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Can I Mow Your Lawn?
03-23-2007, 12:34 PM
Just wondering what other LawnSiter's would do here:

We are pushing into a new subdivision with minimum home values of $275K. Some are $600K.

A home owner in this neighborhood calls to order service. She wants bi-weekly mowing and a ONE TIME chemical treatment.

I TRIED my VERY hardest to get this lady to take WEEKLY mowing with REGULAR chemical service.

85% of my cancellations over the last year have come from MOW-ONLY clients who refused our chemical plan. It's like, if they're in a good mood when they call us to order service and they take the chemical plan, we probably have a long term client. If they just hire us for mow and go, they'll probably be cancelling within a year. With mow-only, we're competing against anyone who owns a lawn mower.

The real decision maker is her husband. She tells me her husband will be mowing the lawn in the off weeks and he has given her permission to order a one time chemical treatment.

Either way, we only agree to bi-weekly service if the client promises us they won't fertilize during the peak growing season: Apr 1 thru Sept 1. If we spend too much mowing because they fertilized, we charge them an hourly rate to mow it.

My question is this: I am VERY tempted to call this lady back and tell her we are declining her service request because it WILL eventually be a cancellation (experience has taught us that) and this is NOT the right package of services for this neighborhood. The neighborhood has a very strict HOA.

Would you take the revenue and be seen as the company that mows the ***** lawn OR would you politely call her back and decline the revenue if she insists on taking the wrong package for this neighborhood?

In 5 years, I have never turned down a revenue opportunity but I am absolutely sick and tired of the mow-only clients constantly cancelling service.

Thanks for help in this matter,
Can I Mow Your Lawn?

mattfromNY
03-23-2007, 12:41 PM
Gotta go with your gut feeling. Your the experienced business person, you've seen it in the past, doesn't necessarily mean it will happen always, but I'd still go with my gut.
I guess if I didn't have another job to do at that same time every OTHER week, I'd take it for fill in money, but not rely on it. I would probably have to turn it away. I've only been doing this for one year, but I've already called my bi-weekly customers from last year and converted them to weekly customers. They all have agreed, thank god, b/c I would have dropped them if they didn't. It really screwed up my schedule last year.

topsites
03-23-2007, 12:42 PM
It's entirely up to you, I hear what you are saying but I can not tell you what to do, except this is a decent example of the type of customer to whom I might send this letter (the reason for the letter is if I call, sometimes things get argumentative and next thing I know they done talked me into it again, like when they start with that somewhat insistent 'but whyyyyyyyy' but anyway:

mycompanyname
1234 myroad name
mycity, st 12345


theirname
1234 Their Road
theircity, ST 12345



Hi,

I'm sorry, but having considered the work and the requirements involved, I'm afraid I can not help you at this time.




Thank you for the opportunity.

//////////////////////
Poof, almost instant relief, and yes I see it coming too, this one I would've turned down on the spot but like yourself I don't always see it until later... You may wish to watch your called ID and remember their phone number, some will call you after they read it heh, most won't leave a message but I've answered a few by mistake and it's usually a downhill conversation, why I'm saying.
If you're man enough to handle it with a phonecall, well then by all means, but it doesn't always turn out positive for me.

Dirt Digger2
03-23-2007, 12:44 PM
how do you think rich people get rich? they certainly dont spend their money if they don't have to...its up to you...if you will be in the neihborhood take the extra cash...if not leave it

Can I Mow Your Lawn?
03-23-2007, 01:16 PM
We are in the neighborhood and desperately need the work on this expansion crew. It's just that, I've already been through this like a thousand times...when they hire me to mow AND do the chemical treatments, the number one reason for cancellation is moving and job loss. They just don't cancel because they want to do it themselves or they're going to let a friend do it.

