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View Full Version : How Do You HandleThe Mowing Customers That Call To Skip


jasonnau
10-08-2005, 07:48 AM
I'm just curious how other LCO's handle the customers who call up saying " I Don't think the grass needs cut this week", when you know, you're going to have to double cut it the following week. I have a hand full of customers like this who either A: Try to save a little money, or B: Look at their sunbaked front yard, and fail to notice that their big backyard grows twice as fast and thick in the shade. I try to explain that even though it doesn't need it that badly this week, by the time I get back the following week, It will be high as a kite. I've asked this question to a friend of mine who also runs a LCO, and he said "I Cut it one time and leave all the clippings, this way, when they call, I can explain why it needs cut every week". I hate leaving anything looking bad, and I'm not sure if this is a good idea. But, I guess it would make the point. All I know is that with leaf season just starting, I do not want to waste extra time trying to get a yard back into shape from someone skipping a cut.

Jpocket
10-08-2005, 08:13 AM
The only time we skip is when the lawns are either totally browned out, or not growing at all, because if we skip a lawn on tuesday, and it rains on wednesday by the following tuesday you may have a jungle.

ProLawns
10-08-2005, 08:15 AM
If it takes longer then charge accordingly and explain why.

PTP
10-08-2005, 08:16 AM
First, do enough advertising so that your schedule is completly full. This gives you posture. You can now present the "take it or leave it" to your customer - nicely of course.

Next year, send out a letter that states that you will be allowing no skips or 2 skips per year or something like that. If you want biweekly service, that will be fine also - but the charge will be extra and the lawn will not look as nice.

If someone wants weekly service and also wants to skip 3 times, they get charged for the mowing anyway or they get dropped. Because your schedule is full, you then sign up the next customer and go from there.

Jpocket
10-08-2005, 08:44 AM
First, do enough advertising so that your schedule is completly full. This gives you posture. You can now present the "take it or leave it" to your customer - nicely of course.

Next year, send out a letter that states that you will be allowing no skips or 2 skips per year or something like that. If you want biweekly service, that will be fine also - but the charge will be extra and the lawn will not look as nice.

If someone wants weekly service and also wants to skip 3 times, they get charged for the mowing anyway or they get dropped. Because your schedule is full, you then sign up the next customer and go from there.

Thats a good idea, but also a bad idea. I wouldn't do that if the customer was in my prime area. I would "try" to work with them. I would only do this if it's still raining atleast once every other week, but if it gets dry for a month like here in the northeast you kinda have to skip it. What are you gonna do make tire tracks every week? obviously this only applies to the "per cut" guys. Which makes up the majority of us.

Jerry and Sons
10-08-2005, 09:23 AM
Just a thought but I would try to talk to them and explain Why the lawn needs to be cut on a regular basis. If i have to I would offer to only cut the back of the property if the front is dormant. This is called customer service!

lawnmaniac883
10-08-2005, 09:26 AM
This is the reason that many favor monthly contracts, dont matter what they do or dont think, you cut each week regardless.

LawnGrassHoppers
10-08-2005, 09:39 AM
the best thing to do is try to shear some hedges or pull weeds or spray for weeds.allways try to keep the flow of money there every little bit counts.if they still dont want anywork done then when you come back to cut let it all fly. leave the clumps behind and deal with it if they call.then you can tell them and show them as well. stick to your guns because theres an endless amount of work out there.ive delt with this this summer if they cancell when you show up to the job charge a service fee(gas)if they call sell something else.NEVER CHARGE FOR SOMETHING THAT THE CUSTOMER DIDNT AGREE TO PAY FOR BECAUSE THEY ARENT OBLIGATED TO PAY AND ITS YOUR LOST TIME ! payup

bobbygedd
10-08-2005, 09:50 AM
this turned into a big problem for me this year. i'm all for cutting, wether it "really needs it" or not. but, this years drought really made me not be able to mow, alot of the time. so, depending on my arrangement with individual clients, some i skipped, some i "traded" other services for, like weeding, or trimming a couple bushes, etc. this IS NOT A GOOD IDEA. i'll tell you why: i need to be able to sell multiple services. my product line is a very small one. we mow grass. we pull weeds. we trim bushes. we fertilize, etc. i need to sell as many of these services to each client as i can. when you start trading off a lawn cut, for, let's say a weeding job, you have just set a precident. yup, next time the beds need weeding, they will request that you not cut the lawn this week, and pull weeds instead. when they need those 2 small bushes trimmed, they'll ask you to skip the lawn mow, and just trim the bushes this week instead. you'll have a hard time upselling this service. this year was the exception, not the rule(drought/skipping cuts). but in another drought like this, i am not yet sure how i will handle it, but "trading" of service, is not a good idea

Cigarcop
10-08-2005, 09:56 AM
but "trading" of service, is not a good idea[/QUOTE]

I agree, you are the basically allowing them to think that weeding, trimming or any other service is equal to an amount paid for one weeks cut.

bobbygedd
10-08-2005, 10:02 AM
but "trading" of service, is not a good idea

I agree, you are the basically allowing them to think that weeding, trimming or any other service is equal to an amount paid for one weeks cut.[/QUOTE]
wait a minute, you forgot to call me an idiot and a moron

Cigarcop
10-08-2005, 10:03 AM
Bobby,

Sometimes I do agree with you, but other times you are way out there buddy!!

LwnmwrMan22
10-08-2005, 10:13 AM
This is the reason that many favor monthly contracts, dont matter what they do or dont think, you cut each week regardless.

No, you don't cut regardless.

You should have it in an agreement that you will keep the grass between 3 and 5", or whatever you want your thresholds to be.

This means that you will mow at 3", and will mow again when the grass gets to be 5" tall.

If a yard is 4" tall, and it's not going to rain, it'll be sunny and 90 for the next week, I'm skipping it.

If a yard is 4" tall, and it's supposed to be 70, cloudy and rainy, then I'll mow it.

I'm the professional LCO. I know what's best for their yard. They are the professional at whatever it is they do. They don't expect me to tell them how to run their business or how to do their job, I don't expect them to tell me how to do mine.

If they do, they can find someone else. I perform standard grass cutting. I have all the work I can ever handle. I'm not going to bust my butt for someone because they think their yard is the only one that I've got. It's just not worth my time.

Frontier-Lawn
10-08-2005, 11:22 AM
but "trading" of service, is not a good idea
I agree, you are the basically allowing them to think that weeding, trimming or any other service is equal to an amount paid for one weeks cut.



i do it for my advertising i run each month. and as for the other question, i have in my contract its weekly visits no if an or buts! and if they do say no for that week, they get bill still for a normal visit. i also have a line for them to initial for that reason.

