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Zero Turns and the Residential Market

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by MOturkey, Sep 5, 2004.

  1. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,780

    I'm just curious what some of the rest of you think about the influx of "homeowner" zero turns and the eventual impact on the mowing business. I realize Dixon's have been around for years, but never seemed to really catch on in this area. I've also heard that they were not equivalent to today's technology. Now, however, my local Gravely dealer, who also sells the Toro line of consumer mowers, seems to be selling quite a few, and virtually every other retailer of any kind of power equipment has at least a couple parked on their sidewalk. Wal-Mart is the only one who seems to be behind the times, and I strongly suspect we'll see them start showing up there in the near future as well.

    I realize there are those that will always pay for lawncare, but for the middle-class who can easily afford one of these mowers, and figures out that mowing the lawn is actually kind of fun on one, plus cuts the time about in half, isn't it likely they will begin cutting into the residential market? I've also noticed here locally that more than one person with a "homeowner's" model zero turn seems to be picking up a property or two to mow on the side, probably thinking the few dollars extra income will pay for their new "toy".

    Is anyone else noticing this trend where they live?
  2. Tobe Lawn Care

    Tobe Lawn Care LawnSite Member
    Messages: 39

    Oh yea I've been noticing this for the last 2yrs. big time in this area. Anyone can cut grass right? This industry is too easy to jump into as far as capital investment. But that's why most of us are in as well. Sometimes I wish ztr mowers were priced like trucks. :)
  3. ALarsh

    ALarsh LawnSite Silver Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 2,412

    I have not seen one consumer ZTR yet being used by a homeowner. Even the Lazer CT is $4,800, a bit too much for the average middle class homeowner to fork over for a lawn mower. Over here, the trend is either get a cheap craftsman or have it professionally done.

    Plus, at the price of yards over here, you can get nearly 5 years worth of service for $5,000. I would chose professionally done because you don't have to worry about maintenance, you don't have to take the time out of your day to cut the grass and you can go on vacation without worrying about your yard. There are just too many advantages over here to have it professionally done than to get a consumer ztr.
  4. RichmondR

    RichmondR LawnSite Member
    Messages: 106

    I'm currently in the market for one myself, but I'm looking at a "real" commercial model, either the Toro Z-440/450 or JD 717A/727A, to replace my JD 38" lawn tractor on a 2 acres lawn with lots of obstacles. I dont know that simply the fact that homeowner ZTRs are now available will cause folks who currently have their grass cut by someone else switch to a ZTR. I bet most of the residential ZTRs will go to people like me who have a lawn tractor already and would like to get done more quickly, so I doubt it will lessen the market for LCOs.

    BTW, the reason I'm getting one of these commercial models is because, above all, I want the cut quality. The consumers ZTRs basiclaly have the same decks as lawn tractors. I also ruled out one of the "estate" models (like the Lazer CT or Toro Z-400) because the price difference isnt that great vs. the commercial machines, especially over the useful life of one of these machines in residential use. Also, should I ever want to sell, I think the estate models are more of a niche market, versus selling one of the commercial models which presumably would have a bigger market.
  5. Eric 1

    Eric 1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,220

    I said that the other day when doing an estimate, the man stood there, gaping, then said "I never thought of it like that" duh. :rolleyes:

    he took back the $300 push mower he just bought and i got the job. :cool:
  6. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,699

    If you haven't seen it already you probably won't. I read somewhere, probably OPE, that consumers already account for the lion's share of commercial mower sales.

    You may see additional sales in the junky ZTR market like the Ariens Sport-Zoom but those same people would have bought some sort of rider anyway.
  7. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,143

    People who pay for lawn care want someone else to do it because they don't have time, don't wanna do it, etc. I suppose there might be a few folks who would stop paying for it to buy one of those residential mowers. I think the majority of my customers are too busy, too old, or not into it and just wanna pay to have it done.
  8. naturescaretaker

    naturescaretaker LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 854

    On the opening page of our website we have:

    It wasn't all that long ago that the average American took all day Saturday or Sunday ... and then some to do yard work. In fact most of us spent the better part of the day doing yard work. It was a family tradition in America. Now we are at the beginning of a new century. With Americans having less time for their "fun time" don't you think it is time that you did something about that?

    At Coastal Greenscapes we want to give you back some of your freedom. By letting us care for your grounds maintenance, it will give you back hours of free time to do the things that you would rather be doing, like spending time with your family, recreation or just relaxing. Just think about it for a minute. 38 weekends per year multiplied by an average of 6.6 hours of yard work per week equals 250.8 hours per year or just over 10 days each year! What could you do with an extra 10+ days a year? What is your time worth? Freedom.... that's what our service is about... giving you more of it. ​

    The customers that go to our website and call us go "Like Dah... I never thought about that. I could be golfing 10 more days."
  9. CapnDean

    CapnDean LawnSite Member
    Messages: 80

    I fall into that category. Sorta. I am 40 years old and work as a school administrator. I mow my lawn & my elderly mother's lawn. Each lawn is a little more than an acre and they are located about 1.5 miles apart. Having cut both lawns for many years with a Snapper rear engine rider - - This time I decided to treat myself. I bought a commercial Cub Cadet Tank 48".

    Yes it was on the cheaper end of a commercial unit ($5400). Yes it is overkill for the 2 lawns that I cut. But I have learned several things in the process.

    #1) Mowing is more enjoyable than it was before. It used to be a PITA chore.

    #2) It takes me an hour and 15 minutes to do both lawns, including travel time. With my snapper it took 4 hours. Not to bash the Snapper...it held up well to the use. It was just slower and a 38" cut at that.

    #3) Commercial grade mowers leave a finer cut than residentials. I always felt that the Snapper left a better cut than most riding mowers. The ground speed was restricted if you wanted a sharp looking lawn. (Drive too fast and leave a crappy cut in the turn). My Tank leaves a fine looking yard even when I go fast.

    #4) There is a learning curve to using a ztr - - I can do it now without leaving circular divots in the yard where I spin.

    #5) There is no substitute for high quality tools.

    In my case the economics aren't really the big issue - - Sure the 0% financing and the initial purchase price of the Cub swayed me, but I don't pay myself to cut my lawn - - I don't charge my mom either. I just figured that spending $2500 on a new Snapper every 10 - 12 years or going ahead and getting the Cub would likely pan out the same.

    I know that Cub is somehow tangled up with MTD. But I did make the mistake of buying a Yard Machine Rider one time. In one season it visited the shop 4 times. On the 5th, I took it back to Lowes and got a pro-rated refund.

    Ya get what ya pays for....
  10. Sneaky

    Sneaky LawnSite Member
    Messages: 58

    I agree with greenscapes. Half of my new clients this year have been from people whose mower tore up. When they compared buying a new one or paying the same amount for a few years service, I have won.

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