A bit of crispness in the air. The days getting shorter. Sweaters making their way out of storage. Yep, fall is heading toward us, bringing a quiet end to mowing season and a frenzied beginning to leaf removal season. Having spoken to quite a few pros in the past, we know that each one has his trick and technique to picking up leaves. And, we’d love to know what those are. Today, we’re asking you to share your personal twist on leaf removal.
We’ll start it off by sharing our “techniques,” which come in the form of attachments and a mower.
These tools quickly and efficiently get the leaves off the grass and out of sight. The attachment you choose depends on the kinds of properties you mow and your clients’ preferences. If you want finely mulched leaves spread evenly over the grass, then the Exmark mulching kit will be the tool you’re looking for. If you want finely mulched leaves collected, then check out our UltraVac® attachment and the Exmark Navigator®.
Now it’s your turn. What’s your best technique or trick for leaf removal? We’ll select one of the techniques shared and feature it and the genius landscape pro behind it in an upcoming blog post!
This month we bring you U.S. Lawns, a unique landscaping company built on a strong foundation of local franchisees with offices strategically placed across the country. The idea of U.S. Lawns is to have local presence in different communities by providing landscape professionals with resources and key business strategies to be successful. With the backing of a large company, franchisees can offer customers the personal service of a landscape pro and commitment to excellence of a local business owner. U.S. Lawn’s commitment to delivering a superior product is in line with our thinking, and we’re proud to be one of their partners.
We asked U.S. Lawns a few questions and here’s what they had to say:
When did your operation first open its doors?
U.S. Lawns was founded and began franchising in 1986. However, the real growth of the concept began in the late 1990’s after the business model had been tested, refined and proven by our early “pioneer” franchise owners. We now have offices in more than 200 markets in 34 states.
What is the one unique thing about your business?
We offer national strength with a local commitment. The combination of local providers and national resources help make U.S. Lawns a leader in the commercial landscape management industry. Our territories for franchisees are set up with a 20-30 minute drive time in mind, in order to serve the customer quicker and more efficiently while our home office is staffed with professionals who are leaders in their respective fields, from agronomics to economics and from marketing to accounting and HR to support our franchisees.
How do you want to be viewed in the marketplace?
We want to be viewed as our Mission Statement proclaims: provide our clients with the highest quality landscape management program at competitive prices through a national organization of dedicated owner-operators and their employees, supported by the expertise of today’s most accomplished industry leaders. In pursuit of excellence we are committed to honest and forthright dealings with our clients, our employees and our vendors.
Typically, what do owners/franchisees look for in the machines they use?
Our franchisees look at equipment as necessary tools to consistently and efficiently service the customer’s property. For this reason we want our employees to operate equipment that is safe and easy to operate, cutting-edge efficient, has been engineered for zero down time and will last well past its warranty period. Since we perform only routine maintenance on our equipment, not major repairs, we put a great value on a good dealer network that understands the commercial contractor market.
What kinds of practices do you look for and expect in mower manufacturers?
We expect the manufacturer to fully understand the key drivers in our business and then proactively address these key drivers as they design and build both their machines and, more importantly, their customer support teams. We also expect what every customer expects – good warranties, proactive communication, advance notice of product developments and issues, and continued research and development that supports the future of our industry.
Is it important to have a strong relationship with your dealer?
YES! It is paramount. The buying decision is based largely on the strength of the dealer. The local dealer’s influence on getting a repair being made quickly, for us, is paramount. Equipment will break, but the cost, ease and speed of the repair will determine a strong relationship.
Where do you see the industry headed, generally speaking?
A recent trend focuses on green initiatives. More energy-efficient electric mowers and mowers with less noise would seem to be the way of the future.
What is the one thing that’s currently affecting the industry?
The customer is not willing to pay more today than yesterday for the same services. There have been no significant improvements in the equipment industry that improve field efficiency. This restricts the contractor’s ability to improve margins by upgrading equipment, forcing the contractor to either increase efficiencies in other areas of their business or to accept lower margins for their work.
Where would you like to see the industry headed?
Upward and green! We firmly believe the future of the equipment industry is dependent upon change –not incremental change as we’ve seen over many years, but exponential change: different power sources and radically different designs allowing for far greater efficiency while addressing environmental concerns.
What is next for your company?
U.S. Lawns will continue to be a leader in the commercial landscape management industry. We continue to grow our business, even in a challenging economy, and keep our eyes on the future at all times. We push forward every day, keeping up with technology and constantly building our pool of resources for our franchisees. Our goal is always customer satisfaction, and we believe we deliver it better than anyone.
Want to read more about U.S. Lawns visit www.uslawns.com.
It’s true we have multiple posts discussing lubrication. (Three to be exact, but who’s counting?) But as you’re wondering why we’re getting stuck on this one topic, just remember that proper lubrication extends the life of your mower. And, we want you to help keep those bad boys working hard for you for as long as possible.