Woody82986
10-08-2005, 11:35 AM
I don't mind skipping a cut if it really doesn't need to be cut in my opinion. If I do think it should be cut and they insist that I don't cut it, I simply tell tham that ultimately they own the lawn and thats fine with me, but if I come back next week and extra work is involved above and beyond what is normally done to service the lawn, that they will be billed accordingly for the extra time and work involved. I get about 50% to change their minds right then and there. The other 50% like to gamble I guess. Of the 50% that do decide to wait, I would guess that half of them end up with additions to their billing statement for extra work done.

proenterprises
10-08-2005, 05:09 PM
I dont like skips either. I really only had one property that had numerous skips this year, mainly because it has 95% sun exposure in the front, and they refuse to water. The back is all shade and grows like a weed, but the fron was toast from July on. Otherwise, considering our season, I faired pretty well.

Precision
10-08-2005, 09:40 PM
This is the reason that many favor monthly contracts, dont matter what they do or dont think, you cut each week regardless.


Exactly, when my clients call and ask that I skip, If I think it needs mowed I tell them, sure but it makes no difference in the price. Remember you pay monthly regardless of the number of cuts.
If it is for a good reason, ground is too soggy, the roofers will be here on mow day or something, I thank them for their consideration and will see them next week.

Metro Lawn
10-09-2005, 12:04 AM
I explain it like this:

I tell them that this is our job. This is what my employees depend on to make a living. Skipping a cut means no pay for them. I will then ask them this. Would you stay at a job if you boss told you to work this weak, but not next week, and maybe not the week after either? They will want you to work in 4 weeks, but then skip another week. Heck no, they say.

Exactly.

Summertime Lawn
10-09-2005, 12:41 AM
I had a conversation that went something like this:

Customer: I don't think the lawn needs cutting this week. I just don't want to pay for something that doesn't need to be done.

Me: I completely understand your position, but in the spring when I was out here double and triple cutting your lawn did you ever come out and offer me more money for all of the extra work I was doing?

Customer: (stuipd look on face) You really did all of that work all spring?

Me: Yes, and now if you want to skip that is fine, but you will be billed for the week regardless. Or I can atleast walk the property and take care of any problem areas to ensure your property looks nice.

Customer: That sounds good, keep up the good work.

Most people have no idea what we do to keep their yards looking nice. So we have to educate them. Some understand some don't. Some are still customers while others are not. Life is too short to deal with the unreasonable.

yrdandgardenhandyman
10-09-2005, 12:49 AM
if I come back next week and extra work is involved above and beyond what is normally done to service the lawn, that they will be billed accordingly for the extra time and work involved. Of the 50% that do decide to wait, I would guess that half of them end up with additions to their billing statement for extra work done.


I never skip cuts, but if you do, and there is a need to charge extra the next week, do you double charge or do you just add the amount appropriate for the extra work. Point being, if I have a lawn that goes for $30.00/week and they request a skip, and the next week the extra work calls for a total mow charge of $45.00, isn't there a possibility that the customer may decide to skip every other week to save the $15.00/mow?
The idea of charging a flat monthly rate looks better and better.

jasonnau
10-09-2005, 10:50 PM
I had a problem with the drought as well. What I see happening here is that a lot of cutomers got used to not paying that normal mowing bill. For 3 months, their bill has gotten smaller and smaller. Now everything is green and growing, they've gotten used to a light bill, they've given up on wanting the yard to look good, and a half overgrown yard is worth saving some money on this close to the end of the season. Mind you, this is only a few of my customers, but, my summer help is back in college, and I'm trying to handle a good amount of customers by myself. I as well offer landscaping, clean outs, leaf removal, gutter cleaning, fertilization, you name it. I have 38 accounts I mow on a weekly basis, and about 80 other customers that call for different things as needed. I'm usually booked to the day, and it's frustrating to get two less yards cut at the end of the day because a couple of people skipped last week. Some of my customers I have explained things to, but to which I get a "Well, I don't really think it needs it" when I know it may not be that high when we're talking, but, it needs it this week so that it's not overgrown next week.

dkeisala
10-09-2005, 10:57 PM
Have a sliding scale. For example, cut every week = $40.00 per cut, cut every other week = $60.00 per cut. They still save a few bucks, you're making more money per cut and being compensated for the additional time it takes.

jasonnau
10-09-2005, 11:02 PM
Alright, I have in my contract that I will mow every 5-7 days in the spring, and every 7 days during the summer and fall. I have listed the part about skipping and being billed extra. I listed that if a customer calls to be skipped resulting in extra work, they will be billed an additional 60% above their cut price to compensate for the extra work. Here's my problem. I really think they think their yard does'nt need cut. I think they will feel as though I'm just trying to take advantage of them. So, I show up the next week and double cut, sometimes triple cut to take care of the problem. Sometimes it doesn't take but a few minutes, sometimes it takes an extra 20 or 30 minutes. They've always paid on time and have been reliable customers. I'd hate to make them feel as though I wasn't trustworthy, or, worse that I was just in it for the money. I want their yards looking great, it reflects directly upon me. I want their yards looking better than their neighbors, better than the lco that takes care of the house down the street. More than the time, that's the part that bugs me the most. And yeah, of course I want the money.

Envy Lawn Service
10-10-2005, 01:20 AM
Some of you guys have this figured out to where this is no longer an issue for you.

As for the rest of you, well, I will just continue to laugh at you and just shake my head until you learn to heed what you read. I can lead a mule to water, but I can't make it drink.

Precision
10-10-2005, 08:06 AM
Some of you guys have this figured out to where this is no longer an issue for you.

As for the rest of you, well, I will just continue to laugh at you and just shake my head until you learn to heed what you read. I can lead a mule to water, but I can't make it drink.


Why is it so difficult to understand that monthy billing (preferably) in advance is the best way for everyone (except the scam artists). Their budget is balanced, your cash flow is evened out. You work like a dog in hi growth no matter what, but at least this way you get deferred pay in the slower season to compensate. Skipped cuts no longer matter. Weather no longer matters (to income anyway).

"oh my clients will never go for that". Well get better clients or stop apologizing for it and make it (politely) my way or the highway. Start with all new customers then work you way back to the existing clientel.

