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View Full Version : Need Advice - skipping too much


Tn Lawn Man
07-10-2006, 09:01 PM
I have a client new to me this year. He signed up for regular weekly service.

Well, we hit a drought and it got hot. When this happens I will skip the lawn if it is too dry with no growth. So, in his case I did.

Well, the next week came around and when we arrived the fella came out and thanked us for skipping the week before because it did not need it. I said no problem.

He then said to go ahead and skip it again. I looked at the lawn and although it was not a drastic amount of growth it did need cutting.

I told him that I didn't mind skipping it for one week if there was no growth but the our company policy is not to skip two weeks in a row.

I have this policy for various and obvious reasons. However, here is the problem. I have not implemented a penalty to back up the policy.

You see, he tried to do it again. He called and left a message today trying to skip this weeks cut after skipping last week making it two weeks in a row. And I just told him less than a month ago when this happened before that we don't do that.

I am trying to figure out a fair cost to charge him for skipping.

I think he should be charged for the cut whether we did it or not because I am not going to cut a yard once a month for $30. It is too much work.

What do you all do in these case?

Do you charge them for not cutting?
Do you insist on cutting the grass when they don't want it cut?
Do you drop them for lack of profitablity?

Thanks everyone:)

Green Side Lawn Care
07-10-2006, 09:05 PM
i totaly agree and this happens in my area to but if we try to charge them they will go find new service

AintNoFun
07-10-2006, 09:10 PM
id tell him like i tell our customers. what about in the spring when we are cutting lawns four times to make them look good. the price isn't increasing.

Precision
07-10-2006, 09:52 PM
two skips per season when they call 1 day in advance.

after 2 skips charge 25-50% more on the next cut.
after 4 skips fire them.

or better yet go to monthly prepay with flat monthly pricing regardless of number of cuts, then you decide when or if it needs mowing.

topsites
07-10-2006, 10:13 PM
Just send them all my way, I'll cut their yard when it needs it and if once / month is all it takes, then that's what we do.

JT1304
07-10-2006, 10:15 PM
Put him on monthly contract. Same price month after month. Some months you cut may five times, some months only three. When we skip a contract customers cut, we still blow off all hard surfaces and mybe even edge drivewaysand sidewalks. Again , get him on a contract and collect for 12 months as opposed to getting paid per cut.

GOOD LUCK!!

Mower For Less
07-10-2006, 10:32 PM
My contract covers this. It states that any interruptions in service ordered by the customer are subject to a re-establishment fee upon resuming service. It is not a set fee, and is based on how much extra work is involved at my discretion. I added this after having customers skipping to have cement poured, fences built, etc. etc... But it is also general enough to cover draught skips, etc. if need be or it becomes excessive.

Kevin

DFW Area Landscaper
07-10-2006, 11:14 PM
I have actually had good luck telling excessive skippers that we don't really like it when people skip cuts. The conversation goes like this:

"That's fine if you need to skip it this week. Honestly, we don't really like it, but if you need to skip, we will skip. We schedule 34 cuts per year on a weekly client and if you need to skip 2 or 3 cuts per year, we don't really mind. But if the you think you'll need to skip much more than that, it really isn't fair to us." Then I shut up and listen.

After they finish saying whatever it is they say, I say "I probably should mention that we do charge the bi-weekly rate on the next cut, which is $5 extra." They never argue about the extra five bucks.

The way I remember to charge the premium on the next cut is, I enter a charge in Quickbooks that day called "Skip A Cut" for $0.00 but in the memo field I enter "$5 extra for next cut". Then, when I enter the statement charges for the next mow, I see the memo and remember the premium. This also allows me to easily pull a report in Quickbooks to see how many skips a client has taken over the last 12 months.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Envy Lawn Service
07-10-2006, 11:17 PM
My contract covers this. It states that any interruptions in service ordered by the customer are subject to a re-establishment fee upon resuming service. It is not a set fee, and is based on how much extra work is involved at my discretion. I added this after having customers skipping to have cement poured, fences built, etc. etc... But it is also general enough to cover draught skips, etc. if need be or it becomes excessive.

Kevin

Yep, you need a contract and wording that covers this stuff.

But you don't have one.

Either way, my best advice to you is to just say "I offer RELIABLE service and in order to stay that way and stay in business I need RELIABLE customers in return".... If he doesn't like that, suggest that he find another service.

I don't waste my time with this customer stereotype.
You shouldn't either.

Dump him and replace him with someone who has irrigation.
That's the best answer.

Tn Lawn Man
07-11-2006, 08:07 AM
I really appreciate all of the responses.

