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Soil sample costs recovery?

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by vencops, Jul 7, 2011.

  1. vencops

    vencops LawnSite Bronze Member
    from NC
    Posts: 1,537

    I'm currently picking up a few new customers. The 1st thing I'm doing is collecting soils samples from each property.

    I'm not sure of the extent some of these customers are going to be signing on for (full program or not). So, I'm trying to see how others in the industry handle costs associated with collecting/handling soil samples. The actual analysis (NCDofA) is a free service to NC residents. I would have costs associated with time (collecting samples); fuel; shipping.

    For the ones I'm sure are signing on for the full program, I'm doing this pro bono (costs are absorbed).

    How do you guys handle this?

    I don't want to come across as "petty". But, I also don't want to do a LOT of free work. Does the fact that you WILL get a high percentage of the customers you perform this for off-set the ones where you go through this process for nothing?

    Thanks for your replies.
  2. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,064

    I take soil from people once they have signed my service agreement. I do not charge them extra for the test. I also share results with them. Meaning that I will meet with them and take time to explain the results to them as well as what I intend to do with their lawn based on the results of the test.
  3. vencops

    vencops LawnSite Bronze Member
    from NC
    Posts: 1,537

    I hear ya, green doc. I'm hoping it works out that way for me, too. But, what I'm finding is.....folks seem pleasantly surprised that someone would take the initiative to do this for them. People who already have a company doing their fert./squirt program have never been approached about this. These are folks who are very interested in their lawns. I don't think they'd miss the opportunity.

    Leaves me to believe their current provider hasn't ever taken the time to take a sampling.

    I'm thinking it's a great selling tool. And, I don't want to nickel and dime folks with a fee if I can help it. I also don't want to get taken advantage of. Just curious if anyone else does it this way.....and, if it pays off in the end??

    I've also thought of just telling them it's a one-time $30 fee that would be waived if they sign of for a program.
  4. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,064

    You know, I run a slightly different program. It is not per round or per application. It is what I would need to do in a 12 month growing season averaged out over 12 months. No nickel and diming, no this will cost you extra. I have had clients pleasantly surprised because their last service provider made it seem that soil testing was some kind of special ceremony not commonly done.
  5. jbturf

    jbturf LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,433

    venco, i do charge for soil testing,
    not much (35 for residentials) just enough to cover
    my costs, i have this as a seperate line item on my estimates,

    and always recommend it to new customers,
    it also provides an easy upsell on services upon the
    results of the test,
    ie liming,aerating, micros, topdressing etc...
    i qoute this stuff in a letter i compose for my customers
    to explain the basics of the test report

    i see you want to offer this free to help you get business going,
    thats great -
    after a while you will likely find people happy to pay for this if
    you recommend it to them
  6. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Posts: 5,859

    Wondering which part of the property folks are taking soil samples from. New developments often have clay soil in front, sides, and immediately behind the house (construction), but when you get way in the back yard, it's often times good soil. Just saying.

    BTW, we charge every time for the soil analysis as well as for our time. This added expense usually turns people off -- especially when they see neighbors' lawns that we treat. my 2 cents
  7. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,207

    Depends on your point of view. It is a great selling point, because Rue green and the other companies seldom test customer's soil. Also, you can ask the potential customer if you can come over to meet with them and give them the soil test result, explain and interpret it for them. (And give them a great sales presentation.)
  8. vencops

    vencops LawnSite Bronze Member
    from NC
    Posts: 1,537

    Great stuff, guys. Really good points in here.

    Thanks to all.
  9. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    One thing that is overlooked, is that most soils in a given area are basically the same... even the blends of various topsoils brought in are basically the same...

    It would be nice to hear someone state, "I've done 20 to 30 soil tests in my area and these are the common deficiencies and pH numbers that are indigenous to this region."

    Soil samples are for problem areas that don't make sense and grass grows all across the country w/out a lot of supplements for several thousand years already... :)
  10. vencops

    vencops LawnSite Bronze Member
    from NC
    Posts: 1,537

    Says the man from Wisc.....lol.:)

    Some (grass) grows better than others. Ever see one of our deer compared to yours? Same principle.

    If your goal is to grow lush, green grass....I'd say my state's a minor problem area.

    p.s. - Grass will survive without much irrigation, too. Mine does. But, it doesn't look like my clients' grass (the ones that irrigate).

    Now that I read your above again.....I have no idea what your point was.

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