When they hire us to just mow and nothing else, they seldom stay with us more than a year. CANCEL CANCEL CANCEL I get so F'ing sick and tired of that ****. It's like a non-stop game of advertise, talk on the phone all day and only half of them sign up. And of the ones who do sign up, if they don't bite on chemical treatments, I have basically no shot at keeping them long term. Either way, I have to send a welcome letter out, set them up in QB, get them on the immediate schedule, get them on the regular schedule, add them to the customer count log...it's a lot of work trying to replace CONSTANT churn.

But if the cheap azz client would have just spent an extra $39 every other month, they'd be referring other clients to us and I don't have to play this silly game of competing with the unemployed and do-it-yourself.

Later,
Can I Mow Your Lawn?

Scagguy
03-23-2007, 01:17 PM
I have a few mow and go's but, I'm dealing them out as I add full service clients to take their place.

1MajorTom
03-23-2007, 02:29 PM
Who knows how the husband will be mowing the lawn every other week. He might be scalping it to the ground, then when you show it up on your week, it might not even need it. If it were us, we wouldn't even bother with that account.

Can I Mow Your Lawn?
03-23-2007, 02:40 PM
I am just about to the point that I would turn down a client in this kind of neighborhood if they were in one of my areas where we have a pretty full schedule. This crew is an expansion crew and we NEED work.

Still tempted to politely tell her we aren't interested. Going into this, I know it's only temporary. She'll be cancelling in due time because she's ordering the wrong service.

We do have bi-weekly clients all over town who just have us mow and they stay with us long term. Just not in $300K neighborhoods.

Later,
Can I Mow Your Lawn?

MSS Mow
03-23-2007, 02:40 PM
We are in the neighborhood and desperately need the work on this expansion crew. It's just that, I've already been through this like a thousand times...when they hire me to mow AND do the chemical treatments, the number one reason for cancellation is moving and job loss. They just don't cancel because they want to do it themselves or they're going to let a friend do it.

When they hire us to just mow and nothing else, they seldom stay with us more than a year. CANCEL CANCEL CANCEL I get so F'ing sick and tired of that ****. It's like a non-stop game of advertise, talk on the phone all day and only half of them sign up. And of the ones who do sign up, if they don't bite on chemical treatments, I have basically no shot at keeping them long term. Either way, I have to send a welcome letter out, set them up in QB, get them on the immediate schedule, get them on the regular schedule, add them to the customer count log...it's a lot of work trying to replace CONSTANT churn.

But if the cheap azz client would have just spent an extra $39 every other month, they'd be referring other clients to us and I don't have to play this silly game of competing with the unemployed and do-it-yourself.

Later,
Can I Mow Your Lawn?



How about just including the fert as part of your minimum package. For only about 5 bucks a week, most won't complain and then you don't have to worry about someone not signing up for it. It's just part of your work. If someone argues about it, just tell them that it's part of your professional lawn care service and that it is necessary to properly maintain their lawn.

However, since you say you "desperately" need the work for your new crew, you might not have a choice but to take it for now and see how it goes.

fastpitcher
03-23-2007, 02:53 PM
Never ever agree to cutting every-other week. If the lawn does not need cutting then don't cut it. If you allow the customer to make you do it every-other week or whenever they think it necessary; it will take you twice as long to clean up and then to double cut. Are you charging for all the extra time you will need to protect your reputation? Your truck with your name will be parked out front; Don't set yourself up to look bad.

We have a rule if we cut a lawn every week and the price is $30.00 it is $65.00 ever-other week.

Taking on bad business will put your company up for sale!

Rick

mini14
03-23-2007, 04:14 PM
it depends on what is considered rich. $275,000 won't even buy u a condo on long island..

LwnmwrMan22
03-23-2007, 04:17 PM
From my experience over the years, the ones that you feel like to need to get rid of, GET RID OF.

So many times I've let an account drag out longer than I wanted to be doing it. I finally drop the account, and within 2 weeks I've had the opportunity to pick up 3 more accounts that are easier and pay better than the one I dropped.

