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godjwood
02-09-2012, 12:31 AM
We offer three different frequencies to lawn mowing:

-Weekly
-Bi-weekly
-As needed

Weekly and biweekly are concise definitions.

However, "as needed" I have been having issues with because it is so vague. Because in Rhode Island, it is generally slow the last 2-3 weeks of April, grows like crazy until end of July, then slows in August with the heat, speeds up a little in September and slows again in October and November.

So the majority of customers will need weekly cutting during the peak months but can go bi-weekly during droughts or the slower months.

The problem I am having is defining this to my customers and employees in a concrete, concise manner, in order to set expectations for employees and on contracts for customers.

What I put last year was "As needed (weekly May-Sept, bi-weekly April & Oct-Nov, weather dependent)" but I was not satisfied with this definition, it was still too vague. Maybe I need to put a # of cuts figure in there too?

Any ideas?

torotorotoro
02-09-2012, 12:38 AM
We offer three different frequencies to lawn mowing:

-Weekly
-Bi-weekly
-As needed

Weekly and biweekly are concise definitions.

However, "as needed" I have been having issues with because it is so vague. Because in Rhode Island, it is generally slow the last 2-3 weeks of April, grows like crazy until end of July, then slows in August with the heat, speeds up a little in September and slows again in October and November.

So the majority of customers will need weekly cutting during the peak months but can go bi-weekly during droughts or the slower months.

The problem I am having is defining this to my customers and employees in a concrete, concise manner, in order to set expectations for employees and on contracts for customers.

What I put last year was "As needed (weekly May-Sept, bi-weekly April & Oct-Nov, weather dependent)" but I was not satisfied with this definition, it was still too vague. Maybe I need to put a # of cuts figure in there too?

Any ideas?

too many ways for confusion, as needed is a terrible idea. get rid of as needed. weekly and biweekly only. i hope you are charging more for biweekly

nortonlawncare
02-09-2012, 01:03 AM
as needed!? do you drive by and take a look at the lawn or wait for them to call you? waste of time and money stick with weekly and bi weekly guy

PK Mows
02-09-2012, 01:16 AM
The way around it is to sell it as a maintenance package. In other words, you have them on a set monthly payment but instead of setting a cut schedule you contract to maintain the property for a certain appearance. Not at all uncommon to have accounts like that around here where you may have a more than one type of turf area. For instance a large industrial lot where you maintain the irrigated turf at 3" and the rough field out back at 6". During the spring you're bushogging that field every week or so but once it gets hot, you may only need to do it once a month. Sell yourself as a Landscape Maintenance Company, not just a mowing company.

If this is all regular residential, then you could also just upsell those "as needed" cuts to a regular schedule. Convince the Customer that they need you on the property weekly. There's trash on the curb, the beds get weedy, the turf always looks better when it's kept freshly mown, whatever.

weeze
02-09-2012, 01:28 AM
there's a few i have that do the as needed thing. personally i don't like it. i try to say weekly or bi-weekly but they are like well when things are dry it doesn't need to be cut. i try to tell them at those times i can simply skip the yard and cut it the next week. i think they just feel like they wanna be in control rather than letting you decide when it needs to be cut. i find it funny because they end up calling me every 2 weeks anyways. i'm thinking to myself what is the difference? :laugh:

scotts lawn care
02-09-2012, 09:40 AM
For my schedule of 5 days/week of mowing, i convey to customers that it needs to be weekly or bi-weekly. I have had many new customers ask about mowing every ten days, and once i explain that we work in a different area each day of the week, they understand. Unless its bone dry, i never agree to mow any property every 3 weeks. Just my .02

MOW ED
02-09-2012, 10:47 AM
For me its weekly with only one exception. If a lawn is a rough cut property that the owner has no issue with looks I will consider bi-weekly. That lawn must not grow as to stress the equipment which means basically little to no growth. It absolutely gets cut no longer than 14 days in between.
As needed is a recipe for interpretation as you said. For me 99.9% of the lawns are needed to be mowed between every 5 to 7 days. Simplify your life and put more money in your pocket. Drop as needed.

Wright48
02-09-2012, 11:44 AM
I DO NOT CHARGE BY CUT NOR SHOULD ANYONE ELSE !!! I charge by the month no matter if i come every week or once its the same price. When people start barking at when i say i tell them look at your garbage company you pay x amount weather you have garbage or not there coming. People in this industry need to get away from charging by cut and move to a monthly fee. Also bi weeklys tho i have a few of them that are next door to other accounts do not pay in the long run because the lawns do not look as good and your there a lot longer then if the lawn was cut everyweek.

Jimslawncareservice
02-09-2012, 12:03 PM
I sure would like to charge per month. I think you would have to get together with other lcos in your area. People see us as lower than garbage people. It sure would make budgeting easier. You wouldn't have to worry about droughts, late starts, early snows and what not.

