Lawn care equipment downtime costs money.

When you are just starting up your lawn care business, you will most likely use whatever equipment you can get your hands on. Whether it be commercial or consumer grade equipment. But as you are in business for a longer period of time, you will most likely move towards using commercial grade equipment. But from this discussion I had on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, not everyone goes that route.

I asked the lawn care business owners on the  forum what do they prefer, consumer or commercial grade lawn mowers and this is what they told me.

- “Commercial and only commercial grade. The latest push mower I just bought was commercial. It is built to last 20 years. The motor will probably go before the body of this mower. The body is built out of cast aluminum. I could bash it with a hammer all day and it wouldn’t break. It would probably break my hand first. The thing weighs around 132 lbs but it is self propelled. It cost me about $1,000.”

- “I recently bought a new mower and decided it wasn’t worth the $1,200 - 1,500 I would be paying for a commercial grade mower. As long as you’re not thrashing your mower around, a high end consumer model works just as well. Before this, I had used a cheap piece of junk that I bought for about $250 and it lasted 3.5 years. The new lawn mower I bought was $500 and has a two year warranty for everything. It’s solidly built and I haven’t had any problems yet.”

- “I am a big believer in commercial grade lawn equipment all the way.

There are a few reasons for this:

1) The average commercial lawn equipment is built better than the average consumer lawn equipment. You might get lucky with a consumer unit but ordinarily commercial is going to outperform consumer every time.

2) Running commercial equipment gives a sense of professionalism to your business. If customers see you with the same ratty lawn mowers they have in their shed, they may decide they can do just as good a job themselves.

3) Downtime costs money. A day or two of lost productivity can counteract the money you saved by buying a consumer unit.

4) It’s important to build business relationship with local outdoor power equipment dealers. Buying from equipment dealers has perks. Those guys know the inside scoops on lots of contracts and upcoming jobs. If you have been a good customer to them, they will scratch your back too and give you the low down.

As far as number of hours before thinking about trading goes, I guess I’ve always had good luck with my equipment. I’m a firm believer in a very strong maintenance schedule. Oil changes, filter changes, lubrication, weld cracks before they get out of control, replace bearings, etc. I guess I’ve never really thought about trading in equipment before about 2,500 to 3,000 hours for most of my commercial mowers, you can’t touch those figures with a consumer grade product.”

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