It’s all about fall

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Annual turf packages, which typically consist of six to seven applications, including pre-emergents, fertilizer and insect control, are a staple for LCOs. “Fall is the ideal time to renovate turf,” says Jim Foglio, president of Lasting Impressions Landscaping in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. “About 10% of our customers opt for fall packages such as aeration and overseeding, which has a huge impact for next year.”

Many companies admit that fall turf services are not necessarily a huge moneymaker, mostly because not every client opts for them. But they are still an essential part of the lineup of total turf care offerings. “Services such as aeration may provide only a small profit, but it’s more a benefit to customer retention,” says Brian Ethridge, chief technology officer with Waynes Environmental Services, based in Birmingham, Alabama and Nashville, Tennessee.

“Your customers expect the service, especially for cool season grasses, and healthy lawns lead to customer loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals, which are huge in this business sector.”

While annual chemical treatments typically range from $5 to $10 per thousand square feet of application, services for fall turf care like aeration and reseeding usually are priced at 1.5 to 2.5 times that rate, LCOs say. Pricing also may increase depending on the complexity of the property, such as slopes or the number of gates.

Generally, the companies we spoke to for this article realize a 30 to 40 % profit margin from fall turf services.

Build in additional services.

Working fall care into your packages is a simple way of selling long-term turf health to existing contracts. For example, it’s prudent to add a fall soil testing service or a lime application to maintain soil pH as the last service of the season. Improved turf performance also keeps customers coming back year after year. “We are constantly studying what works or doesn’t,” Ethridge says. “Our mindset is that our customers are not buying applications, but rather 365 days of full-service lawn care program.”

A few companies offer a la carte turf services in autumn.

“You do occasionally get someone calling in the fall to ask if you can do anything to help their lawns,” says Erik Sweetser, president of Green Grass Lawn Care in North Hampton, New Hampshire.

“But it’s not that common. The majority of our clients opt for the annual package starting in the spring.”

Educate your clients.

It’s no use trying to sell a service your clients don’t understand. Stay up to date on turf care, and be generous about sharing your knowledge with customers. Blog, send out email newsletters and include information with billing statements. “Explain how fall work such as aeration benefits lawns now and in the future,” Foglio says.

“Teach customers that although we start improving the soil now, it will take a full season to see the effects of our efforts.”

In addition, instruct customers on how to water properly so they’re partners in working with you, not inadvertently against you, to build healthy turf that’s more resistant to stressors.

Educate your technicians.

Make sure your employees inspect turf before any product application. “We walk every lawn and look for disease, weeds and signs of insect activity prior to service,” Ethridge says.

Identifying potential problems such as thinning areas also yields an opportunity for selling services such as fall renovation that will benefit the turf health and appearance in the long-run.

Offer renovation services.

Most lawns benefit from regular aeration. Aeration improves soil impaction, reduces thatch and creates pores from the removal of soil plugs through which moisture or plant nutrients are absorbed by the soil.

“We always recommend aeration and overseeding when a lawn begins to decline,” says Linda Smith, owner of Progressive Lawn Managers in the Greater St. Louis area. “But ideally, it should be done annually.”

It’s also essential to tailor the service to the individual property. “It’s not one-size-fits-all,” Foglio says. “For example, overseeding can be lucrative, but you have to look at that specific lawn’s needs. Is it shade or sun? We don’t use the same seed for everyone. You’re not going to get good results or promote customer retention that way.”

Don’t forget that aeration should be done when grass is actively growing so it recovers quickly to fill in the openings in the turf left by the aerator.

That means fall is the ideal time for aeration of cool season grasses, which grow fast after emerging from summer stress. But warm season grasses should be aerated in spring or early summer, which is their period of active growth, Ethridge says.

Get the word out early.

Selling fall services starts early in the year. Technicians can leave information starting with the first application of the season.

Periodic email blasts, social media and notes on the bottom of electronic billing remind customers of the importance of preparing their lawns for winter.

Some companies do direct mailers or offer discounts on annual packages to new clients picked up during the fall push. The point is to get the word out repeatedly. “We make lots of mentions to keep the concept of year-round turf care ever-present in our customer’s minds,” Ethridge says.

The author is a freelance writer based in the Northeast.

