Would it be a horrible idea to use a residential zero turn for a small one man operation?

scratch123

LawnSite Member
Location
Charleston
Hi everyone, new here and loving all of the great info! I'm a professional musician in my other life and when the pandemic started I began mowing lawns to make some extra money. I have enjoyed it and am thinking of taking on more clients as the music work still isn't back to what it was. I have a snapper rear engine rider that has gotten me by, but its pretty slow. So, if I do decide to expand (I'm only doing about 7 properties a week at them moment, I'd like to be doing about 15 a week) would it be a horrible idea to get an upper level residential zero turn, or would it be a much better idea to go ahead and invest in a lower level commercial mower? I've seen quite a few small operators around town using what look to be residential models, but I wonder if they last them more than a couple of seasons? I don't really want to spend 10K on a mower as it would take me some time to make that back, however financing it may make that sort of purchase feel doable... Any advice anyone may have would be much appreciated. Thank you for your time!
 

JLH52

LawnSite Senior Member
It's possible that you might find a used low hr. commercial mower at a reasonable price. It may take some searching, but there are plenty available.

Then again, there's much to know when buying used. Your question is a hard one because there are so many variables.
 

Freaky Fido

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
Northeast USA
Yeah, you can do that but they're not designed for that and won't hold up in the long run. You might want to consider a used commercial walk-behind instead. Ransomes-BobCat, Scag, Exmark etc. Good starter machines and they're plentiful on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. You can add a sulky to ride for the bigger lawns.
 

Youngandfree

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
VA
I had a Hustler raptor I got for free from a friend with 35 hours on it. It had clutch problems from before I got and for the time I had it. It put about 100hrs on it. Replaced the clutch. Bought a scag and sold the hustler to my brother this spring. He used it for his yard a few times, and clutch stopped. Replaced clutch under warranty. Used it twice. Said yesterday blades failed to come on. Has 190 hrs on it. Clutch stopping has jammed me up a few times while mowing my dozen yards. That's why I upgraded to a scag Tiger Cat 2. A Scag Patriot is about the lowest grade mower I'd go with.
 

Youngandfree

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
VA
Secondly, I'm doing 16 yards nights and weekends outside of my M-F 730-4 career. I wanted something that is reliable and faster than a residential mower. One of my easiest accounts is flat and open in the back, roughly 8-10,000 sq ft. I could run flat out with my Hustler. The first time running my scag, I shaved 18 or so minutes off. Same 52" deck size. As a solo with limited time, being fast as possible is important.
 

Hawkshot99

LawnSite Silver Member
Location
New York
Could you? Maybe.

I had a residential Cub ztr that I used for a part time machine. Maybe 10 lawns or so at that time. By the 2nd year, there was plenty of issues popping up causing problems. The mower is just not built to be used much.

After buying my 1st commercial walk behind I sped up my work. As the cut was far better and I could go faster leaving better results(was a 50" ztr vs 48" wb)

My current Ferris WB i bought as a leftover for 5k. I think I put 2k down, and was supposed to pay $78 a month for 48 months, 0 interest. I paid extra and paid off early. I have had no issues with stuff breaking in the 4 yrs I've run it, and fully trust when I go out mowing, it will work.
 

jod788

LawnSite Member
Eh...doable, but if you’re anticipating ramping up to that many yards you’ll inevitably put a little bit of a beating on it regardless of how careful you are. Find a good dealer who is close and can fix the machine. Bobcat, as just one of many examples, makes what I think would be a commercial enough mower for someone like yourself for around $6500. I put 600
Hours on a Hustler Fastrak with almost zero issue. Belts and a spindle. No big deal.
 

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