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Mean Green Lawns
12-28-2006, 01:43 AM
Okay I have been doing this type of work for about 15 years now (on and off) and next summer I'll be 30... lol ( I feel 25) I have been in business for myself once before but an entire different field. I have owned Mean Green now for 3 full seasons and have had many ups and downs and many lessons learned the hard way. My first year I put out about 10K flyers that were not very good flyers and I took 60 customers which all but 2 stayed with me the next year. My second year I fixed the flyers and put out another 7K before I took 75 and 11 fell off through the season for various reasons.. This year my flyers were better than ever. The return on them was amazing. I got 86 phone calls out of 4K flyers and took another 70 new customers.
I charged 20-28 $'s depending on the property and had to contract some more help. Not to mention I take on all kinds of landscaping and hardscape projects... I am cutting that part of the business oout this year and I'm focusing on cutting lawns only. (lost money due to lazy labor not showing up, or breaking things that I had to repair, or just plain stupidity and bad attitudes)

THIS IS MY QUESTION,.... (drum roll lol )
Why do I do everything different than all the competition seems to do things. The only way I have organized my business and season is by listening to the homeowners and nothing I do seems to fit the standard lawn service.


1st I spend the whole month of April doing Spring Cleanups

2nd I start cutting here in MI MAY1st for reasons I could explain but I know most of you will not agree with me and I dont know why

3rd I only cut 24 Weeks and then start fall clean up

4th I do 3- 6 weeks of clean ups every week and every other week. I do a full cut, and clean the beds, landscaped areas, and the entire yeard. I mulch it all and Haul it away every week or every other week.

2007 I am going to put these into a complete package and keep only the customers that want it all this year and add on to replentish those who drop out.

Why do most places start regular cutting in April? Should I Not be doing spring clean ups.. I did 40 this year and it took me a full 4 weeks...

Also Why do people cut right over leaves, mulching them right onto the yard adding tons of thatch every fall?
I wont even cut a yard if I see more than 95 % of the grass through the leaves unless they pay me to bag the lawn. It creates a mess and over time destroyes the lawn if not taken care of.

Why do so many places cut right through water saturated grass and leave black tire marks all over the lawn??? Whats that about?? Why not push everything up a day and let it dry out before you destroy someones yard?


Please help me cause I have a few ideas but I want some input..

PearceLawn
12-28-2006, 05:24 AM
I am 41 and been working at this for 10 years and with the exception of the start time for mowing, we work basically the same schedule. I begin mowing in mid/late April because the folks who get chems would have a mess if I started later. I would have 20 of 65 lawns 10 inches high by May 1.
I do offer to customers the opportunity to be cut after the regular season for extra money and I get quite a few takers. It breaks up the monotony of the clean ups in the fall too.
Sometimes I mow when it is wet to keep up the schedule. I am a one man show and three days of rain could takes considerable time to catch up from and push the schedule around pretty bad upsetting the large amount of seniors I work for.
We are not so different!!:)

jbone
12-28-2006, 05:54 AM
my response to the water saturated grass is: Many of my customers have drainage problems and wont fix them. They complain their grass is too tall and needs to be cut right away(especially if it rained a lot and hasnr been cut in a while, and i usually dont even notice im tracking until its too late.

Mean Green Lawns
12-28-2006, 06:14 AM
I dont have a problemm with them mess and tall grass because I bag it all when it's like that for free. I dont mind doing it for them when it gets 6-10 "...

nobagger
12-28-2006, 07:07 AM
We are not so different, we have almost the same schedule as you. We usually mow for 30 weeks but in April we start our spring clean ups and start mowing in May.

MOW ED
12-28-2006, 08:04 AM
THIS IS MY QUESTION,.... (drum roll lol )
Why do I do everything different than all the competition seems to do things. The only way I have organized my business and season is by listening to the homeowners and nothing I do seems to fit the standard lawn service.

Why do most places start regular cutting in April? Should I Not be doing spring clean ups.. I did 40 this year and it took me a full 4 weeks...

Also Why do people cut right over leaves, mulching them right onto the yard adding tons of thatch every fall?
I wont even cut a yard if I see more than 95 % of the grass through the leaves unless they pay me to bag the lawn. It creates a mess and over time destroyes the lawn if not taken care of.

Why do so many places cut right through water saturated grass and leave black tire marks all over the lawn??? Whats that about?? Why not push everything up a day and let it dry out before you destroy someones yard?