My philosphy is to try to not dump customers, but instead to charge enough to make it worth my while and if they cancel then so be it. At least I was fair to my business.

HOOLIE
07-11-2006, 08:18 AM
Customers like this, they are really NON-customers....they take up a slot on your schedule, but most weeks you're not generating any money from them. When it does rain they are the first to call up and whine about when you're coming... Either charge an increased rate, or drop them.

DFW Area Landscaper
07-11-2006, 11:18 AM
Hoolie,

If you have a crew that isn't at capacity then you could look it at the other way around. Instead of having a blank spot there every single week, you have a customer who will take 27 of the 34 cuts that you do schedule. As long as my crews aren't spending additional time because of excessive growth, I will tolerate it. That doesn't mean I like it, but I will tolerate it.

At the end of the day, that client is better than the one who orders service in May and cancels at the end of August. The clients who do that are far worse, in my opinion. They only want service when it's hotter than **** outside and only when it really really needs to be mowed once a week. When temperatures are cooler and the grass can be mowed EOW, they are no longer a source of revenue. These clients have no problem asking their LCO for reliable service and at the same time they expect us to make it year to year on 4 months of revenue.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

J Hisch
07-11-2006, 03:56 PM
Precision does exactly what we do.

2 skip a season for weekly no skips for bi-wkly , and we charge 50% of the last mowing that was missed and the regualr mowing price when we finally mow it.

bigjeeping
07-11-2006, 06:15 PM
Just send them all my way, I'll cut their yard when it needs it and if once / month is all it takes, then that's what we do.


that's the only way to stay up in my neck of the woods!

crawdad
07-11-2006, 07:02 PM
I have a client new to me this year. He signed up for regular weekly service.

Well, we hit a drought and it got hot. When this happens I will skip the lawn if it is too dry with no growth. So, in his case I did.
....

Where in Tennessee are you? My weekly's are still green and growing, though slowing. I'm in the northeast corner of TN.
Give him a different price for anything other than weekly, he's being a cheapskate. You can't drive there three times to mow it once, tell him so. Gas is too high to drive around looking at lawns, he needs to be on a schedule.

Tn Lawn Man
07-11-2006, 07:36 PM
Well here is the latest.

I called and left a very friendly message saying that we are unable to skip more than one week and keep our price as low as it is for cutting the lawn.

I then offered an every other week plan however, the price would increase some.

I received a message from him stating "This is to inform you that we will be canceling service since the grass is growing so slow. We will mow it ourselves for the rest of the summer, thank you."

This cracks me up. They started the season at the end of April because they were indeed mowing it themselves. However, then it was in the high 70s low 80s. Have fun at 95 degrees. Also, due to the terrain where they live there is NO BREEZE whatsoever.

I will not miss this account.


I appreciate the thoughts and advice everyone. If anything changes I will update you all again.

MOturkey
07-11-2006, 07:40 PM
To my way of thinking, skipping cuts is an inevitable part of this business. I bid based on the time I figure it will take to mow during the peak mowing season, and assume most others do the same. As long as you can mow the property in approximately the same time as you would weekly during maximum growth, I see no problem, if dry weather is a factor. Nobody around here irrigates, except a few commercial properties.

HOOLIE
07-11-2006, 08:00 PM
Hoolie,

If you have a crew that isn't at capacity then you could look it at the other way around. Instead of having a blank spot there every single week, you have a customer who will take 27 of the 34 cuts that you do schedule. As long as my crews aren't spending additional time because of excessive growth, I will tolerate it. That doesn't mean I like it, but I will tolerate it.

At the end of the day, that client is better than the one who orders service in May and cancels at the end of August. The clients who do that are far worse, in my opinion. They only want service when it's hotter than **** outside and only when it really really needs to be mowed once a week. When temperatures are cooler and the grass can be mowed EOW, they are no longer a source of revenue. These clients have no problem asking their LCO for reliable service and at the same time they expect us to make it year to year on 4 months of revenue.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Very true. If you have slots to fill then they can be a good thing. What I get here, not too many people want EOW the entire year, but at some point (typically but July 1) some of them want to switch to EOW. Regardless of the weather. Most years that's OK, but right now for instance it's like the Second Coming of Spring with all the rain. What I do is stipulate that I have the right to mow weekly if I deem necessary.

Most EOW customers, they're just CHEAP.

robby
07-11-2006, 08:33 PM
I try and put myself in the customers shoes when it comes to making these kind of decisions. I myself wouldnt want to pay for something that doesnt need done. So if a yard doesnt need cut because of drought conditions, then I will gladly skip it. Having done this long enough, I can usually pretty well guess what yards need cut when, even without driving to go see them first. As far as I'm concerned, I'd rather be sitting at home anyways than out workin in the heat of the summer. So skippin in the heat of the summer suits me just fine. Not ever getting phone calls from complaining customers, also suits me just fine:) All work and no play is no fun.

