Fertilizer! How do you charge / Liquid or Granular?

Discussion in 'Fertilizer Application' started by jasonnau, Mar 16, 2005.

  1. jasonnau

    jasonnau LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 454

    Up front- I am a pretty much a rookie here. I have just passed the pesticide operators exam. Many of my customers have asked about fertilization in the last year that I've been in business. This year I'm offering it along with mowing, landscaping, and other services in the lawn maintenance field. I already have about 9 customers, and I'm sure I could add at least 50% of my customers. Situation one: I have no idea how to sell the service. I'm sure it's sold by square footage, but how much per? Do the prices change for a weed and feed, or a pre-emergent crabgrass application. Do you bill it the same and spread it out throughout the year even if the products differ in price? Also, Situation 2: I bid a customers lawn at $75.00 per (granular) application 5/year. They are a new customer this year having mowing, mulching, etc. Before I came around, they had a fert company bid it (truegreen), truegreen hadn't gotten back to them until after they said yes to mine. Truegreen bid it at 45.00 per application (liquid application). Of course, I had to explain the difference. Now, I'm not sure If I told the truth. From what I've heard from others in the field, liquid fert. applications do not last as long as granular applications. And I've noticed that some of my customers that do it themselves have the healthiest lawns of all that I mow. Most use the scott's granular 4 step program. How can I justify the difference in price between my granular application and trugreen's liquid? Like I said, I'm just trying to get a plan here, and I'm still a rookie.
     
  2. jasonnau

    jasonnau LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 454

    Before I get jumped all over here, spray applications may be best, I don't know, but all I have to offer is granular at this point, unless it can be sprayed out of a backpack sprayer. If you guys have opinions on what I need in the way of a cost effective spray tank. And know that that is what I truly need, I'm open for sugestion here. Like I said, I'm just now trying to develop a fertilizer program to offer to my customers. I want to be able to justify why my granular application is better and worth more money than truegreens, and hell, maybe it's not.
     
  3. jajwrigh

    jajwrigh LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Martinsville, IN
    Posts: 1,405

    you can spot spray broadleaves with a backpack...as far as pricing....try a search or dig around a bit. This has been a hot topic lately. Good Luck.
     
  4. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,494

    Also, you say that people that do it themselves have the nicest looking lawns - they use Scott's brand programs. With some knowledge, you can purchase ferts for much less that will make Scott's lawns look sickly. It CAN be done. Personally, there is nothing that Scott's offers that is good enough for my customers. My people get WAY more than anything that is even sold by Scotts. It's all what's in the bag.
     
  5. Grass Groomer

    Grass Groomer LawnSite Member
    Posts: 31

    One of the things you should be aware of is that many of these major companies have applicators that know less than you do. And you are an admitted rookie. This is not something you want to share with your customers without chancing sounding like a jerk but it is true. At least in my area. Granulars do have a longer residual effect in my opinion. So you may want to find out how many apps trugreen is doing with the liquid. If they have to do more than maybe your will be money ahead with fewer and hopefully more educated apps. As far as pricing goes I am still learning. My material prices are easy but I am not sure of what the market will bear and what the fair going rate is. Time will tell for all of us beginning applicators.
     
  6. Grass Groomer

    Grass Groomer LawnSite Member
    Posts: 31

    One of the things you should be aware of is that many of these major companies have applicators that know less than you do. And you are an admitted rookie. This is not something you want to share with your customers without chancing sounding like a jerk but it is true. At least in my area. Granulars do have a longer residual effect in my opinion. So you may want to find out how many apps trugreen is doing with the liquid. If they have to do more than maybe your customers will be money ahead with fewer and hopefully more educated apps. As far as pricing goes I am still learning. My material prices are easy but I am not sure of what the market will bear and what the fair going rate is. Time will tell for all of us beginning applicators.
     
  7. ks921

    ks921 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 19

    Liquid applications are quicker to "green up" than the granular applications. The liquid lawns begin to lose their color quicker too. It's also safer for the lawn if you apply a sulfer coated slow release fertilizer. Less chance of burning the lawn. Liquid apps are better for the company doing the apps because they mix their urea, potash, pre-m, weed control, etc. into one batch and cross the yard only once. It saves time. As far as the pricing... most companies have a minimum of $30 (approx. 3-5.0 sq.ft.) to $150-170 per acre. You'll have to figure out what you're spending on the product and how much you want to make...this will set your price.
     
  8. jasonnau

    jasonnau LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 454

    As for the scotts program, No, I don't use that product. I couldn't make any money. My fert costs anywhere from $12-14 a bag covering between 12,000 and 15,000 square ft. depending on the product. You guys have said exactly what I thought, liquid applications jump the grass quick but the results don't last nearly as long. As for the truegreen liquid application, they were only planning on doing 5 applications to this customers lawn. Maybe they say that counting on selling add ons throughout the season. I don't know. Normally the liquid companies do 7-8 applications around here per season.
    I'm glad to know I wasn't lying to my cutomer. I seriously need to know how to estimate jobs on fert applications though. I have some that I know I'm making too much off of, and some that I feel aren't worth the time. I know these are "trade secrets", but isn't that what this site is for? Were all working together, here, and everyone hates the scrub. I don't want to underbid these jobs and be that scrub. I want to make all the money that I can and bid competitively.
     
  9. jasonnau

    jasonnau LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 454

    Thanks for the guidlines ks921, so if I break your formula down into pricing on a per/1000 sq ft. price, am I going to be bidding accordingly for my services. Using the 30$ / 3-5000 ft. minimum as a start. Also, How do you charge for liquid "spot" applications? These applications have to fall into some sort of pricing guidlines. It can't be by time, because a lot of the time your in and out in minutes. Do you double the price of the product, Add some time, and throw in a little for gas? It can't be that rudimentary.
     
  10. ks921

    ks921 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 19

    You can set a price guide by starting at $30 (minimum) for 3-5.0 sq ft. then increase the price by $3.50-3.75 per 1000 sq. ft. You can kind of play with those figures. That'll keep you competetive with others. Give your customers 1 price per app.. Ex: $42 per app. Includes fert. and weed control. After you have treated the lawn a couple of times and the weeds are under control you may only need to spot spray. It's still the same price. Spot spray using a back back or hand can containing your weed control only.
     

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