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Envy Lawn Service
07-07-2007, 02:29 AM
I have a dream.... that someday we can do something to improve our industry.


I'd like to start a National Certification Program...
One that's fundamentally sound with a board of representatives from all states.

Turf, Landscape, Hardscape, Irrigation.... maintenance, installation, design, build.
And also 'something more' when it comes to pest management.

Certified Professionals...
Something real... a real certification you can advertise and put on your business cards, etc.

Of course there would be the educational aspect, the certification testing, etc, and of course it would cost some money for that.

I'd like for it to cost little enough for the common person to afford, yet turn such a profit as to allow for 'campain advertising' to raise public awareness to drive home the point of making sure the public thinks about contracting a "certified" service provider.

What do you guys think about such an idea?

britsteroni
07-07-2007, 02:48 AM
Great idea, but I don't see it happening in the near future.

My dream is that every "LCO" would be legit... license, insurance, tax payer, etc.

Both ideas would give this industry more credibility!

capelawncare.com
07-07-2007, 09:25 AM
I like the idea.

$99.00 a year to be member. Times, say 20,000 members. POOF no more lawns to cut! LOL

Send your checks to me! I will send out your new certification! You can use it in all of your advertisments!

IN2MOWN
07-07-2007, 09:47 AM
To an extent certifications already exist. Just not regulated by the state. Personally I dont need the state sticking their nose into my business already more then they do.

RedMax Man
07-07-2007, 10:06 AM
I think it would be great. I've thought along those lines before since plumbers and electricians have to be licensed and certified. Even construction contractors like my father have to be. But there isn't much that a landscaper is required or should do. In the maintenance industry your not building things so you don't have to have permits for installations and be licensed to build structures. it would be more valuable for the LCO's that do installs, irrigation, and hardscaping.

gilatplc
07-07-2007, 12:27 PM
I for one think this would be a great Idea.

I am so sick and tired of seeing the fly by night company's in this town we need a way to weed them out!!

But the only way this would work is if ALL states where on bord with your idea and that will probably never happen, maybe they will come up with there own.

LCPullman
07-07-2007, 01:28 PM
On the one hand, I think it would be nice is be rid of those who undercut and do rotten jobs. But I would not want the government meddling in our business affairs any more than they already do.
The government really doesn't need to interfere in the operation of capitalism, the principle of supply and demand.

walker/redmax
07-07-2007, 01:41 PM
On the one hand, I think it would be nice is be rid of those who undercut and do rotten jobs. But I would not want the government meddling in our business affairs any more than they already do.
The government really doesn't need to interfere in the operation of capitalism, the principle of supply and demand.
Its a very interesting idea and it makes me think . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

KTO Enterprises
07-07-2007, 01:46 PM
Personally I dont need the state sticking their nose into my business already more then they do.

What he is recommending is not a government idea. Its an idea similar to National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Or ASE for short.

It is a good thing for the automotive service industry. That is also an industry that should have more government regulation, but thats for another thread.

http://www.asecert.org/

GreenT
07-07-2007, 02:33 PM
I have a dream.... that someday we can do something to improve our industry.

Certified Professionals...
Something real... a real certification you can advertise and put on your business cards, etc.

I'd like for it to cost little enough for the common person to afford, yet turn such a profit as to allow for 'campain advertising' to raise public awareness to drive home the point of making sure the public thinks about contracting a "certified" service provider.

What do you guys think about such an idea?



I think it is doable. It's something that I been thinking since I got in the business this year.

However, I see it as a regional development more than national. Conditions in Atlanta are very different than in Seattle (soils, types of turf, irrigation systems, pests, and obviously weather), so a regional approach would be more appropiate.

I would think the most important aspect would be the ability to promote the industry and start changing people's perception about it.

I do disagree with making it "affordable". I think certification should be a test of someones desire to seriously do this for a living and a barrier to those that think "its just cutting grass". I'm thinking around $300 to $600 depending on the areas of certification.

Thank you for bringing this up Envy. It's a subject that we should all discuss.

sheshovel
07-07-2007, 02:59 PM
This is already done. Now all I have to do is remember the name of the entity that does it and let you know.

sheshovel
07-07-2007, 03:05 PM
Ahhh here they are.
http://www.landcarenetwork.org/cms/programs/foundation.html

Check out their certification programs.

