Archive for the ‘Business Tips’ Category

Stand-On Mowers: Are They Right for Your Business?

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020
Lawn care pro using a Staris stand-on mower

There are many benefits to stand-on mowers, including improved visibility and user control for more precise mowing. Could stand-ons be the right option for your mower fleet? If you’re not sure whether to upgrade to stand-on mowers or to stick with walk-behinds, here are some questions to help you decide.

What Size Properties Do You Mow?

The size of properties you mow is a big factor. If you mow exclusively large properties (more than an acre and a half) without a lot of obstacles, then a zero-turn mower may be a better option. Stand-on mowers are great for small to medium sized properties with landscaping and obstacles. Think suburban lawns, especially those with curved flower beds, irregular lot lines, or a lot of trees. Lots between half an acre and 1.25 acres are good candidates, however, a compact model like the 32” Staris E-Series would work well on small lots (less than half an acre).

Do You Need to Fit into Tight Spaces or Through Gates?

Stand-ons are easy to maneuver into tight spaces. They provide excellent sightlines to the operator, and allow for greater precision. It’s also easy to step on and off to move obstacles. The compact 32” E-Series fits through a standard 36” gate, which is important if you work in neighborhoods with fenced yards and garages in the alley.

What Type of Terrain Do You Mow?

When we designed the Exmark Staris, we placed heavier components like the engine low on the machine to lower the center of gravity and to improve balance and stability. If you work in an area with tough terrain, a stand-on may be the right choice, regardless of the size lawns you mow.

How Much Room Do You Have on Your Trailer?

If space on your trailer is tight, you’ll like that stand-on mowers have a smaller footprint and are easier to transport. Staris was designed to be compact, regardless of deck width, and to make loading and unloading easier. The suspended operator platform on the S-Series folds up, further maximizing your trailer space.

Do You Need to Mow a Lot of Properties Quickly?

Of course you do. Depending on deck width and configuration, a stand-on mower provides increased productivity over a walk-behind, because it mows at speeds faster than a person can walk. The Staris Stand-On mower has a top ground speed of 10 mph, and with a 60” deck can mow up 4.8 acres per hour.

If upgrading to stand-on mowers makes sense for your business, the Staris comes in a variety of deck widths, from 32” to 60”. Like all Exmark mowers, it was designed to be durable, reliable and provide excellent cut quality and superior operator comfort. Ready to learn more? Contact your local Exmark dealer for a test mow.

Tips to Grow Your Landscaping Business in 2020

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020

For many landscape professionals, November through March are slow months, especially in cold weather states. While it can be tempting to kick back and relax until spring, it can be a good time to plan for growth in the coming year.

Get the Word Out About Your Services

When you’re contacting clients about renewing for next year, add a request for them to provide feedback on social media channels and your Google MyBusinesss page. Increasingly, Facebook, Yelp and Google are the first place users turn when looking for new services. (If you haven’t created social media and Google MyBusiness pages, take advantage of your downtime and set them up.)

Reward customers who refer new customers with a discount on services. Add “Who referred you to us?” to any online or paper forms, and be sure to ask potential customers who reach out to you by phone or email.

Consider service add-ons, like twice yearly aerating or over-seeding, hedge trimming, or fall leaf collection and gutter cleaning. Not everyone will sign up for extra services, but a portion will. You’ll also let customers who think you only cut grass know you can provide additional lawn care or landscaping services.

Customers don’t like price increases, and everyone likes a bargain. If you’re raising your rates, consider having a tiered system, where customers who renew contracts by a certain date get a smaller increase than if they waited until just before the season starts. By doing this, you reward their loyalty and offering the preferred bargain.

Staffing

Get your staff lined up well before mowing season. Whether you rehire last season’s operators or need to look for new staff, doing it early will give you a much better idea of how much work you can complete in a given week. If reviews and additional services lead to a business boom, then you’ll have time to staff up before mowing season really gets going.

Maintenance

Review all equipment maintenance logs from last year and identify any tasks that were skipped. It’s also a good idea to plan for spring maintenance on all your mowers before mowing season starts. If a mower need repairs, winter is an ideal time, as your local servicing dealer may be slower in the off season.

Equipment Upgrades

Consider whether any of your mowers and other lawn care equipment need replacing. Also consider whether your existing equipment fleet will be enough for your book of business in the coming year. If it looks like you’ll need additional equipment, take the time to figure out if trading a mower for a larger or faster models would be a better option. Also, think about the benefits of mower leasing instead of outright purchases.  

