LCOs go around the horn with early order programs

September 19, 2022 -  By
(Illustration: vectorloop/DigitalVision Vectors)

(Illustration: vectorloop/DigitalVision Vectors)

As major league teams get ready to make their September call-ups, landscape and lawn care professionals prepare for the early order season. LM surveyed landscape pros to uncover how supply chain issues and inflation affected their early order program (EOP) plans heading into 2023.

“It has made it harder to schedule work due to not having what is needed,” said a reader from Ohio. “We have had to use alternative products. It has also affected the time it takes us to repair machinery as parts are not readily available.”

Of those surveyed this year, only 52 percent said they participated in EOPs last year. Now, more than 73 percent say they will take advantage of an EOP in 2022, heading into 2023.

Why have so many switched sides of the plate? Readers cite supply chain issues and inflation. More than 92 percent of readers said those factors affected their business.

The same goes for gas prices. Again, 92 percent of readers surveyed said they’ve had to modify their operations to save on gas.

Several readers, including one from Washington, passed the higher price at the pump on to customers.

“We raised prices,” the reader said. “It is a good time to raise prices since that is what people are expecting and most accept. I have lost a couple of accounts on the bottom.”

Others have taken a closer look at their routing, trying to cut down on their road time. Another popular strategy is doubling up on the number of people in a truck.

In the zone

(Illustration: Enterline Design Services LLC/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

(Illustration: Enterline Design Services LLC/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Most respondents said set prices and securing products ahead of time were the main reasons they plan on participating in EOPs this year.

“We were able to lock in product pricing and knew we had them when we needed them,” a reader from Missouri said. “The big saving was Roundup; it has gone up more than 40 percent from what we ordered with EOP.”

When asked how important EOPs will be this year, heading into next year’s season, most said “very.”

“With uncertainty looming in the economy right now, we need to look at reducing costs anywhere we can without sacrificing quality,” a reader from Virginia said.

However, a few survey participants disagree, saying they don’t believe EOPs will be much of a help for them in 2023. Some survey participants who said they won’t participate in EOPs this year pointed to economic uncertainty as the reason they don’t want to order early for next year.

Fertilizer was the most popular answer to the question, “What products do you purchase using EOPs?”

More than 85 percent of respondents plan to order fertilizer, with just over half of respondents saying they purchase herbicides (55 percent) and insecticides (52 percent).

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