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Case study: Specialty trimming

January 9, 2015 -  By

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 4.19.41 PMCrape myrtle pruning helps trees bloom and profits grow at Thompson Landscape.

In the 1990s, customers repeatedly asked Thompson Landscape to add crape myrtle trimming to their yearly landscape maintenance contracts, so the Plano, Texas-based company decided to name and market it as its own service. Doing so has been a differentiator for the firm.

Many other landscape companies likely offer crape myrtle pruning, too, acknowledges Chad Romines, a manager at Thompson Landscape, which is a 100 percent residential landscape maintenance company. After all, the crape myrtle is a popular ornamental tree in Texas. But Romines says he hasn’t seen any other companies advertise this specialty trimming as its own service. Crape myrtle trimming is the only tree work the company conducts.

Some clients have tried tackling crape myrtle trimming on their own, but it can be frustrating, Romines says. This tree poses some challenges. For example, improper pruning may cause them to bloom earlier and for a shorter amount of time.

The trimming service is offered a la carte; the specifics depend on the tree and the property, Romines says.

When it comes to pricing, many factors such as the size and age of the tree come into play, Romines says. The cost for pruning ranges from $35 for the bare minimum to more than $350 for a property that has more than one or complicated crape myrtles. It’s rarely ever more than a one-man job.

The company has five 20-year-plus employees who are qualified and experienced in crape myrtle pruning. They were trained in-house by the company’s owner, who taught himself about the trees when clients first began asking him to offer this service.

With some education and training, others could offer this or a similar service, Romines says. Equipment needed may include a ladder, hand pruners to clip small branches (less than 1-in. thick), loppers to cut medium-size branches (around 1 inch) and pole pruners to cut branches more than 1.5 inches in diameter.

Because the best time to trim the crape myrtle is the dormant season, the service has been a nice cash generator during January and February when Thompson Landscape isn’t driving much revenue. However, given it’s a small service and only an annual job on each property, Romines says it accounts for only 1 percent of the firm’s overall revenue.

“Still, it’s something that keeps our customers happy and a way to stay in touch with them in the off season,” Romines adds. “The client demand and nature of horticulture and plants in Texas are very complex, so keeping up with those demands is important. It’s also helped us to be more of a one-stop shop, which we find most of our clients are looking for these days.”

Besides denoting crape myrtle trimming as a stand-alone service on its website, Romines says the company markets it by offering a no-obligation estimate to all properties that have the trees each year.

“We use our existing and potential client data to generate those estimates each year, and most of our clients do take us up on it,” Romines says. “It’s a nice little extra service that saves them time and makes them feel better that it’s being done right.”

Payton is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia.

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About the Author:

Payton is a freelance writer with eight years of experience writing about the landscape industry.

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