Business Plan

We may have just gotten through the fall, but think about ways to work further into the fall next year Think broadly: There’s no reason you can’t expand to other outdoor chores if there’s a market for it in your area. Consider creating an online survey for your clients, polling them on what additional services they’d be interested in.

Planning now, when your business is slowest, will help you achieve success in 2020. Partner with your local Exmark dealer on any equipment needs, and you’ll deliver an exceptional quality of cut that will keep customers rebooking, year after year.

Investing in Operator Comfort with an Exmark Suspension Platform

Thursday, May 9th, 2019
Lazer Z E-Series mower with suspension platform in use

When it’s time to upgrade your lawncare company’s mowers, price and reliability are undoubtedly a big factor. Productivity should also be a top concern. Many things go into productivity, including mower size, engine size, and how much downtime a mower has. Something you may not have considered as a contributing factor to productivity is how the machine impacts your crew.

Rough ground can be jarring on even the smoothest traditional riding mowers.  A day of vertical bumps, lateral sway, and vibrations can contribute to operator fatigue, leading to frequent rest breaks and fewer properties mowed in a day. Investing in the comfort of your crew is a sound business decision that can help keep them alert and engaged for the full workday.

If you want productive employees, an Exmark suspension platform zero-turn mower can deliver maximum productivity. Three coil-over dampers isolate the operator platform from the mower’s chassis. The platform can travel vertically, making rough and bumpy ground much more comfortable to mow. Trailing arm design minimizes lateral movement, too, so there’s less side-to-side sway. Plush foam padding, high seat backs, and an Elastomeric Vibration Control (EVC) stretch fabric base add to operator comfort.

The travel of the operator platform is completely isolated from the cutting deck, maintaining Exmark’s legendary cut-quality. The travel of the operator platform is completely isolated from the cutting deck, maintaining Exmark’s legendary cut-quality. We designed our suspended operator platforms with an eye to your maintenance needs. They are virtually maintenance free, with no additional upkeep or downtime needed. Whether you run a large operation with a crew of hundreds, or a small business with just a couple of employees, you’ll appreciate that the suspension platform is easy to adjust for all your employees. Operators can set it for their size and preferences, without tools, so it can be reset quickly out in the field.

Suspension platforms are available on the Lazer Z E-Series and X-Series, with deck widths from 60” to 72”, and on the Radius S-Series, with deck widths from 48” to 60”. They deliver the performance, durability and reliability that commercial landscape pros demand.  If you’d like to see what an Exmark suspension mower can offer your business, talk to your local Exmark dealer.

Lawn Care Tasks to Expand Your Business Season

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

Lawn care can be a great industry to work in, but it does have one major drawback: it’s largely seasonal. Lawn care companies can be stretched during the growing season, but dead from late fall through early spring. If you’ve been wondering how you can keep your lawn care professionals busy all year round, we have some tips for you.

Expand into Spring and Summer

The easiest way to grow your lawn mowing business is to start expanding into other tasks. Spring prep work and maintenance tasks can start your team working before lawns begin to green up – everything from aerating and fertilizing, to top-dressing, to overseeding. Other early spring tasks could include pruning small trees and shrubs. If you have the eye for it, you can also offer landscape design and planting services. Fall tasks that can stretch your season include leaf raking and removal, spraying for perennial weeds, and aerating. If you aren’t already offering these services, poll your existing clients to see which services they would be interested in.

Snow Removal

Even after you’ve expanded into spring and fall, things like weeding, seeding, fertilizing, and clearing leaves can only last for so long. That’s why the next obvious service to offer is snow removal. In many parts of the country, you can go straight from clearing leaves and branches to removing snow to laying down turf and pre-emergent herbicides.

Home Services

Spring and fall homecare tasks could be another source of income. Cleaning gutters, washing siding, or sprinkler system set-up are tasks that many homeowners would be happy to contract out. In cold weather states, winterization services might be a good fall task. Look for gaps in services. There are plenty of companies to cut the grass, but how many of your competitors will also hang holiday lights, which would push your season into late November.

Landscaping and Planting

Early spring is a good time for landscaping work. Creating planting beds, tree planting, and building enhancements like patios, water features or walkways would add a host of services to your business. And just as it is possible to turn existing mowing customers into landscaping clients, you could engage with someone to redo their planters and convert them to mowing customers.

