Protecting Your Lawn Care Business through Market Volatility
Chances are that if you’re reading this, you’re a business owner, operator, or someone who’s dealing with market changes in the green industry. Costs are rapidly increasing, labor is tight (to say the least), and supply chain challenges are ever present. You also probably have a budget to work within and production goals to meet. Whenever there are shifts in a market, industry, or business environment, those who proactively protect their business interests often come out on top. Those using the old adage, “We’re doing it this way because it’s the way we’ve always done it,” often pay the price. While this may work with some aspects of your business, it shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach.
Although taking advantage of early order discounts and buying products now can put you in a more profitable situation, there are other considerations to position your organization for a successful 2022. The fall and winter seasons give most of us an opportunity to evaluate what went well in the previous growing season, what didn’t go so well, and what changes need to be made to our application program. Here are a few things to consider as you reflect on the past year and plan for the next.
If you find yourself slinging fertilizer often, consider more liquid applications and fewer granular applications. Most applications done in a granular form can be duplicated in a liquid format. Not only will there often be major cost savings (as much as 25-75%), but it also gives you a chance to differentiate yourself from the competition. Spray applications can be customized to suit your needs, while bagged material confines your application to what’s in the bag. With the cost savings of a liquid application, you have room in the budget to include what your customers will perceive as added-value products.
Throwing Armament Concentrate, Foliar Pak’s Microsync micronutrient package, a surface feeder insecticide, or a post-emergent herbicide into the tank will go a long way for turf health. What’s more, it will also differentiate you from the competition who may be unable or unwilling to pivot to new, improved methods. Further, liquid products can be less cumbersome to store than palletized goods. That means less opportunity for waste due to damaged bags, no more loading and unloading 50-pound bags onto the truck each morning, and . . . no more time spent blowing prills off the pavement.
Consider a host of products, and don’t get hung up on the cost per bag or jug. Price your purchase out by the acre or thousand square feet to get a truer cost. Think about the value in the jug and how it can work for you. Does the product have a super low use rate? Can it save labor costs? Many times, there are multiple products that can get the job done (good, better, best). Consult with your ATS representative to get their take on the pros and cons of each product. Research on your own and talk to other operators to see how they’re tackling the same issues you may have. And most importantly, make your business stand out. Putting a show-stopping product out there will be the best approach to maintaining and adding clientele to your business.
As mentioned earlier, take advantage of ordering early. Discounts, terms, and rebates will help your bottom line, allow you to be more competitive in a bidding situation, and ensure that you will have the product needed to start 2022. But first, let’s all enjoy some downtime this winter before conquering the world next spring.