How To Finance Commercial Mowers for Your Landscape Business
Commercial lawn mowers run in rigorous conditions for long hours during the growing season—and that’s year-round in many areas of the country. The machines are often operating 10 to 12 hours each day, providing quality cuts for landscape contractors that depend on their zero turn lawn mowers to fuel the revenue stream.
Commercial mowers are a key expense for landscapers. How should they finance it?
Ultimately, landscapers are looking to prevent downtime and maintain a professional, high-quality fleet of zero turn mowers that can stand up to the job. Lawn mower dealers provide options: lease or purchase. Financing programs for both arrangements can give landscape professionals flexibility depending on their goals.
“The classic dilemma for landscape contractors is, if they buy equipment and put it on a longer [financing] term, and they use that equipment heavily, the machine is built for a certain lifecycle and it can wear out and require parts and service,” says Fred Kuhnen, general manager at Advanced Acceptance, a division of First Western Bank & Trust.
Still, some landscape professionals prefer to purchase their commercial lawn mowers so they will eventually own the equipment in their fleets. They budget for parts and service expenses, and an in-house service technician might handle most mower repairs.
Others prefer to lease for shorter terms—2 years, for example—and then replace mowers that age out of the lease with new equipment, constantly refreshing their fleets.
When financing lawn mowers for a professional landscape business, owners must consider: 1) the size of the fleet, and how often they want to refresh that fleet with new commercial lawn mowers; 2) the budget for purchasing/leasing equipment; 3) the cost of parts and service for machines no longer on warranty (in a purchase situation).
Financing Commercial Mower Purchases
Landscapers should look at financing as not just a solution for buying equipment, but an overall business solution, says Robert Hendley, a relationship manager at GE Capital. Specifically, a credit card designed for financing equipment purchases can also be used to manage smaller purchases, such as parts. This multi-tasking financing solution gives landscapers who want to purchase commercial lawn mowers the ability to budget for associated expenses.
Not sure about a credit card for buying commercial lawn mowers? Hendley says this type of credit line is another tool for financing equipment. “It provides a way for landscape contractors to maintain and service units, with 6 months interest-free on smaller purchases like parts and services,” he says. “This financing option can help with managing crews and cash flow.”
Outdoor power equipment dealers offer a range of floor plan options that can accommodate landscapers’ financing needs. Landscapers should inquire about manufacturer promotions, as well.
For example, 36-month, zero-percent interest deals give landscapers an opportunity to purchase lawn mowers for their business with the incentive of a manufacturer/dealer subsidy that defrays the cost of financing the equipment. “If you want ownership, nothing can beat that,” Kuhnen says.
Leasing Commercial Lawn Mowers
Leasing is an ideal mower financing option for landscapers who prefer to run new equipment, changing out machines in their fleets every couple of years. Leases are structured with limits on time and hours—for example, a 2-year lease may allow 900 hours of run time. A buy options is often available after the lease term expires.
A benefit of leasing is that landscapers know their cost per season for running the mowers. There are not be any parts or service surprises because the machines are under warranty. “You pay a set price and you can drill down exactly what your cost-per-hour is to use that machine,” Kuhnen says.
Basically, with a lease you are paying for the use of the equipment. And that’s all. “Leasing is a different mindset,” Kuhnen says. “A lot of landscapers are attracted to equipment ownership, but many savvy operators see the equipment as a means to make money—a tool of the trade—and it’s preferable sometimes to just utilize that tool and not have the cost of ownership.”
Leasing in its purest form is a lot like renting equipment. “You rent that piece of equipment for a 24-month period and you don’t care about owning it,” Kuhnen says.
A Ferris mower dealer will explain financing options, along with available incentives and “deals” that can sweeten a purchase or lease arrangement. Before any purchase or lease, landscapers should consider their budget per season for lawn mowers, how often they want to replace commercial mowers in their fleets. Then, they can make the best financing decisions for their businesses.