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grassguy_
08-17-2008, 01:35 PM
How many of you charge on service calls? We have always done them at no charge unless it required something beyond what was part of the customers normal program and until this year wasn't really ever an issue as I would route the calls with normal treatments within a day or so. Now with fuel prices and the obvious skyrocketing materials debacle I've considered a minimal service charge for service call visits or have the service call scheduled as part of their next treatment if its in the near future. Our service industry is really no different in materials, labor, etc than a plumber, electrician, carpenter, etc and if you call one of them, they aren't going to come out and use their expertise or materials for free. I have seen some in our industry beginning to charge, and wonder what your thoughts are on it. Thanks!

phasthound
08-17-2008, 02:00 PM
How many of you charge on service calls? We have always done them at no charge unless it required something beyond what was part of the customers normal program and until this year wasn't really ever an issue as I would route the calls with normal treatments within a day or so. Now with fuel prices and the obvious skyrocketing materials debacle I've considered a minimal service charge for service call visits or have the service call scheduled as part of their next treatment if its in the near future. Our service industry is really no different in materials, labor, etc than a plumber, electrician, carpenter, etc and if you call one of them, they aren't going to come out and use their expertise or materials for free. I have seen some in our industry beginning to charge, and wonder what your thoughts are on it. Thanks!

It sounds like a great way to reduce your work load..........
less clients!

rcreech
08-17-2008, 02:53 PM
I think that is a great idea!

I think we have to be careful though!

If we screwed up something, need to respray or they have a legitimate problem, I would have no problem charging them!

But if they have something to "show us" or "just want to talk", then I think a charge is warranted.

I have had customers call me to come out and once I get there they say "Oh, it isn't as bad as I thought" and then they want to stand around and talk! :dizzy:

They need to cover our fuel and time in that case! Like you say, would the guy working or refrigerators, tv's and phones come with no charge?

tlg
08-17-2008, 03:45 PM
This free service call deal that we all have been doing for years was a Chemlawn instituted service from way back. Just about every company out there doing lawn applications followed suit and offered the satisfaction guaranteed " or we keep coming back " until your a peta and we have to cancel you. We have been trying to reduce free service calls as much as possible by weeding out ( pun intended) the frivolous call backs. Last week we had a customer send in a payment with a note that he had weeds. Six days after an application. This customer is in the process of being educated. If our application failed to produce results or there was a problem that was indeed our fault, then we should do the service call for free. If the problem was something other than our application then we should by all means charge something. The list of bogus service calls could fill a book. Dog spot, pool cover damage, customer applied chemicals, lawn mower injury, not watering enough, suspected ornamental injury from chems, etc..... Time is money. I never have enough time or money. We start charging Monday.

rcreech
08-17-2008, 05:07 PM
This free service call deal that we all have been doing for years was a Chemlawn instituted service from way back. Just about every company out there doing lawn applications followed suit and offered the satisfaction guaranteed " or we keep coming back " until your a peta and we have to cancel you. We have been trying to reduce free service calls as much as possible by weeding out ( pun intended) the frivolous call backs. Last week we had a customer send in a payment with a note that he had weeds. Six days after an application. This customer is in the process of being educated. If our application failed to produce results or there was a problem that was indeed our fault, then we should do the service call for free. If the problem was something other than our application then we should by all means charge something. The list of bogus service calls could fill a book. Dog spot, pool cover damage, customer applied chemicals, lawn mower injury, not watering enough, suspected ornamental injury from chems, etc..... Time is money. I never have enough time or money. We start charging Monday.


Good for you! :clapping:

Great topic Grassguy! I think you will get the wheels turning with this topic!

