Propane Equipment Dealer Toolkit Propane Equipment Dealer Toolkit
FIRST THINGS FIRST
This kit was developed to help dealers like you grow their business by offering equipment options powered by clean, American propane. We hope you’ll share this piece with anyone who helps attract new customers to your business.
You’re going to learn the basics of propane, market information, and advice on how to get started. An overview of marketing materials — created to support the propane conversation with your current and prospective customers — is provided in the back of this kit. Visit the Resource Catalog to download or customize your desired items.
BENEFITS OF PROPANE
Going green was once seen as a fringe movement, but it is now gaining momentum. Consumers and businesses, especially those affiliated with municipalities and governmental agencies, are looking for environmentally friendly options. These preferences are quickly making their way into landscape services, and propane offers an excellent alternative.
Studies show that, compared with a comparable gasoline mower, propane reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent, sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions by 16 percent, and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 19 percent. Propane mowers also significantly reduce other polluting emissions such as ozone and particulate matter. And new commercial propane-powered mowers meet or exceed all current emissions requirements established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the more stringent California Air Resources Board standards.
These emissions benefits help landscape contractors differentiate their businesses and appeal not only to green-minded consumers but also to businesses that are likelier than ever to have sustainability goals. Many companies now require vendors to use a low-emissions fuel, like propane, when available.
In addition to voluntary adoption of green alternatives, some larger cities are taking the issue further. Municipalities with air quality issues will periodically enact environmental air quality restriction days. During these times a temporary moratorium is placed on the use of gasoline-fueled commercial mowers. Compounding this challenge is the fact that these are not regularly scheduled events.
Because of its emission advantages, a propane-powered mower can operate in most areas during Ozone Action Days or Air Quality Nonattainment Days. So, while conventional fuels may prevent a contractor from working, propane empowers them to continue doing business as usual.
The bottom line is a propane-powered mower can equip a landscape contractor with a powerful tool that can help them land new business. In many instances, jobs are being awarded to contractors based strictly on the fact that they are able to provide a green solution. Propane can provide that solution, and do so cost-effectively.
Reduced Labor Expenses
Keeping employees productive is every landscape contractor’s biggest task. It’s critical to help contractors understand that propane-powered mowers help their business by minimizing downtime-related labor expenses.
Refueling gasoline-fueled equipment requires crew members to spend valuable time traveling to an off-site fueling station. This can cause hundreds of hours of unproductive time, because it forces employees to make an extra stop. With propane’s convenient, on-site refueling, employees can spend more time working and less time at the gas station.
Another important fact that will resonate with landscape contractors is that some propane-powered mowers use larger fuel tanks, or multiple tanks, which allows a crew to cover a greater mowing area in a single fueling.
Plus, on propane-powered mowers, replacement cylinders are mobile and can be changed on-site with ease. Contractors can change out cylinders on the job, which increases overall productivity — and makes the most of the investment in labor.
Reduced Fuel Loss
Propane equipment has a secure, closed-loop fuel system. This saves money not only by drastically reducing fuel theft, but by virtually eliminating costly, harmful spills.
It’s widely known that, at the end of the day, gasoline cans rarely return full (no matter how many lawns were mowed). With propane, there is little opportunity to steal fuel, which can translate to real savings.
For contractors using a traditional gasoline- or diesel-fueled mower, spilled, wasted, or mishandled fuel is a common occurrence. In fact, refueling landscape equipment results in 17 million gallons of spilled gasoline in the United States each year — more than one and a half times the volume of oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez in 1989.1,2 These spills can kill grass, impact the environment, and ultimately cost a contractor money. Propane is a contained fuel source.
1. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Green Landscaping: Greenacres: A Source Book on Natural Landscaping for Public Officials: Chapter 2, “ 2012, http://www.epa.gov/greatlakes/greenacres/toolkit/chap2.html (accessed June 17, 2014).
2. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fisheries & Ecological Services, “Environmental Contaminants Spill Response and Restoration: Exxon Valdez Oil Spill,” last updated March 2014, http:// alaska.fws.gov/fisheries/contaminants/exxon.htm (accessed June 17, 2014).
