GROWING YOUR OWN MANAGERS, PART 1 PAGE 34 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018
CONTRACTOR PROFILE Explosive Growth Leads to Larger Vision ❯Page 8 SPECIAL FOCUS Zero-Turn Mowers ❯Page 20
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TABLE OF CONTENTS THE MANAGEMENT RESOURCE FOR LANDSCAPE CONTRACTORS AND EQUIPMENT DEALERS
Volume 30, No. 1 | January/February 2018
8 Contractor Profile
Explosive Growth Leads to Larger Vision With meager beginnings as two guys and a lawn mower, Westcoast Landscape and Lawns lived the truism: If you’re not earning, you’re learning.
4 Through the Grapevine 6 Industry Dirt
12 Dealer Profile The Next 50 Years: Building a Future Based on a Solid Foundation
Cultivating relationships before, during and after sales transactions is what enabled Russo Power Equipment to grow, thrive and expand over the last 47 years.
22 What’s on My Trailer? 33 Advertisers Index 34 Cutting-Edge Business
14 Supplier Profile Overcoming the Profit Plateau with Continuous Improvement
16 Special Focus Secrets of a Highly Productive Mower
20 Special Focus: Zero-Turn Mowers
LandOpt gives landscape contractors the guidance to transform their company, plus the freedom to pursue work-life balance. As landscaping labor shortages continue, new zero-turn mower designs place extra emphasis on productivity.
24 Beyond the Blade Should Landscapers Hire a Marketing Agency?
If you’re thinking about digital marketing, you’re ahead of the competition, but there are definite pitfalls to avoid and advice to consider.
26 Lawn Care Corner Planning Your 2018 Fertilizer Program
Agronomy experts advise what you can do to revamp your fertilizer program and up your lawn care game in 2018.
28 Lawn Care Corner: Fertilizer, Sprayers & Spreaders 30 Maintenance Equipment: Handheld & BatteryOperated Equipment 32 Construction Equipment: Skid Steers
❙ JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 ❙
GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 3
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THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE
Pros The Management Resource for Landscape Contractors and Equipment Dealers
Published by AC Business Media Inc.
A GOOD OMEN or Worsening Predicament?
he housing market is hot, and business is looking good for 2018 and beyond. But with the ever-looming labor shortage, is this a good omen for the landscaping industry or a worsening predicament? In fact, many companies say they passed up available work last year due to a lack of labor. In January, the Department of Labor announced that U.S. employers already filed more visa applications for H-2B foreign guest workers than are available for the entire year. According to an article entitled “Guest-Worker Crisis Worries Landscaping Industry,” Congress did not reinstate an immigration law provision in 2016. “The result was a significant reduction in the number of foreign temporary workers who are granted H-2B visas. Previously, workers who earlier received a For the landscaping visa, which allows them to work up to 10 companies that have months per year in the United States, could enough employees to return to their employers without coming under the annual limit.” go around—or are lucky The failure to renew this provision diminenough to find adequate ished the number of H-2B workers from labor—the market is approximately 350,000 to this year’s cap of 66,000, the article further reveals. And the especially promising. green industry must compete for their share of H-2B workers with other industries. While Americans are divided on their opinions about H-2B, many landscaping companies are already feeling the effects of the more restrictive legislation. For the landscaping companies that have enough employees to go around—or are lucky enough to find adequate labor—the market is especially promising, though. According to “Growing Markets: A Look at Trends in the Landscaping Industry,” a report from research firm IBISWorld, a strong remodeling trend to boost home resale values is propping up the demand for landscaping design, so much so that landscape design businesses raised prices at an estimated annualized rate of 2.0 percent from to 2014 to 2017. The research firm predicts prices to rise at the same rate from 2017 to 2020, and also predicts landscape maintenance prices to grow 1.4 percent from 2017 to 2020, up from 1.2 percent from 2014 to 2017. Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, echoes these good tidings, “So much of the industry is housing-driven and mortgage rates are still at historic lows. Unemployment is low. The market is strong. Looking at 2018, we project continued strong growth.” Landscaping has had many ups and downs over the years, and the green industry always finds a way to get over the obstacles presented it. As I write this, innovations that are directly addressing the most pressing issues of the green industry today—squeezing as much productivity as possible out of equipment and a dwindling employee pool—are happening. One way or another, the industry will adapt to satisfy landscaping demand. Will 2018’s booming market be a good omen or worsening predicament for you Carrie Mantey (920) 542-1238 and your company? ❯ email@example.com
4 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
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THE DIRT GREEN INDUSTRY NEWS
Power Lawn and Garden Equipment Sales to Remain Concentrated in U.S., Canada and Western Europe Global demand for power lawn and garden equipment is forecast to grow 2.5 percent per year to $24.2 billion in 2021. Demand for power lawn and garden equipment is going to remain heavily concentrated in the U.S., Canada and western Europe, which together account for 75 percent of the total global increase in sales between 2016 and 2021. These trends are presented in “Global Power Lawn & Garden Equipment, 6th Edition,” a new study from The Freedonia Group. Demand for power lawn and garden equipment in the U.S. is forecast to rise
THE TOP FIVE LANDSCAPE TRENDS OF 2018 As the voice of the multibillion-dollar landscape industry, the National Association of Landscape Professionals predicts the following five trends to influence landscape design in 2018: 1. Experiential landscape design. Today’s landscapes are built for living, working and playing, and bring together form and function for a quality outdoor experience. More residential landscapes feature designated areas for cooking, dining, relaxing and even working outdoors, armed with outdoor lighting and audio/visual systems for a multisensory and multiuse experience, day or night. The experience often begins at the entrance, with plantings, design elements and beautiful lawns that make a welcoming first impression. 2. Climate-cognizant landscaping. Unpredictable weather patterns call for landscape enhancements that withstand extreme conditions. More landscapes are planned with the unexpected in mind, such as pergolas with retractable canopies that can protect outdoor areas in the wind, rain and snow; and hardier hardscape materials that can handle drastic temperature fluctuations.
6 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
2.7 percent per year, in line with global average growth. Continued recovery in the construction sector is going to contribute to increased sales. Demand for power lawn and garden equipment in Canada totaled $1.1 billion in 2016, making Canada the world’s fourth largest national market for these products behind the U.S., France and Germany. Similar to the U.S., Canada is an intensive user of power lawn and garden equipment (on a per-household basis). Western Europe accounts for a large share of the global power lawn and garden
equipment market relative to its population size, reflecting the importance of cultural preferences for lawn maintenance in supporting demand. Most countries in western Europe have mature power lawn and garden equipment markets, and growth is going to be sluggish by global standards through 2021. However, a region-wide emphasis on environmental friendliness is going to contribute to rapid growth in demand for battery-powered products, which already have high rates of penetration by global standards.
3. An emphasis on water management and conservation. Sustainability will influence how landscapes are created and maintained now and in the future. The integration of eco-friendly watering practices are expected to continue to take off, including the use of plants native to a region (which generally use less water), xeriscaping (planning a landscape to use low-water-use plants) and smarter irrigation technology. 4. Enhanced equipment and technology. The latest yard tools on the market consider ease of use and storage, while incorporating more eco-friendly innovations. Many lawn mowers, leaf blowers and similar equipment feature low or no emissions, and are battery-powered and quieter. Many are also designed to stack or fold to fit in smaller spaces. Professionals are additionally integrating more technology—mobile apps, 3D modeling and drones—into landscape planning. 5. Plants in playful colors and patterns. 2018 will see a renewed interest in adding pops of color and whimsy to landscapes. With ultra-violet named the color of the year by Pantone, an influencer on interior and exterior design, landscape professionals expect to integrate more violets, verbena, clematis, iris and other purple flowers into landscapes. Patterned plants are also getting their time in the garden spotlight, as these unique plants are revered for their intricate details, such as striped leaves or brightly colored veins. www.greenindustrypros. com/12393671.
OTHER TOP NEWS
› Bodies Found in Planters; Landscaper Called a Serial Killer www.greenindustrypros.com/12395111
› Uncertainty over Foreign Temporary Worker Program Puts Pressure on Landscaping Firms www.greenindustrypros.com/12394220
› Can an Army of Fertilizer Robots Disrupt $28 Billion Lawn Care Industry? www.greenindustrypros.com/12391551
› H-2B Visa Demand Again Far Surpasses
Annual Cap www.greenindustrypros.com/ 12391508
› Landscaper Pays $550,000 in Back Wages,
Penalties for Underpaying Foreign Workers www.greenindustrypros.com/12390893
› First Smartphones, then Smart Homes: Now Prepare Yourself for the Smart Lawn www.greenindustrypros.com/12393685
› EPA Releases Pesticide Assessments
› Reckless Landscaping Company Ordered to Stop Operations ... Again www.greenindustrypros.com/12388940
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2/6/18 11:17 AM
2/6/18 11:17 AM
By Carrie Mantey
Westcoast Landscape and Lawns made a conscious financial decision to transition from the residential market to the commercial and multi-residential market.
Leads to Larger Vision
With meager beginnings as two guys and a lawn mower, Westcoast Landscape and Lawns lived the truism: If you’re not earning, you’re learning.
oseph Ronnlof and John Harbord incorporated Westcoast Landscape and Lawns in 1998 near Clearwater, Florida, to escalate the level of customer service being provided in the green industry. Before the launch, the pair both previously worked for other landscaping companies and decided there was a business opportunity to offer more individual attention to each client. By engaging with customers more, Ronnlof and Harbord discovered that it was
8 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
easier to determine not only what they were doing right, but, more importantly, what they were doing wrong and how to change it for the better. “We started out with one truck like a lot of companies. We didn’t really have any money in the bank, but that’s the nice thing about this industry: It doesn’t take a ton of capital to get into. We started small, mowing residential and local areas, and just continued to grow,” remembers Ronnlof, founder and CEO of Westcoast Landscape and Lawns.
