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The final step for managers in the mower specification process is making sure to be fully informed and prepared before committing to a big-ticket purchase. In addition to listing pros and cons along with real needs vs. wants, the final important influencer is the total cost of ownership (TCO). TCO contains several components, so it’s useful to understand the basic equation.
Managers need to start with the unit price, including finance charges and fees. Those managers leasing instead of buying should be sure to include the lease factor and other associated fees. Then add efficiency costs, which include fuel and service requirements. Learn about the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, calculating everything it should cover. Factoring in the frequency for changing oil, belts, filters, tires, and blades is essential, as is finding out the type of fuel the mower uses and the amount it burns per hour. Managers also need to add other pieces of the equation:
• Insurance premiums
• Warranty. Managers need to know which repairs are covered and which are not and whether there also are deductibles or prorated costs based on normal wear.
• Service plan. It is common for dealers to offer a maintenance plan, and they will even finance it along with the purchase. This feature helps to ensure recommended maintenance is being done right and on time, and the added benefit is that managers know maintenance costs every year.
For managers planning to have in-house mechanics perform routine maintenance, figure in the cost of materials and hours. They should also be aware that with technological advances comes the increased need for specialized tools and knowledge, so it might be better to go with the dealer’s service plan instead. When figuring the maintenance fees into TCO, managers also need to include additional manufacturer recommended services not included in the service plan or warranty.
Mike Fitzpatrick is vice president of U.S. Lawns — www.uslawns.com — which has more than 260 franchises nationwide. Fitzpatrick has more than 30 years of experience in the grounds industry.