Vikings
07-07-2007, 03:09 PM
Wow, Lets pay more taxes and make the illegals go away, and also lets make it illegal for someone to start a business from the bottom.

That really is a dream (a stupid one at that) at least for cutting grass.

Anything to do with construction though better have a contractors license or something. Even building decks, those are the fly by nighters I don't trust.

IN2MOWN
07-07-2007, 03:10 PM
What he is recommending is not a government idea. Its an idea similar to National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Or ASE for short.

It is a good thing for the automotive service industry. That is also an industry that should have more government regulation, but thats for another thread.

http://www.asecert.org/



If pesticides are involved so will the government. And it would only be a matter of time before they started to stick there collective noses in it. No thanks.

Vikings
07-07-2007, 03:16 PM
And that never stopped a back yard mechanic, it just increases expenses for people that WANT to play by the rules.

KTO Enterprises
07-07-2007, 04:15 PM
And that never stopped a back yard mechanic, it just increases expenses for people that WANT to play by the rules.

Well you can trust our family car to a backyard mechanic, I will pay the extra for someone with the credentials. Any johnny come lately can put brakes on the car that hauls your family, or passes them on the other side of the road. Think its not a big deal now?

mattfromNY
07-07-2007, 04:26 PM
I like the idea of a nationally recognized organization (Whether gov't regulated or not, hopefully not), that would promote professional lawn care providers, and in a sense, teach the public to know the difference between fly-by-nighters and the real deal. Get a campaign going, stressing things such as the advantages of hiring insured workers, and trained professionals, etc. I think the average Joe homeowner has no idea what he could be in for if an uninsured worker gets hurt on his property. Just make the avg homeowner think twice before hiring some uninsured, unreliable, unprofessional lawn service.

KTO Enterprises
07-07-2007, 05:47 PM
Great post mattfromny. Wish more thought like you.

IN2MOWN
07-07-2007, 06:15 PM
You guys mean an org. like this?...

http://www.landcarenetwork.org/cms/home.html

cutbetterthanyou
07-07-2007, 08:21 PM
Well you can trust our family car to a backyard mechanic, I will pay the extra for someone with the credentials. Any johnny come lately can put brakes on the car that hauls your family, or passes them on the other side of the road. Think its not a big deal now?

I think the real problem is what kto is saying safety. I do care about insurance and taxes and so on. Just like the example of a car running of the road what about the dangers of lawn care? Many people don't think of these dangers but they are there. I think it would be good to have a cert. just to teach what may be learned the hard way. I see so many people run across stone driveways w/ there blades on, which can be fatal. The cert could teach people in the buss. not to cut yards that are 3 foot tall, or if they do how to do it right. And for the landscapeing part of it what about jacka**es that pile mulch in 8 inchs deep , resulting in death of plants or drainage problems that could flooded the basement . Or like on a post that was under the landscape section a week or so ago the mulch that caught itself on fire (nothing against whoever put it on here i wouln't know ant better myself) but if there was a standard that was taught maybe this things wouldn't happen.

GreenT
07-07-2007, 08:31 PM
I like the idea of a nationally recognized organization (Whether gov't regulated or not, hopefully not), that would promote professional lawn care providers, and in a sense, teach the public to know the difference between fly-by-nighters and the real deal. Get a campaign going, stressing things such as the advantages of hiring insured workers, and trained professionals, etc. I think the average Joe homeowner has no idea what he could be in for if an uninsured worker gets hurt on his property. Just make the avg homeowner think twice before hiring some uninsured, unreliable, unprofessional lawn service.

As I mentioned earlier, that is probably the biggest impact/objective an organization would have.

In fact, if you think about it, you wouldn't even need a "certification". All we need is to promote the industry while educating the public.

nobagger
07-07-2007, 09:05 PM
I dont understand why every one who said something about the govt getting more involved. If you pay taxes and do everything the right way what else or how could they get more involved? I'm not a big fan of govt seeings how PA cant decide on a budget and I'll be going to work Monday but not getting paid! This subject has been brought up soooo many times and I am in COMPLETE agreement and support but unfortunately I think its a damn that cant be plugged.

