenance program, but I don't usually do major rebuilds mid-season, it's almost unheard of in my business. Really, most any machine of mine that craps out mid-season tends to sit the rest of the year, until I have the time and inclination to deal with it, with 1-2 exceptions that's what I'm talking about, just grab the spare and hope it doesn't break too (some years are better than others lol) but the last thing you and I need is to be dealing with a repair the likes of an engine or a transmission replacement mid-season.

    So ...
    Get a commercial unit, you'll thank yourself later.
  8. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Oh I did want to mention, I don't think you want a luxury item starting out, and that would be a Ztr. At least for me the 60" Z is a status symbol, it's nice to have but unless you have a good dozen acre+ lots under your belt it's just not worth it, even then it eats money and fuel at astounding rates. The thing weighs a TON, it bulges tires on my trailer and makes the truck harder to drive, it even reduces the truck's mpg it's so heavy, and on a lawn the Hawg eats 2 gallons of fuel per hour! Yes, it has dual gas tanks (like a Jaguar LOL), these things fit 12 gallons of gas, that beast needs daily refueling if you use it all day. Think plopping down $30-$40 at the station, just for the Z.

    Most Lco's make the mistake of assuming, just because they frequently see a Ztr on someone else's trailer means this is an essential tool. But it isn't, most Z's on the back of the trailer belong to either a veteran who finally could afford it (meaning it's paid for OR he has the money), or to a newer Lco who made the mistake.

    Because I see it all the time, 1-2 year old Lco's get a Z, and that's the last year of their operation, all it takes now is a drought and them guys are done, if it takes that much to put them out. Really, these things cost 2-300 a month just in payments alone, on top of the gas, we haven't even started on maintenance and blades ($17 each) or belts yet.

    So I would, if I were you, look into getting a Wb first, I bought my first three of these machines USED for a thousand each, 3 thousand dollars got me through my first three years, in my 4th year I did buy a brand new Toro.

    Nowadays, and if money is an issue, a used machine isn't always the best bet, not with these Quick 36's, the Q36 is an excellent starter machine, buy one for 2g and you're set:

    You don't have to buy that one, might look at used Wb's as well, but that's likely the direction I would be headed, in your shoes.

    Other notes: The tires on my trailer are NOT B-load rated as I had thought, they are C rated, a heavier duty than the B, $100 each.
  9. GravelyNut

    GravelyNut LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,594

    One other thing to concider when looking into the size of the ZTR is how big are the gates that you need to get thru on fenced yards. Buy too big of a unit and have small gates, it will sit there earning no money. Down here, the 60" is common as due to zoning restrictions, non-city lots are in the 1 to 5 acre range.

    As for homeowner units being used for a business, can you say "voided or reduced warranty"?
  10. Leaf Jockey

    Leaf Jockey LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 376

    What machine is drinking 2 gallons of fuel per hour?


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