Should you be charging for soil tests?

If you are looking for a way to improve your sales presentation to a new potential lawn care customer and would also like to add a new service, why not consider soil testing? There are different levels of complexity you can perform with your soil tests that can really help you find out what a lawn needs to look lush. But should you charge for this service or should it be a free add on? That is what one member of the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum was interested in knowing more about.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I am just curious as to what you would charge for soil testing. The ones at my county extension are $20, but I don’t want to be to expensive. What would be a good price and mark up. I am thinking a 15% mark up would suffice?

When I get a call from someone who needs their grass cut and I get there and the yard is patchy; I recommend over seeding, but, I also recommend PH testing, because what is the point of doing all that work and only have some grass germinate? If you can find out what you soil is lacking, and put it in the ideal lawn seed, wouldn’t anyone do the same? Some people, and I am guilty of it too, just throw down fertilizer with seed hope for the best.”

A second lawn care business owner said “there are certain tests you can perform right there in front of the customer and this can not only be helpful but also add to your sales presentation. When you are the only lawn care company that shows up and performs a soil test, they are most certainly going to be impressed. Then you can explain the importance of proper pH for their soil and how it effects the lawns health. You could also point out how others may try and treat a lawn with fertilizer without first knowing what is wrong. This is another great selling point for you.

To perform the pH test, it really should cost you next to nothing.

As you said about the county extension office, they charge about $20 but do you need all the results they give you? Could you get by with some of the simple tests like soil pH?”

A third added “A ph test on the spot might impress, but a follow up test from a lab is extremely important. Besides the macro, the micro nutrients are just as important also base saturation knowledge

I have had situations where I took soil samples to a lab and learned something new about what the lawn needed that helped me fix a situation it was having. Like magnesium a macro and boron a micro. To fix the situation I would suggest a soil amendment product I make on my own.”

A fourth shared “I charge $30 for a soil test. The test costs $9 + $5 to check organic matter and the shipping to the state university is usually around $4.”

One last business owner said “You really have to ask yourself, what is your time worth?

I utilize soil tests with ALL of my lawn rehab projects. How do you know what the soil needs to support a healthy turf? I take multiple cores with a soil probe and send it off to the lab. I have the results back in a week or so and explain the best course of action to the lawn care customer. This takes time and knowledge. Each have a value that should not be ignored. I charge $65 per test. Not one customer has ever questioned or complained because I explain that their lawn is unique, has different needs, and does not benefit from a cookie cutter approach.”

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