The History – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
I have been in the lawn care business over the past 25 years. That is a long time to do anything but especially lawn care. It's not easy, it is hard work and it is a grind every year. The same things occur every year and I have battled them year after year for the last 25 seasons.
It did not start out this way, lawn care as a profession. I grew up in Northern Illinois and transplanted to Atlanta in 1987. Like so many of you probably reading this, I had no idea about what the different grass types were and seasonal weed issues. Where I grew up, it snowed and froze for 6 months out of the year and the summer did what summers do, hot and all I knew was one grass. Kentucky Bluegrass.
When the grass turned brown in the winter I just thought it looked a little bit like snow and really didn't pay much attention. Once I was in the business and learned all about it: grass types, cool season, warm season, summer weeds, winter weeds and all the different things going on, it was in my blood.
I was working for Trugreen at the time and we were selling lawn care in the spring. A whole room full of us twenty somethings, fresh out of college many of them. I was one of the oldest at 28. We would run leads all day long and pound the phones at night. Selling the lawn care dream. "We will take care of those problems, Mr Homeowner, and keep your lawn looking – AWESOME – Just sign up with me tonight and I will have a truck out there, blah, blah, blah."
You know, I didn't even know what we really did. I had no clue. I didn't know what the fertilizer looked like, I didn't know how we applied it, NOTHING. Yet, I was going to be your personal service rep.
I look back at those days and just shake my head. Amazing really, we would sell so much in a week it would boggle your mind and none of us had a clue about lawn care.
The Changes Have Been Massive – Okay, Maybe Not Massive, But Huge.
Things have changed a little since then, but there is still the sales force from the various companies leaving estimates and telling the homeowner all of the awesome benefits of their service. Don't get me wrong, there are good services out there, but many times the representative has no idea about what he is talking about. Sometimes the technician doesn't either.
So many things have changed in the world since the 1990's. That is when we struck out on our own and created Arbor & Turf, 1992 to be exact. Back then you could call people, there was no, "No Call List" so we had to come up with other ways to market our service. The internet didn't really take off until later. In the mid and late 1990's many people didn't even have an email address.
The products have changed as well. Some products have come off the market and new ones have entered to control different problems like weeds and fungicides to control diseases in turf. Some work better then others and many times it boils down to the person mixing the products. Are they putting enough in the tank? Is the tank mixed well? Are they applying it correctly to the specs of the label? All these factors need to come together for the treatment to be effective.
The Organic Shift
Another BIG thing has changed over the years. Organic based fertilizers and Natural based fertilizers. These are 1000 times better for the environment then the synthetic fertilizers and in many cases are more cost effective.
Don't get me started on the cost of products and gas since the 1990's.
Okay, I will say one thing about it, now that I am here. The amount we charge the homeowner has not really gone up at all since the 1990's. However, everything we use in our business from products, to gas, to labor and everything in between sure has.
Why? Because there are so many "Lawn Care" companies out there it's crazy. So how do you find a good one?
Here are 3 things to look for when thinking about which one of the 7 +++ companies you might be considering for your $35 treatment.
1. Has the representative ever actually treated lawns?
Have they done the work and how long did they do it? If they only went out for a day or a week or even a month, they have not seen everything that happens in your lawn.
It really takes a full year to learn and see everything that occurs in the Atlanta lawn care world. It's extensive and if you are really basing your decision on whether you are getting a knowledgable service or not, this is where it starts. Otherwise you are probably just basing your decision on price.
2. Does the service use organic fertilizers or natural fertilizers in their regular service and not upcharge you because you want an organic program?
Why is this important? Because they are available and effective and affordable. Truthfully, I see no reason why a service would not be utilizing these to enhance and maximize their results as well as being conscious of the environment.
Personally, at this point, I would not consider a service if they didn't use Organic based fertilizer products 90% of the time.
Why would you use synthetics 10% of the time?, you might ask. Because as a professional lawn service we have to keep up with the Joneses. Sometimes the color is not as "GREEN" as your neighbors because of artificial fertilizer on your neighbors lawn so we have to apply some good old fashioned Nitrogen to beef up the color.
Does that mean yours is not as healthy? No, the exact opposite would be true, but that is another rant.
3. Do you get to talk to the owners?
Hey, as a small business owner and one who has labored long and hard in this city and walked countless lawns and offered hours and hours of FREE advice over the years I am still accessible to my customers and non-customers, I might add, and so is my partner.
If you have a problem and need to talk to someone who can give you a straight answer or meet with you on the lawn and tell you "EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW" about your lawn, landscape, sprinkler system, drainage, stone work then you need to have a company that has been around for a while and is still owner operated. There are plenty to choose from and we work hard for your business and don't hold nationally televised golf tournaments with your money.
We struggle – look at our trucks.
But we provide excellent service and use the best products available, ALL OF THE TIME, even when it cost us 5 times what it normally does to keep the weeds out of your lawns because what was working in the past doesn't work anymore. We find a solution and use it and many times we absorb the cost because that is the nature of lawn care in Atlanta.
If I have ranted on here, I apologize but there are some things that need to be addressed about lawn care in Atlanta. It is a profession and there are some unprofessional companies promising everything and delivering very little. There always has been but now with the economy south for the past 5 – 7 years there are even more.
In fact, there is your bonus question. How long have you been in business? If they started in the past 5 years, be leery.
As always, we would love the opportunity to work for you and provide you with a FREE estimate & AWESOME service. Yes is the answer to all of the questions except the bonus one. You already know the answer to that if you made it through this article. Just fill out the form on this page or call us at 404.806.6263.