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View Full Version : How do you guys answer this question when quoting an estimate for weekly lawn care?


bigw
02-25-2008, 05:41 PM
Question----" What about when the lawn does not need to be mowed " i wont have to pay for those weeks right?.... I have been getting this question like crazy and i am just wondering what do you guys say?
To be honest i dont know what to say during that time so i end up saying if it dont need mowed i wont mow it but i know this is going to kill me aint it? How about some help on this guys!!
I am quoting weekly price's based from end of march to end of november " weather permitting" By the way my post cards got deliverd today and so far i got 2 phones calls,landed one at 60$ a week and quoted another that the lady said she has to talk to her husband about.
Oh and this lady also asked me the dreaded question..."what about when the lawn dont need cutting'' ?? Give me some advice so i dont lose my shirt please! Now mind you i do not want to quote yearly prices,people in my area will not go for it! Thanks guys.

DUSTYCEDAR
02-25-2008, 05:44 PM
most companies r contract cut 30 cuts a year or so and if u skip they still pay
most of the biz in my area is like this

jdmcat
02-25-2008, 06:18 PM
if it doesn't need to be mowed, don't mow it. but don't let someone tell you it doesn't need to be cut if it does.

LushGreenLawn
02-25-2008, 06:36 PM
In my area, people also don't go for the yearly contracts. I have an agreement that states the payment policy, when I'll be there, ect., but they pay per cut.


If it does not need to be cut I do not charge them. We had a bad drought last year and it did hurt, and a few guys went out of business. Luckily we were able to survive due to our lack of debt. and we made up a little in the fall pushing overseedings due to the drought damage.

Also, one thing that we do is we specify in the agreement that the customer must call to let us know if they do not need to be cut. If they do not call, we cut.... Some people forget, some people a to lazy to call. I do not feel that we are ripping people off this way, when we first started we would skip if it did not need it, and got calls asking why we did not come to cut, even though it had not grown at all. I just tell people that I don't know their preference unless they call to tell me.

Hopefully this year will not be as bad as last year. Good luck this season BigW

bigw
02-25-2008, 06:45 PM
In my area, people also don't go for the yearly contracts. I have an agreement that states the payment policy, when I'll be there, ect., but they pay per cut.


If it does not need to be cut I do not charge them. We had a bad drought last year and it did hurt, and a few guys went out of business. Luckily we were able to survive due to our lack of debt. and we made up a little in the fall pushing overseedings due to the drought damage.

Also, one thing that we do is we specify in the agreement that the customer must call to let us know if they do not need to be cut. If they do not call, we cut.... Some people forget, some people a to lazy to call. I do not feel that we are ripping people off this way, when we first started we would skip if it did not need it, and got calls asking why we did not come to cut, even though it had not grown at all. I just tell people that I don't know their preference unless they call to tell me.

Hopefully this year will not be as bad as last year. Good luck this season BigW

thanks this does help!!

kleankutslawn
02-25-2008, 06:48 PM
i explain that your business is based on the average cuts needed n your area,tell them that it may not look that bad after a week.but will look worse if they wait two weeks &it will put more strain on your equipment

mowing grass 1111
02-25-2008, 06:49 PM
what always worked for me when a resid asked that question .. was to tell them if the lawn dried up we would do something like light shrub trimming , gutter cleaning or some other type of small job to cover the cost of the cuts they were billed for when the lawn was dry.... worked every time

barefeetny
02-25-2008, 07:19 PM
i sell as needed service... my customers know if it needs to be done... i will be there...

if not unless i have some pruning or trimming i wont be there...

i invoice at the end of the month for my services... and only for what I did...

i don't have a service agreement or contract with any residentials
just easier this way for me

i know my customers and they know me... no worrys for the most part

Whitey4
02-25-2008, 08:07 PM
As usual, I agree with my NY buddy, Barefootny. I tell my customers to budget for 29 cuts. if we have an early spring, there might be an extra in April. An ealry fall, one less in October. I tell them if it needs to be cut, I'll cut it, but will contact them when I don't think it needs a cut.

I have a slogan. I will maintain your property as though it were my own. I don't cut my lawn when it doesn't need it. I won't cut theirs either. I charge by cut. They might have to pay for an extra, they might save a week.

