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Plan of Attack for New Lawn Care Applicators

February 19, 2024 | Categories: ,
lawn care

Over the last few years, our industry has seen many changes and challenges. Supply chain issues, trucking shortages, pallet shortages, container shortages, closed ports, wild pricing, increased fuel costs, and equipment and part shortages, just to name a few. I’m sure there are others that I’ve stuffed deep into my soul just like my dad from the “Silent Generation” taught me. I’m sure that is completely healthy and nothing to worry about, but it seems like collectively as an industry, one thing we can’t hide from—and that we all suffer from—is the labor shortage.

Over this same period, I have seen a large interest in entering the lawn care industry. From single operators who found their interest watching lawn care YouTube videos during Covid, to landscapers looking to become full-service and add another source of revenue, to full-service landscapers looking to downsize due to said labor shortages. The beauty of it all is that generally, all you need is one person, one spreader, and a sprayer—and of course, a great ATS sales representative! Not sorry for the shameless plug.

First and foremost, one of the great things about our industry is that we have a barrier to entry… licensing. It separates us from others by requiring knowledge through education and testing, and regulations that promote us to be good stewards of our environment. It also stops just anyone from buying a pickup truck and embarking on the race to the bottom as we see in other areas of landscaping. If you need pointed in the right direction to your state’s department of agriculture testing sites and study material, reach out to one of us. 

Another great benefit is that the licensing requires us to stay up to date on developments within the industry and the environment with continuing education hours. Once you are licensed, keep an eye out for our FREE yearly seminars. There is always great information and pesticide applicator licensing hours are available.

After licensing, it is time to decide what kind of program you can provide. There is much to consider here. Most importantly is the type of application equipment. A quality program can be built around any equipment situation, and we are here to help and guide you. We must decide how many application rounds make sense for your customers, your manpower, and your time. I personally like nothing less than a five-step plan. But let us not forget about everyone’s struggle…labor. 

There are some great options with our L.E.P. (Labor Efficient Program). If you are a full-service provider and have limited time and manpower or have a facility that would be better served by fewer visits, like a school or nursing home, this can be a game changer. Whether it is three or seven applications or if L.E.P. is something you want to explore, a lawn care program can be customized to fit any customer’s needs and any applicators’ restrictions.

Choosing fertility inputs and active ingredients can be overwhelming. But grass nerds like us truly find it enjoyable. Again, this can all be as unique as each applicator. If you are a full-service company, we can look at analyses with lower nitrogen and/or higher amounts of slow release to help battle growth surge (i.e. excess mowing). If you have a property that has soil sample recommendations, we can abide. If you have properties in new developments where all the organic material has been scrapped away, we can add some organic applications. 

Regardless of the situation or challenge, rest assured we have what you need. Pro-tip: try to use well-balanced, quality fertilizers and newer proven technologies like Foliar-Pak Armament. This is what will separate you from the competition. We know how important customer/neighbor referrals are in our industry, and choosing the right inputs will determine how well your lawns will do the advertising for you.

Through all the new applicators that I’ve met with, the area that has gotten the most positive feedback was sitting and explaining what the cost per thousand square feet or acre is to the applicator so that they can understand where they need to be in order to be profitable. We can also compare how much NPK or active ingredient you are putting down. It’s not that we are some kind of math geniuses. If anyone thinks so, I invite you to watch me try to explain common core math to my nine-year-old. In comparison, figuring costs is pretty simple stuff. Also, don’t be afraid to have conversations about where your pricing should be. ATS sales reps have extensive knowledge of what their current markets are and what they can bear. A notable endeavor is adding aeration and overseeding or full lawn renovations to your services offered.

Lawn care is a great avenue to pursue whether you are a hobbyist homeowner who got bit by the YouTube bug, a landscape company looking to find another revenue stream and become full-service, or a company looking to downsize and avoid the labor fight but remain well on the profitable side. Reach out to your ATS representative to see if it is a good fit. 

Dan Mauch
Sales Representative

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