Lawn care advantage
When installation work began to decline, Williams ramped up his efforts in the lawn care side of the business. Today he has about 1,200 customers where his crews regularly apply granular fertilizer and herbicides. About 15 to 20 percent of them purchase other services from Lawn Sense.
“The diversifi cation into lawn care has really paid off,” he says. “It enabled us to get through the decline in installations and continue to grow our business. One of the keys to making it work is operating it as a route business. Drive time will kill you. So we try to keep our routes tight. In addition, we try not to compete on price; instead we use only top-shelf products. For example, most of the fertilizer we apply has a high percentage of slow- release ingredients. Another point of difference: We have people in the fi eld who can identify problems and offer solutions. That makes customers more confi dent in our abilities.”
One thing Williams did not realize when he entered the lawn care business is that it’s all about marketing and that it takes a while for people to recognize your name and want to buy from you.
“Every year our marketing has improved,” he says. “Five years ago we were spending about $300 to acquire a new lawn care customer. Now it’s about $120.
We primarily go after new customers through direct mail, and to a lesser extent we will do some door hangers and advertise at hockey rinks and ball fi elds. We purchase mailing lists for targeted ZIP codes around the Pittsburgh area through a marketing company. It has worked out very well.”
Retaining lawn care customers is critical to Williams’ business plan. “I believe the industry average is a 20 percent cancellation rate per year,” he says, “so if we can keep our rate at 10 percent, that’s a big savings and a real boost to increasing profi ts.”
Tool carriers and attachments
Williams began operating Bobcat® skid-steer loaders 11 years ago when he entered the lawn installation business. Today’s equipment inventory, purchased from Bobcat of Pittsburgh, includes a T190 compact track loader, an S250 skid-steer loader, an M-Series E35 compact excavator and numerous Bobcat attachments, including an auger, hydraulic breaker, BrushcatTM landscape rake.
rotary cutter and
Williams’ Bobcat loaders help with maintenance, brush cutting, loading equipment and materials such as salt and mulch, snow removal and lawn installations. The excavator is used for building retaining walls, patios and digging various types of drains.
“The operators really like the E35, especially the very smooth, easy-to-operate controls and reach capability,” Williams says.
Williams purchased the E35 — his fi rst excavator — when he was awarded a contract for a signifi cant revitalization project in downtown Pittsburgh, which included planting 600 trees.
Working in streets surrounded by heavy traffi c, his crew saw-cut 3-foot by 10-foot pits where the new trees were planted. After removing the concrete, the E35 excavated the pits. His Bobcat skid-steer loader hauled away the soil and brought in the trees.
“We had to deal with several restrictions, including how long the pits could be open without a tree in them, and do what we could to have limited impact on vehicle and pedestrian traffi c,” Williams says. “The project, which lasted about 15 months, would have been even a nightmare without the excavator. Our E35 was a big time-saver. It worked out great.
“Reliable Bobcat equipment has made a signifi cant impact on the business,” Williams says. “This industry is so competitive that you need good equipment to give yourself an advantage. On installation jobs, Bobcat machines are a key element in the bid; they make us money.”
to fi nd out more about the M-Series model and others available from Bobcat Company.
CHECK IT OUT!
Extendable-arm option compact excavators with an
Did you know the E35 is one of two Bobcat®
extendable-arm option? It’s also available for the E32. An extendable arm provides operators with more dig depth and reach, while retaining a compact size for projects in confi ned spaces.
If you don’t have a smartphone, visit www.MyWorkSaver.com/ExArm
to watch the video.
SPRING 2012 | WorkSaver 29
To watch a video of a Bobcat excavator with the extendable-arm option, scan this QR code with your smartphone (iPhone® Android™
, Blackberry® available from your favorite app store. or ), using a QR code reader application
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