I think that is what us solo guys have over the big outfits. Flexabilty. More customized, personalized service. I was knocking snow off the ornamentals at two house I just signed up, haven't made a dime yet. The owner comes out and is like what ARE you doing? I explained how the weight of the snow was seperating and opening gaps in the shrubs. I didn't want to lose any branches. Guy was FLOORED! I told him I did this at my house yesterday... and I'm here now.

I have a customer for life. In fact, he called two neighbors, and now I have to quote them.

I really like offering a superior level of service. Customers love it too. Be honest, go the extra mile. Charge for work performed. Don't charge for work not performed. In the long run, it's better practice I think. Now, when I suggest a fall over seeding, I'll get it. No questions asked. Everyone wins. Honesty, a work ethic, and giving a chit is the only way I know how to do this.

One thing is.... I have a VERY tight route. So far, every customer within a mile of my home. Very easy to cruise by and make an assessment. With bigger territories, not so easy. In that case, I might work the phone a little more, but if you know the property, you will likely know if it needs a cut.

lifetree
02-25-2008, 08:25 PM
... one thing that we do is we specify in the agreement that the customer must call to let us know if they do not need to be cut. If they do not call, we cut ... Some people forget, some people a to lazy to call. I do not feel that we are ripping people off this way, when we first started we would skip if it did not need it, and got calls asking why we did not come to cut, even though it had not grown at all. I just tell people that I don't know their preference unless they call to tell me. ...

I like this approach ... it seems like it would work out best for both parties !!

txgrassguy
02-25-2008, 08:30 PM
Unlike you Northern guys, my service area is about 65 X 65 miles spanning parts of five counties.
For me no contract = no work.
I quote a maximum amount of cuts per year for X amount - usually 32 for non irrigated and 44 for irrigated/non overseeded turf.
I tell the customer that this allows them to set their household budgets better as they know what I charge per month/per year for the mowing plus other contracted services.
My crews do provide a good service but the thing to remember is when my turf sites are out of dormancy, my guys take care of about 220 acres/week. Kind of hard for one guy to do by himself.

Roger
02-25-2008, 09:47 PM
bigw - You have chosen to have a business that is closely related to weather. Work schedules are going to be dependent upon weather. If the Summer is very dry, and the grass isn't growing (and you should not have equipment on the turf anyway), then you don't work. If your understanding with the customer is you get paid only when you work, then you loose that income. Those are the basic facts of choosing a weather related business.

Your statements speak about end of March to end of November. I don't know about your area, but the properties that are not maintained with a regular treatment program, or those that have scrappy turf, they may not need to be mowed until end of November. Some of mine are seasonly depleted by the end of October, others may still require a mowing in December, weather permitting. Also, those that fit the above category may not need mowing until the early-mid part of April, others may need to have the first mowing in late March. My point is that your dates cannot be a blanket policy without regard for the individual properties.

I am not trying to be smart here, but if you do not want to have the income vary through the months, then you need to reconsider your choice of business. There are other kinds of residential services that do not depend upon weather, or season. The folks who clean houses are there every week, 52 weeks per year, maybe more. They don't care if the days are hot, cold, wet, or dry -- they can work, and get paid.

grapeford
02-25-2008, 10:03 PM
I'm basically like Lushgreenlawn. If it doesn't need it, we won't do it. My problem has always been, around here the spring can be a real nightmare.tons of rain, too much N from chemlawn and you're spending much more time than you want to on someones property. I see it as equaling out when it gets drier in the summer. fortunately most of our people have irrigation, so it's not a major problem. Also come late june and July, we're doing a lot of pruning, so it's not bad.

Whitey4
02-25-2008, 10:13 PM
Unlike you Northern guys, my service area is about 65 X 65 miles spanning parts of five counties.
For me no contract = no work.
I quote a maximum amount of cuts per year for X amount - usually 32 for non irrigated and 44 for irrigated/non overseeded turf.
I tell the customer that this allows them to set their household budgets better as they know what I charge per month/per year for the mowing plus other contracted services.
My crews do provide a good service but the thing to remember is when my turf sites are out of dormancy, my guys take care of about 220 acres/week. Kind of hard for one guy to do by himself.

Spot on there txgrass.

ALL of my small properties are irrigated, and we haven't had any severe restrictions on watering. So, from April 1 to sept 30, it's an automatic... they get a cut.

I see so many threads about prices, how to do this or that, but the regional differences are HUGE. Each area requires a different strategy. There is NO one size fits all in thos country, it's simply to big, with too many differences in growing seasons, drough, water restrictions and on and on. what works in TX is never gonna fly in my area. Waht I do would never fly in TX.

