Sunday, June 6, 2010
The 33% rule
Last year I had a customer who was always complaining that his lawn was never healthy, green and there were always weeds everywhere. He told me his lawn looked like crap and it did.
I explained to him he got the same applications on his lawn that everyone else did and suggested he may need to have a soil test, because the problem must be on a deeper level.
My guess at that time was, the lawn was low in magnesium, or organic matter and this was causing it to be unreceptive to treatments.
The customer, being on a the most basic program, did not want to spend the $42 and change for the soil test.
"Look," I said trying to keep him happy, "I'll give you my top program next year at the same price you're paying now to get your lawn under control."
He eagerly agreed.
After the first fertilization, core aeration and bio weed control, the lawn was looking much better, but by the time I showed up for the next application, it was back to looking stressed, brown and weed-filled.
It was then I noticed the huge pile of grass clippings at the side of house and the warning bells began to sound. This guy was letting his grass get insanely long, then scalping it down to nothing and expecting it to look like a golf green.
I had given him my top program for half-price and he was pissing all over my work.
So I made a note on the invoice outlining proper lawn cutting techniques and we'll see what happens, but I'm not terribly optimistic.
So let's establish some ground rules. In fact let us refer to it as the rule of 33%.
The days of lawn companies showing up for two weed-and-feed applications a year, are gone people. It died when the bylaw came in. Now the visits have to be more frequent and the applications more regulated. This is my 33% and my commitment to you.
In between visits I need the home owner to be my eyes and tell me when things are not smiles and giggles with their lawn i.e. visible grub damage, weed issues, and so on. I also need the home owner to do their 33%, which is- cut properly.
Here are your 33% commandments.
Thou shalt not remove more than a third of the blade of grass to minimize stress and ring the dinner bell for weeds.
Thou shalt keep thy mowing blades sharp as to not invite turf disease.
Thou shalt keep thy mowing height on high during the summer months as to keep thy lawn drought tolerant.
Thou shalt deeply water thy grass at least once a week to help create a strong root system.
Thou shalt change thy mowing direction from week to week to promote a healthier and thicker lawn.
Thou shalt leave thy clippings on thy grass to return nitrogen back into thy soil.
Thou shalt never gas up thy mower when on the lawn. Hey, it happens.
The final rule of 33% is the weather. You and I may both do our part, but if Mother Nature doesn't cooperate we can still have problems.
I know you are wondering, "33 + 33 + 33...that still leaves 1% unaccounted for".
I guess you can say that 1% is the previous lawn company showing up and doing an application on your lawn even though you cancelled with them. Let's hope you never have to experience that 1%.
As for my customer and his scalped lawn, I`m not worried. He`s a car salesman. Next season when he wants to renew his sweetheart deal of half-price lawn care, I will tell him, he can have the same program again provided he gives me a new truck at half-price- a truck that I will drive over curbs, rocky terrain and abuse. Then I`ll bring it back and tell him it`s crap.
That seems fair.