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What Happens When My Company Is Bought By Another?

by Steve on 02/22/16

With the recent announcement of the merger of TruGreen and Scotts Lawn Service, you may wonder how these type of deals impact our industry. In truth, not a lot. These were already two huge companies and now they have become super huge. But, practically speaking, they will still have many / most of the same people treating lawns.

If you have been happy with these services, I doubt you will see much change. A good technician is a good technician regardless of the name of the company. If, however, the merger is handled poorly, it might lead to a lot of turnover resulting in customers dealing with a lot of new folks.

In my experience, both companies are very experienced with mergers and acquisitions and will likely keep the damage to a minimum. If their business model has worked for you in the past, I suspect it will continue.

We have always based our business on personal interaction and believe this is the key difference between us and the "big guys". This most assuredly will not change. They are not designed for much in the way of personal interaction and have automated pretty much everything they possibly can. Again, they are very effective doing business this way but it comes at a price.

Most large lawn services have over a 30% annual cancel rate. That means that about one in three customers will fire them this year. However, because of the way they are structured, they will still be quite profitable! Our company will have less than a 10% cancel rate this year, with a comparatively lower profit margin. And you know what? I am perfectly ok with that.

My son and I enjoy this business and are willing to invest a little more time and money to make our customers happy. From our customer's feedback, they appreciate our efforts. I hope you all have a great spring!

Steve   

How Much Should I Water?

by Steve on 05/31/15

As we head into the warmer weather, this question comes up quite a bit. There are a number of variables to consider (soil type, turf type, shade vs. sun, etc.). Let's look at some general suggestions that should get good results in most lawns.

First, what are your expectations? Do you want the lawn to look green and lush all summer or are you ok with some turf browning? Many people who do not have sprinkler systems simply do not water in the summer months. They realize that the turf will become discolored but also understand that the rain and cooler weather will eventually come and the turf will bounce back.

For those who choose to water, here are some simple tips. First, know how much water you are applying each time you water the lawn. Take a few empty tuna or cat food cans (any shallow container) and put them in a central area of the lawn. Then water the lawn for 20 minutes, measure the depth of the water in the cans, and you will have a watering rate.

In general, 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week will keep the lawn healthy. (This includes any rainfall). Preferably, you would like to water heavily a few times per week. So, if during my 20 minute watering test I found out that the watering rate was 1/2 inch per 20 minutes, I could water 3 times a week and apply 1.5 inches of total water to the lawn.

Another question is, "When should I start watering?" A simple test is when you walk on the lawn and your footprints don't bounce back within a short period of time. Obviously, discoloration in the sunny areas is also a common sign. Again, your personal preferences will indicate when and whether you will water. (One additional note. If possible, water early in the morning. This helps reduce evaporation and potential disease problems).

Don't forget, mowing is also a huge factor on how the lawn looks. Mowing short removes the most colorful part of the grass blade and also reduces the amount of shade that the soil gets from the grass. This puts the lawn under a lot more stress and can cause a variety of problems. Mowing tall (3 inches plus) is the best thing you can do. Yes, unfortunately it means you will have to mow more often but you will also have a much nicer looking lawn.     

Mowing with a dull blade will also cast a brownish tint to the lawn. This is because the blades are being ripped rather than cut. Just pull a few blades from your lawn. If they are jagged and brown at the tips, might be time to sharpen the blade.

To summarize:

  • Water at the first sign of discoloration if possible
  • Water 1.5 inches per week (includes rain)
  • Mow tall to maximize color and provide shade to the soil
  • Keep the mowing blade sharp
  • Water early in the morning.

Lastly, if you are still unsure on what to do, just call us (317-565-2582). We want your lawn to look great and will do anything we can to help it get there.

Steve

Should I Seed In The Spring?

by Steve on 03/10/15

Possibly. If the areas you want to seed are smaller than your outstretched hand, there really is no need. A good fertilizer program will fill most of those areas in throughout the spring.

If, however, you have large bare areas, you probably don't have much choice. Not seeding those areas will likely result in weeds dominating and spreading throughout the lawn. Of course, looking at dirt all year is not much of an option so why not give it a shot? 

There are two problems with spring seeding. First, as soon as the lawn comes in, the summer heat will put a great amount of pressure on it. Also, weeds will want to germinate as much as the new grass will and it is sometimes difficult to control them without damaging the new turf.

So, if you can wait, the fall is the best time to seed. Much less weed and environmental pressure and, if seeded early, more than mature enough to survive the winter.

Most bags of seed sold will say "sunny mix" or "shade mix" to give you an idea as to which type to use. In our area, we primarily use a mixture of bluegrass and ryegrass. Keep in mind, seeding does not have to be a big chore! Many times in the fall we will rake seed into the bare areas at no extra charge. You can just sprinkle the seed by hand and water it in if you prefer. Keep it simple and easy and it is much more likely to be done. Good luck!

