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View Full Version : Catering to Elderly/senior citizens


firebox700
11-22-2009, 04:53 PM
Just curious....anyone in the business try to cater to the elderly/senior citizens as their main customer base? I know it would be hard to only have them as your customer base but wonders if its do-able and worth trying to base your business around them. In my mind they are the ones that really need the service of lawncare and deserve to get good service and fair prices. Like I said, just a question and I did do a search first.
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clipperslawnservice
11-22-2009, 05:05 PM
I have several and they dont want to pay sh!t, and only want cut bi-monthly. im thinking of droping all of them next season. prob. going to raise prices= fired or will make it worth the pita!

lukemelo216
11-22-2009, 05:09 PM
and actually if you think of it, its discrimination by age. Why should the older person get the lower price then the younger person who may be on low income? just throwing it out there. Ill try to drop the price a little but im not taking 10% off or anything like that becaue as clipper said they are a pain in the ass

grass pro llc
11-22-2009, 05:10 PM
i have several and they dont want to pay sh!t, and only want cut bi-monthly. Im thinking of droping all of them next season. Prob. Going to raise prices= fired or will make it worth the pita!

amen!!!!!!!

firebox700
11-22-2009, 05:26 PM
I didn't mean they should get a better price. I worded that wrong. Anyways, I definietly got my answer! Thanks for the replies.
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Curtis
11-22-2009, 05:27 PM
Hey when you get old how do you want to be treated ? Ever read that verse you reep what you sow . When you are younger you have the ability to earn more than an elderly person can , sometimes it's a choice between your medicine or getting the grass cut .

XLS
11-22-2009, 06:16 PM
most elderly people are on fixed incomes so its "thats alittle more then i wanted to pay '' or " can i call you when i need it again" 3 weeks later its not my fault they cant afford the lawncare or how we schedual them , they can just get someone else to mow their lawns .

JimLewis
11-22-2009, 06:44 PM
I consider most elderly people we work for to be charity work. If you're planning to build your business around it, you can do it. But you're never going to get rich doing that. The majority just don't have the money.

Now in my area there are essentially 2 classes of "elderly" people. The well off - who live in big nice homes up in the hills. And most of the rest, who live in retirement communities or older broken down homes. By retirement communities, I don't mean an assisted care facility. Around here, at least, there are entire neighborhoods and sub-divisions with hundreds of real homes in them (all one-level, all smaller in size) and you have to be 55+ to buy a home there.

The people in the first set are great customers. They pay our rates without question, don't ask for discounts, and are glad to pay for extras because they have money and have managed their finances well throughout their lives. The people in the second set are almost always total cheapskates, on a fixed income, always want extras for free, and always expect a huge discount on everything.

I don't usually even take calls in the second area. It's just a waste of my time - almost always. Our rates are double what they would like to pay. So there's no since in wasting their time either. But occasionally I get a referral into an area like that or end up getting a really good lead in an area like that (like for installing a large paver patio) and then as soon as the neighbors see my truck, I usually have 2 or 3 neighbors asking me for a bid for a small clean-up or something. In those cases, I know I can't give them a competitive price so often I'll just lower my price just out of compassion for them. Again, I consider it charity work. We're big enough that I can afford to do a few jobs each year at a loss, if I want to. So I'll just be very considerate and patient with them and give them basically a smokin' deal and then try to get out of that neighborhood before anyone else stops me.

The funny thing is that even when I am basically giving them the job at a huge discount from our regular prices, a lot of them STILL don't hire us. Again, they just don't have the money.

I do know 2 LCOs who specialize in working JUST in those kinds of communities - just doing maintenance and light landscaping in those smaller elderly communities. They make "okay" money because they can get so many homes in a row. I know one guy who takes care of up to 40 per day with one crew because each yard is so small. One guy just mows and then goes next door and mows and then on to the next house, all the way down the street. The next guy follows with the edger and maybe a third guy follows with a blower. In, Out, Quick, Fast, Cheap. But even with that, those guys don't ever make any really good money. They're never going to make 6 figures like I do. I'm not bragging. It's just a fact that you're never going to make really good money servicing those clients. Maybe if you lived in Sun City, AZ where like 95% of the residents are elderly and maybe if you got 5000 accounts or something. But realistically, for most of us there just aren't enough of those clients to ever really make good money.

In this business, it's wise to follow where the money is. If you want to be nice and do charity work on the side and have a route in an elderly community, awesome! But don't plan on making really good money doing that. You'll be disappointed and always frustrated with your clientele.

MOturkey
11-22-2009, 07:34 PM
I think it is actually more complicated than just the fact as to whether someone is on "fixed" income or not, and their ability, or desire, to pay. I'm old enough at 58 to have grown up when most of the older people I knew, including my parents, were alive during the Great Depression, which makes the situation we now find outselves in look like a Sunday picnic.

Those lessons learned then were acquired the hard way, and many elderly people simply are extremely tight with money. Many people in their 70's and 80's, even if they don't remember the Depression themselves, remember the stories, and growing up dirt poor, and I think there is always a little bit of fear of one day having to do without in the back of their minds. The current economic situation has made a lot more people realize that can actually happen. Inflation has also taken a toll on retirement income, even for many of those who planned well.

That said, I also agree that one, to a certain extent, has to ignore this when you have a business to run. If you can do a job, and make a reasonable profit, then fine, but if not, leave those jobs to little Johnny down the street.

mowerbrad
11-22-2009, 07:41 PM
I don't really like to work for elderly people. I have some customers that are retired and they are also some of my best customers. But on the other hand I have some PITA elderly customers. They always complain about how their lawn looks and it is never good enough. I think I would go crazy if most of my customers were elderly.