Please help me cause I have a few ideas but I want some input..

There is nothing wrong with listening to the homeowner but in the grand scheme I have to do what is best for the business in order to survive. Some homeowners will beat you to death with requests that you will not make money on.

I do Spring Cleans every year and I could be busy the whole month of April also. This is by far a locational thing. I make 1/4 of my yearly revenue from cleans/dethatching so to not do them would be a major mistake. Mowing here begins late April/early May and by then I am done with cleans.

Now I will disagree with you about your philosophy on leaves. I have mulched leaves for years and when done properly it is a benefit to ALL parties including the environment. This is one area that you have to understand. There are dangers to mulching leaves but thatch introduction has not been one that I have seen and I mulch TONS of leaves. I will agree that if you do not manage the mulched leaves correctly you will have issues with turf health but properly done, mulching has been very beneficial to my customers lawns as well as my back and bottom line. A true thatch problem is one thing I have not noticed from mulching. Oak leaves have a greater acidity than maples. I will still mulch some oaks but if it gets thick I will bag the excess. Maples turn to dust and even the stems reduce. My winters are about the same as yours are and the leaves are biodegraded over the winter cycle. By spring there is no evidence of mulched leaves and the lawns are very healthy. An addition of fertilizer in the fall and spring also does help with breakdown in my experience but is not absolutely necessary. I understand your thinking to a point and I am not gonna say I am right and you are wrong but I used to think on your lines and I tried a different method and it worked for me. I used to dread leaf season but not it is a welcomed period for me. I can go on for paragraphs but I will "leave" it at that (sorry:laugh: )

The water saturated yard thing is something I like to avoid also. I know for the most part it is dirt/mud being pushed to the surface and staining the grass leaves. If you do get into a situation that is actually tearing the lawn or making ruts, it is wrong to be there. I have been taken by surprise on this a few times where a lawn looks ok to cut but isn't. Its usually not the whole lawn and I get caught in the back corners where things are low. I can explain the leaf staining but I can't justify ruts.

I believe we are pretty close in our philosophy and practices with a couple of differences. I am on a smaller scale than you are but I choose to stay that way. The thing is that if you are making a profit and have happy customers, things are good. You are right to ask questions of how we do things as I am sure you will either confirm you are doing things right for you or you could try some new methods to see if something works better. Thats why we are all here. Good Luck. Happy Holidays.

bill w
12-28-2006, 08:10 AM
Leaves do not form thatch.

gardener
12-28-2006, 10:37 AM
your a professional and many of the other's have very little education on proper ground management. stop looking over your shoulder and just focus on performing professional work.

T.E.
12-28-2006, 02:04 PM
Not to say that your doing all things wrong, but you may not be doing them the best way either!

86 calls 70 new customers is a rate of over 99.5%. According to response rates from direct mail, and door hangers companys. ( I have an account that owns one of these companys) You close this percentage rate when your to low in price. I have owned two lawn companys. I was getting the prices your quoting here in OK in the mid 1980's. If you raised your prices you would have less customers, and probably still have the same revenue! Just some feed back to think about. Later, Tony

Team-Green L&L
12-28-2006, 02:23 PM
Why did you post this same self-flattery twice. Do you need a friend?

Team-Green L&L
12-28-2006, 02:27 PM
Not to say that your doing all things wrong, but you may not be doing them the best way either!

86 calls 70 new customers is a rate of over 99.5%. According to response rates from direct mail, and door hangers companys. ( I have an account that owns one of these companys) You close this percentage rate when your to low in price. I have owned two lawn companys. I was getting the prices your quoting here in OK in the mid 1980's. If you raised your prices you would have less customers, and probably still have the same revenue! Just some feed back to think about. Later, Tony

Finally, someone who understands marketing...I love you! It's pretty easy to close a deal at 50% of the value and gaining so little profits that it take 200 maintenance accounts to reach a positive cash flow. I agree with the practices he talks about, but I can't see the same guy that pays $20-28 a cut caring too much about the quality of service they get. Or whose doing it for that matter.

Our clients wouldn't even pick up a maintenance flyer boasting "$20" cuts! They would put them in with the Dollar Store coupons!

lawnprosteveo
12-28-2006, 08:19 PM
One thing I have learned in my limited experience is that if you ask 5 lawn guys for an opinion, you are going to get 4 or 5 opinions on how to do something... and they will all be pretty good ideas.

