Marketing Hints and Tips
Is your lawn care company good? Or is it great?
Business guru Jim Collins identifies several key principles in order to take a good company and transform it into a great one. One key principle is what Collins calls the “First Who… Then What.” Collins observed that Fortune 500 companies making the transformation from good to great took the time to find the right people (employees) and put them in the right positions before taking action. Great companies decided first whom to put on the team before vision and strategy.
Take this lesson to heart when looking at the team around you. Do you have the right people in the right places?If you could, would you hire them again? Do the people around you embody your company’s culture? If you hesitated to answer a definite “yes” to these questions, then it’s possible that you have the wrong people in the wrong places. However, great companies don’t rely upon layoffs to improve their performance. Many companies try to shuffle people around in different positions in order to find one that fits a specific employee. One great company had a rule that if an employee didn’t fit a position, they would reshuffle him/her three times before letting him/her go.
Collins also identified three rules for being “rigorous in people decisions:”
1. “When in doubt, don’t hire -- keep looking.” Don’t settle for a B player; instead hold out until that A person comes along.
2. Take action when you need to make a “people change.” If an individual isn’t making the fit don’t wait around to take action, you are wasting both your time and the employee’s.
3. “Put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems.” Placing them on the front lines will only help you grow your company.
Look over your team and make sure you have the right people in the right places. For example, would one of your telemarketers make a better door-to-door salesman? Having the best team around you will allow you to grow your company exponentially and reach your potential. If you would like to learn more about Jim Collins and the other elements to turn your good company into a great one, pick up a copy of his book here.
The Science Behind Holganix
Is Your Soil Healthy?
Time and time again, this blog has addressed the need and importance for soil health. After all, you can’t have a beautiful turf without healthy soil. Soil is responsible for numerous functions that create a healthy turf. For example, according to Cornell University, soil retains and cycles nutrients, helps with pest and weed suppression and produces food and fiber for plants. If your soil isn’t healthy, more and more synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides are needed to counteract the negative effects of poor soil quality. But how do you know if your lawns have healthy soil?
Soil testing is always a good idea, especially for lawns that you repeatedly have problems with (usually signals poor soil quality). Soil testing typically comprises a measurement of the present nutrients including nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, sulfur and calcium as well as a pH measurement. A good soil test will also feature a soil composition report to tell you where, in the range of sandy to clay, your customer’s soil stands in its composition. Knowing what nutrients are in the soil, its acidity and even its composition can greatly help you identify problems and solutions that will assist you in selling needed services to your customers. For example, the customer may have a heavy clay soil. Showing your customer this fact will help you promote aeration and over seeding to an otherwise stubborn client. Or perhaps the report indicated the pH level is high or low. Point this out to your client and recommend a program to adjust the pH (lime or sulfur).
If soil testing isn’t your thing, examining the soil and plants for yourself could also help shed some light on soil conditions. According to Cornell University’s Soil Health Manual, there are ten characters of healthy soil. Below is a break down of several key characteristics into easily understood chunks.
1. Sufficient depth: In other words, how deep can your plant roots grow and function? The deeper they can delve into, the better.
2. Nutrients: Are your plants receiving enough nutrients? Are they receiving too much? If your plants aren’t receiving enough nutrients, growth is hampered; however, if they receive too much, leaching can occur. Leaf coloration, pH, and moisture content can signal nutrient deficiency. It would be a good idea to become familiar with these signals.
3 Small population of plant pathogens and insect pests: Having a large population of nasty plant pathogens and insects spells trouble for your plants. However, having no pathogens means throwing the soil off balance. At Holganix, we believe an ideal ratio of good to bad microbes is 4:1. It’s important to learn the signs of plant disease and insect damage.
4. Large populations of beneficial organisms: Soil microbes are extremely important. “Healthy soil will have a high and diverse population of beneficial organisms” (Cornell University, Soil Health Manual). Beneficial microbes will produce high organic matter and good soil structure. Learn more about soil microbes here.
If you want to learn more about these characteristics, explore this link for Cornell’s Soil Health Manual.
Holganix Case Studies
"I am NOT an organic guy..."