Last year out of 40 some odd clients, I had 3 drop after fall hit. I picked up 5 new and higher paying ones in that time frame. The rest paid every month over the winter despite the cut schedule being halved. A few of them even bit on winter clean up and mulch work. I expect no difference this season.

jasonnau
10-10-2005, 09:54 AM
This is Kentucky, Some companies may do things that way I'm sure, but I'm friends with several lcos around here, and our policy is to skip when they don't need cut. That means billing them for the cut too. As for even billing, It would be a hard sell when we cut 28-32 times a year on average. Come about Dec. 1st it's all over on the mowing end until about April 1st. From what I can tell though, our cuts pay better around here than some of the southern states. Some of my customers may even be your customers in the winter, several have winter homes in FLA. It would not be easy to bill people in February for mowing. Our summers can be great, but there is usually a time in around Jul/Aug/Sept., where we get at least a small drought. This year was a little much. If it were not for those hurricanes, It would have been bad. Three hurricanes brought a day each of steady rain, other than that, it rarely rained this season. People would have seriously frowned on a contractlual monthly billing when I didn't show up for three weeks and still charged them for their cuts. I try to be realistic about the customers expectations, and produce the profit I need to be successful. I sell customers on prunning, mulching etc. during those times of year, and I take a vacation. Winter comes, and it's snow time till March. My company is now two years old, and yeah, I definitely have some refining to do on my customers so that i flow a little more effeciently. But, I turn a decent profit, and I have a generally "good" customer base. It's hard to trim the fat of customers, when I'm trimming the fat of money at the same time. Spring is the time for that, not summer. My clientel base grows mostly in the spring, and as for summer, it trickles in. I guess I just need to grow some bigger balls and tell them the way it is. Even if it upsets some of my customers. But with all of that said, should I just cut their lawns one time and leave the clippings to prove they need it cut weekly, or should I just carry on keeping things looking good no matter what? I am however changing my mowing agreement around a little bit for next year.

dkeisala
10-10-2005, 10:59 AM
You're still missing the point. Levelized billing means just that, spreading the cost of service out over the year. How do you sell it? The same way I do. You tell clients "This is a business. My bills don't stop coming in January so it's crucial I have a cash flow throughout the year. Some months you'll be receiving more service than your paying for, other months less and you''ll be able to better budget for the services received and insure that we'll have space for you come the following season."

Say your charge per cut is $40.00. 40.00 x 30 cuts per year = $1200.00 which equals $100.00 per month. That's the way I've always done it and it's the smartest thing I've ever done. Write it up in the contract and it's a done deal.

Your other choice is to keep asking the question but not listening to the answer.

Precision
10-10-2005, 03:28 PM
As for even billing, It would be a hard sell when we cut 28-32 times a year on average. Come about Dec. 1st it's all over on the mowing end until about April 1st.

as an alternative to the above mentioned idea, set up your contracts with 9 equal payments. That way they are paying while you are servicing the properties. First one due March 15 and the last one due Nov 15. So you have 30 cuts average @ $40 per cut is $1200 divided by 9 payments is $133.33 call it $135 monthly. Tell the clients just Like I do. This will help us both out with budgeting and when I should be charging you double in the high growth season I won't, but you won't complain in the slow growth season because it will about even out. I won't complain in the years where I work a little extra if you don't complain when I get by with a cut or two less. Sound fair. And besides most people are math illiterate and will think they are getting a deal at $135 monthly vs $40 weekly. Packaging and salesmanship are what makes the difference.


But with all of that said, should I just cut their lawns one time and leave the clippings to prove they need it cut weekly, or should I just carry on keeping things looking good no matter what?


I don't have that concern. I never took that kind of client and have always been on monthly pay. But, if I did, I would rather discuss it with them and tell them (politely) I decide when the grass gets mowed and how often. It is your lawn, but my business and if you don't want me to do what I think is in the best interest of your lawn, then kindly let me know now and we can part ways. Leaving winrows or turf turds all over is amatuerish and a pissing contest in my opinion.

LawnBrother
10-10-2005, 05:00 PM
Just a thought but I would try to talk to them and explain Why the lawn needs to be cut on a regular basis. If i have to I would offer to only cut the back of the property if the front is dormant. This is called customer service!
Right. I sort of do the same thing with one customer. She started calling in skips around june because her back yard grows slow. But, her front yard grows fast. I explained to her that instead of going to biweekly I could keep her front yard looking nice and save her a little money. So intead of skipping the whole thing I do the front every week and the back every other week and charge her a flat rate. It works out well for us both, and I make a little more than I would make doing it biweekly.

LwnmwrMan22
10-10-2005, 09:51 PM
This is Kentucky, Some companies may do things that way I'm sure, but I'm friends with several lcos around here, and our policy is to skip when they don't need cut. That means billing them for the cut too. As for even billing, It would be a hard sell when we cut 28-32 times a year on average. Come about Dec. 1st it's all over on the mowing end until about April 1st. From what I can tell though, our cuts pay better around here than some of the southern states. Some of my customers may even be your customers in the winter, several have winter homes in FLA. It would not be easy to bill people in February for mowing. Our summers can be great, but there is usually a time in around Jul/Aug/Sept., where we get at least a small drought. This year was a little much. If it were not for those hurricanes, It would have been bad. Three hurricanes brought a day each of steady rain, other than that, it rarely rained this season. People would have seriously frowned on a contractlual monthly billing when I didn't show up for three weeks and still charged them for their cuts. I try to be realistic about the customers expectations, and produce the profit I need to be successful. I sell customers on prunning, mulching etc. during those times of year, and I take a vacation. Winter comes, and it's snow time till March. My company is now two years old, and yeah, I definitely have some refining to do on my customers so that i flow a little more effeciently. But, I turn a decent profit, and I have a generally "good" customer base. It's hard to trim the fat of customers, when I'm trimming the fat of money at the same time. Spring is the time for that, not summer. My clientel base grows mostly in the spring, and as for summer, it trickles in. I guess I just need to grow some bigger balls and tell them the way it is. Even if it upsets some of my customers. But with all of that said, should I just cut their lawns one time and leave the clippings to prove they need it cut weekly, or should I just carry on keeping things looking good no matter what? I am however changing my mowing agreement around a little bit for next year.


I just have flat fees for 6 months for the mowing. Then in the winter time I have flat fees for 6 months for snowplowing.

You don't divide the services out over 12 months if you're not working for 12 months, you divide it out over however long your mowing season is.

grassyfras
10-10-2005, 10:04 PM
yep never liked the idea of trading services. You skip a week your out that money forever. Its no were. I bought another guys busienss last month and a lot of his people are "trained" to think I skip weeks. My other customers are monthly contracts. I tried sening them something in the mail that says it will be extra $5 per week skipped. One guy totally ignored it and paid me what he thought he should pay. Another lady is going for three weeks. These people are gone next year or on a monthly.

