FINDING ANSWERS

POA TRIV PROBLEM

Q I cannot find any chemical recommendations for controlling Poa trivialis in turf. Are there any new developments in this area?
— California

A There still is no selective control for Poa trivialis growing in cool-season turf. For eradication, you'll have to spray out patches with a non-selective herbicide and reestablish turf in the treated areas.

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It's not foolproof, but the best tactic is prevention. Work with suppliers who can demonstrate they've taken significant steps to reduce Poa trivialis contamination; be prepared to pay extra for the highest quality seed; and have your seed examined by an independent lab before purchase. These steps will certainly reduce (but not eliminate) the chances of contamination.

A “FAIR” PROFIT

Q I own a lawn service company. I would like to know what is considered a fair profit percentage. Is it 5 percent, or what?
— via the Internet

A Fairness is a tricky criterion with which to judge a profit margin. After all, many in the business world consider a “fair” price to be any price that's mutually agreed on. Give your customers what they've agreed to pay for. For them to expect more is not fair to you; for you to do less is not fair to them.

In terms of actual profit margins, I've heard several contractors tell me that they aim for 20 percent or so. However, this cannot be considered any sort of standard. Some make lower margins, but on a higher volume. With others, the opposite is true.

That said, 5 percent is razor-thin. You'd have to do a very high volume of business to earn a decent living on that. But remember, profit margin is, broadly speaking, income minus expenses. So it's not merely what you bid and how much you're paid; it's also how efficiently you operate. That's why effective bidding goes hand-in-hand with good management.

When we first received your question, we decided to put it to our readers and see how they answered a reader poll on the subject. You can find the results on page 11 of this issue.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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