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DA Quality Lawn & YS
10-03-2008, 01:26 PM
This subject has been in a few threads that I have been reading, BUT.....

In the last month of mowing for 2008, I already have my mind looking ahead to 2009, maintaining the good customers that I have, shedding the deadbeats, gaining business, etc.

My question is this: How do some of you vets approach getting mowing 'renewals' from your current customers for the next season (2009 in this case)? I really want to try to secure as much rollover business as I can before the snow flies and the holidays set in - I also want to know that I have a sound customer base so that I have some peace of mind going into the winter months. I have no doubt that all of my customers are happy ones BUT I want their business next season as well and I don't want them holding out until like April 2009 to tell me so.

So, how do you guys handle this? One good idea that I am considering is a year end letter with my last monthly statement, advising I PLAN to cut their lawn again next season unless I hear from the customer otherwise. I would also put the 2009 per cut pricing in with that letter (making some assumptions obviously about expenses). But, is this being too presumptuous? Has anyone had adverse reactions to such a letter?

Any other ideas?


Thanks

billslawn89
10-03-2008, 03:36 PM
i send out letters thanking them for their business and ask if they would like me to continue for the next season, stating the price, any increases and job description. have them sign the agreement and send it back to me or i'll go pick it up. here in florida, i do it at years end, but when i was up in ohio, i would send out letters in february and asked them to respond by march 15th to be added to the list. if i didn't hear anything, i would call them.

DA Quality Lawn & YS
10-03-2008, 11:29 PM
anyone else...

POPO4995
10-03-2008, 11:59 PM
Send out holiday cards at the beginning of December and lawn maintenance proposals, new and renewals, all in February.

old oak lawn
10-04-2008, 12:29 AM
I send out letters late February telling them we would like their business agen this year and we start in march. And to please call to set up a service day. if they don't call i call them march 1.

DA Quality Lawn & YS
10-04-2008, 04:28 PM
bumperooski

Roger
10-04-2008, 09:36 PM
I send a letter about March 10. The season begins about April 1. This leaves about a three week window for a response. I ask for negative response only.

I also send my drop letters at the same time. I always drop more customers than respond negatively to my letter.

meets1
10-04-2008, 11:18 PM
i think this man is asking about now. All I read is march or feb. That is next year and who knows who may have spoke to the client by that time. I have started this year all ready getting the major accounts back for next year. Everyone is hungry and wanting more business or more importantly YOUR business.

Stay on top, go after those sales now!

Flex-Deck
10-04-2008, 11:55 PM
I send a self addressed stamped envelope with my last invoices (usually oct mowing, sometimes nov. mowing), and with it my proposal for next year. Usually it is at most a small increase. I also have check boxes for 1 thru 4 years on the price I quote that they may wish to lock in. This gives them a free way to send their check, and I have the peace of mind over the winter of knowing what is waiting next spring. Thanks, Brad

DUSTYCEDAR
10-05-2008, 12:02 AM
Great idea flex

HOOLIE
10-05-2008, 01:16 AM
So, how do you guys handle this? One good idea that I am considering is a year end letter with my last monthly statement, advising I PLAN to cut their lawn again next season unless I hear from the customer otherwise. I would also put the 2009 per cut pricing in with that letter (making some assumptions obviously about expenses). But, is this being too presumptuous? Has anyone had adverse reactions to such a letter?



That's what I do, I tell them they need to call me to cancel. Usually at the end of the year I send a little letter out thanking them for a great year and let them know service will automatically pick up again in the spring. Then again in Feb. I'll send out another reminder.

I always raise prices mid-season, if I raise them. This way, the flurry of spring flyering by competitors has passed and they really have to be motivated to find another LCO if they're not happy with a small increase.

DA Quality Lawn & YS
10-05-2008, 02:25 AM
I send a self addressed stamped envelope with my last invoices (usually oct mowing, sometimes nov. mowing), and with it my proposal for next year. Usually it is at most a small increase. I also have check boxes for 1 thru 4 years on the price I quote that they may wish to lock in. This gives them a free way to send their check, and I have the peace of mind over the winter of knowing what is waiting next spring. Thanks, Brad

Great stuff guys, thanks for all your input. Yes, I am definitely referring to the here and NOW, like I said before, I do not want to wait until March of the following year to try and get renewals. Too much risk and too much uneasiness over the winter months, I don't want to sit and stew saying 'Oh boy, am I going to get back 75% of my accts? 50%?? 25??(gulp!)

Question for Flex: How do you get by with doing a multi-year agreement, especially as pertains to price? You are really making huge assumptions on future business expenses, conditions, etc for yourself. How do you price out such multi-year deals so that you feel comfortable with the profit margin it provides?

Roger
10-05-2008, 07:52 AM
I spoke about early March for a letter, about three weeks before the season started. I rarely have anybody reply in the negative, so I see my risk as being very low. For me, there is no uneasiness because if somebody does reply in the negative, and I loose that customer, I know there are several others waiting to be on the schedule. I always have many more requests for mowing work than I can fit into my schedule. I've already had several requests during this season to "put me on your list for next year."

LwnmwrMan22
10-05-2008, 11:18 AM
I did all of my rate increases this year, 10-12%, once every 3 years.

