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Is it worth adding chem apps?

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by Albery's Lawn & Tractor, Jul 27, 2007.

  1. Albery's Lawn & Tractor

    Albery's Lawn & Tractor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,675

    I've been thinking latelt about other ways to expand. It seems the only guys in my area doing chemical applications are chem lawn. They currently treat atleast half of the lawns that I maintain so I started thinking maybe I should add this to my list of services. But is it worth becoming certified, spending $3,000 or more on a spray rig, plus the cost of all the chemicals? If there was such good money in this wouldn't everyone be doing this? For you guys that do this what do you charge for say a 1/4 acre lot? How many visits per year, and all that good stuff? Thanks for any and all help.
  2. barefootlawnsandlandscape

    barefootlawnsandlandscape LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 296

    You need to be more than just certified. It is imperative to know what to apply, when to apply it, and why you applied it. I currently spray mostly my customers only. I get them on a 12 month contract plan to take care of everything. This really adds to the credibility of your business and is convienient for the customer. Is it worth getting certified and buying the rig. You will get out of it what you put into it. It is a real easy sell to your current customers, but competing with Chemlawn, Fairway, SpringGreen, and Scotts is tuff because they offer a cheap initial rate and then raise the price. I can't do that because my first app. is usually the most costly.

    If you are serious about it educate yourself as much as possible because mistakes can be costly and grossly obvious in that sector of this business.
  3. AL Inc

    AL Inc LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,218

    I sub all of my fert. to a company that specializes in lawn applications. I've been a certified applicator since 1996, but just got more and more fed up and frustrated with the tightening laws and big potential fines. To me, the extra income from doing the apps just wasn't worth it. Now I can concentrate on what I do well, lawn and property maintenance, skid steer work, and landscape installs.
  4. sk_devildog

    sk_devildog LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5

    It is well worth the money and effort. We do mostly 1/2 acre and up properties and we can give those (truegreen) other companies a run for there money. Most people that have used them tell me they pissed there money away. Lesco is a good outfit to get info from about maintenance programs and application times and they will even help you set up your rig.
    There is money in systemic insecticides treatments and deep root injection feedings as well both of those are done in spring. it helps to get with smaller commercial accts like neighborhoods even if they have a contract with someone these services are ale cart and if you can beat there bid (not saying to way underbid) the job is yours

    Hope this helps, Keep doin what you love!!!!!! I Do!!
  5. mdlwn1

    mdlwn1 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,443

    You really need a teacher/mentor to be good at it. A license and or turf degree just won't get you there. If you can do it...it is a very high margin part of a lawn service business. 1 man...1 small vehicle...2 small peaces of equipment (roughly). Not a whole rig..with a crew. 1 man can generate well over $1000/ day...compare that to cutting.
  6. rcreech

    rcreech Sponsor
    Male, from OHIO
    Posts: 6,056

    Decent money...but you better know what you are doing!

    As mdlwn1 said..it takes more then just getting licensed and buying some equipment!

    Knowing what to apply, when and how much is very important.

    Couple of mistakes or misapplicatoin and it can cost you big.

    I guess to simply put it, I look at the application business as being higher risk. The public keeps a close eye on anyone using pesticides and we have to watch our back in a sense. I get tons of questions from the public and sometimes it even scares me! Just don't know what these idiots out here are gonig to try and pull on you.

    I love the app business and continue to grow, but I am looking into new ventures like new seedings and interseeding to grow in a new direction where chem isn't needed. A lot less risk and more money.

    Just my 2 cents.
  7. So a turf degree won't get it? Wow
    In getting my ( Turf degree )I worked for true green. I do believe its the biggest company in the turf field. Its funny you said get a teacher or mentor. I was hired and giving a truck after one day of training. I guess my Education did count a little to them. Sorry but education really does matter. The other guys had none........which made it hard to explain to customers what they were talking about. I take that back 80 % didn't know what to say the others had been there long enough to give out correct info. Yes you can spray but you have to be educated .....by school, teacher, mentor, or good ole experience.
  8. rcreech

    rcreech Sponsor
    Male, from OHIO
    Posts: 6,056


    I graduated from Morehead State University (Go Eagles) in 99, which is just up the road from you a little there on I64.

    I agree with you that a degree is important...especially when you get into understanding the how's and why's of weeds, pesticides, soils etc. But that doesn't make you a good applicator necessarily.

    I agree with mdlwn1 that you must have some training/experience to not only do a good job but to know that you are applying correctly.