“Holganix is the way of the future!” says Bobby Goerlich, superintendent of Maple Hill Golf Club, located in Marathon, New York. “The benefits are far reaching. We’ve just got to get Holganix into the hands of more people, more superintendents.”
Neither Goerlich, nor any of his predecessors, had used organic products on the course before Holganix. Goerlich had researched Holganix products for two years before agreeing to listen to the pitch. “I’m not an organic guy,” says Goerlich, “I’m a what works guy.” With his greens looking better than ever, root growth through the roof, a lack of surge growth and 90% less fungicides, it’s clear to Goerlich that Holganix is exactly what works on the course.
Goerlich’s first love is the game of golf. He was a golf pro for several years before studying advertising, marketing and eventually receiving a masters in foreign language. After working internationally at a string of exciting firms, life took a turn for the worst and extenuating circumstance had Goerlich looking for a quieter life and career. He went back to his roots in the golf industry, landing a position at Maple Hill Golf Club as their superintendent.
Maple Hill is a beautifully maintained championship golf course designed by Wes White. The course is nestled among 125 acres of rolling countryside, featuring predominately creeping bent grass and poa annua. Goerlich has been pleased with the increase in root health on both turf types while using Holganix.
“The thickness, whiteness and health is what sets these root systems apart,” says Goerlich of his turf roots compared to previous seasons, when Goerlich utilized only synthetic products. He pulls root profiles regularly and reports seeing 8- to 10-inch roots on bent grass, with thickness increasing 6 times than previously imagined. In addition, “the poa roots have roughly doubled in depth with the use of Holganix.” Root systems have also broken through the thatch layer. Goerlich attributes his 25-30% reduction in thatch and a 50% reduced black layer to the active microorganisms within Holganix products, which are “eating up” both layers.
The ability to reduce nitrogen and fungicides is particularly exciting to Goerlich. “I hate nitrogen,” complains Goerlich. “Because when you use nitrogen you get surge growth and that looks like sh*t.” Despite using less nitrogen, turf color has been consistent and “my green have been freakin’ phenomenal.” Furthermore, “those of us in New York have to be careful of what we put down on our course,” says Goerlich. “I have the Susquehanna, New York City Water and Chesapeake Bay Commission nearby. We need to be careful that our synthetic inputs don’t wind up in our waterways.”
Goerlich still believes nitrogen and also phosphorous to be key to turf health but “a little bit of nitrogen is cool. You don’t need a boat load.” Holganix has allowed him to go back to using teaspoons as opposed to “boat loads” of nitrogen. He tests his soils regularly and applies nitrogen and other inputs including fungicides on an as-needed basis. “I’ve probably used fungicide twice this year and never on my tees. We are close to a 90% reduction.”
“At the end of the day, what matters most is that the greens are the best they’ve ever been,” states Goerlich who reports even his owner has noticed a difference. “The results speak for themselves.”
The Holganix Blog:
Real Men Grow Flowers!
With annuals, you want the most pop and life in a much shorter time span. This is one reason why annuals, just like turf and ornamentals, thrive using a probiotic approach with organic flower products. Improving the overall plant physiology allows the plant to use water and food more efficiently and root more effectively, giving you colorful, full and vivacious flowers.
Bloom is a 100% organic, bionutritional product that promotes strong plant health and vigor. Plants growing in Holganix amdended soils are better able to resist infection and attack by pathogens and insects, and if affected by pathogens and insects, these robust vigorous plants are better able to recover from disease and insect attack. That means Bloom can help you overcome hurdles such as watering, anchoring into native soil and disease.
The Holganix Blog
Turf Nerds Only – Top apps for turf professionals
Alright turf nerds (don’t even deny you aren’t one!) we’ve compiled a list of landscape-geared apps that are sure to blow your mind and make your life a heck of a lot easier.
Landscaper’s Companion – This plant database contains information on 26,000 different plants for those living in the USA, United Kingdom and Australia. It includes information like USDA zone, sun exposure, deer resistance, mature height, growth rate, bloom time and more. The app costs $4.99.
Weed Alert – This free app allows turf professionals to search and identify weeds based on their name, appearance and location. Once you identify your weed, this app will further provide extra information like which herbicides/control products to use and when and where these pesky weeds like to grow. The app comes in both English and Spanish.
