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TALKING TURF FOR 4,167 DAYS: SCOTTS HOTLINE RECORDS TWO MILLIONTH CALL, HELPS CHICAGO AREA MAN RESTORE "CIVIL WAR BATTLEFIELD"

 MARYSVILLE, Ohio, April 1 /PRNewswire/ -- On the morning of March 27, 1993, Kevin Schwartz of Franklin Park, Ill., decided he had to have an answer to a question that had troubled him for days. He could have turned to a neighbor for advice, or to a trusted family member. But he decided that with this particular problem, he needed personal, professional help.
 This, after all, was a question about "a Civil War Battlefield."
 Well, actually it was a question about his lawn, which Kevin thought looked like a Civil War Battlefield. He needed to know what to plant and how and when to fertilize it in order to turn his "battlefield" into a beauty field.
 So Kevin called 1-800-543-TURF, the Scotts Consumer Hotline and, through a serendipitous quirk of timing, became a living piece of turf and telephone hotline history, and picked up some neat prizes to boot.
 Schwartz's call was the 2 millionth consumer inquiry since the Scotts Consumer Hotline opened in 1972. That's an average of 95,000 calls a year. At a conservative estimate of 3 minutes per call, it means that, over the past two decades, America's lawn and garden lovers have spent, 4,167 days, or more than 11 years, talking turf with the experts. And you thought your teenager spent a long time on phone.
 During all that time, Scotts Hotline experts, a fact-fortified force that has grown to 20 full-time staffers in season, have answered just about every imaginable question in what might be called the nation's truest grass-roots campaign. From the consumer who wanted to know how to grow grass in his living room, to the one who wanted to have Scotts products shipped to him in the Middle East, Scotts Hotline callers have demonstrated a remarkable (and occasionally perplexing) interest in getting to the roots of lawn and garden issues.
 "We've had people call to ask how to grow grass in living rooms, on their roofs, just about anywhere. We had a consumer call one time to ask us how to get rid of snow fleas," says Hap Baer, Scotts manager of consumer services and the man who makes sure Scotts lends an ear to every consumer who calls. "That was a new one on us, and it took some questioning on our part before we figured out that snow fleas were actually this person's fireplace ashes that had been spilled on the snow-covered lawn while being carried outside for dumping."
 Baer says the majority of calls tend toward the more orthodox: questions about when and how to apply fertilizer or seed, how to kill weeds, and what products should be used in certain situations.
 "The consumers realize that Scotts is the leader in the the lawn and garden industry, and that we're dedicated to using our expertise to help people achieve beautiful lawns and landscaping," Baer says. "The Hotline is Scotts' way of providing an instant, personal and expert answer on lawn and garden questions. It certainly helps personalize our company in the consumers' eyes."
 "For Scotts, the Hotline provides a definite competitive edge," Baer says. "It's not just a great source of information for the consumer about lawn care in general and our products in particular, but it helps us stay in touch with our customers and know what they're thinking and what they want."
 While toll-free numbers are common today, when Scotts began the service it was one of the only lawn and garden companies that offered a free hotline for consumer questions. It took until the spring of 1985 for the Scotts Hotline to record its millionth call, but since then the pace has picked up rapidly. Baer projects the 3 millionth call will come in 1997.
 That means Kevin Schwartz, who received as his prize two Scotts 4-Step(TM) Annual Programs for his lawn plus a Scotts spreader, could get a long-shot chance at repeating his good fortune. Presumably, however, he'll have to change subjects when he calls again. After Scotts experts recommended Play Time(R) grass seed and a 4-Step feeding program, he should have few problems keeping his lawn looking beautiful.
 Headquartered in Marysville, Ohio, for 125 years, The Scotts Company (NASDAQ: SCTT) is the leading national supplier of consumer do-it-yourself lawn, landscape and garden products, as well as the nation's premier supplier of products for golf courses, lawn care services and other professional turf applications.
 -0- 4/1/93
 /CONTACT: Dave Slaybaugh of O.M. Scott & Sons, 513-644-0011, or Russ Birkos of Lord, Sullivan & Yoder Public Relations, for O.M. Scott & Sons, 614-846-7777/
 (SCTT)


CO: O.M. Scott & Sons ST: Ohio IN: CHM SU: PDT

LC -- CL013 -- 2030 04/01/93 12:36 EST
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Date:Apr 1, 1993
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