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View Full Version : Frustrating leaf season


lawnprosteveo
11-22-2011, 11:44 PM
Nearly at the end of November and I am sitting at around 50% of what I grossed last November.

I am advertising the same. Flyers, ads...

One thing different from last year is its warmer this year. The leaves were slow to fall this season. Ive also noticed more balking on price. I actually had a guy tell me a crew of 4 guys worked an hour and only charged $45 for leaf removal.

Anyone else experiencing this?

32vld
11-23-2011, 11:14 AM
You know the answers but need to hear someone else say them.

Leaves not falling as quick as last year.

People and economy are still bad with people losing jobs still.

People can't afford to pay and do it themselves. Leaf removal is a convenience not a necessity. As going to store and buy a cup of coffe vs making a pot then having to clean the pot.

Every guy with a trailer or pickup out of work that has a rake and a box of bags is competing for the same amount of leaves.

lawnprosteveo
11-23-2011, 11:37 AM
You know the answers but need to hear someone else say them.

Leaves not falling as quick as last year.

People and economy are still bad with people losing jobs still.

People can't afford to pay and do it themselves. Leaf removal is a convenience not a necessity. As going to store and buy a cup of coffe vs making a pot then having to clean the pot.

Every guy with a trailer or pickup out of work that has a rake and a box of bags is competing for the same amount of leaves.Funny thing...I got a call from two people that I thought were going with a lower bid. They both want me to do it. It's like we never had the conversation about my price being higher!
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David Haggerty
11-24-2011, 08:07 AM
I think the leaf removal business is declining with people going to mulching the leaves. Lots of places it's illegal to put yard waste in the landfill.
With the eco-friendly advertisments against leaf removal it's not looked at as a premium service any more.
So the people left that MUST have their leaves removed are less inclined to pay well.

Maybe it's different in your area.

djagusch
11-24-2011, 10:50 AM
Did you call all your customers from last season about this year before the leaves falling. Just a call saying "Hi there, I'm working on my fall clean up schedule and would you like me to do it again this year?". I do this, price is barely ever mentioned. I have a handfull I don't like doing and leave it to them to call (and they do).

Maintaining a customer list and keeping contact with them is key to grow your buisness.

lawnprosteveo
11-24-2011, 12:17 PM
I did call my existing customers. They are loyal and never question price. It's the new business I try to pick up that is the challenge. As for mulching and landfills, I take my leaves to a topsoil sales place, they turn mountains of leaves to topsoil. I used to mulch everything, but it just doesn't work on some of these small, heavily treed lawns.
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Darryl G
11-24-2011, 12:52 PM
I don't even discuss fall cleanup with most of my regular customers. I just do it and bill them. It does seem that there are less leaves this year, in my area I think it's largely because a lot of them came down during Hurricane Irene. I haven't received many calls for one time cleanups, but a lot of them seem to wait until there's a major snow storm in the forecast anyway and then want it done yesterday. I think a lot of them intend to get it done themselves or with/by a family member or neighbor or whatever but when that doesn't happen it suddenly becomes an emergency. I still have a solid week or 2 (depending on weather) of final cleanups for my regular accounts before I can even think about doing one timers. Once we get into mid December around here leaf cleanups become difficult...rafts of frozen leaves don't blow very well.

Kelly's Landscaping
11-24-2011, 12:54 PM
"Nearly at the end of November and I am sitting at around 50% of what I grossed last November."

Due to the warm wet weather we had here (and I think its now the 3rd or 4th wettest year on record since they kept records) I was able to get 2 weeks of mowing in Nov on close to half my list. And why that doesn't sound great the fact is we do not get to start clean ups here till about the 20th of Nov so that extra 6k in cuts may see me with a 50% increase in what we typically gross in Nov. Maybe its just me but I never understood guys getting excited about leaf season its a 60-70% pay cut for us from our peek months of May or June.

Kelly's Landscaping
11-24-2011, 12:57 PM
What town are you in darryl? your schedule sounds a lot like ours accept we never ever have time for one time clients.

Darryl G
11-24-2011, 01:03 PM
Westbrook, next to Old Saybrook. I lived in Milford for a while...Beachside Condos all the way down Naugatuck Ave. It was nice until there was a major fish kill...OMG that was gross, lol. Also lived in the Paradise Green area of Stratford for a while. Is the Frog Pond still there?

Kelly's Landscaping
11-24-2011, 01:40 PM
Yea it is but I must admit iv never stepped foot in the frog pond but you were near by. I drive on Naugatuck Ave every week and same with the Paradise Green area. Live on Wheelers Farms I got around 500 acres of woods behind my house and on the sides. Once the fall season ends ill be driving by your place quite often as its on the way to the poker tables at foxwoods and boy have I earned a vacation this year.