Envy Lawn Service
10-10-2005, 10:58 PM
yep never liked the idea of trading services. You skip a week your out that money forever. Its no were. I bought another guys busienss last month and a lot of his people are "trained" to think I skip weeks. My other customers are monthly contracts. I tried sening them something in the mail that says it will be extra $5 per week skipped. One guy totally ignored it and paid me what he thought he should pay. Another lady is going for three weeks. These people are gone next year or on a monthly.

Yup, I am in a similar situation with a hand full of "every week" accounts I took on mid-season. Yeah, they are regular every week customers so long as they need you really bad every week. Then when things slow a little it just kills them to let you get in an easy cut.

They start aggrivating the hell out of you wanting to skip. And of course they are going to do that when they see it as a way of saving themselves some money. Even if it's off the sweat of your back the next week when two weeks growth equals atleast like 10 days.

Anyways, September was a really dry month here and these people started up. Now these are all good people and good customers, except maybe one. But dry weather often turns good customers into pests... especially if they are given any reason. So, since I have nothing with them stating otherwise, I have to go through all the BS of trying to do what I need to do to finish out the year.

Now it is absolutely freakin amazing what an absolute mess just a hand full can make. It's just unbearable to me. Once the end comes, they will renew under my contract, or they will find themselves hunting someone else. I just can't do it and won't... and if I had to, I'd flat out close up shop and sell out first.

The irony in this is.... it NEVER FAILS.... this always happens.... they shoot you in the foot.... and they always end up shooting themselves in the foot also. Nobody wins at this. We both loose.

Every single one of these customers has ended up shooting themselves in the foot with their own cancellations. Just like right now, I have several that skipped like the second week of September when they really should have let me have an easy cut. So the third week when I cut, I had to raise the finished height. The last week of September they percieved it did not grow any, and skipped again instead of giving me the catch-up cut and a chance to mulch a few drought-drop leaves.

These people to date are still in line to be cut and haven't been cut since the 20-something of September. They have jungle lawns and leaves all over. Sorry folks, not my fault, not my problem, and don't blame me for the extra charges.... Tables have turned now. I can no more control the rain we have now than I could control the drought we had last month. Yup, it started raining on Wednesday of last week, and did not stop until sometime Saturday. Then it politely picked back up before dawn on Monday and the forecast don't look great for the rest of this week either.

They cost me money and headaches, and caused themselves future headaches and unforseen expenses. This is just a stupid no-win situation I just want no part in.....

But if the rest of you dig this stuff.... knock yourself out!!!

DFW Area Landscaper
10-10-2005, 11:10 PM
If my luck from other investments continues like it has, this is what "skippers" will be told when they call to dictate the mowing schedule next year:

I'm sorry, but we simply aren't able to allow customers to skip or otherwise dictate the mowing schedule. There are 52 weeks in the year, and we only mow our weekly clients 32 times as it is. With a seasonal business like this, if a client intends to whittle it down to less than that, we simply have to draw the line. It just isn't fair to us.

I really hope I can start saying this next spring. Honestly, I wonder how many would actually cancel over it. Probably very few if I just had the balls to try it.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Envy Lawn Service
10-10-2005, 11:28 PM
Oh... and allow me to make just one more point here to build off what I just said.

Now every single last one of those skippers has called me multiple times since the rain started. Every single last one of them expects to be the first one on the list. Every single last one of them expects that I will come running straight to their lawn, as if it were the only one I had, at the very first break in the weather.

Also every single last one of them will also truely honestly expect that I will run right out and do my majic to there lawn for this weeks regular pay. Yup, that's right, turn 3 weeks worth of soaking wet, sappy growth, and 3 weeks worth of tough drought-drop leaves that are now also water logged into instant perfection as always...

Of course that's not what they are going to get from me. But that's what they will all expect, and some will even be down right pizzed off that I had the nerve to charge them extra, regardless of how blountly I explain it.

See this stuff just ain't for me. It's just uneeded, uncalled for headache. And this sort of thing is just something I would rather just nip in the bud from the get-go. My agreements just weed out those customers who are the type you just cannot reason with, like the ones that will be ticked off from above.

I just move on and seek a customer I can reason with. You see, I am only interested in serving the kinds of customers who want to do business with my company in a business-like manor. I try to surround myself with these type customers. I wanna do business on that level. Who the hell needs those who are only in it to get what they want out of you, when they want it, and squeeze all they can out of you every chance they get?????

Freakin' blood sucking vampire customers is what they are, and there is no per-visit amount that is worth it to pimp yourself out to them.

Envy Lawn Service
10-10-2005, 11:34 PM
DFW,

Take your numbers from this year or last. Then plug and compare.
What you find is, you can't afford not to, not the other way around.

Now I also wanted to elaborate on something else you said, because I liked how you put it... "dictate the mowing schedule"

I'm here to tell you, that given the right circumstances, if you let one person slide on this, being Johnny-on-the-spot for them just once can cause a shift in your entire schedule... and that one person will dictate your entire schedule.

DFW Area Landscaper
10-11-2005, 06:04 PM
Envy,

The only other thing I was thinking of doing was to offer a special service to the cheapos who call in to skip a cut.

When they call to order service initially, I will sell two offerings: weekly service (32 cuts/yr) or bi-weekly service (18 cuts/yr). Bi-weekly is currently $3 extra, but we will probably raise that to $5 extra next year to match the market leader, JustMowIt.

Then, when the cheapos start calling in April to dictate the mowing schedule, I could offer them a third service offering that is only made available to the cheapos. Basically, these customers would be told that we can put them on a plan to cut bi-weekly for the season, but it would automatically be converted to weekly on May 1st thru August 31st when it really needs it. The price per cut would be $3 extra.

A weekly client would get 32 cuts per year @ $25 per cut = $800/yr
A cheapo weekly client would get 27 cuts per year @ $28 per cut = $756/yr
A bi-weekly client would get 18 cuts per year @ $30 per cut = $540/yr

The thing I like most about this idea is that I don't have as much customer service to do with the cheap customers. It's a few less phone calls to answer. I don't have to remember to scratch them from the schedule. And there is no risk of accidentally cutting a lawn that was supposed to be skipped, getting an extra phone call from an unhappy customer and paying a crew to mow their lawn for free. And I get more money per cut.

The only problem is if things get warm earlier than normal in April or if there is a lot of rain in September...then we could be in some trouble with extra work. But hopefully that extra $81 per year from those clients would make it ok.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

LwnmwrMan22
10-11-2005, 08:06 PM
Envy,

The only other thing I was thinking of doing was to offer a special service to the cheapos who call in to skip a cut.

