This guide was put together to help numerous industry experts and lawn professionals (like yourself) to choose THE BEST commercial lawn mower for your lawn care business.
Many people who give advice on commercial lawn mowers either:
- Are paid by a manufacturer to rep that brand
- Tell you to go with the thing they arbitrarily chose 10 years ago because they liked the color
That is NOT what this guide will do. We have no relationship with the brands we discuss. What we do have is a commitment to helping lawn care businesses provide their clients with the best possible service AND to help you grow your business!
It’s easy to get taken in by “BRAND WARS” – Toro vs SCAG vs Ferris. They’re all the best, so say their faithful.
But which brand is *actually* the best commercial lawn mower?
None of them. All of them.
Here’s the thing: any of the mainstream commercial lawn mower brands can provide you with a quality product that does exactly what it’s supposed to do – cut grass.
There are a ton of factors that go into choosing the right commercial lawn mowers for your lawn care business but blind loyalty to a particular brand isn’t one of them.
By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what’s right for your lawn care business.
Why Choosing a Side in the Commercial Lawn Mower Brand Wars Can Actually HURT Your Business
You did it. You took a side in the brand wars because someone in a Facebook group told you one more horror story about another brand and it pushed you over the edge.
BUT… there’s just one problem. You have to order from a dealer an hour and a half away from your shop. I mean, it’s not that big of a problem.
You’ll just drive out and pick it up.
It’s a one-time inconvenience, right?
WRONG. When you need warranty work on this mower, where are you going? To a shop 1.5 hours away. You’ll end up wasting 6 hours if anything goes wrong with your new equipment.
On top of that, you get to the dealership and you don’t like it.
They don’t seem particularly helpful and you watch the phone ring endlessly and go to voicemail while they talk to you. You can’t go to the next dealership, it’s even further away.
So you settle – and when something goes wrong (and it will go wrong), you’re wasting 6 hours of your time, removing a truck from working jobs, and dealing with people you maybe didn’t want to do business with in the first place.
And for what? So you could look at just the right shade of paint and a logo when your crews load up in the morning? Was it worth it?
If you’re going to have brand loyalty in the commercial lawn mower arena – choose a dealer you like, who provides quality service at a fair price. Don’t narrow down your brand choices until you’ve figured WHO you want to work with.
You wouldn’t hire an employee based on the color of their shirt during an interview – don’t choose your commercial lawn mowers that way either.
Low Budget (but not Low Quality) Options for Commercial Lawn Mowers
You have a couple options if you’re trying to go low budget:
- Buy used, in cash
- Or – buy new, on credit
Examples of brands that you can shop used or new for less than $4000 are Toro and Gravely.
When you’re shopping in this price bracket, be sure to avoid homeowner grade ride-on equipment that may not hold up to daily, demanding use.
Normally, we don’t advise our readers to go into debt in their business. Many times, lawn care business owners are trying to use credit to buy luxury features they can’t afford.
BUT with something as central to your business as a commercial lawn mower, it can be worth it to go into debt.
This is especially true when you’re frequently having to repair old equipment (wasting labor and money) or riding homeowner-grade equipment into the sunset.
You have to look at the time and effort that’s being 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, and dealing with some cosmetic issues, used is a great option for keeping things low budget – you might even find a great deal on one of our upgrade options.
Why You May Want to Spend a Little More for Your Commercial Lawn Mowers
If you’re willing to spend a little more, you can:
- Buy new, in cash
- Or – buy new, on credit to stay liquid and invest that cash elsewhere in the business
We consider most things north of $5000 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
- More metal parts (body panels, etc.)
- Larger deck size for quicker coverage
Spending more now can mean you spend less on repairs, especially if it’s the difference between buying used and new.
Spending extra can also increase your crews’ efficiency by leaps and bounds if you’re able to go from a 42” deck to a 50”+ deck.
The ONLY Reason to Be Brand-Loyal in Commercial Lawn Mowers
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:
- Familiarity and Ease of Swapping Equipment between crews
- Parts management (fewer sources to procure from)
- It makes your business seem like it’s everywhere
If you’re trying to create this unified brand image – the same mowers, the same trucks, the same uniforms – I’m absolutely on board with being loyal to a particular brand of commercial lawn mower.
Choosing the Right Size Commercial Lawn Mower for Your Services
Alright, you pulled the trigger on the biggest, baddest mower you could afford. Time to hit your customers’ lawns in record time.
You blow through the front yard – man, you’ve never finished a front lawn so quickly. You pull around to the side gate and gasp.
Your shiny, big, bad mower WON’T FIT through the gate. The backyard is bigger than their front yard and you’re mowing it with a push mower. There went all your time savings.
It’s super important to consider access restrictions you might have when buying a commercial lawn mower – do most of your customers have gate access to their back or side yards? Are the backyards so tiny that a push mower is fine?
If you work mostly in commercial properties, the only restriction may be what will fit in your trailer.
If that’s the case for your business, get as much mower as you can afford, but if you’re mostly working in residential consider your access restrictions and whether you’ll be sacrificing efficiency gains by having to use a push mower or line trimmer in places a bigger mower won’t fit.
The Best Commercial Lawn Mowers
This zero-turn has a sleek look, a comfortable seat, and deck sizes ranging from 52” to 72” – it’s a great option for wide-open spaces. It’s available for propane or diesel fuel sources.
Available from 32” to 61” – this stand-on mower can be had tiny enough to fit through almost any back gate and make quick work of your client’s back and side yards. The small footprint is handy for people with little space to spare in their trailer or truck bed.
These are great introductory commercial lawn mowers – well-made and available from 48” to 60”.
Naylor (one of our lawn pro partners!) loves this stand-on from Wright.
This is the top-of-the-line Ferris mower – it’s got an incredibly comfortable seat, front suspension to ease the jolts of driving over uneven terrain, but only two deck size options: 61” and 72”.
This list is intended as a jumping off point for your research. Only you can decide what’s best for your business – start here and figure out what commercial lawn mowers are best for your lawn care business.
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Buy Right the First Time and Scale With the Perfect Commercial Lawn Mower – for Your Business
There you go – the answer to buying a commercial lawn mower is to buy what your lawn care business needs AND can afford.
No one can give you a list and tell you to get out there and buy the things on it. And if they do, it’s probably because they’re paid by a manufacturer to do so.
The right commercial lawn mower for your business is determined by a myriad of factors:
- Access restrictions (will it fit?)
- Cost (should you buy used or new and with cash or credit?)
- Brand Identity and Image
- Having a great relationship with a dealer you trust
Remember, one of the most important aspects (aside from what your lawn care business can afford) is having access to a reputable dealer, who’s nearby and somebody you want to do business with.
Originally published May 6, 2020 12:26PM