charge more for micronutients?

Discussion in 'Fertilizer Application' started by americanlawn, Jan 16, 2014.

  1. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Posts: 5,842

    We recently increased prices approx 5-6%. Reason is we are increasing the amount and number of micronutrients in our turf program. We know what our major competitors are applying, and I will match our nutrient program against any in our market. Thumbs down.

    2014 renewals are coming in hot & heavy right now, but we're getting customers asking if we can lower their price. So here's what we tell them:

    "We can charge you last years' price if we can use what competitors are using".

    I will not post the responses we've received right now. I'd rather hear from you.

    Do you offer two different options/prices for this? thoughts?
     
  2. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,777

    I think your price increase is a bit large. However, your point is well taken. Every company should have some exclusive feature that its competitors do not have. And be sure to point it out often and loud.
    But, Iowa soils are so good, you should seldom need to add micronutrients. Iron and a few other nutrients can become insoluble and unavailable at high pH levels, of course.
    Perhaps there is some other "exclusive" feature that your competition does not have:
    Free nutsedge spray where needed.
    Fast -acting (yet gentle) four way weed control, no slow-motion old-fashioned toxic weed gone.
    Free mole control where needed.
    Mysterious built-in product that repels moles, (castor oil, snake oil, or whatever).
    Fifty percent organic for healthy soil.
    "Only American has this built-in exclusive product that..." improves soil, reduces thatch, reduces disease, repels grubs, aerates soil, chases mosquitoes, stimulates thicker grass...reduces the need for water, (oh, wait, Scotts fertilizer does that.)

    All applicators speak English...are experienced...licensed...full time...bonded...ex-military...college-educated.
     
  3. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Posts: 5,842

    Thanks Riggle - you know your stuff and have been a good friend for years. The deal is >> the majority of lawns in our area are newer ones with high pH clay soils. Loam soil accounts = no problem, but they are the few nowadays.

    Pretty much all local (friendly) competitors continue to use "straight ferts" with some slow release. But they do not apply trace elements like we do. Builders have "compaction rates" to abide by via zoning laws. We're talking subsoil/clay soils.

    Meantime, we will promote needed nutrients. thoughts?
     
  4. Victorsaur

    Victorsaur LawnSite Member
    Posts: 81

    What research and/ or data has caused you to add micronutrients to your fertilizer schedule?
     
  5. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,821

    The fact that you are responding to the needs of the soil is your justification for being more expensive that someone slinging coated urea and not much more. In alkaline soils, I can also tell you that when it is bad enough, normal lawn fertilizers do not work the same as they do on neutral or mildly acidic soils. Alkaline clay subsoils will require much more effort to produce green grass than loam, sand or mildly acidic soil. Your response to micronutrients added as a dry granule to an existing blend may not be what you are looking for. I know in my area, so many percent dry iron, manganese, etc, added to lawn blends does a better job staining whatever hard surfaces it lands on than it does greening the grass. I am after green without a lot of top growth. So putting down high rates just shoots me in the foot. It is not my idea of fun to walk mow every other day.
     
  6. FdLLawnMan

    FdLLawnMan LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,179

    Larry, have you taken soil samples that show the need for micronutrients.
     
  7. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,984

    Soil PH effects the roots to take up nutrients. That is why we lime in the north east.

    I thought where the PH was lime you were suppose to add sulfur to lower the PH.

    So it would seem sulfur is the answer and not micronutrients?
     
  8. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,821

    Yes and no. Do you know how much sulfur per acre is required to change the pH +1.5 on clay soil containing a lot of carbonates or too much magnesium? Its a lot. There are times when it is more practical to supply available micronutrients as a true chelate and use acid forming fertilizers to effect change long term. I have always found it easier to raise pH rather than lower it and many grasses will handle a pH of say 5.5 a lot better than say, 7.5. Now if I am working on a site to be turned into a lawn, bad soil is either replaced or it is amended. Sulfur and lime work best when mixed into the first 6" of soil rather than spread on top of existing grass. The amount of sulfur needed is often more than what grass will tolerate without burning.
     
  9. mikesturf

    mikesturf LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 789

    I my experience, when offering upgrades to lawn programs, most of my customers enthusiastically buy it. Yet there are many customers that "just want a nice looking lawn-not the best lawn on the block" and there are customers that "don't want a weed infested lawn". This is totally normal-there are levels of service people want.

    Most sales books recommend offering upsells, like micros.

    If you can tailor your service programs to offer both (with and without micros), take the extra upsell money and understand that those are your premium customers and in the future may want additional services/upsells. Treat these people like gold and ask these people for referrals!!!
     
  10. Skipster

    Skipster LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,074

    Probably my favorite thing about fertilization is that there are numerous ways to skin this cat and still deliver great results. Since there are so many different fertilizer possibilities, every LCO in a particular market can have something different and still deliver a green and growing lawn.

    That said, I have two caveats about selling a micronutrient program:

    1) If you're saying that you're doing something different than your competitors, you need to be sure. In all the places I've operated over the years, they've all required an invoice or some other statement listing what I applied. We all know that neighbors talk and if one of your customers finds out that another LCO in your market is applying the same thing that you are (even for just one round), your credibility will be toast and you could even face a lawsuit from your competitors.

    2) Customers may see the additional charge as "nickel-and-diming." Also, if they don't see a huge improvement, they will think you've ripped them off. Nothing worse that a customer paying for your basic service, then paying extra for micronutrients, and seeing their lawn no greener than the neighbor's lawn who doesn't have a service or fertilize at all. I tell my customers that I will supply their lawn with whatever nutrients it needs to perform its best. Spreading the cost of any extra nutrients over the whole customer base amounts to a price increase less than 5 cents and it shows my customers that I care about their lawns, not about ripping them off for more money.

    Just a quick note about pH changes in soils. It usually takes LESS sulfur (elemental) on a per acre basis to decrease pH than it takes lime (CaCo3) to increase pH. It takes about 1 ton of elemental S/A to drop pH from 8.5 to 6.5 (2 whole points), but it takes almost 2 tons of finely ground limestone/A to increase pH 1 point from 4.5 to 5.5. There's no reason to make a big deal about using S to drop soil pH. Just think of it as the liming for the high pH parts of the country.
     

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