When they call to order service initially, I will sell two offerings: weekly service (32 cuts/yr) or bi-weekly service (18 cuts/yr). Bi-weekly is currently $3 extra, but we will probably raise that to $5 extra next year to match the market leader, JustMowIt.

Then, when the cheapos start calling in April to dictate the mowing schedule, I could offer them a third service offering that is only made available to the cheapos. Basically, these customers would be told that we can put them on a plan to cut bi-weekly for the season, but it would automatically be converted to weekly on May 1st thru August 31st when it really needs it. The price per cut would be $3 extra.

A weekly client would get 32 cuts per year @ $25 per cut = $800/yr
A cheapo weekly client would get 27 cuts per year @ $28 per cut = $756/yr
A bi-weekly client would get 18 cuts per year @ $30 per cut = $540/yr

The thing I like most about this idea is that I don't have as much customer service to do with the cheap customers. It's a few less phone calls to answer. I don't have to remember to scratch them from the schedule. And there is no risk of accidentally cutting a lawn that was supposed to be skipped, getting an extra phone call from an unhappy customer and paying a crew to mow their lawn for free. And I get more money per cut.

The only problem is if things get warm earlier than normal in April or if there is a lot of rain in September...then we could be in some trouble with extra work. But hopefully that extra $81 per year from those clients would make it ok.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Hopefully I don't offend you, or anyone else DFW, but that seems like a WHOLE lot of hassle.

What happens if you're incapacitated for some reason?

I look at it that clients HAVE to follow my plan. It's streamlined, it's efficient on the paperwork AND schedule.

Pretty soon you're making plans for people that want it mowed every week in May and July because they have parties for Memorial Day and the 4th, but the don't the other months.

Cigarcop
10-11-2005, 08:23 PM
I have one that asked me not to mow the 1st week of September and that she would call me when she thinks its needed. Mind you I haven't gotten a call yet since. I've known them for a long time, they live in a wealthy area with nice yards. I know she hasn't called someone else for the work. I can't wait till she calls and I just can't imagine what the yard looks like with all the leaves that have fallen in the past month around these parts.
I've already made my mind up that I will not service this property next year. I tell all my customers that I come every week unless " I " feel its not needed. Except for this one customer all feel I won't come and blow dust around their yards if doesn't need cutting, and most appreciate that.

Precision
10-11-2005, 08:30 PM
Envy,

The only other thing I was thinking of doing was to offer a special service to the cheapos who call in to skip a cut.

When they call to order service initially, I will sell two offerings: weekly service (32 cuts/yr) or bi-weekly service (18 cuts/yr). Bi-weekly is currently $3 extra, but we will probably raise that to $5 extra next year to match the market leader, JustMowIt.

Then, when the cheapos start calling in April to dictate the mowing schedule, I could offer them a third service offering that is only made available to the cheapos. Basically, these customers would be told that we can put them on a plan to cut bi-weekly for the season, but it would automatically be converted to weekly on May 1st thru August 31st when it really needs it. The price per cut would be $3 extra.

A weekly client would get 32 cuts per year @ $25 per cut = $800/yr
A cheapo weekly client would get 27 cuts per year @ $28 per cut = $756/yr
A bi-weekly client would get 18 cuts per year @ $30 per cut = $540/yr

The thing I like most about this idea is that I don't have as much customer service to do with the cheap customers. It's a few less phone calls to answer. I don't have to remember to scratch them from the schedule. And there is no risk of accidentally cutting a lawn that was supposed to be skipped, getting an extra phone call from an unhappy customer and paying a crew to mow their lawn for free. And I get more money per cut.

The only problem is if things get warm earlier than normal in April or if there is a lot of rain in September...then we could be in some trouble with extra work. But hopefully that extra $81 per year from those clients would make it ok.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

In my other company (Simply Mowing) we follow the general ideas of TJ at JustMowIt. I charge $25 for weekly and $32.50 for EOW. For clients that want to switch from EOW to weekly we do not charge a surcharge. For cheapo's that want to switch out of weekly early we charge them $5 administration fee and move them to $32.50. We allow 2 skips per year with no repercussions, but to be honest we have only had 2 skips total all year.

I went with a relatively low ad budget this year so we have only gotten up to 45 clients (retained) (40 weekly and 5 EOW). So my numbers are not statistically accurate but I have had no real issue with the $7.50 up charge for EOW. Credit card only billing kills off way more potential clients. No one has complained about the administration fee either for switching service level.

Next year the ads are gonna fly and hope to get up over 250 accts for Simply Mowing.

Darryl G
10-11-2005, 11:52 PM
All of my customers understand that I control the schedule and will not cut it if it doesn't need it.

Envy Lawn Service
10-12-2005, 12:18 AM
All of my customers understand that I control the schedule and will not cut it if it doesn't need it.

Yes, but to pick on you just a little, do your customers also understand that this equates to them getting a reduced bill or no bill?

Darryl G
10-12-2005, 08:07 AM
Yes, but to pick on you just a little, do your customers also understand that this equates to them getting a reduced bill or no bill?

Yeah, I think they've got that figured out. I did have one customer who got no bill for mowing in August. Some only got billed for one mowing while others got billed for 4 or 5. Not one of them complained. I did have one customer who wanted me to reduce the bill because he has a small burned out spot in the back yard.

DFW Area Landscaper
10-12-2005, 09:36 AM
++++Hopefully I don't offend you, or anyone else DFW, but that seems like a WHOLE lot of hassle.++++

Not a hassle for me. It is just three service offerings.

What is a hassle is fielding a call from a weekly customer who wants to skip and remembering to note that on the schedule.

Earlier this spring, I initiated a $5 admin fee for weekly customers who called to skip a scheduled cut. I might continue with this. When they call for the first skip, we explain that there is a $5 admin fee to skip the cut, but we will waive it this time since they weren't aware. I only had to charge the admin fee on one customer and guess what? After we made the 6th cut, he cancelled service.

I might just continue with this method. It seems to be working fairly well and I've been explaining this in the welcome letter with all new clients. The real problems with skipping are coming from older customers who have been allowed to skip since day one without penalty.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

LwnmwrMan22
10-12-2005, 10:31 AM
++++Hopefully I don't offend you, or anyone else DFW, but that seems like a WHOLE lot of hassle.++++

Not a hassle for me. It is just three service offerings.

What is a hassle is fielding a call from a weekly customer who wants to skip and remembering to note that on the schedule.

