Monday, 26 June 2017

Top 10 Apps for Landscapers

These days there’s an app for almost anything, and landscape and turf management is no exception. But we know that sifting through all of the apps in the app store can be time-consuming for professionals who have very little free time. To give you a head start, we reached out to a number of landscape professionals and asked what their favorite apps were. From that research, we’ve compiled a top 10 list that includes apps for both use in the field and in the office. Whether it’s processing an invoice on the go, looking up the name of a particular plant or seeking out the cheapest gas prices, you can bet there’s an app for that.

1. Dropbox

What it does: This file-sharing app allows you to sync and share files of any kind to and from any of your computers and smart devices. In other words, any file you save to Dropbox becomes accessible from all of your computers and smart devices. If you update a file in one place, it automatically updates everywhere. Should any of your devices break or get stolen, files also are available on the Dropbox website.

2. Evernote

What it does: This app enables you to take notes, photos and record audio files and upload them to Evernote so you can access them from your smartphone, tablet or any other computer. Further, you can add tags and descriptions to these items. For instance, if you attend a trade show and see a piece of equipment you like, you can take a photo of it, name it and tag it with “equipment I want to buy” for access at a later date.

3. GasBuddy

What it does: This free app helps you find the cheapest gas prices wherever they are — or via a search by city or zip code. GasBuddy keeps an up-to-date record of gas prices by asking users to help out. You earn points and also a daily chance to win $100 of gas by reporting gas prices in your area.

4. Google Earth & Earth Pro

What it does: Google Earth helps landscapers get a good sense on the size of a property without ever stepping foot on it. It allows users to visualize directions in 3-D and can be used as a downloaded program or accessed from any computer with Google Chrome installed, other browsers to come.

5. iPunchclock

What it does: Contractors can easily keep track of hours spent on a job site with this mobile timesheet. Data can be exported directly to Google docs or other formats if you prefer. The app manages multiple independent time sheets and can use the phone’s location awareness.

6. Invoice2go

What it does: This app allows you to invoice directly from their smart device and email it to the customer. The app includes more than 20 invoice templates to choose from, all of which can be customized with a company logo. A PayPal button can be included in the email in order to encourage even faster payment. In addition, the app includes 12 different reports, such as dashboard and sales reports, all of which can help you make better business decisions.

7. Landscaper’s Companion – Plant & Gardening Reference Guide

What it does: Touted by the developer as the “most comprehensive plant guide on iPhone,” the Landscaper’s Companion contains information on 26,000 different plants and includes 21,000 different pictures for reference. This includes trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials.

8. Leafsnap

What it does: This electronic field guide helps users identify tree species from photographs of their leaves. The app is packed with beautiful high-resolution imagery of leaves, flowers, fruits, petiole, seeds and bark. The idea for Leafsnap was born out of the realization that many of the techniques used for face recognition developed by Professor Peter Belhumeur and Professor David Jacobs of the computer science departments of Columbia University and the University of Maryland, respectively, could be applied to automatic species identification. It’s a helpful, on-the-go tool.

9. The Weather Channel

What it does: With a business that is dependent on the weather, it never hurts to have as many weather-related resources at your fingertips as possible. With The Weather Channel app, you can see detailed weather by the day, week or even in the next hour. Push alerts and badges ensure you know about any severe approaching weather, while seasonal tools such as pollen alerts help plan around the weather. Detailed weather conditions include “feels like” temperature, sunrise time, wind speeds, humidity, UV index, visibility, dew point and pressure.

10. Turfgrass Management

What it does: Developed by a team of professors at the University of Georgia, the Turfgrass Management app provides easy access to information for identifying and diagnosing pests in the field. The application combines information from numerous books on turfgrass science in one complete program that can be used on-the-go. The database contains preemergent and postemergent herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, plant growth regulators and adjuvants.

Read more:

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in December 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Friday, 23 June 2017

Understanding Customers Messages And Objections

Say What?

In the world of sales and customer service, what people say and what they mean are not always the same thing. Unfortunately, many of us are listening impaired when it comes to getting to the heart of our customers’ messages.

“Maybe in six months.”

“I’m just looking.”

“I’m sure I can get it cheaper somewhere else.”

Sound familiar? Probably. Do you understand what people mean when they use these objections? On the surface, sure, but do you really get your customer’s or prospect’s intended meaning? Maybe. If you don’t, you could be losing business.

The good news is there’s hope. With some practice and a little bit of discipline, you can tune up your service ears and grow your relationships.

Slowing down and focusing on what others need versus what you can provide is the first step. The second is to listen for a few key phrases and appropriately respond. The following are some of the most common red flags to which you should pay attention.

1.When customers say “maybe,” they often mean “no.” “Maybe we’ll place an order in six months.” “Maybe” may mean never. When you hear that word, keep asking questions. Don’t wait six months and then act surprised when no order is forthcoming. You have your prospect’s attention now and a chance both to clear up some misconceptions and make a sale or, at a minimum, to understand what they are saying.

  • “I understand that you’re on the fence and committing now isn’t in your plan. Between now and the time when you might order, how will you get ABC done?”
  • “When you start our services six months from now, tell me a little about how it will help you or impact your home or business?”
  • “What other solutions have you considered to accomplish ABC?”

Any of those follow-up questions will give you insight into the other person’s needs and decision process. Notice, too, those questions aren’t “salesy.” Your follow-up questions — and you, for that matter — should show a genuine interest in your customer and his or her concerns. The better you understand people and what motivates them, the more likely you’ll be able to help if there is a fit or to get a straightforward answer if there isn’t. The point is, when you hear “maybe,” investigate.

2. In the same lane of the vagueness that “maybe” occupies is another phrase that communicates very little. You’ve heard it before and probably used it yourself, and that’s the word “fine.” “How is everything?” “Everything’s fine.”

Maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t. You can’t know unless you do a little more digging. People will often say “everything is fine” in lieu of “go away” or “totally horrible, but I don’t feel like engaging in conversation about it.”

If you find yourself getting a lot of “everything’s fine,” make subsequent inquiries. At the same time, try to determine if you’re setting yourself up to hear this unhelpful response.

By that, I mean if you ask something specific, you’ll learn more. “Which part of the meal was your favorite?” is hard to answer with “fine.” Instead, you’ll most likely discover what your customers liked and what they didn’t. “Which part of the meal did you like best? “I loved the salmon. The beans were a little spicy for me but still good.” Now that’s better, isn’t it? The takeaway to remember is “fine” doesn’t mean fabulous, fantastic or flawless. Respond to “fine” with a follow-up question.

3. When customers ask “why,” they are usually expressing displeasure of some sort. “Why is this so expensive? Why is this offered only in that region?”Too often, service and salespeople miss the real meaning behind these inquiries. “Why is this so expensive?” translates to “This costs too much.”

Listen for “why,” and respond with something better than “I don’t know” or “You’ll have to ask my manager.” Although your customers aren’t jumping up and down with steam coming out of their ears or carrying gigantic flags with the word “why” emblazoned across them, somewhere lurking behind the question are people who are on their way to being unhappy.

Imagine a busy traveler on a tight schedule in an unfamiliar city. He hasn’t seen his own bed in two weeks, few of his daily flights have followed their published schedules, and he’s missing another one of his kid’s ball games. It’s 11:30 at night and he’s just entered the door of his hotel where you work at the front desk. You exchange pleasantries, take his credit card and give him the Wi-Fi code. Just before you send him on his way, you explain that you will have a wonderful breakfast waiting for him the next day. He then reacts to you with a “why” question. “Why is breakfast only served between 6:00 and 10:00 in the morning?” At first you might be thinking, “Because that’s when people eat breakfast.” Fair enough, but the minute that three-letter word passes the traveler’s lips, your internal radar should pop up, and you brain should realize danger is in the air.

