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Ideally, What should I be running?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Brieldo, Jun 7, 2002.

  1. Brieldo

    Brieldo LawnSite Member
    Messages: 192

    Being only 18, I'm no expert when it comes to the lawncare industry, however, I'd really appreciate it if you could give me some insight on some of these questions...Here's the scenario.
    My brother and I take care of 9 properties for a large construction company here in town...they are centrally located along about miles of highway. Their size ranges from a 15 minute job with a 60" JD 445 to about 2 hrs or more on the same machine, just for mowing. In some of these places, the trimming is very time consuming as there are pine trees, building edges, fence lines, telephone poles, railroad tracks, and other areas where the mower cannot get into. We also take care of 3 other commercial properties which take about an hour on the 445, plus trimming. My question is this. Ideally, should we be ditching the tractor for the amount of grass we're mowing. It seems like for what we're doing, a tractor just isnt the answer. I'm trying to pursuade my dad to let us get a Exmark Lazer Z EPS, but I need some ammunition to go at him with. The other issue with this whole deal is that I'm more than capable at selling myself and my product, but I'm a little leery of getting jobs in town which require perfection, and then taking my tractor on it which can scalp, miss, etc...I dont want to get all these jobs and then not be able to deliver. Do you guys have any guidance for me? Oh, and dont just say, "Get a ZTR.." I need some substantiated reasons=)
    Sorry this is so long... :dizzy:

    Thank you!
  2. maple city

    maple city LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 305

    I am interested to know why at age 18, your Dad is buying your equipment. Time to get out there and finance your own.

    I'm not an expert at Exmark pricing or mrdel numbers, but we were looking at an Exmark ZTR that was going for over 7000.00. I don't know if only 9 accounts are enough to support a peice of equipment like this. Although we have around 30 accounts, only 3 of them are large enough to make a ZTR worthwhile. We decided to wait on the Exmark.

    If you have a lot of trimming, maybe you should examine what kind of trimming equipment you are using. If you are not using commrecial grade equipment, upgrade. If you are only running 1 trimmer, maybe get another going at the same time.

    If you are interested in getting commercial accounts only and large properties, the ZTR would be a good investment. But you better make sure you will be able to get the accounts before you buy. Also consider that commercial properties sometimes require you carry a larger insurance policy, which is an added expense.

    If you are interested in doing residentials, it would be a poor investment. A lot of times, you can't get the larger equipment in areas where there are gates.

    If you start doing residentials, you can get business a lot easier. Seems like everyone wants to do only commercial properties. A lot of people bidding on them. Residentials can get you a lot of word-of-mouth business.

    Good luck.
  3. Brieldo

    Brieldo LawnSite Member
    Messages: 192

    Maple, thanx for your reply. The 9 accounts are part of one large account, and that's only a chunk of what we do. Just today, I got a cemetary account to do...takes 8 hrs with one ztr, so should take 4 with two. Trimming takes forever also, as you can imagine . Here's the scenario with why i've been thinking ztr.

    1. The residential properties Im looking at are big enough to warrent a machine that size. None of them are fenced or gated, and if they were, I woudlnt be able to take them on now because my tractor isj ust as wide as a ZTR.
    2. The commercial properties I'm doing and am working on picking up are too big for a walkbehind. Imagine doing that cemetary walking...It'd be murder on the lower torso. Plus, trimmability with a ztr is far superior to the tractor im using now.
    3. The idea of being able to go around all the trees and other areas we are trimming now with our COMMERICIAL quality Stihl FS200 is very enticing. It's very frustrating to have to come back with the trimmer to get stuff the mower should've gotten the first time when ti comes to trimming.
    4. I've tlaked with a couple people as to the approach of getting the jobs first and then geting the equipment vs. getting the equipment and then the jobs and both have interesting arguments. If you get the jobs first, there is potential to bury yourselef in work you cant keep up with. If you get the equipment first, there isnt that problem, but there is the problem with not having enough to do. It's a catch 22. Anyway, thank you for your response..I'm hoping for more!