As for the op. I've never heard of cut as needed. When people hire me I use my own judgment when to mow and they trust that. I do have a few people call when thier mower breaks, they go out of town, and one that calls when her grandson is in jail and can't mow because she needs to work to bail his ass out
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Tizzy
02-09-2012, 04:21 PM
we do as needed service agreements. it is as follows

april 1 to june 30- weekly
july 1 to sept 1- 10-14 days
sept 1- oct 30- 7-10 days
usually final cut first week of novemeber durring cleanup.

dont know if that helps

fastlane
02-09-2012, 04:33 PM
I determine when it's needed, not the customer. ( I deside to skip a week or not)

Exact Rototilling
02-09-2012, 04:58 PM
I DO NOT CHARGE BY CUT NOR SHOULD ANYONE ELSE !!! I charge by the month no matter if i come every week or once its the same price. When people start barking at when i say i tell them look at your garbage company you pay x amount weather you have garbage or not there coming. People in this industry need to get away from charging by cut and move to a monthly fee. Also bi weeklys tho i have a few of them that are next door to other accounts do not pay in the long run because the lawns do not look as good and your there a lot longer then if the lawn was cut everyweek.

Yes this is a great way to go. The problem I see with this is during the spring growth burst lawn need to be mowed literally every 4-5 days or growth is out of control.

You mentioned you have a few bi-weeklys. I'm assuming you are charging monthly for just 2-3 mowing or so.per month.

I can see this working well if also set up on payment due by the 1st as a prepay. Less paper work hassles.
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Wright48
02-09-2012, 05:15 PM
This is the way you have to do it , the bills are mailed out the first of every month they have 30 days to pay , if there late i charge a late fee of 4% after a week late i stop showing but the still get billed after a month it goes to 8% , and there responsible for every month that is missed and that they dont pay. I also have my aggreements set up so they check off all the services they want from the begging muclh trimming shrubs everything has a price the check it off i add all it up over 8 months and divide into a monlty payment. That way if they decide to leave me after two months i still made a lot more money from them then i was charging per cut or month just for the cuts. I lost many customers last year when i switched to this, but lets put it this way the only people who are going to have a problem with this type of billing and late feees are people that are going to payy late and give you problems i lost about 15 clients from it but gained way more because its much easier for people to budget money when they know how much there spending each month especially older people that are on a tight bugdget i suggest everyone to switch to this it pays off n the long run makes billing go much easier and saves time. as far as bi weekly payments go its one price weather i come once or 4 times a month they pay the same and i dont do any work unless they sign a season agreement.

godjwood
02-10-2012, 01:31 AM
Thanks for the input.

I have been considering monthly billing, its just difficult to make too many changes on customers in one given year along with too many changes means more risks. I like to make subtle changes to minimize risk since this is my sole source of income.

I never let the customer decide as needed, its based on my employees. If they think it will take them too much work if they skip a week, they cut it. Because some people don't want it cut if it doesn't need it, which I completely understand. It is a waste of money and resources.

The problem arises that I don't have a clear definition for my employees, they may decide to slack off one week and skip properties that really need it, which means more gas wear and tear for the same price the following week. They are paid on commission eliminates the extra labor cost but eventually I plan to switch to hourly.

I think the way to go is the keep to a certain height, that is definately the way to go. Thanks guys.

ralph02813
02-10-2012, 09:56 AM
I do weekly and as needed. Most of my customers are weekly, the as needed tend to be new ones who have never had good lawn care. I don't have to tell you about RI, I have see your signs around.
Also, all my customers are full service - except snow (with a couple of exceptions) As needed may get the back yard skipped and maybe once or twice a season the whole yard.
I include a fertilizer program in my fee (and before guys jump on me again - I know what it cost, and it is figured in) - often times this quickly jumps the customer to a no skip.

I don't use contracts largely because I don't want to be bound by one - I cut everyone every week this year until Thanksgiving.

Sammy
02-10-2012, 10:23 AM
I determine when it's needed, not the customer. ( I deside to skip a week or not)

Same here.

ralph02813
02-10-2012, 10:32 AM
Same here.

That is the only way to fly!

JayRent
02-10-2012, 01:03 PM
Ok guys, I finished my first year at lawn mowing last season. I mowed strictly on an as needed basis. I definitely charged accordingly, but it was still a pain the butt. I never knew what to expect as far as regular income.

You guys got me thinking and I might go with something like this.

From April to Nov 1st...

Total Mows: 28
Mow Cost: $37
Fall Cleanup: $100 (discounted from what I usually charge)
Total Price: $1136 divided by 8 Months
Monthly Price: $140

I'll let the customer know that this price includes the following:
-Lawn mowing
-bush trimming
-edging
-fall cleanup is included

I just tell them though that they pay $140 a month and those services will be rendered from April though Nov. 1st

torotorotoro
02-10-2012, 01:09 PM
Ok guys, I finished my first year at lawn mowing last season. I mowed strictly on an as needed basis. I definitely charged accordingly, but it was still a pain the butt. I never knew what to expect as far as regular income.

You guys got me thinking and I might go with something like this.

From April to Nov 1st...