The traveler’s “why” is a complaint and one that, if handled correctly, can offer you an opportunity to shine. Let’s look at a few possible responses.

  • “Great question. We’ve found most of our guests prefer that window,” and one of the following:
    • “We do have to-go bags here at the desk. If those times don’t work for you, just see the person back here, and he or she will gladly give you breakfast for the road.”
    • “We have a mini-store with a few breakfast items you can purchase if those hours don’t work out. There’s also always fresh coffee and fruit in the lobby.”
    • “If those times don’t work for you, I have a list of restaurants that serve breakfast outside those hours. I would be happy to give you a copy.”

Any of those answers is better than, “I don’t know. My manager decides that, and he isn’t here.”

Whether you’re uncovering the details behind “Maybe” and “Fine” or recognizing that “Why” is often a complaint, better listening can help you build your relationships with people, improve your sales and enhance the service experience. Take the time to slow down, ask questions and get to the core of a customer’s message.

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from Mix ID 8230377

Like a Boss: Learning to Handle Rapid Expansion

Hands helping growth

While adding employees seems like a great way to grow a business as the needs of the company grow, expanding too rapidly can have the potential to do harm. Andrew Weilbacher, owner of Weilbacher Landscaping in Millstadt, Illinois, says that as his business grew he thought the next step was to add more people. But in only a short time he began to feel overwhelmed by managing too many crews.

“It just became too much,” Weilbacher admits. “It originally felt natural to be adding employees as I grew. But I quickly began to feel as though I was losing control. I have since found that growth doesn’t always have to mean adding more people. It can mean working smarter with the people you have.”

Weilbacher says that one of the biggest issues he had as the company grew was losing that hands-on touch that he had always offered customers. And they noticed. It was as though the business suddenly went from Weilbacher being heavily involved in projects to spending his days putting out fires.

“As the number of people I had in the field increased, my involvement on projects decreased — and that didn’t end up working out for me,” Weilbacher says. “I was getting more complaints than I’d ever dealt with before and I was suddenly running around dealing with those.”

While many business owners desire to reach a stage where they begin delegating most of the work, Weilbacher says he built his business by being involved in projects and that still seems to be part of his reputation — and his success.

“I think my customers appreciate that I’m so involved on their project so to switch from that model is difficult,” Weilbacher says. “It’s part of who we are and I think our customers have come to expect it.”

Today, Weilbacher is finding a way to manage his growth and success while also remaining involved. He says he’s learned that the two go hand-in-hand.

“I ultimately think I grew so rapidly because I was so involved on projects,” Weilbacher says. “So, to suddenly take myself out of the equation was not the right approach for us. Today, I’m focused on still overseeing our projects — primarily hardscaping and swimming pools — and managing crews. It doesn’t mean I don’t delegate at all but I’ve also found that it’s important to stay involved.”

Our Like a Boss series highlights some common business challenges landscape professionals face and how they conquer them. Discuss your biggest business challenges on LawnSite’s Business Management forum.

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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Kawasaki Motors Teams with Pro Wrestler Steve Austin: This Week’s Industry News

Kawasaki Motors Teams with Pro Wrestler Steve Austin

Want to keep up with the latest news in lawn care and landscaping? Check back every Thursday for a quick recap of recent happenings in the green industry.

Ruppert Adds Software Development Team
Ruppert Landscape has added a software development team within the company’s IT department. Emil Saweros, a 6-year Ruppert employee with more than 20 years of combined IT experience, will lead the team that also includes Melanie Halsey, Luke Ardizzone and Jordan Marshall.

Aqua-Yield and Harmony Brands Enter into Joint Agreement
Nano-technology-based fertilizer supplier Aqua-Yield and turfgrass supplier Harmony Brands, have announced a promotional partnership. Under the agreement, Aqua-Yield will have direct access to sell its fertilizer to Harmony growers across the United States. The promotional partnership ultimately means turfgrass with less inputs; less water, less fertilizer and an end product that is much more environmentally friendly. The turfgrass, supplied to and then distributed by Harmony, will ultimately find its way to our nation’s largest and best-known retailers, including; Home Depot, Lowe’s and WalMart, claims a release announcing the agreement.

Rotolo Acquires Greenscape Grounds Management
Rotolo Consultants (RCI) recently acquired Greenscape Grounds Management, a commercial landscape maintenance company with operations in Lafayette and Lake Charles, Louisiana. Greenscape Grounds Management owner, Brad Breaux, and his brother, Ross Breaux, will continue in management roles with RCI. Brad Breaux said, “We are thrilled to join RCI for our next chapter of growth. RCI brings additional expertise and resources to help us expand our scope of services to new and existing clients in Lafayette and Lake Charles.”

Arborjet College Scholarship Program Deadline is June 30
Arborjet reminds graduating high school seniors that the deadline for its annual Taking Root College Scholarship Program must be postmarked by June 30. Arborjet is accepting applications for its annual program from students who plan to pursue a career in arboriculture or a related field. Now in its fourth year, the scholarship program will award 10 graduating high school seniors each with a $1,000 scholarship to pursue full-time studies in forestry, plant sciences, horticulture, entomology, environmental science or a related major at an accredited two- or four-year college.

Kawasaki Motors Teams with Pro Wrestler Steve Austin
Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. announced an advertising campaign with Hall of Fame Wrestler Steve Austin to follow the introduction of the all-new MULE PRO-FXR side x side. Austin, a television and movie personality and creator of the hit show “Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge,” has been working with KMC since 2015. He will host commercials primarily featuring the MULE PRO-FXR model, and showcasing the full line up of MULE side by sides. He will also be the face of technical videos highlighting the benefits of the MULE vehicles, and showing just how Kawasaki “strong” they are, alongside Kawasaki chief product developers.

CASE Construction Celebrates 175th Birthday
CASE Construction Equipment celebrated the CASE brand’s 175th birthday with a rally and luncheon attended by more than 800 employees in Racine, Wisconsin, as well as local dignitaries, elected officials and a descendant of the Case family. The company was founded in 1842 in nearby Rochester, Wisconsin, as the Racine Threshing Machine Works Company. It evolved into one of the world’s most iconic manufacturers of construction and agricultural equipment. Speakers included U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, the congressman representing Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district; Richard Tobin, chief executive officer – CNH Industrial; and Kaleb Jerome Case, the great grandson of company founder and Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ Hall of Fame member Jerome Increase (J.I.) Case.

U.S. Regulators OK Dow Chemical, DuPont Merger
The $62 billion merger of chemical giants DuPont Co. and Dow Chemical Co. has been approved by U.S. antitrust regulators, reported the Indianapolis Business Journal June 15. The Justice Department said Thursday it would approve the deal as long as the companies sell off some herbicide and chemical units to preserve competition. Those sales are already in the works.

Makita Adds Spanish-Language Content to Website
Makita U.S.A., Inc. re-launched its website with an option to view content in Spanish. The new feature, which can be activated with a single mouse click, shows a range of content in Spanish including product data, service options, warranty information, promotions, select videos, and more.

Coxreels Introduces Updates for SLPL Spring-Driven Models
Coxreels has introduced a product enhancement to the spring-driven 1¼- and 1½-inch SLPL models. Prior to this update, these models of the SLPL came standard with Coxreels’ aluminum inline swivel. The company has eliminated the aluminum inline swivel on five SLPL models (725, 750, 825, 835, and 850) and incorporated a nickel-plated steel inline swivel (from the 1185-Series).  The axle plumbing in both standard carbon steel models and optional stainless steel models was upgraded as well.

Minnesota United FC Announces Toro as Official Turf Equipment and Irrigation Partner
Minnesota United has selected Bloomington-based Toro as the official partner of turf equipment and irrigation. The irrigation system will utilize T7 Series rotors and be managed by Toro’s Sentinel central control system. As the stadium moves towards completion, Toro will work with the Minnesota United to select the proper mowing and turf cultivation equipment for the unique challenges of maintaining a stadium playing surface.