So here’s the breakdown on what you need to know and what you should be doing:
- Change the engine oil after the first five hours of operating a new mower.
- Your first hydraulic oil and filter change should be at 200 hours.
- After initial hydraulic oil and filter change, and if you’re using genuine Exmark Hydraulic Oil, change the oil and filter at maximum every 500 hours.
- If you’re using Mobil 1 Oil, change the oil and filter at maximum every 250 hours.
- If you are mowing hills or running bagging equipment, change hydraulic fluid and engine oil much more frequently than manufacturer’s maximum recommendations.
- Use a high-quality oil since less expensive grease or generic brands might cost you more in the long run.
- Engine manufacturers do not recommend the use of synthetic oils. Find more information on Exmark’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/exmarkmanufacturing.
- You have the option of using Exmark-branded engine oil, which is specifically formulated for mowers.
Did you find this post helpful? Leave us a comment below.
While doing some research online, we came across a very interesting post by a part-time landscape pro, Sherri Joubert.
In her post, she talks about the fact that mower theft is on the rise. We were actually quite shocked to read what Sherri’s discovered is behind these thefts.
Sherri writes that the slumping economy and the rising unemployment rate are forcing those who are out of work to find alternative means of making money so they can provide for their families. Basically, some people are stealing mowers to start their own landscaping businesses.
Those caught in-the-act explained they were planning on returning the mowers once they’d made enough money to buy their own used equipment.
At this point we started thinking about your mower security.
To keep your mowers, well, yours, there are a few steps you can take to protect them:
- Make sure your stored equipment is hard to get to. Reinforce your locks with heavy-duty chains.
- Don’t leave any of your equipment unattended curb-side, even if you’re taking a quick lunch break.
- Buy a covered trailer or a trailer with high walls.
- Always check to make sure locks are secure.
Our final piece of advice on what you might do comes from Sherri’s own personal experience. Instead of putting her mower under lock and key, she rents her equipment for a nominal fee to a single mom in the neighborhood. The mom has access to the mowers on days Sherri is off.
Within the last couple of months, the mom saved enough money to buy her own equipment, something she couldn’t have done without Sherri’s compassion. That’s pretty powerful stuff.
What do you do to keep your mower safe? Leave your comments below.
This week we’re featuring Tony Weston. Tony is that rare breed of dealer, landscape professional and all-around nice guy. His business philosophy is simple: Be respectful, be honest and never sell your customers a product you wouldn’t use. Who can argue with that?
As a dealer, what do you look for in a product? I look for machines that are well-made, dependable and deliver the best cut out there. That’s why I only sell Exmarks. They’re the machines I use for my landscaping business and I would never sell my clients anything I wouldn’t use myself. We have a saying in my shop: We sell ‘em…We use ‘em…’nough said.
What is the one thing you focus on when it comes to your customers? Honesty. I am a dealer and a landscape pro so I know what it takes to get the job done right. And what it takes is a combination of experience and quality mowers. I’ll never sell a mower I don’t believe in, even if it means a bigger profit for me. I just can’t do it. I also believe in loyalty. I got baseball caps with my customers’ logos on them hanging on a wall in my shop. And I’ll never underbid a customer on the same job. Never. It’s not the way I do business.
What similarities/philosophies do you think you share with Exmark? Exmark always puts the customer first. They’re only interested in making the very best mowers, so they ask a lot of questions, are open to feedback and take their time crafting their machines. I am all about doing what you can for your customers.
How would you define a quality cut? First, start by picturing a large, open field with grass that’s about 13” long. Now picture a red laser beam coming in and slicing right through it. In one smooth motion, it creates an even cut from one blade to the next. No stragglers. No pushed over grass. What you end up with is my definition of a quality cut.
Thanks for answering our questions, Tony. Keep up the good work.
Now that mowing season is well under way, the last thing you want to happen is for your mower to experience downtime. The following tips will help you keep your mower running in tip-top shape.
- Check your operator’s manual to see what might need to be greased! Keeping the right parts greased is an important step in extending the life of your mower.
- Check the air filter (inner and outer) and change it if necessary. Never use compressed air to clean a filter.
- Depending on how many hours the mower has been running, consider changing the fuel filter.
- Check and, if necessary, change the spark plugs.
- Verify that you are doing the oil changes at the proper intervals. You should NEVER exceed the manufacturer’s recommendations by more than 100 hours.
- Blow the debris off the unit
- Remove the belt deck belt shields and blow off all foreign material.
- Blow the grass off the areas around the pumps and wheel motors (overheated oil leads to shorter component life).
- Blow through the openings in and around the console or remove the console mounting screws to get debris out of this area.
- Check for loose hardware.