Secondly, you fellas with a lot of trucks and crews rely on volume. Not saying your work isn't top notch, but the small solo can fill in gaps with more discerning, especially smaller property owners with a level of attention you can't do. There is market enough for all of us.

zima
02-25-2008, 10:16 PM
i'm a solo operator,and i charge for the maintenance of the propety if it is weekly or by weekly, if i have to skip a cut,i still go around the propety whit my pruners and trash container picking twigs,pine cones,pulling weeds,some times i water the flower beds or pots whit a hose,re touch the pinestraw,mark a good edge around trees and landscape beds and blow the driveway and walkways .its better for me to have customers that need somebody to do the maintenance of their propety for $$$ a month x 10 months march to dec than have customers that want to pay x cut.Don't get me wrong i done it before it didn't work for me;feel bad when they call and cancel and that $ its not comming to the bus instead you have more work next time you are there.

bigw
02-25-2008, 10:38 PM
well it seems like ive been doing the right thing then by telling my customers that i wont cut if it isnt needed,i am glad to see i am not the only one that works this way. I fully expected to get blasted for not quoting a yearly price and spreading the cost out over the year.I plan to try and land other jobs like power washing for the down times in mowing. Thanks so much for all the advice guys!!

StBalor
02-25-2008, 11:06 PM
When they say this just tell them that you will still be there according to your schedule. Tell them when you get there if it does not need cutting you still walk the yard and pick up any trash or it may just have high spots that need trimmed. They are paying for a spot on your schedule. You can not have customers dictating when you cut, cause believe me they will start telling you to skip even if you feel it needs it.

Whitey4
02-25-2008, 11:26 PM
When they say this just tell them that you will still be there according to your schedule. Tell them when you get there if it does not need cutting you still walk the yard and pick up any trash or it may just have high spots that need trimmed. They are paying for a spot on your schedule. You can not have customers dictating when you cut, cause believe me they will start telling you to skip even if you feel it needs it.


If I show up, and it needs a cut, it gets cut. I call the shots. If it doesn't need a cut, I will tell the customer. I'm not about to charge for a three minute walk around to pick up wnd blown debris. If I was a customer, and you billed me for a visit of that kind, I'd fire your arse before the door on your truck closed.

bigw
02-25-2008, 11:27 PM
bigw - You have chosen to have a business that is closely related to weather. Work schedules are going to be dependent upon weather. If the Summer is very dry, and the grass isn't growing (and you should not have equipment on the turf anyway), then you don't work. If your understanding with the customer is you get paid only when you work, then you loose that income. Those are the basic facts of choosing a weather related business.

Your statements speak about end of March to end of November. I don't know about your area, but the properties that are not maintained with a regular treatment program, or those that have scrappy turf, they may not need to be mowed until end of November. Some of mine are seasonly depleted by the end of October, others may still require a mowing in December, weather permitting. Also, those that fit the above category may not need mowing until the early-mid part of April, others may need to have the first mowing in late March. My point is that your dates cannot be a blanket policy without regard for the individual properties.

I am not trying to be smart here, but if you do not want to have the income vary through the months, then you need to reconsider your choice of business. There are other kinds of residential services that do not depend upon weather, or season. The folks who clean houses are there every week, 52 weeks per year, maybe more. They don't care if the days are hot, cold, wet, or dry -- they can work, and get paid.

WOW where did all of this come from?? Who ever said anything about not wanting to have my income vary? I simply asked what others say when the customer ask the question about mowing when it dont need it. I am very happy with my choice of business thank you very much!!! Also about my mowing times those are just estimated times and i always say weather permitted or dependent on the lawn itself. Thanks for your 2 cents though!!!

capetrees
02-25-2008, 11:35 PM
The cuts are also going to depend on the lawns. If it's irrigated, of course they will need to be cut weekly but if not irrigated, I tell my customers "when needed" and I put it on my schedule, not theirs. If they don't like my schedule, then they have to realize weekly is probably the better way for both parties, that way it gets done without questions. Spring does get REAL busy though and most lawns I have are weekly on all of them until probably mid June. If it is every other week, I make sure I get there every other week for sure and don't even look at it each week.

Stillwater
02-25-2008, 11:41 PM
if it doesn't need to be mowed, don't mow it. but don't let someone tell you it doesn't need to be cut if it does.

so what you are saying is if you decide your lawn does not need mowing and i say it does you loose?