GreenCare for Troops Celebrates 11 Years of Service
Project EverGreen’s GreenCare for Troops initiative, which celebrates its 11th year in 2017, provides basic lawn and landscape services for military families with a deployed service member and post-9/11 veterans with a service-connected disability. Since the program’s inception in 2006, more than 11,000 military families and veteran and 6,000 green industry professionals have registered to receive or provide these services. In total, volunteers donated lawn care and landscape services valued at $1 million in 2016. Nufarm has been the platinum partner for the last two years.

Read last week’s industry news: NALP Partners with Houzz

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from Mix ID 8230377

Mosquito Control As A Big Business Opportunity

The Sting

It’s no con. Mosquito control can be a profitable service add-on. In a divided country where there seems to be little common ground, pretty much everyone can agree on one thing: mosquitoes are bad. That would seem to present a big business opportunity for anyone in the business of getting rid of mosquitoes. And lawn and landscape companies that have begun offering mosquito control services are taking advantage of that broad-based demand.

Entering the mosquito market

Goodall Landscaping in Maine began offering mosquito control services two years ago. “It seemed like a good add-on service to complement the tick control and lawn care services that we offer,” says company owner Ben Goodall.

Goodall began by cross-selling to his existing customer base, and then sent direct mail pieces to try to draw in new customers. Mosquito control is also featured prominently on the company website, and this year Goodall Landscaping is putting together a radio ad campaign that focuses on mosquito control. The overall message conveyed is that mosquitoes not only inflict painful bites, but also spread disease, and that controlling them allows property owners to spend more time outside without these worries.

At Ryan Lawn and Tree, which has six locations in Kansas and Missouri, the decision to get into mosquito control two years ago was the culmination of a relatively long process. “Our agronomist has been researching mosquito control for a number of years,” says company president Larry Ryan. “And we looked at what the industry was doing and asked, ‘Can we do it as well?’ Because we don’t want to do anything poorly — our whole company is built around doing things well — so that’s what we focused on.”

Pricing mosquitocontrol services is dependent on the time required to treat mosquito-harboring vegetation, such as trees and shrubs.

Motivated by both scientific and market research, the decision was made to try it. Ryan next made the decision to bring in a new employee who had experience in mosquito control to help get the company’s new program started. “The individual that we brought onboard was strong, and good people create their own solutions,” he explains, crediting that approach as one of the reasons that the new service was added so seamlessly to the company’s offerings. “We don’t like starting new things and having to learn them from the ground-up.”

Ryan Lawn and Tree began by simply letting its existing customer base know that this new service was being offered. But it is also happy to provide mosquito control services to neighbors or others who aren’t customers of the company’s other lawn and landscape services.

That’s similar to the approach taken by Citrus Park Lawn Care in Florida, a 10-year-old company that has always offered both indoor and outdoor pest control services, but just started offering mosquito control about one year ago. “We added it to our full package, and it took off pretty well,” says company president Denis Perry. “We already have a customer base that uses the multiple other services that we offer; we did some marketing to all of our current customers and a lot of them just jumped right on board with it, added it to their service package program, added it to their monthly bill, and we just created a new schedule in our scheduling system for it.”

Strategies for getting started

Perry says that, given his company’s past pest control expertise, adding mosquito control proved pretty easy. “We’ve got the technicians who do the lawn and ornamental services and the indoor pest control,” he explains.

Perry says he researched the best way to apply mosquito control treatments. While the company has large spray trucks, he made the decision to keep it simple and utilize STIHL backpack sprayers. “They work great,” he says, noting that the equipment cost is relatively low at roughly $600 to $700 per unit.

And there were no added costs for new personnel: “I trained our technicians who do our lawn and ornamental service. So the technician, when he’s there on a property every month doing fertilizer/L&O applications, just pulls out the backpack sprayer and does the mosquito application while he’s already there.”

Similarly, Ryan reports that mosquito control has been a relatively easy service to get off the ground: “We use a STIHL backpack blower and a pickup truck. All we need to carry is a container of water and some mix — that’s really just about all there was to it.”

Citrus Park Lawn Care technicians are trained to provide mosquito control services during their scheduled turf and ornamental stops.

At Ryan Lawn and Tree, the same technicians that handle mosquito control also apply mole control and house perimeter pest treatments. “We try to look at that as its own little department,” explains Ryan. These technicians typically work alone and focus only on these applications on their routes, and not on other turf and tree services that the company offers.

At Goodall Landscaping, the same technicians that handle lawn and tick treatments are performing mosquito control treatments. “Because it’s a similar application to other services that we’re providing, we use the same licensed technicians,” Goodall explains. (State licensing is typically required for mosquito control, just as it is for other pest control applications.)

Goodall Landscaping currently has six technicians on staff. Goodall’s preference, when possible, is to try to mix mosquito control into the existing lawn care and tick control routes. “It’s just adding an additional backpack mister, so if the truck is already going out there, we can usually add it in to the route, so there’s less travel time and we’re making more out of our stops,” he explains. Goodall’s goal is to keep routes “as tight as possible,” which isn’t always easy to do in a rural area with relatively low population density, so he says it’s all the more helpful to be able to provide multiple services at each stop in order to be as efficient as possible.

Goodall says there were no unexpected surprises encountered in offering mosquito control services: “It was pretty turn-key to roll it into our program offerings.”

Growing sales

Goodall has timed his mosquito control marketing campaigns to take place as soon as mosquitoes are present and become a nuisance. Unfortunately, it’s easier to get people to focus on the problem once they are actually experiencing the painful bites that mosquitoes inevitably bring about.

Mosquito control is a summer-long endeavor. For Goodall in the Northeast, that means roughly May to September.

As in most other states, mosquitoes are primarily a concern in the summer in Florida, but in that warm climate Perry with Citrus Park Lawn Care says that some customers opt to continue treatments all year long.

The company recommends monthly treatments; some customers opt for every other month; still others request just occasional treatments. “Some of our customers, if they’re having a big event, like a kid’s birthday party, might call us to come out to do an application a week or two before the party,” says Perry.

He emphasizes that, like any other service, fully understanding the costs of providing mosquito control is the essential first step toward setting a price that will be profitable. The chemical cost is pretty easy, but calculating the time required for the technician to do the application is a little trickier, and it’s not as simple as looking at the square-footage of the property, Perry explains.

“People think that you’re spraying the lawn, but you’re not; you’re spraying the shrubbery, the trees, the bushes, the landscaping — that’s where it all starts for the mosquitoes. So if you have a big yard with a lot of trees and a lot of landscaping and hedges and bushes, we price it accordingly.”

Other variables include examining whether there’s any standing water on the property, which needs to be treated with mosquito control packets, and items that can collect and hold water, such as kid’s toys or flower pots that need to be dumped out, Perry adds.

Citrus Park has a minimum charge of $45 to $60 to treat even small yards with little landscaping, and up to $125 to $150 for larger, more landscape-intensive properties.

Perry says that the well-publicized, mosquito-borne Zika virus threat last year drove an increase in business. “We were pretty busy with it last year, especially here in Florida,” he recounts. Citrus Park Lawn Care was even featured on a local news broadcast while doing a mosquito control treatment, which made the phone ring all the more, he says.

Ryan Lawn and Tree began offering mosquito services just about the time that Zika was being covered almost nonstop in the news. “That really helped us sell the service, there’s no question about that,” says Ryan. “It was almost like they were selling it for us.”

The company prices mosquito treatments on an individual basis; new customers who elect to sign up for five applications throughout the season [the product used has about a 30-day residual] are given the first application for free. “We don’t like discounting very much, and once we get a customer we discount very little. But to pick up that new customer, we will do it,” says Ryan.