John Harbord and Joseph Ronnlof, co-founders of Westcoast Landscape and Lawns, both previously worked for other landscaping companies and determined there was an opportunity to engage more with customers.
So the duo made a go of the company—basically two guys and a lawn mower between them. Since then, Westcoast Landscape and Lawns swelled to more than 250 team members, 100 trucks and two office locations covering 10 counties, including Charlotte, Citrus, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas,
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Focusing on commercial and multi-residential clients helps Westcoast Landscape and Lawns stick to its promise of engaging more with each customer as it’s easier to fulfill with less accounts.
Polk and Sarasota. The company primarily began serving the residential market, but within 20 years, morphed into mainly serving the commercial and multi-residential market—including carefree communities, homeowners associations, condo associations, community development districts, corporate campuses and retail plazas—which accounts for about 90 percent of its business now. According to Ronnlof, it was a conscious financial decision to transition from the residential market to the commercial and multi-residential market. It takes more effort and expense for a two-man crew to cover a residential route of 100 customers than it does to cover one large commercial or multi-residential account for approximately the same amount of profit. Targeting commercial and multi-residential clients also helps Westcoast Landscape and Lawns stick to
president, and Dan Schmitt, chief operating officer—to help manage Westcoast Landscape and Lawns’ explosive growth and round out the team. Sabine and Schmitt both earned it, according to Ronnlof, and are still earning it. Between the four partners, each has his own specific responsibilities: Harbord and Ronnlof are in charge of the finances and major decision-making, including the allocation of company resources and the overall vision of the company; Sabine is responsible for sales and business development; and Schmitt controls day-to-day operations. Between this leadership team, every responsibility is accounted for and everyone held accountable, making the business side of the organization more manageable. As the company grew, so did Westcoast Landscape and Lawns’ menu of services, expanding from just lawn maintenance and mowing into the following array of jobs: lawn and ornamental care, trimming, landscaping, annual and flower installations, arborist and tree care, emergency services, storm weather management, irrigation, mulching, pump services, well and pump monitoring, and low-voltage LED lighting. By providing a larger offering of services, the company made it more convenient for its customers to choose it as a one-stop shop and build the long-lasting relationships it was working toward. “We As Westcoast Landscape and Lawns added more services, it divided into six main divisions— wanted to be able to provide maintenance, landscaping, arbor care, irrigation, our clients with first-class seasonal flower installation, and lawn and service, not only related to ornamental care. maintenance, but all landscape services. We wanted them its promise of engaging more with each to be able to call one company and one client as it’s easier to maintain with one company only. So that’s how it evolved, large customer than 100 smaller ones. staying focused on customer service and adding services as we grew,” says Ronnlof. Explosive Growth Equals Westcoast Landscape and Lawns was More Staff and Services careful not to add these new services too While Ronnlof and Harbord founded quickly, though. Leadership ensured prothe company, they also introduced two cesses were established, and the right partners in 2015—Bruce Sabine, vice team members were hired or trained in
advance to make certain these new services were successful from the outset. As a result of adding this diversity of services, the company is now structured into six main divisions—maintenance, landscaping, arbor care, irrigation, seasonal flower installation, and lawn and ornamental care—each with its own manager who specializes in and is held accountable for its operations. The technicians being supervised by those managers are specialists in their particular fields as well because Westcoast Landscape and Lawns values training and certifying their people. “We invest a lot into these programs because we see the returns and our clients see the returns. When it comes to training and certifications, we feel it’s easier to get somebody specialized or trained in one, so [the divisions are] really broken up,” Ronnlof notes. The company prefers each employee being an expert in one or two areas rather than employing many jacks-of-alltrades who are average at everything. Ronnlof’s father used to tell him: “If you’re not earning, you’re learning,” so training and continuing education is always going to be a priority for Westcoast Landscape and Lawns. When the business first started out, Ronnlof and Harbord made mistakes because they didn’t have the benefit of the formal training that their employees do. They learned everything in the field by trial and error, which cost them both time and money. If they planted the wrong shrub in the wrong place and it died, for example, they replaced it on their own dime to establish the trust and high level of customer service they were striving for with their customer base. Ronnlof jokes, “It was years before we started earning. That’s why training and continuing education is so important in our company now. We made those bad decisions in the past and it cost us.”
GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 9
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Carefree communities, homeowners associations, condo associations, community development districts, corporate campuses and retail plazas account for about 90 percent of Westcoast Landscape and Lawns’ business.
Technology Comes to the Rescue
As a larger landscaping company, there are a lot of moving parts to manage— from scheduling and routing to sales and marketing. Westcoast Landscape and Lawns uses software and technology to stay on top of things and at the forefront of the green industry. But it’s still no easy feat with more than 250 team members, 100 trucks and two locations covering 10 Floridian counties. To help keep things in order, the company uses customized and industry software in every facet of each division, including route logistics, sales track-
Westcoast Landscape and Lawns uses both technology—social media, blogging and search engine optimization (SEO)—and good old-fashioned, timetested marketing methods—hitting the pavement and cold calling—to increase business, although it took time for the company to identify what worked for it best. Ronnlof admits, “We have a wonderful team that’s dedicated just to social media, blogging and SEO. We know it’s the way of the present and even more so of the future. I would say 50 to 60 percent of our business comes from existing relationships now, but that’s going to be changing because, as
“I remember we used to come home dirty and tired after 12 to 13 hours of mowing yards all day, park the one truck and trailer at the side of my house, and just sit and imagine that, maybe one day, we would have two or three trucks that we could manage.” – Joseph Ronnlof, Westcoast Landscape and Lawns ing, customer relationship management (CRM) and even job profitability, but staying mobile is one of its more fruitful recent initiatives. Ronnlof says, “We realize that technology is about efficiencies and we have to be efficient in this industry because it’s such a competitive market. We trained our managers and technicians to be mobile in the field in order to have them on property more often. We found that, when they spend more time in the field and less in the office, we see better results. We’re always evolving with technology.”
10 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
the millennials get older, they’re going to be moving into these more manicured subdivisions and homeowners associations and community development districts. And they’re going to find us online, whether that’s by social media or SEO, so that’s why we are investing in this type of marketing.”
From Meager Beginnings to Realizing Dreams Westcoast Landscape and Lawns has tremendous plans for the future, which include continuing to grow in
the Tampa and Sarasota markets, then moving into new markets, the first being Orlando. Whether the company achieves those goals through organic growth, or a merger and acquisition is still a mystery, but it is confident with its team and leadership that this dream can be realized by 2020. Ronnlof is feeling especially emboldened by the positive trends in the construction market and green industry. The company is observing both increasing profitability and competition, which means it isn’t the only one seeing the possibilities on the horizon. Even during the recession, though, the company was able to maintain its growth, although the bottom line dipped a bit. Fortunately, the commercial and multi-residential markets are more recession-proof than residential accounts, however, because they often require an organization to take ownership of maintaining these enormous properties. “I remember we used to come home dirty and tired after 12 to 13 hours of mowing yards all day, park the one truck and trailer at the side of my house, and just sit and imagine that, maybe one day, we would have two or three trucks that we could manage,” recalls Ronnlof. “I think that vision grew as the company grew. Now we sit back and we think, ‘What’s next?’ The possibilities are endless for us and that’s the way we like it. We like to grow. It’s really what our vision is—continue to grow while providing good service.” ›
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2/6/18 11:16 AM
By Carrie Mantey
The Next 50 Years:
Building a Future Based on a SOLID FOUNDATION
Cultivating relationships before, during and after sales transactions is what enabled Russo Power Equipment to grow, thrive and expand over the last 48 years.
estled in the Heartland in Illinois, Russo Power Equipment established its roots as a hardware store on the northwest side of Chicago in 1970. Now approaching almost 50 years in business, the equipment dealership counts six full-service locations as its network, including four locations that just opened in the last decade: Chicago (1970), Schiller Park (2005), Naperville (2008), Hainesville (2011), Frankfort (2014) and Elgin (2016). Evolving from its hardware heritage over the
years, Russo Power Equipment now specializes in landscaping power equipment and related supplies, and boasts of a clientele that consists primarily of municipal and commercial contractors, with a small percentage of residential consumers. Many of these customers are loyal, longtime customers. According to Eric Adams, president of Russo Power Equipment, “Our business footprint has expanded along with the products and services we offer. We enjoy sharing memories with many of our long-term customers, staff and suppliers alike. Currently, we’re excited about approaching and building on those memories for the next 50 years.”
