View Full Version : fert programs, need advise, please......

01-26-2001, 03:54 PM
hi guys, i posted this in comm lawn, and didnt get one answer. heres the deal, i currently service about 25 residentials and am trying to add about 25 more, i am a solo op and dont have time to fert etc, so ill be contracting the work out to another company that ive used before and they do a nice job. he would rather bill me, and ill bill the cust, im trying to get the customers to pay upfront for the program, and will offer them a discount if they do. i am not dealing with having to pay the fert guy, then billing my customers to be reembursed. do u think new customers will go for this? how should i present it? they will certainly get a reciept, i just dont know how they will react to the upfront thing. any advice? thanks

01-26-2001, 11:10 PM
I haven't done this myself, but I've seen plenty of other contractors do it. I don't see any reason why a new or old customer would have a problem with any discounts. The type of thing you mention is done all the time in other businesses also, however I can't think of any good examples right now. Go for it. You may not get all of the customers to do it, but you may get enough to keep your budget in line & keep up your payments to the subcontractor.

01-28-2001, 09:56 AM
I offered my fert customers a choice of paying by the month or recieve a discount and pay upfront. They all picked to pay up front. I like getting the money first, then you don't have to worry. In your case if a customer did't pay you not only would you not recieve the money but you would have to pay the other contractor. That's money out of your pocket.

01-28-2001, 12:13 PM
thank u for your replies. i am asking around to friends and nieghbors, and most of them insist that most people will not be willing to pay upfront. this concerns me as i dont want to lose customers but i sure as sh*t am not frontring the money for them. i am a small operation and sometimes the fert guy sends me a bill for $800-900, if his bill comes on say the 5th, he wants to get paid, and i dont bill my customers till the 30th, that means i wont be paid till like the 15th or 20th, of the next month=waiting like 5 weeks to be reembursed. im not doing it. i dont make anything on these programs, but i do it because most people want a "complete" service. thanks again and any other replies are always apreciated. BOBBY

01-28-2001, 06:46 PM
Shoot, I pay in advance for cell phone service, cable service, insurance, even my trash man bills three months at a time, in advance. And every one of them will end service if its not paid in advance.

Its pretty much a fact of life. I always offer my snow customers a small incentive for paying up front, and most of them go for it.

01-29-2001, 01:25 PM
That is one of the problems with doing a lot of sublet work, you end up being a bank. It can work, as long as you are strict about collections, and make a nice markup on the work.

01-29-2001, 02:36 PM
Why don't you simply have the fert service do the billing? If your customers know that you are not doing the fert, why go through all of the pain in the butt for nothing? Unless you are marking up the fert, I would see it as a waste of your time. If you are marking up the fert, what kind of margin are you making? If you take into account your time and effort, is it worth it? Even if it only takes you an hour per month, that is one hour that you could be making money for yourself, not the fert company.

As an aside, why don't you do the service yourself? There is very good money in fert. Plus if you visit the sites to cut them, the extra amount of time to run the spreader over their lawns once per month is not very much, and the equipment doesn't fill up much space in a truck. If you don't want the hassle of a licence, use granular fert, and sub out the occasional pesticide app as required.


01-29-2001, 04:09 PM
the reason i feel it necesarry to provide a program for customers is: i have found over the years that when i do an estimate for someone, they r interested in full service, they dont want one guy cutting, another company fert, another company trimming bushes, etc. they want a complete service. i have lost potental customers cus i wont apply pest. so, aside from doing the applications myself, this is what ive come up with. the incentive for the customer is this: since ive been in this business, ive had the chance to try out alot of fert companies, most r not that good, i found one that is good, ive used him lat year on a few lawns=nice job, so now the customer doesnt have to do thier own research, and trials, ive already done that. #2 since ill be cutting every week, ill be able to see problems, and advise them accordingly, and also act as thier representative to the fert company. #3 a discount for prepayment. i dont apply pest because #1, they r deadly chemicals and i dont want to die, #2 i dont want the hassles of having different storage compartments, etc, and being checked up on by the d.e.p. and #3 i am solo and have a hard enough time keeping up with cutting, trimming, planting etc., and finally #4, i think paying for a permit is pure bulls**t, while my neighbors buy the stuff over the counter and apply it carelessly without a permit!so, i am in a tough spot here, it is competative here, and if the next guy can offer full service, i must also be able to offer the same, or wont get the jobs. thanks again for all yur help fellas. BOBBY