Read more: Is it Time to Add Zika to Your Mosquito-Control Messaging?

The bottom line

“For a new start-up, it’s gone gangbusters. It’s doing very well,” says Ryan of his company’s new mosquito control service. “This is our second year and we just hired our third person in that department. It’s been nice to see that growth, because I really don’t like to do things that don’t grow. We don’t get into services that flatline; if they don’t continue to grow, we don’t want to be in those services.”

Ryan expects mosquito control to continue to grow as a source of revenue for the company for the foreseeable future, in part because “it works — people who were on the program last year told us that they literally had no mosquitoes. And their neighbors did.”

Ryan says that mosquito control has proven to be profitable: “The product costs are minimal; it’s mostly a labor cost, and even that is very doable,” he says.

One challenge, he adds, is that mosquito control in that part of the country is a five-month-a-year business, so a company wanting to offer the service would need to have a plan for what to do with those employees the rest of the year.

“We need help in other areas of our business, so they don’t sit around; if they sat around, or you had to hire people for just five months, it would be tough.”

As an add-on service “it is definitely profitable,” agrees Perry, but not so profitable that he would try to make it a standalone service.

“It’s not something that I would ever invest in a mass marketing campaign to get new customers to do just this service,” he states, noting that while “mosquito control” is now touted on Citrus Park Lawn Care’s marketing materials, website and trucks, “we don’t get a lot of calls for it outside of our existing customer base.” But, Perry adds, “to just piggyback this new service on [other services] just makes our existing program better.”

Goodall is using mosquito control as one way to bring in new business while remaining true to the company’s overall mission. “One of our priorities is to use the greenest products available to us for controls, so we’re using more organic and green-friendly [mosquito control] products,” he explains. “So we might be positioned a little higher in price because we choose to use these products, but we feel that the service we provide and the long-term value is there to justify it.”

Goodall also makes sure that his employees are ready to answer any customer questions about mosquito control prior to applications being made, and leave information about mosquitoes and the treatments made with customers afterward. “If we can do a good job with the mosquitoes, oftentimes they’ll look at us for our other services,” he concludes.

Read more: 5 Plant Options to Help Your Customers Repel Mosquitoes

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from Mix ID 8230377

Get to Know Drew Weesen

Drew Weesen

Snow and ice management in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, can be hard work. Drew Weesen, snow manager in the winter and project manager in the summer for Boreal Property Management, has found first hand that the Jackson Hole snow season can pose unique challenges. Weesen says some of their clients have driveways that are a mile long and built into the side of a mountain. It’s also not uncommon to have avalanches occur on some of the properties. The company services both residential and commercial snow work and has a fleet of six trucks with four dedicated routes and two others that are available for special requests — usually from construction sites.

After a snow season that was far above average, Weesen says he’s ready to relax a bit this summer. Weesen says the summertime activities in Jackson Hole are endless — hiking, biking or swimming in one of the dozen lakes in the area are just a few examples of ways he will chill out in the warmer months. We recently caught up with Weesen to find out what kept him going during the trying snow season.

I love snow! As much as I dislike getting three hours of sleep and peering out from an ice-covered windshield, I still enjoy seeing the flakes coming down and piling up. If we get into a good cycle of multiple early days, I quickly adjust and have enough energy after a plow shift to go out and snowmobile or ski. I love it when the sun comes out for a day or two and we can focus on equipment maintenance and cleanups, but I’m always disappointed to see the snow banks shrink.

Keeping people coming and going from their houses during a big storm is a satisfying part of the job for me. Getting thankful waves and gratified smiles makes me remember what an important job it is to keep things moving. Of course, pulling our competitors’ trucks out of the ditch is always a fun highlight of the day, too!

We use a multipronged attack to tackle snow in the most efficient manner. I try to coordinate that attack from both the office and the field. When plows or machines break, I redirect the team to address that route and keep everyone happy.

The BBC News is on at 4 A.M. and their commentary and perspective of the USA is entertaining to me. That keeps me busy in the early morning hours.

I try not to drink my second cup of coffee until 6 A.M. — it seems to keep my energy level consistent and fortunately my beverage is still warm then. My lunch box is usually filled with leftovers from the night before. Cold pizza, fried chicken and kale burgers!

My two biggest indulges are fried chicken and Big Macs! Albertson’s Grocery has the best fried chicken in town — plus it’s cheap.

Visit for more forums on equipment, business management and technical information. Join the conversation in the largest community of snow and ice business professionals.

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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Story of a Landscape: New Water Feature Proves Nice Addition to Heritage Property

Can a historic home and a brand-new pond/waterfall exist in perfect harmony? For designer Stephanie Scott and the crew at Yards Unlimited Landscaping, there was never a doubt.

In the end, not only were the clients pleased, but the project was also recognized by the Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association with one of its annual awards for water features.

Scott explains that she met the homeowners at a home show in Ottawa. They had recently purchased the stone residence, which was built in 1828 and listed as one of the Canadian capital’s designated heritage buildings, and wanted to incorporate water into the landscape.

The backyard before renovation Photo: Yards Unlimited Landscaping

She adds that one of the clients had grown up with a small bubbling rock in the family’s backyard, and the home the couple was leaving had had a backyard pond they had built themselves.

“It was important that this new water feature blend in with the feel and age of the house,” Scott says. “I explained then that when creating a water feature, everything is in the details, from the layout to the choice of stone to the plant material.”

However, the property is certainly not the typical flat suburban lot. The home had been built into a hillside, and the lot itself wasn’t particularly wide, although fairly deep. And, while the backyard is large, it presented its own challenge: the grassy expanse serves as the septic field.

The backyard before renovation Photo: Yards Unlimited Landscaping

Scott, however, didn’t see that as a drawback. She opted to place the water feature at the side of the house, instead.

“We wanted to make good use of that natural sloping grass on the side,” she says. “It’s much easier to create a water feature that looks natural when you have a slope to work with as opposed to trying to create an elevation.”

Even when confident of her site, however, Scott says there were challenges. High on the list was access to the construction site, which offered narrow side setbacks and woods at the rear. As a result, the crew had to temporarily remove part of an original stone wall, as well as protect the roots of a 300-year-old oak.

“It was important to keep the feel of the property and to imagine what a waterfall and pond would have looked like if it had been there for years,” says Scott. “That’s what I tried to create here, even with the plant choices, using some native plant material and grasses.”

Constructing the new back yard water feature Photo: Yards Unlimited Landscaping

One key feature, although not one she lists as a challenge, was the clients’ requirement that the pond be large enough to support a dozen koi.

“We certainly had to take that into account,” Scott says. “And, because of our winters here, ponds have to be a certain depth to allow those fish to survive. Not only did we have to go deeper but I had to calculate the amount of water required to support 12 mature koi.”

While koi tend to go into a state of torpor once the air temperature cools below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, Scott says the clients do keep the pond aerated over the winter.

Creating the waterfall and pond required a substantial use of natural stone, which Yards Unlimited obtained from a local distributor.

Photo: Yards Unlimited Landscaping

“The clients came with me and we selected weathered stone,” Scott says. “We selected some very specific stones and wanted large ones that looked like they had always been on the property. We took quite a bit of time selecting them.”

All the stone is naturally set. Scott says the largest ones were set first to help create the stream and then the smaller ones were placed around those.

“It was important to get the water to change directions where it hit the big rocks as it would in nature,” she says. “We took the time to create a natural-looking stream. The falls also split in some areas which adds a lot of interest from various vantage points.”

Again, she notes that the largest stones had to be ferried individually to the construction site.

Flagstone is utilized in the area around the pond, and even in the pond itself, since part of its construction includes a flagstone shelf at the bottom to give the fish a place to hide from large water birds that inhabit the area.