LeafSnap – This free app was created by Columbia University, The University of Maryland and The Smithsonian Institution. It uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves. It currently only includes those trees native to the Northeast, but they’re quickly expanding to the entire continental United States.
TurfPath – This free app is designed to help solve pest problems and is targeted toward golf course superintendents and sports turf managers, although lawn care companies would also find it useful. It is created by turf professionals for turf professionals.
Dirr’s Tree and Shrub Finder – This app is aimed toward woody landscapes and allows turf nerds to search through 1,670 species and 7,800 cultivars of plants. The database is searchable by 72 criteria including hardiness zones, water and light requirements, growth patterns, fall colors, flowers and more. This app is $14.99.
Holganix Case Studies
Total Lawn Care grows through relationships and agronomics
“We always try to have a relationship with our customer,” says Terry Jungles, Co-Founder of Total Lawn Care (TLC) located in Indianapolis in a Lawn and Landscape Magazine interview. For Jungles, TLC’s relationship-focused business model is key to the success they’ve seen at TLC. “When we started [TLC], we wanted to knock on every door and we wanted to shake everyone’s hand.” However, as the business grew, Jungles and co-Founder Mark Cavin, had to rely upon their employees - specifically the technicians - more and more to be the ultimate face and relationship builder between the customer and the company.
In order to truly make their technicians the face of TLC, Jungles and Cavin merged traditional lawn care roles like service manager, sales manager or production manager into one single role, owned by each technician. “Our technicians handle all those responsibilities, so they will go out and meet the customer to bring them on board, they provide the treatment and then if those customers have a problem, they can contact those individuals. There’s no separation of responsibilities so they get to develop a relationship with our customers. Then they’re doing business with an individual as opposed to a company.”
New technicians at TLC are required to train for one year, accompanying experienced technicians on their route before claiming a route of their own. “As a result,” concludes Lawn and Landscape Magazine, “turn over is low…. And TLC’s customer retention steadily measures around 90%.” Most TLC employees have been with the company for a minimum of 5 years, many as long as 20.
However, at the end of the day, TLC’s ultimate goal is creating healthy turf. According to Lawn and Landscape Magazine, “By setting the agronomist success as the ultimate goal, TLC strives for more effective products and more skills and knowledge to tackle lawn issues.” Jungles further highlights this point when he told Lawn and Landscape, “When we developed our business, we wanted to develop things first agronomicaly and then look at the economics of it. We didn’t want to base ourselves on the economics of making money.”
In order to build a better soil ecosystem and in turn healthier turf, TLC adopted the Holganix program. Holganix has allowed TLC to reduce their fertilizers by up to 90% and their pesticides by about 50%. “We just wanted to reduce our needs on chemistry and use more biology,” says Jungles to Lawn and Landscape. By going organic, TLC can further promote their green initiative, which is extremely important considering their proximity to Lake Erie. Jungles admits that using Holganix may be more expensive but he feels the payoffs to the homeowners and technicians clearly compensate for cost. Furthermore, Jungles and the TLC team are “trying to reduce the runoff to our reservoirs and rivers,” says Jungles. “And if we can utilize Holganix to help reduce our nitrates, it’s a big savings for the environment.”
For the full article from Lawn and Landscape click here.
The Science Behind Holganix
Inoculate your soil this fall!
Last winter felt like it would never end. Across the United States, winter injury plagued golf courses and sports turf fields alike. Because they were so unaccustomed to dealing with severe cold, the south was especially hit hard. Yet, as we spoke to superintendents and sports turf managers using Holganix, one thing was certain: those that have been using Holganix in the fall suffered from far less winter injury than their colleagues not using Holganix. Those that have used Holganix for more than a year reported even better winter stress tolerance this spring. Tests done by superintendents also revealed that Holganix is a great tool for winter stress recovery.
So, why does Holganix help?
Holganix Case Studies
"The fields are looking and playing better than ever!"
In 2011, Friends Academy, a Quaker school in Locust Valley, New York was one of many schools to get hit by “The Child Safe Playing Fields Act” which banned pesticide use on school fields. “It changed the way we were keeping our turf strong and healthy,” says Chris Semlies, Facility Director of Friends Academy. “We looked at lots of different organic options but they were expensive.”
