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View Full Version : Getting in that last cut is becoming a tough sell


LAWNS AND MOWER
11-01-2002, 02:51 PM
So hear we are, Nov. 1st. Customers are getting tired of seeing us every week, let alone paying us. Grass is still green, but temps have dropped alot over the past week. Sky is spitting snow. We've only had one light frost so grass is still in need of mowing. Even with my arsenal of one liners such as "I'll chop up the leaves" (even though 1/2 the leaves are still in the trees),or "It's good to keep the grass short, encourages new growth in the spring" or "mowing it short will cause the leaves to blow onto the neighbors yard" people are still flinching when they see me pull up and it's snowing. Would be nice to get one last round in before cleanups begin. Please, let's try to refrain from using the "C" word in this thread.

Gravely_Man
11-01-2002, 04:11 PM
Rather then having to come up with slick one liners don't all of your customers have a contract that they can refer to or you can reference. Doesn't this document already outlined when you will cut until? Setting the customers expectations via the contract should have avoided all of this.


Gravely_Man

PS send some of he snow down to me!

awm
11-01-2002, 04:20 PM
in my area the grass is back into greening cycle due to plenty of water after the drought. leaves just now getting started. many are still green.
im leaving notes to this effect at the customers houses. itll take a cold snap to
bring on normal season changes.
some of my lawns look better than they did all summer.:)

Richard Martin
11-01-2002, 05:01 PM
Gravely_Man wrote:

don't all of your customers have a contract

You used the "C" word after he asked you not to. Shame on you! :D

bubble boy
11-01-2002, 05:28 PM
Originally posted by LAWNS AND MOWER
. Please, let's try to refrain from using the "C" word in this thread.

so you don't want to hear the solution to your problem????????

Evan528
11-01-2002, 05:57 PM
I will Say that in my area very few landscapers make there clients sign contacts just for weekly mowing. For 9 years Ive been mowing residentials without contracts. The way I see it...If they decide mid season they would rather no longer have me work for them, I really would rather not! Also because conditons are unpredictable I dont see how you can specify exactly when you will mow till or how many cuts you will do. Some years Ive mowed into december...others barly into November. For the most part my cutomers trust my judgment and I dont have a problem. Most of my redidential accounts are around the 120-150 dollar a month range. The few people who have refused to pay....I have taken to small claims court and have won everytime! Without a contract!

bubble boy
11-01-2002, 06:09 PM
but evan528 the point is that there is no debating when the last cut will be when you have a...you know;) . that is lawns and mower's concern here, not refusal to pay or a surprise cancelling. although those problems will go away too.

and then if a customer wants MORE cuts, no prob. or early cuts in the spring. no prob.

Guido
11-01-2002, 06:10 PM
Originally posted by bubble boy
so you don't want to hear the solution to your problem????????


Ahhha!! I couldn't think of what the C word was when I first read this, and I was going to post the "C" word too...........

It really wouldn't be a bad idea in this case......a full season contract with payments over 12 months........


just an idea.......

Runner
11-01-2002, 07:10 PM
Simple solution. As it starts to cool down, you mow higher and higher. As you are mowing it higher, you are explaining to the customers (only if it comes up) that the reason behind this, is that fall, is one of the only times of the year that the grass is actually growing. By this, what this means, is that grass only actually establishes new root growth twice a year. Once in the spring, and again in the fall. Not as MUCH in the fall, but it's establishing new growth all the same. This, after all, is what we are wanting to achieve - as deep and dense of a root system as possible. Well, as a simple rule of thumb, "the longer the leaf, the deeper the root os able to grow". Now THIS is what you tell your customers. The REAL reasoning behind this is, (other than the root growth, is so you can keep the grass growing for as long as you can, bleeding as many cuts out of it as possible. When you leave, it's always going to look freshly cut - but in a weeks time, it's going to have a tendency to look a bit more shaggy than if it's cut short. If it's cut too low, it will just STOP growing much earlier. This is in direct porportion to cutting height, as well. When it does finally get good and cold, and you know it's all done growing, THEN you can cut it down low. This sometimes can even give you one extra cut, because you can tell your customer that it's rather important for the turf to be cut down lower to resist snow mold and layover. This works very well. ;)

dr grass
11-01-2002, 10:08 PM
this is going to be the last season im going to put up with.... "well....i dont think it needs to be cut, why dont you stop back by next week??" i dont need the stress of not knowing how much my income will be from month to month. i need to know my exact income to be able to budget properly. maybe you people can do it like that, but not me. i dont like the undue stress!!