Photo: Yards Unlimited Landscaping

One of the clients’ goals was having a place where their nieces and nephews could come and enjoy feeding the fish. However, Scott also paid attention to wildlife that might be in the area.

“I made sure there was a safe place for them to enjoy the pond by adding a large flagstone feeding area overhanging the pond,” she says. “The pebble beach is a wonderful feature that was intended to provide an escape for any trapped wildlife, but it’s brought so much more to the pond. Birds come to bathe in the evening and frogs are able to come and go as they please.”

Planting around the water feature also kept the non-human habitants of the area in mind. Scott explains that some plants were interwoven into the areas of smaller stones to create a natural-looking element.

Native plants include nodding onion, Bebb’s sedge and bristle leaf sedge, while the non-native plant list features geranium rozanne (which blooms from May to October in Ottawa), white coneflower, rosy return daylily, Bobo hydrangea and lavender elegance purple.

“The tall grasses frame the medium and smaller plants to create visual interest,” Scott says. “By including a lot of native plants, especially on the side close to the water, it encourages the native insects and frogs, as well as other wildlife. And, there’s always something new and exciting to see, whether it’s a new flower or a bee gathering pollen.”

Photo: Yards Unlimited Landscaping

Scott credits much of the success of the project — which cost approximately $40,000 to the Yards Unlimited crew, which ranged from three to four men over the three weeks of construction.

“The foreman and his crew did a fabulous job of implementing my vision,” she says. “They’ve given the homeowners a beautiful water feature which will only get better with each year that goes by.”

In fact, she says if nothing else, this project taught her the importance of having a team that has the same shared vision, passion, patience and willingness to collaborate to make it come together.

It’s that execution, coupled with her design, of which she’s most proud.

“As soon as I stepped foot in the backyard, and heard the running water cascading down, I knew it was perfect,” Scott concludes. “Every time clients are happy at the end of a project it makes me smile. That’s what it’s all about.”

The post Story of a Landscape: New Water Feature Proves Nice Addition to Heritage Property appeared first on Turf.

from Mix ID 8230377

Tips for Landscape Grading the Right Way

Making the Grade

Anyone who has ever sat behind the controls of a dozer or skid-steer will tell you there’s an art to landscape grading. Trying to make things look natural, even when nature has put the high and low spots in the wrong places, takes real talent. But grading is also a science, and there are some basic techniques that need to be followed to ensure the landscape not only looks good but also functions properly.

“The grading is really the basis of any landscape design, for the plantings and everything else,” says Bruce Sharky, professor of landscape architecture at Louisiana State University. “What you want to do is have a sensitive grading plan that considers not only directing water but also complementing the building and enhancing views or increasing interest. There are both aesthetic and functional considerations.”

CAT dozer with Topcon 3D-MC MAX

Sharky is author of “Landscape Site Grading Principles,” a comprehensive, visually oriented guidebook published by Wiley and available online through Amazon and other booksellers. Sharky says the book is designed to simplify the concepts involved in grading, both from a design standpoint and out in the field: “You don’t need to know sine and cosine in order to do the work. This book is written for people who just want to know how to grade.” Really, the only math formula that’s needed is A=B/C, “and with that you can solve any problem,” he says.

There are some very basic principles to follow: On softscape areas, like turf, “you want to, where possible, have 2 percent or greater surface drainage away from buildings,” explains Sharky. And that rule applies not just around structures; the same positive draining techniques should be used anywhere you don’t want rainwater to go, like swimming pools or paved areas, he adds.

Of course, when grading hardscape areas, it’s important that sufficient fill be excavated to allow for the proper amount of compacted backfill to be added to the area; this may differ depending on climate and local soils, the type of hardscape feature (driveway versus patio versus retaining wall, for example), and specific hardscape manufacturer guidelines. Regardless of these variables, Sharky says the grading plan for finished hardscaped areas should focus on achieving a minimum of 1 percent slope away from these features. “And you want to direct the water so that it eventually goes into the softscape,” he states.

The general approach to water management in grading has changed over the years, Sharky points out. At one time, the primary goal was to move water as quickly and directly as possible into a storm system. “Today, we’re concerned about conserving water, and we don’t want runoff with pesticides and chemicals ending up in streams. So … as much as possible … we try to slow the water down and keep it on-site in a bioswale or rain garden where it can percolate,” he explains.

Tools and techniques

The tools and technology needed to grade properly can vary. Sharky says the best starting point is a good topographic survey of the site, “so you know how the ground is shaped and you can see where the water is going in existing situations. Don’t try to do it by eyeballing it out on the site,” he cautions. In some cases the designer/builder is provided with such a survey, but in other cases contractors have to take their own measurements.

Jason McAllister, owner of McAllister Landscaping and Grading in Charlotte, North Carolina, does a lot of grading work in newly constructed housing developments and in city parks projects. “Sometimes on larger jobs they’ll have a grading plan, but most of the time we’re using our transit,” he says. McAllister uses an “old school” transit; he’s considered adding a higher-tech laser transit, which he says are great for grading pads, but in other situations require a lot of up-and-down adjustments.

Bob Pfeil, owner of Bob’s Grading, a full-service landscape contractor in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, says he typically gets a survey and grading plan to work from. “On some lots, it may be a guideline, and in others you need to follow it per regulations,” he explains. Pfeil and his crew use a Topcon self-leveling laser to check grades on the mainly residential projects they handle. “Some of the lasers now, you can actually put a slope into them or slope-match across two different points on the property,” he states. On larger commercial jobs, Pfeil says it’s more common to see GPS technology being used to grade sites with millimeter accuracy. “That can be coupled to the equipment, where you actually have grade control, which means it’s operating on its own. That’s more than most landscapers would need.”

Pfeil says that on larger rough-grading jobs, a crawler is usually used. But he’s also recently begun using a large compact track loader, which he says is more maneuverable in tight areas and has proven to be very useful. “It really allows us to get into sites when the conditions are wet. That machine has allowed us to keep our bulldozer back at the shop many days.” When it comes to finish-grading, his go-to equipment is a Harley Rake hitched to a compact tractor, he adds. The primary advantage over a skid-steer (more commonly used in the industry) is increased visibility, says Pfeil: “When we’re doing precision, finish-grading and preparing the soil, we have 360-degree visibility.”

When it comes to grading terrain that will become a driveway or some other sort of hardscape, he will typically use either the dozer, the track loader or a tractor equipped with a box blade. “That’s a tool that’s probably used less nowadays because of some of the mechanization with Harley Rakes, but it’s still hard to beat a box scraper when it comes to leveling out gravel,” states Pfeil.

John Deere G-Series Compact Track Loader

Tips and tricks

While every job is different, there are some basic tips that can help out in specific grading situations. For example, when grading around buildings: “One common mistake I see is people grading too high,” says Pfeil. “You’re really supposed to leave 6 to 8 inches below the siding. In the real world, it’s seldom that, but in some cases people are pushing the dirt right up to that siding line.”

Somewhat along the same lines, he frequently sees attempts to solve drainage problems by just adding dirt around the house; trying to introduce slope in this way also results in dirt being too high on the building. “What really needs to be done,” emphasizes Pfeil, “is to establish the correct elevation of the house and then pitch away accordingly, even if it means tearing out existing bushes and regrading properly.”

When grading areas that will eventually be turfed, as a final step McAllister likes to rough up the surface: “On any type of lawn area, we try to get it to grade and then tear it back up again. A lot of times, it can get pretty slick from a skid loader. The level is good, and you have the correct drainage, but you need to prepare a good seedbed.” He likes to get down more than the couple of inches deep than a Harley Rake or other similar equipment can do. “We like to really get it loose – almost like we’re ploughing a garden,” McAllister explains. Loosening the soil is important whether the lawn will be seeded or sodded, he notes.