Precision
07-11-2006, 09:36 PM
I try and put myself in the customers shoes when it comes to making these kind of decisions. I myself wouldnt want to pay for something that doesnt need done. So if a yard doesnt need cut because of drought conditions, then I will gladly skip it. Having done this long enough, I can usually pretty well guess what yards need cut when, even without driving to go see them first. As far as I'm concerned, I'd rather be sitting at home anyways than out workin in the heat of the summer. So skippin in the heat of the summer suits me just fine. Not ever getting phone calls from complaining customers, also suits me just fine:) All work and no play is no fun.


and that is why you need to be on contract with equal monthly payments based on a range of mowing. I put approximately 42 per season. then I mow when it needs it and skip when it needs it. Most clients don't care and understand (because I told them) that I am maintaining the property and that is what they are paying for, not "x" number of cuts.

I had one thick skull, during our spring drought, demand that I cut when it was bone dry. So I did after telling her it was gonna stress out/kill her grass everywhere my tire tracks went. She disagreed. So I asked would she like dead in N-S, E-W or diagonal. She thought I was joking and chose diagonal.

Well that is what she got. The next week, I asked if she would like me to go the other diagonal or just weedwack the few areas that were actually growing.
She opted for wacking. I guess she didn't want to play tic-tac-toe on the grid.

Now she just shuts up about the mowing, because, you know he might actually know what he is talking about.

Oh yeah and she was using one of those cheap ass moveable sprinklers that makes great rainbows but everything evaporates before it gets to the ground. 20,000 gallons worth of city water in one month and still almost dead grass. So I built her positionable gear heads ones. Two weeks and half the water later, she had semi green grass. Amazing what happens when you use a sprinkler that actually gets the ground wet and don't stress it out too.

naturescape
07-12-2006, 07:37 AM
I explain to my customers I'm in this business to make money. I tell them I don't mind if they skip a week in the heat of summer if their lawn does not need cutting, but that I do not cut any less than bi-weekly -- but, if they do want to skip another consecutive week it's fine with me IF they pay for that week's cutting. No one complains about this, and no one ever asks for less than bi-weekly cutting in summer.

robby
07-12-2006, 08:14 AM
I explain to my customers I'm in this business to make money. I tell them I don't mind if they skip a week in the heat of summer if their lawn does not need cutting, but that I do not cut any less than bi-weekly -- but, if they do want to skip another consecutive week it's fine with me IF they pay for that week's cutting. No one complains about this, and no one ever asks for less than bi-weekly cutting in summer.
So if your area goes into extreme drought conditions and the grass doesnt grow the entire month of august, you would still go ahead and cut biweekly? Or would you just skip for 3 or 4 weeks and bill them at a bi-weekly rate?
I can only imagine the calls I'd receive if I billed for weeks I never cut. But I do realize that my customers are spoiled and that they get the better half of this grass cutting deal. The upside to spoiling your customers with cheaper rates and fair play, is that you usually keep them for life, and you rarely hear a peep out of them.
It's fair to say that i'm much better at being a wise consumer than I am at being a wise businessman.:rolleyes:

lawnwizards
07-12-2006, 09:17 AM
Most EOW customers, they're just CHEAP.but also, some EOW have 2 acre lots that doesn't grow that fast and can't justify paying $80 every week when it doesn't need it. i do agree with not going any longer then EOW though, you'll never make any money doing that.

naturescape
07-12-2006, 02:19 PM
So if your area goes into extreme drought conditions and the grass doesnt grow the entire month of august, you would still go ahead and cut biweekly? Or would you just skip for 3 or 4 weeks and bill them at a bi-weekly rate?
I can only imagine the calls I'd receive if I billed for weeks I never cut. But I do realize that my customers are spoiled and that they get the better half of this grass cutting deal. The upside to spoiling your customers with cheaper rates and fair play, is that you usually keep them for life, and you rarely hear a peep out of them.
It's fair to say that i'm much better at being a wise consumer than I am at being a wise businessman.:rolleyes:

If they were not growing much at all, I would still "cut" every other week, they would only be charged for those cuts. But, if in 2 weeks they still do not want the lawn cut, they would need to pay me for that week anyway. I've never had this happen. Usually in 2 weeks time, even in a drought, there's usually still weeds growing up between walks, etc. Plus I cut at 3 1/2" in summer, so my lawns are fairly drought tolerant.