shep :dizzy:

Evan528
11-01-2002, 10:23 PM
I dont seem to have that problem. Just about all of my clients have full time careers and barly even take notice of the lawn. They know Im taking care of what needs to be done and trust my judgment. This is the exact reason I have zero elderly customers!! I do not have the pations to put up with that kind of thing and we all know they have nothing better to do!

Flex-Deck
11-01-2002, 10:44 PM
This is just an off the cuff reaction to this thread, but if you are looking for one extra mowing to make your year, you did not start out right. Somewhere along the line you need to have the right machines, and the right accounts to make a living. One or two extra mowing should not even be a factor, because if you are cutting it that tight you will starve.

You need to look at efficiency - dollars spent on equipment for what it will produce - and the Flex-Deck is the one item that will do that for you

Thanks, Brad - no pic here - woopie doooooo

AGG Lawn Maintenance
11-02-2002, 11:20 AM
In November we sell them on fall clean ups. Our fall clean ups are cleaning of leaves on the lawn only. We either bag or blow them off depending on which will be done faster for that lawn. The customer know that you shouldn't let leaves mat on your lawn. Its not good for it. They also know that once all of the lawns have falling down we start our Final fall clean ups. Then we clean in the beds and lawn. All our leaves can be left curbside for city pick up. Which again the customer knows about. Any leaves we take away they are charged per truck load. For some that don't have many leaves falling we don't biweekly. But most are on the weekly plan. If you lay everything out on you have less problems latter. Most customers like the fact that I give them estimates for Pruning, mowing, spring/fall clean ups and snow plowing in one shot. They only thing I won't give them a price for ahead of time is mulching, landscaping and weeding of the beds. I take that on per case. If not the "C" word have something that outlines how much, Descrition of services and time frames. I sell most of my cstomers up having a form type up already. All I have to do is put in the prices. This method for me is a time saver and money maker. I hardly ever run into money or service problems. Good luck. And if I can help let me know. Travis. P.S. I didn't say the "C" word.:angel:

Brickman
11-02-2002, 11:45 AM
Originally posted by Guido
Ahhha!! I couldn't think of what the C word was when I first read this, and I was going to post the "C" word too...........

It really wouldn't be a bad idea in this case......a full season contract with payments over 12 months........


just an idea.......


Contracts and 12 month income is great. The problem is that way too many people in some areas do not want any thing to do with that. Like around here, contracts and 12 month billing does not work for res. Contracts barely work for commercial. And 12 month billing is OUT. I am telling ya not every thing works the same across the country.

LAWNS AND MOWER
11-02-2002, 06:12 PM
Originally posted by Flex-Deck
This is just an off the cuff reaction to this thread, but if you are looking for one extra mowing to make your year, you did not start out right. Somewhere along the line you need to have the right machines, and the right accounts to make a living. One or two extra mowing should not even be a factor, because if you are cutting it that tight you will starve.

You need to look at efficiency - dollars spent on equipment for what it will produce - and the Flex-Deck is the one item that will do that for you

Thanks, Brad - no pic here - woopie doooooo
How about an off the brain response to your post. I've had a very good year. I don't need the extra round of mowing to make the house payment. I would just like to have a little icing on the cake. I have the right machine even without a Flex-Deck gizzmo and my accounts are very profitable. 60 accounts within a 4 mile radius.

LAWNS AND MOWER
11-02-2002, 06:19 PM
Originally posted by Gravely_Man
Rather then having to come up with slick one liners don't all of your customers have a contract that they can refer to or you can reference. Doesn't this document already outlined when you will cut until? Setting the customers expectations via the contract should have avoided all of this.


