PDA

View Full Version : How many of you guys left mowing for fert & squirt?


WJW Lawn
06-14-2007, 11:01 AM
How many of you guys left mowing for fert & squirt? Has this proved to be a good thing for you? If so...what were the benefits? I hear alot of guys mention better profits...how so? This may be a long term goal of mine as I go into to take my exam. I've read a ton, and tried to educate myself on it, while practicing on my own lawn. Im just interested in exploring this side of the business more. Or maybe its best to keep maintenance and lawn care?

WJW Lawn
06-14-2007, 04:31 PM
I guess not many have made the switch lol Or...it really must have sucked.

heritage
06-14-2007, 05:10 PM
No more mowing for me....

Yes, a very good thing for me :)

Benefits are more profits yes, as well as far less competition from newbies that are poor business people in the mowing game.

Profits how so you ask? $35-$50 man hour gross grounds maintenance, Vs. $150 + man hour gross for tree/turf care.

Before you expect to become a fert/squirt/tree expert, you should work 2- 3 years for a small/medium sized company with focus on quality. Try to move up/advance and get into the office to learn the management numbers game too.

Take classes as much as possable starting NOW, and in 3 years you can be on your own, with enough exp. to make a PROFIT, and also not have to deal with "Misapplication" Error potentional.

The older members here have a lot to offer, so listen and learn :)

Good Luck!

Pete D

Ric
06-14-2007, 05:14 PM
WJW

Yes I made the switch but maybe not quite like you are planning too. I started in Mowing and kept getting bigger and adding services. But after a hurricane and a few other problems I quit the business all together and retired. For two years I did nothing. Now I am back doing Fert & Squit part time for Pin money to supplement my retirement. I do not advertise and charge just a little more than my competitor because my ego says I am worth it. but I have manged to pick up several of my old customers by word of mouth and seem to be picking up more each week.

Fert & Squirt depending on your marketing area can in fact be a very competitive thing. Heavy Marketing can be very costly. Like any business the one band will do well or the 7 truck route will do well. but the 2 or 3 truck route will always be a loser or not as profitable. Networking with Mowing contractor can be a good way to gain customers. But if you drop mowing be sure you have enough Sprays to at least survive. Profit Margins are much better with Fert & Squirt and Equipment expense and maintenance is a lot less. Material costs are your biggie after marketing. But I believe a one man band can do well in Fert & Squirt.

WJW Lawn
06-14-2007, 05:37 PM
Ric, Heritage, and Vic...thanks for the great advice! Right now Im like a sponge reading as much as I can, and surely getting employed by a reputable fert company would be ideal for experience.

I just get frustrated with mowing sometimes---lack of respect...spring time rolls around and every Tom, Dick, and Harry heads to Home Cheapo to start their own mowing service!

I like the fact that Fert takes knowledge...and its REGULATED!!!! Thats the biggy...REGULATION!! That just scares the warriors away. Of course lower overhead makes a ton of sense.

I currently run my lawn maintenance around being a stay at home dad--the wife makes killer money, and years ago when I was laid off...I decided against daycare for my little one...so I started into lawn maintenance (I guess like Tom, Dick & Harry!! Only I was legit and didnt lowball). I plan on keeping that going for now...because it brings in nice extra income and I service 40 accounts. But Im thinking once I pass the exam...I'll set up a seperate business --- different name ---business license-- all that, and move slowly with it. Like I said...I have time to grow it. Anyway...these are just thoughts. How many of you took jobs to learn this stuff before doing it?? Its a great idea...but I dont know if I can at this particular time.

mkroher
06-14-2007, 08:31 PM
I do both. I'm trying to make the switch. I hate mowing because it's worth peanuts compared to treating properties.

WJW Lawn
06-14-2007, 08:44 PM
Sure does seem like it with all the gas...maintenance...oil...blades...down time for repair...on and on.

Victor
06-14-2007, 10:50 PM
I love not having to worry about sharpening blades, or scraping mower decks. I couldn't be happier now that I'm an application only outfit.

Ric
06-15-2007, 01:29 AM
Ric, Heritage, and Vic...thanks for the great advice! Right now Im like a sponge reading as much as I can, and surely getting employed by a reputable fert company would be ideal for experience.

I just get frustrated with mowing sometimes---lack of respect...spring time rolls around and every Tom, Dick, and Harry heads to Home Cheapo to start their own mowing service!

