landscaping accountant

Minimizing Fuel Expense In Your Landscaping and Snow Plowing Business

One of the largest expenses in a landscaping and snow plowing business is fuel costs, for both vehicles and equipment. Managing this cost on a continual basis can pay off when you view the bottom line of your financial statements.

Having one of your employees in charge of fueling can prevent unnecessary waiting around by other employees as the vehicle or equipment are having their tanks filled up. Encourage your team to fuel the trucks up before the gauge hits the one-quarter full mark. Running out of fuel can be costly, and it could cost thousands to get the vehicle back on the road.

Many landscaping businesses have fuel tanks on-sight in their own yard, which saves time, reduces fuel theft, and provides an opportunity for fuel discounts. Without these on-sight tanks, a typical crew would be filling up a vehicle with fuel at a gas station with 3 crew members. One of the crew members would be filling up the vehicle, while the other two are waiting around. This is wasted man hours, and there should be an effort to limit this situation.

Finishing a job under the budgeted time is a great feeling, because business owners know they saved on some of the labor expense. However, another expense that was reduced is fuel. If the job was finished and the crew does not have to return the next day, then that means you save on the vehicle fuel cost of traveling to and from the job location. This is just another reason to work efficiently and build systems in your business to increase productivity.

As a landscaping business owner you should also be tracking idle time. Make it a point to encourage your team to turn off the vehicle or equipment if possible instead of idling. Idling for 10 seconds wastes more fuel than restarting the engine. There may be some instances where idling is necessary, so micromanaging the team will not help. Educate the crew on what instances the vehicle can be turned off, and ways to limit idling.

For snow plowing, a recent study on idling calculates that a fleet of 100 trucks idling for two hours per day, 275 days per year, can cost up to $165,000 annually in wasted fuel.  

Fuel consumption isn’t the only factor impacting the bottom line. Idling increases engine wear, maintenance costs and downtime. Idling for one hour every day for one year is equivalent to 64,000 miles of engine wear. That results in excess annual maintenance costs of as much as $9,472 per truck.

Rising fuel costs is one of the many reasons that you should be increasing prices each year. Be sure to track your fuel expense, it is not something to be ignored.

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