A Personal Touch
Adams emphasizes that personal and commercial relationships are what enabled Russo Power Equipment to grow, thrive and expand in the last 48 years. He says, “We partner with
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our employees, clients and vendors in order to understand each other better, and support those ups and downs that generally occur in business. It’s not just a transaction—we shine best when we’re able to fully engage and work as a partner.” By partnering with clients, Adams means really communicating with and listening to them, then offering the equipment and services they are hunting for to help build their business. That’s how the equipment dealership developed the idea to form dedicated delivery routes for its surrounding market area. The delivery service permits Russo’s customers to truly concentrate on their business, while the dealership becomes a hero by transporting much-needed equipment and products to their door, decreasing their downtime and saving them the hassle. Another such service that the equipment dealer initiated is fleet assessment. Russo Power Equipment employees evaluate customers’ equip-
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“For years, our training program consisted of a 30-minute onboarding/orientation period followed by a ball and chain being strapped to the candidate’s leg, and a swift kick to the deep end of the pool. Those days are long since gone.” - Eric Adams, Russo Power Equipment ment annually and share their insights, going as far as pinpointing potential downtime to see if they can capture efficiencies, or otherwise improve performance and productivity. “Our industry knows we need to be efficient when it comes to employee productivity, especially these days. Investing in equipment has proven to accomplish more with fewer people, while increasing employee morale and offering a safer work place,” Adams affirms. He continues, “This is what we always teach within our organization. Understanding that the products we sell are used from sun up to sun down to create revenue for our customers is vital to our success, and we achieve this understanding through customer service at all levels. Our clientele’s needs are always changing and they can purchase from competitors. It’s what we do before, during and after the transaction that keeps our brand in their minds. Cultivating the relationship over one or two touches is how we build and strengthen our customer reach.” Russo Power Equipment values vendor relationships as well. As the equipment dealership eyes its next 50 years in business, Adams plans on strategically expanding and further capitalizing on them. One way he aims to do this is by developing more Russo-specific plans with supplier partners—deviating from
standard equipment offerings and services—which allows the company to differentiate itself from its less forward-thinking competitors.
Putting Stock in Inventory
Depth and availability of inventory is another courtesy Russo Power Equipment extends to its clients and excels at. In fact, Adams attributes much of Russo Power Equipment’s success to “our wide product selection and volume of inventory, which allows us to support our client’s needs in a timely manner.” Being an equipment dealer that services a lot of contractors, it makes sense to stock landscaping equipment with breadth and depth, all while ensuring parts availability and supplier support. After all, contractors’ businesses run on their access to quality, reliable equipment. The equipment dealership takes care to carry inventory that fulfills five primary objectives: good price, brand, part availability, quality and vendor support. With those priorities in mind, according to Adams, Toro Dingo, Kubota, Scag Power Equipment, Avant Tecno, Wright Manufacturing, Bobcat, STIHL and ECHO are all household names at Russo Power Equipment. When it comes to specific types of equipment, Adams can’t discount what the commercial lawn mower does for the business, although compact utility
loaders are especially popular now. He says, “The commercial lawn mower opens the door to a vast number of services and is definitely a must-have for our customer base. Lawn maintenance, particularly mowing, ties together all the services the landscape professional offers their clients. Meanwhile, compact utility loaders are one of the hottest trends right now. They are extremely versatile, and have a large selection of attachments available from brands such as Avant Tecno and Toro Dingo.” The last two or three decades have turned the industry’s attention toward several new challenges, but there are equipment innovations addressing those challenges—milking as much productivity as possible out of equipment and a dwindling employee pool to satisfy landscaping demand, and addressing the environmental and regulatory concerns of an increasingly eco-conscious public. As a result, “Labor-saving equipment will continue to impact our industry as the labor force shrinks and multi-season offerings are becoming popular. We also expect to see advances in equipment technology, particularly when it comes to tracking efficiencies and maintenance schedules,” says Adams. “In addition, commercial battery (electric) equipment is entering the landscape industry.” Besides having the right equipment, Adams attributes the equipment dealership’s success to its culture of relationship-building and ability to hone in on customers’ needs. With this formula, it’s no doubt that Russo Power Equipment is about to embark on another 50 successful years. › To read the full article, please visit www.greenindustrypros.com/12394345.
GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 13
2/6/18 11:15 AM
By Angie Mellor
Overcoming the Profit Plateau with Continuous Improvement LandOpt gives landscape contractors the guidance to transform their companies, plus the freedom to pursue work-life balance.
ow more than ever, the phrase work-life balance is a common part of job descriptions or hiring negotiations. For a potential employee, scheduling flexibility and time away from the job is almost as important as the work itself. But as a landscaping business owner, that balance can become nonexistent. As an entrepreneur, you accept all of the responsibility and risks of business besides doing what you actually
enjoy—the work of landscaping. As your company expands, keeping up with necessary changes and a heavier workload can become difficult. “Finding a quality work-life balance is something that is often overlooked in this industry,” according to Mike Eisenhuth, a success coach at LandOpt. He recognizes business growth as one reason landscape contractors look for business solutions and choose to partner with LandOpt,
LandOpt transforms organizations by focusing on continuous improvement.
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a provider of landscape business systems, programs and solutions. “As companies grow and revenue increases, the owner’s time is usually maxed to capacity and the stresses of owning the business begin to overwhelm. If you were to walk away from your business for two weeks, what would happen? Would it strive or would it flounder?” Eisenhuth asks.
Getting Your Business into Shape
Specifically, the LandOpt process focuses on areas to improve. “We look to transform organizations, and the areas of sales, human resources, operations management and business management,” Alison Blobner, director of marketing and sales at LandOpt, asserts. “We want to go out and find contractors that aren’t happy with the status quo. They want to grow, they want to get better, they want to have the best-performing business out there.” However, partnering with LandOpt doesn’t mean landscaping businesses
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LandOpt offers continuing education that includes face-to-face trainings and boot camps.
lose their independence. On the contrary, business owners maintain choice and freedom. “We essentially create the roadmap for them so they [make the decisions]. We don’t control their business in any way,” Blobner says. “We want landscape contractors to maintain their individual passion for the industry and as an entrepreneur. We’re just bringing the structure for that to be as successful as possible.” Benefitting from the services LandOpt provides requires landscape contractors to make a commitment to improvement. Eisenhuth says, “The process of transforming a business from its current state to its target destination is one that takes patience. This is not an overnight fix; it takes time for an organization to become fully implemented into LandOpt systems.” Eisenhuth equates the LandOpt transformation to getting fit. “You do not expect to sign up for a gym membership and expect to be in shape instantly. It takes time, discipline and the willingness to change in order to see results. It is safe to say that, after a few years as a network member, the benefits will become obvious.”
The Associate Program and Ongoing Education
LandOpt currently has two program options to choose from. The new associate program lasts two years, which Blobner describes as a stepping stone to the six-year executive program. The associate program is intended as a solution for landscaping businesses that are experiencing a plateau in profits. “A lot of times, we see contractors plateau or hit some challenges for a few years that can keep them in a certain spot in their business,” she says. “We’re looking to remove that plateau and remove that wall, so they can continue to grow and have the success they’re looking for.” The program begins when clients arrive in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to tour the training facility and meet members of the LandOpt team. “It takes 30 to 45 days to walk through
the process,” according to Blobner. During that time, LandOpt assesses companies to ensure they’re a good fit for the peer network. “Once we partner with a contractor within territorial bounds, we don’t license to anyone else within that area. It creates an exclusivity between us and that contractor, as well as a transparent and open network,” she states. “The [contractors are] open to share because their competitors aren’t seated at the table with them.” Exclusivity isn’t all LandOpt offers. Continuing education includes faceto-face trainings in Pittsburgh, as well as specific boot camps for general and project managers. Furthermore, the company offers an on-demand system of training through its LandOpt Channel, which Blobner describes as an e-learning platform that any network contractor can access. LandOpt additionally provides success coaches. “All of our contractors also have a success coach
Finding That Balance
LandOpt’s unique and multi-faceted approach to helping landscape contractors beat the profit plateau is all about teamwork and unification. “When we partner with organizations, our team wraps around their team and it’s about joining our organizations together. This is a full comprehensive approach to a business system,” Blobner declares. “Nobody in the green industry does what we do— what we’re doing—bringing that one unified solution of creating a continuous process that all works together.” In an industry in which business owners can spend up to 90 hours per
“When you partner with LandOpt, you’re not just getting one coach, you’re getting a team of experts in a lot of different areas.” - Alison Blobner, LandOpt driving the implementation of everything. That coach is their partner, and pushes them when they need to, and really helps to keep that owner and their team accountable,” Blobner reports. The coach is on site at the landscape contractor’s location. “When you partner with LandOpt, you’re not just getting one coach, you’re getting a team of experts in a lot of different areas,” she adds. At the start of the partnership, coaches provide on-site training in person once a month. “Licensees are assigned coaches to walk them through the transformation process. Visits eventually move to quarterly once the systems and processes are implemented into a licensee’s organiza-
tion. Outside of site visits, we conduct scheduled weekly phone calls with licensees to ensure that their business continues to progress forward through the process,” Eisenhuth says.
week working, work-life balance seems nearly impossible. Perhaps one of the most valuable profits LandOpt brings is the opportunity for business owners to take back some of their precious time. “I see the challenge with landscaping business owners having a good quality of work-life balance,” Blobner says. “On their own, they’re working 70, 80, 90 hours per week. Contractors [who have partnered with LandOpt] are, on average, working 45 to 50 hours per week while still profitably growing their business.”› Angie Mellor teaches communications and writing classes at Western Technical College in La Crosse, Wisconsin, while freelance writing and editing.
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SPECIAL FOCUS: ZERO-TURN MOWERS
By Gregg Wartgow
SECRETS of a
Highly Productive Mower As landscaping labor shortages continue, new zero-turn mower designs place extra emphasis on productivity.
hat makes a zero-turn mower productive? Speed, power and size … but what else? Given the fact that reliable employees are becoming a hot commodity, perhaps operator comfort should also factor into the equation. And it does—now more than ever. Contractors want mowers that are easy to operate and easy on the operator. They also want options. Manufacturers are responding—and for good reason. Demand for zeroturn mowers is through the roof. “If you were at the Green Industry & Equipment Expo (GIE+EXPO) this past October, you saw that landscapers can get all-electric and hybrid zeroturns, as well as diesel-, gasoline- and
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The 96-inch Exmark Lazer Z zero-turn comes equipped with hydraulically operated wing decks that flip up for easy transport on a typical trailer.
propane-powered models,” says Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI). “So much of the industry is housing-driven and mortgage rates are still at historic lows. Unemployment is low. The market is strong. We’ve seen double-digit growth in this product segment in the past couple of years and, looking at 2018, we project continued strong growth,” Kiser continues.
