Mechanic? Check. Nursery? No thanks. Cell phone expenses? Slashed.
When Lifestyle Landscaping looked inside for ways to lean its operation during the recession, managers were surprised to learn that they could trim a few thousand dollars by simply deactivating cell phones that were “in use” but not being used and reviewing their plan. But other operational decisions aren’t so obvious.
For one, deciding to keep a fulltime mechanic on board has saved the company significantly in the equipment repair and purchase department. Lifestyle Landscaping’s fleet mechanic has been on board for some 15 years.
“If the mechanic is highly skilled and he knows how to fix a hydraulic pump and install a $20 pat vs. buying a $2,000 pump… .” sayss Kevin O’Brien, landscape designer at the Grafton, Ohio-based firm. “If you have a mechanic with a good diagnostic ability and great mechanical abilities, that can save you money like you wouldn’t believe.”
The savings add up to thousands each year – enough to justify the salary of a mechanic and then some.
But maintaining a holding yard for plants was another story. The company cut out its 5-acre nursery about seven years ago. “It got so expensive to maintain, and now we are relying on suppliers to find us the plant material that we need,” O’Brien says.
The challenge is accessing special material that can make or break a project. “We just have to search a little harder for it now,” O’Brien says, noting that the company does not price shop its suppliers. “We are relying on them to help us out. Your suppliers are your partners, so you have to treat them as you would want your customers to treat you.”