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12 step program

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by Triple R, Jan 19, 2006.

  1. Triple R

    Triple R LawnSite Member
    Posts: 244

    I currently do mostly landscape maintenance but am trying to get out of maintenance and into chem apps only. In my area we work year round so I was thinking of offering a 12 step program where I would visit each property once a month just like the structual pest guys do and charge a flat monthly fee.

    Some of the questions I have are:

    1. Since I would be there monthly should I just go all liquid or also do granular fertilizer too?

    2. There will be nothing to do on some of the visits so should I just spot spray and leave or should I spray the entire lawn with say a biostimulant or something so the client feels they are geeting thier moneys worth?

    3. The local Weed man offers an eight step program & a local company which dominates the market offers a 90, 120, & 180 day preemergent program plus a fert program. Should I also offer similar programs?

    I would like to make at least $100/hr plus material cost. The average property would be 2-5K of lawn. I should be able to service about 30 properties a day 5 days a week = 150 properties a week. I am going to target 3 towns in my area with a population of 110k, 60k, & 50k. Would 600 clients be realistic with this population considering there are 2 other companies and 2 solo applicators in bussiness here?

    I got a quote from Weed Man for 1836 sq ft lawn @ $42/app for thier eight step program. The dominant company has a minimun fee of over $80 per treatment but they do offer a free follow up.

    Any thoughts on pricing or anything I should lookout for or take into consideration?

    So do you think a 12 step progam can work?
  2. donal

    donal LawnSite Member
    Posts: 29

    I do apps in New Zealand but hopefully my comments have some validity in US. We also do apps 12 months/ year. I guess our properties will be smaller than yours (maybe 2k average) and lawns will often be broken into small areas on hilly terraced land. I'm presuming you are a one man band with only one unit operating.
    30 properties/day seems way over the top. If you had an 8 hour day that is3.75 properties/hour, no way. Bearing in mind this includes traveling time between jobs and purchacing materials, loading materials and maybe some paper work. Also has to be counted in is time lost for bad weather, public holidays and annual vacation and possible sick leave. I would average 8 customers in 8 hours (can vary from 4 up to my max of 16 in one day) depending on work done and property size. For your info we use hand held fertilizer spinners and back pack sprayers wheras your situation may permit faster equipment.

    I would have thought $100/hour is also rather high. We would charge the rate out at US$58-66/ hour on site time plus material costs. While the US economy is different from New Zealand, labour rates and gas and truck running costs will be quite a lot cheaper in US, so would find it hard to justify 100/ hour I think.

    We cover fertilizing (slow release), weed, disease and insect control, dethatching and any seeding work. We service the property every 8 weeks which is ok for most work, may need an extra fungicide in mid summer (we are mainly cool season with some Bermuda). We do not operate on a contract system as it is unacceptable in NZ, but most of our clients have been with us many years. I service about 30-35 clients/ week

    Regarding client numbers, you have 220000 people in 3 towns total, say 55,000 households (at average of 4 people/ household). In New Zealand I reckon 1-3% of households would employ this service(maybe more in US as they are more fanatical about their lawns, but if you are in a less wealthy area it could be less), so this makes 550-1650 possible lawns in the 3 towns. Bearing in mind you already have 4 other operators established there, I guess you will will have to fight to get a reasonable chunk of the pie. Maybe you have to gain business by offering some other service(such as verticutting/dethatching) or be more competitive on price

    If your weedman is offering 1800sq ft for $42, then if that is just fertilizer i guess at least $6-8 of that will be fertilzer cost. That gives you $34-36 off that property. Can you do 3 of these size properties/ hour or 22 of these a day to get your $100/ hour. I'm sure not. I think you need to seriously re evaluate your business plan by putting in realistic targets for $/ hour, properties/ week and also the total possible properties that may need your service.

    Hope my witterings are of some help, if i can be of more help please ask.
  3. ThreeWide

    ThreeWide LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,116

    30 properties a day is only sustainable for a one man show if you have incredible density and tight routes. My numbers are more like Donal's, in that when it is all said and done I average 8 per day. That may sound low, but my route density is not good at this time, and am I not trying to work myself to death. You also have to factor in prep time in the morning, and allow time for doing quotes for new customers as well.

    If you are doing a 12 step program, that must mean your quality of fertilizer product is on the low side. Using any type of decent slow release product, there would be no need for 12 visits a year. I'd think you could produce great results with 8-9 steps max. You might need to charge a bit more per visit at 8-9, but the yearly price should relatively close.
  4. nik

    nik LawnSite Member
    Posts: 184

    A lot of times those guys won't spray anything if they don't need to. they give the clients a nice recipt/inspection report showing them how nice things are. When they do notice something they jump right on it. Some clients appreciate not having to have products applied just to show something is being done. They figure they're paying to keep the bugs out of the hosue and if they aren't seeing bugs, then its all good. Some want product out al the time regardless of actual pest presence
  5. Triple R

    Triple R LawnSite Member
    Posts: 244

    Thanks for the replies so far.

    Here is my thinking, I can do a 6 step program which I currently offer and it works fine. But the structual pest guys do monthly programs and collect $ from clients all year. So I was thinking why not do the same, sure they don't need monthly service but if they are already paying the pest guy monthly why not do the same for the weed guy? Also if I am at a property monthly there should be less work to do per visit so I should be there less time and be able to charge less per visit.

    Let's say the pest guy charges between $26 & $36 a month, he is at the property for 15 minutes or less. I want to offer a similar service but for lawns instead. To service an average lawn under 5k takes me between 10 to 20 minutes depending if I am doing liquid or granular which I have to blow of walkways. Drive time between accounts would be minimal once a route is built up but a worst case senario would be 5 min. Properties with this size lawns are worth 300k-500k on average but there are larger more expensive properties in my service area too.

    About my competitors
    2 of my competitors have been in bussiness for about an year. One is Weed Man & the other is a solo with a back ground in ag pest. The third is an established solo and is knowledgeable in T&O pest control which I can't say about the other 2 guys. And finally there is the dominant locally owned company which keeps expanding and has the majority of the market. I will say that it is difficult to find anyone that has a possitive opinion of this company's owner. A lot of thier clients feel like they are getting ripped off, so this is where I come in. This company offers 2 ways of paying, either pay per treatment or sign up for a 12 month contract and pay a flat fee per month. The comlaint with thier contract is that thier clients feel ripped off paying every month when no one services thier property for that month. Also for the pay per teatment clients, thier minimum fee is over $80 per treatment. So what I am getting at is that I feel I can make $100/hour, provide better service, and under bid all my competitors.

    There might be somethings that I still need to work out or that I haven't thought of yet so let me hear from you I would rather take a beating hear than in my bank account later.
  6. donal

    donal LawnSite Member
    Posts: 29

    If you can do a 5k lawn in 10-20 minutes that is real fast, maybe you have the equipment and the large lawns to achieve this, but I know in my situation it would not be possible. Have a real good look at your timings here and record how many jobs you ACTUALLY do in one day, not just the time it takes from when you get your machine out of the truck, to when it goes back in the truck at the end of that property, that will only give you a spot rate and not an average rate.. Actual timings are usually quite a lot longer than you envisage in your mind. I feel it will take you a long while to build up a clientel that are only 5 min from each other. If the dominant company keeps expanding, they must be doing something right, even though you hear complaints about them. So work out what they are doing right and imitate it perhaps.

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