Do what works for you, do what makes your customers happy, if you are getting the business you want and making money, then dont worry whether its what other LCO's do...

I tweek something in the way I do stuff all the time...thats why I get on lawnsite and read Turf...I also watch other LCO's...its a continuous learning process and you can always improve.

HOOLIE
12-28-2006, 09:53 PM
No way could I hold off on mowing until May, the grass would be a foot high at many places.

I guess as long as your clients are happy and you are profitable that's what matters most.

Mean Green Lawns
12-29-2006, 04:40 AM
Well thanks for all the replies...

1- Im not sure how you mulch "properly" but I'd love to hear how that works. I pick up all the mulched leaves and get about 36-54 bushels once every ohter week every time from a yard 6K sq ft. That about 150 bushels of "mulched" leaves a season on average just left on a lawn.... I could never get away with that but some people do it I guess

2- I am licensed by the Michigan State Department of Agriculture and from what I was tought that most the leaves here in MI (beech cotton oak red and white maples) do NOT breakdown over a 3-4 month period of time and result in a compisition of decomposed debris that resides between the soil and blades of grass. Thatch right??? Or does the rest of the world call it something else...?

3- Tony.. Yes I agree I am a little lower than a lot of companies but it's done for a reason. 2$ less a week from the next guy with 10K a year advertising budget gets people in this area to switch. I live in Metro Detroit... We are #1 with the heighest Arib population for the United States and a close runner up of indians (from india) calideans (<-sp?->) lebenies, and jews.. lots and lots of jews and aribs..lol who expect the best quality for the least amount... 180 custos at an average 22 a week is @ 4K a week... lol I dont micro manage, I dont penny pinch, and I pay my contractors well. I'll still Gross almost 100K in 6 months just from lawns and undercutting the competition which from my homeowner responce sheets is the #1 reason they continue servic for the next year and my turn over rate is very LOW.

4- TG I posted this in the other room before I realized there were no people in that room but 1 or 2. Logic told me I wasnt going to get any answers on that one but if you just so happen to leave an answer Ill be happy to go look just for you okay buddy.

5- TG again just for your information if you one day would like to look it up...

I graduated 3rd from my class ( though I still can't spell very well) of 1700+ that got accepted to the marketing program at Eastern Michigan University in 1997. Took me 3 years once in the program but I am good at what I do and I always have a purpose. Maybe next time before you open your mouth and sound really stupid you might want to educate yourself a little bit before you speak like a ignorant adolescent about issues and ideas in adult conversations.

Runner
12-29-2006, 05:20 AM
Well thanks for all the replies...

1- Im not sure how you mulch "properly" but I'd love to hear how that works. I pick up all the mulched leaves and get about 36-54 bushels once every ohter week every time from a yard 6K sq ft. That about 150 bushels of "mulched" leaves a season on average just left on a lawn.... I could never get away with that but some people do it I guess

2- I am licensed by the Michigan State Department of Agriculture and from what I was tought that most the leaves here in MI (beech cotton oak red and white maples) do NOT breakdown over a 3-4 month period of time and result in a compisition of decomposed debris that resides between the soil and blades of grass. Thatch right??? Or does the rest of the world call it something else...?

3- Tony.. Yes I agree I am a little lower than a lot of companies but it's done for a reason. 2$ less a week from the next guy with 10K a year advertising budget gets people in this area to switch. I live in Metro Detroit... We are #1 with the heighest Arib population for the United States and a close runner up of indians (from india) calideans (<-sp?->) lebenies, and jews.. lots and lots of jews and aribs..lol who expect the best quality for the least amount... 180 custos at an average 22 a week is @ 4K a week... lol I dont micro manage, I dont penny pinch, and I pay my contractors well. I'll still Gross almost 100K in 6 months just from lawns and undercutting the competition.

4- TG I posted this in the other room before I realized there were no people in that room but 1 or 2. Logic told me I wasnt going to get any answers on that one but if you just so happen to leave an answer Ill be happy to go look just for you okay buddy.

5- TG again just for your information if you one day would like to look it up...

I graduated 3rd from my class ( though I still can't spell very well) of 1700+ that got accepted to the marketing program at Eastern Michigan University in 1997. Took me 3 years once in the program but I am good at what I do and I always have a purpose. Maybe next time before you open your mouth and sound really stupid you might want to educate yourself a little bit before you speak like a ignorant adolescent about issues and ideas in adult conversations.