Listen to Your Customers – and Potential Customers

One of the best ways to grow your lawn care company is by simply listening to your customers. Give them a chance and they’ll tell you what services they wish you offered. Talk to people who aren’t customers, too, and ask what their current lawn care company isn’t doing.  A key thing to remember is that if one homeowner needs help with a task, chances are good that many more do, too.

Stand-On vs. Walk-Behind Aerators

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019
24" Exmark Stand-on Aerator in use

If you’re looking to add an aerator to your equipment fleet, there’s one question you need to answer: should you buy a stand-on or a walk-behind aerator? The answer will depend on your business needs, the types of property you maintain and your terrain, but we have some basics that can help you choose the right configuration.

Walk-Behind Aerators

If your budget is limited, walk-behind aerators typically have a lower price-point than stand-ons. They are well-suited for small areas, so if you primarily maintain residential properties with small to medium lot sizes, a walk-behind should meet your needs. They’re self-propelled, but an operator may still experience fatigue after a day of steering one around properties, especially if they aren’t designed with ergonomic features or the operator’s comfort in mind.

Exmark’s 21-inch walk-behind aerator has a top speed of 4 mph, and can cover almost one acre per hour. It has straight-forward controls, ergonomic handles, and features heavy-duty, self-cleaning tines. It operates in both forward and reverse, and pulls 4.6 plugs per square feet.

Stand-On Aerators

Stand-on aerators are more comfortable for the operator, and can result in less fatigue. They’re typically larger and operate at higher speeds than walk-behind aerators, resulting in better efficiency for your operation. They are ideal for larger lots, parks and athletic fields, and allow you to aerate more acres in less time — which can mean more profits for your business. When you figure in the increased productivity, a stand-on may be a better purchase in the long run. Stand-ons provide improved traction  and maneuverability, allowing you to negotiate tight spaces with zero-turning radius.

Exmark makes stand-on aerators in a 24-inch and a 30-inch model. With the ability to easily set tine depth between 0.5 inches and 5 inches, the Electronic Depth Control allows operators to maintain consistent core quality around a property—allowing operators to cover more ground, more efficiently. The 24-inch model will fit through a standard 36-inch residential gate, making it ideal for residential property maintenance. It can reach speeds of up to 6.8 miles per hour and aerates almost 1.4 acres per hour. The 30-inch stand-on model reaches speeds up to 7 miles per hour and aerates more than 1.8 acres per hour. Both Exmark stand-on models include a unique platform suspension that provides an extra-smooth ride for the operator, which increases their comfort and may help reduce fatigue.

Choose Exmark

Whether you choose an Exmark stand-on or walk-behind aerator, they feature commercial grade engines and are built to be durable and easily maintained. To schedule a demo, see your local Exmark dealer.

Expanding Your Lawn Care Business with an Exmark Slicer Seeder

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019

Many small lawn operations would like to grow, but struggle to balance service and equipment needs. You may want to be able to offer a variety of lawn services, but that doesn’t mean you need the budget for multiple pieces of equipment. With an Exmark Slicer Seeder you don’t need multiple machines, because with each pass it can handle verticutting, dethatching and over-seeding.

These three tasks are important for healthy, beautiful lawns. Dethatching promotes healthy growth. While a thatch layer insulates lawns and makes it resilient to foot traffic, more than half an inch of thatch can cause root systems to dry out, create drainage problems, and even lead to mower scalping. Verticutting breaks up the thatch layer and improves the flow of oxygen and water to the lawn’s roots. Over-seeding at the same time creates a thicker lawn, as new growth fills in thin spots. Combining these three tasks into one saves you significant time.

The 20” Exmark Slicer Seeder is easy to use, maneuverable, and fits in tight spaces. At a top speed of 4 mph, you’ll cover a lot of ground, fast. The hopper holds up to 40 pounds of seed, and you can adjust the dispersal rate for light or heavy over-seeding, depending on lawn conditions. Ground speed regulates seed flow, ensuring even seed delivery even if you speed up or slow down.

A Subaru EX27 commercial-grade engine provides the power and fuel-efficient performance professionals depend on. High-carbon steel blades easily remove thatch while cutting slits up to 1” deep. You’ll get the right seed-to-soil ratio for germination. The slicer blades are easy to adjust for grass type, seed type, and depth of the thatch layer. And because it’s an Exmark, the Slicer Seeder has been engineered for reliable performance season after season.

Verticutting two to three times per season can be beneficial for most lawns and regions of the country. In the spring, this helps to remove dead organic material from the lawn to promote healthy growth. Mid-season, verticutting allows more sun, nutrients and water to reach the soil, so you have a healthy platform for strong growth. In the fall, verticutting and over-seeding are basic maintenance tasks that help to promote good growth in the following spring.

