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View Full Version : I've had it up to here ^^^^^ with non-profits


LwnmwrMan22
03-29-2008, 12:38 AM
The title says it all.

This account was #4 in my previous thread about losing 2nd, 3rd and 4th biggest account.

It paid $825 per month, year around, for the lawn mowing, fertilizing, chemical apps and snowplowing.

When I got the account, it was already a month into the mowing season, so I said that I'll just waive the first month's fee. It was a situation that it was new construction, and hadn't been mowed yet this last season.

I got the call on a Thursday and asked if I could put a bid in. I was at a property about 10 miles from this location, so I asked if they would be available in 20 minutes, that I'd run right over there. They said that would be wonderful, that they were having an open house the following Monday and would like to get the property taken care of.

I immediately went over to meet with the director. It's a YMCA. I told her how much it would be, that I could do it on the weekend with the baggers, and it would be perfect for them for the open house. She said that sounded great, but that she had a meeting with another contractor to get another bid. I said that's fine, just let me know.

The next day I got the call and said that the other contractor never showed, and after talking with my references, that the director felt more than comfortable with having me perform the services at the account. I said okay, I'll be in there on Sunday and cut, bag and trim the entire place up, so it looks top notch for their open house.

I did everything I said. I offered to remove construction debris at a donated labor rate, just pay for the dump fees. I even went so far as to donate a check for 10% of the contract before they opened.

Never any problems, I checked in with them every week to let them know of different issues I noticed about the outside of the property, to let the general contractor know that "this piece of metal was loose" or this bush was already dead, etc.

I did the snowplowing as was described. They were always opened immediately before they opened. I even donated 16 saltings this winter, to the tune of about $2000.

I get the call today. "We're going with a different vendor for our lawn maintenance and snowplowing services. Due to cost of living and increase cost of running our building, we need to cut costs".

I didn't raise my rates on this account. I included again that I would donate all salting services. I wrote on the bid form that I appreciate their business and I look forward to being able to donate to the YMCA again this year.

This is not the first non-profit that I've dealt with that, for whatever reason, cannot do math, or am basically looking to have everything done for free. I just don't get it. They build a $7M building, and think they can run it for a $1.42.

It would take me a little over 2 hours to do the summer work each week, and a little under 2 hours to do the plowing and sidewalk work. It would also take about 15-16 bags of fertilizer each round (4).

ALarsh
03-29-2008, 02:39 AM
Sounds like you are feeling a little bit of a pinch this year. Being in this business so long, have you ever gone through a previous time when things were getting tight? You may look into picking up some residentials as it wont hurt nearly as bad when one or two drops. Good luck to you this season

MOW ED
03-29-2008, 07:59 AM
That sucks. Is it the same group of bean counters that you are dealing with or did they change personnel. Who is making the ultimate decision? I personally have never dealt with non profits or commercials for that matter. I have 2 small Dr's offices that don't really count. It seems that they set a guy up and then take the rug from under him. There is a reason for everything and it sure sound like you went above and beyond what many would do so hopefully in a week or 2 you will pick up a job that more than fills in this one. Take care.

Atlantic Lawn
03-29-2008, 08:08 AM
Get back out there and start hunting for new contracts, I'm sure You can pick up more than you've lost. Dedicate a day to doin' your cold calls and meet some new clients.

chesterlawn
03-29-2008, 08:33 AM
I've found that in the past, customers never remember the free services you give them. When your in a stiuation of loosing a contract and you remind them of the freebies, it's like they don't hear you or it doesn't register. No more freebies, it doesn't pay.

Whitey4
03-29-2008, 08:40 AM
I think I would write them a tactful letter, explaining what you just wrote in your post. If nothing else, it would make me feel better, and would likely cause them to second guess their decision making process. And no, I would not take them back unless it was understood there would be no more freebies.

AdamChrap
03-29-2008, 08:54 AM
I've found that in the past, customers never remember the free services you give them. When your in a stiuation of loosing a contract and you remind them of the freebies, it's like they don't hear you or it doesn't register. No more freebies, it doesn't pay.

We have found the best way to do freebies is after you do them include them on the invoice as they would normally cost then deduct it at the bottom. Example: You give them 20 free slating's that would normally cost say $200. To them they think "Free Salt' They need to be thinking "$4000 SAVED". We have a contract that we have had for 9 years and have been trying to get them to let us charge by the hour for snow plowing for years but they like it rolled into the contract. It only toke one winter of putting on the bill each month how much it would normally cost for them to say "WOW" they actually felt bad for all the years that we have been doing it the other way. This year we have a contract price for the mowing and the plowing is by the HR!