Gravely_Man

PS send some of he snow down to me!
So every mowing season ends on the same day??? Give me a break!!! I've never had the same mowing season twice in terms of duration. This season I began on March 26th. One year I didn't start til April 20th. Last season I quit mowing on Oct. 20th. Couple years ago I was dodging Christmas lights with my mower. Just like Brickman stated, contr***s won't fly too well around here. People would be intimadated by them.

MOW ED
11-02-2002, 08:33 PM
I think I am gonna try something new. We haven't sent bills out for October yet and I am thinking of adding one "Final" cut into the bill with a short explanation. This will only be for the customers that don't have leaves. If they do not want the cut then they do not have to pay but they must call me by November 8th.
That will get me the one last cut and from the looks of it I could really almost get two.

Waddya think?

Flex-Deck
11-02-2002, 08:38 PM
Lawns and Mower - good for you - that is what it is all about - having what works - I would think that you may be an exception though if all your accounts are withing 4 miles - That is great and would imagine there are a lot out there that wish they had it that good. Happsie mowing in the future, as it seems you have things going very well. My theory is that if it is working and is not broke why try to fix it!!!!!

Thanks, brad

LAWNS AND MOWER
11-03-2002, 06:29 PM
Originally posted by Flex-Deck
Lawns and Mower - good for you - that is what it is all about - having what works - I would think that you may be an exception though if all your accounts are withing 4 miles - That is great and would imagine there are a lot out there that wish they had it that good. Happsie mowing in the future, as it seems you have things going very well. My theory is that if it is working and is not broke why try to fix it!!!!!

Thanks, brad
Trust me, I've paid my dues. Been in the biz for 16 years. Just like everyone else, when I started out, I would take anything, anywhere. Built my biz up to 110 accounts, sold half of the accounts to an employee, and kept all the cupcake accounts and went solo. . Very picky on what I take on. Thanks for the words of encouragement.

scagman
11-04-2002, 12:39 AM
If your customers are really flinching when you pull up, then isnt that a clue to stop wasting their money. To me thats just plain bad buisness. I mean dont you feel a little guilty and dumb knowing that their inside the house saying "I wish he would stop mowing" . I cant believe those childish lines your throwing at them just to cut one or two more times. It probably makes them uneasy about keeping you for the next season, because they dont want to go through your bullshit next fall. You post a silly thread then say dont say a possible answer to my question and then you get all upset about a couple logic replys, so you come back and reply rudley and in defense, in defense of what? The truth!

bilbo7021
11-04-2002, 01:52 AM
Well, I'm still new to this biz (just started in mid June) :blush:

But anyhow, most of my customers stopped needing mowing about a week or so ago. I went by most of them the other day, and I don't really want to try pushing for more mowing if they don't need it. One lady's yard still almost looks like I left it two weeks ago! But at least I've got some fall clean up work coming in. I'm only expecting to keep the season going for another week or so up here. It's getting way too cold, and we've already seen an inch of snow on the ground (gone the next day thank God).

And I know I'm really new to this, but I don't see how a c------ would help? I don't know if there is any way to tell exactly when to start mowing and when to stop. I'm just happy to have gotten the 5 1/2 to 6 months of work in that I did my first time out.

DLCS
11-04-2002, 02:13 AM
Originally posted by bilbo7021
But anyhow, most of my customers stopped needing mowing about a week or so ago. I went by most of them the other day, and I don't really want to try pushing for more mowing if they don't need it. One lady's yard still almost looks like I left it two weeks ago!


I'm the same way here in Illinois. I have a few accounts that I haven't mowed for a couple of weeks. I have a couple of clean ups to do, most of my customers don't have alot of large trees on their lawns. I finished my final cuts on Friday. So, I think I'm about done for the season. I'm sure I could squeeze another cut in, most of my customers wouldn't even notice. I just don't feel comfortable doing that sort a thing. I will not waste my customers money.

Mike
DLCS

SLS
11-04-2002, 02:51 AM
I too gave some thought about how to extend my working season this year. Instead of terminating regularly scheduled visits and waiting for all the leaves to drop and then doing a 'one-time' cleanup I did this:

I created a newsletter explaining the benefits of regularly scheduled leaf mulching and mailed it to all of my customers. Included was another page that gave the merits of aeration and overseeding...spring and fall.

