Dogs may be man’s best friend — but they’re a lawn’s worst enemy. Between waste removal, burn spots and digging, maintaining a beautiful yard is an ongoing challenge for lawn care customers that have pets.Repairing damaged yards from pets takes up time and requires additional resources. When servicing customers that have pets, especially multiple pets, it’s important to have a fair system for billing those customers for the additional time and work that you need to put into fixing their lawn.
As long as you’re fairly compensated, caring for lawns that have pets can be a win-win for you and your customers.
Here’s some tips for making the extra effort worth your while:
Set Rates for Pet Waste Removal Services
There’s no way around it: pet waste removal stinks, literally. This is not a service you should offer for free.
Give lawn care customers with pets the option to remove pet waste on their own, or to pay you to do it when they sign a service agreement. If a customer elects to remove waste on their own, establish that they’ll be billed for that service at a predetermined rate if they’ve failed to do it before you arrive for a job.
Often, lawn care businesses charge a flat rate for customers based on number of pets and market rates. Visit competitors’ websites to determine the market in your area. For reference, removal rates in the Midwest are around $33 per month for one dog, with an additional $4 added on for each additional dog.
Keep in mind that you might have to establish a one-time fee for excessive waste removal for customers that haven’t done it for a long time. Also, an additional fee might be needed for customers with especially large yards.
Repairing Pet Damage
Most dog owners hate burn spots in the yard from pet urine. Still, they have no idea how to fix them. Including repair of lawn spotting and other damage from pets in job proposals is a great way to keep customers happy while generating additional revenue.
Sometimes, the solution is simple. Brown burn spots with green rings for example, result from high levels of salts in dog urine. Setting the mower height a little higher or flushing these spots with water when they first appear can help lessen the effect.
Oftentimes, however, more substantial fixes are required.
In these cases, the first step is then to treat the soil with a turf builder designed to neutralize the salts in dog urine. Then, after tilling the surface and adding topsoil, seeding, hydroseeding or sod can be used to repair the unsightly spots.
Also, let your customers know that applying fertilizer the recommended four times of year will make for a more robust and healthy root system and turf that holds up well against pet traffic and minimizes burn spots.
Discuss Pet Safe Fertilizer Options
You might find that lawn care customers that have pets haven’t fertilized their lawns in some time because they’re afraid it will harm their dogs.
Always follow warnings and guidance on fertilizer packaging about pets, but fertilizers that contain natural elements like nitrogen, potash and phosphorus are generally regarded as safe for pets after an initial wait period.
Lawn care customers might, however, want to skip applications that contain insecticides as those can cause gastrointestinal problems for dogs. Also, discuss natural herbicide options to kill weeds, or chemicals that are marketed as “dog or pet-friendly”.
As a general practice, always leave behind printed copies of warnings and instructions about pets that come with any fertilizer or chemical that you apply to a customer’s yard for their reference.
Offer a Long-term Solution
Long-term expenses for lawn care customers with pets add up, which may lead to customers looking for a more permanent solution to their lawn care problems.
Here, there’s untapped opportunity to bring in some additional business by offering to create a designated “pet bathroom” for your customers. For example, creating an appealing, mulched in area of the yard with a marking post specifically for pets to utilize will help to eliminate ongoing lawn care problems and contain the hazardous wastes. Customers that can successfully train their pets to eliminate in this designated area will get rid of burn spots entirely, and will make pet waste removal far simpler.
Customers that have pets present an opportunity for you to offer not just a creative solution but outstanding customer service as well to generate additional revenue. By setting fair rates for pet waste removal, repairing existing damage, using pet-safe lawn care methods and offering solutions to limit damage in the future, you’ll keep your customers and their pets happy - and their lawns will be happier too!