That is not the only place either. We have a few churches that we have had for about 8 years and we have always had the discounts we give them reflected in our invoices.

AdamChrap
03-29-2008, 08:59 AM
I think I would write them a tactful letter, explaining what you just wrote in your post. If nothing else, it would make me feel better, and would likely cause them to second guess their decision making process. And no, I would not take them back unless it was understood there would be no more freebies.

Why no freebies? This is a non-profit organization. Does no one do charity work anymore? In our community it is almost expected and defiantly helps with getting accounts and general PR.

Bunton Guy
03-29-2008, 09:56 AM
I don't give out free service as the grocery store & gas stations don't give my family free fuel & food. Everything cost money...sounds like you lost out on some good money if you would have charged them what you should have.

LwnmwrMan22
03-29-2008, 10:00 AM
I don't give out free service as the grocery store & gas stations don't give my family free fuel & food. Everything cost money...sounds like you lost out on some good money if you would have charged them what you should have.

I do okay without having to charge every thing out constantly.

My parents raised me to where you help people out when you can.

I've always felt that if you can help your community, that you do what you can.

I DID put on the monthly invoices each time we salted, and then showed a credit at the bottom for the salt work.

QualityLawnCare4u
03-29-2008, 11:07 AM
Its funny that my kids go to the Y and they ain't cheap and give me no discounts! My daughter is only there 2 days a week and we still pay for 5 days plus they had a large increase few months back. Discounts, I don't give no discounts and I don't care if its the Vatican! Lawnmwrman, you are having some of my first class,crappy,sh*tty luck this year! If you were closer would buy you a beer and dinner and we could discuss our wonderful clients! :)

BeautifulBlooms
03-29-2008, 11:54 AM
Well if you donated $2000 in salting to a $10,000 job that was crazy.

I agree with the comment about putting all freebies on their invoices, you always want them to know that they received something for free, so they dont come to expect it.

GreenN'Clean
03-29-2008, 12:04 PM
Well you know the company has to cut costs so they can keep paying there worthless CEO's who don't do sh!t there huge bonuses..... This world is totally ass backwards. It seems like the guy who works the least gets more money and the guy who works his fingers to the bones gets pennies on the dollar..... The middle class is what makes the economy not these high horsed CEO's if it wasn't for the middle class hard working man then the companies these CEO's work for wouldn't even exist....

jaybird24
03-29-2008, 12:11 PM
By non-profit most of these companies are a glorified S-Corp, instead of showing a profit I think they spread the money amongst themselves. I too did one a few years back that was a Pharmaceutical lobbyist group, nice building and all, but couldn't afford $65 per cut on a 1-1/2 acre lawn and alot of trimming, and absolutely no add-ons. but guess what kind of cars were in the employee parking lot- BMW, Lexus, heck not even american cars. Good to know they give back to the community.

LwnmwrMan22
03-29-2008, 12:13 PM
Sounds like you are feeling a little bit of a pinch this year. Being in this business so long, have you ever gone through a previous time when things were getting tight? You may look into picking up some residentials as it wont hurt nearly as bad when one or two drops. Good luck to you this season

In this market, residentials pay out about $25-30 per hour.

I've already had 3 other properties call me to place bids, 2 of which I'm already doing other properties for the owners.

My point was, I realize that people are no longer wanting to pay a flat fee, especially for snow plowing.

We had a lack luster year again for snow work, and I'm sure they look at a year end total and say "we paid $5,000 at this location, but only $2,755 at the other locations on average".

That's fine. As I've said in the past, over the last number of years, there's an average amount of snow that we get. I base my plowing contracts on that average. If the client and I continue to have a working relationship, eventually it will favor either / or for the length of the services.

I don't understand why they would also say "we look forward to having you place a bid again next year".

Do they think I'm going to lower my price??

heather lawn sp
03-29-2008, 12:14 PM
Sorry to be a fly in the ointment about this problem, but were you grossing $96.25 per hour on this project or am I missing something? For my 2 hour a week project, year round I'm lucky to get $480 a month.

