Cash flow woes?

February 27, 2013 -  By

Flexible equipment payment options provide relief when money’s tight.

Cash flow concerns? Consider flexible payment options such as skip payments or seasonal payments, which are offered by several landscape equipment manufacturers.LM0113_MW_MaintR

For Jerry Roberts, owner of Roberts Brothers Lawn Care & Landscaping in Sparta, Tenn., experience with flexible payment options in his cattle farming business led him down the road toward a skip-payment option for his landscape maintenance business. In farming, he manages cash flow by financing equipment with semi-annual and annual payment plans. “When the money comes in, that’s when you make your payment,” Roberts says.

The mower skip-payment option is similar. He purchased three John Deere Z960As in November 2011 with skip payments. His no-pay months are January, February and March, which are the slowest months in Tennessee, where mowing season typically runs March 1 to Dec. 1. “The big thing is while those mowers are sitting in the shop not being used, I’m not making any payments on them,” Roberts says. The other nine months out of the year, the monthly payment is about $100 higher, Roberts says.

That’s the idea, says Dan Gundacker, product marketing manager for John Deere Financial. “No matter what area of the country you’re in, contractors’ expenses jump in certain months and the income doesn’t necessarily do the same,” he says.

In addition to skip payments, there’s a seasonal payment option, which offers up to six consecutive months of relief, lowering payments to 1 percent of the amount financed. Over the course of the year the interest and payment amounts are the same, but payments are arranged to match cash flow. “In Wisconsin, for example, there are six months where contractors don’t mow,” Gundacker says. “Just being able to skip payments for three months isn’t enough.”

Additionally, manufacturers may offer revolving lines of credit that can be used at dealers for parts and service, which can be beneficial just before the busy season.

“If you’re not mowing yet, and you’re not making money, your dealer could give you 60 or 90 days to pay, rather than paying with cash or credit card,” he says. “Very few contractors don’t have time periods where expenses are stressed.”

About the Author:

Marisa Palmieri is an experienced Green Industry editor who's won numerous awards for her coverage of the landscape and golf course markets from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA), the Press Club of Cleveland and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). In 2007, ASBPE named her a Young Leader. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, cum laude, from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism.

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