So you are thinking about adding, replacing or making a change within your truck fleet. You have begun the research and shopping process. You visit Google and type in “lawn truck”. Instantly, 4,125,000 records are ready for review! With endless amounts of technical information to read, study, and analyze, how do you know you will get the best deal on the right truck for your company?
These 5 Tips for Lawn & Landscaping Truck Buyers will help you avoid mistakes made by many fleet owners and managers. More importantly, this report will help you prepare to maximize your return on investment and find the best possible deal for your firm.
Tip #1 – Your lawn and landscaping truck should increase productivity for your company. Pick-up trucks and trailer combinations have been the most popular tools for mobilizing people and equipment for the last 40 years. However, the top landscaping firms in North America have learned that eliminating trailers increases crew productivity by 5% to 10% immediately. You simply move from job site to job site faster without a trailer!
Today’s trend is to invest in highly customized, medium duty trucks designed to eliminate the operation of trailers. Think truck and trailer in one package! When you eliminate the trailer, you move around town with ease, and you avoid being targeted by DOT (Department of Transportation) for uncomfortable inspections. You also increase productivity with fewer tire and trailer light repairs. Your tolls are lower without a trailer. Admit it. It is forever difficult to teach people to back trailers safely.
Tip #2 – You must know the total weight of people, cargo, equipment and supplies to design the most durable lawn and landscape truck for your firm. Commercial fleet operators have learned that matching the correct gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) truck with a properly designed truck body will increase the life of the fleet. Brakes, tires, transmissions and engines last longer when they are not overloaded. And face it. It is unsafe and illegal to operate an overloaded vehicle. So avoid buying a truck with a GVWR that you will frequently overload.
Make a list of your gear. Then check your owner’s manuals for the weights of mowers, tractors and power tools. Add up all weights of your cargo. Remember to include weights for people, filled fuel cans, the truck, truck body and debris you collect on job sites. Knowing your load weight will prevent you from selecting a gross vehicle weight rating that is too low or too high. With medium duty trucks under 26,000 pounds GVWR, you can avoid the hassle of CDL (Commercial Drivers License) requirements.
Tip #3 – Right size your lawn and landscaping truck. Weight is one issue, but truck size is also measured in length, width and height. Business owners are looking for ways to save money. In some cases, this means you need a large crew cab truck with enough cargo space to carry multiple lawn mowers and power tools. New truck designs help lower costs. In select applications, one commercial duty truck can replace two pick-ups. Think fuel savings, insurance savings and the need for fewer high paid, licensed drivers. You may be able to lower your average wage 5%-10% with this strategy!
In other cases, you may operate a small crew with limited amounts of equipment. Selecting smaller trucks and truck bodies will improve fuel mileage, decrease the amount of yard space to store trucks and make it easier to drive around town. Within many companies, there are opportunities to lower costs by selecting larger, commercial crew cab trucks and smaller, single cab trucks.
One trend is really growing. With enclosed truck bodies, the truck can become your warehouse on wheels. So make sure your right-sized truck includes cargo control and tool storage systems to keep your gear safe during transport. Allowing your truck body to double as a warehouse, you may be able to avoid increasing expensive shop space. Recent studies reveal a cost savings of $10,250 per year per crew by eliminating a 30-minute daily loading/unloading of equipment/tools with a 3-man crew.
Tip #4 – Your trucks should stand out in a competitive, crowded marketplace. 70% of all work trucks in North America are white in color. When you select a custom paint color for your fleet, you join the top 30% of fleet owners who stand out from the crowd. Think John Deere. Think UPS or Think Coca Cola. Your truck color should be consistent with your uniforms, brochures and web site.
In survey after survey, the results are clear. Marketing makes your phone ring and your cash register sing! Effective fleet marketing includes consistent color packages, clear graphics, creative vehicle wraps and changeable fleet billboards. Unlike monthly fees for yellow page ads, fleet graphics are an affordable, one-time investment for building your brand. Think bold! Invest in custom paint colors and graphics packages that allow prospects to read your message at a distance of 200 feet and watch your sales grow!
Tip #5 – Hire an expert to help you design the right commercial truck and you will save money. As a business owner, it is dangerous to think you can do everything yourself. It is also dangerous to think your local welding shop can become an expert in commercial truck engineering, fabrication and assembly. Federal Highway Safety Administration (FHSA) has very specific guidelines that must be followed when building and modifying trucks that are operated on public highways. One accident with an unsafe truck could cost you your company!
Initially, truck acquisition seems expensive, but labor is forever expensive! No one gets wealthy by saving $500 or even $5000 on a one-time equipment purchase. Design your fleet to save you 6-minutes per hour and you will reduce your labor cost by 10%! Then, watch your profits soar!
Hiring experts to properly match truck cab/chassis weight rating, body size, and cargo control systems could add 10 years to the life of your truck investment. Don’t forget, a well-designed, billboard-sized marketing message can establish your firm as leading brand in your market and add hundreds of thousands in new revenue for your company.
As a business owner and fleet manager you must set priorities. Spend your time adding revenue while lowering labor cost and you are on the road to wealth with your lawn and landscaping business. And the right trucks can help get you there! Check out our Return on Investment Calculator!
Tony Bass is the founder, inventor and President of Super Lawn Trucks. He is the author of Growing Your Landscape Company. His books reveal how he started a small landscaping business, grew it to a multi-million dollar firm, sold it for nice 7-figure profit and then retired at 41 years old.