BeautifulBlooms
03-29-2008, 12:16 PM
Wow if you priced your plowing on an average this year you might have gone out of business. Wisconsin got pounded and that would be a difficult amount of labor cost to overcome.

LwnmwrMan22
03-29-2008, 12:56 PM
Sorry to be a fly in the ointment about this problem, but were you grossing $96.25 per hour on this project or am I missing something? For my 2 hour a week project, year round I'm lucky to get $480 a month.

A little over 2 hours / week, or about 10 hours per month, so 60 hours for the 6 months of the mowing season. However, that first cut took almost an entire weekend, by the time I pulled the baggers out of their storage place, dropped the other "light work" I had tentatively scheduled for that weekend, and spent a day bagging and hauling out a 8'x16' with 5' sides dump trailer of grass.

Again, this was 6 weeks into the mowing season and this property hadn't been mowed yet last year.

I didn't charge them extra for that work. The fertilizer cost at 60 bags (15 bags per round, 4 rounds) was right at $900 and the chemicals would have been another $300 +/-.

So for the actual mowing, with or without that first cut, at $825 for 6 months, about $3,700 would have been for labor, not the fertilizer costs, not to mention any markup on the fertilizer.

60 hours for $3,700, or roughly $62 per hour.

AdamChrap
03-29-2008, 01:06 PM
Well if you donated $2000 in salting to a $10,000 job that was crazy.

I agree with the comment about putting all freebies on their invoices, you always want them to know that they received something for free, so they dont come to expect it.

That was only a example. My point was just to make sure you show them how much you are saving them.

LwnmwrMan22
03-29-2008, 01:10 PM
That was only a example. My point was just to make sure you show them how much you are saving them.

I think Blooms was referring to the fact that I DID donate about $2,000 in salting charges.

Also, there were many times we plowed this location multiple times during the day for the same $825 per month. All in all we put in about 50 hours of work at this location for the snowplowing, which, both of these hourly charges, whether $62 per hour for mowing, or $80 per hour for plowing, are not totally out of line, especially for average pricing.

Currier
03-29-2008, 01:11 PM
Your first post would make an excellent letter sent to them. They may as well understand the quality of work and the freebies, along with the care and concern that they were getting. Send them the letter AND cross them off your list. Your not begging for the account back, and they don't need to know yet that you will not take them back. Just let them know what they gave up.

JimmyStew
03-29-2008, 02:00 PM
A few years back when I worked for a property mgmt company, my job was to mow all the lawns each week. It was a days worth of mowing and one of the properties was a local non-profit that we did for free. It wasn't a big lawn, only took about 15 minutes to mow and trim and it was across the street from one of our other properties. I got so tired of the fact that before I could mow, I always, and I mean always had to pickup trash, dog poo, and toys from the lawn before I could mow.

These people expect everything for free. I would think that knowing that they were not paying for this mowing service, they would have the decency to come out and pick this stuff up before I got their. I did tell them about leaving stuff on the yard several times. I did it in a very non-confrontational way "I was wondering if you could possibly have someone clean the debris and toys from the lawn before I arrive? It would make mowing much easier." Oh, sure they would say and then next week - yep I had to pick stuff up again.

Want to know how I fixed the problem? I stopped mowing it one week! Mowed the property across the street, then loaded up an moved on to the next one and havn't been back since! And no-one every said boo about it! I don't know who they found to replace me, but I did see a guy there one day trimming the hedge out front with a chainsaw!!!:laugh:

ALarsh
03-29-2008, 02:08 PM
Why don't you switch over to the typical billing cycle of billing them when the work is performed? $80 an hour for snowplowing work is very low and you could be doing much better. It sounds like they are having a hard time grasping the concept that they will be paying a flat rate every month instead of being billed for only the work performed. They may not be realizing that your rates are not out of line.

whoopassonthebluegrass
03-29-2008, 02:43 PM
In this market, residentials pay out about $25-30 per hour.

Yikes.! That's not worth it.

What about faster equipment?

If that's all I could pull in, I'd go back and finish my degree...

I have a rule of clearing a minimum of a $60/hour, but shoot for double that. I would guess I average $90/hour...

Turf Commando
03-29-2008, 03:02 PM
This is going to happen more and more being under bid.
Hold your head up good things come to those who wait, nothing lasts forever you will bounce back...

S L C
03-29-2008, 03:15 PM
Why no freebies? This is a non-profit organization. Does no one do charity work anymore? In our community it is almost expected and defiantly helps with getting accounts and general PR.

