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A Guide to Equipment Management: How to Determine When You Should Buy New or Used, and When You Should Repair

Posted by Sprayer Depot on Tue, May 23, 2017

Landscaper's Corner: Insights and Updates for Landscape Professionals

Contributed by Guest Blogger: Martin McGuane, owner and operator of McGuanes Landscaping and Tree Service, Enfield CT

In the landscaping industry, one of the biggest business expenses is for trucks and equipment; every landscaper wants brand new, shiny trucks and equipment. landscapers corner-2.jpg
While the temptation to buy all new equipment and trucks is there,
it’s important to take a close look at the dollars and sense of buying new or used.

Our First New Truck

I remember when I first started out. Money was tight and our budget was lean. So, we bought a used truck for $6000. In two years, we spent $4800 on repairs before finally replacing it. A few years later, while 'crunching the numbers' one winter, I realized that I was spending $200 per month on each vehicle in repairs. It was at that time that we decided to buy our first new truck.

While 'crunching the numbers' the next winter, we were surprised to realize that we saved a lot of money on our new truck purchase:

  • We saved a fair amount on taxes
  • There were no repair bills
  • Our fuel consumption went down

The bottom line was that the new truck probably only cost us about $100 per month more than continuing to run the old truck. Plus, we had the added benefit of not having any down time and the improved company image a new truck brought us.

That was 25 years ago. But the lesson I learned is timeless...know your numbers!

Purchasing New Equipment

The decision process to purchase equipment is very similar to buying a truck. The first step is to define the need: Do you need to buy a 1,000 gallon sprayer with tall tree capabilities to if your plan is to only spray crab apples and birches? The answer is "no".

It’s important to properly maintain all equipment ; over time the regular maintenance turns in to costly repairs. Once again, it’s important to 'crunch the numbers' and figure out at what point the repairs no longer make sense and when it's time to replace the old equipment with new.

This is sometimes a tough call to make. Kings-Sprayers-Electric-Sprayer.jpgNone of us are immune to the sticker shock of a $10,000 sprayer, but if you spent $2,500 in parts last year to keep a 12 year old sprayer running, it probably makes sense to replace it with a new one.

When buying new equipment such as a sprayer, do your research! Don’t run to the closest brick and mortar shop to buy whatever is in the showroom. Instead, we recommend building relationships with vendors you can trust. For example, we use Sprayer Depot for all spray equipment, including replacement parts for existing equipment like a JD9-C Spray Gun. In our business, time is money and we try our best to eliminate downtime, so we especially like Sprayer Depot’s same day shipping guarantee.

Know Your Needs

A key component to knowing your needs is having a solid business plan in place that identifies both short and long-term goals and determines specific equipment needed to successfully execute the plan. Figure out the true cost of running that all equipment. 

Having a disciplined approach to keeping track of maintenance and repair costs will help you make the right decision when considering whether to repair or replace, and whether to buy new or used.

About the Author:

Martin McGuane is the owner and operator of McGuanes Landscaping and Tree Service Inc, www.mcguanes.com which has been servicing Central Connecticut and Western Massachusetts since 1987. Martin is a 1981 graduate of the University of Connecticut's School of Agriculture. He is a Connecticut licensed arborist and has a Custom Ground Supervisor license in both Connecticut and Massachusetts. He also holds a CT Irrigation License.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: Spray Equipment Maintenance, JD9-C Spray Gun, Skid Sprayer, Landscaper's Corner, landscaping

The Best Timesaving Apps for Pest Control & Landscaping Companies

Posted by Sprayer Depot on Fri, May 12, 2017

In today’s technology filled world the only way to get ahead is to jump on the techno band wagon. As a landscaper perhaps advanced technology doesn’t seem like an everyday tool. itimesheet.jpgYou may ask; Who needs a smart phone to mow a lawn? However, there are some really great business apps out there that may save you a lot of time! Check these out a few of our favorites:

Evernote:

What it does: With this app, you can easily take photos, create text and record audio files and upload them to the Evernote servers so you can access them from your smartphone, tablet or any other computer. Further, you can add tags and descriptions to these items. For instance, if you attend a trade show and see a piece of equipment you like, you can take a photo of it, name it and tag it with “equipment I want to buy” for access at a later date.

iTimesheet:

What it does: Contractors can easily keep track of hours spent on a jobsite with this mobile timesheet. Data can be exported via email as an Excel file attachment or in a table inserted directly within the body of an email. There is also an analytic module that includes charts to analyze the time spent for a specific client, project or task to help you take a closer look at how you or a field crewmember spends their time.