    I have only been in the lawncare business for three years now...but have found that not many applicators, or the ones I know and talk to anyway (especially the big companies) don't know much. That is scary to know that the largest volume of applicators (chem lawn, scotts etc.) don't have a clue.
    They are just out walking around pushing a spreader and pulling a hose.

    Oh well, they make it easy for us little guys to pick up business!
  9. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,403

    I did it for a few years but dropped it as too much hassle for the small scale I was doing it on.

    Pros of doing apps:

    1) you keep it in house, one stop shopping
    2) more revenue, of course
    3) it sets you apart from the competition IF you really know what you're doing.
    4) Doing apps can be a foot in the door to doing all maintenance on some props.
    5) relatively less time on-site per net dollar of revenue


    1) disruptive to mowing schedule at times. You cannot always just spray the weeds after mowing.
    2) People w/o irrigation systems and with subpar lawns in general will expect lawn of the month results.
    3) You will get callbacks on things beyond your control. Time wasters.
    4) Chemical exposure
    5) W/O mechanized equipment it can be fatiguing pushing a spreader around and dragging hoses, etc
    6) costs and hassles of legal compliance and insurance, etc
    7) fierce competition from numerous unethical companies who promise the world, steal your customer with a lower price, and it will cost you more to do it right, so it's hard to compete.
    8) Again, most people are ignorant of this stuff, which is why they hire you. They sometimes think one app should change their long-neglected lawn into a showcase.
    9) Poor mowing techniques can ruin your work. (dull blades, too low/high/infrequent mowing, etc)
    10) Here disease does a number on many lawns despite proper practices. You will offer to treat with fungicides and many will assume it's a ripoff.
    11) Plethora of competitors has people jumping from one company to another, in search of something "better". If you are doing full service maintenance, it may mean they drop you from that as well.
    12) when you show up to a lawn that has weeds, disease, or poor color, it is YOUR problem. When you let them find another applicator, it is THEIR problem. That's worth a whole lot to me.
    13) It takes experience to see it all and know what to do for everything. That doesn't happen overnight.

    Overall I found it a PITA and only did it to get established. Never had any real complaints, just people calling because shockingly one BL weed treatment didn't keep their lawn weed free for 6 weeks in hot humid conditions, or the spring dead patch from last year came back (duh) and they're wanting it treated now even though their last guy neglected it last fall. That sort of thing.

    I found it terribly distracting when already busy with mowing and other maintenance. I would guess those that do 100% apps and not much else do better, since they are more focused on it.
  10. Victor

    Victor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,637

    Where in the world have you been? It's been forever since I've seen you post anything. That's probably because I don't frequent the mowing forum anymore. Anyway... You have some valid points there regarding applications.

    From reading your response, I got the impression that you only did apps to gain more maintenance customers. Mind you, I'm a firm believer in the adage, "to each their own," but for me, that seems backwards. I know you CAN make good money in maintenance work, but having played both games, it is this Lawnsite member's opinion that focusing on applications in most cases would be much more profitable and rewarding than making maintenance your main focus.

    There's normally lower overhead involved with apps compared to maintenance, as well as a higher potential for profitability per unit time. I also like the fact that I don't have to store all that equipment. All of my application equipment fits in my garage. That's a huge plus for me.

    Now that I'm an applications-only company, my income starts rolling in earlier in the year (March 1st) than it did with maintenance (normally not until May 1st). I'm also still doing applications in the Fall when the grass has stopped growing. The profits I make per unit time now, are much higher as well (almost twice as much on average).

    If I need to take a week off from doing apps, I can do so without any problems. The same can't be said for maintenance. Just try taking a week off in May when the lawns are really growing.

    Another facet of the application business that I like, is the fact that I don't have to deal with the "lawn boy" issues I used to have to deal with when I focused on maintenance. I get treated with much more respect now, because my application customers pay me for what I know. My maintenance customers were paying me to do something they all knew how to do, they just didn't WANT to do it. To a lot of them, I was the guy who had to mow lawns for a living, because I couldn't find a better occupation.

    Now... After having shared all these opines, I don't want anyone to get obfuscated and think I'm saying that an application based business would be best suited for everyone. I don't believe that at all. There are obviously people who love maintenance work and want that to be their main focus. There's nothing wrong with that at all. I'm sure there are other people who might not necessarily have a passion for mowing, but due to other caveats, a mowing based business would serve them better than an applications based business would.

    In closing, the main message I'm trying to convey here is that if you sit down and weigh all the advantages and drawbacks of an applications-based business to a maintenance-based one, the applications-based business will come out ahead almost every time. :waving:

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