Does your landscape business slow down in the fall? Look for services to sell to your customers and ways to more profitably use your time! This could help you to maintain profitability in a slower time of the year, to build your client base and to prepare for next spring.
Fall and winter can be good times to . . .
- Offer to conduct a sprinkler performance test. Put a grid of cups across the lawn and run the system through one cycle. Is the amount of water in each cup about the same? If not, water distribution may be uneven which can lead to landscape issues. Look for leaks, controller problems, blocked or broken heads, misadjusted heads etc. Find the problems causing uneven distribution and fix them. Offering a sprinkler diagnostic service to your clients can help them to conserve water, improve landscape health and save money.
- Re-set sprinkler systems so they run less often. Typically once a week should be plenty in the fall. Apply three-quarter to one inch of water every time you irrigate. Wait until the soil dries to water again. Once the winter rains begin, we can usually turn the systems off for the winter unless there are new plants in the landscape. In the colder areas of Georgia, you may need to drain the sprinkler system so it will not be damaged during a freeze this winter.
- Offer a special on irrigation installation in the off-season.
- Plant or move woody trees, shrubs, and many perennials. Late fall and winter is generally the best time to plant woody plants and many perennials. Planting in the cooler, wetter weather gives the roots time to get well established before they have to deal with our harsh, dry summer weather!
- Soil sample to look for low pH or fertility problems. This is especially important with St. Augustine, Bermuda and zoysia lawns but can be helpful in many situations. Your local UGA Extension Office can help with soil analysis.
- Keep the leaves cleaned up from turf. This will prevent matting during rains which can smother the grass. And it will prevent you having to explain to the homeowner why the lawn died in that area during the winter!
- Offer a ‘clean up’ special for new clients needing help with fall leaves and clean-up. Use this as an opportunity to give them a free estimate for maintenance or weed control for the coming year. Perhaps you could offer them a discount for paying ahead for a full year of weed control.
- Offer a special on installing hardscapes, outdoor living spaces or lighting or other services that you offer. See if you can move some of the ‘spring rush’ business to a slower time of the year.
- Check trees and identify hazards that need to be dealt with. Trees are easier to evaluate for hazards when they have no leaves. Let a certified arborist handle tree issues since tree work is hazardous. Working on trees without the proper training and equipment can open your company to large safety and liability problems. Sub-contract tree work if you do not have fully trained, equipped and insured tree professionals on staff.
- Conduct needed maintenance on your equipment. You may be surprised how much better a sharp mower blade cuts a lawn. Sharp blades produce a cleaner cut and a healthier lawn! Winterize equipment that you will not be using this winter.
- Conduct inspections of established clients to evaluate the quality of your work, to get client feedback and to look for other services they may need. An online survey is a good evaluation tool as well, but get experienced help designing and interpreting a survey. And if you ask for client feedback, be prepared to make some changes!
- Train your staff using information from UGA Extension. Consider pursuing a UGA sponsored certification. You can also use information from our website to train workers in English or Spanish. Find bilingual safety training here or view recorded webinars here.
- Check the Georgia Department of Agriculture website to see when the pesticide licenses in your company will expire and how many hours applicators need to get renewed. Find upcoming trainings here including opportunities to earn pesticide credits towards renewing commercial pesticide applicator licenses.
- Check mulched beds and add mulch if needed. Mulches to prevent weeds and conserve moisture should be 2 to 4 inches thick. Coarse textured mulches (pine bark and wood chips) are better used deeper (3 to 4 inches deep) while fine-textured mulches (pine straw and mini-bark nuggets) are better applied 2 to 3 inches deep. Do not pile mulch around the base of trees or shrubs since this can permanently damage the plant.
These are valuable services you can offer your clients and may be a way of helping you retain business and workers during a slower time of the year.
If you have ideas for increasing fall sales that you would like to share let us know!