One other tricky grading situation can occur when trees are present on the site. “As a rule of thumb, a contractor should do whatever they can to make sure that they or their subcontractors do not do any grading, filling or cutting within the dripline of a tree that you want to keep,” says Sharky. Keeping equipment and fill away from the tree, he says, is the best way to ensure the tree survives through the project. It’s another example of how proper grading can achieve both functional and aesthetic results.

The post Tips for Landscape Grading the Right Way appeared first on Turf.

from Mix ID 8230377

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

5 Behaviors to Build a Cohesive Team

Build a Cohesive Team

Creating a team that works well together starts with one thing, says Phil Harwood, CEO and managing partner of Pro-Motion Consulting. And that one thing is trust. “Trust is the foundation — if we don’t have trust, we can’t build on anything,” he says. Starting with this all-important element, here are five behaviors that Harwood says will help you build a cohesive, successful team in the green industry.

1. Build trust

As Harwood notes, trust is where it all begins. If you have an absence of trust, many destructive behaviors can follow, such as a refusal to acknowledge one another, or an unwillingness to apologize. Harwood says colleagues will be more guarded and deceptive, and they will fail to ask their team for input.

“When someone is combative about other people’s ideas, then you’ll be less likely to offer ideas and just remain silent rather than risk getting shut down,” he says.

The hard part about building trust is that just one member of a team can spread the disease to the rest of the team. If one person spreads the feeling of distrust, there can be the tendency to conceal weaknesses or mistakes, hesitate to help or provide feedback and fail to help outside of someone’s responsibilities. People may also jump to conclusions about the intent of others and hold grudges — all of which are highly damaging to a team.

“A lot of people won’t admit they need help because they don’t want to seem vulnerable, but trusting the team makes it easier to ask for help and know you won’t appear weak to others,” Harwood says.

One way to build trust, he suggests, is to help the team learn more about personal histories. Ask questions such as:

  • Where did you grow up?
  • How many siblings do you have?
  • What was an important challenge you faced as a kid?

According to Harwood, this background information can provide insight to how different people on your team work.

2. Allow conflict

We all know people on our team who are “people pleasers” – they don’t want to rock the boat or voice their opinions too strongly. Harwood says when team members hold back opinions, or leaders won’t ask for opinions, then we often avoid getting into the real issues and only keep discussions at the surface.

“Debates are OK – it serves the team to promote discussion,” he says.

Meetings that go around and around the root of the problem can seem pointless. But if the team fears conflicts, because they’re afraid of personal attacks or just want to ignore controversial topics, then you won’t tap into all the perspectives on the team.

As Harwood says, “Whenever there’s a meeting after the meeting, that’s bad.” In other words, if part of the team huddles to discuss items that weren’t brought up at the meeting, or to complain about a subject, then they were probably too afraid to bring it up in front of the whole group, which means honesty and a different perspective are lost.

Harwood says that while you can’t keep going around and around about a controversial issue, it’s important to let everyone say their piece. But then the decision-maker needs to make a decision and move on.

He notes that the best place for a team to be is at constructive discussion without stepping over the line too much into destructive. It’s OK to step over that line sometimes, Harwood says, and then recover, because you’ll build a stronger, more honest team if you have the courage to be on that line.

3. Foster commitment

The first two behaviors — trust and allowing controversial discussions — tie into your team’s ability to buy in to what the company stands for, and what it’s working toward. If your team members have a lack of commitment, Harwood says, discussions will end without clear steps, and meetings will produce a lack of confidence.

“If people don’t weigh in on a decision, they won’t buy in,” he says.

This does not mean that the whole team has to agree, he notes. Individual members just want to feel that they have been heard in order to commit to the plan.

When the team fails to commit, it can create ambiguity, missed opportunities, a lack of confidence, and a waste of time when having to go back and discuss things over and over.

“When the team commits to a project, and they have clarity in their priorities, they know what they need to be working on,” Harwood says.

4. Promote accountability

You may not hear this often, but Harwood says, “Peer pressure on a team is the best thing we’ve got going.”

In other words, teams need to hold one another accountable. Teams that work best with one another rarely have to go to the leader, he says. Instead they go to each other and say “we were counting on you for this.” While the leader does have to show that he or she will hold people accountable, it can sometimes be more painful to hear from peers that you’re not holding up your end of bargain. And it doesn’t always have to be a negative — it can help the team member who is falling down on his or her responsibilities grow from gaining feedback.

Harwood says if you avoid accountability, resentment will follow and it will not only encourage mediocrity on the team, but it also puts all the pressure on the leader.

The best way to work it out is for the leader to let the team iron out the issues. Then the team will admit when they dropped the ball and define the results they’re looking for moving forward.

“There needs to be clear goals — a commitment — then keep accountable to those goals,” he says.

5. Focus on results

Harwood puts this behavior bluntly yet honestly: “If teams aren’t focused on results, they’re focused on themselves, and unwilling to make sacrifices for the team.”

All of the behaviors here — trust, allowing difficult conversations, fostering commitment and promoting accountability — ultimately should lead to results, and it is this end game that should fuel the team.

Teams that focus on achieving collective results will have more drive to work together, Harwood says. When collective success is valued more than individual success, you’ll attain achievement-oriented behavior, he adds. Therefore, you’ll always benefit from individuals who put the team first.

Understand Your Team

During a presentation at GIE+EXPO last year, Phil Harwood of Pro-Motion Consulting explained how the DISC Model can help you get to know your team. He said this method, “can help you determine where people will fall or where they belong on your team.” It can also help you figure out the kind of people you want to hire.

This behavior assessment tool was developed in the 1920s by William Moulton Marston, a Harvard psychologist. Harwood explained what DISC means:

D — stands for a dominate style, someone who insists on results.

I — means influence, someone who enjoys interaction and is enthusiastic.

S — equates to steadiness and patience, someone who is easygoing.

C — stands for conscientiousness, someone who seeks accuracy

DISC is now a public domain exercise, Harwood said, and if you search the term online, you can discover how to apply it to your team members to best tap into their behaviors.

The post 5 Behaviors to Build a Cohesive Team appeared first on Turf.

from Mix ID 8230377

Rye Beach Battles the Last Storm Of the Season

Bennett Holmes founded Rye Beach Landscaping in Exeter, New Hampshire, 22 years ago. It serves the seacoast region of the state with 18 trucks, 12 pieces of equipment and a staff of 30 per storm. Four-fifths of its business is commercial/ residential, and the rest is work for the state. On March 14, Rye Beach handled a storm old-timers say was the worst since 1978. Here is Holmes’s edited account of a very long day:

Bennett Holmes

At 9:34 a.m., the state of New Hampshire calls for our six trucks to report in; they usually call first. The snow is falling at more than 3 inches per hour in the afternoon with high winds: blizzard conditions with 20- foot visibility. And the snow is heavy, like wet mortar.

Another call: The third state truck has broken wipers. Dispatched our road mechanic. At 7 p.m., we make the decision to hold most of our shovel teams until after midnight, when the storm is supposed to ease up.

During unusually heavy storms, it’s a good idea to notify customers that jobs might take a bit longer to complete.

Another call, tractor broke a driveshaft. We have a spare, and I deliver it and install it; the mechanic is busy with other issues. Another call, fuel required at a site. At 9:23 p.m., we send emails to select customers to advise shoveling work will take longer to complete post-storm.

State Truck 14 calls: Transmission is toast. Contemplate a midstorm transmission swap, then think better of it. Send driver home. I wish we could see where we are going, but it’s blowing so badly I might be in the wrong town and not realize it. I’m dodging downed limbs in the road and watching transformers pop and shower sparks ahead of me.

By midnight the snow has changed to rain and sleet — as if the snow wasn’t heavy enough. One crew is heading to the hotel room for three hours of rest; another will rotate through after that. I grab a nap in the truck for a couple hours.