Billy Joe Mcguffee
03-23-2007, 04:22 PM
There are a couple of ways to look at it.

One is of course go with your gut feeling. If you gut is telling you it's a problem then it's probably a problem.

Two, it's been my experience that many of those living in the upper class neighborhoods are mortgaged to the hilt and can't afford a big mac and a large frie.

Third, maybe they've got the bucks because they watch what they spend. You'll find quite a few people with money that got that way by being cheap. Hey more power to them. Wish I wouldn't have boughten a lot of stuff that I did over the years.

Can I Mow Your Lawn?
03-23-2007, 04:23 PM
I WISH I could make everyone take the chemical service.

An example: Since Saturday morning, I've taken 12 mowing client cancellations. Of the 12, only 2 of them allowed us to do the chemical treatments when they hired us to mow. The other 10 clients ony hired us to mow the lawn.

At some point, you have to realize that the chemical service is the moat that KEEPS these clients on the schedule long term.

When I go down my list of clients, VERY few of the 2 year & up clients are mow-only clients. Almost all of them are mow and chemical.

You can create a moat to an extent by doing a good job with shrub trimming on a regular basis, but THE moat is the chemical service...a dark green, weed free lawn keeps them on the schedule.

Later,
Can I Mow Your Lawn?

brucec32
03-23-2007, 04:53 PM
Just wondering what other LawnSiter's would do here:

We are pushing into a new subdivision with minimum home values of $275K. Some are $600K.

A home owner in this neighborhood calls to order service. She wants bi-weekly mowing and a ONE TIME chemical treatment.

I TRIED my VERY hardest to get this lady to take WEEKLY mowing with REGULAR chemical service.

85% of my cancellations over the last year have come from MOW-ONLY clients who refused our chemical plan. It's like, if they're in a good mood when they call us to order service and they take the chemical plan, we probably have a long term client. If they just hire us for mow and go, they'll probably be cancelling within a year. With mow-only, we're competing against anyone who owns a lawn mower.

The real decision maker is her husband. She tells me her husband will be mowing the lawn in the off weeks and he has given her permission to order a one time chemical treatment.

Either way, we only agree to bi-weekly service if the client promises us they won't fertilize during the peak growing season: Apr 1 thru Sept 1. If we spend too much mowing because they fertilized, we charge them an hourly rate to mow it.

My question is this: I am VERY tempted to call this lady back and tell her we are declining her service request because it WILL eventually be a cancellation (experience has taught us that) and this is NOT the right package of services for this neighborhood. The neighborhood has a very strict HOA.

Would you take the revenue and be seen as the company that mows the ***** lawn OR would you politely call her back and decline the revenue if she insists on taking the wrong package for this neighborhood?

In 5 years, I have never turned down a revenue opportunity but I am absolutely sick and tired of the mow-only clients constantly cancelling service.

Thanks for help in this matter,
Can I Mow Your Lawn?


Pass on anyone who says they will mow it in off-weeks. Usually it's bs, and often they can't do it, so you wind up mowing a mess of a tall lawn. They may agree to paying more up front, but they will resent you for it if you actually charge it.

This sort of person is the cousin of the "can I get a discount if you use my mower" type.

$275K ain't what it used to be.

Any fool can get a 100% mortgage. Many $500K home owners are up to their eyeballs in debt and more broke than the customer in the modest $200K home. Don't fall for the bling. This is why they buy the big home and lease the fancy cars. They're poseurs.

Don't be afraid to say "no". You will save 100x more over time by saying no to the bad ideas. With experience you learn to sniff them out.

SimonCX
03-23-2007, 05:35 PM
it depends on what is considered rich. $275,000 won't even buy u a condo on long island..