Invoice2Go:

What it does: This app allows contractors to invoice directly from their smart device and email it to the customer. A PayPal button can be included in the email in order to encourage even faster payment. The app includes more than 20 invoice templates to choose from, all of which can be customized with a company logo. In addition, the app includes 12 different reports, such as dashboard and sales reports.

GasBuddy:

What it does: This free app helps you find the cheapest gas prices wherever they are—or via a search by city or zip code. GasBuddy keeps an up-to-date record of gas prices by asking users to help out. You earn points and also a daily chance to win $100 of gas by reporting gas prices in your area.

Got a favorite app to recommend? Share it in the comment box below.

 

 

Topics: landscaper, pest control, pest control app, landscaping

How to Attract and Keep Good Employees

Posted by Sprayer Depot on Fri, May 05, 2017

Landscaper's Corner: Insights and Updates for Landscape Professionals

Contributed by Guest Blogger: Martin McGuane, owner and operator of McGuanes Landscaping and Tree Service, Enfield CT

It Starts With The Money

As Rush Limbaugh once said, the way to attract and keep good employees is to pay them well. While pay is important, it's not everything. An underpaid McGuanes_Company_imgage_MartinM2.jpgemployee will never be happy, but good pay alone will not guarantee a happy and motivated employee. So let's take a look at some ways McGuanes Landscaping keeps employees happy and motivated.

Job Security

It starts with job security. Employees need stability and want to know that they have a dependable work environment. In the landscaping industry this can be done by providing work all year long, even during slow times. For example, tree work, winter maintenance, or snow removal jobs can be offered in the slower months. Business owners and managers shoiuld make a point to ensure employees have a productive and rewarding work load. 

Culture of Respect

Create a culture of respect. Value each employee for what they bring to the job. At McGuanes Landscaping, we have a lot of fun and joke around, at the same time we always treat each other with respect.

Training and Development

Some things that create job satisfaction in employees are training and development opportunities, and possibilities for advancement. In the landscaping industry there are countless seminars, certifications and workshops to help employees learn more about the industry. Participating in these can increase  employees' skills, helping them take on more responsibilities ,which may open up opportunities for promotion. At our company, we make it a priority to make these experiences available to employees. We sign-up the employees, pay for the training, and tell them when and where to show up.  We even make scheduling changes to make sure that their route is covered for that day. We keep it easy for employees to pursue development opportunities.

If budgeting does not allow for paid or outside training, there are plenty of free tools available online. For instance, Sprayer Depot offers helpful videos on their YouTube channel like Getting Started With a Standard Spot Sprayer and Repairing a JD9-C Spray Gun O-Ring. These videos teach valuable time-saving repairs and skills that can help landscapers deal with real life equipment issues.

Rewarding Work That Matches Skills & Abilities

Another important factor in developing happy employees is creating work that's rewarding, yet also matches skills and abilities. Not all employees at McGuanes Landscaping are able to be a foreman and run a job site, some simply make great general laborers. The point is, each employee needs to be matched with a job that fits their unique ability.

Give Employees Some Responsibility

At McGuanes Landscaping, we try to give each employee as much responsibility as possible. For example, If the lawn crew is out fertilizing, one person on the truck is responsible for blowing all sidewalks, roads and driveways. This person is also responsible for leaving all paperwork. This person may be an entry level employee, but he or she owns this responsibility.

Another example is how one of our entry level employees recently asked to be put in charge of redesigning our business cards. He worked with our local printer to create several proofs for the manager to approve. This helped free up some time for the owner and helped the employee develop some new skills while learning a new aspect of the business.

Final Thoughts 

Attracting and keeping good employees really does involve more than just paying them well; that's really just the first step. You need to create a company culture where:

 

  1. There is job security
  2. Employees treat each other with respect
  3. There are training & development opportunities
  4. There are opportunities for advancement
  5. Jobs are matched to skills and abilities
  6. As much responsibility as possible is given to each role

About the Author:

Martin McGuane is the owner and operator of McGuanes Landscaping and Tree Service Inc, www.mcguanes.com which has been servicing Central Connecticut and Western Massachusetts since 1987. Martin is a 1981 graduate of the University of Connecticut's School of Agriculture. He is a Connecticut licensed arborist and has a Custom Ground Supervisor license in both Connecticut and Massachusetts. He also holds a CT Irrigation License.

 

Visit Sprayer Depot's YouTube Channel

 

Topics: JD9-C Spray Gun, Instructional Video, Apps on the Sprayer Depot blog, Youtube, Landscaper's Corner, o ring, landscaping

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