01-29-2001, 04:11 PM

01-29-2001, 08:55 PM
Salt is a deadly chemical. Do you have a problem keeping this 'Deadly Chemical' on your tabletop? Benzene, an essential element of gasoline is an incredibly hazardous product that nobody bats an eye about. I think that you should spend some time educating yourself about the REAL hazards of pesticides and not taking the propaganda of either the ecoterrorists or the manufacturers at face value.
Proper and safe use of pesticides as part of an Integrated Pest Management Program is not going to kill you. One big thing to keep in mind is that the pesticide part of a fert app doesn't have to be applied with every visit. If there are no weeds, there is no need to spray. A combination of cultural practices (cutting longer, hand picking the flowers (if you reach down as you are mowing this takes no time at all), etc) and good fertilizer will make the need for pesticides drastically less.

Will the company you are subbing to do single apps?

You also said that you are trying to double your customer base, but that you are also having a hard time keeping up. If you add more service that YOU make good money on (not the fert company) you would not have to add more customers.


01-30-2001, 01:35 AM
thanks alan. i want to double my customer base by having more customers per drop, and getting the work closer together. after a few years, i am just now starting to get it where i have like 3 or 4 lawns per stop, and i also plan to upgrade my equipment to help keep up, also right now i work full time at night, id like to be able to work part time at my other job and spend more time operating my business. i guess we could go on all day about whats hazardous to our health and what is not, heck, ive already had people argue that cigarette smoking isnt a killer! i personally would rather not apply pesticides. my main reason for this post is to see what your guys opinion is on how potential new customers wouls react to my offer. so far no body seems to think it is a definite no. i mailed out five contracts containing this new policy, on thursday(only 4 days ago), and havnt heard anything yet, either positive or negative, these r potential new customers who i did leaf cleanup only for this past fall, ill see how it goes. as usual, thanks to all for thier input, hope to get more. BOBBY

01-30-2001, 02:30 AM
Why would you want to sub-out your most profitable service? I can't do enough fertilizing, why don't you have time? I have found no Ill effects yet http://uglypeople.com/uglymen/up-images/up-men-00189.jpg

Funny, Alan mentions Benzene. remember back when Perrier water has small amounts of Benzene and all of it was pulled off the shelves for "health concerns". One cigarette contains 100 times the amount of Benzene as the water did, what happened to the health concerns?

01-30-2001, 11:31 AM
well, it is up to the individual to decide what he or she wants to expose themselves to. like i said, i know people who smoke thet say it wont hurt u(ask them to run around the block though), and i know people who say marijuana is harmless, just ask them the last time pot caused them a problem, they wont be able to remember. fact is this, weed, grub and insect control was designed for one reason, to kill!not for me thanks. and i have a question: how profitable is the fert program? where i live, u need to pay a fee each year, actually 2 fees, one for the business, one for the applicater, i think it totals about $400-$500 each year. now the applications average $45 each which means i need to apply 12 apps to break even, then acct for the price of the material, and fuel, and i would have to apply about 16 apps, just to break even.if im wrong, so be it, not lookin to argue, we could go on all day, just need advice, thanks for yur response

01-30-2001, 03:42 PM
Fertilizing programs are very profitable. Example, doing deep root fertilizing I charged $275.00 for one lawn with 11 8-15' trees. Total expenses about $15 in fert & fuel profit @ $260.00. Also, say a bag of fert cost $18.00 and covers 13,500 sf. You charge $35.00 drive up fee & $3.00 per 1000 for fert. Total charges to apply one bag @ a single stop = $75.50, total cost $18.00, profit $57.50 for 20-25 minutes work.

You have 50 customers, 50 times 5 apps a year @ $45 = $11,250.00.

Subtract your expenses listed plus a few more:

State fees: $1000.00 (500 x 2)
New stainless spreader: $300.00
New 200 gallon sprayer: $3000.00
6x10 spray trailer: $750.00

Total fees: $4750.30
Total profit $6499.70

Cost of fertilizers unsure of but shouldn't dig too deep into profits, the following year all equipment would be paid for. Sure wished I lived in your area.

01-31-2001, 01:28 AM
ok, i guess u guys got a point. y would mcdonalds sell u a hamburger, then send u somewhere else for the fries. i may do the ferts for myself in the future, but for right now, id rather not, anyhow any new clients would be under contract with me, not the fert guy, thanks again, u have all been very helpful