Morning brings the end of snowfall and the beginning of cleanup work. It takes the rest of the day to make things acceptable and the following day to push back piles, widen walkways and clear low-priority areas we had strategically abandoned midstorm. All the while our mechanic is running around keeping up with repairs: blown hoses, electrical issues, bent steel and cracked welds.

Three days after the main snowstorm and I’m operating on three to four hours of sleep per night, as is most of my lead staff. But we have met expectations, kept a lot of customers happy and found the pavement despite winter’s worst storm in memory. And for some reason we are looking forward to the next storm.

Visit for more forums on equipment, business management and technical information. Join the conversation in the largest community of snow and ice business professionals.

The post Rye Beach Battles the Last Storm Of the Season appeared first on Turf.

from Mix ID 8230377

How to Avoid Ticks this Season

Deer tick

Ticks can be dangerous, in some cases even deadly. Be aware that you are working in conditions where ticks are commonly found — grass, shrubs, weeds, leaf piles and mulch. Likely, you do not even know they are there. Many ticks are tiny and easy to overlook. They can range in size from as small as a pin’s head to as large as the nail on your little finger. Often you do not even know they are on you.

If you’re an owner and your team is working in areas where ticks are known to be a problem, consider a tailgate training session to educate (or remind) your team of ticks and the dangers they pose. Ultimately, however, it’s up to anybody working outdoors to protect themselves against ticks and the diseases they can transmit.

Ticks, which are technically arachnids, attach themselves to your body, bite you and begin growing as they draw blood. In the process some of them can infect you with a bacteria or virus that can make you ill. Not all ticks carry a disease, but even these ticks can cause a problem, especially if you’re allergic to them causing you to experience pain or swelling at the bite site, a rash, a blister or difficulty breathing, if severe.

Lyme disease a widespread problem

Ticks, and the diseases that they can transmit to you, are found in many regions of the United States. In the Northeast and Midwest, black-legged ticks (aka, deer ticks), can transmit the bacteria known as spirochetes, causing Lyme disease, the most widespread tick-borne disease in the U.S. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says it receives reports of about 30,000 cases of Lyme disease annually. Most cases go unreported, the CDC says, because the symptoms are mild or resemble other diseases, and thus the center estimates there may be 300,000 cases a year in this country.

Lyme disease often mimics flu-like symptoms with fever, headache and fatigue. Diagnosis in its early stages of the disease is difficult. There is no test to identify Lyme within the first month after a tick bite. Once diagnosed, treatment usually involves antibiotics. If left untreated, Lyme disease can result in joint pain, persistent fatigue and, in some cases, neurological damage.

While Lyme disease is the most recognized disease transmitted by ticks, researchers are learning about other (and more dangerous) diseases being transmitted by black-legged ticks. The most fearsome is Powassan disease, which can be deadly. To this point only a small percentage of ticks are infected with the Powassan virus, reports The New York Times.

As previously mentioned, many regions of the U.S. harbor ticks that can transmit a disease to you — Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, tularemia and ehrlichiosis. Anybody working outdoors in or around vegetation — especially weedy areas and woodlots — can attract a tick.

How to avoid ticks

The best way to avoid a tick-borne disease, of course, is to prevent ticks from attaching themselves to you.

To do this: 1.) Wear long sleeves and long pants when working in areas where ticks can be found; 2.) Use tick repellent with DEET;. 3.) Take a shower or bath within several hours of being outdoors.

If you find a tick on your body, grasp the tick as close as you can to your skin’s surface and pull straight up and away from the skin. If possible, you don’t want to leave any of the pest’s head or mouthparts in the bite. If you work in a region where ticks are common, you may even want to keep a set of tweezers available to make removal easier. The sooner you can remove a tick from your body, the better.

The post How to Avoid Ticks this Season appeared first on Turf.

from Mix ID 8230377

Monday, 19 June 2017

8 Pinterest Boards to Follow for Inspiration

Pinterest app

Pinterest is a great way to share ideas with clients and help them visualize potential landscape plans for their property. Check out these landscape companies (in no particular order) for some inspiration on managing a great Pinterest account for your company’s brand portfolio and to share with your customers.

1. Timberline Landscaping

Based in Colorado Springs, Colorado

With a great mix of residential and commercial landscape projects, Timberline Landscaping‘s Pinterest boards feature their own company projects along with Colorado-specific images and ideas for the region they cover, including high-altitude plants.

Timberline Landscaping, Based in Colorado Springs, Colorado

2. Sponzilli Landscape Group

Based in Fairfield, New Jersey

Sponzilli Landscape Group‘s Pinterest portfolio highlights a variety of services including: residential, commercial, outdoor kitchens, landscape lighting and even snow removal. They have also shared some insight on how they use Pinterest in a recent blog post.

Sponzilli Landscape Group, Based in Fairfield, New Jersey

3. Oak Valley Landscape & Hardscape

Based in Richmond, Virginia

Not only are they sharing their portfolio, Oak Valley Landscape & Hardscape also has Pinterest boards sharing specific plant types based on colors to help find the right plant for every location.

Oak Valley Landscape & Hardscape, Based in Richmond, Virginia

4. Sheridan Nurseries

Based in Georgetown, Ontario

Sheridan Nurseries serves as a plant resource on Pinterest, sharing photos of perennials, annuals, container gardening, balcony gardening and plant types.

Sheridan Nurseries, Based in Georgetown, Ontario

5. Tomlinson Bomberger Lawn Care, Landscape & Pest Control

Based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Tomlinson Bomberger has a unique approach to Pinterest, sharing hardscape project ideas as well as pest control advice and information.

Tomlinson Bomberger Lawn Care, Landscape & Pest Control, Based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

6. Kemora Landscapes

Based in Chicago, Illinois

Sharing seasonal ideas and inspiration from their own travels, Kemora Landscapes also focuses on different outdoor living categories like pergolas, water features, outdoor bars, pathways and fencing.

Kemora Landscapes, Based in Chicago, Illinois

7. Urban Landscape Design

Based in Newport Beach, California

Urban Landscape Design focuses on unique design ideas including living walls, infinity pools and custom spas. They also pin images of projects under construction and landscape designs that inspire them.

Urban Landscape Design, Based in Newport Beach, California

8. Bosch’s Landscape & Lawn Specialties, Inc.

Based in Holland, Michigan

Bosch’s Landscape shares images of their own portfolio as well as backyard ideas and lawn care tips. They also have some fun boards for backyard BBQ ideas and all things related to their home state of Michigan.

Bosch's Landscape & Lawn Specialties, Inc., Based in Holland, Michigan

Read more: Using Pinterest to Collaborate with Your Clients

The post 8 Pinterest Boards to Follow for Inspiration appeared first on Turf.

from Mix ID 8230377

Friday, 16 June 2017

Like a Boss: Making Customer Communication Count


Les Cline, owner of Teacher’s Landscaping and Irrigation, LLC in Olathe, Kansas, calls communication skills the “most important tool you own” but says that it’s something landscape business owners don’t always fully use. He says that too often that tool is left on a dusty shelf, failing to be utilized. But over the years Cline says he has learned to stop thinking of communication as an annoyance and start thinking of it as a business accelerator and key to achieving goals. It has improved business and Cline says it could for other landscape business professionals, too.

“Use your mouth and your ears as much as you use your mower and your trimmer,” Cline says. “All day, every day.”

Cline says that good communication can save you time. For example, by making a quick call the day before an appointment to confirm it, you don’t waste time by driving there when the customer needs to cancel. On the flip side, Cline says you should always inform your customer of any delays on your end, as soon as you can.

