Business insights wanted

Business insights wanted

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Liz – posted 26 August 2004 12:17

I’m the chemical lawn maintenance supervisor for a small AL landscaping company. I’ve only been here for a few months (I’m the first supervisor this dept. has had), but I know there’s been some nasty applicator turnover as a result of a long line of inexperienced and less than honest employees. That is probably contributing to the fact that our profit margin is next to nothing in a field that purportedly has a high yield.

I’m not that experienced myself. I’m filling a need as best I can and learning as I go. But I know that our weak points are turnover and sales, neither of which I know how to remedy in light of the utter lack of experienced individuals in the field. Any thoughts? Suggestions?

Gary – posted 30 August 2004 10:25

I think we both have a problem that is slightly the same. I recently took my general standards and O&T testing and passed. My business partner and I run a trucking agency but the past year, business has been very slow. We want to venture into this type of business as we understand, as you do, that there is money to be made in this type of business. We are not sure when to begin this business. Fall is approaching, is this a bad time to try to establish a customer base?

You may want to contact your County Extension Service in your area. Ask them if they know of people looking for work who are qualified and licensed. Besides hiring only licensed applicators, you may want to find a 5 hr O&T course that may be offered at a University close, and have your employee’s attend for further education…just a thought. Gary

Liz – posted 30 August 2004 13:16

Thanks, Gary. The Extension Service sounds like a good idea.

I don’t know what area you’re in, but where I am, we’re about to get started with pre-emergents. This is actually a great time to enlist new customers, because they should see good results in a few months, when existing weeds start dying out and the winter annuals don’t come up. And you’ll have potential customers right about now who are frustrated with all the crabgrass and nutsedge (if they’re paying attention). It’s not the absolute easiest time of the year to sell your service (I’ve found the best time is when they’re horrified by all the clover blooms in late spring/early summer), but it certainly is one of the easier times to break in a new customer.

ted – posted 30 August 2004 20:55

guys, i’ve been doing this for 20 years. if you’re not sitting on a minimum 40-50% margin on the applications, you’re way off…this is a great time of year for bringing on new customers. if you’re in the south, do fall overseeding! as far as workers go, the best mix i had was with a really smart driver/sprayer/customer contact person, and a pure laborer with him. two guys are a lot better in a truck than one, even thoug it costs more. i really learned more about my laborers after i started actually doing the aps myself after 15 years! if you’re experiencing turnover, it has to do with your concept for the employee, there’s something setup wrong with the pay or the type of person you’re trying to attract into this position- i fought it for many, many years. i think you need to rethink you’re business concept- forget the county extension agents- call up PLCAA or go to the convention this year, also go to the louisville outdoor equipment show.

Liz – posted 09 September 2004 09:15

Thanks ted. I know our payscale is way off, so we can’t hire anyone with experience. It’s hard to know how much more money to put into something that’s not working, but I do see an immediate need to start treating the applicator position as a career and not a summer job. I’ll definitely check out the convention.

ted – posted 09 September 2004 21:15

yeah, i’d like to see some general costs that you’re spending on each category- chems, labor, advertising, etc.etc.- also don’t forget the outdoor power equipment show in louisville- subscribe to pro magazine, grounds maintenance, etc. etc.

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