Actually, any 'non-profit' organization,,, REALLY isn't a NP org. as it may seem to blind eyes.... just the truth, sorry for my opinion!! :rolleyes::rolleyes:

HE\_\_ Right now it seems like I was a NP bizness this last year.. LOL :clapping:

AdamChrap
03-29-2008, 05:32 PM
Actually, any 'non-profit' organization,,, REALLY isn't a NP org. as it may seem to blind eyes.... just the truth, sorry for my opinion!! :rolleyes::rolleyes:

HE\_\_ Right now it seems like I was a NP bizness this last year.. LOL :clapping:

I understand very well that the NP org just give the money to there CEOs and what not but what I mean is I give discounts to churches and I do our local County Fair Grounds for a good rate. People like to see that. We also strongly encourage our employees (Not that I have allot) to be involved in things like Share a Christmass, Local food pantries and my wife and I personally are member of our local Lions Club. People like to see this and it is good for business there is no way you will convince me otherwise. Not to mention it is just a good thing to do.

LwnmwrMan22
03-29-2008, 07:17 PM
I understand very well that the NP org just give the money to there CEOs and what not but what I mean is I give discounts to churches and I do our local County Fair Grounds for a good rate. People like to see that. We also strongly encourage our employees (Not that I have allot) to be involved in things like Share a Christmass, Local food pantries and my wife and I personally are member of our local Lions Club. People like to see this and it is good for business there is no way you will convince me otherwise. Not to mention it is just a good thing to do.

Correct. I'm a firm believer in supporting your community.

This is why I donated the money and effort that I did to the YMCA. I make enough on the commercial accounts to be able to do this.

I even told the director when I got the account, and handed over the donation check, that is how I feel, and that's why they were getting the check.

I'm just waiting for "an anniversary letter" asking if I'd like to donate again or not.

Lawn-Sharks
03-29-2008, 08:20 PM
I think I would write them a tactful letter, explaining what you just wrote in your post. If nothing else, it would make me feel better, and would likely cause them to second guess their decision making process. And no, I would not take them back unless it was understood there would be no more freebies.

I agree with Whitey4....

Dugann
03-29-2008, 09:33 PM
Really sorry to hear that LW:( . It really suxs. You'll rebound.

Whitey4
03-29-2008, 09:35 PM
Why no freebies? This is a non-profit organization. Does no one do charity work anymore? In our community it is almost expected and defiantly helps with getting accounts and general PR.

It's fine to do freebies.... IF the acount reconizes them. This account seems to have ignored the freebies, perhaps they expect the next service to provide services for free as well? Charity work is fine and dandy, and I also contribute, but not in connection with my business. I donate 4 hours a week to a state run arboretum, and my time to my parrish.... but it's clear cut. That is where I donate... and my business does no donations, and this thread is an example of why.

nobagger
03-29-2008, 09:41 PM
Sorry to hear this but its sounds like your not going to be loosing much. Reading through your post you "donated" this, that and everything. The only way I would ever donate something is in the event there would be a mulit year contract waiting for me to sign. Hard lesson learned I guess...DONT GIVE ANYTHING AWAY FOR FREE! Or at least makesure you have the contract.

AdamChrap
03-29-2008, 10:33 PM
It's fine to do freebies.... IF the acount reconizes them. This account seems to have ignored the freebies, perhaps they expect the next service to provide services for free as well? Charity work is fine and dandy, and I also contribute, but not in connection with my business. I donate 4 hours a week to a state run arboretum, and my time to my parrish.... but it's clear cut. That is where I donate... and my business does no donations, and this thread is an example of why.

I guess we all do thing different, I do almost all my donating through the business. I may feel different if I get burned. Also we are a small community were everyone knows everyone, That may have a factor in it all.

ponyboy
03-30-2008, 09:05 AM
you sound like a very stand up person and do not let this business change you you were soing the correct thing by them above your contract. I have found that most of the commerical and all of the "non profit" care about is the lowest price with out the extras ex, plowing for season say $5000 you might have been $6000 with salt and they go for the $5000 guy not realizing you were giving better service and a better price at the end of the year they just want to see the lowest price up front and that bad news for any company who ties to up front and honest. So sorry about this year hopefully things will still be alright for you this year, i will have a silimar post next week when i get the out come of my non profit bid i think i lost over $100,000 this year i let you know once i know