Hydroseeding...How Do You Market the Service?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by turfquip, Dec 23, 2001.

  1. turfquip

    turfquip LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 860

    O.K. I'm new to the hydroseeding segment of the industry. Not selling the equipment...because I've been doing that for a few years now. I'm exploring the 'service provider' side of the business on a larger scale.

    The main constraint right now from an equipment point of view is the capacity of the machine I own (600 gallon working capacity).

    I currently have the DFI 600 stainless unit with 46 HP. Since the unit is somewhat small should i focus more on higher dollar, detailed residential work to end users - or try to snag a builder as a source of steady work?

    What is the best way to market to each perspective group? I have ideas but would love to hear from hydrograssing professionals who've 'been there, done that'.

    Thanks as always!
  2. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Messages: 1,625

    Ed, there are 4 main areas to market, Landscapers, homeowners, commerical (GC's) and DOT work. I'll start with the easy ones first, homeowners...... They want grass your going to need grading equipment to go along with the seeder so more $. Homeowners like nice new trucks/equipment, cheap prices and grass growing fast, heavy mulch , cheap seed and lots of it, flyiers, phone book ads, and news paper ads work for them. Landscapers they can't afford the machine but need to do the seeding, water might be a problem making loading slow. They are looking at pricing too they might have different needs for seed and mulch (see GC's) you might not need equipment for grading with them. Marketing to them might mean advertizing in the loacl ALCA org or direct mail/phone call type. GC's they have plans and spec set forth by a LA or Engineer and at times must meet City or county codes, you'll have to bid on this work and compete with larger landscapers that have the equipment all ready. this is at time a low bid type work but when you have a "handle" with them alot of times they just will look to give you the work at prices you have agreed on before hand. Reaching them try The Dodge report and check with local GC's by mail and in person.
    DOT work is always bid work low price gets the job, requires bonding and equipment mimiums that they spec, some want you to wet the soil before you seed. Seed types and mulch rates are set in the bid again the Dodge report and local papers are where you'll find info on this type of work and how to bid it.
  3. turfquip

    turfquip LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 860

    Thank you Paul :)
  4. The Good Earth

    The Good Earth LawnSite Member
    Messages: 171

    I'll expand a little on what Paul said, which is all right on target.

    Turfquip, you are in Northern Kentucky. Any DOT work for the State of Ohio is out of the question unless you want to deal with their requirements. They require that you prep the ground, drill seed, then apply hydromulch. As for Kentucky, I couldn't say.

    As for General Contractors, I am sure you know the drill. Go in, do the job ahead of schedule and right on budget, then wait 6-8 months to get paid. When working for a General Contractor make sure you get real familiar with your lein laws. File Notice to Owners, Intent to Lien, and all the other happy paperwork that just makes everyone smile. :p

    As for Homeowners, that is our cash cow. Not many companies market to homeowners. And homeowners really aren't familiar with the process or the cost involved. There are many exploitable weaknesses that can be used, if you know what I mean (if you don't e-mail me). For a homeowner we require 50% down to get on the schedule, the remainder is due at completion of job. So that keeps a steady bit of cash flow moving.
  5. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Messages: 1,625

    Part 2 of Hydroseeding :)
    Machine size sometimes smaller is better! We like our smaller machine less weight means less rutting on bigger jobs, yes it means more fill ups but with a nurse tank and pump it goes faster, smaller batches means easier to mix on smaller jobs, non CDL driver this could make a differance.

    Bigger machines over 1500 gallons
    Great for large job and where water is father away, these work great on road work and bigger jobs where you have to run lots of hose! Remember with steeper slopes your going to have to run hose and bigger tanks means less roll up of the hose.

    Ideal set up..........
    Unit 1 a machine 600-900 gallon trailer model with tower and 200' of hose, towed with a F-550 flat bed 12' bed with a portable nurse tank(500-1000 gallon) it should give you enough room to hold mulch and seed for 7 tanks at 2500 lbs of mulch per acre.
    This is your homeowner/small landscaper set up.

    Unit 2 1500 to 3300 gallon, this unit is truck mounted with 400' of hose and tower. It has room to hold all the mulch and seed you need for road work and larger sites or where water is hard to get.

    Grading, set up a F550 or even better a 650 class truck that can tow a trailer that can hold a skid steer and tractor with implments that you need...... trailer 25' bed 10 ton load, should handle a skid steer (LS170 with bucket and preperator or landscape rake) and tractor with Harley or Landpride power rake(bucket is optional on this unit, I like no bucket nothing to get in the way when grading close to house or buildings)

    Notes.... make sure your hoses fit each unit (same size) fittings and gas pumps so you can get water from hydrants and pull out of lakes or rivers. Fill hoses, get good fire hose not the cheap plastic pump hose they have now sure they cost more but in the long run they pay for themselves.

    One area not touched on is watering sod for landscapers, I think more hydroseeders are used for watering sod than for putting down seed:) Here bigger is better. This could be a $ per hour type charge or paid for by water units ( here water units are 100 gallons) other ways to measure is gallons per sq yd.

