Rising gas prices are hurting small businesses

Mar 11 2012 - 1:12am

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(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Mike Bachman prepares to take one of his smaller vans to a service call.
(MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner) Mike Bachman prepares to take one of his smaller vans to a service call.

POLL: Who do you blame for high gas prices?

OGDEN -- When Mike Bachman started his plumbing business 38 years ago, paying for gas wasn't much of an issue.

Boy, have times changed.

Surging gas prices impact motorists everywhere, but the hurt is extra hard for small businesses that rely heavily on driving to make their money.

According to AAA, gas prices in Utah are higher now than they have been in the past four months. On Friday, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.54, 16 cents higher than it was a year ago.

Bachman, who owns Ogden-based Mike Bachman Plumbing, said the past several years have been especially tough for him.

"The price of gas has affected us pretty good," Bachman said. "It affects everybody, but when you are a small business and driving to and from different places is a big part of how you make your money, it's just tough."

Bachman said his company spends about $3,000 every month in gas.

"We've got pretty big trucks that we use -- we call them our warehouses on wheels," he said. "And when you have to fill a 30-gallon tank on a truck that gets only eight or nine miles to the gallon, that adds up quick."

Bachman said rising gas prices have caused his company to begin charging a small dispatch fee when it visits homes.

Bachman has also began using a GPS system so he knows where all of his drivers are and can send them to jobs based on who is closest to a particular location.

"When it starts cutting down on your profit so much, you've got to start doing things a little bit different," Bachman said.

Kierstyn Poole manages The Pizza Runner, which employs six drivers to deliver food. Poole said the Ogden restaurant is looking at scaling back its delivery area because of high gas prices.

"It's a really tough time right now," Poole said. "Our drivers aren't making as much money because gas keeps going up, so it can be tough to keep them."

Annie Whittaker, who owns Annie's Main Street Floral in Layton, said high gas prices impact her business in many ways.

"First off, (gas prices) affect the price the wholesaler charges us to initially purchase the flowers," she said. "But we've also had to make our deliveries differently. We've tried to cut back on the number of trips we make and send multiple orders out at the same time to try and group them together. We're still trying to make things as convenient as possible for the customer, but it's getting hard."

Larry Rizley owns Rizley Property Management and Repair, an Ogden-area property management and handyman company that provides a variety of household and outdoor repairs and services.

Rizley said he tries to do his billing over the phone or on the Internet to save money on postage.

"When your office is your car and gas is so much, you have to find ways to cut back on your expenses," Rizley said. "You can't really do anything about the price of gas, so you have to get creative in other ways."

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