Balancing Productivity and Mower Cost

 June 8, 2017

The math is easy: if you have a riding lawn mower with a wider deck and greater speeds, you’re going to cover a lot more ground than you would with a push mower or smaller model. More coverage means you can mow more lawns in a day. More lawns in a day equals better income for your business.

However, when it comes to long-term financial viability, running a mowing business isn’t that simple. A high-end mower requires a greater up-front investment, but it also has the potential to push your business to the next level.

Mower Productivity Charts

Before you go through the trouble of calculating your own mower speeds and deck widths against the amount of terrain you have to cover, we suggest you take a look at Exmark’s mower productivity chart. This will allow you to gauge the difference between your current mower and other options currently on the market.

For example, just moving from a 42” deck to a 48” deck might not give you a huge change in acres covered, but making that leap – while also choosing the top-speed mower – could result in a significant improvement in productivity. Not only can you cover more area, but you’ll spend much less time doing it. If you have the workload to support increased capacity, then upgrading might make sense.

Match the Equipment to the Terrain

Anyone who’s spent a lot of time mowing knows that a bigger, faster, more powerful mower isn’t always going to be an improvement. You also have to factor in things like operator skills, the terrain you’re working on, and site conditions—not to mention the time needed for loading and unloading the equipment, and travel to job sites.

That’s why any productivity calculation should also take into account the different types of mowers in your fleet. Many business owners find that instead of buying more of the same type of mower, it makes sense to diversify: a walk-behind mower for quick and easy precision, a powerful zero-turn mower for lots of coverage, and a stand-on mower for the hilly terrain.

Creating a tracking system for acres covered and time needed for transit can help you determine if an upgrade or addition to your fleet makes sense. If the bulk of your operator times are being spent on the ground covering large areas, then a faster and wider mower could make a difference to your bottom line. However, if you spend a lot of time driving to small city lawns, you may want to consider a lighter, more portable walk-behind.

Additional Benefits of Enhanced Mowers

When you upgrade to a newer or larger mower, you also have to factor in the other operational costs that contribute to your income. For example, an older model mower may have difficult-to-find parts or need continual maintenance that could end up costing you more in the long run than a newer model.

Other benefits to a new mower (or fleet of mowers) can include:

  • Lower repair costs
  • Easier maintenance
  • Higher resale value
  • Greater employee comfort
  • Improved client satisfaction

Many of these things are difficult to quantify, but should still be included in your overall look at your productivity.

Knowing When to Upgrade

In an ideal world, larger decks and greater speeds would automatically increase your revenue and make your investment worthwhile. However, it’s important to remember that speed and deck width aren’t everything—especially if you’re still growing your business. All the speed in the world won’t help if you don’t have clients to serve.

As soon as you’re ready to move to the next level, meet with your equipment dealer to determine what’s right for your needs. By choosing a faster, larger model that will grow with you, you could end up seeing your income grow over the life of the mower.