Tips for Running a Successful Business & a Safe Equipment Operation

January 10, 2023
Business Tips
“After running a successful business with a fleet of equipment for 40+ years, I have learned a few secrets that will help you run a successful business more efficiently, safer, and avoid equipment breakdowns and accidents. If you follow these tips, you could save tens of thousands of dollars. ‘50% of SUCCESS IS SIMPLY NOT MAKING MISTAKES. ‍IF YOU FAIL TO PLAN, YOU ARE PLANNING TO FAIL’.” 
- Lenny Polonski

Business Tips From Lenny:

1 - Equipment breakdowns and accidents are most often the result of maintenance neglect, improper equipment use, and especially lack of training. Failure to maintain your equipment and train your operators will always cost you at least four times as much as it takes to repair a breakdown, or the training that could have prevented accidents on a jobsite.

2 - Begin by formalizing an equipment maintenance and training program. Many business owners and operators simply do not realize how critical this is for any company, no matter the size of your company.

3 - For maintenance and daily pre-operation safety inspections required by OSHA, organize a simple maintenance program. Dedicate a small space in your shop or office where everybody has access to these document records.

4 - Records can be as simple as ruled notebooks for each piece of equipment, where every bit of maintenance performed and notes are written down for the life of the equipment. Any equipment can last for decades when properly maintained on a daily basis.

5 - Build a simple labeled 'bin" system for each piece of equipment. A bin system will make it easy for anyone to reach into this bin, pull out the recording notebook and fill out the daily inspection and maintenance log book and then place it back in the bin when completed.

6 - A "manual" record keeping system here is actually better than a computer system because everybody will have to sign the notebook with their signature. This eliminates the chance of cheating, refusing to take responsibility, or blaming someone else for their neglect.

7 - Insist that everyone who either runs or services any of your equipment write down any service done for each piece of equipment. Include mileage or hours of operation and what service was done. Include the replacement filters and part numbers. This makes ordering the right parts for the next service interval easy to reorder and see when it was last changed out.

8 - Provide a second notebook for each piece of equipment where daily pre-operation inspections can be recorded. Include the date, name, and signature of the person who is going to operate the equipment and do the inspection. Again, if the equipment does not pass the safety inspection, notes are made on the fault/failure and the equipment and that machine is locked out of service until it is properly repaired and recertified as safe to operate.

Example of an in-house Pre_operation Checklist, courtesy of Timber Ridge Tree Care

9 - Require everyone to read the instructions in the owner's manual of every piece of equipment you own on a minimum quarterly or by-yearly basis as a refresher. As simple as that is, it is shocking how many equipment operators never read the instructions in the owners and maintenance manual.

10 - Set time every week to continuously and properly train the equipment operators in the operation and care of all equipment. This informal meeting can be as little as 30 minutes to 1 hour and can be referred to as a "weekly tailgate safety meeting". Make sure you document attendance for each of your employees with their signature on an attendance notebook. Keep these records forever.

11 - Training is never a "one time thing". It is something that everybody needs to hear and invest in on a consistent basis. "Learning comes from listening to and following instructions. This is always a difficult challenge to get your employees to do well." This is also a good time to observe the attitude of your workers. Anyone that derides, avoids or refuses safety instruction is going to be a problem-worker that eventually is going to cost you a lot of money.

12 - Invest in formal teaching for everyone by providing authorized training, requiring licensing and certifications. This can often easily be accomplished by either taking your employees to courses offered at trade show conferences, attending safety seminars or bringing in instructors to train in-house a number of times per year. This alone will save you thousands of dollars from the poor excuses "I didn't know, I didn't see, I didn't think".

13 - Good maintenance programs and training are always related to "good personal habits". Good leadership always strives to develop good "habits and discipline" for everyone.

14 - Document, document, document. Always write everything down." If it is not written down, it never happened".

Need help getting started? Download our Pre-Operation Checklist here.


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