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DFW Area Landscaper
05-31-2005, 11:15 AM
What is the number one mistake LCO's make?

I think the number one mistake most commonly made by LCO's is doing the first cut on an over-grown lawn for the regular price. Or allowing the customer to go bi-weekly when they are fertilizing. I may be wrong, but I think a lot of LCO's are quoting $25 bucks and mowing a jungle or near jungle the first time for 25 bucks. It's just such an easy mistake to make. It surprises me that there aren't more threads related to charging extra for the first cut. Especially as we enter the summer solstice period.

Although most customers understand when I tell them the first cut may have to be billed at the hourly rate, a few try to play dumb. "How can it take you longer just because the grass is tall?" As an industry, we need to put an end to this mentality.

There is an LCO cutting a jungle across the street and three doors down from me right now. They have a two man crew and they've been working for over an hour. This is at most a $25 lawn if done weekly. Probably, with today's lower prices, $22 or $20. $35 if done bi-weekly. They mow it every other week and the lawn is as dark green from nitrogen as it can be. They are cutting off about 6 inches of bermuda growth with each pass of the mower. I seriously doubt this customer will pay a penny more than $35 for today's cut.

How often do you charge extra for the first cut? Do you have fert restrictions in place for bi-weekly customers?

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Appalachian landscape
05-31-2005, 11:37 AM
I charge more for the first cut. It also kind of eliminates anyone wasting my time with a one time cut or letting me get the lawn in shape and then cutting it themselves.

marko
05-31-2005, 11:37 AM
If the place is a wreck, I always charge more for the first cut. My pricing is the same system as Justmowits (and yours) by lot size. A lot will try to save a month and call at the end of May. I always tell them a higher price and that I will be hauling the grass off the first time, then mulched/side discharged the rest of the year.

kilpatrickshrub&turf
05-31-2005, 11:57 AM
First cut is always half or double as much more than routine service but I hardly ever do just the grass. First time cuts include hedge trimming, edging, spraying, etc etc etc to bring the property up to my standards.

I carry business cards of mow and go LCO's Im happy to pass along to homeowners that simply want the grass cut. Even have a few that other guys cut and i come do the hedge/bed work as a sub.

On occasion I will take on new yards whereas I will space out the chores over several weeks. Each visit doing something beyond mow/trim/edge to save customer a large initial bill but only if this can be done with the yard still looking respectable during the process and only if they are a regular customer.
My prefered way of doing business is to assume all landscape maintenance responsibilities. I do whatever needs doing in the yard when it needs to be done no questions asked.

I will tame a jungle yard so homeowner can do it themselves but I bid them very high. <100+ per hour min.

ProCare Lawn Service
05-31-2005, 12:14 PM
I always charge more for the initial cut if it has not been maintained. I have one now that I am going to do, if it will stop raining, that will be $65 the first cut and $45 a cut after that.

topdog
05-31-2005, 12:46 PM
i get a lot of bad shape homes....due to city getting on them to cut the grass, and i always charge more for them. my favorite one was last year the grass was soo, high you couldn't even see there steps on there back deck.

1MajorTom
05-31-2005, 02:25 PM
Oh ya, we most certainly do charge extra for a first cut that is overgrown and out of control. In fact, we have had customers that will call up 23 days into April when we've been cutting for three weeks, and their lawn hasn't been touched yet. Matt will say to them, "This is three weeks of growth that should have been cut, you'll be charged for each week. "
We don't do bi-weeklys at all anymore. We did when we first started out, but that's a thing of the past now.

impactlandscaping
05-31-2005, 02:39 PM
It's written in our contracts that there is an extra charge for first time cuts. It may be a double cut or even higher if it's really out of control. We also have a high cut fee of 30% to cover rain and over feeding on the lawns we do not spray. Cleanup is also extra, and bagging ( if desired) is an additional 20% plus $ 2.00 per 21" bag of clippings, and $ 5.00 for the Stander 4.4 bags. Not one person has ever complained about it..

JOEWOOD
05-31-2005, 02:45 PM
http://www.handklawnservice.com/photos/MVC-218S.JPG

With the excitement of a New Cutting Season opening up, yes!... I agree many LCO's will take the loss on Tall Turf.

Joe... :realmad: :realmad: :realmad:

ince8728
05-31-2005, 06:44 PM
What about if a lawn hasn't been cut for only 2 weeks, how much more would you increase the price for that one time? The property is 50X280, i'm charging $50 / cut. Should i just bump it up to like 60, or more like 75 for the 1st cut? (They have a sprinkler system.) Also, i have a feeling these people may ask to have the price lowered to 45 (there new, they just bought the house this week), i've pretty much made up my decision but i wanted some input from you guys also. I'm prob gonna hold my ground & stick w/it, any thoughts?


- Matt

DFW Area Landscaper
05-31-2005, 06:52 PM
I charge by the hour on a first cut if my crew leader tells me we can't mow it the first time at the regular price. But I always try to get the customer to tell me the truth about when it was last cut. Most will tell the truth, some will bend it and some will just lie. If I get the feeling it's gonna be thick, I try to get them to commit to the hourly rate incase it's needed before we roll a truck out there.