LawnPro Hsv.
02-25-2008, 11:53 PM
yeah people don't go for contracts in my area either, north alabama. if it doesn't need to be cut i just don't cut it and the customer doesn't get charged. the drout this year just about killed me. now if they tell me on the phone that it doesn't need to be cut and i go back the next week or so and it is knee high they get charged extra.

barefeetny
02-26-2008, 12:04 AM
someone sent me a p-m and it really was a good question...

they asked how the monthly invoicing and no contract worked...

i will explain it quickly.. and not hijack this thread for more then a few

when i sign a new customer i service twice and bill bi weekly... next time i show up they leave me a check or allready have mailed it...

if you can be trusted... i send a monthly invoice.... same deal applys... noone like writing out tons of checks.... i stagger the customers so they all pay on diffrent weeks...

The key point.... i am very upfront about how this system works with the customer... i will not harrass you every week... but don't pay me at the end of your month and i will harrass you every day... home , work, store.... they know i'm not that busy that i can't be a pain....

i have been burned with contracts and commercials.... but my residentials have never owed me more then 2 weeks... and he called me and explained his situation....

This is a service industry and i aim to please my customers.... I don't lose them unless they move or pass away....they call me when the other lcos drop flyers....even when they undercut me by 15 dollars...Big W i think you have the selling and the service part down..cut there lawn pretty and you will be fine. if something is unclear just be honest with them...it really is the best policy...

like whitey said.... as solos we have to offer what the big Lcos can't.... personalized service and the extra mile go so far for this type of buisness plan

commercials on the other hand my contracts look like the landscaper -pro catalog.... enough clauses to make a lawyer go wow...lol

Nate

Stillwater
02-26-2008, 12:15 AM
yeah people don't go for contracts in my area either, north alabama. if it doesn't need to be cut i just don't cut it and the customer doesn't get charged. the drout this year just about killed me. now if they tell me on the phone that it doesn't need to be cut and i go back the next week or so and it is knee high they get charged extra.

Bingo you win a cookie!!!

I will not divulge details of my business plan on how I work around the bi-weekly crap, but I will say customers being forced to pay for a service they do not receive is not sustainable in the long term. Nobody wants to pay for a service they do not receive. The attempts to do this while successful at times causes damage in the long term. Their is probably only a few people hear that will understand what I mean by this.

Roger
02-26-2008, 06:33 AM
...

To be honest i dont know what to say during that time so i end up saying if it dont need mowed i wont mow it but i know this is going to kill me aint it?

...

WOW where did all of this come from?? Who ever said anything about not wanting to have my income vary? ...

My comments stemmed from your initial post. When you say "going to kill me," that means loss of income because you didn't mow. Loss of income means a variation in income through the season. Hence my comments about choosing a business that is weather dependent.

What did I miss?

larryinalabama
02-26-2008, 07:09 AM
If you have a set scedule of lets say 12 houses per day, your gonna get some rained out days. So the next day make up only the houses with fast growing grass. No way you can do 2 days work in 1 days. Some months have extra week days<meaning 5 >, so a rainey day wont hurt. You can explain it like that. If they dont want to be on a route just let t hem call you to cut and fill them in and DO charge extra.

Also I highly recomend building you business on full serive, trimming mulch annual planting etc. Spend what ever amount of time necessary to turn your homes into SHOW CASES. Make the property the nicest one on the block. The customer will never say anything about not servicing them for a week. Sure it will cost you some time getting started on a house, but in the long run a Show Case house is 10x better than any flyer or add you can run.

grass_cuttin_fool
02-26-2008, 07:36 AM
In my area the season spans from Mid March till early December with about23-27 cuts depending on rainfall. What I do is if the customer has a balance left over near the end of the season then I apply that a load of mulch, leaf removal, fert job, or in your case in PA. maybe snow removal or spring clean up. It seems to help sell the contract.

Wayne

memac259
02-26-2008, 09:45 AM
We mow weekly unless the customer calls and says it doesn't need it. We figure it's their yard and they make the call. Tried the if it doesn't need mowed we won't mow it thing but ran into "it needed it and you didn't come" and "you mowed when it didn't need it." Now we mow unless we hear from them!

echeandia
02-26-2008, 10:01 AM
How do you want to run your business? If you charge a flat monthly fee then you get paid regardless. If you charge per cut then you get paid per cut. If it doesn't need it then you don't cut. Decide how you want to run your business and then let the people calling know. There are benefits to both methods you just need to let the customer know.