Earlier this spring, I initiated a $5 admin fee for weekly customers who called to skip a scheduled cut. I might continue with this. When they call for the first skip, we explain that there is a $5 admin fee to skip the cut, but we will waive it this time since they weren't aware. I only had to charge the admin fee on one customer and guess what? After we made the 6th cut, he cancelled service.

I might just continue with this method. It seems to be working fairly well and I've been explaining this in the welcome letter with all new clients. The real problems with skipping are coming from older customers who have been allowed to skip since day one without penalty.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

I've got some things that I've allowed people to do over the years. Basically I've grandfathered them in to allow them to continue to do those things, ie pickup 4-5 large branches and haul them for no charge after a storm and when I'm there to mow.

If it isn't too much of a hassle, you might want to consider grandfathering them in, if it doesn't affect the bottom line too much. Let them know you're doing that for them and they'll stick with you even longer. Just be sure they realize that if anyone else asks them, the new people don't get the same deal.

jasonnau
10-13-2005, 10:11 PM
I try to service all of my customers as if I were taking care of my own lawn. If I look at my lawn and say, hmmm, I don't think it needs cut this week, I let it go. If I look at a customers and think the same, then I don't cut it, and I don't bill them for it. Even billing sounds great, but if I had a lawn care company that was charging for a cut they didn't cut, I would be thinking twice. If I have an older customer who can't do their own yardwork, I'll pick up the sticks, and put them by their trash cans, a younger customer who's always out picking weeds and planting flowers, no, I put the sticks in the nearest landscape bed to my mower. I have a couple of very small cheap eow's which I let go even though they need cut every week, just because I know they don't have a lot of money to be spending on their mowing bill, and they are in a neighborhood where I'm mowing every week anyway. These are usually single middle aged women. There are the customers who are very friendly and always pay their bills on time. I'll do extras on occasion for these people. There are others who are always a pain (young and old), these people I just do what's expected, no extras without being billed. The tricky part of all of this is feeling out and knowing your customers. I have a coulpe of customers that I know if I change anything, they are gone in a flash. There are others who I could raise their cut price by 20% and they'd just smile and nod. The catch phrase for my company is "Serving your lawn and landscaping needs on a personal and professional level". I try to do just that. Sometimes that is difficult. I don't mind if someone calls to be skipped if it's a drought. Initially on, I thought of that as a bonus being that I didn't have to drive out there to check it. Problem with that is when people start to skip even though you know it's going to need cut before you return. Sure it could go a few more days, but not a week. That's the tricky part. Sometimes I mow those accounts a 1/2 inch higher then drop it back to 3 after it rains, some I fertilize regularly, some are always a thorn in my side. Unless I'm doing commercial accounts, I'm not going to turn people away by even billing or credit card only. As for the eow's I'm planning on raising their price next year and for every new customer. Another catch to that is the customers who ask you a price, you cut their lawn, and the following week they ask if you can mow bi-weekly. That's happend a couple of times. I hate to tell them it's going to be 45 when I just got done telling them 35. And, I hate to ask up front since I don't want to give them the option of bi-weekly either. What bugs me is the nice customer who always pays on time, then calls you to skip even when you know it's going to need cut. I don't want to offend their judgement, but I can't be wasting my time double cutting when it should have been cut last week. I think I've got most of it worked out now. This week instead of cutting one time and leaving the clippings to prove a point, my customer was home. I mowed the yard one time, knocked on the door, showed her why her lawn needed cut last week. Told her that it will need cut every week until the end of the season, and she said that's fine. She said " I didn't think it would grow that much this week", I said "I did". She then asked me to aerate and overseed it. Hmmm, now if I had gone about this in a " I'm the boss, this is my company, I dictate how your yard gets cut" attitute, I could have lost the customer and the extra work. I'm still trying to figure out the best way here, so it's interesting to see how other people handle their customers and business.

jasonnau
10-13-2005, 10:16 PM
I've got some things that I've allowed people to do over the years. Basically I've grandfathered them in to allow them to continue to do those things, ie pickup 4-5 large branches and haul them for no charge after a storm and when I'm there to mow.

If it isn't too much of a hassle, you might want to consider grandfathering them in, if it doesn't affect the bottom line too much. Let them know you're doing that for them and they'll stick with you even longer. Just be sure they realize that if anyone else asks them, the new people don't get the same deal.
It's probably about time to hook up the plow there in Minnesota eh?

wiselawns
10-13-2005, 10:34 PM
I was just reading the posts on this particular thread and realize how blessed I am for not having to worry about all of these little particulars that you guys are discussing, at least for now. I have about 40 customers. One of these customers makes up about 48 percent of my profits. I spend about 20 hrs per week on this family's property doing many different things. Mostly landscaping, handyman work etc. This gentleman cuts me a check every Monday, no exceptions. The rest of my customers are mowing accounts with some side jobs(aerations, shrub trimming, etc.). To this point, I have not had to implement any of the things(admininstration fees, contracts, or anything). Maybe in the future, who knows. I been full time in this business for a year and a half. So far so good. The customers I have know what I expect, and I know what they expect.

topsites
10-14-2005, 12:02 AM
If it takes longer then charge accordingly and explain why.

Yup... Here's my attitude: I don't care how TALL they let it grow so long that I can cut it at full speed without hesitation or choking of the engine. If it clumps a little bit, fine... If it clumps bad and I gotta go over the whole thing half a dozen times before it looks half-decent, it costs extra.
By the way, if it's MY fault it's too tall, no extra charge (meaning *I* showed up late and they did NOTHING to influence it - NOT calling to let me know it's extra tall is not considered influencing, it is MY responsibility to keep their yard on a schedule - BUT, calling in order to delay the cut that IS influencing in my book).

I learned over the years to look at a yard and determine before I even unload the mower how it's going to be (and I don't CARE what the excuse is because it's always some dumb thing or another) and if it's going to take longer, you know, the new labor rate for pita crap is $60/hour because THAT always cuts that kinda bs fast (then again this is my 4th year and I put up with the crap during my 1st and 2nd year because I had to).

I cut many a yard every year where things got a little too tall for whatever reason, these things I have no problem with because I have 55 lawns and sometimes I simply can not get to everyone on time. But the folks who like to call all the time and postpone it and I KNOW the reason is they're trying to milk me, the best I can tell you is once I know they're doing it, I start to look for someone else to fill their slot on the schedule (yes because in most cases charging extra sounds good only in theory and on this forum).

And it's almost the end of the season, it might not hurt to carry them the few weeks / 1-2 months longer and then just don't pick them up next year, spring is an excellent time for customer AND Lco alike to switch to someone else.
Good luck!

topsites
10-14-2005, 12:19 AM
I had a conversation that went something like this:

Customer: I don't think the lawn needs cutting this week. I just don't want to pay for something that doesn't need to be done.