Stable Fuel Costs
According to the 2014 PERC Propane Mower Incentive Program survey, operating cost is the primary factor that will influence a contractor’s decision to purchase a propane-powered mower. Since a contractor’s primary operating cost is fuel, it can determine whether their business will be profitable or not.
Gasoline’s relatively volatile price has landscape contractors researching affordable alternative fuels like propane. Propane’s abundant, domestic supply means more stable fuel costs for your customers (and less dependence on foreign oil). Contractors may be able to purchase fuel for less than average, too, because they mow in the propane marketer’s “off-season,” when less fuel is needed for heating.
And because a local propane supplier can offer fuel on a monthly, or even yearly, fuel contract, your customers can secure a fixed-rate price. This not only minimizes price volatility commonly experienced with gasoline, but it also helps contractors project their annual fuel costs, alleviating anxiety about unforeseen spikes in price at the pump.
Find a propane supplier in your area.
Incentives make a contractor’s transition to propane even easier.
- National Propane Mower Incentive Program: This program provides contractors an incentive for a qualifying new propane mower purchase or a qualifying mower conversion. The program is open at certain times of the year and for a limited time only.
- State Incentive Programs: Many state propane associations offer additional incentives for propane-powered commercial mower purchases. These offers can be combined with the above Propane Mower Incentive Program to further lessen the cost of entry for landscape contractors interested in propane. Check with your state propane association to learn what is available in your area.
Adding propane-powered commercial mowers to your showroom will provide you with a product that is growing in demand. This exciting new market has incredible potential for those who want to position their dealership as a leader. But, before going all in, it’s important to do some planning. Take the following dealer-tested steps to make propane-powered mowers a successful addition to your business.
Before entering the market, learn more about propane, the industry, and its role in landscaping.
Next, learn which of the brands you carry offers propane-powered mowers. Survey your current customers and prospects to better learn their needs; they may benefit from using propane-powered equipment. Then, reach out to more landscape contractors in your area to see who might be using propane-powered mowers in their fleet. Determine if the equipment is new or if the contractor used a conversion kit. Find out if they’re satisfied with the performance of the mower, and if it’s able to withstand the rigors of a typical workweek.
It’s also important to determine if any of your competitors are selling propane-powered mowers and if so, which models they offer.
Finally, explore the various incentive programs that are offered on both the state and national level. Propane-powered mowers typically cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 more than similar gasoline-fueled models. Incentive programs can offset those higher costs, lessening the upfront capital investment so contractors can benefit from propane’s lower operating costs even quicker.
2. Meet the Propane Suppliers
If you’re going to offer propane-powered commercial mowers, you have to know where and how your customers will fuel them. So, it’s critical that you develop a relationship with a propane supplier who services your area. You can find one by utilizing local listing search results on Google.
Adding a bulk tank to your premises establishes your dealership as a one-stop shop for your new propane-powered mower customers and helps to ensure repeat business. After all, these customers will need a place to refuel or exchange cylinders and a bulk tank helps to capture those dollars. And with the opportunity to refuel tanks for generators, outdoor grills, and other propanepowered equipment, a bulk tank can provide your dealership with a year-round revenue stream.
As a propane reseller, you will have the opportunity to purchase your fuel on contract, allowing you to negotiate a price per gallon. This eliminates the price volatility typically associated with gasoline and diesel. If this makes sense for your business, the propane supplier would play a key role in helping you navigate through the process.
3. Demo Program
Once you’ve picked a propane supplier, you should obtain a propane-powered mower for demonstration purposes. Start by contacting OEMs and ask if they have a demo program in place. The demo model will allow you and your sales team to get a first-hand look at how the mower works and learn more about its maintenance requirements. You can then use it to entice new customers by loaning it out to landscape contractors while their gas- or diesel-fueled mowers are in the shop.
4. Make the Rounds
Your final step should be to visit the landscape contractors in your area to better gauge interest in propane-powered mowers. Bring along the materials referenced at the back of this kit, along with the demo mower. Offer to loan them the mower so they can see how it stands up to the rigors of a typical workweek.
RESOURCES FOR DEALERS
Download training materials, promotional materials, videos, case studies, and more from the Resource Catalog.