Landscape Poet
11-22-2009, 07:42 PM
I do not know about targeting them as the main life line of your business, but I have several, and I must say that they are great to me. Most have the check cut from the bank, so I get my check from them on the 1st or really close, most of the time the invoice does not even need to be sent.
They usually give me lots of extras too, like mulch and plantings. Sometimes they are a pita wanting a light bulb changed etc. However I think of this people like my Grandparents, and think if my grandparents were living down here, I wish someone would take a few minutes out of there day so that they would not have to get on a ladder to change a bulb. These little extras usually pay off too with a extra account or two because they tell their neighbors or someone at church/bingo etc about what a nice young man you are. Again - you will eventually get caught up changing another light bulb etc, but a small price for a check that arrives without having to pay postage for a invoice!

MikeKle
11-22-2009, 07:43 PM
I have a few great clients that are elderly, but also have some that constantly try to get it done cheaper and always complain about every little thing. Ive heard so many sob stories from one, I dont know what to believe anymore, but you have to remember they are from a much different time, and the idea of paying someone $30 or more to just mow their lawn, is crazy to some of them! I think their real problem is how fast we mow the lawn, They do not realize our mowers are made to go that fast, and most think we are just rushing to get it done, and no yard mowed that fast is mowed correctly!!! And EVERY single senior citizen Ive worked for always asks me why I am not using Craftsman? And do not know what an exmark or ferris even is?! Even when I bought my first commercial WB, an exmark metro, my grandpa asked why I didnt get a couple craftsman riding tractors for what I paid for "that thing"! I just had to laugh! Sometimes its best to not try explaining what a commercial mower is versus a craftsman riding mower! If they truly are having financial problems and really need someone to mow for them, I usually will help them out. I couldnt live with myself if I didnt. And its easy to tell if they are truly "in need of help". Plus if you are willing to help them out, they will more than likely refer you to others that will pay what you ask.

ADVANCEDOHIO
11-22-2009, 08:35 PM
I have several widows. They are some of my favorite and best customers. Treat them right and it will come back around to you.

STIHL GUY
11-22-2009, 10:16 PM
i do work for a lot of elderly people and they are really good about paying on time and not complaining

greendoctor
11-23-2009, 01:11 AM
i do work for a lot of elderly people and they are really good about paying on time and not complaining

In my area, the financially stable elderly are my favorite customers. They do not argue about money and are very honest about things. On the other hand, I do not have many customers under the age of 50. The other week, one customer who was fired for arguing about the payment due and not adhering to the terms of my program did something that pissed me off. I passed by the house and there were two guys detailing the Ford F250 belonging to the owner. This was one of those show cars, complete with chrome everywhere, oversize chrome rims, and the twin exhaust pipes in the back. The story about having a hard time making ends meet would have passed by me if there was a normal economy car sitting in the driveway and no clowns polishing it at the rate of $150. My 50+ customers never ever did that to me. They have nice cars, but they are usually at least 2 or more years old.

MJB
11-23-2009, 02:58 AM
All of mine are wealthy. If an older person calls me for a bid I talk to them enough to know if they are tightwads etc before even looking at thier place.
After you get in with the wealthy ones they will be pretty loyal if they like you. Dependability and trust goes a long way with the elderly.

topsites
11-23-2009, 03:15 AM
What do you mean by catering?

firebox700
11-23-2009, 11:17 AM
What do you mean by catering?


Basing your business around them for customers.

JimLewis
11-23-2009, 11:20 AM
What do you mean by catering?

You know... CATERING! Like holding up little trays of food and cocktails at their social functions? Catering. Get with it, Topsites! Sheesh!

:rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

Triplex
11-23-2009, 02:45 PM
and actually if you think of it, its discrimination by age. Why should the older person get the lower price then the younger person who may be on low income? just throwing it out there. Ill try to drop the price a little but im not taking 10% off or anything like that becaue as clipper said they are a pain in the ass

It's called price discrimination, and lots of industries do it. Student and senior citizen discounts are intended to make sales to price-sensitive customers who would otherwise forego a purchase - companies don't offer them out of the kindness of their hearts! Coupons work the same way, by keeping the price-sensitive customers while charging everyone else full price. That said, you'll still have to decide whether you can make money cutting seniors' lawns at the prices they're willing to pay - a lot of people here seem to think it isn't worth it.

I think one problem with dealing with elderly customers is that professional landscapers are a fairly recent phenomenon - when they call a lawn service, they're expecting to see a teenager with his dad's Craftsman tractor, and expect to pay accordingly. I know there are a few old-timers on this board, but in general, I didn't see adults doing this for a living until sometime in the 90's.

JimLewis
11-23-2009, 03:36 PM
I think one problem with dealing with elderly customers is that professional landscapers are a fairly recent phenomenon - when they call a lawn service, they're expecting to see a teenager with his dad's Craftsman tractor, and expect to pay accordingly. I know there are a few old-timers on this board, but in general, I didn't see adults doing this for a living until sometime in the 90's.

I totally agree with that assessment. I remember one old lady about 10 years ago asked what my hourly rate was. I said that we didn't charge by the hour, we charge a flat price. I was still fairly new to this business and she finally finagled my hourly rate out of me, which was like only $25 or $30 at that time. I learned that lesson only once because as soon as I said the price she freaked. "$25 PER HOUR FOR MOWING A DANG LAWN!!! HOW DO YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT? WHO PAYS THOSE KIND OF RATES. YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME! I'VE NEVER PAID MORE THAN $10 AN HOUR FOR A LAWN MOWING KID!"

Fortunately for me, there are a LOT of people who will pay that - and much higher actually - for "yard" work. They just aren't usually senior citizens. LOL.