I'm 99% certain that charging more on the first cut is the exception and not the rule with most LCO's. My first two years I almost never charged extra for the first cut because I was so excited to have a new customer. There was no way I was going to risk losing them over a little extra work on the front end. Now that I'm running payroll and paying employees to do that work it is impossible to eat that extra work and make it up on the back end. I've also learned that a lot of these folks just want it cut once because they know their Murray won't handle it...they take 3 to 6 cuts out of guilt and then cancel the service. Yes, if you had a guarantee that the customer would be with you for the next ten years, you could afford to eat it. But that isn't reality.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Todd's lawncare
05-31-2005, 07:09 PM
I charge more for the first cut. It also kind of eliminates anyone wasting my time with a one time cut or letting me get the lawn in shape and then cutting it themselves.
Whats wrong with getting it in shape for them charge more if they pay they can't be that bad . Whats the big deal with doing that . And almost any time after the season starts i charge more for a new lawn because theres a reason the last guy stopped coming or they are an a** about it so jack it up if they pay more profit for me if they don't like the price then oh well . Life gos on !!!

Mo Green
05-31-2005, 07:38 PM
I charge double the regular price that I would normally charge for the first cut if it is overgrown and out of control. No two ways about it.......if it is going to take longer to do, you should be charging more.

I've done it with every new customer I have picked up this season, and not one complaint.

Lux Lawn
05-31-2005, 07:44 PM
If they wait long enough to call you and the lawn is out of control then they will be charged extra for the first cut.When the city comes by and gives them a citation around here it cost them around $100.

arkylady
05-31-2005, 08:29 PM
Funny that this topic came up, we were just talking about this. We learned this lesson on our second customer and don't intend to make the same mistake again! The next one that was overgrown, we didn't quite charge enough extra for the first cut, but we're learning fast :p

SoloMow
05-31-2005, 08:37 PM
For the past two years, I have run a "Spring Promotional" for one week in March where I discount regular cuts by $5.00. It allows a potential new customer to see my work and I don't lose my shirt! :p It has led to permanent accounts in both years. So, I will do it again next season.
But, I have also seen several homeowners use me to get their lawns in shape and then revert to mowing it themselves. I know this because subsequent drives past their properties reveal lawns that are mowed but not edged and trimmed in a professional manner. Hey, even an old dog can learn new tricks. Next spring I intend to advertise the promotion at my regular price and bring on any new accounts at $5.00 higher. :cool:

cantoo
05-31-2005, 10:22 PM
We just got called to do a bunch of vacant lots that haven't been cut yet this year. They never asked for a price just said to cut and bill so that's what we will do.

lawnman_scott
05-31-2005, 10:29 PM
We just got called to do a bunch of vacant lots that haven't been cut yet this year. They never asked for a price just said to cut and bill so that's what we will do.You must be trusting. I charge more if its in bad shape. And the few every other week lawns I have dont really need a fert restriction, I doubt they know what that is. Just patches of weeds they call a lawn sums up these places.

pagefault
05-31-2005, 10:45 PM
I had one today that took long enough to get me thinking about this. Up until now, they've been in pretty good shape when I get there. They usually just need a little extra work to get the edges cut.

The one today took about 2 hours and should have taken 45 minutes.

Mow.

Pause.

Mow.

Pause.

Mow.

Pause.

Mow.

Pause.

I should have brought a brush mower.

The extra time won't add up to much when amortized across 23 mows for the season, but it is still time I was not paid for.

I'll be charging double for the first cut if things look like they haven't been cut within the last two weeks or so. If I get one that's totally out of control, I'll charge even more.

SellPoint
05-31-2005, 11:05 PM
In the property preservation biz it's pretty well standard procedure that an initial mow is double. But generally your talking about vacant homes that have been empty anywhere from a few months to a year. Depending on their location, some of these homes are in the county or a small city without code enforcement and are almost always very tall.

South Florida Lawns
05-31-2005, 11:11 PM
and I come clean it up i will definatly charge more for the extra labor and wear on my machines.

cantoo
05-31-2005, 11:13 PM
lawnman_scott, this is for one of our regular customers and my day job boss. I have a company credit card, if he don't pay I can get paid. For other first time customers we usually handle it a little different, set price for the job one time only then regular price for any other cuts.

lawnman_scott
05-31-2005, 11:35 PM
lawnman_scott, this is for one of our regular customers and my day job boss. I have a company credit card, if he don't pay I can get paid. For other first time customers we usually handle it a little different, set price for the job one time only then regular price for any other cuts.Oh thats better. It sounded like a ripoff waiting to happen.

Lawnaholic
06-01-2005, 01:17 AM
What is the number one mistake LCO's make?