Maximizing the Productivity of Each Employee Kubota is one manufacturer that has operator productivity in mind. “In
talking with contractors, we found that reducing operator fatigue is a really big deal,” says Tom Vachal, Kubota’s senior turf product manager. “The desire is to keep employees working at a higher level and longer.” To that end, Kubota enhanced the seat package on its new Z700-2 Series zero-turns. “We added a new premium suspension seat to all six models,” Vachal confirms. “We also wanted to make sure we didn’t overcomplicate things. Contractors told us that, while operator comfort is important, they want features that are manageable and easy to maintain.” Kubota’s new seat has a simple dial cam to adjust the spring setting based on your body weight and desired
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Walker’s S18 front-mount, grass-catching zero-turn now features an improved blower design that reduces noise and weight without sacrificing productivity.
cushion level. You can also slide the seat forward and backward by 6 inches to settle into the perfect comfort zone. Exmark Manufacturing has several new mowers for this season. One is a diesel-powered, 96-inch version of its popular Lazer Z zero-turn. “This is a very important product for us this year,” says Jamie Briggs, product marketing manager at Exmark. “One of the big things we continue to hear from landscapers has to do with the labor shortage. With a 96-inch wing deck configuration, operator productivity is elevated. The contractor can do more with less. Plus, the contractor can now pay this employee more [due to the increase in productivity], which helps with retention.” Briggs says this massive mower was also carefully designed to ease operation. Anyone familiar with a standard-size zero-turn is not going to have trouble operating this machine. Additionally, the articulating wing decks are designed to follow the contours of the terrain. “You get the same cut quality as a 72-inch Lazer Z,” according to Briggs. Another key to the design was to make sure the wing decks were hydraulically driven. This allows the operator to flip the decks up and easily transport the mower on a typical trailer. Big mowers like this are obviously ideal for maintaining properties with expansive areas of grass. But what about when you’re servicing smaller commercial and residential properties? In that case, Walker Manufacturing has you covered with its new S18 front-mount,
grass-catching zero-turn. The mower design made its debut in 2016, but now it features an 18-HP Vanguard engine to power the 48-inch deck. “This mower also features a new blower design,” says Tim Cromley, Walker’s marketing manager. “We call it the PTO Thru-Shaft Blower design. The shaft runs right through the center of the blower, so it’s much more efficient. It allows for less power to operate the power take-off (PTO). That allows us to use a smaller 18-HP engine.” The result is better mowing and grass-catching performance, along with reduced noise and weight. “This mower only weighs around 827 pounds,” Cromley says. “That’s pretty light for a 48-inch machine. So it’s easier on turf and more agile. When you combine those two things, you get improved productivity.”
Transmissions, Engines and New Technologies
Kubota’s new Z700-2 Series zero-turn uses the Parker TorqPact HTG 14 transmission. “This transmission has been on the market for a couple
of years, but the size we’re using is pretty unique,” Vachal says. “We chose to upsize both the pump and motor to help keep operating temperatures lower, and also keep the rotating groups in better shape over the long term.” The result is better mowing performance, reduced heat to the hydraulic oil and less frequent oil changes. This Parker transmission also offers the optimum combination of speed and torque. Because the sheer size and enhanced operation of the transmission requires less power, more horsepower can be delivered to the deck. That results in better cut quality and reduced fuel consumption. “When it comes to transmissions, Kubota doesn’t like to leave anything on the table,” Vachal admits. “Kubota manufactures transmissions itself. Our engineering team can see where we could make an improvement. Then we can work with manufacturers like Parker to get to the transmission performance we need. We did that with our new Z700-2 Series.” As touched on earlier, Exmark recently launched its new diesel-powered Lazer Z mowers. “This truly represents a ground-up design,” Briggs points out. “In previous years, we took an existing Lazer Z chassis and adapted a Kubota diesel engine to it. With these new mowers, we were able to design the entire machine around its new power plant—a diesel engine
RIGHT: Kubota designed its new Z700-2 Series zero-turn with an easy-to-adjust suspension seat to improve operator comfort. INSET: Kubota’s new seat has a simple dial cam to adjust the spring setting based on your body weight and desired cushion level.
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SPECIAL FOCUS: ZERO-TURN MOWERS
Joe Conrad, president of Mean Green Products, says that more pros are are getting used to the concept of electric riding mowers.
from Yanmar. The result is greatly improved performance.” Six diesel models are available for this season, including the 96-inch zero-turn. Exmark is also making advances with its unique RED Technology platform. “Three years ago, we introduced the first generation of RED Technology,” Briggs explains. “It was designed to improve operator interface with the machine, provide fuel savings and protect critical components through machine health monitoring. Now we improved and expanded that technology for this season.” Exmark talked with contractors to find out what else they needed from RED. One thing that came up was maintenance reminders, such as engine and transmission oil changes. This new generation of RED provides these reminders. Another new feature is the large LED screen that makes information easy to see from the operator’s seat. With respect to machine health monitoring, error codes are now kept within the RED system. This helps technicians to easily diagnose and resolve any issues. As far as fuel savings, contractors now have more options. While RED has been available on mowers powered by Kohler electronic fuel injection (EFI) electronic governor (e-Gov) engines, this year, RED is also available on mowers powered by Kawasaki EFI e-Gov engines, as well as the new Yanmar diesel engine. Many other mower manufacturers introduced new zero-turn models and innovations this year. For example, Husqvarna overhauled its entire 11-model Z500 and Z500X line. Toro is expanding its MyRIDE suspension system to additional models. And Grasshopper recently released its most powerful diesel mower ever. In other words, if you’re in the market for a new zero-turn mower this year, you have plenty of options. Keep overall productivity in mind when making your final selection. Both you and your employees are going to be glad you did. ›
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THE GROWING MARKET FOR GREEN Last season, Mean Green Products introduced the electric-powered Nemesis NXR zero-turn mower for prosumers. “That was a whole new market for us,” says Joe Conrad, president of Mean Green. “We found that they were people who already had electric vehicles and solar panels for their homes. We often heard that it was embarrassing for them to have to drive their electric vehicle to the gas station to get gas for their mowers. So this was a natural market for us to break into.” One year into the launch, Conrad could not be more pleased. “The Nemesis is a scaled-down version of our bigger CXR commercial mower,” he explains. “But it still has the electric deck lift, the big, comfortable seat and even the suspension front end. It’s a smoothriding mower. A lot of these customers were buying $8,000 or $9,000 heavyduty zero-turns. The Nemesis fits right in that price category, plus you have the benefits of electric.” The Nemesis is a lot lighter than the CXR because it only holds one battery pack as opposed to three. That said, the single battery provides more than enough runtime to mow a 5-acre lot. In comparison, the three-battery CXR commercial zero-turn can mow for an entire day, providing six to seven hours of blade-on runtime. Conrad says that more and more professional users are open to the
concept of electric riding mowers. Examples of landscaping companies that recently incorporated Mean Green riders into their fleets include Jackson Dodds & Company in Southampton, New York; Military Cut in Sarasota, Florida; EQ Grounds in Waterford, Michigan; and International Landscaping in the greater Toronto (Canada) area. Meanwhile, the highest profile Mean Green conversion took place at BrightView, one of the largest landscaping companies in the U.S. That contract was signed last year. “The company purchased 200 mowers, both our CXR and Stalker stand-on models,” Conrad points out. “They’re mainly used where customers are asking for quieter and greener landscaping services. A lot of times, you see our mowers on corporate campuses, hotels and resorts, and universities.” Speaking of which, Mean Green also has success in selling mowers directly to universities. Examples include the University of Florida; the University of California, Berkeley; Yale University; the University of Texas; North Carolina State University; and the Rochester Institute of Technology. Several municipalities are purchasing Mean Green mowers as well, including Fort Collins, Colorado; South Pasadena, California; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Southampton, New York.
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THE ENGINE TRUSTED BY MORE L AW N C A R E P R O F E S S I O N A L S . * You don’t know what you’re capable of until you have the right tools. Kawasaki brings you the engines that set the bar for the way you operate your business. Proven power. High quality. Advanced technology. Dependable service. That’s why Kawasaki continues to be the engine of choice wherever there’s grass to mow. That's why you choose The Trusted One. * According to survey of lawn care professionals conducted in 2016 by Orman Guidance, Inc., an independent research firm commissioned by Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. Visit www.greenindustrypros.com/10155851
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Zero-Turn Mowers Floating Decks Tilt to Better Follow Terrain Contours Wright Manufacturing’s AERO CORE floating decks are now standard on all of its three-blade, side-discharge riding mowers, including the Stander, Sport and Mid-Mount with 48-, 52-, 61- or 72-inch decks. A 36-inch AERO CORE deck, designed specifically for trimming, is standard on the Stander Intensity, and Velke HC and GC walkbehinds. AERO CORE floating decks deliver: • The ability to tilt side to side and front to back, allowing the mower deck to better follow terrain contours. • Improved weight distribution for better handling on hills. • A deck height that can be adjusted on the fly in quarter-inch increments.
