You hear it all the time: “You paid how much for it!? I can get that £40 cheaper from Larry’s Landscaping World down the road!”
We all like to think we can get the best deals and outdo our competitors, but are we, and what are we getting for our money? Sometimes it’s not just the price you pay where the true value lies.
The other one I hear is “have you tried the new ride-ons from Ripsnorter Mowers? They’re really good and they give you three for the price of two and a five year warranty”. They may well be cheap and perform well when they’re new, but are they legal, how long will they last, can you get parts for them and does that warranty really exist?
Whether it’s an edging iron or a dumper truck, the old adage of “you get what you pay for” applies, and offers that are too good to be true usually are. It’s easy to buy cheap, but to get the right balance between costs, quality and support takes a bit of effort. Constant bench-marking is a must as the deal you did last year soon becomes obsolete with new technology or new suppliers.
So after much haggling you shake hands on a new compact tractor, it arrives and you set to work. Everything’s great, but make sure that you read the handbook to understand the Ts & Cs and what you need to do to comply with the manufacturer’s warranty. There is no point in blaming the manufacturer for an engine failure after 230 hours if you missed the first 50 hour service. Cars and trucks now do a lot of the thinking for you and have an orange light to let you know when they need to be serviced, currently not readily available in our industry, but we do have a simple hour clock which tells you all you need to know, so pay attention to it.
It’s also worth considering what your buy is going to do in the future, especially with tractors, excavators, ATV’s and the like. Try where you can to future-proof them. For instance, there is no point in buying a bargain basement compact tractor if in 12 months you want to fit a loader or mid-deck and it isn’t compatible. Better to spend a bit more to get the flexibility.
You should also consider extended warranty and/or service packages, especially on high value items such as larger tractors and earthmovers. In the long term, this extra investment could save you a lot of aggravation and expense when you least need it. Believe me, I have experienced what can happen when it goes wrong! Main dealer servicing may seem expensive, after all, and (please excuse my cynicism) they have some very expensive showrooms to maintain, but their technicians should be highly trained and be able to keep your machinery in peak operating condition.
Nowadays it’s not enough just to drop the oil, change the filters and run round with a grease gun. On larger machines engine management systems are becoming more finely tuned to reduce emissions, and transmissions more complicated; it could just be a simple adjustment to keep linkages working smoothly, which a trained technician will attend to and you wouldn’t know any different. However to rely on someone who doesn’t have the correct training or experience could prove costly. The bottom line is you get what you pay for, so make sure you pay for it at the right time and not at the height of the season or when the pressure is on. Remember: equipment is an investment so invest in it!
Angus Lindsay, Group Head of Asset & Fleet Management