IN2MOWN
07-07-2007, 09:11 PM
I dont understand why every one who said something about the govt getting more involved. If you pay taxes and do everything the right way what else or how could they get more involved? I'm not a big fan of govt seeings how PA cant decide on a budget and I'll be going to work Monday but not getting paid! This subject has been brought up soooo many times and I am in COMPLETE agreement and support but unfortunately I think its a damn that cant be plugged.



They would get more involved because they are the government. They want to regulate anything and everything.

It really doesnt matter though because in the long run it will NEVER happen and I'll tell you why.

You cant force people to join.
You cant force customers to hire companies that belong to it.

Unless you can find a way to make both of the above happen then forget about it.

KTO Enterprises
07-07-2007, 11:02 PM
I like the idea of a nationally recognized organization (Whether gov't regulated or not, hopefully not), that would promote professional lawn care providers, and in a sense, teach the public to know the difference between fly-by-nighters and the real deal. Get a campaign going, stressing things such as the advantages of hiring insured workers, and trained professionals, etc. I think the average Joe homeowner has no idea what he could be in for if an uninsured worker gets hurt on his property. Just make the avg homeowner think twice before hiring some uninsured, unreliable, unprofessional lawn service.

Exactly. And not just safety, but proper mowing and pruning techniques. I cant count the number of times I have seen someone cutting centipede and St augustine grasses way too short. If you had something to show potential customers that you are knowledgeable about their lawns, they would be more likely to pay you more to maintain it (especially those who have 15,000-20,000 invested in their landscape) than someone that can merely drive a lawnmower and hold a weed wacker.

LCPullman
07-07-2007, 11:04 PM
I think the real problem is what kto is saying safety. I do care about insurance and taxes and so on. Just like the example of a car running of the road what about the dangers of lawn care? Many people don't think of these dangers but they are there. I think it would be good to have a cert. just to teach what may be learned the hard way. I see so many people run across stone driveways w/ there blades on, which can be fatal. The cert could teach people in the buss. not to cut yards that are 3 foot tall, or if they do how to do it right. And for the landscapeing part of it what about jacka**es that pile mulch in 8 inchs deep , resulting in death of plants or drainage problems that could flooded the basement . Or like on a post that was under the landscape section a week or so ago the mulch that caught itself on fire (nothing against whoever put it on here i wouln't know ant better myself) but if there was a standard that was taught maybe this things wouldn't happen.

You can say that some problems or accidents won't happen if people were taught better. But, I think most accidents happen because someone is careless or lazy, not because they didn't know. Too lazy to turn the blades off when going across the driveway? Or maybe you just forgot to turn them off? Got to much mulch and so you just put it all on?

LCPullman
07-07-2007, 11:09 PM
Exactly. And not just safety, but proper mowing and pruning techniques. I cant count the number of times I have seen someone cutting centipede and St augustine grasses way too short. If you had something to show potential customers that you are knowledgeable about their lawns, they would be more likely to pay you more to maintain it (especially those who have 15,000-20,000 invested in their landscape) than someone that can merely drive a lawnmower and hold a weed wacker.

I cut Northern grasses, but up here, its the customer who need education, they're the ones that demand the grass is cut short, etc, etc.

Most customers around here don't care how much you know about lawns, etc. They just care that the lawn looks nice/a good job is done. OR, or they care about their pocket book.

David Gretzmier
07-07-2007, 11:51 PM
when I was in Scotland doing mission work in 1991, we did a few lawns, and we were asked by a police officer for our license. License? apparently in some areas of Europe to cut grass you need to take a test, have insurance and carry your license. You retake the test every few years or so, and the cops do the checking on thier beat.

people actually go to school to be a horticulture maintenance specialist, and then take the test, although schooling is not required.

consequently, most lawn care guys there also do beds, pesticides, etc, as those are all covered in the test. basically the reason the lawn and gardens are so pretty, yet small, over there, is land is expensive and hiring someone is expensive too.