Higher Horsepower for Increased Fuel Efficiency and Power John Deere recently unveiled its ZTrak Z945M and Z955M commercial zero-turn mowers with electronic fuel injection engines and higher horsepower for increased fuel efficiency and power in varied mowing conditions. The zero-turn mowers also offer: • More horsepower to make quicker work of common activities, such as material collection, mulching and mowing in thick turf conditions. • Multiple deck offerings that include a 60-inch side-discharge or 60-inch Mulch on Demand deck available on both models, and a 72-inch side discharge on the Z955M. • A 27-HP (20.1-kW) 824 cc engine on the Z945M and a 29-HP (21.6kW) 824 cc engine on the Z955M.
• Anti-scalp rollers to automatically adjust the deck height to changes in terrain.
• An enlarged and angled fuel filler neck to complete fueling with less mess.
• Anti-clumping baffles to prevent debris buildup at the discharge chute. • Air-tapered blade surfaces to create pressure to pull grass up for a cleaner, more uniform cut. • Recessed caster wheels for a more compact footprint and better agility.
• An optional premium suspension seat with a thicker bottom cushion, extra padding on the back with ergonomic contouring, and adjustable armrests to improve ride comfort and the overall mowing experience. www.greenindustrypros.com/12388064
Mastering and Maximizing Zero-Turn Mower Productivity
Zero-Turn Mower Touts Professional Performance and Productivity BOB-CAT presents its new XRZ Pro RS zero-turn mower with all of the commercial-grade features that lawn care professionals require, including: • The BOB-CAT TufDeck Pro 10-gauge fabricated, welded and reinforced steel mower deck, which is available in 48-, 52- or 61-inch models, and includes the BOB-CAT Double Wave baffle system for maximum vacuum and lift.
Toro introduces its Z Master 7500-D Series diesel-powered commercial zero-turn mower with side- and rear-discharge commercial cutting decks ranging from 60 to 96 inches for maximum productivity. According to the company, these zero-turn mowers additionally come equipped with: • Adjustable wing decks on the 96-inch cutting deck model to flex up and down to hug the contours of the terrain for a smooth and consistent cut. • A TURBO FORCE cutting deck with a bullnose bumper, greaseless cast-iron spindles, side bumpers and a hydraulic deck lift. • A Tier 4 four-cylinder, 1.6-liter Yanmar diesel engine for ample power.
• Hydro-Gear ZT-3400 twin hydrostatic transaxles for smooth performance and agility.
• A 12.5-gallon fuel tank to minimize downtime.
• Improved runtimes and productivity due to dual fuel tanks with a 9.5 gallon capacity and a forward speed of up to 10 MPH.
• Ground speeds of up to 12.5 miles per hour.
• The ability to comfortably work all day thanks to a fully mechanical high-back suspension seat with armrests.
• The Horizon Technology onboard intelligence system to increase productivity through defined performance modes, reduce fuel consumption, monitor machine health and allow for operator-defined maintenance reminders.
• A Kawasaki FX Series engine. • An aggressive new look with black wheel rims, black belt covers and a darker seat. • A six-year or 1,200-hour warranty. www.greenindustrypros.com/12388946
20 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
• An iso-mounted floor pan and deluxe suspension seat to reduce vibration, bumps and impacts during mowing. www.greenindustrypros.com/12386907
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Exmark’s Most Productive Diesel Mower Yet
The Best of Both Zero-Turn and Commercial Walk-Behind Worlds Husqvarna designed the V500 Series stand-on mower for commercial-grade lawn care, combining efficiency and durability with a compact design for improved maneuverability. These mowers are also highlighted by: • A zero-turn capability that allows contractors to rapidly mount and dismount. • An ergonomic body cushion to provide maximum operator comfort. • Heavy-duty construction combined with industrial-strength drive systems for long-lasting operation. • Tool-less tracking adjustment and removable deck covers. • An easy-to-reach transmission bypass, and front-mounted hydro tanks and pumps for fast, convenient access and service. • Availability with a 48- or 54-inch Commercial ClearCut deck. • A five-year limited commercial warranty. www.greenindustrypros.com/12392122
More Control to Deliver Consistent Quality Cuts Landscape professionals who are looking for the benefits of a commercial-grade zero-turn mower at an entry-level price can now turn to the new Ferris 400S. Features include: • An effortless ride that quickly tackles jobs at up to 8 MPH. • An independent, large rear progressive coil-over-shock suspension. • A 48-inch mower deck, 20-inch drive tires and 10-inch caster tires. • A solid rod cable-less drive mechanism and 1-inch aluminum spindles with greaseable commercial oversized double-row bearings. • A 5.5-gallon fuel tank to mow further before stopping to top off the tank. • Availability of a Briggs & Stratton Commercial Series 23 gross HP/724-cc engine or a Kawasaki FR 21.5-HP/651-cc engine. • The Hydro-Gear ZT-2800 external oil filter for easy maintenance. • A fabricated steel/tubular bumper that accepts a Ferris tow/hitch kit. • Ergonomic seats with armrests. • A four-year or 500-hour limited warranty, whichever comes first. www.greenindustrypros. com/12387428
Exmark recently released its Lazer Z Diesel commercial zero-turn riding mower with a new 96-inch UltraCut Flex Wing cutting deck and Yanmar liquid-cooled diesel engine. For maintaining large properties or regular mowing in tough conditions, according to the company, the Lazer Z Diesel further boasts: • The capability to mow in excess of 10 acres per hour. • A lower center of gravity to improve handling and increase stability. • An engine that’s directly coupled to the transmission, eliminating drive belts for a more efficient powertrain, reduced service requirements, extended service intervals, maximized uptime and a lower total cost of ownership. • A rear-discharge UltraCut Flex Wing cutting deck with a 48-inch center deck with two 24-inch wing decks that can flex up to 20 degrees up and 15 degrees down to minimize scalping and maximize productivity on uneven terrain. • Four matching blades to deliver consistent cut quality across the entire 8-foot width of cut. • The ability to hydraulically raise or lower the wing decks to ease loading and unloading. • RED Technology to track machine health. www.greenindustrypros.com/12388553
Fiercer Design for BOB-CAT Commercial Zero-Turns BOB-CAT recently unveiled a fierce new look for its 2018 commercial zero-turn mower lineup. Appearing on the XRZ Pro RS, FastCat Pro RS, ProCat RS and Predator-Pro RS models, the new RS Series zeroturns deliver: • The familiar BOB-CAT green bodies, but with black rims, black belt covers, darker seats and green rollover protective structures (ROPS) to create a more aggressive appearance, whether on the landscaper’s trailer or the dealer’s showroom floor. • High-performance commercial engines, high-quality drive systems, rugged mower decks and six-year Mow with Confidence warranties for years of reliable operation. • Self-cleaning Zero-T drive tires that improve the grip on side hills, resist punctures and reduce turf damage. • A fully mechanical, adjustable suspension seat to enhance operator comfort. www.greenindustrypros.com/12390333
GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 21
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WHAT’S ON MY TRAILER?
By Carrie Mantey
Organized Down to the LAST DETAIL State Street Maintenance applies the same level of detail it practices in its landscaping work to its trailer and equipment organization.
tate Street Maintenance, a company providing lawn maintenance, landscaping and snow removal services, promises to preserve the details of its customers’ properties, so they don’t have to. Owner Craig Gatewood admits that the same level of detail the company practices in its landscaping work also applies to its trailer and equipment organization. “First, I like to organize my open and enclosed trailers with Buyers Products’ landscape trailer racks for safety, security and organization,” says Gatewood. “This ensures that our workday runs smoothly.” This consis-
tency not only saves time as employees know where to look for specific tools on each trailer, but also increases personnel and equipment safety by securing everything in place while the trucks and trailers are on the move. Speaking of consistency, Gatewood likes to outfit each trailer with the following musts to cover all his customers’ needs during peak season: • An Exmark 60-inch rider and Exmark 60-inch Turf Tracer. • Three Echo 770T blowers. • Two Echo string trimmers. • Echo hedge trimmers. • An Echo edger.
Because Gatewood prides himself on the well-grooming of the landscapes and properties his company services, he considers the Echo 770T blower his most critical piece of equipment. He says, “It has so many uses. We can roll pine needles, blow leaves. No matter the job, it helps us maintain a clean and neat appearance, which is always so important.” During the winter months, however, Gatewood relies on Buyers Products’ SnowDogg snow plows and SaltDogg spreaders. Although snowfall rates vary in the state, it’s safe to say that, when the skies open in winter, State
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2/6/18 11:10 AM
LEFT: With Buyers Products’ landscape trailer racks, employees know where to look for specific equipment, thereby saving time. Company Name: State Street Maintenance Owner: Craig Gatewood RIGHT: During the winter, State Street Maintenance relies on SnowDogg snow plows from Buyers Products.