I'll stop in now at the end of the season and say "If you can give me a verbal commitment for next year, I'll hold your price the same".

It doesn't bind me to a contract, or if things drastically change in the offseason, I can still change, and they still get a chance to rebid come Feb.

Other than that, I've got a good idea who's going to be back, and for how much.

Also, next year (2009) we're going to start to push for more 2 year agreements.

I'm going to try to put employees on, and I need the guarantee of money from year to year.

ALC-GregH
10-05-2008, 12:46 PM
Thats all great but how do you convince the customer to stay with you for 2 years? Regardless to quality of work. Thats a given, most will WANT you to keep taking care of their place if your doing good work. How do you convince a "new" customer to sign a 2 year agreement? Is this something that comes with time? I mean, you get a new customer and do there lawn maintenance for a season, is this when you offer them 1 or 2 year agreements? Do you mention the agreements when first speaking with them? My guess is a website would be very useful at this point so you can have them view the terms and policies on line without having to deal with alot of papers. I guess my point is, it would save alot of time not having to type all the policies and terms for the agreements on each invoice they have to sign. If you give them a website to read all the info on, it would be much easier to just state on the invoice that all terms and agreements are clearly written at www.your webaddress here.com and by signing blahblahblah. Is my thinking correct? As long as you have it clear where the info is, your golden right?

LwnmwrMan22
10-05-2008, 04:04 PM
Thats all great but how do you convince the customer to stay with you for 2 years? Regardless to quality of work. Thats a given, most will WANT you to keep taking care of their place if your doing good work. How do you convince a "new" customer to sign a 2 year agreement? Is this something that comes with time? I mean, you get a new customer and do there lawn maintenance for a season, is this when you offer them 1 or 2 year agreements? Do you mention the agreements when first speaking with them? My guess is a website would be very useful at this point so you can have them view the terms and policies on line without having to deal with alot of papers. I guess my point is, it would save alot of time not having to type all the policies and terms for the agreements on each invoice they have to sign. If you give them a website to read all the info on, it would be much easier to just state on the invoice that all terms and agreements are clearly written at www.your webaddress here.com and by signing blahblahblah. Is my thinking correct? As long as you have it clear where the info is, your golden right?

Some of you guys WAY over think this stuff. My agreements are 1-1.5 pages, no contracts to sign.

Yes, I mention 1-2 year agreements when I first talk with new customers.

I don't have a website, all of my invoices are identical. I only have seasonal customers anymore, where I do all the services. If you don't want to play by my rules, then you can find someone else to take care of the property.

I don't advertise either, work comes to me.

IMO, even if the customer were to quit after the first year of a two year agreement, who cares, there will be someone there to fill the spot. The only place where it's an issue, is if I've offered a 2-4% price break on signing a two year agreement (ones where it takes a fair amount of man power or equipment hours) then they'll be charged at the end of the season for the price difference from the discount.

Flex-Deck
10-05-2008, 11:59 PM
Great stuff guys, thanks for all your input. Yes, I am definitely referring to the here and NOW, like I said before, I do not want to wait until March of the following year to try and get renewals. Too much risk and too much uneasiness over the winter months, I don't want to sit and stew saying 'Oh boy, am I going to get back 75% of my accts? 50%?? 25??(gulp!)

Question for Flex: How do you get by with doing a multi-year agreement, especially as pertains to price? You are really making huge assumptions on future business expenses, conditions, etc for yourself. How do you price out such multi-year deals so that you feel comfortable with the profit margin it provides?

We do 240 acres a week with three JD garden tractors - 1 595 and two 495's - me and two employees. My overhead hovers in the 35% range with a healthy allowance for depreciation. Armed with this fact, I am much more comfortable understanding that I have an account for 4 years, and am willing to live with a 2-3% jump in overhead if it so happens. The whole key is to figure out ways to do that super quality job (curbs trimmed every time etc.) faster and easier. That is where the money is made - do it faster and better, make more per hr. with the same bid.

Kennedy Landscaping
10-06-2008, 12:09 AM
I send a letter thanking them for using our services this year and we hope to see them again next year, if they have any concerns blah blah blah then give me a call. If they don't call I show up and mow next season. Sometimes if I think its an iffy deal, I'll give them a public service to confirm

Bryan Wilson
10-06-2008, 01:29 AM
The end of October is when I send out a "Questionnaire" for the next seasons repeats. This is when they book required services for the coming season. Included is the next seasons rates for these services. I've used this system for 10 years with great success. With these signed questionnaires I don't have the problem with clients saying they never asked for the service.

Jeff Tracey Enterprises
10-06-2008, 02:03 AM
Brian, I really like the idea of the questionaire!! It seems like a great way to get feed back and you have it on paper so its not like a face to face were you may forget something they tell you. Do you by chance have copy of it we can see?? What is on it? Is it just a, " rate this 1-10, mowing, trimming, politeness, timelyness, etc or what?? I also saw you said that you secure services for the upcoming season, does that include aerating and everything or is like mulch jobs, flowers and hedge trimming?? Like I said I really like that idea and unless you have it pattented, I'M STEALING IT!!! j/k lol