The profession is looked at as that, professionals. There are not that many, but the ones out there charge well for their service and definetly know what they are doing. they have to.

Unless the goverment requires it and enforces it, no certification will mean anything. much like plumbers and electricians, there needs to be something in place to punish those who work without a license. The fear of punishment is a much better motivator of human behavior.

LCPullman
07-08-2007, 12:00 AM
Unless the goverment requires it and enforces it, no certification will mean anything.

Which is exactly what I don't want. I hate having the government getting involved and messing things up. After all, we live in the land of the free. Right?

You see, we started our business on a shoe-string (figuratively speaking). Our family was living off savings and we had to make money some how. So we started cutting lawns We've done a good job and so we have built a thriving business out of it. With something mandatory like you mention, there is no opportunity for entrepreneurs like us. This land was a land of opportunity, which is why so many people came here. It still is to a degree. But the more the government interferes in business with regulations and mandatory rules, the less opportunity there is. Lawn care is certainly not an industry that needs government regulations.

Vikings
07-08-2007, 12:03 AM
Are there any Unions in lawn care? That might work as far as leveling out professionalism but I still think it's useless bureaucracy you're all talking about.

How many people actually use the better business bureau? That's supposed to get you a good co. but a lot of the times it gets you the guy who wants to look good by paying a fee.

So what are you going to do? start having written exams on how to mow lawns pfft..

People that want fly by nights ALREADY know what they want because they hire different company's every year.

LCPullman
07-08-2007, 12:20 AM
Unions, back when they started had a good cause, but now they are useless, and worse. Actually, it is the unions that are destroying companies like GM and Ford. I don't think there is any way you could have a union in lawn care. People wouldn't support such a proposition.

Vikings
07-08-2007, 12:36 AM
Well Window Cleaning is Unionized in Vancouver though (thank god) it isn't in my parts. That's simple service..

20 years ago, I was in a union as a Janitor.. I got $20 bucks an hour:)

dgfitz
07-08-2007, 02:36 AM
Just another socialist agenda to cut out competition, control prices and
eleminate any new start ups, all masked in the refrain of helping the
customer.

leeslawncare
07-08-2007, 03:18 AM
Hey man, I like your idea!!

Precision
07-08-2007, 09:25 PM
Just another socialist agenda to cut out competition, control prices and
eleminate any new start ups, all masked in the refrain of helping the
customer.

Not a socialist agenda.

Since when has wanting your vocation to be taken seriously, educating the clients, educating the workers, educating the owners, elevating the status of the vocation and leveling the playing field a bit become a socialist activity.

Eliminating start ups would be like the irrigation license here. 3 Years working for an "established" irrigation company prior to being allowed to sit for the test. That is crap. But if anyone can sit for the test, but you only get the ok if you pass. Well, I see no issue.

However the issue is enforcement. We currently have tax badges ($50 a year) and less than 10% of people have them. Why bother with no enforcement and a $100 non-compliance fine? Most don't because it forces you to file an intangible properties tax return. Mine was $200 last year. So I pay $250 extra per year just in fees to be legit with the county. That would put the $10 an acre guys out of business. Such a shame if they all disappeared.

Simply change that fine to $1000 (and report them to the IRS) and you can afford to have a few more investigators. Pay a bounty of $100 for ratting out the bums and watch the ranks drop by 80%.

But it will never happen. Too much complaining from the citizenry when the price of lawn care goes up to a realistic (read as profitable) average price.

rustic
07-08-2007, 11:57 PM
Just another socialist agenda to cut out competition, control prices and
eleminate any new start ups, all masked in the refrain of helping the
customer.


You got that exactly right, DG... Creeping socialism.

I can't believe that some people here want to think of new ways to get government noses into our business. In fact it seems to me it's the government that is cutting into our success more than anything else... Scrubs don't hurt us nearly so much as government regulation and taxation do:

A huge part of the price we pay for fuel is really taxes on the fuel that goes to government. Then we pay to get "licensed" which is just another tax, since "licensing" at this point has no knowledge testing involved (except for pesticides), then, in my state they want $1000 to become LLC. Then on to the registry to pay sales tax on every vehicle, and sales tax on every single thing we buy except food, and then pay for registrations for vehicles and trailers. Then we pay excise tax on vehicles and equipment every year. Then, after we've worked hard all year paying these taxes, and we have our salary, we get to pay a goodly chunk of money for income tax, and social security tax. And if you have employees I don't have to remind you of the taxes you have to pay for each of them.

