From fuel to labor to specialized equipment, trying to control the day-to-day costs of a landscaping business is a major source of stress for green industry professionals. To reduce your costs, and in turn, increase your profit margins, you need to operate as efficiently as possible. Here are five cost-saving strategies you can implement that will help you see more green.
1. Reduce Unnecessary Idling
Idling is when you run a vehicle engine when it’s not moving (such as crews leaving the truck on to warm up or cool down) and it’s the biggest culprit behind fuel waste. According to the EPA, an idling car wastes up to a half gallon of fuel per hour and a medium-duty service truck may waste even more. If you want to lower your fuel costs, reducing the amount of idling should be a company-wide goal. Beyond impacting fuel consumption, idle-reduction leads to cleaner air, less noise pollution, and less wear-and-tear on your engine.
How to Reduce Idling
- Implement a company-wide “no-idle” policy.
- Educate drivers why idling hurts company profits.
- Incentivize drivers to reduce their idle time by offering bonuses or prizes.
- Adopt fuel-saving technologies that can track idle hours per truck or crew.
- Establish a baseline of your current idling hours and continually monitor them to see if the changes you implemented are working.
2. Prevent Equipment Breakdowns
Unexpected downtime can consume your profits and prevent you from completing a job. Whether your company has an in-house mechanic or uses an outside shop, landscaping pros should develop a preventative maintenance program to minimize the chance of unplanned breakdowns and lost production time. Regularly scheduled maintenance not only extends the life out of your assets, but it can also put money back into your pocket. The U.S. Department of Energy says you can improve your gas mileage by 0.6% on average—up to 3% in some cases—by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Improving fuel economy, well-maintained equipment improves reliability, driver safety, and reduces operational costs in the long term.
How to Prevent Costly Breakdowns
- Create a preventative maintenance schedule.
- Develop a comprehensive checklist that covers your asset’s critical systems and components, like
hoses, fluid levels, filters, and tires.
- Review OEM and equipment supplier maintenance recommendations. Make changes in maintenance
frequency according to your equipment’s workload.
- Make a Fleet Management solution to track and automatically notify you of needed preventative
3. Operate a Safer Fleet
Insurance is a very complex and unpredictable cost center for landscaping companies. Many factors
that affect insurance rates, like political and economic climates, are out of your control. You do,
however, have a little bit more control over your drivers. The price you pay for insurance is directly impacted by the number of insurance claims you file and the cost of those claims— accidents being among the most expensive. When an employee is in involved in an accident that includes both damage to a person and a vehicle, insurance rates typically increase by about 33%. Risky driving behavior increases the likelihood of fender benders and injuries, which in turn leads to insurance premium hikes, and after enough incidents, your provider could drop you altogether. In addition to higher premiums, risky driving behavior typically wastes fuel and burns out the engine faster. To save on insurance premiums and vehicle expenses, landscaping companies should implement a driver safety program, especially if your employees are using company-owned vehicles. Some insurance providers will reduce your premium if you have a driver safety program in place. Check with your insurance provider to see what incentives they offer.