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If you could make more money from your mowing business, you would, wouldnt you? And if, while steering a mower or waiting for the leaf blower crew to finish, you could make your clients happier by making their turf healthier, you would; of course you would. And you can. You can supplement your mowing business by adding additional services.
Mower attachments and stand-alone units enable you to offer your customers these add-on services. Herbicides, fertilizers and insecticides applied by sprayers and spreaders make a perfect combo for landscape contractors who do maintenance. Using the proper equipment will ensure the correct application of materials to keep your clients lawns green and healthy.
You have a powerful incentive to provide these services to your customers. Making good use of your business resources provides your clients with efficient, effective applications, made in a timely manner. And it makes good business sense to feed a lawn while youre there mowing it. Think of the time you spend as a long-term business investment in satisfying your clients. Targeting broadleaf weeds in April will most certainly affect a lawns appearance in July. The more add-on services you can provide that generate increased revenue and higher profits, the more the net costs of your operation will go down, because you wont be paying as much in salaries for travel time.
If you can multi-service one property, or multiple houses on one street, the labor burden and costs associated with travellike insurance and fuel costswill decrease. And with the cost of gasoline skyr ocketing , it makes good business sense to have work crews become more productive while at a revenue-generating site. This results in savings on the bottom line.
The right equipment can also make a big difference. If you spend a good portion of your week pushing a spreader or dragging a spray hose around, you know that applying materials to large properties can get extremely tiring. Plus, it takes considerable manpower.
For an industry already accustomed to mower attachments such as leaf blowers, aerators, dethatchers, snow blowers and mulchers, spreaders and sprayers are a logical extension.
Sprayers and spreaders are an integral part of any Integrated Pest Management program. Used poorly, they can get you into a real pickle. But used properly, they can effectively and safely apply pesticides, fertilizers and other materials.
Is an attachment the right choice for you?
If youre expanding your maintenance business to keep the level of productivity high, you may be faced with decisions to go to larger, faster mowers. After spending for a bigger and beefier machine, there may not be room in the truck or the budget for a new major piece of equipment. An attachment system could be best for that circumstance.
Prolawn Inc., in Elm Grove, Wisconsin, is one company that specializes in spreader and sprayer attachments for lawn mowers. They are made to fit walk-behind, standing, mid-deck and front-deck
mowers. The attachments are made with the boom enclosed in a plastic shield with a curtain at the bottom. That configuration eliminates spray drift, and different nozzles can be used to spray smaller droplets than might otherwise be feasible.
When looking at service upgrades and adding attachments to turn a mower into a more versatile piece of equipment, says Randy Gerosa, vice president of Prolawn, its important to remember that adding an attachment means that the mower will be used more frequently.
So heres the other side of the coin: if your mower is close to retirement, adding an attachment may inch that date ahead. In fact, one theory says that the time to buy a new mower may be the perfect time to invest in an attachment, says Gerosa.
If your old mower is still running well but does not justify replacing the cutting deck, what should you do with it? Its not worth very much money. But if the engine is good and the transmission is okay, then you can add one of these attachments to it, and make it a dedicated piece of equipment. Gerosa adds, Its important to consider equipment maintenance and upkeep as you make your decision. That may work to your advantage and let you get the most life out of the mower.
The dedicated machines
Perhaps a motorized walkbehind, ride-on machine might better suit your needs. Spreader/ sprayer products all have a few common factors. They will allow you to apply materials at a fraction of the time it takes to push a spreader or drag a hose. They will reduce operator fatigue. They allow you to match the spreader output with the sprayer output so you can make one pass with two products, instead of having to go over the same area twice. Although the initial cost might be significant, if you spend time spraying and spreading, these machines promise to streamline your operation.
In larger turf areas, now you dont have to walk behind a spreader, you can ride one. There are several machines and devices on the market that combine spreading and spraying capabilities into one unit to further streamline maintenance operations. PermaGreen, in Valparaiso, Indiana, has its new ride-on that looks pretty cool for a spreader/ sprayer. The unit can treat an acre in 15 minutes, and up to a million square feet per day, says Aaron Jessen, director of marketing and sales. Its a purely mechanical machine without hydraulic or electrical systems, and it has a narrow wheelbase so it can pass through 36-inch-wide gates.
Turf spaces vary, so C&S Turf Care Equipment, North Canton, Ohio, makes several machines designed for different-sized properties. All of our machines have a few things in common, says Tad Grubbs, national sales director. Our spray booms are situated at the rear of each machine to minimize traffic over the applied area and to reduce operator exposure to pesticide drift. The booms are spring-loaded break-aways that will fold up and bounce back into place if it hits an obstacle.
Bring on the big guns
Applying herbicides and fertilizers used to be time consuming. Now you dont have to walk behind a spreader, you can ride one. There are several machines and devices on the market that combine spreading and spraying capabilities into one unit to further streamline maintenance operations. A number of specialized manufacturers can offer a complete menu of products to help you do the proper job.
If you specialize in the residential market and need equipment that can get into backyards, a 36- inch-wide walk-behind thats driven by a 4hp engine is offered by L.T. Rich Products, Lebanon, Indiana. We try to cover the contractors needs, says Tom Rich, president, from our 36-inch to our largest unit, a 40-gallon sprayer tank with a 300-lb. hopper.
On the larger side, GNC Industries, an Arkansas-based company, has been manufacturing spray equipment for 20 years. They have entered the sprayer/spreader market this year with a new product designed to handle the larger commercial end of the spectrum, with its 200-lb. spreader capacity, 30- gallon spray tank, and 17hp engine. The hopper in the front end plugs into a receiver-like hitch, so it can be removed, and the user can mount any number of things in the front, such as a 50-gallon spray tank or a utility bed, says Gary Palmer.
Why you should consider these add-on services
For one thing, it would be wise just to protect your present client base; for another, it will help grow that division of your company. There was a time when you offered cutting services only, and traditional lawn care companies offered their service of fertilizing, applying herbicides and insecticides periodically. However, as these lawn care companies realized that theres more to taking care of a lawn than just chemical applications, more of them are beginning to offer mowing services as well. As they enter the mowing market, they need to be able to offer these add-on services to keep their clients.
What about mowers? With all the new technology, and new models that feature water-cooled engines or diesel engines, maybe its time to review just what your fleet of mowers will look like in the near future. With fuel costs skyrocketing, manufacturers are quickly developing propane-operated engines, as well as battery-operated units.
Lawn mower manufacturers have developed and continue to develop faster, more efficient equipment, all with the intention of giving you a better cut in less time. When all is said and done, your position has got to be to offer your client a quality job. As a businessman, new equipment allows you to be efficient and productive, so that your company can make a profit; mowers that are old and outdated need to be replaced to make this a reality. Buying new equipment is an investment in the future, an investment that will pay for itself in satisfied clients.