I like the fact that Fert takes knowledge...and its REGULATED!!!! Thats the biggy...REGULATION!! That just scares the warriors away. Of course lower overhead makes a ton of sense.

I currently run my lawn maintenance around being a stay at home dad--the wife makes killer money, and years ago when I was laid off...I decided against daycare for my little one...so I started into lawn maintenance (I guess like Tom, Dick & Harry!! Only I was legit and didnt lowball). I plan on keeping that going for now...because it brings in nice extra income and I service 40 accounts. But Im thinking once I pass the exam...I'll set up a seperate business --- different name ---business license-- all that, and move slowly with it. Like I said...I have time to grow it. Anyway...these are just thoughts. How many of you took jobs to learn this stuff before doing it?? Its a great idea...but I dont know if I can at this particular time.

WJW Lawn

From one Mr Mom to an other, Good for you. Yes my Ex wife is a professional and I got started in this business to make my own schedule for the kids. After the divorce I had to actually make a living and managed to do so very well. I kept the children and raised them. Now I am starting all over again in Fert & Squirt, But this time is to make my own schedule for my benefit. Only want part time and I still need a few customers to fill my bill. I do kick myself in the butt sometimes for selling off my accounts with the rest of the business. I didn't have a real big route but I could or should of handled it.

mkroher
06-15-2007, 07:09 AM
How many of you took jobs to learn this stuff before doing it??

The only way you learn is by experience. I'm still learning new stuff EVERY day! I laugh at what I knew last year, and can't wait to see where I'll be next year.

If you don't know, be honest. Tell the customer you'll get back to them. Ask friends (in the business) or your materials supplier for advice.

Grandview
06-15-2007, 07:11 AM
I started 15 years ago. My goal from the beginning was to do only applications. At first I did a little landscaping and mowing. I never had more than 10 mowing accounts. If I wasn't busy I worked expanding the application side of things. I have been application only for 10 years. I have two Permagreen Magnums. I put 350 plus hours on them in a year. I also have a couple boom sprayers that mount to the three point of my tractors.

WJW Lawn
06-15-2007, 07:21 AM
The only way you learn is by experience. I'm still learning new stuff EVERY day! I laugh at what I knew last year, and can't wait to see where I'll be next year.

If you don't know, be honest. Tell the customer you'll get back to them. Ask friends (in the business) or your materials supplier for advice.


Good advice there! Ive got 3 mowing clients that want me for fert apps after I test for my license...so thats a good slow start for me. But ur right on asking...and Im not too proud to do that for sure! Beats killing a lawn!!


Also---I wonder what the annual gross difference is from a solo maintenance outfit, and a solo fert outfit. Alot of guys talk as though its a pretty big difference!

Ric
06-15-2007, 10:19 AM
Guys

A few years back there were some threads about Horizontal and Vertical marketing in this business. Mowing being the broad based Horizontal market and All up sells like Fert & Squirt, Landscape installs Etc Etc being the Vertical Market off of the Horizontal base of Mowing.

The Consensus of opinions by Full service operators was Mowing was a Necessary Evil that was much less profitable and higher Maintenance over other Vertical markets. However without Mowing offering a Horizontal customer base for those Vertical service, those vertical services were harder of sell. Sort of a lost leader Idea that WalMart or other big box stores offer. Come buy the cheapie and while your are here buy the big ticket Item also.

The art of promoting word of mouth advertising is a valuable skill if you give up mowing as a horizontal base for your Fert & Squirt business. IMHO offering a discount to customer who gets you business is shooting yourself in the foot. That discount tells the Customer your services are not worth what they have been paying. The type of customer I want is one that wants good service and is will to pay for it. If they are happy, they will tell their friends

sprayboy
06-15-2007, 10:48 AM
Ric:

I agree.
Offering discounts and letting customers talk you down in price sends the wrong message. I believe that a customer will think you was to high to start with or you are trying to screw them if you come down from your original price. People talk. If you lower it for Joe, he tells his friends and so on.

I believe mowing is the necessary evil you stated. I know some guys that would love to get out of it but they will lose some very big commercial accounts. Accounts that require full service grounds maintenance. If I were a property manager I would prefer 1 company to do everything as to multiple companies.

lilmarvin4064
06-15-2007, 11:21 AM
if you are getting out of the mowing or you are trying to start up fert + squirt without the mowing, make friends with a few grounds maintenance companies that don't do apps, they will refer customers to you. It has worked well for me. In my whole life, I have only mowed 3 lawns, EVER.