RGM
11-24-2011, 01:47 PM
Its the economy everybody out of work with a pick up is a landscaper now and a lot of people are cleaning up themselves

MOW ED
11-24-2011, 02:18 PM
I did call my existing customers. They are loyal and never question price. It's the new business I try to pick up that is the challenge. As for mulching and landfills, I take my leaves to a topsoil sales place, they turn mountains of leaves to topsoil. I used to mulch everything, but it just doesn't work on some of these small, heavily treed lawns.
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Tell me more about this topsoil sales place. What is the process they use? Do they have a website? I like the idea and would have lots of raw materials basically for free up here. I am looking onto future business opportunities. Thanks.

Kelly's Landscaping
11-24-2011, 03:33 PM
Tell me more about this topsoil sales place. What is the process they use? Do they have a website? I like the idea and would have lots of raw materials basically for free up here. I am looking onto future business opportunities. Thanks.

I have 2 in my general area I'll describe the one I use for you. They lease about 10-12 acres and have permits to run a recycling yard. They have 10 dump trucks 8 are tri axles so they deliver. They have 2 skid steers an excavator and two 5 yard pay loaders then they have the screeners and one large 18 wheeler version of a tub grinder. They sell top soil mulch and rocks some sand and pavers and such. But where they make their real money is the 100000 yards of leaves and grass they compost each year then add in the wood chips. If you chip them they are free if they have to they charge 10 a yard then they dye them and sell colored mulch for like 28 a yard. The premium mulches they import same with the rocks but all soil is made on site. If I had to ball park it id say 1.5-2.5 million a year business. And 10 k a year of that comes from just me half from mulch and soil and half from dumping its sad I get to buy it back in a few years. Not sure if you have these types of business's in your are but you should its nice to pay by the yard and not by the pound for dumping.

MOW ED
11-24-2011, 05:08 PM
Thanks for the reply. We have a city run compost site that is free to residents. They can haul trees, grass clippings, leaves, garden waste ect to this place. They compost the stuff and set the compost out when its cooked. The city picks up leaves with vacuum trucks and also a baler and they do give many of the bales to farmers who plow them under. The operation used to have a gatekeeper but now its open dawn to dusk on the honor system. (budget cuts). A large tub grinder comes by at least 2x a year to grind the wood.

I know the leaves turn to good stuff as I have watched some piles at customers houses turn real nice. I was wondering how a large operation works so thanks for your answer. I have to think about this a little. Have a good holiday season.

B-2 Lawncare
11-24-2011, 05:15 PM
It has been frustrating here as well, we had a light snow the first of the month, When it dried up we got about a week of clean-up's. Then last weekend we got over a foot of heavy wet snow. We use a vac to pick all the leaves and dump them on a trailer and haul them out to my pumpkin Patch.
Also this is where we dump all the grass from de-thatching in the spring. I am a displaced farm kid and enjoy playing in the dirt.

MDLawn
11-25-2011, 10:08 PM
I have a place that I use that was just your normal bulk product sales place. They then started allowing FREE dumping of leaves, soil, wood, and other organic material but NO grass. I think I was the 3rd person to start dumping at this place and it was nothing special. The next year this pace was HUGE!!! Massive piles of compost and tree waste, dyed mulches, compost, topsoils, and other organic products that they sell. All landscapers used a town dump site that charged an arm and a leg for dumping. I've heard speculation that the town is debating on closing the place down because it costs too much to run. My thinking is everyone caught on to this other place where you can dump for free and get your materials right there.

Currently this place has about 3 or 4 large front loaders, skid steers, large double, triple dump trucks, and one massive dump truck, tub grinder, screeners, mulch dyer, enourmous topsoil shelter (and I mean enormous). So you would think they are doing quite well but who knows. I mean they get all this raw material for free. They do need to work on their consistency and their mulches are getting better in quality and the topsoils are great. They are an "Organic" Topsoil Farm so they don't take grass because of the concentration of chemicals in the grass that the EPA (or whatever agency) measures to certify them as organic. Lots of money tied up in land and equipment but I'm sure they sell thousands of yards of material each year. I had the "dream" of buying land and trying to do that type of business.

andyslawncare
11-25-2011, 11:45 PM
its nice to pay by the yard and not by the pound for dumping.

Waste management has been charging me $25 a ton with a $15 minimum charge. I'd much prefer the per yard charge. Costs me thousands each year to dump stuff! I'm going to buy some land, dump on it, and burn it!