Monday, April 27, 2009

Landscape - IPM Services as a Business

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs can be offered as services to clients. The following are some considerations.

When initially introducing an IPM program to a potentially new client or to an existing client it needs to be determined how much they want to be educated on IPM. Obviously, not all landscape clients are the same and although some will express great interest in the IPM approach (they will probably be the most loyal clients), others will only desire that their landscapes are aesthetically pleasing and are not overly concerned how the desired results are achieved. Hence, less time should probably be devoted to attempting to educate this latter client on IPM methods. Ideally, a pre-written brochure that briefly explains the concept of IPM and gives an outline of the proposed program should be distributed to clients. The brochure can inform the client that landscape IPM programs provide monitoring services and knowledgeable decision- making abilities. The brochure can also state that IPM methods provide superior results over non-thinking traditional landscape management methods that rely exclusively on calendar cover sprays. During the initial visit, a rough site map can be prepared and later formalized if the customer purchases the IPM program. Site maps can be an excellent way to show off your knowledge to a potential client. Photocopied maps can also be a convenient method of maintaining monitoring records.

Landscape IPM programs have a reputation of being more expensive to implement than do traditional landscape management methods. IPM programs do have a tendency to be more expensive primarily because of the greater emphasis given to cultural management strategies (pruning, mulching, irrigation, site amendments, IPM appropriate design/redesign, etc.). To keep IPM programs more price competitive, the IPM related services could be charged separately. Their cost would be in addition to the standard fee established for monitoring and decision-making. The price of an IPM program is generally based on how much time will be required for each monitoring visit. Monitoring time estimates are subsequently based on the size of the property and the number of key plants and key locations present at the site (e.g., there are specific time estimates that have been calculated and can be used as guidelines). Possible spray costs, the number of monitoring visits necessary and the travel time to the site all require consideration when estimating an IPM fee. Provide written records of this information for each site.

Information from "Developing an IPM Program for your Landscape Company" by Steven K. Rettke, Ornamental IPM Program Associate, Rutgers University in the April 2, 2009 edition of the Plant and Pest Advisory, Landscape, Nursery, and Turf edition.

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