Although holiday decorating and winter weather services can continue to bring in business, the winter months are also prime time to take stock of budgets, equipment, and business processes from 2018. These five steps can help position a contractor for success in 2019.

1. Evaluate your fleet.

The first step in looking forward to the 2019 season is checking in on current equipment and how it did or didn’t help meet a business’s needs. What worked? What didn’t? What could have been more productive? Do a deeper dive by reviewing repair and maintenance logs. For equipment that has more hours in the shop than on site, it may be time to consider leasing or buying something new.

2. Look at your fuel budget.

Contractors might have noticed that gasoline prices this past summer were the highest in five years. Unfortunately, 2019 prices are expected to remain high, hovering around $2.80 in summer months when demand increases. While budgeting for those higher prices is one option, contractors who want a long-term solution to the headaches caused by gasoline price spikes may also consider switching equipment to propane. Because 90 percent of the fuel consumed in the U.S. is produced here, costs are insulated from the whims of the oil market. And contractors will typically save 30 to 50 percent per gallon of propane compared to gasoline right off the bat. Using PERC’s Propane Mower Calculator can give contractors a look at the possible savings the fuel can offer.

3. Check for incentives and grants.

In addition to lower fuel costs, contractors who make the decision to use propane mowers can look for available incentives or grants to offset the purchase of new equipment. For example, PERC’s Propane Mower Incentive program offers $1,000 per qualifying mower purchase or $500 per qualifying conversion. The PMIP has an online application to make the submission process simple whenever a mower purchase is made.

Local incentives or grants may also be available from Clean Cities organizations or state environmental agencies. Contractors can also check with OEMs for rebates and offers that can reduce the cost of an initial purchase.

4. Discover how else your fleet can cut costs.

Contractors considering propane mowers for 2019 may be interested in other ways the alternative fuel can be used to cut fleet costs. For example, a variety of light- and medium-duty vehicles can be powered with propane autogas — vans for transporting crews, sedans for supervisors, pickups for hauling trailers, even larger medium-duty chassis up-fitted with dump bodies or cranes for renovation or hardscaping. As with propane mowers, fuel for propane autogas vehicles typically costs less, and makes installing refueling infrastructure on site even more efficient.

It’s even possible that a contractor’s existing vehicles can be converted to propane autogas, a cost-effective way for companies to begin using the alternative fuel. Contractors have the additional option of using propane autogas bi-fuel systems, which allow operators to go from propane autogas to gasoline at the flip of a switch when traveling beyond a tank of fuel.

5. Find new opportunities for technician training.

No matter how long a technician has been repairing outdoor power equipment, it can be good to set aside time for training during the off-season. Whether it’s a refresher on mower maintenance or learning new equipment entirely, training now can make repairs and maintenance more efficient once the mowing season begins again.

For contractors who choose to add propane mowers to their fleet, for example, the new fuel may be unfamiliar to technicians, but training is often readily available. A quick call to a propane retailer, propane equipment dealer, or mower or conversion kit manufacturer can help a contractor get technicians set up for any repairs or scheduled maintenance.

For more information about getting started with propane mowers, visit propane.com/propane-products/commercial-mowers.

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