A Slicer Seeder can extend your season, so you work earlier in the spring and later in the fall. The benefits of verticutting, dethatching and over-seeding are easy to explain, so it’s a service that doesn’t require a lot of selling. Many customers want to deal with one company for all of their lawncare needs, so offering verticutting as a service can make your business more attractive to consumers. Also, the fact that the machine performs three tasks with each pass will save you time and help improve your profitability.

Is the Slicer Seeder a good fit for your lawncare operation? Find your local Exmark dealer and request a demo.

Spreader Attachment for Stand-on Aerator Improves Profitability

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

If you’re a professional landscaper or mower who offers aeration services, you probably have a two-step process, especially in the spring. First you aerate, then you use a spreader to overseed. This means two passes with two pieces of equipment, increasing your time on site, to say nothing of labor, fuel and operational costs. With Exmark’s new spreader attachment for the 24-inch and 30-inch Stand-on Aerators, it’s now possible to aerate and overseed in one pass. By combining two operations into one, operators can reduce costs and improve profitability.

The spreader attachment is simple to install, and can be removed quickly without tools, making it easy to handle on the job site. With a hopper capacity of 80 pounds of seed and speeds up to 7 mph, the Stand-on Aerator with spreader attachment will make short work of even the largest jobs, like playing fields, parks and cemeteries. For residential use, a hopper cover is standard, so seeds stay dry and contained during transportation or between uses.

Like all Exmark equipment, the spreader attachment features easy, intuitive controls that are easy to access. Operators can activate seed spinners or adjust spinner speed to increase broadcast width, as well as open and adjust the seed gate, on the fly, further increasing productivity. A manual blocker door provides increased operator control around flower beds, sidewalks, patios, or adjacent areas that don’t need overseeding.

Commercial mowing operations that add turf maintenance to their mowing services can see revenue and profits grow, and they position themselves to be more competitive in a crowded and competitive industry. By combining aeration and overseeding into one pass, they further increase the profitability of these services while reducing overall man-hours and equipment costs.

For a demo of the Exmark Stand-on Aerator and spreader attachment, contact your local Exmark dealer.

Is a Stand-On Mower Right for Your Business?

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

What type of mowers you need for your business depends very much on where and what you mow, but in the right conditions, a stand-on mower may be the most efficient choice. Stand-on mowers like the Exmark Vantage S-Series can be easier to maneuver in tight spaces. Operators may also have a better vantage point on a standing mower than when sitting. Here are some of the primary considerations when trying to decide if a stand-on mower is right for your business.

Property Size

If you primarily mow large lots – more than an acre and a half—without a lot of obstacles to navigate around, you will be better served by a riding or zero-turn mower. Stand-on mowers are great for medium and smaller lots with landscaping and irregular features. Think suburban lawns: The average lot size for new home construction in the US is .35 acres, too small for a riding mower, but large enough that a business wouldn’t want to be mowing with a 21” push mower.  A stand-up mower can make quick work of small- to medium-sized lawns, especially if, like the Vantage S-Series, it can operate at speeds up to 8 mph.

Transportation

Trailer space is limited. A stand-on mower typically has a smaller footprint than a zero-turn with the same size deck, and that footprint gets even smaller when the operator platform is folded away. Fitting two stand-on mowers on a trailer may be easier than fitting two riding or zero-turn mowers.

Terrain

Mowing in flat to rolling terrain, as in the Midwest, is different from mowing in a hilly or mountainous terrain. Stand-on mowers can perform well on hilly terrain, because they have a low center of gravity and the operator can shift their body weight to counteract the slope.

Operator Control and Precision

The operator of a stand-on mower has a higher vantage point than a riding mower operator, allowing enhanced visibility. Stand-on operators can hop on and off the machine more easily, which can be crucial when operating in areas with a lot of obstacles to move. Many operators prefer a stand-on for just this reason. Another trade-off is that because the operator stands, they need greater strength in their legs, core and back to support themselves through a full-day of mowing.

Price

The bottom line is the most important line for any business, and in competitive industries, any reduction in fleet operating costs makes a big difference. Stand-ons cost 10 to 20 percent less than zero-turns, which, when factored across a fleet, can be a big savings.