Runner
08-18-2008, 12:04 AM
Here is our policy exactly as it is stated on our service agreement.
SERVICE CALL POLICY: Clients scheduled to receive 6 (six) seasonal treatments, and indeed does receive 6 (six) season treatments, will receive service calls at no charge between treatments within 30 days of their last received service. Service calls requested by the Client after 30 days of the previously scheduled treatment will receive their next scheduled treatment. Clients receiving less than the 6 (six) treatment schedule will incur a $59.00 service call fee for any received service calls.

garydale
08-18-2008, 04:39 PM
Here is our policy exactly as it is stated on our service agreement.
SERVICE CALL POLICY: Clients scheduled to receive 6 (six) seasonal treatments, and indeed does receive 6 (six) season treatments, will receive service calls at no charge between treatments within 30 days of their last received service. Service calls requested by the Client after 30 days of the previously scheduled treatment will receive their next scheduled treatment. Clients receiving less than the 6 (six) treatment schedule will incur a $59.00 service call fee for any received service calls.

Our service call policy is vertually the same as Runner's. Almost identical verbage except we only charge $25.00.

jbturf
08-18-2008, 06:54 PM
question, if the charged svc call leads to an additional sale of say a fungicide app,
do you still charge the full price of the svc call?

rcreech
08-18-2008, 07:03 PM
question, if the charged svc call leads to an additional sale of say a fungicide app,
do you still charge the full price of the svc call?


Don't know what they will say...but I would say no because that service call just turned into a sales call (which is great)!

I think charging for the sales call should only be done when called out for stupid crap!

Frank Fescue
08-19-2008, 12:30 AM
STUPID STUPID STUPID... not the suggestion, but the actual carrying out of it. If this became and industry standard that the smaller companies charged for SVC calls Chem Lawn and Scotts would have an entierly new way to advertise to customers.

Heres a better idea. When you finish a lawn, leave a brutally detailed note. Dont skip a beat, give 'em your number and dont beat around the bush. Most service calls can be handled by a phone call. Its basically free and saves you the trip out there. If a customer is adamant about you coming out (usually for a weed spray) find a day when you're close to that area and tell them they'll be the frst stop of the day. Communication is key. This makes them feel important. Instead of saying "I'll be out there, but gas is expensive so its twenty bucks to spray your clover"

whoopassonthebluegrass
08-19-2008, 01:07 AM
I've been thinking about this a LOT lately. Mostly b/c my service calls are all the same: "your lawn isn't getting enough water." Drives me nuts. What a friggin' waste. For better or worse, I don't bother to get with them until I'm back in their area (mind you, I'm in every area I service every single week, so it's usually only a matter of a couple of days).

With costs where they are right now, a base price customer is probably only netting me about $120 right now. When a service call could eat 20 minutes of my time + fuel, I say "screw it". If I only get $20 per visit when all is said and done, there's not much incentive to go the extra mile or coddle the ignorant.

grassguy_
08-20-2008, 02:04 AM
Boy, there is a wide array of opinions to this thread, and i'm glad to see the input its generated! I see both point of views for whether to charge or not to charge.
Runner,
I have considered similar verbage as well for a service call policy but haven't put a price to the "extra visit".
I know that yes we need to educate the customers about expectations and that improve communications are important too, but there is a point that no matter what, some customers just basically "abuse" the fact that something is being done "free" for them at the expense of others. It not only costs us money to make a return visit but also the time we could have been doing someone's lawn who's paying for it. I'm not implying that all service calls are bad, in fact i don't truly mind them that much as a number of times they turn into additional service sales anyways, but there are times the redundant "i got a few weeds", starts to wear thin.
Frank Fescue
I do see you point that the "BIG Dogs" on the block will use this to their advantage, but in reality they already are accounting for their service calls in the amount of visits most of them are doing now..7..8..9. heck i got one account that had 11 BILLABLE VISITS from THEM last season and it looked as if maybe it truly got 2 or 3 visits of any value! Not only that but its becoming very noticeable that these "BIG DOGS" are going to be making some adjustments with this changing economic environment. Time will tell.
Jbturf
If a service call turns into an add-on sale then I would adjust to the service to be provided. eg service call $25.00 but during the service call you determine the customer needs an insect treatment at $45.00 then you only bill them for the insect treatment. The purpose isnt to make a "money pit" from the service call but to get the rightful billing for doing a service. though sometimes that would be nice! LOL!

thanks for the continued input!!

Runner
08-20-2008, 03:41 AM
Our service agreement we use is the same as that of a local (private) lco who services 15,000 accounts with approx 30 trucks.