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How Adding Far-red Radiation Affects Supplemental Lighting of Plant Plugs

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Lighting in Plugs Figure 2 Calibrachoa Kabloom Light Pink BlastMichigan State University researchers determine the minimum duration of far-red radiation required during plug production to induce long-day requiring plants into flower after transplant.

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Kohler cv18

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Hey guys, I’m working on an older Great Dane super surfer with the kohler cv18 engine. I got a new wiring harness for the engine because it was all hacked up and I have a new harness for the Great Dane side on its way. My question is, the new kohler harness I got is a little different from the existing one. For example, the old harness has a large black wire that grounds to the manifold and goes to the plug, the new harness has an open spot on that pin and no wire. The green wire in the old…

Kohler cv18

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Toro Z500 74296 Deck Belt Keeps Coming Off Zero Turn While Cutting

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I thought I had this problem resolved. I keep having to purchase new deck belts for my Toro 74296 zero turn lawn mower. It has a 60" deck. I went through 3 belts this season alone. This mower has perpendicular mower drive pulley mounted on a 27HP Kohler engine. The belt goes over this pulley in the rear, then over two perpendicular pulleys also in the rear, before getting routed to the deck in the center of the mower. I took apart the rear pulleys and cleaned them, installed a…

Toro Z500 74296 Deck Belt Keeps Coming Off Zero Turn While Cutting

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BrightView reports third quarter financial results

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BLUE BELL, Pa. – BrightView recently reported unaudited results for the third quarter ended June 30, 2020.

“Our quarterly results highlight the resiliency of our contract-based business and reflect the positive underlying trends of our strong-on-strong acquisition strategy, cash generation and liquidity, and our on-going focus on working capital and reducing capital expenditures,” said Andrew Masterman, BrightView President and CEO. “Despite ancillary softness and project delays, COVID-19 impacts to date have been modest due to our resilient contract revenue base and our earnings have benefited from cost management actions. Cash generation remains exceptional, margins strong, our capex requirements are modest, and we expect our M&A pipeline to continue to be a reliable and sustainable source of revenue growth,” Masterman said.

Masterman added that BrightView expects COVID-19 impacts to be felt "over the next few quarters as conditions remain fluid."

Third Quarter Fiscal 2020 Highlights

  • Net cash provided by operating activities of $76.2 million, an increase of 71.2% compared to $44.5 million in the prior year.
  • Free Cash Flow of $66.5 million, an increase of 385.4% compared to prior year of $13.7 million.
  • Total revenue of $608.1 million; a 7.5% decrease compared to prior year of $657.2 million.
  • Maintenance revenue of $460.0 million; a 6.5% decrease compared to prior year of $492.1 million;
    • Land revenue of $454.9 million; 6.5% decrease compared to prior year of $486.4 million.
  • Development revenue of $149.1 million, a 10.3% decrease compared to prior year of $166.3 million.
  • Net Loss of $2.4 million, or $(0.02) per share, and a net loss margin of 0.4%, compared to Net Income of $31.7 million, or $0.31 per share, and a net income margin of 4.8%, in the prior year.
  • Adjusted EBITDA of $91.0 million and Adjusted EBITDA margin of 15.0%, compared to Adjusted EBITDA of $101.9 million and Adjusted EBITDA margin of 15.5% in the prior year.

Nine Months Fiscal 2020 Highlights

  • Net cash provided by operating activities of $161.9 million, an increase of 48.3% compared to $109.2 million in the prior year.
  • Free Cash Flow of $119.8 million, an increase of 208.8% compared to prior year of $38.8 million.
  • Total Revenues for the nine months were $1,737.9 million, a 2.4% decrease compared to $1,779.9 million in the prior year.
  • Maintenance revenue of $1,295.1 million; a 4.6% decrease compared to prior year of $1,358.0 million;
    • Land revenue of $1,132.0 million; 1.7% growth compared to prior year of $1,112.6 million;
    • Snow revenue of $163.1 million; a 33.5% decrease compared to prior year of $245.4 million.
  • Development revenue of $445.5 million, a 4.9% increase compared to prior year of $424.7 million.
  • Net Loss of $35.5 million, or $(0.34) per share, and a net loss margin of 2.0%, compared to Net Income of $19.3 million, or $0.19 per share, and a net income margin of 1.1%, in the prior year.