Location: Greensboro, North Carolina Years in Business: 32 years Geographical Coverage: Central North Carolina, including Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro and all areas in between
Street Maintenance is prepared and ready to go with this lineup. With all of this equipment aboard his trailers and representing his company, how does Gatewood vet his dealers and investments? “I like to go through a reputable dealer that is familiar with the equipment it sells. I’ve been working with Sedgefield Outdoor Equipment for over
20 years. The staff keeps me informed and my equipment well-maintained. I want quality, reliable equipment that, with appropriate maintenance, is going to perform well and last the longest.” ›
Type of Clients: Commercial, residential, medical and retail facilities, and multi-family housing Services Rendered: Lawn mowing and maintenance, minor landscape installations and replacements, and snow removal
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GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 23
2/6/18 11:10 AM
BEYOND THE BLADE
By Ryan Farley
HIRE A MARKETING AGENCY? If you’re thinking about digital marketing, you’re ahead of the competition, but there are definite pitfalls to avoid and advice to consider.
nless you live in a totally offline world, you’ve probably at least thought about dabbling in the world of digital marketing. Digital marketing is an umbrella term that includes, but is not limited to, email, search engine optimization, Google AdWords, social media, content marketing and reputation management. Basically, digital marketing is any way you can use the Internet to find new customers and it can be effective for lawn care businesses. If you’re thinking about digital marketing, you’re already ahead of the competition. However, if you don’t have a background in digital marketing, you might find yourself a bit overwhelmed. Not only are many of these digital marketing tactics complex, but you’re also busy running the day-today of your business. You certainly can’t stop doing the work and you also can’t afford to ignore the customer service aspect of your business. How can you ever invest in digital marketing with so little time? Let’s say that you get an unsolicited phone call or email from a local digital marketing agency. You know digital marketing is important, and the sales representative talks a big game about how much business he or she can bring you. This is perfect. For what seems to be an affordable cost, you can completely outsource all your digital marketing. Leads are going to flow in and you’re going to grow like wildfire. If only it were that simple.
Why It’s Not So Simple
Unfortunately, the reality is the best marketing agencies or freelancers are out of any small business’ price range. The good agencies work with clients with tens of millions in revenue. It’s just a matter of economics.
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2/6/18 11:09 AM
But isn’t there some sort of middle ground? Maybe, but experience often proves otherwise. In fact, some marketing companies don’t have web tracking or analytics set up properly, which is so fundamental to digital marketing that it’s inexcusable. Even worse, some of these firms are losing landscaping businesses’ money. That’s not even accounting for the fees paid to the agency. Some business owners would have been better off never even touching digital marketing in the first place. Some agencies (the ones you may be able to afford) are bad at best and dishonest at worst. You need to be careful should you decide to dabble in digital marketing.
If You’re Going to Hire an Agency
If you’re going to hire a marketing agency, first and foremost, you need to be able to calculate your total return on investment (ROI). That’s the total amount of profit you make from a customer over a lifetime, divided by the amount you spend on ads, plus the amount you pay the agency. That number should be greater than 100 percent; otherwise you’re losing money. This is tougher to calculate than you might imagine. It means that, for every new customer who comes in the door, you need to know where that customer came from with reasonably high precision. Frequently, agencies try to claim credit for customers who would have hired you anyway. When vetting agencies, ask for their reporting template. Be skeptical of any agency that does not report ROI or incremental revenue earned. Many agencies try to get away with reporting traffic numbers (visits to your website). As Johnathan Dane, founder of KlientBoost—a top-tier marketing firm—says, “Small businesses need to understand that marketing is very holistic. It’s not just about traffic. It’s about traffic, conversion and the sale. How is your agency helping you on all of these fronts? It’s easy to get
traffic, much harder to get the conversion.” “Small businesses need to understand Before hiring an that marketing is very holistic. It’s not agency, make sure to just about traffic. It’s about traffic, learn the basics of what you’re hiring them for. conversion and the sale.” If you’re hiring an - Johnathan Dane, KlientBoost agency to do paid acquisition via Google AdWords or social media ads, the good There are also solutions out there news is you can start small. Dane sugthat make digital marketing easy for gests, “Have a very small, conservative small business owners. Lead genbudget to start—even if you’re going eration sites often get a bad rap, but against big competitors.” This gives many lawn care businesses that focus you a chance to measure your ROI and on lead generation and follow up increase your budget if it’s positive. consistently can get a good ROI. For a longer term marketing channel, For the lawn maintenance space such as search engine optimization or in particular, there are a handful social media, you must demand full of on-demand platforms as well. transparency into what the agency These marketplaces can send you is actually doing. Even in this day jobs along existing routes, all while and age, agencies may do sketchy handling marketing and customer things like buy fake social media folservice, so all you have to do is lowers or perform search engine show up and complete the work. tactics that Google could punish. Finally, providing both great lawn Be extremely vigilant about whom and customer service can be a poweryou hire. A marketing agency can lose ful marketing channel in and of itself. you more money than it makes you. This practice is known as customer advocacy. Answering calls promptly, Alternatives to Hiring an sending thank-you notes, and going Agency above and beyond with your work, in There are other ways to grow your the long run, is more powerful than business digitally, too, in cases in any single digital marketing channel. which you don’t have time to vet So, if you’re looking to use digital an agency, you can’t afford the fees marketing, you’re thinking the right or you’re terrified of retaining an way. But remember the following things: agency after reading this article. • Hiring an agency can lose you money, For starters, some marketing chanso you need to be careful about whom nels are easier to do yourself than you work with. others. Getting online reviews, for • If you’re hiring an agency or doing any example, is as simple as filling out an sort of paid marketing, you must be able online profile and asking your custo calculate your ROI. tomers to review your company. • There are a number of alternatives to You’re not going to make millions hiring an agency, such as getting online just by doing this, but getting online reviews, buying leads or joining an onreviews can bring you customers demand platform. at no cost other than your time. • Always make sure you’re providing a Email marketing is another easy great experience to your customers. › tactic you can do yourself. Make sure you collect an email address from every Ryan Farley is the co-founder of customer and lead. Take time once a LawnStarter, an online and mobile month to email your list with special platform that connects homeowndeals or even to send out helpful guides ers with lawn care professionals for that can increase your brand perception. carefree and efficient services.
GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 25
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LAWN CARE CORNER
By Carrie Mantey
Planning Your 2018 Fertilizer PROGRAM
Agronomy experts advise what you can do to revamp your fertilizer program and up your lawn care game in 2018.
t’s 2018 and, while your fertilizer program was sufficient last year, you were planning to make some upgrades this year based on fertilizer performance and business needs. To help gauge what improvements you might want to make, Green Industry Pros (GIP) spoke with Dr. Eric Miltner, CCA, agronomist, and Chris Derrick, field sales agronomist, both of Koch Turf & Ornamental. GIP: What’s considered a standard lawn care program in most parts of the U.S.? Miltner: Based on location and climate, this can vary, but in general, a full-season program would consist of five to seven applications. Fertilizer would be applied on all or most visits. A pre-emergent weed control product is usually applied in the spring (and sometimes in the fall in
26 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
the South). A post-emergent broadleaf weed control is applied in the late spring, and sometimes in the fall, and there are usually spot treatments mid-season to control escapes. Some programs routinely include insect control in the early summer and some do this on an as-needed basis. There are a lot of variables and a lot of different programs out there. GIP: What are some signs that a lawn care business should consider changing up its fertilizer program? Derrick: It is a good idea to evaluate your fertilizer program every year based on fertilizer performance, turf performance needs, new research and products. Some typical signs of poor fertilizer performance include a lack of adequate color and growth, which can lead to other problems, such as weeds, diseases and insect damage. It is also
a good idea to evaluate your fertilizer program from a business perspective. There are a number of agronomic, as well as economic, advantages to incorporating more efficient fertilizer technologies into your program. GIP: What are some of the more common types of fertilizer that lawn care companies apply to their customers’ lawns? Miltner: Most lawn care companies rely largely on readily available (quickrelease) nitrogen fertilizers, with some component of enhanced efficiency fertilizers (EEFs) included. Typically, these EEFs are stabilized nitrogen products or slow-release, polymer-coated, sulfur-coated urea. Unfortunately, these products are not always used to their best advantages. Research indicates that EEF nitrogen sources should make up at least 50 percent of the nitro-
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gen in the blend to truly realize the benefits that they provide. If your fertilizer blend does not deliver at least 50 percent of the nitrogen from an EEF source, talk to your distributor about an alternative blend that does and the performance advantages it can deliver. GIP: Explain how EEFs differ from other fertilizers. Derrick: EEFs can be divided into three technology categories: stabilized nitrogen, slow-release fertilizers and controlled-release fertilizers. Considering all fertilizers must release their nutrients to become available to the plant, the release mechanism can be as simple as adding water through irrigation or rainfall. Too much water can move the soluble nutrients to areas where the plant cannot absorb them, reducing the efficiency of the fertilizer. EEFs modify the fertilizer’s release mechanism so that issues, such as too much water, are less likely to result in poor performance. There are various ways to achieve this, including the addition of nitrogen stabilizers and encapsulation of the fertilizer granule. GIP: What are the different types of EEFs and how do you choose the right one for your operation? Miltner: It’s important to first understand how different EEFs work in order to make the best choice for your situation. Stabilized nitrogen products work by slowing down the transformations of nitrogen that occur in the soil. Slowrelease fertilizers work by slowing down the rate at which nutrients become available. Controlled-release fertilizers achieve a similar result, but with a higher degree of precision and control, as the name implies. Controlled-release fertilizers can extend nutrient release for periods up to six months or even longer. The result is that, when compared to readily available (quick-release) fertilizers, EEFs increase nutrient availability to the plant—thereby improving nutrient use efficiency—and decrease nutrient losses to the environment. Therefore, they have advantages that pay off from agronomic, economic and environmental perspectives.