Most of the (about 85%) agreed to let me keep coming on a regular basis (mosty weekly)...to stay on top of their leaves. Now I can show up, do my thing, and not worry about whether I should be there or not. The ones that do not wish to continue service after the final mowing...well, i know who they are too and it's "Thanks for your business this year,...see you in the spring!"...and scratch them from the roster until next year. There were all told in the newsletter that if they want to wait and do one big, final cleanup...thats fine too...but it's definately gonna cost you.

Several commented that they liked the idea that the leaves were turned into organic matter instead off carted off to a landfill. Most of them just liked the idea of a lawn that looked tidy each week.

I like is that it takes almost the same amount of time for me to mulch up the leaves as it does to mow...because the leaves are not allowed to pile sky-high before I bash 'em. Also, the string trimmer stays on the truck...so the time I used to spend trimming is now spent doing a quick walkaround with the EB7000...blowing the leaves out of beds and hard surfaces before mulching. Another plus is that the final clean-up will be a snap. What I really like best is that I will still be pulling money in off of 85% of my clients on a weekly basis until the leaves have finished dropping....and around here that can go on up through mid to late December....depending on the weather and types of trees, of course. I've got one maple that wont fully shed itself until spring...I hate that tree! :D


I realize that this will not work for everyone. Most of my clients have only between 3 and 6 large trees...and I'm running a Lazer Z with the 'Micro-Mulch' kit and anti-blowout baffle. Also the EB7000 makes blowing out the beds and hard surfaces a snap.

It doesn't hurt that I picked up some aeration and overseeding jobs either. Some are going to wait until spring for theirs...so I can plan to kick off the next season a little earlier than usual. Another bonus from this fall's newsletter. :)


My main point is...just try to figure out ways to extend your working season, with the equipment you've already got, when the grass no longer needs cutting.

I understand that this will vary greatly depending upon ones location and situation. What works in Florida would not necessarily be the thing that works in Vermont............what works for a LCO with crews to keep busy might not work for the solo operator...ect, ect...

Good luck to everyone!

bilbo7021
11-04-2002, 12:02 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by SLS
[B]I too gave some thought about how to extend my working season this year. Instead of terminating regularly scheduled visits and waiting for all the leaves to drop and then doing a 'one-time' cleanup I did this:



Most of the (about 85%) agreed to let me keep coming on a regular basis (mosty weekly)...to stay on top of their leaves. Now I can show up, do my thing, and not worry about whether I should be there or not. The ones that do not wish to continue service after the final mowing...well, i know who they are too and it's "Thanks for your business this year,...see you in the spring!"...and scratch them from the roster until next year. There were all told in the newsletter that if they want to wait and do one big, final cleanup...thats fine too...but it's definately gonna cost you.



This is what I have with a couple of my older people. I go back once a week, run my little 21" over the lawn, mulch up the leaves and go home. And when the final leaf drop comes along, I shouldn't have all that much to work with.

HEY I ACTUALLY DID SOMETHING RIGHT WITHOUT KNOWING IT!:D

Gravely_Man
11-04-2002, 12:20 PM
I am not trying to start a battle in the least. I am with Scagman on this one. You ask a question and then shoot a lot of the great ideas down. All I was trying to convey to you was if you had a contract you could specify the number of cuts. That way to don't worry about what date the season will be ending. I wish you the best in getting this problem resolved. 16 years experience should tell you that if you have to resort to slick one-liners something is broken and you need to fix it. Just trying to help. Don't ask for input and then shoot down possible solutions.



Gravely_Man

SLS
11-04-2002, 12:34 PM
I forgot to mention:

In my 'leaf mulching' letter I gave them a cut-off date to comfirm whether they wanted to be scheduled or not. This works to 'settle things' with the customer...and my scheduling.

I almost didn't add a 'cut-off for confirmation date' (didn't think about it)...but when I shared the 'rough draft' with dear ol' Dad he reminded me that there would be stragglers who would want to wait (trying to save a buck) until the leaves got heavy. Good ol' Dad! So, I set my confirmation date as 11-5 (works for my location) since the leaves are now coming down, we received our first frost friday night, and the grass has been going dormant for the last couple of weeks so things were just starting to slow down.