Steve

When Do The Treatments Start?

by Steve on 02/13/15

For our company, the answer is usually the end of March or very beginning of April. We do this for 2 reasons. First, we want our products to provide their maximum efficacy. For instance, spraying weed control on non growing weeds is silly and wasteful. The same can be said for putting crabgrass control down on frozen turf.

The other reason is that this start time dovetails nicely with our 5 week treating schedule. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, we find 5 weeks to be the sweet spot for us from an application standpoint.

I suspect you will see some companies out treating in the next week or two. Usually, this is done because the company has a high number of customers and limited time to get their first application down. While this is not necessarily wrong, in my mind, it conflicts with what is best for the individual customer.

Another reason companies do this is to generate revenue and "lock down" their customer base. Obviously, if all you do is mow or provide lawn service, cash flow dwindles in the winter. The sooner revenue starts flowing the sooner the company can replace those winter losses.

As for customers, history tells us that the vast majority of people will continue with their service once the first application is completed. I think many people just don't want to bother canceling one service and then take the time to look for another. I think this probably applies to a lot of services homeowners enlist.

In the end, regardless of when the applications start, you should still look for the same results. A green, weed free lawn for the entire growing season. Whether that first treatment comes in February or April, don't accept anything less.    

  

Are Your Products Safe For The Environment/Kids/Pets?

by Steve on 02/01/15

This is a difficult question to answer because "safe" means different things to different people. I think of safe as something that is truly benign. (Water, for instance). So, from my point of view, they are not truly safe.

Nor is salt, bleach, mouthwash, deodorant, a can of Raid, or any number of other products in your house safe. However, if used according to the label, they present virtually no risk to the homeowner, pets, or the environment.

The EPA sets the standard for our products and the threshold is quite high. The state also does a great deal to enforce these standards to minimize improper usage. This is done through training, licensing, insurance, as well as regular in field visits to businesses and applicators.

It is important to keep in mind that every product I use can be bought at your local hardware store. The irony is that the homeowner really can abuse these products however they want while professionals are held to strict standards.

In the bigger picture, it is estimated that over 70% of pesticides used are by farmers and that 85% of homeowners have at least one item containing pesticides in their home. (http://ipm.ncsu.edu/safety/factsheets/pestuse.pdf). I don't think we often appreciate their prevalence in our society.  

Lastly, I can assure you that if I felt that there was any significant risk due to these products, I would not have spent the last 25+ years in the industry. And I definitely would not have allowed my son to work for our business.

Of course, these are just my opinions and I would always encourage anyone who has concerns to do their research. With the Internet, there is an abundance of information to be had both promoting pesticides as necessary while others will speak to the risks involved. Take the time to be informed. It's important.       

Why Should I Choose Your Service?

by Steve on 01/25/15

Before a customer becomes a customer, the question above is frequently asked. It is a critical part of the consumers buying decision and needs to be adequately answered if a business relationship is going to take place.

My first response is, "Are you happy with your current service and the price you pay". If the answer is yes, I will literally recommend that the person stay with that company. Why would you give up on something that is working? Invariably, however, the answer is some version of no. (Not surprising since we have been asked to leave a quote).    

At this point, all I can really do is tell the homeowner a little about our business and ask for an opportunity to prove our value. Everyone makes promises and, unless you personally know me, my promise doesn't carry much more weight than the next guys.

We try to offer some assurance with a money back guarantee. If you are ever unhappy with a treatment for any reason, we will refund the full cost of the application. No "proof" needed. To date, we have yet to issue a refund in the last 3 years.

You also have the comfort in knowing that I will personally be on your property for most every treatment throughout the year. I bring 27 years of professional lawn service experience and, although I don't have an answer for everything, I will work hard to find a solution to any problem.  

Lastly, we include everything you need in our program. One thing I have always hated is the "up sell" process. Whether it is cars, appliances, cell phone packages, etc., I hate the way "little" charges drive my price up or I am told at a later date that I need something extra which costs more. Also, I hate telemarketing my customers who I am sure have much more important things to do than get relentless sales calls from their lawn service.

There are other differences between us and our competitors. Like most service businesses, there are some really good companies out there and some really not so good ones. If you have been disappointed by a company, why not give someone else a chance? We won't disappoint you. I guarantee it.

Welcome To The Oasis Blog

by Steve on 01/19/15

Over the last few years, we have answered many, many questions from our customers. We thought it would be helpful to share the most common questions and answers as well as have a place for people to ask new questions. Also, we wanted to be able to share information regarding our business and current lawn issues we may be facing. (Drought, high insect activity, etc.)

So here it is; our new blog page! We hope to write often and provide valuable information that both customers and non-customers can use. Here's to a great 2015 and we look forward to seeing you!