Qeustions from a new guy.

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by gmanlq, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. gmanlq

    gmanlq LawnSite Member
    Messages: 50

    Hi all,

    Need your thoughts. A little background first since I'm new in a way. Love all the posts...they've been very helpful.

    I used to cut 40 lawns a week in high school and college with eletric trimmer, blower and a 21" mower.

    I'm looking into buying a 36in. Metro from Exmark. I have 10 customers from last season, which I started late in July. Hope to pass out flyers and have 40 lined up by May 1st...don't know if it can be done but I'm going to try.

    Last season I was using a 21in. Craftsman mower. Did buy a BR420 Stihl blower and the Stihl KM55 (combi unit with edger, trimmer, and adjustable hedger attachemnts)...hoping it will make it though another season or two. In the next month or so I'm going to buy a 6' x 12' enclosed trailer to haul my stuff around and advertise. The new trailer looks like it will be in the $3000 range.

    All of my customers are residential with 1/2 acre lots or smaller. My biggest yard would take me about 1.5 hours to cut, edge, blow (no bagging) the bermuda grass. I'm thinking of buying the 36" Metro from Exmark and adding the bagger and sulkie so I can ride it. Need to be able to get through the gates in my customers yards so I can't go bigger. Perhaps next year I'll get a bigger one. I'd love to get a hydro but can't afford the $5500+ price this season...again maybe next season. I have to make money at this ($50K this season would be nice) or my wife is going to ax it all and then I end up working for some corporation which I detest. I'd like to know what you guys make per year for a one man show only without crew help? Would help ease the wife's jitters if she sees others making money at this without a crew.

    What do you guys think of the 36" Metro from Exmark as being my main mower this season with the 21" craftsman for narrow spots? Any tips on what spare parts I need in the trailer for this mower? Got a 125 piece toolkit and an extra trimmer spool for the KM55. I want to ride the Metro with a Sulkie so I can go faster. Thought about a zero-turn rider but many of my lawns have steep slopes and I prefer to be safe then flipped. Perhaps next year I could afford that.

    Thanks for the advice and input.
  2. MOTES

    MOTES LawnSite Member
    Messages: 90

    welcome to the site. If you are still planning on using the 21" ,then i would go with 48" exmark (if you can pay for it), I would not get the zturn yet. Get your smaller one before getting bigger. I didn't mention 36" because seem that you are planning on keeping the 21". If i was you, I would not have 21" and the 36" together because you will soon find out that you will never want to use the 21" again, unless you have a gate that only a dog can squeeze through. Timing wise, you can cut your time in half on all your with a 36". Others might have different opionion. Bottomline is, try to stay away from 21" and Most common that lawn services uses are 36", 48", and 60". Hope this helps. Good luck.
  3. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,889

    go with the 48
  4. Valk

    Valk LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,726

    Around here, backyards tend to be larger than frontyards...and if gated, well, maybe SOL getting a larger mower in.

    My best advice: Take the time and physically measure all your gates. I cut 36" and 40" piece of string and found that a 36 (which tend to be at least 38"+ wide) will not fit through too many of my gates leading into BIG back yards...so am graduating to a 32 first.

    Hopefully your gates will allow a 36 or a 48 access.

    Being judicious and selective in taking on new clients through selective advertising or flyer distribution can help get you the kind of lawns you need in more convenient locations.

    Good luck!
  5. fertguy2008

    fertguy2008 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 82

    Hello gmanlq.
    I'm from your area.
    Dude, if you have good 21 and not too many fenced narrow gated large back yards to worry about, get a 48. Belt drives are OK especially starting out. 36" hydro is pretty efficient and can do more than you think but cost more $$$. Are you going to Howard Brothers Pro Day next week?
  6. Groh's Mows

    Groh's Mows LawnSite Member
    Messages: 155

    I am a part timer, so some of my experience doesn't apply. I have found situations in the neighborhoods where I work similar to what Valk posted. There are many smaller properties here in Wichita where the back yard is 2 or 3 times larger than the front yard and where a 32" or 36" mower is your only option. Lots of guys on this site turn their nose up at these properties and only want to mow wide open areas with 10 plus mph ztr mowers that have 72" decks. Fine, and there is obviously an need for that, but don't get the mindset that you have to have that huge equip to succeed. My "Big Mower" is a 36" walk-behind and I take yards the big guys don't even come out and bid. Here is an idea I got off this site: cut a dowel rod or board about an inch wider that the widest part of your mower (when you get one) and take it along when you bid yards to check gates and narrow spots. If you can't use your big mower and will have to use the push mower you bid higher to account for the extra time. I have done 20 or more weekly yards part time, so I am currious why you are aiming for only 40 accounts? Exmark with ecs controls is hard to beat by the way. Good luck.
  7. coonman

    coonman LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 686

    Great post, I too take all the smaller yards nobody else wants. For the new guy, I would be a little leary of all the anti 21 talk. A good 21 inch mower is extremely valuable on small properties. In other words if you do not have one you will take yourself out of the bidding of some properties, due to the gates, layout etc. That being said, the 36 should speed you up a bunch on the larger properties. Tell your wife there is plenty of money to be made, it all depends on your route. I would think you would shoot for 50 lawns for now. It will take a little while to get that many, but they will come. That will bring you around 40k for mowing, add some gutter clean outs and other extras, you would be up around 50k gross. Obviously you have costs and taxes to take from that, but you should be fine and much happier if you detest the corporate world.
  8. JohnnyCuts

    JohnnyCuts LawnSite Senior Member
    from iowa
    Messages: 256

    FWIW I'm a newbie also. The only reason I'm here is because my snow removal customers asked if I do lawns also. There are some excellent threads here about low overhead setups. Most notably from Howard Roark (I think thats his username) with a Quick 36 WB and a 21 in the back of pickup with a fold up tailgate ramp and a rack for trimmers/blowers etc. Seems like an extremely efficient setup for the smaller lawns you are talking about. Don't know the price of the Exmark but I bet this setup would save you 4-5k right from the get go. That may help put your wife at ease:dizzy: Use an S-10 or Ranger instead of a 3/4 ton and you can imagine your fuel savings. Just my
  9. gmanlq

    gmanlq LawnSite Member
    Messages: 50

    What is the Howard Brothers Pro Day? Details. If you have any customers that you don't want please let me know if in the Cumming area. I'll go bigger on lawn mowers next season...I need to stop using the 21" but have to get through some gates and 48" would not fit.
  10. gmanlq

    gmanlq LawnSite Member
    Messages: 50

    Liked the dowel rod idea. I got a tape measurer on my keychain as I'd probably forget to take the rod with me as I'm walking the yard. Perhaps I should consider a 32" mower if a 36" wouldn't fit. Got a piece of advice from my hardward guy that cuts lawns on the side and he said 36" would fit most gates.

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