Me: I completely understand your position, but in the spring when I was out here double and triple cutting your lawn did you ever come out and offer me more money for all of the extra work I was doing?

Customer: (stuipd look on face) You really did all of that work all spring?

Me: Yes, and now if you want to skip that is fine, but you will be billed for the week regardless. Or I can atleast walk the property and take care of any problem areas to ensure your property looks nice.

Customer: That sounds good, keep up the good work.

Most people have no idea what we do to keep their yards looking nice. So we have to educate them. Some understand some don't. Some are still customers while others are not. Life is too short to deal with the unreasonable.


This brings up a good point, and is also the reason I do NOT charge extra for cleaning up the early-bird leaves (like what's falling right now) and don't charge extra for the heavy-duty spring bs. I also sometimes explain to them during July-August I do make out time-wise but it's also 98 degrees outside and in the end, it all adds out in the wash.

It is unfortunate but other than when we breed our own monsters (bobby's trading of services, I've done dumb things as well) IF the customer is one of THOSE (and there's plenty out there) then it really is a matter of having a full schedule, that is the best way it has been explained, a full schedule simply leaves no room for the bs.

It is a different story when someone's been with me since day 1 happens to be one of my cheapest yard nowadays, I think the grandfathering thing works for my business here as well... These people are not just playing me, this is their bonus for sticking with me this long, it IS part of the reason why a regular customer after MANY years will come out ahead and this I can tolerate. It's another story as well when a regular customer requests ONE time the grass is skipped for reasons of aeration or whatever, fine no problem, one time deal, cool.

But when I get someone who likes to f*x with me at least once/month or whatever on a regular basis and it always ends up costing me... Another way to put it is: If I find myself getting PISSED OFF in THEIR yard (or in someone else's yard because of theirs), time to make a mental note - If it happens one time, fine, no problem... If it develops into a regular routine, sorry, got to go.

Frontier-Lawn
10-14-2005, 01:24 AM
i have in my contract that if i dont get 3 days notice and i show up to cut and im told then dont cut it. I BILL THEM FULL PRICE!!!!!!

Precision
10-14-2005, 10:55 PM
Even billing sounds great, but if I had a lawn care company that was charging for a cut they didn't cut, I would be thinking twice. And this logic will keep you as the lawn boy forever. To run a business you must sell something like convienence or quality not simply grass shortening. When you sell convienence, it doesn't matter if you come once a year or 52 times so long as the yard looks good and they didn't have to do it.

I have a couple of very small cheap eow's which I let go even though they need cut every week, just because I know they don't have a lot of money to be spending on their mowing bill,

my heart bleeds for those people too. And they should make a decision, save moeny with less beer, cigarettes, movies, dinners out or whatever, but you want lawn service then pay what it costs or get your own mower and do it yourself. Helping out the less fortunate who have a sob story just makes you one too.

Another catch to that is the customers who ask you a price, you cut their lawn, and the following week they ask if you can mow bi-weekly. That's happend a couple of times. I hate to tell them it's going to be 45 when I just got done telling them 35. And, I hate to ask up front since I don't want to give them the option of bi-weekly either.

so don't ask. tell them. "Mr Jones, we cut weekly from April 15 thru Sept 15th. We automatically switch to EOW for the last few cuts until Nov 1st. Now that will be $105 monthly starting April 15 with the last bill being due Oct 15th as a half month. So would you like me to start this week or next?"

this way is really simple. You told him what you do, now he decides it that is what he wants. If he wants EOW (and you want to offer it), then Mr Jones, we can offer that service to you so long as your yard will allow us. If we end up needing to double cut, to make the yard look proper, we will give you the courtesy of a call to offer the switch to weekly service or to cancel our service. This option would cost $85 monthly." Pause almost long enough for him to answer. Then, "which service would you prefer?"

Hmmm, now if I had gone about this in a " I'm the boss, this is my company, I dictate how your yard gets cut" attitute, I could have lost the customer and the extra work. I'm still trying to figure out the best way here, so it's interesting to see how other people handle their customers and business.

It is all about packaging. I am the boss and my clients know it. It is all about tactfully letting the client know that it is your business and when push comes to shove you set the rules in your business and you really don't mind finding someone else to fill their time slot.

things like when you are discussing the contract stating that they are required to provide a 30 day notice of intent to cancel or they lose their remaining prepay, shift tone. Mr. Jones, it is simply a way for me to protect my cashflow as I fill your spot on the schedule. I am sure you understand.

Now they know you are busy and will be just as well of with or without them, but it was very professionally handled and put you in a position of power.

Jason Pallas
10-15-2005, 12:06 AM
This is a profession and you have to treat it like a professional. If you run your business like a scrub scrounging for money or a kid earning pocket change for the weekends, your customers will treat you accordingly. With that said, we adopted a very simple policy and we stick to it.

Our Policy: The weekly lawn service price is based on a 30 week season. For customers that want to skip or switch to 2-week service, we explain that we only offer weekly scheduling. We do however, allow each customer 3 skips to be used at their own descresion (although, we do not publicize this policy - as not to encourage customers to skip). This skips must be pre-arranged at least 24hrs in advance, otherwise they will be charged (ie. if a crew pulls up and the customer waves them off). If they use their 3 skips and still want to be skipped we will gladly skip them BUT they WILL be Charged for the space they have reserved on our schedule (We usually charge 80% of the cut price for this - although this almost never occurs).

This policy has greatly reduced the skipping problem for us. We explain that this is a business for us and this is how our employees and ourselves feed our families and cloth our kids. We also explain that we don't charge customers extra in the spring when our crews are there double and triple cutting their lawn to make them look good BECAUSE we average their price out over 30 weeks and count on the slower growing months (when we can cut their lwan much quicker and easier) for us to re-coup some of that high labor cost.

After we explain this, almost every customer understands and we solve the problem. I really urge everyone to adopt a policy like or similar to this so that it becomes an industry standard. Treat this industry like a profession and clients will respect you like a professional - and you'll be able to charge a reasonable fee for your services.

LwnmwrMan22
10-15-2005, 09:05 AM
Personally, I've gotten rid of all the clients that would have me skip, just flat out told them I'm not interested.

What I do now is, if I miss a week for my own reason, ie, my wife was having some health issues this summer, so I missed quite a few days going to the doctor's appt's, the hospital, etc., so I gave people credits on their accounts for the cuts that I had missed.

