Lassoing deals and discounts with EOPs

September 11, 2023 -  By
(Graphic: LM Staff)

(Graphic: LM Staff)

Lawn care operators (LCOs) are a tough bunch, used to working long hours in the hot sun. As the 2023 season began, LCOs set out on their journey, determined to make it to the finish line. They faced many obstacles along the way, including bad weather, supply chain issues and inflation.

To get a read on the situation, LM surveyed lawn care and landscape pros to uncover how supply chain issues and inflation affected their early order program (EOP) plans heading into 2024.

In fact, 64 percent of readers said the supply chain impacted their business this year. Readers cited difficulty in sourcing parts for equipment, product delays and inconsistent product availability.

“Hard to get materials and they are more expensive as well,” says a reader in Ohio. “It has made scheduling difficult.”

(Graphic: LM Staff)

(Graphic: LM Staff)

A reader in Illinois struggled to get larger plant material.

“(I’m facing) delays in getting materials for design/build projects as well as subcontractor delays,” the reader continued.
A reader in Washington cited a delay in wholesale items such as pesticides and fertilizers.

“Some basic components are not even available when needed, a lot of fertilizers (are) not available at one supplier but available at another or not at all for up to a month,” said a reader in California.

A reader in Kansas says, “(The) worst problem is if we run short on something it can take months for a replacement, particularly with hardscape materials.”

Rustlin’ up some trouble

More than 93 percent of respondents say inflation rustled up some trouble for their businesses this year.

One reader in California said some clients let their properties go longer between services.

Another reader in California says irrigation contractors feel the pinch of inflation this year in a big way.

“Irrigation supplies have gone up as much as 70 percent on some components, especially pipe fittings, sprinkler heads, outdoor lighting fixtures, etc.,” the reader says.

A reader in North Carolina says inflation caused the business to check the prices of materials more frequently when pricing jobs. A reader in California agrees, noting irrigation material and components and plant material prices fluctuate more frequently.

“We went from bids being held for three months to needing to update pricing every two weeks,” the reader says.

A reader in Minnesota says as inflation raises material costs, employees also want a cost of living raise to contend with expenses at home.

“Employees are asking for higher pay, all of our overhead costs have gone up and we’ve really had to take a hard look to see what expenses we should try to go without for a while,” the reader says.

(Photo: DNY59/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

(Photo: DNY59/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Hold on to your 10-gallon hat

Some readers indicated a drop in business as a result of inflation and rising costs as businesses passed some of the rising costs on to potential customers.

“We have had to raise prices to stay up with increased costs,” says a reader in Minnesota. “These increases have caused a reduction in client renewals. Further, because we set prices for the year, some increases have reduced profit as they were more than expected.”

A reader in New Jersey says passing the increased expense on to clients is necessary.

“Labor costs have increased 20 percent in the last three years as have trucks, trailers and small equipment,” the reader says. “Most materials have stopped rising or have dropped back by 10 to 15 percent.”

One reader in Florida says that while it’s difficult to escape increases in prices, that doesn’t mean clients accept these increases.

“Customers hate rate increases, even though they see them everywhere else,” the reader says. “(It) makes them grumpy.”

A reader in New Jersey says clients may not be willing to handle price increases.

“My prices went up, but I can only raise the customers price so much,” the reader says.

Another reader in Florida says as the costs of services and prices increased, fewer clients want to move forward with projects.

High noon decisions

While some lawn care operators (LCOs) turn to early order programs (EOPs) to contend with product availability issues and price instability, some LCOs see EOPs as the Wild West. In fact, only 44 percent of readers participated last year. However, 58 percent say they plan to hitch their wagons to EOPs this year.

While 35 percent of those polled say EOPs will be somewhat important going into next year, most readers expect their budgets for control products on EOPs will remain flat or 1 percent to 9 percent higher.

While most readers indicate fertilizers will be the predominant purchase during EOP season (75 percent), herbicides will follow as a close second at 67 percent. Some readers indicated purchasing irrigation supplies and turf seed along with insecticides and fungicides.

Hitting the trail

A reader in Ohio says a major driver in participating in early order purchasing programs is to lock in prices and secure product availability for the start of the 2024 growing season.

A reader in Minnesota agrees, noting it’s a “combination of cost savings and having the materials on hand when we need to use them.”

Combining discounts is another benefit to EOPs, says a reader in Utah. A reader in Wisconsin says EOPs are a great opportunity to mitigate any potential issues for supply chain interruptions.

“(I participate) to get lower prices buying in bulk, long terms and have product here when needed,” says a reader in Arkansas.

This article is tagged with , , and posted in From the Magazine
Christina Herrick

About the Author:

Christina Herrick is the editor of Landscape Management magazine. Known for her immersive approach to travel from coast to coast in her previous stint as senior editor of American Fruit Grower Magazine, she uses social media (Twitter/Instagram @EditorHerrick) to share her experiences on the road with her audience. Herrick has a degree in journalism from Ohio Northern University. She can be reached at

Comments are currently closed.