EJD Lawnpride
02-26-2008, 10:01 AM
We also mow until we hear from them. Too many different variables to decide on your own. Some people want it cut no matter what.

zima
02-26-2008, 10:50 AM
If you have a set scedule of lets say 12 houses per day, your gonna get some rained out days. So the next day make up only the houses with fast growing grass. No way you can do 2 days work in 1 days. Some months have extra week days<meaning 5 >, so a rainey day wont hurt. You can explain it like that. If they dont want to be on a route just let t hem call you to cut and fill them in and DO charge extra.

Also I highly recomend building you business on full serive, trimming mulch annual planting etc. Spend what ever amount of time necessary to turn your homes into SHOW CASES. Make the property the nicest one on the block. The customer will never say anything about not servicing them for a week. Sure it will cost you some time getting started on a house, but in the long run a Show Case house is 10x better than any flyer or add you can run.

this is how i'm runing my bus,i like to have that monthly income instead of wondering if how many do not need to be cut next week,i know it takes more time to build it this way,and it takes a special kind of customers that want a personal lawn care taker but i like it this way;i like to hear when a new customer says i got you phone number from mr smith he told me you been taking care of their propety and i need a quote to take care of mine .

Weekes
02-26-2008, 02:08 PM
All I can say this one totally depends on were you are. Most people irrigate here. Some don't; here Mid March till Mid April and October are the sketchy times. Other than that I need my clients to need their grass cut every week, if they get sketchy on me one season I let it go (unless I have more people begging to be added to my schedule). BUT they get a warning that I need them to be reliable.

My income and my ability to stay in business is based upon cutting lawns. (YES an imposed water restriction my affect this, so drought people don't yell at me; I am talking about regular situations.) I let my customer know that during regular season April-October the grass grows here and I will keep clients that keep me busy. Just because they may not feel there grass has grown, it has; it may not be tall but it is not trimmed and even. It grows in patches and in my opinion every lawn should be cut once a week during regular season. I should not be punished by those who do not run there sprinklers enough or don't fertilize. I may work with them a little but I need regular income. (I would never go to work for someone who just put me on there schedule only when they felt they needed me, I need a reliable income.)

Some of you say that you do non irrigated every other week, well that is your choice. I solve that problem by trying to only take on clients that have irrigation and use it.

Back to the drought thing, say this year there will be areas were restrictions on water usage will be put in place. As mentioned earlier some lawn companies go under during these. Well you improve your chances for survival if you plan ahead. I have created a business that offers other non weather related service. I would go door to door with those services during my down time and make money that way. Examples I've done or heard of: window washing, minor hard scaping, rain gutter cleaning/repair. Sorry I did not list all of them call me selfish, don't wanna give away my entire business plan. Google "do it yourself" and you may get lots of ideas on services you could provide.

bigw
02-26-2008, 05:58 PM
My comments stemmed from your initial post. When you say "going to kill me," that means loss of income because you didn't mow. Loss of income means a variation in income through the season. Hence my comments about choosing a business that is weather dependent.

What did I miss?

I was simply asking if you guys thought it was going to kill me...my quote "if it dont need mowed i wont mow it but i know this is going to kill me aint it?" anyway no big deal just a misunderstanding thats all.

marine422
02-26-2008, 09:05 PM
LushGreenLawn, Hi, I am new to the industry and the site, first thanks to all you guy's that give out advice and your knowledge, it's a big help. I already bought some new equipment 48 " Toro rider 21 " pushmower all Echo trimmers, edger's and 1 bp and hh blower, along with a trailer. I plan on doing things the right way for the industry and myself with insurance license etc. My next step name , flyers, word of mouth.

My question is would you be able to foward me a copy of your agreement so I may get an idea of what you charge and what you charge for . I want to have some type of agreement as I don't want to be a one time deal. I treat all the work I do like it's my own so this will not be any different.

