The decision of whether to buy a new piece of equipment hinges on a host of factors that will vary significantly from contractor to contractor: How strong is your market? Can you keep the equipment busy? How does new equipment impact payroll? What’s your cash flow like? What’s your current debt load? What are your margins like – and what do you think they’ll be like next season? Answers to these questions often form the basis for buying decisions – but one factor that business owners often overlook is the productivity gains – and the somewhat-related enthusiasm and job satisfaction -- good equipment tends to bring to your crews and hence the work they do.
This was apparent a few years ago when many pavement marking contractors experimented with Fine Line Industry’s Lazy Liner, which converts a walk-behind striping machine to a ride-on unit. Many contractors bought one to see how it worked out – and it worked out so well that workers were clamoring for the owner to buy one for each crew member. Nowadays there are still contractors out there who don’t use a Lazy Liner (or the LineDriver introduced a few years later by Graco), but for those crews that have experienced striping with one of these units – just go ahead and try to take away their Lazy Liner. Them’s fightin’ words!
Contractors who have integrated such a device into their fleet will attest that not only is productivity up but workers are less tired by the end of the day (which can mean improved end-of-say job quality) and are less likely to take shortcuts on the job (unless it’s zipping across the lot on a LineDriver to pick up a stencil or more paint). The point is that equipment that makes your employees’ job easier, that produces better-quality work, and that operates easily and at peak efficiency can pay huge dividends in employee attitude, productivity and job satisfaction – both for your workers and your customers.
So when you’re evaluating your fleet this offseason, debating whether to upgrade your sealcoating buggy or to try the Little Engine That Could approach to equipment management (I think it can, I think it can) as you try to stretch it through another season, make sure to consider all the factors including the on-the-job benefits that new equipment and state-of-the-art models can provide your business. Because while you’ve got to be able to pay for whatever you buy – it just might be that whatever you buy can make that decision a lot easier.