The cut-off date insures that there would be no pause in between the mowing cycle and the mulching cycle. This gave them 10 days to confirm from the time I mailed it. So far, so good.

I woke up this morning a little late as it rained here most of the day yesterday and anyone who has run a mulch kit can understand why I won't be going out today. Anyway, my answering machine had two more 'leaf' confirmations...and another request for an aeration/overseeding bid. I guess the newsletter and stamps will wind up paying for themselves after all. ;)

Looks like this years break will be a bit shorter than I previously anticipated. :D

LAWNS AND MOWER
11-04-2002, 12:42 PM
Originally posted by scagman
If your customers are really flinching when you pull up, then isnt that a clue to stop wasting their money. To me thats just plain bad buisness. I mean dont you feel a little guilty and dumb knowing that their inside the house saying "I wish he would stop mowing" . I cant believe those childish lines your throwing at them just to cut one or two more times. It probably makes them uneasy about keeping you for the next season, because they dont want to go through your bullshit next fall. You post a silly thread then say dont say a possible answer to my question and then you get all upset about a couple logic replys, so you come back and reply rudley and in defense, in defense of what? The truth!
If you would re-read my original post, you would see that I said "Grass is in need of mowing". I have my image to protect and donīt want my accounts looking shaggy over the winter. Read SLSīpost. Well written. I mowed 5 accts on Sat. Went over them twice to mulch up leaves (Pre Fall Cleanup). Didnīt charge them an extra cent for this. Is this "wasting their money"? I think not. As for "childish lines", they all carry merit. As for keeping me on for next season, my retention rate runs around 97%. Only accounts I lose are those that die or move. I still donīt see how cont***** would make a difference. Do cont***** dictate when the grass will start and stop growing. My customers trust my judgement. I live in a 4 season climate. I go 4 months without seeing some of my customers. I could understand cont****s if I lived in a warm climate and had a reason to visit their property every week.

LAWNS AND MOWER
11-04-2002, 12:54 PM
Originally posted by Gravely_Man
I am not trying to start a battle in the least. I am with Scagman on this one. You ask a question and then shoot a lot of the great ideas down. All I was trying to convey to you was if you had a contract you could specify the number of cuts. That way to don't worry about what date the season will be ending. I wish you the best in getting this problem resolved. 16 years experience should tell you that if you have to resort to slick one-liners something is broken and you need to fix it. Just trying to help. Don't ask for input and then shoot down possible solutions.



Gravely_Man
I try to be kinder and gentler. Please expain to me how cont****s will determine how many times a yard gets mowed in a season?? Spring snowstorms can delay a mowing season. Droughts can put a hurting on # of cuts. Ten straight days of rain will put a dent into # of cuts. As for slick one-liners, they carry merit. I could see the writing on the wall, and still donīt see how cont****s would make a difference which is why I requested to keep it out of this thread. Many people use them and with great success. More power to them. I donīt hold anything against them.

bubble boy
11-04-2002, 02:50 PM
well you wanted to avoid discussing CONTRACTS but since you bring up the questions you did...

customers sign on May 1 and ended this year October 25. Charged a monthly rate for weekly service. skipping due to not needing a cut is up to OUR discretion. like car insurance. you paid that even with no accidents didn't you? our contracts set how much a customer pays for a season, the number of cuts they get is up to us.

my customers paid thru our june and august mini-droughts, and paid for october when things slowed down.

so just set your own dates, and no asking for extra cuts. if the lawn goes dormant not your problem. incidentally, unlike Scagman i see no prob with using the one liners, can't hurt to try.


rain: we do our best but that is an act of God.

and SCAGMAN they willingly sign this CONTRACT no one puts a gun to their heads so yes they pay even if we skip cuts. and they pay until the end, as i set it. longer growth season in any year gets billed at a prorated rate. and i feel NO guilt for holding them to their CONTRACT.

simply put there are many ways to solve your prob, if you don't want the best one then choose another. if you don't think using contracts will work in your area i guess you have to choose another. every market has weaknesses.

maybe push fert programs? or SLS's solution?