GIP: If a typical lawn care program features five to seven fertilizer applications, what would a program using EEFs look like? Derrick: The length of the growing season and the longevity of the EEF’s desired performance are key factors that would determine how many fertilizer applications are required and the proper timing of those applications. In general, the increased efficiency of EEFs has the potential to cut the number of fertilizer applications in a conventional fertilizer program in half. Spring and fall applications should always be a part of any fertilizer program, and the right EEF can provide intermediate applications to keep your plants healthy. A good start to increase efficiency and performance for a typical five- to sixapplication program would be to apply in the spring and fall, and have two additional applications in between, thus removing one or two applications. GIP: What are the potential benefits of applying fertilizer fewer times each season? Miltner: There are many business advantages to applying fewer fertilizer applications. You can save on labor or reallocate labor to other value-added projects. Your freight charges are also lower because less fertilizer is delivered to your location and you use less fuel because you’re hauling less fertilizer to the application site. There is less wear and tear on equipment, and therefore, lower maintenance costs and longer equipment life. GIP: What should contractors look for in a fertilizer if they want to ensure that they’re buying the best product for their customers’ lawns and for their business? Miltner: Look for a product with minimal amounts of filler, and high percentages of slow-release, controlledrelease or stabilized nitrogen. Read the product label or specification sheet carefully, and/or ask your supplier to provide a copy of the blend sheet that was used to build the fertilizer. GIP: How does a contractor choose between a liquid or granular fertilizer?
Derrick: Equipment and performance longevity are the two main factors in determining whether to use a liquid or granular fertilizer. Granular fertilizers are applied in a dry manner and require the most basic equipment to apply—a fertilizer spreader. There are two types of granular fertilizer spreaders: rotary and drop. There are also various sizes of spreaders available depending on the coverage area. Sizes can range from small wearable spreaders to those requiring a tractor to operate. No matter the size of the spreader, proper calibration to ensure the right application rate is critical. And with almost all granular fertilizer applications, hardscapes, such as sidewalks and driveways, require cleanup after application. Liquid fertilizers provide more precise applications, but the equipment required is more complex. Large liquid-holding tanks, filters, pumps, hoses and nozzles are a few components to consider when using and maintaining liquid application equipment. Just like spreaders, there are various sizes of liquid sprayers that range from hand pumps to large trucks with holding tanks. The final factor that may impact the choice between granular and liquid fertilizer is the desired longevity of the fertilizer. When fertilizer technologies need to last longer than two to three months, only granular fertilizers with increased efficiency can provide adequate feeding. For shorter feeding periods, both liquid and granular fertilizers can provide adequate results. ›
Dr. Eric Miltner, CCA, is an agronomist at Koch Turf & Ornamental.
Chris Derrick is a field sales agronomist at Koch Turf & Ornamental.
GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 27
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LAWN CARE CORNER
Sprayers, Spreaders & More Cover Up to 132,000 Square Feet per Fill
Over-Seeding in Conjunction with Aeration
Turfco designed the T3100 spreader and sprayer to minimize downtime and ease operation. The most durable and productive of its yet, according to the company, this spreader and sprayer delivers:
Exmark recently released a spreader attachment for its stand-on aerator to enable landscape professionals to offer over-seeding in conjunction with aeration programs. The company says this versatility increases the productivity and revenue generation potential of the machine. The attachment also provides:
• An easy-to-operate steering wheel and intuitive handsfree speed control to get operators up to speed quickly. • The capacity to cover up to 132,000 square feet per fill.
• The flexibility to further expand the utility of Exmark’s stand-on aerator by combining two important operations into one piece of equipment, so operators can do more in less time.
• A pivoting front axle to maintain more control on uneven ground and hills, while additionally helping to eliminate turf tears.
• The ability to create ideal soil conditions for seed germination through aeration.
• An operator platform that reduces vibration and shock to minimize user strain and fatigue.
• A hopper capable of carrying up to 80 pounds of seed, so the spreader attachment makes quick work of large jobs.
• Trim and application rate control that removes off-target prills, while maintaining a matched application rate for reduced cleanup and wasted product.
• Easy-to-access controls, giving the operator the ability to activate the spinner or adjust spinner speed to change the broadcast width.
• The ability to fit through a 36-inch gate. • Rugged, sturdy axles and added guards for durability.
• Easy opening or closing of the seed gate, or adjustment of the gate stop. • A manual blocker door to give operators increased control.
• Minimal electronics for reduced corrosion and mechanical issues. www.greenindustrypros.com/12026804
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28 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
Visit rotarycorp.com or call 1.800.841.3989 Servicing dealers and distributors only.
2/6/18 11:08 AM
LAWN CARE CORNER
Shielded Sprayers Built for a Pro The Grasshopper Company presents its ProLawn sprayers for Grasshopper mowers. Features of the shielded sprayers include: • The application of a constant, accurate balance of small droplets that stick to vegetation, achieving greater coverage with less chemicals. • An even spray every time. • An efficient and cost-effective way to apply liquid fertilizer, pesticide, herbicide and adjuvant. • Suitability for large-acreage applications, covering up to 5.5 acres with one tank. • Availability in 53- or 133inch widths and 30-gallon capacities. • Compatibility with the full line of Grasshopper True ZeroTurn FrontMount and MidMount power units. • An aerodynamic design.
For a Precise Material Feed and Spread Pattern Douglas Dynamics designed the TurfEx MS2000 bulk material spreader to mount in the bed of utility vehicles or pickup trucks to ease use and portability. The bulk material spreader is further highlighted by: • An auger for feed and control of bulk material, including fertilizer, compost, pelletized lime, topdressing and other granular products. • An adjustable stainless steel spinner and variable speed control to ensure a precise material feed and spread pattern. • An 11-cubic-foot capacity hopper. • An adjustable spread width of up to 30 feet. • A heavy-duty, thick-walled polyethylene hopper that not only avoids common corrosion and maintenance concerns, but also reduces hopper weight by up to 40 percent, making it easier to install or remove, while reducing fuel consumption. • A quick-connect spinner assembly to use the receiver hitch without having to remove the entire spreader.
Plant Growth Regulator Manages Vertical Growth
Nufarm Americas recently revealed that its Anuew plant growth regulator is now registered for use in Arizona. According to the company, Anuew not only acts as a proprietary tool for year-round turf management, but also offers: þ No Maintenance
• The management of vertical growth, which supports less mowing, fewer clippings, and overall improvement in turf quality and appearance.
þ No Downtime þ Up to 3x Longer Life SAY GOODBYE TO FLATS, SEALANTS, PATCH KITS, AND SPARE TIRES
• A novel mode of action that can be applied to all managed turf areas, including residential and commercial lawns, sod farms, sport fields and similar areas.
• The conservation of time and maintenance resources, which can be of particular benefit to turf professionals that manage turf year-round. www.greenindustrypros.com/12391445
Airless Radial Tire Family for zero turn radius mowers
• An ingredient list that includes prohexadione calcium.
THE MICHELIN® X® TWEEL® TURF™ Sunbelt Outdoor Products Phone: 1-800-438-0660 www.sunbeltparts.com A&I Products Phone: 1-800-657-4343 www.aiproducts.com
Pair the best tires on the market with the strongest blades on the market for maximum machine uptime. XHT™ and Predator™ blades with patented Marbain™ technology last longer and require less sharpening than competing products.
GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 29
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Handheld & Battery-Operated Equipment A Boost of Battery-Powered Blowing Power STIHL built the lithium-ion battery-powered BGA 100 handheld blower with the professional landscaper in mind. When in boost mode, the BGA 100 is the most powerful dedicated handheld blower in the STIHL range. Also the quietest and lightest in the STIHL lineup, according to the company, this blower boasts: • Higher quality and better ergonomics than many battery products, and better performance than many gas-powered models. • Four performance levels through a variable-speed throttle trigger that delivers an even balance of blowing power and runtime. • A design that shifts the battery weight from the unit to the back or hip with a cable connecting system, resulting in a lighter blower and reduced user fatigue. • A rear-mounted air intake that allows the blower to be used rightor left-handed. • The ability to clean up with ease around noise-sensitive zones. • The flexibility to purchase batteries and chargers separately or as a combined set with the tool.
No Need to Hedge This Battery-Powered Bet Husqvarna’s 536 LiHE3 battery-powered hedge trimmer complements the existing 536 LiHD60X battery-powered hedge trimmer by offering a slightly shorter 22-inch knife, an extended shaft and an articulating cutting head. Designed for commercial-grade use, the hedge trimmer additionally delivers: • A lithium-ion battery that’s interchangeable with the rest of the Husqvarna Battery Series lineup, allowing operators to quickly switch batteries between different Husqvarna equipment. • Optimal cutting results, combined with user comfort and productivity. • An adjustable pivoting rear handle for both vertical and horizontal cutting, and easier maneuvering. • An ergonomic, quiet and lightweight design—weighing only 9.2 pounds. • An efficient motor and easy-to-operate keypad. • A barrier bar, harness, transport guard and tools. www.greenindustrypros.com/12392132
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30 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
2/6/18 11:08 AM
The Muscle of Gas with the Benefits of Battery Power Oregon Products says it engineered its 120-volt Professional Series outdoor power equipment line with more power than comparable gas-fueled equipment to take landscaping crews to a whole new level of productivity. The lineup includes a backpack blower, string trimmer, extended hedge trimmer, edger, and BX975 and BX650 batteries. The cordless series also offers: • An interchangeable 120-volt battery platform that places the battery in a backpack-style carrier for reduced tool weight, better maneuverability and greater overall ergonomics.
First Ever Battery-Powered Garden Shears STIHL’s HSA 25 garden shears are ideal for detail-oriented trimming jobs and performing precise cutting of ornamental shrubs. The HSA 25 is further highlighted by: • Two attachments—a grass blade and a shrub blade—to meet specific trimming needs. • Dual-action cutting blades with a laser-hardened diamond finish for clean and efficient cuts at 2,000 strokes per minute. • The completion of tasks in less time and with less effort than manual garden shears.