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The Latest in Ag Labor: H-2A Gets Easier, Lawsuit Over H-2B

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labor-supply-and-qualityThere’s good news and bad news when it comes to farm labor. Learn more how it could affect you.

The post The Latest in Ag Labor: H-2A Gets Easier, Lawsuit Over H-2B appeared first on Greenhouse Grower.

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NALP announces virtual LANDSCAPES 2020 event

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As a result of GIE+EXPO’s postponement until 2021, NALP has announced LANDSCAPES 2020, an entirely virtual experience. 

"While we know you’ll miss seeing colleagues in person, we are excited for the opportunity to share valuable education and networking in a new way – one that fits your schedule and enables more of your team to attend," NALP officials wrote in the release. 

NALP staff are currently working out the details of LANDSCAPES 2020 Virtual, which will include:  

  • A mix of live and on-demand content including educational sessions with live Q&A
  • More than 30 sessions to choose from
  • Breakfast with Champions
  • Peer-to-peer learning and unique networking opportunities
  • Continuing Education Credits 

They will also hold the Innovation & Technology forum virtually. More details on the show will be announced by the end of August.

As NALP builds LANDSCAPES 2020 Virtual, staff members are seeking feedback on what attendees might find most valuable in the event. A five-minute survey is open until Wednesday, August 5 here.

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Hunter Pro-Spray PRS Spray Sprinklers meet mandates for pressure regulation

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SAN MARCOS, Calif. – Across the nation, state legislatures and regulatory agencies are increasingly mandating the use of pressure-regulated irrigation products to maximize water-use efficiency. 

To meet these stringent new requirements for water conservation, irrigation product manufacturer Hunter Industries offers a full suite of pressure-regulated Pro-Spray spray bodies.

Several states have introduced pressure regulation requirements for irrigation spray bodies offered for sale that comply with the water efficiency and performance criteria of the EPA WaterSense Specification for Spray Sprinkler Bodies:

To help comply with these mandates, Pro-Spray PRS30 and PRS40 spray bodies from Hunter Industries have built-in pressure regulation technology that saves up to 30% more water compared to systems without pressure regulation. Brown and gray caps make the products quick and easy to identify for compliance.

Pressure-regulated Pro-Spray PRS30 and PRS40 spray sprinklers provide a range of benefits, including the same body across all models for easy retrofits, a co-molded wiper seal for leak-free operation even with a loose cap and the optional FloGuard feature for additional water savings in the event of a missing nozzle.

“We are all responsible for using water efficiently while supporting the development of green infrastructure. We’re proud to provide the most advanced and comprehensive water-saving solution in the landscape irrigation industry,” said Kelsey Jacquard, senior product manager.

The complete offering of Hunter Pro-Spray PRS spray sprinklers is available on the EPA WaterSense website and hunterindustries.com. 

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Cedar Valley Farms Brings Precision Greenhouse Technology to Hemp

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Hemp at Cedar Valley FarmsCedar Valley Farms in Wooster, OH, is carving a unique path growing hemp in a greenhouse amidst the windy, rocky road that is today’s domestic hemp industry.

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Workwave releases WorkWave Service Lawn and Landscape

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HOLMDEL, N.J. – WorkWave, a provider of cloud-based software solutions, released WorkWave Service Lawn and Landscape. This solution was designed in conjunction with WorkWave’s current landscape customers to ensure that WorkWave understood the requirements of the industry, and created software that would enable them to drive increased efficiency and profitability.

With WorkWave Service Lawn and Landscape users will use applications that feature industry-specific terms and designs, service set-ups, and helpful content that will assist them in:

  • Improving their digital presence and drive new sales through online booking, where customers can get quotes and book services online, as well as access and view lead details from any mobile device.
  • Completing more jobs and become more efficient by letting customers know when their landscaping and cleaning crews are on the way via text, updating customers on the job status, having them confirm appointments and knowing where field employees are when they start a job through geotagging.
  • Saving time and improving cash flow with integrated payment options, such as the ability to email customers or send an invoice with an Epay link after a job is complete, collect bulk payments at the end of the workday and take payments digitally.
  • Accessing the software via one universal license, giving teams the flexibility to use WorkWave Service whether they are in the office or on-the-go.

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