Riders vs. Walkbehinds...my experience after one season

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by PR0 TURF, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,724

    Perhaps its a CT thing ZTRs are not rare nor are they the Cadillac here they are the most commonly used mower you will see here. About 8 out of every 10 mowers here is a ZTR. Now when I started in this trade back in 1989 walk behinds were all over the place and the better funded companies used scag 3 wheelers. Times changed and Exmark owns the area there are 500 plus ZTRs in my cutting area well over 150 crews with 2 ZTRs on their trailer and over half are Exmark. I have no idea what people are talking about when they claim walk-behinds are more efficient. My prices would be considered low by most of you and we do 800-1100 a day mowing per 2 man crew. How many 2 man walk behind crews out there bring in over 1000 a day mowing?
  2. LandFakers

    LandFakers LawnSite Fanatic
    from CT
    Messages: 6,309

    It's definitely a CT thing... Most guys run 2 ZTR's and a 36 for gates. Everybody has at least 1
  3. SDLandscapes VT

    SDLandscapes VT LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 581

    So KL who makes more then:

    My two man crew who bills $800 for the day or your two man crew

    3/4 ton truck, 84" x 14' trailer, two Exmark 48" s series walkbehinds ( the S & D setup for 2 man)
    3/4 ton truck 84" x 16' or 18', 2 Exmark 60" ZTR's and one 36 Exmark walkbehind

    It's not about efficiency so much as it is about margins--but the efficiency is closer than you could imagine
  4. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,724

    Ummm hard to say never said I run 2 60s on a crew if I did I make a lot more. No crew one is a 2003 60 inch lazer and a 2004 44 inch lazer crew 2 is a 2005 52 inch lazer and wait for it a 2005 36tthp our one walk behind. I think you can probably guess my mowers have long since paid for them selves. As for trucks we seemed to have skipped over the 3/4 ton Iv never owned one. I run 2 brand new ram 4500s but if your happy with your little truck great more power too ya.
  5. SDLandscapes VT

    SDLandscapes VT LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 581

    No i know you have bigger trucks--I held that the same for comparison to level all the other variables. The bigger truck eats further into the margin in cost of ownership, fuel, insurance, etc. I have bigger trucks too, but not for mowing.

    Even still you have larger zero turns--they cost more to purchase, they cost more to run, they cost more to replace which leads me to if you could make more money with 2 60" mowers why haven't you replaced and upgraded--every day you don't is lost opportunity if the business is truly there.
  6. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,557

    We pay less than 6k for new 60" lazer zs. S series, no need for the x series in our properties.

    Costs are closer than you think. Turf damage is irrevelant if people know how to cut grass. The argument about a truck towing lazers vs. walk behinds is laughable. Walk behinds have their place. Just not as a main mower in a large company

    Granted, we have 6 or 7 mowing crews adding 2 more next year. We will be adding 3 more lazers I believe and we're going to try some Standers as well
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  7. SDLandscapes VT

    SDLandscapes VT LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 581


    During graduate school I had the opportunity to work at a company that had over 20 mowing crews out of two shops and I argued and argued for more Z's for all of the above reasons--less fatigue, "faster," more "efficient" etc. And we would spar back and forth about this issue. They took care of all commercial and multi family sites all on the larger end of the spectrum. They had over 20 years of equipment data on cost of ownership and ROI and frankly it's damning. I completed school and returned to VT where we ramped up the business I left before school. I was convinced that a fleet of riders was the way to go, but I found that it was eating up too much time and money for the little bit that they saved in "efficiency" We jumped in with both feet, conceded to the data, and couldnt be happier with the results both in quality and to the bottom line. What I am saying is this is a big trend--Brickman uses a high percentage of walkbehinds, Prescription (www.rxlandscape.com) made the switch, Proturf made the switch, and many other companies are making the switch.

    And you talk about people who know how to cut grass--we have such a labor shortage that we need to make all the processes bulletproof and minimize damage potential as we are lucky to get breathing employees.

    The takeaway here is not to use Z's or not to use Z's but to know what your operating costs are so that you are charging accordingly for recovery and profit.
  8. BigGreen1

    BigGreen1 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 297


    I have a 60" TT with a 20 hp Kohler. The twenty will turn double blades fine. This year I grabbed a mulch kit for my mower. The difference in cleanup time is significant. The wavy mulching blades leave grass that is 3/8 inch or so. The grass does not spray everywhere either. I have to wait until the heavy wet grass of spring is gone before I install the kit. I also suggest washers to fine-tune your height adjustment. I adjust in 1/8" increments.

  9. Groomer

    Groomer LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,681

    It's funnd SD mentioned Brinkman. While at my dealer this morning he showed me all the mowers he had put together for them. What were they? About 10 (or more) 60" Turf Tracer WB's.
  10. LandFakers

    LandFakers LawnSite Fanatic
    from CT
    Messages: 6,309

    I haven't broken down any of my fuel usage, efficiency ratio, but seeing as I only have a small operation, I need the ZTR for the bagging abilities alone! The only complaint I have with the Zero is that it's almost impossible to mow on a wet and soft lawn. You can make a lawn look like cornrows real quick

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