Thanks in advance for your help

Dave_005
02-26-2008, 10:15 PM
Question----" What about when the lawn does not need to be mowed " i wont have to pay for those weeks right?.... I have been getting this question like crazy and i am just wondering what do you guys say?
To be honest i dont know what to say during that time so i end up saying if it dont need mowed i wont mow it but i know this is going to kill me aint it? How about some help on this guys!!
I am quoting weekly price's based from end of march to end of november " weather permitting" By the way my post cards got deliverd today and so far i got 2 phones calls,landed one at 60$ a week and quoted another that the lady said she has to talk to her husband about.
Oh and this lady also asked me the dreaded question..."what about when the lawn dont need cutting'' ?? Give me some advice so i dont lose my shirt please! Now mind you i do not want to quote yearly prices,people in my area will not go for it! Thanks guys.

all my residential accounts have signed agreements and are charged a flat monthly rate 28 cuts over 7 months. if it doesnt need to be cut for any reason on a certain week by signing the agreement they get put on the schedule for Every week, and are charged for the week even if it doesnt need to be cut for lack of growth because they still maintained a spot on the schedule and i had to take my time, gas, and wear on the truck to go to thier home anyway, but it will almost always need something, "trimming, edgeing" something. so will do that. but as long as they hold a spot on the schedule then they are charged. if you dont charge them for holding a spot on the schedule then you would not only lose the money from not doing thier yard but also would lose out on maybe adding a new account to that time spot

Stillwater
02-26-2008, 10:48 PM
Nice post dave....

HOOLIE
02-26-2008, 11:15 PM
all my residential accounts have signed agreements and are charged a flat monthly rate 28 cuts over 7 months. if it doesnt need to be cut for any reason on a certain week by signing the agreement they get put on the schedule for Every week, and are charged for the week even if it doesnt need to be cut for lack of growth because they still maintained a spot on the schedule and i had to take my time, gas, and wear on the truck to go to thier home anyway, but it will almost always need something, "trimming, edgeing" something. so will do that. but as long as they hold a spot on the schedule then they are charged. if you dont charge them for holding a spot on the schedule then you would not only lose the money from not doing thier yard but also would lose out on maybe adding a new account to that time spot

You pretty much summed up the main reasons why I switched to a flat rate billing scheme. And surprisingly, a lot of my customers actually seem to understand this as well, although I don't expect them to.

zima
02-26-2008, 11:49 PM
i vote for dave 005

LushGreenLawn
02-27-2008, 04:06 PM
Marine,

My service agreement was written specifically for my business, but I do have a suggestion for you.

Visit www.gophersoftware.com and check out the free agreements that they have. Find one that you like, and make changes so that it fits your situation. You can have an attorney look at it if you want to make sure it is concrete.

As far as pricing, I try to figure out how long a project is going to take, and get $1.30 per minute per worker. Give yourself some extra padding on the time, most of the time you need it.

StBalor
02-27-2008, 07:22 PM
If I show up, and it needs a cut, it gets cut. I call the shots. If it doesn't need a cut, I will tell the customer. I'm not about to charge for a three minute walk around to pick up wnd blown debris. If I was a customer, and you billed me for a visit of that kind, I'd fire your arse before the door on your truck closed.

Then you are not trying to run a buisness. They are paying fo a spot on my schedule. It costs me gas, time plus my helpers fees. In your case you are paying them for you to come look at their yard and see if it needs cut or not.
Everyone will do this different, but over the years i have found this to be more fair for me. I use to leave it up to the customer, but i was spending alot of gas and time riding to the property only to have them come out before i start and say, it does not need cutting this week and be a foot tall.
This way I show up, do my job and leave.

marine422
02-27-2008, 09:08 PM
Thanks again Mike.

Whitey4
02-27-2008, 09:56 PM
Then you are not trying to run a buisness. They are paying fo a spot on my schedule. It costs me gas, time plus my helpers fees. In your case you are paying them for you to come look at their yard and see if it needs cut or not.
Everyone will do this different, but over the years i have found this to be more fair for me. I use to leave it up to the customer, but i was spending alot of gas and time riding to the property only to have them come out before i start and say, it does not need cutting this week and be a foot tall.
This way I show up, do my job and leave.

How tight is your route? I have to travel no farther than a mile to look at my customer's properties. And, I AM running a business, thank you very much, one with a business plan. Built on trust. I perform pH tests right in front of the cutomer before I recommend a lime app. I don't do work that isn't needed. I don't charge for services I don't perform.

It's fine for some folks who want to charge flat fees, if that works for them and their clients. But don't come off telling me I'm not running a business. Having a tight route is the cornerstone of how I run my business. I stopped by two customer's places just the other day for 15 minutes. I knocked the snow off some foundation ornamentals because the weight of the snow was damaging the plants. I didn't charge for that either. Customers for life.