Thats what I was thinking, a regular house in my area goes for $250k to $350k.

puppypaws
03-23-2007, 07:51 PM
It is only common sense, if you maintain a property other than the way you
want it done then you will miss out on potentially good customers. When you
leave a property you sign your name, you are advertising by the way it looks from the professional work you have done. When you do it the way the home owner wants but have to lower your standards to meet what they think is suitable from their view then you are hurting your business. It only takes one lawn that looks bad in a neighborhood and word gets out you are the one doing this work you will be finished in that area. I think word of mouth travels faster than the speed of light when it comes to advertising.

Tim Wright
03-23-2007, 08:17 PM
It almost sounds to me like your niche or the niche you are desiring to create is not in this location or region. You might want to study other areas and migrate.

Or keep a crew or two on the mow and go, perhaps create another seperate company or department for full service only markets. Two distinct markets, regions, business image.

Tim

ed2hess
03-23-2007, 09:11 PM
I WISH I could make everyone take the chemical service.

An example: Since Saturday morning, I've taken 12 mowing client cancellations. Of the 12, only 2 of them allowed us to do the chemical treatments when they hired us to mow. The other 10 clients ony hired us to mow the lawn.

At some point, you have to realize that the chemical service is the moat that KEEPS these clients on the schedule long term.

When I go down my list of clients, VERY few of the 2 year & up clients are mow-only clients. Almost all of them are mow and chemical.

You can create a moat to an extent by doing a good job with shrub trimming on a regular basis, but THE moat is the chemical service...a dark green, weed free lawn keeps them on the schedule.

Later,
Can I Mow Your Lawn?

You seems to be heavy on chemical service and downgrading the mowing aspect....98% of the customers in these neighborhoods want the grass mowed period. So that lets you 2% for your business so go for it. It takes people awhile to get the money situations straightened out so it isn't the best place to sell in new neighborhoods.

SouthernYankee
03-23-2007, 10:12 PM
I am just about to the point that I would turn down a client in this kind of neighborhood if they were in one of my areas where we have a pretty full schedule. This crew is an expansion crew and we NEED work.

Still tempted to politely tell her we aren't interested. Going into this, I know it's only temporary. She'll be cancelling in due time because she's ordering the wrong service.

We do have bi-weekly clients all over town who just have us mow and they stay with us long term. Just not in $300K neighborhoods.

Later,
Can I Mow Your Lawn?


I think this is a Texas thing......I am in Houston and found out after a year or so that people just switch out landscapers like their nothing. If you want the scoop talk to a pool guy, I have got one that does a few different properties and he said that I am landscaper number 5 in 2 years on one property. With a million and one landscapers they just switch up every so often.

saw man
03-24-2007, 01:07 AM
I think its time to be a salesman! You stated that the woman talks to you on the bid and wants biweekly service, this is the perfect time to start your sale!

"It may save you a few dollars but what most of my customers have told me is they get to spend more time with the family and there is no price tag on that!"

Mention other customers, even if you pull the story out your azz! The woman will think "My husband can spend more time with the kids, or doing other chores she has for him, or time with her, or etc.....

Tell them you save the w/e for your family and no work unless it has to be done, even if its a lie.

upsell, Upsell, UPSELL!!!!!!!!

Scag48
03-24-2007, 05:52 AM
I dunno, upselling lawn maintenance seems to end up with lost accounts. I remember doing that a couple times, I pushed for extra services and the customer seemed hesitant, but agreed. I usually had them for a year and that was it. The customer wants what they want, I think if you push them over what they've already decided to do you may lose them shortly down the road. However, I think there are some markets where upselling makes sense, but it's been my experience that the customer already has in mind what they want done.

Rons Rightway Lawncare
03-24-2007, 08:27 AM
I think it is as simple as putting down your foot and stating that this is the what your company does, to the customer and either they take it or they don't.

I am out of the per cut business. It is a monthly charge from now on and that alone will weed out alot of bad apples. Thankfully I only have about 5 biweekly customers, but they are all lawns that truely only need it biweekly.