That’s when he stumbled across Holganix, a 100% organic, bionutritional plant and turf fertility product. Holganix allows you to effectively utilize 75% less synethetic inputs while still achieving optimal plant health. For Semlies, Holganix was more cost effective than other organics and gave a broader range of benefits – promoting plant health and growth. In turn, healthier plants are better able to suppress insect and disease.
“We are not only complying with the law, but we are doing a more effective job at building a healthy, strong and resilient turf while fulfilling a core Quaker value: being good stewards to the environment.” Semlies reports that he’s seen a definite difference in using Holganix on his turf. The turf has been healthier and better able to withstand foot traffic. The roots have also been significantly deeper. “The best part is,” says Semlies, “multiple coaches say their fields are looking and playing better than ever before. All of this is possible while limiting our environmental footprint and providing healthier playing conditions for students.”
Holganix entered the Long Island market in 2013 and already 22 local golf courses have made Holganix part of their annual program. Nassau Suffolk Turf Services is the sole distributor in the Long Island market. “We cautiously introduced Holganix to the long Island Golf community in 2013,” says Bob Mele, CEO and Founder of Nassau Suffolk Turf Services. “The results seen on golf courses were eye opening.” Traditionally in turf care, organic fertilizers have been inferior to synthetics and have cost turf professionals an arm and a leg. Mele believes that modern day bionutritional products defy this stereotype. University studies and customer case studies back Mele’s belief.
“Bionutritional products like Holganix are about maximizing the effect we have on turf health,” says Barrett Ersek, CEO of Holganix. At the same time, Holganix allows landscapers and other turf professionals to shift to a more organic approach to turf health. “It’s not only good for the environment and escape strict government regulations, but it also allows landscapers to differentiate themselves from the competition by offering something to their customers that no one else has.”
The Holganix Blog:
Holganix makes Inc Magazine's 500 fastest growing companies
“We are so grateful to have been included in INC Magazine’s list of the top 500 fastest growing, privately held businesses in America,” says Holganix CEO, Barrett Ersek. Each year INC Magazine recognizes the fastest growing, privately held business in America in their INC 500 list. To be included in the 2014 list, companies had to grow more than 942% from the start of 2011. Holganix was named number 186 out of 500 with a three-year growth of 2,291.4%.
Holganix manufactures and sells 100% organic, bionutritional products for large fertilizer users, allowing them to use drastically less inputs (fertilizers and pesticides). A two page spread featuring Holganix user, Broken Sound Golf Course in Boca Raton, Florida was featured in INC Magazine.
“We’ve come a long way,” says Ersek looking back at the growth of Holganix. “The great news is? The fun and growth has only just begun.”
Holganix case studies
2x better healing time after aeration with Holganix
Andrew Young’s story is a familiar one for those of us in the golf course industry. His passion for golf started at age 14 when he signed on at the local golf course. There, he picked weeds and did all the other fun jobs expected of young boys working a course. He became so enamored (somehow the weeding didn’t scare him away!) with the industry that, in college he pursued a degree in turf management. Eventually, his golf career led him to Woodbine Bend Golf Course where he’s been the superintendent for the past three years.
Woodbine Bend is a links-styled course located in Stockton, Illinois, Young’s hometown. Before using Holganix, the course suffered from a thick thatch layer. “I wanted to minimize the thatch layer and that’s one of the reasons why I started using Holganix,” says Young. “It’s been helping.”
Two years into the Holganix program, Young has been pleased with the results, especially with rooting and aeration. “The healing time after aerifying has decreased since using Holganix,” claims Young. Typically, it would take the course 2 weeks to heal but with Holganix, he’s been able to reduce it to about 1 week with a 14 ounce per 1,000 sq ft application following aerification.
“And my roots? They are just crazy!” exclaims Young. “You can’t even see soil,” says Young. “All you see are white, healthy roots.” Young reports seeing 12+ inch roots on his fairways in July. His greens have 6+ inch roots but are extremely dense and holding together nicely. He notes that the major storms in Illinois recently are negatively affecting root growth and expects it to be much longer in the fall. “When it comes to the roots, the longer the better,” says Young.