How to Choose the Best Commercial Lawn Mower

Published on May 6, 2020

There are a ton of factors that go into choosing the best commercial lawn mower for your business, and what's right for each business widely varies.

A lot of advice about the best commercial lawn mower focuses either on:

  • Blind brand loyalty
  • Paid placement by a manufacturer or brand representative

However, this guide won't focus on those things. We have no relationship with the brands we discuss and are committed to helping lawn care businesses provide clients with the best possible service to grow.

It’s easy to get taken in by “brand wars." Toro vs SCAG vs Ferris, for example. "They’re all the best," so say their faithful.

In turn, it can seem impossible to know which is truly the best commercial lawn mower for your business.

Keep in mind, any of the mainstream commercial lawn mower brands can provide you with a quality product to cut grass.

In this guide, you'll discover how to choose the best commercial lawn mower based on your business needs:

  • Budget
  • Local dealers
  • Serviced properties

By the end of this article, you'll know how to weigh all of your business needs to choose the best commercial lawn mower to grow with your business.

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How Brand Wars Can HURT Your Business

Even though choosing the right commercial lawn mower brand is important, it may not be important in the way you think.

For instance, you may have heard about a brand in which many businesses swear it's their tried-and-true mower.

However, if a local dealer doesn't sell that brand, then you'll have to choose something else. After all, if the closest dealer for that brand is an hour and a half away from your shop, then it's a huge time suck.

Which means, every time you need warranty work when anything goes wrong, you'll waste at least 6 hours in 4 roundtrips.

On top of that, if you don't like the dealership and no one else services that brand locally, then you'll have to pick a dealer even farther away.

Keep in mind, blind brand loyalty gets you nowhere when running a lawn care business where valuable time is worth major bucks.

Choose brands where plenty of local dealers within a nearby radius can easily provide quality service at a fair price. Remember, don't narrow down brand choices until you've familiarized yourself with local dealers.

The Balancing Act Between Budget and Quality

When it comes to aligning mower quality with your budget, you have a couple options if you’re working with a tight budget:

  1. Buy used, in cash
  2. Or - buy new, on credit

For example, you can shop new or used Toro or Gravely mower for less than $4,000.

Although, when shopping in this price bracket, avoid homeowner grade ride-on equipment. These mowers may not hold up to the daily, demanding use of a lawn care business.

While you want to avoid going into business debt, a mower that's central to the growth and success of your business can be worth a line of credit.

However, while a new line of credit might be necessary, it's important to be reasonable. In other words, avoid luxury features outside of your budget.

As you decide whether to purchase new or used mowers, remember that time is money.

Which means, every time you're frequently repairing old equipment, you're throwing away valuable labor and money. Plus, you'll likely get behind on jobs in the meantime — angering clients in the process.

Consider the time and effort spent on broken-down equipment, or the inefficiency of using equipment that can’t keep up with your demands.

If you're a gear head who feels comfortable diving into used commercial lawn mowers...

  • Repairing issues
  • Troubleshooting on the fly
  • Dealing with cosmetic problems

... then, used might be a great, low-budget option for your lawn care business. Plus, you might even snag a great deal on upgrade options.

Although, if you don't have the means or time to work on the equipment yourself, then new equipment is likely your best option.

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Why Spending a Little More Can Go a Long Way

If you’re willing to spend a little more, you can:

  • Buy new, in cash
  • Or - buy new, on credit to stay liquid
    • E.g. reinvest that cash elsewhere in the business

We consider most mowers north of $5,000 to be upgrade options. Brands in this price range are Kubota, Ferris, and any of the more niche commercial lawn mower manufacturers you see on the floor at GIE.

Commercial lawn mowers in this range generally have:

  • Comfortable seats
  • Larger deck size for quicker coverage
  • More metal parts (e.g. body panels, etc.)

Spending more now can mean you spend less on repairs, especially if you buy new. 

Also, spending extra can increase your crews’ efficiency by leaps and bounds if you’re able to go from a 42” deck to a 50”+ deck.

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The ONLY Reason to Be Brand-Loyal

You might want all your trucks to look exactly the same, all your equipment to look the same, and employees dressed in identical uniforms

There are a ton of good reasons to have a unified brand identity:

  • Professionalism
  • It makes your business seem like it’s everywhere
  • Parts management (e.g. fewer sources to procure from)
  • Familiarity and ease of swapping equipment between crews

If you’re trying to create this unified brand image — the same mowers, trucks, and uniforms — then, choosing a particular brand of commercial lawn mower is a great decision.

Just make sure to choose a brand with an array of local dealers able to service it.

Choosing the Right Size Commercial Lawn Mower for Your Services

Even though choosing the biggest, baddest mower within your budget might seem like a great idea, it's crucial to choose the right size for your services.

For instance, if you primarily service residential properties, then you'll need a mower that can fit through backyard gates.

Remember, in order to buy the best commercial lawn mower, consider access restrictions you might encounter:

  • Can your dream mower fit through the back gate?
  • Are the backyards so tiny that a push mower is fine?
  • Do most clients have gate access to their back or side yards?

If you work mostly in commercial properties, the only restriction may be what will fit in your trailer. In this case, get as much mower as your budget allows.

However, if you’re mostly working in residential areas, consider your access restrictions. Will you sacrifice efficiency gains by having to use a push mower or line trimmer in places where a bigger mower doesn’t fit?

By answering these simple questions, you can decide whether to purchase a push, stand-on, or zero-turn mower. You'll also be able to decide what deck size and features would best suit your business.

The Best Commercial Lawn Mower Options

This list is in alphabetical order. It's intended as a jumping off point for your research. Only you can decide what the best commercial lawn mower is for your business.

Take a look at some of the top-selling commercial lawn mower options:

Exmark

Ferris

Gravely

Hustler

Husqvarna

John Deere

SCAG

Toro

Wright

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Choose the Best Commercial Lawn Mower

The best commercial lawn mower for your business is determined by several important factors including:

  • Brand identity and image
  • Access restrictions (e.g. will it fit?)
  • Having a great relationship with a dealer you trust
  • Cost (e.g. should you buy used or new, and with cash or credit?)

Remember, having a local, reputable dealer is the most seamless way to ensure your equipment is fully operational at all times to stay in business.

Finally, you now know how to choose the best commercial lawn mower to scale your business today!


Related: Best Commercial Robotic Mowers for Your Business


Originally published May 6, 2020 12:26 PM, updated Aug 23, 2022 11:21 AM

Cody Owen

Cody is a copywriter with Service Autopilot. He was writing before he could read, dictating stories to his mom. Of late, he distills business principles and practices learned from his ever-increasing trove of books and his year with SA Support into digestible blog posts designed to provide maximum value to service industry business owners.
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