Mean Green,
Here's what works for us and most people that do this. As the leaves are falling, if you're using the right cutting configurations of blades, you can usually make the leaves pretty much disappear. If you do have to pick them up, then using the right blade configurations will greatly reduce your pick up by more than 10x over. In other words, if you're removing 150 bushels from a 6M lawn, then you would be removing a total of 15 bushels (probably even less when accounting for dust and decomposition.
For your No. 2.; I'm not sure what you are licensed in through the state dept. of agriculture, but I can tell you that while too much leaf mat can cause harm if not dispersed properly, decomposed debris from leaves is NOT thatch. Thatch is a tightly intermingled organic layer of dead and living shoots, stems, and roots that accumulate just above the soil surface. In other words, it is formed and grown from the plants themselves.
On your no. 3, I can certainly see where you're coming from on the premise that $2 a week can and will get these people to switch, because they will do ANYthing to save a buck. Unfortunately, if that means selling you down the river after bust your hump for them for 5 years to savethatbuc, guess what? They are going to do the same thing. That is why I don't let peoples' nationality, race, creed, or color dictate our pricing structure.
If you would like to know more about the cutting the leaves and reducing these volumes tremendously, there are many many threads on here on the use of double blades and different ones to use for different conditions. Also, I'd be happy to help out and give suggestions if you like. I hope this helps.

Mean Green Lawns
12-29-2006, 05:39 AM
I can always use advise on how to do things a little better however though I hear and understand the concept behind the leaves almost like dust bust how does that happen to wet fresh leaves after 2-3 days of rain? Also, what do you tell the homeowner who doesn't want to see all those leaves all over the lawn? From what I see here happening, and all the companies that do this seem to do it the same, is leave a TON of debris everywhere and looks like crap. Definately not like a fresh cut lawn lol and thats what I sell to my customers; a clean lawn with no debris and they eat it up because everyone I talk to complains about the mess. They don't wanna see it. I have some people that pay me double to pick'em all up EVERY week..lol Just because they don't want to see the mess.

... Thisis just one of many articles that say the same thing...

U of MN Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series; U of MN Extension Svc. Pub. #1123;Thatch Control; U of WI
Date: 1992/98/2004

"Lawn Thatch is the accumulation of living and dead-but undecomposed-grass stems, crowns, roots, and other organic debris at the soil surface. Thatch tends to build up over a period of years to form a mat, sometimes an inch or more deep.

The thatch layer can become a water resistent barrier on the soil surface. Eventually, the roots and rhizomes of bluegrass grow primarily in the thatch layer, rather than in the soil, because insufficient water reaches the soil. Grass anchored in thatch layers are much more vulnuerable to stresses caused by fluctuating temperatures and moisture conditions.

Thatch Removal
You can remove thatch from lawns with vertical mowers (dethatchers), or with power rakes. Rake and remove the material you cut with these machines. May and September are good times to remove thatch.

Lawns do not require dethatching every year. Many lawns never require thatch removal. One-half to three-quarters inch of thatch is beneficial as it protects the crowns of your plants and helps to hold soil moisture. If a layer of thatch makes it difficult to water through to the soil, you should probably remove the thatch. Aerifying the lawn speeds natural thatch decomposition.

Thatch buildup may be related to earthworms and night crawlers in the lawn. Thatch tends to develop in lawns where there are few, if any, earthworms.

All the case files I find on thatch say the same thing... ALL ORGANIC MATERIAL at the soil level... To me that would then include left over mulched leaves and leaf dust...

A great article on thatch from the leaders...

http://web1.msue.msu.edu/msue/iac/greentip/gt1144.pdf

lawnworker
12-29-2006, 10:02 AM
MGL- It is true that wet leaves will not mulch up well. All part of the scheduling games we play. Your bagging probably suffers on wet days also. I hate leaf removal work, but i will do it for some customers. Some of the bigger companies only suck up at curb with the giant vacuum truck. The customer must get the leaves to the front, and they charge a lot for this.

Garners have tilled leaves into the soil for years to produce better vegetables, so leaves mulched up helps the soil structure- more organic matter.

lawnworker
12-29-2006, 10:06 AM
All the case files I find on thatch say the same thing... ALL ORGANIC MATERIAL at the soil level... To me that would then include left over mulched leaves and leaf dust...

The difference is the fact that the leaves, by spring time, actually become the soil.

