Landscape business owners count on their equipment to remain in tip-top shape so they can roll from job to job and increase efficiency.
After all, nothing can stop operations like important machines going down. But that was exactly what was happening at Majestic Lawn Care & Landscape in New City, New York.
Founder and owner Joe Holland recounts “engines blowing up in the middle of a job” and “string trimmers and blowers coming back to the shop fried.” He was tired of dealing with the downtime as he had to wait to get on a mechanic’s schedule.
Increase Efficiency With An In-house Mechanic
After experiencing enough frustration, Holland says he pursued an in-house mechanic for the company, which does about 80 percent residential work. He hasn’t looked back since.
That was 15 years ago now and Holland says that the benefits have been plentiful. It’s boosted efficiency for Majestic, which grossed just over $2 million in 2018. It’s also saved the company money.
“A small engine mechanic in our area is $100 an hour,” Holland says. “Not only was it expensive, but it was a time drain. There were times they couldn’t get us on the schedule for a week or two. That was downtime we couldn’t afford.”
Holland started out with a part-timer but has since moved up to having a full-time, 40-plus hour in-house mechanic. And this employee has more than enough work to stay busy. Since his mechanic not only services all of the equipment but can perform light work on the fleet of 15 trucks (such as brake changes), Holland says he’s saving a lot.
“Our mechanic is our highest paid employee, but he also saves the business the most money,” Holland says. “He saves us 75 percent on outside mechanics’ labor expenses.”
On top of that, Holland says the convenience factor is a savings and a benefit.
“When you have to take a truck in for service, it takes two guys— each one driving a truck to the mechanic— so that one can get a ride back,” Holland says. “There’s a lot of lost time associated with it. But being able to service the equipment at the shop is so efficient. Our mechanic has all of his own tools and everything that he needs right here.”
Holland says he has learned that it’s always best to be in control of your own circumstances. And hiring an in-house mechanic has allowed him to do just that. He admits he’s a bit of a stickler when it comes to preventative maintenance these days.
“I never want to go back to that point where there are trucks going down on us mid-job,” Holland says. “With an in-house mechanic, we’re better than ever about staying on top of regular service like oil changes. These small-but-important tasks keep our equipment up and running so that we don’t have unwanted downtime.”
In addition to regular upkeep, Holland keeps a few parts in stock at all times for immediate repairs. He also keeps back-up equipment on-hand in the event that the mechanic needs more time for repairs.
Timing is important, too. During the busy season, the mechanic’s start time is around 5:30 a.m. This way, he can service equipment and vehicles before they must be out in the field. Holland says that all of these changes have increased efficiency.
“Having seen the difference that an in-house mechanic can make, I’ll never be at the mercy of an outside mechanic again,” Holland says. “In this business, efficiency is everything and keeping everything in working order keeps us moving forward.”