When I recommend something, my customers don't question it. I take care of my customer's properties like they were my own. I don't mow my lawn when it doesn't need it. Simple. The way I like it. The way my customers like it too. Because of that, they trust me, and they should.

Do you REALLY think that one cut, plus or minus makes me a business man or not? Laughable.

What IS different, is that all my customers have irrigation.... so drought isn't an issue, and restrictions on watering here are workable. For others, I understand the additional risk of drought. Not my problem. Your's maybe, but not mine.

woodbutcher44
02-27-2008, 10:13 PM
i'm a solo operator,and i charge for the maintenance of the propety if it is weekly or by weekly, if i have to skip a cut,i still go around the propety whit my pruners and trash container picking twigs,pine cones,pulling weeds,some times i water the flower beds or pots whit a hose,re touch the pinestraw,mark a good edge around trees and landscape beds and blow the driveway and walkways .its better for me to have customers that need somebody to do the maintenance of their propety for $$$ a month x 10 months march to dec than have customers that want to pay x cut.Don't get me wrong i done it before it didn't work for me;feel bad when they call and cancel and that $ its not comming to the bus instead you have more work next time you are there.

Does this include leave cleanups or do you just bag ther with a mower?

StBalor
02-27-2008, 11:16 PM
How tight is your route? I have to travel no farther than a mile to look at my customer's properties. And, I AM running a business, thank you very much, one with a business plan. Built on trust. I perform pH tests right in front of the cutomer before I recommend a lime app. I don't do work that isn't needed. I don't charge for services I don't perform.

It's fine for some folks who want to charge flat fees, if that works for them and their clients. But don't come off telling me I'm not running a business. Having a tight route is the cornerstone of how I run my business. I stopped by two customer's places just the other day for 15 minutes. I knocked the snow off some foundation ornamentals because the weight of the snow was damaging the plants. I didn't charge for that either. Customers for life.

When I recommend something, my customers don't question it. I take care of my customer's properties like they were my own. I don't mow my lawn when it doesn't need it. Simple. The way I like it. The way my customers like it too. Because of that, they trust me, and they should.

Do you REALLY think that one cut, plus or minus makes me a business man or not? Laughable.

What IS different, is that all my customers have irrigation.... so drought isn't an issue, and restrictions on watering here are workable. For others, I understand the additional risk of drought. Not my problem. Your's maybe, but not mine.

Sry, Maybe i came off a bit harsh. I am just saying they hire you to do a job and to fit them into your schedule. Going to look at someones yard for nothing takes time and money. I can always get out, trim the high spots, pick up sticks or clean the yard & curb of trash.
All i can say is last year was my 1st year with seasonal agreements and it was alot less headaches.
It works for me and maybe it would not work for you, guess the area will decide.

Whitey4
02-27-2008, 11:41 PM
Sry, Maybe i came off a bit harsh. I am just saying they hire you to do a job and to fit them into your schedule. Going to look at someones yard for nothing takes time and money. I can always get out, trim the high spots, pick up sticks or clean the yard & curb of trash.
All i can say is last year was my 1st year with seasonal agreements and it was alot less headaches.
It works for me and maybe it would not work for you, guess the area will decide.

Fair enough.... what we including myself, at a site like this is fail to take into account regional differences. Here, the going rate for a mow and blow (typical 2 to 4k of turf) is only 20 to 25 bucks. Other areas of the country are much higher. Here, the money is in additional services, ferts, weed control, installations, aeration, over seeding, etc.

Drought areas with bigger properties have a very different market than my small irrigated clients. This kind of pricing, a straight fee, is much more common here for snow removals, not for landscaping. With a smow removal contract, the customer knows they are at the top of the list for service, they already paid for it. It works for the customer and the snow plow guy.

Since I know I will get 29 cuts, plus or minus one, it's no big deal. In a drought area, I'd want a set seasonal rate.

Stillwater
02-28-2008, 12:11 AM
Fair enough.... what we including myself, at a site like this is fail to take into account regional differences. Here, the going rate for a mow and blow (typical 2 to 4k of turf) is only 20 to 25 bucks. Other areas of the country are much higher. Here, the money is in additional services, ferts, weed control, installations, aeration, over seeding, etc.

Drought areas with bigger properties have a very different market than my small irrigated clients. This kind of pricing, a straight fee, is much more common here for snow removals, not for landscaping. With a smow removal contract, the customer knows they are at the top of the list for service, they already paid for it. It works for the customer and the snow plow guy.