However, when it rains 2-3-4-5-6 days and I can't get to the yard because it's too wet, THAT is not my problem. If they want me to cut and do more damage to their yard, I will, but most understand that when it dries out, I'll double cut to get rid of the clumps, and therefore are paying the same.

Pilgrims' Pride
10-15-2005, 10:11 AM
Back when I did mowing I sold my service as a total program.
I did everything from end to end.
I explained that I'd be out every week and if the lawn didn't need to be cut I'd spend that same amount of time doing something else.
The customer would be billed accordingly.

I explained that I relied on that income from week to week and that losing a cut here and there was taking food out of my kids mouths.

Most folks understood. The rest called someone else.

No problem.

jasonnau
10-16-2005, 10:29 PM
And this logic will keep you as the lawn boy forever. To run a business you must sell something like convienence or quality not simply grass shortening. When you sell convienence, it doesn't matter if you come once a year or 52 times so long as the yard looks good and they didn't have to do it.

Hardly a lawn boy, I'm 31. I sell quality,convenience, and professionalism.60% of my business is grass, 30% landscape, and 10% misc. My business has trippled in one year without any advertising. Strictly referal. I provide realistic service that the customer appreciates and fully understands. This is why referals are my staple new business source. I offer outstanding quality of service,complete reliability, and strive to be as close to perfection as I can possibly be. This applies to a one time cut, or to a revolving weekly customer.

my heart bleeds for those people too. And they should make a decision, save moeny with less beer, cigarettes, movies, dinners out or whatever, but you want lawn service then pay what it costs or get your own mower and do it yourself. Helping out the less fortunate who have a sob story just makes you one too.

These customers are remnants of the very beginning of my business, one of which stated up front that she could not afford any more than eow, and asked if I could provide her with that service. At the time, I could. The other prefered her yard cut every other week stating that it looked healthier that way, and I agreed to those terms. Again, these are small yards, very small. To double cut takes an additional 5 minutes. More than anything, they disrupt my schedule at this point. They have both agreed to being weekly in the spring until the grass slows down.


so don't ask. tell them. "Mr Jones, we cut weekly from April 15 thru Sept 15th. We automatically switch to EOW for the last few cuts until Nov 1st. Now that will be $105 monthly starting April 15 with the last bill being due Oct 15th as a half month. So would you like me to start this week or next?"


This, I agree is my fault. More than anything, it happens in the middle of the day when the neighbor comes over to you and interupts your train of thought to ask you to mow their yard too. Until I get them a mowing agreement, I usually give them a price up front. I head over there after finishing the yard I'm already working on and get theirs taken care of next. My thoughts at the moment are on what affect this cut is going to have on my schedule for that day, and the rest of the week. I have forgotton to mention the weekly schedule assuming that is what they wanted in the first place. I have always told them that I do not cut eow without billing additional when they ask the following week, I just hate to have to tell them that at that point
this way is really simple. You told him what you do, now he decides it that is what he wants. If he wants EOW (and you want to offer it), then Mr Jones, we can offer that service to you so long as your yard will allow us. If we end up needing to double cut, to make the yard look proper, we will give you the courtesy of a call to offer the switch to weekly service or to cancel our service. This option would cost $85 monthly." Pause almost long enough for him to answer. Then, "which service would you prefer?"



It is all about packaging. I am the boss and my clients know it. It is all about tactfully letting the client know that it is your business and when push comes to shove you set the rules in your business and you really don't mind finding someone else to fill their time slot.

things like when you are discussing the contract stating that they are required to provide a 30 day notice of intent to cancel or they lose their remaining prepay, shift tone. Mr. Jones, it is simply a way for me to protect my cashflow as I fill your spot on the schedule. I am sure you understand.

Now they know you are busy and will be just as well of with or without them, but it was very professionally handled and put you in a position of power.

As for the pre-pay, I'll put some thought into it. And yes my customers do know that I am the boss, however, some of their ideas of what they want, and what I need to provide vary on occasion. 99% of the time my business and my clients run smoothly, this season has been interesting in the fact that a drought was followed by a moderate green up, to a normal season. That green up period was questionable to some customers as to the need of the lawn being cut. On a lot of yards certain areas were growing quickly, while others were flat out brown. At this point, some people didn't see much of a need to have the grass cut, while I chose to be on top of the situation. As for charging even billing, and charging for a cut that wasn't performed, I still will opt for billing at the end of the month for all services performed. If I didn't cut, I'm not billing. My thoughts on this may change in time, but most of my customers have come to me because of the strait forward approach to what they get is what they pay for. I provide services equal to the best in the area. I offer to take care of almost all of their lawn and landscape services. Other than that, they can't ask for much more.

jasonnau
10-16-2005, 10:41 PM
This is a profession and you have to treat it like a professional. If you run your business like a scrub scrounging for money or a kid earning pocket change for the weekends, your customers will treat you accordingly. With that said, we adopted a very simple policy and we stick to it.

Our Policy: The weekly lawn service price is based on a 30 week season. For customers that want to skip or switch to 2-week service, we explain that we only offer weekly scheduling. We do however, allow each customer 3 skips to be used at their own descresion (although, we do not publicize this policy - as not to encourage customers to skip). This skips must be pre-arranged at least 24hrs in advance, otherwise they will be charged (ie. if a crew pulls up and the customer waves them off). If they use their 3 skips and still want to be skipped we will gladly skip them BUT they WILL be Charged for the space they have reserved on our schedule (We usually charge 80% of the cut price for this - although this almost never occurs).

This policy has greatly reduced the skipping problem for us. We explain that this is a business for us and this is how our employees and ourselves feed our families and cloth our kids. We also explain that we don't charge customers extra in the spring when our crews are there double and triple cutting their lawn to make them look good BECAUSE we average their price out over 30 weeks and count on the slower growing months (when we can cut their lwan much quicker and easier) for us to re-coup some of that high labor cost.

After we explain this, almost every customer understands and we solve the problem. I really urge everyone to adopt a policy like or similar to this so that it becomes an industry standard. Treat this industry like a profession and clients will respect you like a professional - and you'll be able to charge a reasonable fee for your services.

Sounds good, but in a two month drought, people might have their issues with being billed for services not provided. I don't think I would explain feeding my family and that sort of stuff to a customer though.

jasonnau
10-16-2005, 10:45 PM
One more thing, I don't necessarily have a "problem" with customers skipping, it's not like the phone rings off the hook with people trying to avoid lawn service. It's more a couple of customers who think they know, but really don't know the logistics to when and how their service needs to be provided. At this point, those customers have been worked out. But, then again, there's really no question to the grass being green and growing at this point.