Edited By Rick Geise, Fertilizer Division Manager
Professional lawn care operators (LCO) are increasingly looking for alternatives to the traditional liquid and synthetic fertilizer programs they offer their customers. They cannot offer the same kind of programs that are offered by the big national companies and still earn a profit and retain customers from one year to the next. As one LCO put it, “You can’t build a Chevrolet and compete with General Motors”.
One Nature Safe customer found a niche that allows him to accomplish his goals – Chalet Nursery in Wilmette, Illinois. Several years ago, Chalet began offering Nature Safe fertilizer as an organic alternative to their regular synthetic programs. They targeted upscale neighborhoods and charged a premium price for the organic alternative. Their business began to grow and the customers on the Nature Safe program were very loyal. They discovered that the Nature Safe lawns were thicker and denser, required less irrigation and produced fewer clippings. A second benefit from the use of Nature Safe was the suppression of many diseases, including Necrotic Ring Spot, Summer Patch, and Snow Mold. Another big benefit was greatly improved performance on partially shaded lawns. For Chalet, shaded lawns had always been a big problem, and they had many to contend with.
Chalet was so successful with their Nature Safe program they won the “Picture Perfect Award” two years in a row for the best cool season lawn in the United States at the Green Industry Expo. Winning two years in a row with any kind of lawn would be exceptional, but to do it with shaded lawns is nothing short of incredible. Even more astounding is the fact that one of their prize lawns had been ravaged with diseases and was on Nature Safe for only two seasons.
Other LCOs have found that once they get a customer started on Nature Safe, they tend to retain their business for years to come. One operator said that in the past five years he has never lost a customer that he started on Nature Safe. Given the fact that many lawn care companies routinely expect to lose up to 25% of their customers every year, that is an amazing record.
All across the country, there are more environmentally conscious homeowners than ever before. They still want a beautiful lawn, but they want fewer chemicals used on it. They also want to know that their lawn care professional is following an environmentally sound maintenance plan.
We supply Nature Safe’s Lawn & Garden flyers to LCOs. The flyer explains in simple terms why the environment and their lawn benefit from the use of Nature Safe. It also points out the relationship between Nature Safe and the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System. Nature Safe also supplies the LCO with small signs that can be used where it is necessary to post a lawn following the application of fertilizer. These signs point out that a natural organic product has been applied and that, “A safe and healthy turf is now in progress.”
Nature Safe congratulates Chalet on differentiating their company from the rest of the pack and pleasing their customers by offering a Nature Safe alternative program.