Since I know I will get 29 cuts, plus or minus one, it's no big deal. In a drought area, I'd want a set seasonal rate.

prices are that low in long island?isn't that area the most expensive realestate in the US. or am I thinking of something else?

barefeetny
02-28-2008, 12:16 AM
whitey,

29 mows? with irragation and fert? i have 24 written down for last year....

explain to them how people in the island blew all their money on the house, taxes and a 1992 iroc.....lol I kid you allready explained it to me

Sal200
02-28-2008, 11:13 AM
prices are that low in long island?isn't that area the most expensive realestate in the US. or am I thinking of something else?

No you are right it is very expensive over here on LI. I actually dont go by square footage of lawns when pricing customers i go by the size of the whole property and figure how long i will take there(cut, trim, edge, blow, and weeding of beds). Roughly 10,000 sq ft property i get 45-50 a week and 12,000 sq ft property i get 50-55. 5,000 sq ft property roughly 25 a week. What do you charge in your area?

Whitey4
02-28-2008, 11:34 AM
prices are that low in long island?isn't that area the most expensive realestate in the US. or am I thinking of something else?

They are in my immediate area. Si far, all of my customers are within a mile. I have yet to hear of an LCO charging more than 25 in this town. Sal is further up, near the north shore. The properties are a bit larger up there, and there is also more $ on the north shore. My town is more blue collar, but a county policeman here makes $120k with overtime. The taxes on a dormered Cape Cod run $7k a year or more. That same house would sell for about 375k.

This place is FLOODED with LCO's. One guy has a crew of five latins, they come into my neighborhood and do 5 houses in less than 40 minutes. Closer to a half hour. He charges $20 a cut. Same price for twenty years.

But, either he doesn't know how to get rid of nut sedge, or doesn't care to. I'll jump on those accounts when the nut sedge comes up this year. I don't mind just cherry picking some apps, that is where the money is. Otherwise, his crews do a good job. I don't want these houses at 20 bucks. He never aerates, and I'm not sure what he's putting down. Looks like pre-M and I don't know what else, likely just lime and ferts.

brucec32
03-03-2008, 05:03 PM
As usual, I agree with my NY buddy, Barefootny. I tell my customers to budget for 29 cuts. if we have an early spring, there might be an extra in April. An ealry fall, one less in October. I tell them if it needs to be cut, I'll cut it, but will contact them when I don't think it needs a cut.

I have a slogan. I will maintain your property as though it were my own. I don't cut my lawn when it doesn't need it. I won't cut theirs either. I charge by cut. They might have to pay for an extra, they might save a week.

I think that is what us solo guys have over the big outfits. Flexabilty. More customized, personalized service. I was knocking snow off the ornamentals at two house I just signed up, haven't made a dime yet. The owner comes out and is like what ARE you doing? I explained how the weight of the snow was seperating and opening gaps in the shrubs. I didn't want to lose any branches. Guy was FLOORED! I told him I did this at my house yesterday... and I'm here now.

I have a customer for life. In fact, he called two neighbors, and now I have to quote them.

I really like offering a superior level of service. Customers love it too. Be honest, go the extra mile. Charge for work performed. Don't charge for work not performed. In the long run, it's better practice I think. Now, when I suggest a fall over seeding, I'll get it. No questions asked. Everyone wins. Honesty, a work ethic, and giving a chit is the only way I know how to do this.

One thing is.... I have a VERY tight route. So far, every customer within a mile of my home. Very easy to cruise by and make an assessment. With bigger territories, not so easy. In that case, I might work the phone a little more, but if you know the property, you will likely know if it needs a cut.

Very good point about having flexibility as an advantage over the big guys with their cheaper labor costs. I share the same motto with customers and once you've done their lawns a while, they trust what you say. Pushing and squeezing every dollar out of them makes them distrustful and can be counter-productive.

smut
03-03-2008, 09:37 PM
You can do a contract for so many mowings. Although the mowings may be less frequent during dry periods you will need to mow more often during spring and fall. If you get a contract signed, tell them that the mowing will average out to (whatever your area demands) and leave it at that. You will get your mowings. And if they can't afford it, tell them that you understand completely. Also, build your business big enough, so that little bid of money loss won't hurt you. Commercial is where you usually get money whether you mow or not. The residential is where you get most of your referals so be carefull

paul vroom
03-06-2008, 07:08 PM
Let it grow longer in the dog days. It will stay greener and will still need a cut.......