Team-Green L&L
12-29-2006, 10:51 AM
That statement is not the Bible. There is a lot of organic materials on the soil that do not cause thatch. Dead leaves do not and will provide for fertilizer is mulched properly. Grass clippings do not cause thatch either.

Team-Green L&L
12-29-2006, 10:58 AM
I graduated 3rd from my class ( though I still can't spell very well) of 1700+ that got accepted to the marketing program at Eastern Michigan University in 1997. Took me 3 years once in the program but I am good at what I do and I always have a purpose. Maybe next time before you open your mouth and sound really stupid you might want to educate yourself a little bit before you speak like a ignorant adolescent about issues and ideas in adult conversations.

I am not here to argue or fight. I am far from an adolescent and have successfully grown 3 businesses that are grossing between $1-2.3 Mil. annually. I carried a 3.8 GPA throughout my college career at American Bible College in OK and studied marketing for 4 years as a minor. I have been certified in all areas of operations and our company leads the local market in growth.

All that aside, I have nothing against you. I read posts and reply. That's all. If I feel I can benefit the poster, I may take the time out of my busy day to reply. That is never an attack. Calm down...

GSMOSS
12-29-2006, 11:10 AM
Team-Green, can you help me with marketing ideas and estimating costs?

naturescape
12-29-2006, 11:45 AM
Man, Mean-Green, you are clueless!

I've been in this business for 25 years, in the same area you work in, and how can you NOT (on average) start mowing in April??

And leaves DO NOT contribute to thatch, and thatch is an over-rated problem anyway.

Don't even bother replying, this thread is ******ed in the first place.

Team-Green L&L
12-29-2006, 12:07 PM
Team-Green, can you help me with marketing ideas and estimating costs?

I can help as much as possible. PM me with any Q's you may have and I will respond asap.

GSMOSS
12-29-2006, 01:17 PM
Thank You Very Much

JimLewis
12-29-2006, 07:28 PM
Mean Green, I am not sure who taught you that leaves create thatch. But that's just not accurate. For more than you ever wanted to know about turfgrass and thatch, read Turgeon's Turfgrass Management (Text Book) available here;

http://www.amazon.com/Turfgrass-Management-6th-J-Turgeon/dp/0130278238

That book is what most college courses use and is the Bible of Turfgrass.

As for your other questions, why do others do it differently?

Well, first of all, I don't know if you've noticed or not but not everyone from Lawnsite is from your part of the country. The grass may not be growing a lot in April where you are, but in many other parts of the country it's growing so fast that you'd be negligent NOT to mow it. Furthermore, it's not wet in every part of the country in April either. So don't be surprised if you hear about others here mowing in April. That may not be the norm where you live, but it probably is the norm in other climates.

Trying to compare what works in your area in terms of when to do clean-ups, when to start mowing, when to stop for the season, etc. with others here on Lawnsite is only going to frustrate you. It's different everywhere.

I wouldn't worry so much about it anyway. Like you, I've built my maintenance programs around what I heard my clients telling me they wanted for the first several years. It took me a few years to get a good understanding of what clients in my area expected. But finally I arrived at two basic maintenance packages that fit most people's needs and expectations in my area. And guess what? The service and programs we offer probably wouldn't work in your area! For instance, we charge one flat fee every month, regardless of the number of cuts. Second, we charge that same flat fee, all year round, even though we do very little cutting during the winter months. Third, clients here expect us to still come service their landscape at least 2 times per month during the winter. And since we're always there every month of the year we never end up having to do spring clean-ups for our customers. We're there so often that the landscape never needs a clean-up. It just stays in a constant state of cleanliness. In addition to this, we cut all 170 of the lawns we maintain with 21" mowers. That's probably different than most here on LS too. We also have the majority of our customers on AutoPay too. So their funds come right into my account each month and I never have to send out an invoice. That's probably different than the way other guys here on LS do it too.

Again, my system may not work in many parts of the country. But it works great here and I really don't fret about the fact that my service is a little different than most other LCOS on Lawnsite.

The best advice I can give you is don't worry about it. Listen to what your customers want. Taylor your service to fit their needs and what's right for your business. And don't worry if others do it differently.

Stillwater
01-07-2007, 07:30 AM
I do the same as you, but grass clippings and leaf do not caus or worssen thatch not in the slighetst

Mean Green Lawns
01-07-2007, 01:37 PM
thanks for the help...