Sunday, July 29, 2007

Bikini lawn care — great franchise idea?

The media around the world has run articles about the Memphis, TN, lawn care company that uses young ladies in bikinis to mow customers' lawns.

We've never seen so many articles devoted to a single lawn care company before ever. Every day a couple more come to our attention. Just when you think the media's fascination with the service has cooled, along comes another article.

But the latest article really caught our attention. It said the Tiger Time Lawn Care, the company that became notorious for the stunt was franchising bikini lawn care, and that it was selling 53 franchises every hour . . . .WHAT!!!!!

As I read further I learned that the company was charging $100 for one of its lovely young employees to mow a lawn, which includes cutting, bagging, edginig and weed whacking. . .The price doubles if you stay outside to watch.

OK, enough's enouogh, right?

The article telling about Tiger Time's new franchise venture appeared on "The Spoof," which kind of reminds me of "The Onion," another source of outlandish (and often funny) material. In other words, Tiger Time Lawn Care is NOT franchising bikini lawn carre services.

If you don't believe me, click on the headline and read the article for yourself.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Feds charge Chicago-area landscape company owner

Aidan E. Monahan, president of Monhan's Landscaping Inc., Arlington Heights, IL, is being charged with cheating the Chicago Pulbic Schools out of $1.5 million. Prosecutors say he used a city-certified minority-owned business as a front to contract with the school district from 2003 to 2006. The feds say the minority-owned business provided a way to funnel money back to the landscape company in a pass-through scheme.

Hey, these kind of schemes (or variations thereof) have been going on in Cleveland for years. . .So, what's the big deal?

In any event, click on the headline to view the article that appeared in the Chicago Daily Herald about the landscape company president.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bikini maintenance

Oh where do we begin? There are so many problems with this story.

First the background. A Memphis, TN landscaper has hired a number of shapely women to cut grass while wearing bikinis. According to reports not only is he getting business, he's able to charge a higher price then local competitors.

Let's start with the safety issue. Bikinis aren't well known for their ability to protect the body against flying debris, not to mention the exposure to sun.

Clearly the owner of the company, which bills itself as Tiger Time Lawn Care knows a little something about marketing. People will pay to see attractive women in skimpy clothing. Not that we don't appreciate the feminine form, but there is a time and a place, neither of which are when you're around landscaping equipment. It also takes away from the professionalism most companies try to project.

We could make an argument for sexism (since there are no men in Speedo bathing suits), but we won't go there.

Nowhere could we find a comment on the quality of their work, and we suspect that will ultimately decide fate of this company. There are probably a lot of things companies can do to capture your attention, but if the quality of your work is substandard, you can't expect the flash to sustain you.

For more information on the story and to see Memphis, TN's WMC-TV video report, please
click here.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Elderly woman roughed up because of untidy lawn

Orem, UT, means business when it comes to its lawns. And I mean business.

A couple of weeks ago I reported on the city hiring TruGreen ChemLawn to treat some of the city because Japanese beetles had been discovered in one of its neighborhoods. Apparently, they had never been seen there before, and the city didn't want them to get established.

Now comes news reports that a policeman there cuffed and jailed a 70-year-old woman there because she hadn't been watering or tending her lawn. According to the report by the Associated Press, the officer knocked on the door of Betty Perry to inform her of the city's nuisance ordinance. The woman refused to give her name, saying later that she wasn't going to say anything until she had talked to her son or a lawyer.

Anyway, the situation went from bad to worse. The officer arrested her and slapped handcuffs on her. As she was being led down her stairs she reportedly fell and got skinned up pretty good, her nose and elbows.

The 70-year-old woman ended up in jail, but for just an hour, according to reports. When the higher ups in the department heard what had happened they released her from jail and dropped the charges — maintaining a nuisance property and resisting arrest.

The arresting officer? Last word was that he was sent on for the rest of the day and was put on paid administrative leave. — LM Staff

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My lawn looks like shredded wheat

Talked to Matt of Matt's Fast Lawn Care this morning. "We need rain," says Matt, who only gets paid when he's out there mowing. Don't think he has many seasonal contracts. Good thing Matt's got a second job. The guy loves to work. But he'd rather be mowing than retreiving carts at the local Kroger where he's worked for years.

The neighborhood's been strangely silent these past few weeks. The mowers are silent. The grass in my back yard looks like shredded wheat. Who can afford to water? Water is expensive here. Hey, somebody has to pay for the new water plant and the upgrades to our sewage treatment plant, right?

This isn't the picture I had in my mind of my property this spring, not after II practically emptied the big box stores in a 50- mile radius of pavers and wall blocks (both were on sale) this past winter. Yes, the plan was to design and build an incredible patio behind our home. (Ahhh, starry summer evenings and me and the mrs. relaxing on comfy chairs, foo-foo drinks in hand, soft rock in the background.)

Instead, the yard's a disaster. The aging, sagging deck that graced the rear of our home has been reduced (finally) to a huge pile of weathered lumber. It's a toss up if that mess looks worse than the mess of the nearby huge stack of wall blocks and pavers, and all the other crap that accumulates around an abandoned work site — wheelbarrows, shovels, garden hoses.

All I need now to complete the picture of a landscape from hell is a sun-faded Pontiac Firebird on blocks and a clawfoot bathtub planted with petunias and marigolds.

I'm going to have to suck it up and get back to this project one of these days. — Ron Hall

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Robots among us

I wouldn't worry -- yet.

Last year, Popular Science magazine ran an article entitled "Where's My Flying Car?" It focused on a lot of the technology science fiction writers and movie makers implied we'd be enjoying right about now, including the ever desired flying vehicle.

OK, you can actually find a flying car, but these are the toys of those people whose bank portfolios use eight or nine digits, the people featured on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." For most of us the flying car remains a bit out of reach.

But time marches on. Technology advances and they have invented something to give pause — a robot that can pull weeds. That doesn't mean you should polishing your resume or heading back to finish that economics degree just yet. They've had robotic lawn mowers for awhile and not too many people have been put out of business.

Right now the robot only identifies 23 kinds of weeds. And if my yard is any indication, I'm still going to have to get out there and work even if I did have a mechanical weed pulling robot. If it ever becomes a viable, commercial product, we'll have to deal with it like everything else. Homeowners have their own mowers and still the market grows for our services. Like every other item that comes along, it's simply another tool to embrace to make us all more effective.

For more on the device please, click here.