2015 Lawn Care Preview

Lawn care pros want reliable products they know will work, but can also help them increase share of wallet.

Laurie Riggs, market manager for Syngenta Lawn and Landscape
Laurie Riggs, market manager for Syngenta Lawn and Landscape

Yes, lawn care contractors want proven, reliable products to help them manage weeds, insects and disease. But even more than that, they want products that give them a competitive edge and help them grow sales—without having to acquire scores of new customers.

Laurie Riggs, market manager for Syngenta Lawn and Landscape, was one of nearly 100 lawn care industry professionals who attended the Lawn Care Summit, jointly produced by PLANET and the National Pest Management Association, in Tampa this past December. Riggs says she recognized a common theme among lawn care contractors as she spoke to several over the course of the three-day event.

"It seems like the leading contractors are more interested in lawn care trends from a business standpoint, as opposed to a product-focused standpoint," Riggs relates. "Their energies are focused on differentiating themselves from their competition; exploring options to grow their companies, enhancing the quality of service they deliver, and improving their reputations as lawn care providers. It is very expensive to acquire new customers, so contractors are expanding the scope of the services they offer to grow their 'share of wallet' with existing customers."

More services, more education

To that end, leading lawn care suppliers have been striving to assist contractors when it comes to education—education for both lawn care technicians and customers. For instance, Bayer offers a resource library at backedbybayer.com. FMC Professional Solutions offers turf advice and best management practices at FMCturfwire.com. Syngenta's GreenCastOnline.com provides agronomic, business, product and technical advisories.

Syngenta has also been developing various marketing materials to help contractors sell services to customers. "We've always produced technical sell sheets for the technicians to read," Riggs tells. "Now we're also creating pieces that talk more about how the contractor can position certain products with their customers. We develop these marketing pieces to be more consumer-friendly, using infographics and photos to help them sell their services."

The point is to give busy lawn care contractors useful sales tools as they hustle for more business. Thus far, Syngenta has created marketing pieces for its Tenacity herbicide (which can be used at seeding) and its Advion fire ant bait. "We're now working on a piece for our Acelepryn insecticide, which is a versatile product for use in controlling all white grub species in turf and caterpillars in ornamental trees and shrubs with low impact on beneficials," Riggs points out.

Speaking of ornamentals, that's another area Riggs is hearing more lawn care contractors express interest in. "We're seeing more contractors look at bedding areas, trees and shrubs as additional ways to help clients protect their properties. Many landscape elements like this can become infested with fall webworms or lace bugs. Lawn contractors are expanding beyond turf."

Mosquito control is another example. "I received a lot of interest in our mosquito-control products at the Lawn Care Summit due to its high demand across all geographies," Riggs says in reference to Syngenta's Demand CS insecticide and Archer insect growth regulator products. "This combination of products delivers excellent control and can be easily included as an add-on service for lawn care professionals."

There's no doubt that demand for pest control and lawn care remains strong. Today's leading contractors are developing strategies to cash in on that demand as cost-effectively and hassle-free as possible. To do that requires good products, but even better planning and marketing.