“Respect your customer’s time as much as your own,” he says. “You can also reduce call backs and extra time re-working an estimate by reading back to your clients their wants or needs list. I call this the ‘Echo Effect.’ This practice helps define your scope of work and gives your clients a chance to remember that ‘other thing’ they forgot to tell you.”

Good communication can also increase your sales, Cline says. Handling customer interaction face-to-face is the most effective way to win work, Cline says. Customers appreciate getting that face time. It also poses a natural opportunity to suggest other work the customer may need.

Cline also advises not to “send it and forget it.” You should always follow up your estimate or bid with a friendly call a day or two later.

“Protect your investment of time to give your bid the best chance of being accepted,” Cline says. “Personal and timely interaction will generate referrals and repeat business — bank on it.”

Finally, good communication will also help polish your professionalism. Cline says one of the top complaints he has heard are about contractors who do not call back or don’t show up when they say they will.

“Your first impression is not your best one — it is your only one,” he adds. “Remember that clear and timely communication builds trust in you and your work. Trust is powerful — even more powerful than the price. And at the end of the day, you are really selling trust, not a product or a service.”

Our Like a Boss series highlights some common business challenges landscape professionals face and how they conquer them. Discuss your biggest business challenges on LawnSite’s Business Management forum.

The post Like a Boss: Making Customer Communication Count appeared first on Turf.

from Mix ID 8230377

Thursday, 15 June 2017

NALP Partners with Houzz: This Week’s Industry News

NALP, National Association of Landscape Professionals

Want to keep up with the latest news in lawn care and landscaping? Check back every Thursday for a quick recap of recent happenings in the green industry.

Register for NALP’s Renewal & Remembrance, Legislative Events
If you haven’t signed up to participate in The National Association of Landscape Professionals’ Renewal and Remembrance and Legislative Days on the Hill events set July 16-18, in Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia, you better do so now. Space is limited. Legislative Days on the Hill is free and is open to all industry professionals; Renewal & Remembrance is open to NALP members.

OPEI Reminds Power Equipment Users – ‘Look Before You Pump’
The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute issued a statement in response to the announcement of Growth Energy’s million dollar advertising campaign, promoting the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (S. 517), which encourages year-round sales of E15 or gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol: OPEI reminds power equipment users of its consumer protection and education program, Look Before You Pump, which urges consumers to be aware of the ethanol content in fuel at gasoline filling stations and to choose the appropriate fuel for their equipment or vehicle. The program also reminds consumers that it is illegal to use fuels with greater than ten percent ethanol in outdoor power equipment. Consumers should read their owner’s manual for fueling guidance and direction.

Senske Lawn & Tree Company Acquires Turf’s Up!
Senske Lawn & Tree Care recently acquired Turf’s Up!, Inc., a lawn and tree care provider based in Lake Stevens, Washington. Dave Zimmerman established Turf’s Up! in 1987. Effective immediately, those customers will be serviced by the Washington Tree and Lawn Care division of Senske Lawn & Tree Care, located in Shoreline, Washington, reported Senske President Chris Senske, who added “we continuously look to merge with high-quality companies who share our goals, principles and culture and I believe we found the perfect fit with Turf’s Up!.”

NALP Partners with Houzz
NALP has partnered with Houzz, an online community of over 40 million monthly users searching for guidance and inspiration on interior design, landscape design and home improvement. NALP members can participate in the Houzz Trade Program which provides special pricing on thousands of products, a dedicated customer service team, and a unique rewards program. Members will be able to receive special assistance in setting up their profile on Houzz. NALP will host the People’s Choice Awards on Houzz several times throughout the year featuring some of NALP’s Awards of Excellence winning projects, and website visitors will vote on their favorites. Also, NALP members can now add the National Association of Landscape Professionals Badge to their Houzz profile.

RCI Acquires Greenscape Grounds Management
Rotolo Consultants (“RCI”) recently acquired Greenscape Grounds Management, a commercial landscape maintenance company with operations in Lafayette and Lake Charles, Louisiana. Greenscape Grounds Management owner, Brad Breaux, and his brother, Ross Breaux, will continue in management roles with RCI. Keith Rotolo, president and CEO of RCI, said, “The acquisition of Greenscape is in line with our goal of expanding RCI via not only organic growth but also through the selective acquisition of quality companies.”

IrriGreen Technology Extends Smart Control to Sprinklers
IrriGreen was recently awarded a U.S. patent for the IrriGreen Genius Irrigation System, which covers IrriGreen’s software algorithm. The software digitally controls the spray position and direction, watering distance and rotational speed of IrriGreen’s smart sprinkler heads. “Just as inkjet printers spray ink in controlled patterns on a page, IrriGreen Genius Sprinklers “print” water in precise patterns that match the shape of the lawn,” said Gary Klinefelter, founder and chief executive officer, IrriGreen, Inc.

NHLA Director Ivan Giraldo Recognized by EY as Entrepreneur Of The Year
Ivan Giraldo, director of the National Hispanic Landscape Alliance and president of Clean Scapes, has been awarded the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 Award in the Service category in Central Texas. Founded in 2005, Clean Scapes, is an award-winning full commercial landscape company based in Austin, Texas. Giraldo’s leadership has permitted him to advance in the industry, allowing him to increasingly provide opportunities for his workers to grow within the company. As a Central Texas award winner, Giraldo is now eligible for consideration for the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 national program.

Register Now for September NALP Leadership Academy
The National Association of Landscape Professionals is partnering with Cornell University’s SC Johnson School of Business to offer a leadership certificate course, designed just for landscape and lawn care professionals, which will be held Sept. 10 – 13. Participants will engage in a one-of-a-kind curriculum, which builds foundational executive leadership skills for industry professionals, delivered by a world-class faculty. The application deadline is July 15.

Advanced Turf Solutions Acquires Tri-Turf in Michigan
Advanced Turf Solutions has acquired Michigan area distributor, Tri-Turf with locations in Traverse City and Grand Ledge. The acquisition will expand Advanced Turf’s service area to include Michigan, in addition to its 10-state territory. All Advanced Turf Solutions core product lines and brands will be available to these new customers. “I will be retiring after leading Tri-Turf for over 36 years,” said Tom Reed, Sr., Tri-Turf president. “Our company culture is about selling with integrity and offering quality products and exceptional service. Advanced Turf Solutions shares these values.” The transaction is expected to close at the end of June.

Takeuchi-US Promotes David Pearson to Director of Ops
Takeuchi-US, a leader in compact equipment, has promoted David Pearson as the director of operations – whole goods, effective immediately. Pearson most recently held the position of inside sales manager. Pearson has been with Takeuchi for over 30 years, starting out part-time while in high school. In 1985, he transitioned to a full-time position working with machine inventory and parts shipping.

Bayer Environmental Science Adds to T&O Business Team
Bayer Environmental Science recently announced four staffing appointments within its turf & ornamentals business:

  • Patrick Burgess, PhD, field development representative in the northeastern United States. Burgess most recently served as a researcher at Rutgers University, specializing in plant stress physiology, and as an instructor for the Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School.
  • Mark Clodfelter, insecticide product manager will lead strategic planning across the Bayer insecticides portfolio, including forecasting and inventory management for the insecticides business, life cycle management strategy, product launch planning and support, and business development.
  • Bob Froelich, joins the Bayer team as ornamental specialist, with more than 25 years of experience in the horticulture industry. In his new role, Froelich will help build relationships between Bayer, its customers and its distributors in the Production Ornamentals market.
  • Chad Hauth, area sales manager, is responsible for cultivating relationships with Bayer customers and distributor partners in Illinois, northern Indiana and southern Wisconsin. Hauth most recently served as territory specialist with Growing Solutions, and his previous experience includes technical specialist with The SePRO Corporation as well as various rolls with Harrell’s, including territory manager and sales representative.

Read last week’s industry news: Doosan Bobcat Completes West Fargo Headquarters Expansion

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