  4. lawnkid

    lawnkid LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 935

    I agree with Maple city, why are you 18 and not paying for your equipment. I'm 14 and i pay for everything(gas, equipment, repair etc.) If you get the equipment first without much work you'll go out of business. I see a lot of guys in my area like you. They have a mower that is fine for the job and then they go and buy all of these expensive mowers, and trucks, and etc. and have not much business to support them. Get more business first! I cut parcels of land anywhere from 15, 000 sq. ft. to 40,000 sq. ft. with a 52" Scag Hydro. Think again before purchasing. Are you in college?????
  5. Brieldo

    Brieldo LawnSite Member
    Messages: 192

    I pay for everything, he just bought the machine...he uses it all winter to move snow, so it's not like I'm the sole user. Engine bearings go out, I pay for it. It needs filters and gas, I pay for it...my truck, i pay for it...i'm not coddled or anything by him, he just bought because he uses it too. Just wanted to clarify...why arent you out mowing, by the way?? :p I'm home for lunch, but gone now...later=)
  6. lawnkid

    lawnkid LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 935

    I got out of school at 9:30 on Tuesday so I finished all 16 of my accounts last night. I just got a call for some hedge trimming though for Monday. I like to take Fridays and the weekends off in the summer. :D :p
  7. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,912

    You are going to here alot of reasons why to get a Z .... but I like to look at it this way .... with my other brand 60" Z I was able to maintain account to that trailer in say 40hrs ....thats when it's all done ....

    with the Exmark 60 Lazer I performed the work in 35 hrs. ....or save 5 hrs that week .... I work 42 weeks yearly for a savings of 210 hours @ 35 per hour (or what ever you like to make per hour) ..... I saved or was able to perform that much more ( I saved 5 hours per week or I have 5 extra hours I can work) for a yearly saving or extra earning of $7350

    that mower .....when financed should run about $300 per month for 36 months or about $8400 if bought outright n set up a payment plan with dad at say 7% interest for him
  8. awm

    awm LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,354

  9. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Messages: 4,739

    Hey, your dad wants the JD GT too? Sell him your share of it and get a Z, or get him to sell it and put in a chip for a Z and get a snowplow for it, or if you can afford it, keep the JD and get a Z with a snowplow, take on more work mowing and snowplowing. Have the JD for mowing in open areas with little to go around and where quality of cut doesn't matter quite as much, and have the Z working at same time where there's more to trim around and needs nicer cut.
    Or keep JD as backup mower, and use it for snowplowing, lots of possibilities. Sounds like you need a ZTR though. If you want a snowplow on one, make sure that you get a brand that snowplows are made for (often made by an allied company, not mower mfg'r). I know of a few cemetaries mowed with JD 400 series (AWS I think) GT's, owned by the county and hire a guy to take care of the cemetary, including arrangements for hired help, etc. but most around here are hired out to people. Coincidentally, most use Dixie Choppers. That shouldn't make a difference but if you get one with the VTC (Velvet Touch Control) it might be alittle easier at the cemetary. Also known to be great mowers, practically indestructable. Have you ever ever heard anything bad about them on Lawnsite? If there was anything bad, I have never heard it in 2 years I've been here. That's a good record!

    Good luck!
  10. yardboyltd

    yardboyltd LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 323

    I'm 16 and just a 1.5 months ago bought a $7000 Gravely 260z w/ 25hp kohler and 60". I'm very glad to say that by the end of this month it should be paid for. It will let me have my financial freedom back... something you should be aware about. I always am aware of the fact that a large portion has to be set back going into these things. It's just tough having to squander every dollar after awhile. In my case I took out a 4 year loan to get payments low enough to be managable if something catastrophic happened or I wanted to focus my income somewhere else. However, I like to pay things off quick.

    My story is that I had just 6 or 7 accounts that I handled with a small 50" residential ZTR that was perfect for the job and still cut drastic time from a tractor. Then a very good businessman (started his own HVAC company 15 years ago. He now as over 30 crews. However he's very humble about his success.) gave me a chance was on a board of directors and offered me an oppertunity to bid on a large 4 city block apartment complex. It was then that my residential Z started maxing out in performance, and I couldn't afford to have downtime. So after doing many, many calculations in projected income, etc, I calcualted I could manage a new commercial. This is of course not possible without dad. HERE WERE MY SELLING POINTS: I'd get a large portion back when i goto resell, new mower, faster, TWO YEAR warranty was big for me and him. I try to run my own business, but I couldn't just go out and buy a new 7k mower without his permission...

    To conclude, as soon as I got that new mower, I was awarded two more LARGE contracts, and it's made me extremely glad I made the decision to buy, or else it would be impossible. Next year will be great. It will be paid for and I'll be able to confidently pursue larger jobs earlier.

    I do notice most companies, young owners or not, tend to start with wb's. I have yet to buy a wb. However a wb or Z would be well suited for residentials here, and most of my work is commercial where a Z payes off.

    Once this mower is paid off I plan on saving a little, investing a little, playing a little, blowing it off a little, and look for a new Trans Am a little. Then maybe end of this season or early next spring I'll get that new exmark 36". Then my setup will be complete for basically anything that comes my way. That's as much equipment a sole operator could really need. However the next stage in business growth could entail employing a worker. That's controversial with myself because my age leaves bigge barriers. I also don't know if I want to deal with an employee. I figured an employee could be costly.

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