Used to be, If I know the lawn will need it more often I try my best to tell the customer and get them to sign up for every week service. My plan now is to let them tell me what they want, then I tell them what I think they need, then work up a monthly rate that covers me no matter how long it takes per visit and that is that.

Basically I would tell Mr. Anderson, " I think your yard will need service every week, or nearly every week. My price will be 120$ per month and that is for service on a AS - NEEDED basis.... up to 4 visits per month. "

Mr. Anderson will say, " but I only need it cut twice a month, not 4 times "

I will come back with " Well it is still 120$ a month, and if you only want it done twice per month that is fine I can make a note of it right here.... "

If questioned why the price is still the same, I will simply explain that the price reflects the amount of work needed to be done. It doesn't matter how often I come out, the work has to be done and my price is based on the amount of work I believe it will take over a months time to service this lawn.


As for chemical treatments. Most people will do it if you explain the benifits. I do nearly all my clients.

DSIM
03-24-2007, 08:48 AM
I'm surprised that you have so many in Carrollton, that want bi-weekly. I decided several years ago to not take any customers who wanted bi-weekly.

I would tell them that people who want bi-weekly service usually dont care about their lawn and I'm in business to make lawns look good. I would also explain to them that if I'm fertilizing their lawn that it will need mowing every week. Most of the time this convinces them because who wants it to be said of them that they dont really care about their lawn?

When I give an estimate for mowing I state that this price is with fertilizer treatments and then include a price w/o fert.

I only have a couple that do their own fertilizing.

LawnsRUsInc.
03-24-2007, 09:41 AM
I would of told her off the bat that, thats not how we do it. Stick to your guns about what you want your co. to do

If a client say biweekly i say nope sorry we dont do that it becomes a huge scheduling issue and i am sure you wont be happy.

Can I Mow Your Lawn?
03-24-2007, 10:39 AM
Bi-weekly is a good fit for many of our clients in lower income neighborhoods. If I refused bi-weekly, I would elminate 50% of my market, right off the bat. Which means, I would have to include more neighborhoods and increase drive time.

It is true that bi-weekly clients are VERY inclined to cancel and not stay long term, but there are a few that do stay year after year with no complaints. Most don't fertilize, as I make them promise, and 2 weeks of growth isn't a problem on these accounts. My crews have only complained about bi-weekly clients using ferilizers 2 times.

But the problem is, if you sell bi-weekly service, you have to advertise it. If a client calls to order bi-weekly service and I can see the house is worth more than $225K, do you think it would fly to politely tell them that we only offer bi-weekly service in poorer neighborhoods, where the homes are worth less than $200K? Is there any chance that after I say something like that, they are still going to sign up?

Later,
Can I Mow Your Lawn?

Lynden-Jeff
03-24-2007, 11:14 AM
I just got a bid turned down of $165 a cut on a 3.5 acre property. The property is easily worth 5 million, gate and everything. I don't know what he thought I could do it for. I do another 2.5 acre property and They have no problem with $180. Richer = Cheaper.

Cheers
Jeff

Can I Mow Your Lawn?
03-24-2007, 12:41 PM
I would strongly disagree with that statement, Xoopiter. I find, consistently, the less the house is worth, the less inclined they are to take extras, such as chemical service, bed weed control and shrub trimming and the more likely they are to order bi-weekly mowing.

The lower the value of the home, generally speaking, the more likely they are to just have us mow and do nothing else.

I mean, you have to realize, if a guy is living in a $650K home, just his property tax bill is equal to an average mortgage payment! Spending a few thousand per year on landscape maintenance is nothing for most of them.

Later,
Can I Mow Your Lawn?

HOOLIE
03-24-2007, 07:05 PM
Is this your new screen name, DFW??? :laugh:

ProStreetCamaro
03-24-2007, 10:52 PM
We are pushing into a new subdivision with minimum home values of $275K. Some are $600K.


You consider that rich? Just curious because $600K is just the average price of a single family home here in my area. We service some that are worth over a million.