Fertile Ground: Selling organic lawn care to clients

November 5, 2021 -  By
Spray tech treating lawn (Photo: Environmental Enhancements)

Educating property managers is a key step in the organic management of commercial properties. (Photo: Environmental Enhancements)

Fred Peratt says he is the first to acknowledge that selling organic lawn care services to commercial clients isn’t easy.

“It’s like pushing a big boulder up a hill — you go up a few inches and then fall back 3 feet,” says the owner of Environmental Enhancements, a $5.6 million full-service company in Sterling, Va.

There are several reasons for the hard sell. One is cost. Peratt says his company’s organic program can cost 10-to-20 percent more than traditional lawn care services. Also, commercial clients are often less tolerant of weeds than residential clients are, and they don’t have the patience to allow an organic program to take hold. A third reason is a resistance to trying something new.

“A lot of property managers don’t have the time to understand an organic program, and they just stay with the same thing they’ve always done,” Peratt says.

Peratt says his company has had the most success selling organic services to homeowner associations, but he notes that only 10 percent of clients currently opt for organic. The company also offers a hybrid program that is 90 percent organic and 10 percent synthetic.

Marketing is an important component of the company’s organic program, Peratt says. Environmental Enhancements has several brochures and videos that highlight the benefits of going organic.

Customized programs

Schill Grounds Management in North Ridgeville, Ohio, offers its commercial clients a bionutritional program, which includes a mix of organic and synthetic products for what President and CEO Jerry Schill calls a more responsible application. Schill began offering this hybrid program about 10 years ago and says his love for Lake Erie inspired him to want to use fewer chemicals that may harm waterways.

“Sustainability is no longer about doing less harm; it is about doing more good, and we want to do our part.”

Lawn care is part of the company’s full-service commercial maintenance contracts, so all Schill’s customers receive the organic-heavy program. Like Peratt, Schill says requests for organic services have recently begun to increase. One of Schill’s main selling points is customization. Schill takes soil samples by region and adjusts the product “recipe” for each client based on the results.

“One approach does not fit all,” he says. “We can dial up our recipes through trial and error and science and get the right amount of synthetics and organics, reducing the need for synthetics by as much as 70 to 80 percent.”

Schill says most of his commercial clients already have sustainability initiatives in place, so an organic approach to lawn care fits into that narrative.

About the Author:

Emily Schappacher is a freelance writer based in Cleveland.

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