You guys shouldn't give the government any ideas: They would love to charge us another $600-$1000 per year (as one poster suggested) for a piece of paper saying they now give us permission to mow lawns... The only reason they don't do it already is because mowing lawns really isn't rocket science and they have no believable reason to assert that lawn mowing companies need to be taxed even more, and regulated.

I have to say that as much as I respect you guys in general, this idea of encouraging government to regulate our industry through required education credits and professional licensure is a huge mistake.The government takes a HUGE slice of our pie every day. We don't need to feed it any more. And that's all it will end up being, another way to take our hard earned money from us.

KTO Enterprises
07-09-2007, 12:25 AM
rustic, I think you have our idea confused. This would not be a government entity issuing the certifications, but a private entity, like in an earlier post i specified ASE in the auto industry. Many industries have a benchamrk for professionals.

I was a NGA certified auto glass installer and think it is a great thing to do for our industry too.

swingset
07-09-2007, 12:59 AM
It's a meaningless endeavor, except to ourselves.

The same people who would actually care or think to be impressed that you're certified ALREADY pay attention to your references, your work, and your price structure. That's true of any service industry.

The cheapskate customers don't give a flying fart if you're titled, they just want their grass cut and they'll have it done by bubba on Sunday morning, or you if your price is cheap enough.

Myself, I wouldn't jump through any hoops to have 3 letters on my business card. My work is my resume. That's what speaks of my professionalism.

But hey, knock yourselves out if it's what the industry likes doing. Won't affect me either way.

fiveoboy01
07-09-2007, 01:41 AM
It's a meaningless endeavor, except to ourselves.

The same people who would actually care or think to be impressed that you're certified ALREADY pay attention to your references, your work, and your price structure. That's true of any service industry.

The cheapskate customers don't give a flying fart if you're titled, they just want their grass cut and they'll have it done by bubba on Sunday morning, or you if your price is cheap enough.

Myself, I wouldn't jump through any hoops to have 3 letters on my business card. My work is my resume. That's what speaks of my professionalism.

But hey, knock yourselves out if it's what the industry likes doing. Won't affect me either way.

My thoughts on the matter as well.

.gov already has its nose too far into my affairs the way it is.

It's funny, when I first read Envy's post, the FIRST thing that popped into my mind was the PLANET Network. I'm not sure if he's allduing to it or not, as he hasn't yet responded after his initial post. But I thought that he was purposely getting at it.

KTO Enterprises
07-09-2007, 01:43 AM
Its Not A Way For The Government To Get Involved!!!!!!!!!!!! We Keep Saying That!!!!!!

fiveoboy01
07-09-2007, 01:47 AM
KTO, what you don't understand is that there are pesticides involved here. The government will see to it that they get involved unless this "program" does not include the use of pesticides...

Using your ASE example:

.gov, and handling of refrigerants and A/C and refrigeration systems. Ring a bell?

KTO Enterprises
07-09-2007, 01:53 AM
This is a company that is an industry benchmark for the flat and automotive glass industry.

http://www.glass.org/about/overview.htm

No where do they say that they are affiliated with the government in anyway.

They merely offer certification programs for auto glass and flat glass technicians, and proper training for these people.

This could easily be done in our industry to make things better for the true professional.

fiveoboy01
07-09-2007, 01:55 AM
Like I said, throw pesticides into the mix and see what happens.

The certification company, like it or not, WILL become affiliated with the EPA.

KTO Enterprises
07-09-2007, 01:57 AM
Using your ASE example:

.gov, and handling of refrigerants and A/C and refrigeration systems. Ring a bell?

And for a very good reason. I truly believe there should be government regulation in the auto industry. Cars are nothing for the average joe to be working on.