    Ed, I sorry about the first post it kind of ran on, I was in a hurry we got called out to salt lots and roads, it's going to be a White Christmas here :)
  6. turfquip

    turfquip LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 860


    Awesome Jay!

    Awesome Paul!

    This is the kind of nuts and bolts info...down and dirty, that makes this site worth it's weight in gold.

    Thanks Guys
  7. turfquip

    turfquip LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 860


    I believe the residential market may be the best 'fit' for my equipment mix and especially since I have focused on this market with other services.

    Co-oping with other landscapers will be my secondary target market since as Paul said often they can't afford such equipment or at least justify purchasing for occasional use.

    Exploiting weaknesses in the residential market...I like the sound of that and would love to expand on that. Jay, feel free to email me anytime or post more details here if you are comfortable with that.

    I sense that profit margins may be highest with this target group. A larger budget to work with per job means me, the contractor may elect to use better materials, additives, etc. to ensure a better than average job. Seems like a win-win situation to me!
  8. The Good Earth

    The Good Earth LawnSite Member
    Messages: 171

    When marketing to a homeowner it is really just name your price. Let's say you go in to place a bid on a residential mowing. You are competing against every ying-yang (or scrub, as they are so often referred to on this site) that is out there. Your price is really dictated by the market you are in. When seeding, be it hydroseeding, drill seeding, or broadcast seeding 99% of your competition is already removed from the equation. They don't have the means, know how, or sense to jump into this market.

    So the homeowner gets in touch with you. They say they want either a new lawn for a new build or the old lawn torn up and start all over again from scratch. Either way, they really don't have any idea what this is going to run them. Try to get a ballpark budget from the customer and fit your price into that ballpark. If the customer is sly and tries to lowball you, stand your ground. If they have a budget that is well above what you would expect to make on a job quote them a price that is a couple hundred bucks below their budget. The homeowner then thinks that you are giving them a great deal and they feel like they are saving some cash.

    Here is an example of what I mean. This was a job that we quoted this fall. The guy tells me he has a $2,500.00 budget to redo his lawn. He has concerns about the amount of topsoil that the lawn needs because he feels there is not nearly enough topsoil. So we look over the job. The lawn is 22,438 square feet. We give him a price of $.075 per square foot for seeding. That comes out to $1,682.85. Tack on 7 hours prep work @ $85.00 dollars an hour. That gives him a total of $2,277.85. On top of that he has already got in touch with a topsoil company and they are delivering the soil (he thought he could get a better price that way).

    So we now look at the profit margin. We have 3 guys on the job. $15.00 an hour for each man. This figure includes workers comp and taxes. The job is about a 5 hour job total. So we got $75.00 per man on the job, $225.00 total labor cost. The job will take 2 tanks from our 900 gallon machine. Material cost is broken down to this:
    Mulch: 480 lbs. per tank @ $.17 per lb. = $163.20
    Seed: 8.5 lbs per 1,000 sf @ $1.03 lb. = $201.37
    Tackifier: 5 lbs. per tank @ $11.14 per tank = $22.29
    Fert: 6 lbs. per 1,000 sf @ $.11 per lb. = $15.84
    Labor = $225.00
    Total cost for job = $627.70

    So our profit on this job is $1,650.15. And the customer is happy because the job is a couple hundred bucks under his budget. :D
    No way you can expect that profit margin off a general contractor.

    Now you have your foot in the door. Next is to offer to maintain the property. This customer thinks that you have already saved them money installing the new lawn and they are happy with your quality and workmanship.

    Exploitable weaknesses. Just have to sniff them out and pounce on them!
  9. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Messages: 1,625

    One thing Jay may have in his favor and you too Ed, is the size of your market area. Smaller market area means less landscapers that have the equipment to do this type of work, here we have many landscapers that have hydroseedersso pricing is going to be more along the lines of $.75 to $1.00 per sq yd and that is going to include any grading.

    Jay your paying $.17 per lb for mulch is that 100% wood fiber? Here my cost is closer $.21 per lb.

    I wish I could get away with paying my guys $15 per hr but union scale is much higher.
  10. Shawn Burns

    Shawn Burns LawnSite Member
    from N.C.
    Messages: 181

    Jay, and Paul both helped me out selecting my machine and getting started in the hydroseeding market. Both of them have been a big help, i woulden't have been near as prepared for what i was getting into without them.
    As for me, i have gotten one builder that i do installs for to go with hydroseeding, and a couple of other landscapers who, like mentioned above, like the results, but don't have the means or the desire to buy one themselves, to sub me out to shoot their jobs for them. I'm new to this market, (bought my machine-TurfMaker 425 in Oct.) and didn't plan on being too busy over the winter. Much to my suprise, i've done 10 or so jobs with lots of intrest from neighbors already. Hydroseeding is pretty new here and people seem very interested. Word of mouth will go a long way i think if you do a good job. Just don't underprice yourself, that seems to be the response i've gotten from everybody that i've talked to.

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