Editorial Advisory Board: August 2019

Landscape Management's Editorial Advisory Board shares advice and suggestions for how to deal with fluctuations in fuel prices.
Editorial Advisory Board graphic (Graphic: Landscape Management)
Graphic: Landscape Management

What’s your advice for dealing with rising fuel prices?

Landscape Professionals

Richard Bare
Arbor-Nomics Turf
Norcross, Ga.

“We generally absorb higher fuel prices until winter and then do a price increase if we think fuel prices are going to stay up. But I can tell you what not to do: Don’t do a fuel surcharge, at least in Atlanta. We got so many nasty phone calls; people really got mad! I don’t know why but I guess it’s like a surprising price increase that they didn’t plan on, so that was a bad idea.”

Paul Fraynd
Sun Valley Landscaping
Omaha, Neb.

“Fluctuations in fuel pricing are common each summer. We try to stay as fuel efficient as possible by properly maintaining vehicles, creating tight routes for our crews and investing in new equipment as much as possible. I am excited about the possibilities of new technologies in helping reduce our dependence on traditional gas/diesel powered equipment and trucks.”

Bryan Stolz
Winterberry Landscape & Garden Center
Southington, Conn.

“We’ve taken two steps to reduce overall fuel usage, which has helped us in times when gas prices start to go up. First, we shifted our salespeople to hybrid cars such as Priuses. We found that they put on a lot of miles annually and only rarely utilized the transporting capacity of their trucks, so the decrease in vehicle flexibility was easily offset by the fuel savings. Second, we moved all our vehicles of 3500 category and smaller to an equity lease program. Under this program, we started cycling out these high-mileage trucks every four years, on average. As a result, our fleet is newer and takes advantage of improving fuel-efficiency standards. Since starting these programs in earnest three years ago, we’ve seen fuel consistently decrease as an annual percentage of sales.”

Industry Consultants

Marty Grunder
The Grow Group
Dayton, Ohio

“Smart companies know their numbers and are prepared for fluctuations in fuel prices. We’re not a fan of fuel surcharges, I hate getting hit with them at my company. I’d raise prices the rest of the year on other work to try and make up for it and then obviously next year’s price needs to go up. You might even want to promote the fact you aren’t raises pricing on contracts that are in place. If you go this route, get something for your dollars! It goes without saying, however, that routes, idling trucks and buying more fuel-efficient equipment are things we should always be looking at, whether fuel prices are up or down. We like to promote the fact that people do business with people they know, like, and trust.  Fuel surcharges are not something anyone likes.”

Kevin Kehoe
3PG Consulting
Laguna, Calif.

“Better routing and better GPS driver management.”

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