Ric
06-15-2007, 11:41 AM
Ric:

I agree.
Offering discounts and letting customers talk you down in price sends the wrong message. I believe that a customer will think you was to high to start with or you are trying to screw them if you come down from your original price. People talk. If you lower it for Joe, he tells his friends and so on.

I believe mowing is the necessary evil you stated. I know some guys that would love to get out of it but they will lose some very big commercial accounts. Accounts that require full service grounds maintenance. If I were a property manager I would prefer 1 company to do everything as to multiple companies.

SprayBoy

No secret that ONE STOP SHOPPING works. Look at Walmart or Home Cheapo. Business is Business and what works in one industry has a great chance of success in an other. People are lazy and don't like stress. Finding that one person or company to do it all is a big seller. I made a good business out of selling one stop Shopping. As a lawn boy cutting the grass myself customers would ask my advice from who to call for screen repair to which Doctor in town they should go too. They see you every week and you become their best buddy.


HOW TO DEAL WITH ONE STOP SHOPPING AS A FERT & SQUIRT ONLY. One word "NETWORKING" but don't look to the average Mow Joe to network. They are so up tight that someone will steal their business they can't see the Trees for the Forest. They are unable to see the big picture and any job a customer ask them to do they take on in stead of subbing out. We see this all the time here on LS by the question asked. "How much do I charge for this job, But I am a professional". Yea right.

A friend of mine has been in the tree business for 10 years now and still doesn't know how to operate a chain saw, Or does he have too. He is a professional businessman with a Degree in Business. He networks with me and we have had a good relationship. In fact we have the next section of a large a job together next week sometime. His crew cuts down the Brazilian Pepper trees and I treat the stump to kill it. Sure he could do the job illegal but he is a professional. This job does require credentials but he uses me on the jobs that don't. He sends me work as I do him but we also do jobs together like this one. His ability to sell or up sell depends on his ability to offer full service and by networking he sells more. It takes a real businessman to recognize this. Most of your large operator will already be hooked up in a network of companies to offer One stop Shopping and by referring one of their networks they gain respect in the eyes of the customer. In the Mean time Mow Joe just went to Home Cheapo for a jug of Rid A Bug and is about to treat that funny looking stuff on that Bush. They will read this with no clue of what I am trying to say.

sprayboy
06-15-2007, 02:04 PM
I like and believe in networking and do a little. Most people here would rather cut your throat as to work with you. One little punk likes to go in and tell the owners, managers, or whoever is in charge that he wants all their work and if they show him the prices that he will beat all prices. I think his days are numbered before he gets a good lesson in life. He very seldom gets any of the work.

I had a mowing contractor call me a few years ago wanting me to do his spray work. I met him, walked and measured properties most of one day, spent a few hours working prices only to find out a month later that he was getting his license and doing the apps himself. I guess it was a pretty sly way for him to learn how to price the work. If I would have known that I probably would have priced it real low so he would of been screwing himself.

WJW Lawn
06-15-2007, 03:11 PM
Let me preface this statement by saying...Mowing Contractors are like mall Santa's at Christmas (a dime a dozen). But you dont hear about Fert companies going out of business as much as mowers. Or is that just me? At least in my area it seems to stay steady with the same.

Ric
06-15-2007, 03:48 PM
Sprayboy

Florida is hard to get a license so many of the Mow Joe mentally is to do it illegal. Organic lawn care is an other way around the law also, But with our heavy insect pressure, organic just doesn't work. Nothing wrong with organic fert mind you.

I got a call from a condo that is happy with my work and with my former employee who mow and trim. However they were approached by a new guy in town who will clean windows and sweep hall way etc also as part of his ground care package. They are looking for that One Stop Shopping and wanted to know how much I would lower my price to just do insect control the other guy had fertilizer in his package but not pest control. They gave me his name and number and I call him to get together for possible networking. I met him to find a Brand new F 350 box truck with roll up doors and build in fold down ramps. The truck had all brand new 1st class equipment in it. Unfortunately the owner was brand new also. A nice kid in his late 20s but he was edging the walk ways when I arrived on an other condo he was doing for the first time. While I wheel measured the property for a bid he finish edging and then pull out his brand new Toro gasoline vacuum baggier and strapped it over his shoulder and vacuumed up the edging clippings. He had not cut the grass. I didn't get the bid, I am sure my price was not even close to his budget and I will let you make the judgement call on how long he stays in business. I only reported what I saw of his equipment and work habits. However his marketing plan offering full service Grounds Care including the windows has strong appeal to commercial buildings. I think a cartel of janitorial services, pool cleaners and yard maintenance could be a winner for property managers but the price has to be at a profit margin. Commercial building in my area are used to True Green land care prices and quality of work. Every idiot with a Murray mower thinks condos are the way to go and under cut prices.

