If it’s critical, back it up

May 15, 2012 -  By

By: Andrew Greess

Have you ever lost an important computer file that you really needed right now? I bet that each of us has experienced this situation. Hopefully we learn from our mistake and start backing up our critical files.

Green Industry professionals have the same issue with their spray equipment. We rely heavily on our equipment, yet in many cases we have no backup. If you have a piece of equipment that is critical to your business, then it is vital that you have a backup. Note that while this article is focused on spray equipment, the principles apply to any landscape equipment.

It doesn’t matter what the equipment is — truck, trailer, power sprayer, deep root feeder, backpack sprayer, etc. If you can’t do your job without the item, keep a backup. We see landscapers of all sizes, from owner/operator to huge fleets, that seem surprised when a key piece of equipment fails.

What happens when we don’t have the equipment we need to complete our jobs?

  • missed and canceled appointments;
  • unhappy customers;
  • lost revenue;
  • employee downtime waiting for equipment;
  • employee downtime running around town trying to find a solution;
  • overtime expenses; and
  • higher repair expenses.

Here are some of the operating conditions that require backup equipment:

  • equipment failure;
  • equipment down for maintenance;
  • equipment in the wrong location;
  • equipment contains the wrong product (chemical);
  • equipment on a vehicle that was in a traffic accident; or
  • equipment misused by a technician who causes damage.

It gets worse. Equipment fails during your busy season, when you can least afford downtime. This is also the time when your customer’s need for service is greatest so they may be less willing to tolerate delays. Demand for repair services is also high — there may be a delay in getting a replacement. Many vendors cut back on inventory during the recession, which could mean getting replacement parts takes longer.

What can we do about this problem?

  1. Identify critical equipment. Review your equipment by vehicle, by service, by technician to identify the most important tools.
  2. Develop a backup plan for each critical item. For some items, it may be easiest to buy a replacement. For more expensive items, you may have to get creative.
  3. Look through that pile of used equipment in the corner and see whether you can create something valuable out of it. Keeping a trailer in reserve can be cheaper than keeping an extra vehicle in the fleet, for example.
  4. Review your plan. Also review your backup plan annually to ensure it is still applicable.
  5. Test the backup equipment periodically to ensure it is functioning properly. Don’t assume that equipment sitting in the corner for years is still going to work.

A little time spent identifying critical equipment and developing backup plans will save time, money and stress during your busiest season.

LM Staff

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