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The best mower is the one that works best for you.
 

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You already have the best mower. That is, the best for certain applications. If you’re looking for a 60” ZTR, then I assume you’ll be looking for much different accounts than you have now.

That 36” Stander has many strong points. You can quickly mow front and back yards without the need for a second mower. I have one and have gotten rid of every account that requires anything smaller.

If that 36” Stander is your main mower, you don’t need a large trailer and any extra liability insurance that goes with it. Consequentially, you don’t need a large truck with a large engine to pull a large trailer, so you don’t spend a lot of money on gasoline. Nor do you need to spend more on gasoline for a thirsty engine that drives a 60” deck. Additionally, you don’t need to carry an extra $30k worth of replacement insurance for all that extra equipment (larger truck, larger trailer, plus 60” ZTR and stuff). Bottom line is, that you can make your overhead so low with just a 36” Stander, that you could almost net the same amount as if you had a 60” ZTR. Almost.

Currently you don’t have a 60” deck that will produce $60/hour. But from my experience, you should be pulling in $40/hour. If not, then you’re problem is low pricing (not a small deck); and that problem will carry over to the larger mower (and accounts) as well, but in a larger magnitude.

Rounding off odd numbers, let’s say you’re currently charging 85% of the market potential. So you get about $35/hour, shorting yourself $50 a day ($1,000/month if you work five 10-hour days a week during the summer). Larger decks don’t really pay off until you get on larger properties. If you have a 60” ZTR and you charge 85% of the market rate, you’ll be shorting yourself about $100 a day ($2,000/month).

Since you don’t have those large accounts right now, I assume you’ll be offering price incentives to land them. Sure, you’ll be making $50 an hour versus the $35 you might be getting now, but your expenses will go way up. With a rig like you’re thinking, I spend about $500/month on gas, about $200/month on insurance, plus extra blades, filters, oil, you name it. If the total difference in expenses is $2,000 more a month, that’s about $10/hour.

If you could take full advantage of the potential you have right now, you could boost your rate to $40/hour ($1,000 more per month with no additional expense). However, if you aren’t charging what the market will bear, and get a 60” ZTR, then your expenses will go up with your revenue, but only to about $50/hour. FURTHER, it could cost you $10,000-$30,000 in equipment just to get that extra $10/hour, plus the extra $2,000/month in expenses (which negates that extra $10/hour).

The result is if you’re not charging full market potential, and go to a 60” ZTR, you could easily net the same $40/hour at your fingertips right now, only it could easily cost you $10-30k for the pleasure. Sure, if you can get $60/hour or more, then you’ll be getting ahead much faster. But why should these large accounts choose you unless it’s costing them less money? It’s easy to underbid large accounts. Plus, big accounts can be risky to your business.

No telling what you’ll run into, but if you get a few fairly large accounts, they could easily take 20-25% of your time. Those things come and go. How do you think you got them? But companies go bankrupt; they avoid layoffs by having their employees cut the grass; the owner’s wife wants a divorce (and liquidates the business to get her half); some new accountant bends the ear of the property manager and now their nephew with his new Cub Cadet will be handling the lawn; etc. Whatever the reason, if you lose 25% of your business in one shot early in the season, chances are slim that you’ll replace it soon, if ever that season. Contract or not, if they want to get rid of you, you’re gone.

But mowing with a 36” Stander, you’re probably not going to get locked into a large account, it’ll mostly be small to medium sized lawns. Those come and go as well, but the loss of one or two of those can easily be replaced. Don’t get me wrong, you can make much more money at a much faster rate with a larger mower, but you have to know what it’s going to cost you. If you’re charging at the market potential, and have lined out your current business to the point of being stream-lined, and still want more, then save up $30k for a new truck, trailer, and 60” ZTR.
 

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I had all kinds of mowers. There all listed down at the bottom of the post. I just traded them all in on a push type reel mower. The blades arnt that sharp, and its a little rusty, but who cares.

I find that I can mow bigger places much faster then any ZTR or walk behind power mower.

Oh, did you know in the old days they would fence in goats and such around the house? They do a swell job of keeping the grass down. Cow and live stock will eat it a whole field down to the nub.
 

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Demo several brands that are sold in your area. Its important that you demo them on YOUR properties. That is the only way to know what will work best for you.

We run all eXmark mowers. They have been extremely reliable and the cut is awesome. Hustler makes a top notch machine as well. Just demo.
 

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I think Murray, MTD or Craftsman ALL are awesome mowers that will hold up well! I mean heck, Instead of buying one $9,000 mower, just buy 9 Murrays! Remember the slogan? " Murray mowers. Tuff as they come! " They wouldnt dare mislead would they?
Now I wonder if Murray sells a striping kit?
 

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Originally posted by 65hoss
Demo several brands that are sold in your area. Its important that you demo them on YOUR properties. That is the only way to know what will work best for you.

We run all eXmark mowers. They have been extremely reliable and the cut is awesome. Hustler makes a top notch machine as well. Just demo.
What hoss said and make sure the dealer support is good also, the machine ain't worth crap if the support isn't there.
 
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