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Is it worth it?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by DFW Area Landscaper, Jul 17, 2006.

  1. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,116

    This weekend, I decided, before I make all the repairs to our Honda 21" mowers, I would clean them up. I stopped in at Northern Tool and bought a small electric pump that produced 1400 psi.

    I lined all 9 Hondas up and started cleaning them with this thing. By the time I finished, they all looked a lot cleaner, but they were still filthy. The high pressure spray does nothing to remove the green grass stains.

    So then, I got a buck of soapy water and a cloth. This required pure elbow grease. I cleaned 3 of them as best I could and it took about an hour and a half.

    The next day, I decided to use a scrub brush and a bucket of soapy water. That was the ticket. I scrubbed down every square inch of these machines. I would guess each machine took about 30 minutes each. They all look very nice now.

    So....my question is....assuming this cleaning would take around 15 minutes per machine if done every week or every other week...is there any reason to keep the equipment looking shiny and clean? Do customers notice it? Do dissatisfied clients of other LCO's notice it?

    DFW Area Landscaper
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I've been through this exact same process, it is the reason I now only wash my machine a few times a year but I also find it mostly makes a difference in my mind. I find the powerwashers over time strip the paint, so I stopped doing it that way.

    It is still a good thing to do, I also find like you said, soap and bucket and elbow grease is the best way (not to mention the cheapest).
    I like using dishwashing detergent like Dawn except I buy the stuff at the Dollar Store since I like to use lots of it to where the water is REALLY soapy lol, it helps cut the grease some... Also, a bag of rags helps, a lot of the grease just won't come off except onto the rags.

    I like doing it when I got nothing better to do, or am short on work, something to keep me busy. Certainly it's still nicer to have a shiny mower than a dirty one, I DO think customers notice but it's something in the back of their minds, it's not the most important thing on the agenda for them, but if they have eyesight then they can see it :)
  3. Brendan Smith

    Brendan Smith LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,195

    everytime it rains (which isn't often lately) mine gets washed. i do clean the buildup of leaves/grass/dirt off of the top of the deck and from around the pulleys once a week or so, but that's about it.
  4. stuffdeer

    stuffdeer LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,617

    I wash my equipment including truck and trailer once a week.
  5. Freddy_Kruger

    Freddy_Kruger LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,064

    I once tried a pressure washer on my truck (yeah just my truck; just dirt) and it didn't do anything but when I go to the car wash and use their pressure washer with heated water and soap injected it works great.

    When my truck is super dirty I spray it with soapy water water then I use that giant scrub brush, then rinse. I would try and wash the mower at a car wash I haven't washed my mower yet so I don't know if it works for something so greasy. As for if customers notice I'm not so sure, I don't even notice when I check out other lco's, I suppose if it was bright red I might think they just bought a new one, probably a thief would want to steal it more.
  6. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,116

    Taking 9 mowers to the car wash isn't practical, for me. The only thing that worked to clean these mowers was a scrub brush and lots of Joy soap.

    Our mowers were literally brown before I cleaned them. Ugly as they could be. When the workers arrived this morning, one of the crew leaders asked if I had bought all new mowers this weekend.

    If there is no benefit, in terms of customer loyalty or prospects being impressed with clean equipment, I see no reason to do it. The only other benefit I can see to keeping it clean is, perhaps the workers see that if we value our equipment enough to clean it, then they would take better care of it.

    So, the consensus is, there is no way to recoup the money spent cleaning the mowers on a regular basis in terms of new clients or more loyal clients????

    DFW Area Landscaper
  7. Splicer

    Splicer LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 992

    Believe me...Customers DO notice a nice clean shiney machine just as much as they notice a scummy, brown, dull looking machine...The same goes for your truck...

    Ask yourself this...Would you want your neighbors to see the latter parked in front of your $250,000 home or would you rather them see the former???
  8. mike lane lawn care

    mike lane lawn care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,707

    a few of my customers would care if i had filthy, dirty equipment, over nice clean and sparkling equipment on their lawns. as theese customers have "show lawns". once every two weeks, i remove the deck scrub all the dirt of, scrub the tractor, scrub the trimmer, scrub the 21" mower, and it all lokks like it was never used before. also with the broadmoor, every once in a while i will use a paint ceaner polish and a clear coat on it to help keep it shiney. customers do notice theese things, they think, "if he can't even take care of his equipment, can he really take care of my lawn?"
  9. Budget

    Budget LawnSite Senior Member
    from Pa.
    Messages: 368

    Yes they do notice. I got a comment on my Ferris the otherday.
  10. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,116


    I think you are right that some customers may notice the cleanliness of the mowers. I know they notice the appearance of the vehicle and trailer. The mowers are clearly less important.

    I just don't know if it would be worth the extra payroll expense to keep all the mowers clean and shiny. That is a lot of work. The number one reason clients cancel service is because of reasons beyond our control...moving/laid off/new car payment. I am sure the reasons are similar for other lawn mowing companies.

    When clients sign up for service, they are usually calling from word of mouth or a paid form of advertising. They don't see the mowers when they sign up for service.

    The only possible benefit I can see for paying for mower washing is that a client who is dissatisfied with another lawn mowing company might notice our equipment. Cleaner equipment might translate into better, more reliable service in their mind.

    DFW Area Landscaper

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