New Business, What Mower

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by MassLawnMan, Feb 15, 2005.

  1. MassLawnMan

    MassLawnMan LawnSite Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 7

    I am beginning a new lawn care business this spring, and have been researching walk behind mowers. Most lawns in this area are under 10,000sq. ft., so i feel that a 36"walk behind will be ok to start out. I have checked them all out, and I am stuck on belt driven verses hydro, and what brand is better. I am looking for quality, and operator friendliness. If anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear. Price is not main concern..
  2. PTP

    PTP LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tulsa
    Messages: 1,397

    I ran a 36" Wright Stander last year. The price is a little high but I am not sure that you could get a better product in that size.

    One of the biggest factors working solo is that you just get worn out. The stander will help with that. I was regularly mowing 13 or so city lawns per day. If I had a w/b, I could have still done it but it would have taken longer and I would have been more tired.

    Here is what I recommend. If you are planning on being in business for more than one year, first buy a commercial 21". I like Toro. At first, mow all of your properties with that mower until you get to busy - at least 20 properties - then buy the stander. You are going to need a 21" sometimes anyway.

    Since you are new to the business, here is a bit of advice. It is very easy for us in the lawn business to work for our equipment. A lot of guys are real proud of their new truck, trailer, mowers, and all of that but doesn't that seem like overkill for a simple residential lot? Try to use every piece of equipment on your trailer every time you pull up to a lawn. If you only use that new 60" Z once in a while, chances are that it is depreciating almost as fast as it is making you money. But the mower that you use every day - there is a good investment.
  3. Five Diamond Lawns

    Five Diamond Lawns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 197

    Some of the best advice I've seen on here in along time. :blob3:

    I agree but I would only add one thing and that is use the 21" as long as you can. Preferably one full season. Using a 21" you will learn the lawns and the business. Mowing in the spring is totally different than mowing in the summer, grass responds differently, you cut at different heights, you may mulch vs bag in the wet spring etc. Then fall hits and everything changes again. You will not learn as much sitting on top of a Z of riding on a sulky.

    That's all I can add to PTP's
  4. MassLawnMan

    MassLawnMan LawnSite Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 7

    thanks for the advice so far guys. PTP, your advice was awesome and much appreciated, I am researching 21" mowers as we speak. I am glad I found this site, it really helps build confidence in the new guys. Just a side bar, I have 10 years experience, 5yrs. on golf course, and 5yrs. for tgcl, so my experience along with all of the advice one can gain on this site, I have alot of confidence going forward. Thanks again...
  5. mkwl

    mkwl LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,700

    Get a Bob-Cat mower!!!! I have a Bob-Cat 48", belt drive w/15 HP Kawasaki engine, and I love it!!! I haven't had any problems with it at all!!! It is very easy to use, and doesen't tire you out like other brand belt drive mowers. It has a quality of cut and striping that are superior to all other brands!!! Bob-Cat makes both a "Classic" type as well as the more commercial (and therefore a little more expensive) "Professional Grade" type mower, which has larger drive tires as well as other heavier duty componants (mine is the "Professional Grade" mower). A Bob-Cat mower would serve you very well!!!! Get a Bob-Cat mower, and you will NOT be disappointed!!!!! :waving:

    Here is the Bob-Cat mower website:
  6. TClawn

    TClawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,036

    If your looking for a 36" I would check out the quick 36 super duty.

    I personally like a 21" honda commercial mowers too.
  7. PTP

    PTP LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tulsa
    Messages: 1,397


    Here are some random thoughts that I think will be helpful. Of course, there will probably be others that will disagree with me.

    It is good that you have the experience. It will give you a little edge in this business. I am assuming that you want to grow your business beyond a 1 man operation.

    Although you have experience, don't let it get in your way. It will be a little bit of help but it can also be a handicap. Here is what I mean. Many people, especially those with a lot of experience and knowledge, pride themselves on doing the best work. Now there is nothing wrong with doing the best work if that is what the customer wants and is willing to pay for. What do you think is the best car available? Some would say that it would be a Rolls Royce. Now, how many people own one of these? Very few. You see, many people offer "Rolls Royce" service in this industry but many customers don't want that. They want "Toyota" quality. They want an acceptable job done and they want to pay a reasonable price.

    If you want to build your business, try to work on your business rather than in it. Don't get caught up in the small details. Even mower selection would be part of this. When we are really honest with ourselves, we realize that since most of us were mowing since we were 10 years old, it doesn't take a whole lot of skill. But very few people can run a business. It takes qualities that most people don't have. But, they can be learned.

    Here is what you need to run a business.

    Mower - refer to my previous post. Commercial quality is a must. Honda or Toro for the 21"

    Truck/trailer - Buy what you need, not what looks best.

    Billing/scheduling - Quickbooks and Gopher

    Advertising - Doorhangers, yellowpages, postcards, door-to-door

    There you have it. That is about all of the physical things that you need. These things are not very hard to aquire. Anyone can do it. That is the problem. You need to seperate yourself from "anyone." You need to develop leadership skills and business strategies. Most people fail at this. Why do they fail if it is as simple as I laid out? Because they are not leaders, they can't get their crews to cooperate. They fail because they do not have a plan. They are going nowhere and are suprised when they get there. They fail because they do not have the determination required. They give up because it is easier to do something else. They give all sorts of reasons that they did not succeed. They blame it on the lowballers, their employees, the economy or anything else other than themselves.

    If this business will succeed, it will be because of you, and if it fails, you will be responsible. Don't attempt this with less than 100%.
  8. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,370

    All the advise given by PTP is absolutely right on! The 21" Honda is a very good machine especially for bagging. We also have several 21" Snappers we use for small areas and they are good.
  9. bushtrimmer

    bushtrimmer LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 351

    For someone doing yards up to 10k sq ft, a 36" (possibly belt drive) and a push mower is really the wrong way to go.
    I'm in business to make money at this and wouldn't even think to send a crew out to cut this size yards without a 52 or 60" hydro and a push mower minimum. A belt drive 36 wouldn't hurt to have on the trailer for the occasional large fenced in back yard. Have jungle wheels or equivelant on hydro.
    What I do send out on under 10k yards is a 36, 52, and 60" exmark TT and TThp hydros with jungle wheels and a push mower for a 3 man crew. Larger than 10k has a 36"TThp, 52" TT and 60" Lazer Z..
  10. jtkplc

    jtkplc LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,656

    You may want to look into a 52" Wright Stander. I have spent one season around them and they will go just about everywhere. The company I work for uses 52" and 61" Standers and we have a 21" on each trailer but it hardly ever comes off. The accounts have any possible situation except small gated back yards. The ones that have gates, are big enough to get in w/ a 52". I was impressed w/ the versatility of them. I was under the impression that you needed a 36" or so, but from my experience, you don't. From an article in Turf Magazine, the Stander is going to increase it's slower blade tip speeds, which in my opinion is about the only complaint I have w/ the Stander besides the fixed deck.

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