rcreech
06-15-2007, 04:30 PM
WJW Lawn,
I have only been in the lawn health business for three years and it was the best move I have ever made. If you read, ask questions and get your licence you should be good to go. GOOD LUCK!
In one of your earlier posts you talked about starting your fert and squirt business with a new name.
I have read and studied alot on marketing etc (still don't know much though). You have built your business on your name and have a brand for yourself. Why not build on what you have as you have already got a name? Just curious? Starting over with a new name is a whole new hill to climb to me!

mow2nd
06-15-2007, 11:52 PM
WJW Lawn,
I have only been in the lawn health business for three years and it was the best move I have ever made. If you read, ask questions and get your licence you should be good to go. GOOD LUCK!
In one of your earlier posts you talked about starting your fert and squirt business with a new name.
I have read and studied alot on marketing etc (still don't know much though). You have built your business on your name and have a brand for yourself. Why not build on what you have as you have already got a name? Just curious? Starting over with a new name is a whole new hill to climb to me!


I got out of the mowing business and had to change my name. My mowing business was named MOW but I changed it to TURF CONTROL when I went to applications.

Anyway, I hated mowing, it can pay the bills, but as a spray tech u make more money, and ur much more respected.

WJW Lawn
06-16-2007, 07:09 PM
bump..................

WJW Lawn
06-16-2007, 07:55 PM
Saw a guy today---40's....mowing...while 2 kids--I guess his...they were maybe 9-10 yrs old--one on the trimmer...the other with a blower. Jesus I cant get out of mowing fast enough!

mkroher
06-16-2007, 09:17 PM
I pick up new mowing accounts everyday. I know that I'm worth in the pesticide side of the business... so I price the mowing REALLY high because
A) I don't really want anymore stupid lawns to mow. and
B) I'd rather be spraying

Unfortunatley, people are accepting my prices, so.. I'll mow their stupid lawn for that insane price. AND.. they want me to treat it too! This is proof of that post stating that mowing is horizontal and everything else is vertical.

I'm making good money doing this. but.. i'm exhausted.. I can make SO much more money spraying full time, than doing both. People DO love the 'one stop shop' thing. Countless times people said they'd rather deal with one person. Countless times they fire their current chemical guy and hire me because I'll do both. And I DON'T LOWBALL either!

I don't see a way out of this. Perhaps I'll build the mowing side REALLY big. Sell it to some fool, and keep the pesticide side of it. Who knows. I lose sleep over this.

WJW Lawn
06-17-2007, 04:37 PM
So you really dont have a way out of mowing? Seems like some of the guys said "screw it" and just went for it.

Ric
06-17-2007, 05:06 PM
So you really dont have a way out of mowing? Seems like some of the guys said "screw it" and just went for it.

WJW

Try and at least sell your mowing accounts to someone who doesn't have a Pesticide license and keep all your present customers. Knocking on doors can produce new customers and don't pass up Management Companies and real estate agents who deal with many property owners. A good name is important and a Name that is near the top of the yellow pages sure helps. Good ads will work and key words like Weed control or maybe Fire Ants can sure help. But words like FREE, and AFFORDABLE are the big attention getter's

mkroher
06-17-2007, 06:10 PM
So you really dont have a way out of mowing? Seems like some of the guys said "screw it" and just went for it.

Wife, two kids, mortgage.. kind of hard to say 'screw it'. I'm waiting for my wife to finish school and get her dream job. Then I can take more risks.

causalitist
06-22-2007, 01:45 AM
so, the company i sub my spraying out to charges just a little bit more than i would to mow a given lawn .. if not the same .... so is all this profit coming from the fact that it can be done faster than mowing? i can imagine its much faster .. is that the case?

has to be at least twice as fast to get the $/hr u guys are talking about.