Bottom Line

If you primarily mow medium to small lawns, work in tight spaces with a lot of obstacles, or mow hilly terrain, and can work at a slightly slower pace, a stand-on may be the right mower for your business. Exmark’s Vantage S-Series offers industry-leading durability, performance and value in 36-, 48-, 52-, and 60-inch deck widths. See your local Exmark dealer for a demo.

Is a Wide-Area Mower Right for Your Business?

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

As a lawn care professional, you are likely looking for ways to increase the number of lawns you are able to mow, with an eye towards greater profitability. Investing in larger, more powerful equipment is one way to increase the amount you can mow, but how large can you go? Would a wide-area mower be right for your business?

They cut more at every pass and are designed to mow efficiently at higher speeds. Propane or diesel engines can increase fuel efficiency, reducing operating costs. Sounds great, right? But before you invest in one, think about what you mow.

What are Wide Area Mowers?

Wide Area Mowers are walk behind or riding lawn mowers that have decks that are larger 48”.  Generally, wide-area mowers work best on flat, open ground.  If you have a lot of large commercial properties and level, park-like terrain, a wide-area walk behind can be the right solution. But on rolling terrain or uneven ground, a smaller sized walk behind mower might be better, as too wide of a mower can scalp areas of the lawn, and it will be more difficult to mow around trees, flower beds and other obstacles.

What Size Deck is Best for Large and Small Properties?

If you don’t mow a significant number of large properties, a wide-area mower may not be worth the investment. On lots larger than a football field (1.63 acres), deck sizes of 48” and up may be a good fit.  If the bulk of your business is residential lots smaller than an acre and a half, you may be better served by a smaller mower with deck sizes in the 36”to 42” range with more powerful engines and slightly faster speeds.

Is a Wide-Area Walk Behind the Right Choice?

You might think a zero-turn mower with a larger deck is always the right choice. But advances in Exmark walk behinds, like hydrostatic drives, more efficient engines, Enhanced Control Systems (ECS), and improved ergonomics that reduce operator fatigue make a wide-area walk behind like the Turf Tracer X-Series worth test driving. A sulky can transform it to a stand-on mower for those extra large properties. And a wide deck on a walk behind may handle hilly terrain with less scalping than a ride-on with a similar size deck.  Walk behind mowers are also recommended for any hilly terrain or near or around potential hazards.

Transportation

Another issue to consider is whether a larger mower will fit on your existing trailers; if not, you’ll need to factor an additional trailer into your cost-benefit analysis. A full-width ramp trailer is required for trailering any product.

New for 2018

If, after running the numbers, you find that your business could support the additional expense of a wide-area mower, and you have the terrain that would make a wide-area zero-turn mower feasible, Exmark is releasing a new diesel Lazer Z with a 96” flex wing deck. Find your local dealer to get a preview.

Going from Lawn Maintenance to Landscape and Design

Friday, September 29th, 2017

One of the best ways to grow your lawn maintenance business is to expand your services beyond mowing and maintenance. These days, people want more out of their yards than just basic greenery—they want an outdoor living space, an extension of their homes that they can enjoy all year round.

That’s why so many lawn care professionals are including landscaping and garden design into their list of services. If you’re interested in helping people plan and plant their borders, here are some steps you can take to get started.

Learn Your State’s Regulations

Lawn maintenance and landscaping may be treated differently by your state, so check whether you need additional business licenses or have to be certified. And check with your city, too; they may also have regulations you should be aware of.

Fill in Your Knowledge Gaps

If you know a lot about trees, shrubs and other plants, but don’t have a lot of experience with design, it may be a good idea to get some basic training. Many community colleges offer certificates and associate’s degrees in landscape design, so check the ones in your area. Another place to check for short courses are local botanic gardens; they frequently offer certificates and weekend training workshops on select topics, especially planting. And university extension programs may also be a good source of training.

Connect with Others

Consider joining a professional organization like the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD). Professional groups are great for networking, providing continuing education, and if they offer referrals, can be a source of customers. The APLD also has a certificate program.

You’ll also want to make connections with garden suppliers, nurseries and people who offer special services, like tree removal. Since grading lawns, installing irrigation systems and building features like patios and retaining walls will require different equipment than lawn maintenance, you may need someone to rent machinery from until you can invest in it.

Start Small

Begin with smaller projects, like designing yards and patios and doing the plantings, rather than large, complicated projects like creating water features and terraces with retaining walls. As you grow in confidence, you can tackle new skills. Similarly, begin by offering services to your existing clients, then use those projects as examples of the type of work you can do. And be sure that you don’t focus so much attention on growing your new landscape design business at the expense of your maintenance services.