I think the number one mistake most commonly made by LCO's is doing the first cut on an over-grown lawn for the regular price. Or allowing the customer to go bi-weekly when they are fertilizing. I may be wrong, but I think a lot of LCO's are quoting $25 bucks and mowing a jungle or near jungle the first time for 25 bucks. It's just such an easy mistake to make. It surprises me that there aren't more threads related to charging extra for the first cut. Especially as we enter the summer solstice period.

Although most customers understand when I tell them the first cut may have to be billed at the hourly rate, a few try to play dumb. "How can it take you longer just because the grass is tall?" As an industry, we need to put an end to this mentality.

There is an LCO cutting a jungle across the street and three doors down from me right now. They have a two man crew and they've been working for over an hour. This is at most a $25 lawn if done weekly. Probably, with today's lower prices, $22 or $20. $35 if done bi-weekly. They mow it every other week and the lawn is as dark green from nitrogen as it can be. They are cutting off about 6 inches of bermuda growth with each pass of the mower. I seriously doubt this customer will pay a penny more than $35 for today's cut.

How often do you charge extra for the first cut? Do you have fert restrictions in place for bi-weekly customers?

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper
I too, charge double price for the initial mow and I also charge the same, double, for the end of year/season mow, period. My customers are well aware of this and none have given me any problems about a two time double fee/charge during the lawn season...

r8derman
06-01-2005, 10:10 PM
This season I charged more on first time cuts for new customers...
Most of my repeat customers I let slide but probably should not have. Guess I'm just too nice a guy. That's my problem in other areas too. I can't get over these people who want to fertalize like crazy, but then have the yard mowed every 2 weeks. I'm trying to get to a point where I can drop these cheapskates, but right now I'm fighting for all the work I can get and being undercut all the time. Oh well, life's a *****. I'm in my second full year and can only hope it will get better.

crawdad
06-02-2005, 06:25 AM
Oh ya, we most certainly do charge extra for a first cut that is overgrown and out of control. In fact, we have had customers that will call up 23 days into April when we've been cutting for three weeks, and their lawn hasn't been touched yet. Matt will say to them, "This is three weeks of growth that should have been cut, you'll be charged for each week. "
...
Has anyone ever paid the triple-price? Or do they chase you off and hire someone else?

LawnScapers of Dayton
06-02-2005, 06:53 AM
I have one I am doing today that 2/3's of the backyard has not been touched yet this year. It would regularly be a $33 lawn. But today it is a $150.00 lawn..... Customer was OK with it.

Derek

greeneakers04
06-02-2005, 08:20 AM
When the customer calls for the first time, I ask them, "When was the last time it was mowed?" If it has been one week, I tell them it may be a little more if it takes me longer. If it has been two weeks or more, they get charged the same price as though they were a One Time Cut (for the first cut only, of course), which is $35 under 10K sqft, $40 for 10-15K. Anything larger than that, I go out and take a look at, or pass altogether. A couple things I learned really quick:

1. "Its been a week" really means 10-15 days.
2. "I'm not sure" really means minimum of two weeks.
3. "Its been a while" really means it hasn't been cut all season.

Gotta learn their lingo! :p

MowingGuru
06-02-2005, 11:04 AM
Definately charge more.

Generally the customers are trying to save money by waiting a few weeks before calling...don't let them get away with it. If it is 3 weeks into the season, charge them at least 3 times the normal price...they'll learn. What happens when you hit something you can't see in the tall grass? Stuff breaks. You're taking a risk putting your equipment on overgrown lawns, charge for it!

Collectively, we don't get paid enough for our work due to all the fly by nights out there. Don't be a busy fool.

Work smarter not harder. Which sounds better? 100 properties at $25 or 50 properties at $45? I know which one I'd pick.

tstrong
06-03-2005, 09:21 AM
Hey DFW, I found this website while looking for PTP's website. mowitnow.com ( sorry I don't know how to post a link ). These guys charge more for a first time mow, but they break it to you gently on their website.

cantoo
06-05-2005, 11:25 PM
We cut the vacant lots yesterday. Hit 2 half buried stones and what looked like a steel ring off of a whiskey barrel. Didn't do much damage to the blades that I could see and I did have an old set on anyway. A couple of neighbours came over to say how much better the property looked already. We're digging the foundation for the one lot next week so only one lot left there to keep up for awhile.
Bonus points, mulched three mice in the long grass.

Hootsma
06-05-2005, 11:53 PM
Do y'all charge extra for existing customers 1st cut of the season? Some of those were quite time consuming this year. Not necessarilly for the mower, but for the the edger and trimmer.

Robert

txlawnking
06-06-2005, 12:04 AM
Do y'all charge extra for existing customers 1st cut of the season? Some of those were quite time consuming this year. Not necessarilly for the mower, but for the the edger and trimmer.

Robert

Absolutely, especially if it's overgrown..

Lawnaholic
06-06-2005, 07:53 PM
Do y'all charge extra for existing customers 1st cut of the season? Some of those were quite time consuming this year. Not necessarilly for the mower, but for the the edger and trimmer.

Robert
Yes, always extra for the initial mow. Existing customer or new customer...