• Availability in two capacity levels—a 973-watt-hour power pack for the BX975 battery, while the lighter BX650 provides a 648-watthour capacity.
• A run time of up to 110 minutes on a single charge.
• The ability to operate in any kind of weather.
• A compact design and light weight at under 2 pounds.
• Low noise.
• A rubberized handle for user comfort and a secure grip.
• A low total cost of ownership.
• Low noise output for noise-sensitive areas and working indoors.
• The tool-less interchange of attachments to easily switch between grass and shrub blades without extra equipment or parts.
• A kit that includes attachments, a battery, a charger, and a carrying bag for convenient transportation and storage. www.greenindustrypros.com/12382064
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GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 31
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Skid Steers Reduce Risk of Overheating in Skid Steers and Hydraulic Attachments According to Loftness Specialized Equipment, the Cool Flow hydraulic oil cooler reduces the risk of overheating in skid steers and hydraulically powered attachments when operating in demanding applications and hot work environments. Features include: • An automatic thermostat-controlled fan for adequate cooling to the system—whenever needed—to boost machine efficiency, even when an attachment is not being used. • Attachment to the roof of a skidsteer cab where it is less susceptible to vibration, back pressure, debris and potential impact damage. • Full hydraulic flow to the attachment—in either direction— without risk of damage to the cooler. www.greenindustrypros. com/12362373
Tackling Heavy-Duty Landscaping Jobs with a Smaller Footprint Ditch Witch designed the SK1550—its largest and most powerful mini skid steer model to date—to conquer various complex landscape and irrigation projects. The company says the SK1550 additionally offers: • A 44-HP Tier 4 Yanmar diesel engine that directs 34.5 HP to the attachment. • The ability to complete tasks typically suited for traditional skid steer loaders, including tree handling and sod transfer. • A 1,558-pound operating capacity to lift heavier loads. • A smooth ride, with optimal maneuverability and stability on rough terrains while carrying heavy loads. • A 94-inch hinge-pin height to provide flexibility for loading and unloading material on a wide range of dump sites. • A 4.7-MPH ground drive speed, in forward and reverse. • A 74-square-inch ergonomic operator platform that comes standard with dual-lever ground drive controls that allow you to independently control each track for precise mobility.
New Holland’s Most Powerful Skid Steer
New from New Holland is the L234 skid steer loader—now the most powerful in the company’s lineup. The L234 is highlighted by: • Optimal visibility and stability for difficult jobsite challenges. • An operating weight of 8,900 pounds and tipping load of 6,800 pounds. • A Tier 4 Final-certified 90-HP engine that allows for a 3,400-pound operating capacity. • Super Boom technology to deliver maximum reach at full height. • A long wheelbase, low center of gravity and weight distribution across the wheels to maximize stability. • The prevention of steel-on-steel contact and wear during digging, carrying and other operations. • The ability to adjust the boom stop for different carrying heights. • The flexibility to flip the cab forward to ease cleaning and maintenance.
• Glide Ride and a high- to low-speed range located on the hand controls. www.greenindustrypros.com/12387422
According to John Deere, its G-Series mid-frame skid steers and compact track loader provide a powerful tool for jobs of any scale. The 320G and 324G skid steers, and the 325G compact track loader come equipped with: • A 69- to 74-HP range to increase performance and pushing power. • Peak breakout forces and auxiliary flow for optimal attachment performance. • An in-cab boom lockout system to make maintenance safer and more secure when the boom is raised. • 4G JDLink Ultimate machine monitoring to provide real-time data and health prognostics to suggest maintenance solutions that decrease downtime and protect against machine theft. • Footwell cleanout to facilitate debris management.
• The capability for the operator to lock out the booms—without assistance—before exiting the cab.
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A Powerful Tool for Jobs of Any Scale
• Pressurized cabs that offer heated seats, Bluetooth radio, a rearview camera and a deluxe LED lighting package for 50 percent more visibility over standard-equipped halogen lights. • The ability to load a 10-foot sidewall dump truck or hopper. www.greenindustrypros.com/12393342
2/6/18 11:07 AM
Just in CASE— Airless Radial Tires Michelin X Tweel SSL allterrain airless radial tires are now available as a factory-approved option on all skid steer loader models from CASE Construction. The company says it is the first to offer the Michelin X Tweel SSL from the factory, thereby providing: • The elimination of the risk and downtime associated with penetrations and impact damage on pneumatic tires, but with the same performance. • The phase-out of air pressure maintenance. • A deep open tread design for optimal cleaning and traction, plus a deep layer of undertread that allows the core to be retread many times. • Good stability, enabling rapid work and more comfort for the operator, reducing driver fatigue and improving productivity. • A consistent footprint with a strong wear life that is two to three times that of a pneumatic tire at the equal tread depth. • No need for complex wheel- or tire-mounting equipment. • A unique energy transfer within the high-strength poly-resin spokes that reduces the bounce associated with pneumatic tires. • The ability to resist damage and absorb impacts. www.greenindustrypros.com/12389450
Unlimited-Hour First-Year Warranty New Holland now offers unlimited hours within the first year of its new standard two-year, 2,000-hour full machine warranty on SuperBoom skid steers and track loaders. The warranty covers:
Efficient Power in a More Maneuverable Package Ditch Witch designed the SK600 mini skid steer with a narrow frame for better maneuverability in tight, compact spaces, and for small landscape and irrigation jobs. According to the company, the compact, yet mighty machine additionally delivers: • A 24.8-HP (18.5-kW) Kubota diesel engine that distributes the optimum efficiency to the attachment for enhanced jobsite productivity and added versatility. • An easy-to-use auxiliary-control foot pedal that allows operators to effectively maintain hydraulic flow to the attachment. • An operator station that improves machine stability and ground clearance. • Optimized machine hydraulics for a smooth ride, keeping operators more comfortable and productive during long hours on the job. www.greenindustrypros.com/12390989
• All newly purchased 200 Series skid steer and compact track loader models. • Potentially thousands of operation hours worked within the first 12 months. www.greenindustrypros.com/12388961
ADVERTISERS INDEX Chapin Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Earthway Products Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Exmark Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Ferris . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 The Grasshopper Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Kawasaki Motors Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Kristy and Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Mean Green Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 PermaGreen Supreme Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Progressive Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Rotary Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28, 30, 35 SiBore Drill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 STIHL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Sunbelt Outdoor Products Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
GREEN INDUSTRY PROS 33
2/6/18 11:07 AM
By William Eastman
For more information, please listen to the associated podcast at www. greenindustrypros.com/12393469.
Part 1: What should your management team look like in 10 years?
Growing Your Own Managers
his new Growing Your Own Managers series will answer the following questions in 2018: • W hat should your management team look like in 10 years? • W hy do most supervisors, managers and executives fail—including owners? • How should you identify future supervisors and managers? • W hat does painless training and development look like? • How should leaders and managers think? • W hat is the right mix of insiders and outsiders on your team? • W hat are some unconventional sources for hiring?
Instead of reciting facts, let’s tell a story about creating a self-directing, self-managing organization. The concept sounds radical, but it is achievable because the story is real. The owner’s thoughts at We Own It Landscaping are on golf. But it is Thursday and time to review the week’s reports on customers and projects. The first item to grab his attention is marketing. The company just started a social media campaign targeting commercial property managers. This week, it added 10 high-quality leads, but increased the cost of sales. This will be discussed at the Friday meeting. The next report focuses on operations. The owner challenged the team to reduce costs by 10 percent
34 GREEN INDUSTRY PROS
and it’s bearing fruit. The team overhauled the scheduling process and decreased windshield time by 5 percent. Two maintenance crews can now service one more account a day. Irrigation took advantage of its 5 percent efficiency to decrease labor hours. Altogether, this increased margins by 3 percent from last week. Good news for tomorrow’s meeting. Because the reports are trending in the right direction, the owner heads to the golf course for the first nine holes of 2018. The next day, the company holds its Friday meeting led by a member of the management team. She works in sales and was selected to quarterback the meeting to help other managers reach their numbers. As the meeting starts, the owner takes his customary chair and listens as department managers discuss decisions made during the week. He takes a few notes, but his mind drifts back to when these meetings were as painful as a root canal. The time was consumed by managers passing information better handled by email or individual conversations. Now the meetings are all business, giving the owner a chance to see who has the chops for more responsibility. We Own It plans to open a new landscape center and needs an executive to run it. There are several excellent candidates. At the conclusion of the meeting, the owner only has a few passing comments and the meeting ends as it always ends—on time.
The Moral of the Story
This is a level of business discipline that is possible at every landscaping business. Enacting the following principles allowed the owner to change the dynamics of management and realize the benefits of a self-directing, selfmanaging organization: • T he owner’s job is to hold employees accountable for earning their checks instead of doing their work. • A self-directing, self-managing organization requires a realtime measurement system. • Supervisors manage the people doing the work by establishing processes. Supervisors are measured on efficiency. • Managers manage supervisors by how well they enforce or improve processes. Managers are measured on results. • T he owner has the time to focus on the near future by looking for threats to the business and opportunities to grow. • T he owner creates a culture of performance, results and teamwork. The highest honor in the company is to become the Friday quarterback. How would this management model impact your business over the next 10 years? ❯ William Eastman is a senior consultant at GreenMark Consulting Group.
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Green Industry Pros provides landscaping and lawn care business tips, industry news, landscaping equipment advice, company best practices, a...
Published on Feb 15, 2018
Green Industry Pros provides landscaping and lawn care business tips, industry news, landscaping equipment advice, company best practices, a...