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Focus on Fleets: Success Specification Strategies


Grounds managers have never been under more pressure and scrutiny than they are these days. From budget limitations and sustainability demands to staffing and safety, the day-to-day challenges of effectively managing a department can seem endless.

Perhaps the most pressing issue managers face is spending precious budget money wisely. For this reason, managers need to pay especially close attention to the selection of big-ticket equipment —mowers and utility vehicles, primarily — that grounds crews rely on to effectively perform essential grounds care activities.

While the temptation is to focus on the equipment's initial cost, a host of other factors are as important, if not more so, to deliver long-term performance.

"The biggest mistake people make is buying equipment based on price or on manufacturer," says Mike Fitzpatrick, vice president of U.S. Lawns, a grounds management franchise company. "You should buy based on the dealer that's going to give you the best service in the market. They can be selling any manufacturer’s equipment. What's most important to you as the user of the equipment is, when it breaks down, how quickly can you get it fixed and will they give you loaner equipment?"

As managers attempt to balance the needs for grounds equipment versatility, safety, performance, and sustainability, manufacturers continue to roll out new and redesigned products designed to meet these demands. For Fitzpatrick, one issue stands out in this process.

"With all of these things, the fuel technology has changed," he says. "Most mower manufacturers now have high-efficiency engines with the electronic ignition, and they tout a 20-30 percent gain in fuel efficiency. You have more and more propane-ready equipment now than you've ever had before. People are paying attention to emissions and noise-pollution standards, so you're getting products with lower emissions that also run more quietly."

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