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Stop thinking like a contractor!

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Steiner, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. Steiner

    Steiner LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 409

    Just got back from my NCMA level 1 training in Geneva NY and was pleasantly surprised to have Bill Gardocki of Interstate Landscaping teaching the class after having seen his business through his sons eyes on this forum.

    What I thought was interesting was how Bill was bringing up good owner ideas and talking about systems instead of how to build. It made me think how lately there has been a push to get contractors to think of business skill as more important than construction skill.

    All the articles we read lately are not how to build, but how to build the business that builds. We see countless article here by Shawn or whoever about being smart about efficiency, money, investing in people, etc.

    The best part of Bill's lesson today sent our little class into an uproar.

    He said: "The 3/4 to 1 ton dump truck is the most useless tool for a hardscaper, period."

    What? What did he just say? Guys were muttering under their breath!

    Boy did that piss off a lot of guys who have just spent 55,000 on that new pimped out truck! I loved his logic and he had to address it multiple times for guys to sink in but the best part was looking at business from an owners perspective and not a contractors perspective.

    His logic was as follows:

    1. A new 350-450 costs 55,000 on average depending on options and can haul 1-2 pallets of wall stone legally. They are nice looking efficiency killers!

    2. A used international 4700 can be rated at 25,999 and be below CDL and carry 4-5 pallets of materials and be purchased for around 35,000 dollars!

    3. He further went on to explain the CDL cheater to our class: Buy a 25,999 pound GVW truck and a 9,999 GVW trailer and you will NOT need a CDL. Under current national DOT law (and remember it varies by state so check) if your truck is not over 26,001 and your trailer is below 10,000 lb you can technically get by without a CDL. I still have to look up the particulars in my state but our class was sent off on a spiraling tangent as pissed off contractors vented.

    I think the lesson hit me the hardest at that moment. We need to start using math,looking at laws, checking our numbers first. The importance of seeing this venture of ours as a business and not from the point of wall installer was paramount. I guess I was just making a small connection to what we see every day. Contractors buy the big shiny trucks that puff up their ego as much as deflate their wallet.

    Before this gets into another truck debate (Jesus DVS!), please hear what I am saying. This is not about trucks! This is about using your brain to look at laws, rules, accounting, and taking time to plan out the best investment for your business.

    At the end of the day it is still about does that item take money out of your pocket or put money into it. Thanks Bill for your time. A few guys in the class got "it", and that's all you can ever hope for.


    Comments welcome!

    DLONGLANDSCAPING LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,418

    ery very true to some extent. What does it cost to insure a big truck like that. Or what if you are using the 350-5500 as a lawn truck as well. I can see this working for a pure hardscape contractor, but not for a daily use pickup/dump truck for a landscape company. Also, why not get the brick delivered for a job and haul bulk material in your 550, then you are paying 80 dollars more for the brick, but hauling your own stone, and bulk material.

    I agree with Bill if i was just an install company, but the expenses of the big international trucks are extreamly expensive compaired to a 350-550 1 ton truck
  3. alldayrj

    alldayrj LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,793

    Ask anyone, the maintenance is less on a big truck when you're trying to get them to do the same work. Steiner never addressed the mowing guys, and i don't think bill did either because its not apples to apples.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  4. seabee24

    seabee24 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 619

    I cant see how maintenance costs are less and I own both options.

    tires cost way more, brakes costs more on the bigger trucks. the tools you need to do some of the repairs costs more. 1 inch impact gun vs 1/2 drive

    what I would aggree with is the maintenance cost is similar +/- with the two trucks, but the larger truck will do alot more for the money

    but he is also compairing a used truck to a new truck - and you cant compair apples to oranges. go price a new international dump and compair the cost.
  5. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    Good points you make.

    Though statements as the big truck will save gas because it can hold double thus the smaller truck will have to drive twice the mileage.

    Sounds right. Well without both trucks mpg numbers to back up that statement that statement is meaningless.

    Say the large truck gets 5 mpg, small truck 20 mpg.
    Large truck will use 2 gal to go 10 miles.
    Small truck will use 1 gal to go 20 miles (remember the small truck holds half so it will have to drive each trip twice).

    How many jobs does the business have where they need to have 4 pallets brought to the job site. All, half, 10%. As you can see being able to haul 4 pallets may not be important.

    A large trucks tires will cost a lot more. Well if the large truck tires cost $300 each and the smaller truck's tires cost $200 each. They appear to be more.

    Now both trucks tires last 50,000 miles. Being the smaller truck can hold half of the larger truck the smaller truck will have to drive double the mileage.

    So when the large truck has worn out it's first set of tires at 50,000 miles the smaller truck will have worn out it's second set of tires at the same time having been driven 100,000 miles. Large truck has spent $1,200 for tires. The small truck has spent $1,600 for tire.

    Large trucks cost more to repair. Yes though double the mileage for the small truck will mean double the oil changes.

    Though a previous if that I brought up is if only 10% of the times that 4 pallets are needed then that smaller truck will not be any where near to puttingon double the mileage, nor needing double the oil changes or needing double the tires.

    One thing to discuss whether to buy a new 1/2 ton verses a used 1/2.

    To compare a new small truck to a large used dump truck that has a whole set of different costs and capacities is not valid.

    For some businesses and there real costs may make it better to not have a small or large dump truck and have the material delivered. Pay some one to be working on the job vs driving a truck.

    For some it maybe better to have a certain truck for the convienance and to better control scheduling. Increased efficiency could offset the increased truck ownership costs. Crew waiting at the job site for materials wastes money.

    Generic responses are like making a dress one size. It is only going to fit well for a few women.

    "Guru's" like to spurt off facts to make themselve appear smart.

    The difference between an expert and a spert?

    When a expert speaks he know's what he is talking about and has all the facts and can explain every situation.

    When a spert speaks he's just sperting off his mouth to appear as he knows what he is talking about.

    Many confuse wanting and needing. And do buy too much truck.

    Though sometimes businesses make purchases only because if they don't the gov will take too much from them in taxes. What makes a purchase right for any business is what their own numbers indicate. Most often and usually are two words that do not always lead to good decisions.

    Last edited: Mar 18, 2013
  6. dnc19694339

    dnc19694339 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 208

    If I didnt plow I would have big trucks. Cant plow with them.
  7. johnslandscaping

    johnslandscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 190

    I would just get a large dump trailer to go with my one ton dumps.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  8. 123hotdog

    123hotdog LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 485

    This debate could go on forever. It comes down to what your business needs are.
  9. Duffster

    Duffster LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 1,197

    Good points. I fixed a few details for ya.(bolded).

    This doesn't vary by state, sans CA.
  10. JCLawn and more

    JCLawn and more LawnSite Fanatic
    from MI
    Messages: 5,280

    The 5 mpg statement is a load of crap. My fathers semi with a total gross of 80,000 lbs is 7mpg and my friend who hauls 160,000 lbs of fuel gets about 5. Their is a guy in my area who I have seen plow parking lots with gmc 6500 and used the box for salt. He had a 9 or 10ft v plow on it. I thought it was pretty slick.
    Posted via Mobile Device

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