The government is going to be involved with as much as they want to be regardless of if there is an association for a certain profession. If you did some homework, you would find out that many of these associations fight the goverment in ways you or I could not alone.

fiveoboy01
07-09-2007, 02:03 AM
Well I do agree with you, but I'll bet there are just as many "backyard mechanics" as there are "lawn boys". And really, it's a shame there aren't more ASE certified workers out there. But, I have seen ASE certified guys(a couple who work with me now) who are so stupid, they don't know the difference between a draglink and a tie rod. So "certifications" are just that. Anyone can pass a written test, but that doesn't mean they can apply their knowledge in the field.

But I think you've made my point with your last post. If they want to, the government will get involved.

I understand your point, that in creating something like this, there may not be intent to have EPA involvement, all I'm saying is that it WOULD be a result. And some people, myself included, just don't want Big Bro in our lives anymore than they already are.

KTO Enterprises
07-09-2007, 02:14 AM
I dont want the government breathing down my back anymore than they already do either, They might see the 20 spot a customer tossed me that disappeared into my pocket. LOL.

Yes some certified people are clueless, regardless of field. Kinda like some engineers. Anyone that has worked around cars in their life knows what I mean by that.

But I would like to see something that helps legitimize us to an extent. People post on here about people viewing them as lawnboys. We have the power to fix that, and many of us already have in our respective areas.

Send me your business address in a pm and I will mail you a copy of a portfolio I am working on to present to high end potential customers. Kinda like an expose of my services, a reason to do business with licensed companies and some yada yada yada that will look impressive. It will take me a couple of weeks to get it done, but I feel that It may land higher prices than some will get, all because of presentation.

Its kinda like a racing. I dont feel like a winner even though I won, unless I look like a winner. Its all about how you sell yourself.

Just trying to keep people from selling themselves too short.

Envy Lawn Service
07-09-2007, 03:40 AM
Well, I have just sort of been watching to see where this goes.

But yes, I'm not talking about government regulation of the industry.
Why would I?
That aspect is already a totally bogus, unenforced failure...

What I am talking about is education/training and industry certification.

Something with many different little mini courses.
Stuff you could maybe take online in your spare time.
Finish the course, take a certification exam, earn your certification and designation.

I'm saying like you could be certified in say Tall Fescue Maintenace, and there would be a designation for that (like CTFS... Certified Tall Fescue Specialist). Or after completing a battery of specific turf courses you could be certified in total turf maintenance (like CTME... Certified Turf Maintenance Expert).

And so forth and so on for everything green industry related.

A set of progressive certifications and designations to fit your level of expertise.



Of course though, the key to making anything like this worth the paper or business card/flyer it is written on is "marketing for public awareness".

It would have to be something beneficial and not a continous money racket for the green industry professional, and it would need to be an affordable process... yet generate enough revenue to have a healthy marketing budget for public awareness.

swingset
07-09-2007, 07:28 AM
I still think it's a largely unceccessary thing to want.

Look at it in a way that hits home for you. When you go to a carnival or street fair, do you ask to see certification for people who put together the rides you ride, or put your children on? No, you probably don't.

If they had a stringent "carnie college" where you got a degree and certification, would it make a difference and THEN would you ask for it every time you put your kiddo on the Tilt-A-Whirl?

No, bet not. What about the bowling alley? Do you look for a PBA or WSBC certified lane? I'll bet you don't, but they have certification for lane-dressing and setup for uniformity within the industry....but I'll guarantee that unless you're a professional bowler all you cared about was the price of the game and does the place look ok. Right?

How does that correllate to lawn care or landscaping? Easy. Nobody will care that you're certified. If you're professional enough to GET certified in the first place, you're already the type of LCO that a discerning customer wants, you're ALREADY conscientioius.

If you're a scrub, or a teenager pushing a Craftsman, the people that will hire you wouldn't care if you had a Doctorate in Turfology. They just want the grass short for $20 please.

I'm not trying to be a wet blanket, I just know the mindset of both sets of customers (good clients and low-price cheapskates). The good ones will see in everything you do, from your equipment to your demeanor that you're not a scrub. The cheap-o ones won't care if you have all your teeth.

dougmartin2003
07-09-2007, 08:00 AM
how do you get certified in mowing grass