- Verify torque on wheel motor castle nut and tire mounting lug nuts.
How is your season going? If you have any comments or questions, we’d love to hear from you.
At Exmark, one of our top concerns is safety. Around the plant, at the dealership, during development and especially while on the mower itself. One thing you can always count on is that safety comes first. Always.
Everything we do goes into making each unit as safe as possible for operators, as well as how the machine works for the operator. Of course durability and quality are what we’re known for, but; at Exmark, safety is essential to a great, successful unit.
- Proper conditions for mowing
- Proper care for and operation of the Lazer Z, as well as instructions for utilizing the rollover protection system
- Exmark’s unique handling instructions, features and controls for full safety and performance
- Proper maintenance, transport and storage that are crucial to performance
- Care of your Exmark mower
- General operation and safety instructions for the Vantage
- Safety features of your Exmark Quest
Stop by the Exmark YouTube channel to catch all the videos and learn more about your Exmark. Feel free to leave a comment or two along the way! We love hearing from you.
Scott isn’t the kind of guy who would ask anyone to do something he wouldn’t do himself. A line supervisor at Exmark since 1998, Scott gets to work before his staff and stays well past their clock-out time. He says he feels like a firefighter as he goes into the assembly line to get everything prepped and organized, making sure parts are ready and available for the day’s work.
As Scott puts it, “I like to jump right in and help those on the line throughout the day. I want to make them feel more comfortable through leading by example.” That’s why on most days, you can find him helping on the line. He honed his supportive management style at a couple of his previous jobs, where he was a head manager of Godfather’s Pizza and a nightclub owner.
Receiving his first Circle of Excellence award in 2005 is his proudest moment at Exmark. Outside of work, Scott rocks out. Literally. He’s been the lead vocalist and drummer in a local band since 1976. If you live in Beatrice, Neb., or the surrounding areas, you’ve probably heard of them and caught one of their shows. They’ve built up quite the following. As his daughter, who shares the mowing responsibility with her father, once said, “Dad, you are not Bon Jovi or Def Leppard, but you are famous in this area.”
But Scott isn’t just about building a fan base. His helping spirit guides him in giving back to the community by organizing yearly concerts and fundraisers, two of which are ‘Rock For Hunger’ and ‘Rock Against Rape.’ Recently, he raised more than $4,000 at one of the events.
Around here, we’re Scott’s biggest, and possibly loudest, fans.
We used to get asked all the time what we were doing at fishing, hunting and boating shows. Reels, guns and boats, that’s the kind of stuff you’d expect to see there. But a mower? It seemed odd…at first. Now a lot of Exmark users stop by our booth to tell us how much time they saved with their mowers. And there’s the connection.
If you’ve ever used an Exmark, then you know just how productive these babies are. So whether you’re mowing for a living or mowing your backyard, you can count on the job being done as efficiently as possible. For some of you, this means you can get back to fishing, hunting or boating before the day is done.
Our goal is to be the booth that’s buzzing with activity at all times–from entering our Grand Gear Giveaway Sweepstakes, to video games for the kids to giving away cool gifts to all those who stop by. If you’re the outdoorsy type, then you know that Cabelas is one of the places to go for an impressive selection of gear.
Our presence at outdoor shows is now expected. People love seeing us there. They love to stop by and ask a lot of technical questions. And we love talking with them and sharing our passion for the outdoors. These folks really appreciate quality and craftsmanship in a machine. We can definitely understand that.
This post is by John Cloutier, senior marketing manager at Exmark.
To put it lightly, our employees rock –every single one of them. They’re the reason Exmark mowers are tough, reliable and deliver the best cut in the industry. To show our appreciation to all of the hard-working men and women who make this place tick, we’re going to feature one employee a month. Consider this to be the first of many “Thank Yous.”
Lenny Magnall – Customer Service Technician
13 years and counting.
In a nutshell, Lenny is a problem solver. Whether it’s over the phone or during face-to-face visits, he can answer questions that deal with everything from electrical issues to warranty inquiries to that clickity-click-veeee sound a mower is making while idling.
But answering questions is only part of what he does. Lenny’s also a presenter, video editor and website developer. During the off-season, he’s a road warrior, traveling around the country to speak with dealers, distributors and technicians in person. There isn’t much this guy can’t do.
On a scale of one to 10, Lenny gives his job in the customer service department a 15. His tenure in Research and Development also ranks pretty high. But he’ll never forget starting out as a welder. Putting mowers together was quite an experience. And wielding a blowtorch wasn’t bad either.
When he’s not working, Lenny’s busy fishing and coaching his three boys’ sports teams. As for mowing the lawn, you’ll rarely see him with his Exmark walk-behind. That’s because his wife has taken the reins. He would say something, but then he wouldn’t have as much time for everything else on his plate.