5 things to keep in mind for fall cleanups

August 14, 2023 -  By
Experts say its crucial to keep in mind your customer’s needs when preparing for fall  cleanup season. (Photo: Perillo Property Maintenance)

Experts say its crucial to keep in mind your customer’s needs when preparing for fall cleanup season. (Photo: Perillo Property Maintenance)

For many landscape companies, August is the time to prepare for fall. Maintenance crews will soon deal with wet weather, falling leaves and cooler temperatures.

Thankfully, the following experts share their tips on how to handle fall cleanups. Nick Carlson, founder of Mulch Mate; Marc Mataya, owner of Leaf Burrito; Tom McDermott, U.S. sales director for Tufx; and Shawn Perillo, owner of Perillo Property Maintenance in Hopewell Junction, N.Y., offer their advice on how to make the most of this season.

When talking about preparation for fall cleanups, Carlson compares it to preparing a meal. Organizing in advance simplifies the process of cooking. He says the same aspect applies to fall maintenance.

“Once you have the ingredients in place, you can make the food quickly,” Carlson says. “When you transfer that mindset over to landscapers, it helps them get ahead, put contracts in place and get all the work done.”

1. Communicate with customers

Carlson stresses the importance of effective communication between customers and contractors.

“If the customer has needs and they have a lot going on in their lives, they just want the job done,” Carlson says. He explains that customer needs require extra professionalism and initiative in communication. Don’t wait for the customer to talk to you. Be proactive in your communication with your customers.

2. Put packages together for customers

Carlson says typical fall cleanups begin in August when workers start aerating, seeding and applying starter fertilizer. From there, customers want to ensure contractors cut the lawn at the correct heights. Customers will also want to schedule crews before the offseason for tasks such as aeration or pruning.

By putting together packages for customers that include mowing, leaf cleanup and mulching, landscapers can bill their customers once a month.

“Eyes are on property managers to get on schedule, to place bids on other properties and ensure preparation for the next season,” Carlson says.

3. Utilize proper scheduling

Perillo warns about the potential consequences of not properly scheduling customer appointments. Perillo Property Maintenance’s service mix includes maintenance, turf care, snow and ice management and mosquito control for a primarily residential clientele.

Contractors must be aware of clients’ properties and consider weather conditions on the day of service, he says. “If the weather is bad — windy or rainy — and it is an open field or area, you automatically know you can’t do that property,” Perillo says. “You don’t want your crew on that property wasting time, gas and energy.”

4. Make sure equipment runs properly

Perillo recommends landscapers make sure their equipment and mowers are ready for the job.

“Get your baggers on the mowers and make sure all of your equipment is running in tip-top shape for leaf removal,” he says. “For leaf cleanup and additional services, you don’t want your equipment to be broken down at the end of the season when we only have a tight window of time to get things done.”

McDermott agrees that proper tools and equipment should be a contractor’s focus.

“A large capacity dual-wheel wheelbarrow is an ideal tool for fall cleanup,” he adds. “That is a tool that can provide maximum capacity combined with maximum stability when it comes to those autumn months.”

5. Learn from the past

Mataya’s No. 1 tip for fall cleanups is to look at what didn’t work last year.

It’s about finding what is low-maintenance and sustainable, he says. Invest in long-term sustainable efforts when preparing for the fall. It’s also important to learn from mistakes so you don’t repeat them.

“I think the general gist is pay now or pay later,” Mataya says. “If you plan now for new and hardy equipment, the investment becomes basic maintenance for many years.”

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