Total Mows: 28
Mow Cost: $37
Fall Cleanup: $100 (discounted from what I usually charge)
Total Price: $1136 divided by 8 Months
Monthly Price: $140

I'll let the customer know that this price includes the following:
-Lawn mowing
-bush trimming
-edging
-fall cleanup is included

I just tell them though that they pay $140 a month and those services will be rendered from April though Nov. 1st

wow, thats horrible. just mow weekly.and bill all you do once a month. dont complicate things.

ralph02813
02-10-2012, 01:29 PM
wow, thats horrible. just mow weekly.and bill all you do once a month. dont complicate things.

If you make it complicated, no matter how good you are treating the customer, they will feel like they are getting screwed.

unkownfl
02-10-2012, 01:36 PM
My contracts state the 1/3 rule. We show up to as many as 40 times per year and cut when grass leaf blades will be cut 1/3 of total length.

plc87
02-10-2012, 02:34 PM
90 percent of my customers I do on an as needed basis. I make the decision as to when it needs to be done and if they dont like it they can find someone else. They trust my judgement plain and simple. I make it look good and they pay me for it. What I tell my customer is i'll mow about as much as their neighbors... WHEN IT NEEDS IT! That way i can slack off in the heat of summer and low growth and when it's growing like crazy in the early spring I can cut itt when it needs it. monthly billing would be nice though makes paperwork easier!

edensgate7
02-10-2012, 02:39 PM
I have been mowing for 15 years and am new to this site. I am a firm believer that an "as needed" company is the best way to go. It is better for the grass (read university research on mowing frequency/mowing heights etc.) which means better looking lawns which translates to happy well-paying customers.

Part of how I do this is I keep all my accounts to a 20 mile square area in northwest IN. I do try to keep different smaller "areas" of the larger area that I do on certain days. I end up driving by most of my accounts at least once or twice a week on my way to other accounts. If the schedule gets messed up, I just move properties a day or two forward or back until they get back to the day I like them on. Since the large area is small enough, this creates minimal extra driving but I figure it in to the original price I quote to people.

Most importantly, I have sold myself to my customers as giving them higher quality results than having a set in stone schedule by doing things this way. I have a BS in Turfgrass Scinece along with the experience which helps with convincing them I know what I am talking about. Once they sign on, they usually find that I can decide when/how often to mow quite well.
When things get slow, I just have a list of scheduled projects (bush trimming, weeding, fert. applications etc.)for these times that I can do to generate income. I also take the slow times to do the things that sometimes donít get done well during the season that will save you money when things are busy like cleaning/greasing equipment extra carefully, taking extra time at accounts to give less experienced employees on-site, real world training to improve efficiency etc. I have never lost money in any year I have been doing business this way and most of my best paying customers won't even bid the job to other companies because of how satisfied they are. So, don't think "as needed" means no sucess/profit and that customers wonít understand how it works. It is just a different way of doing things.

weeze
02-10-2012, 08:27 PM
i guess it's different where i live. most customers don't care what is best for their yard. even in the spring when the yard needs to be cut every week they still want it cut every 2 weeks. to them it's just a matter of keeping it from getting out of control rather than looking perfect. there are a few that care more about it and they are weekly customers anyways. i even had a bi weekly cut last year late in the season when the grass growth had slowed down a bit where i started cutting like always. after i did one row he ran out there and told me to stop. he asked me to wait another week before i cut it. it's his yard not mine so i have to do what he says. it still needed cut but alot around here don't want it cut until it's really high. they are just cheap i guess. :laugh:

MOW ED
02-11-2012, 08:36 AM
I have been mowing for 15 years and am new to this site. I am a firm believer that an "as needed" company is the best way to go. It is better for the grass (read university research on mowing frequency/mowing heights etc.) which means better looking lawns which translates to happy well-paying customers.

Part of how I do this is I keep all my accounts to a 20 mile square area in northwest IN. I do try to keep different smaller "areas" of the larger area that I do on certain days. I end up driving by most of my accounts at least once or twice a week on my way to other accounts. If the schedule gets messed up, I just move properties a day or two forward or back until they get back to the day I like them on. Since the large area is small enough, this creates minimal extra driving but I figure it in to the original price I quote to people.

Most importantly, I have sold myself to my customers as giving them higher quality results than having a set in stone schedule by doing things this way. I have a BS in Turfgrass Scinece along with the experience which helps with convincing them I know what I am talking about. Once they sign on, they usually find that I can decide when/how often to mow quite well.
When things get slow, I just have a list of scheduled projects (bush trimming, weeding, fert. applications etc.)for these times that I can do to generate income. I also take the slow times to do the things that sometimes donít get done well during the season that will save you money when things are busy like cleaning/greasing equipment extra carefully, taking extra time at accounts to give less experienced employees on-site, real world training to improve efficiency etc. I have never lost money in any year I have been doing business this way and most of my best paying customers won't even bid the job to other companies because of how satisfied they are. So, don't think "as needed" means no sucess/profit and that customers wonít understand how it works. It is just a different way of doing things.

Welcome to Lawnsite. Kouts Indiana, Thats the place where the police cars go missing and then try to swim. I saw that on WGN.
You are lucky in the sence that you have a niche market and have done an excellent job of educating your customers to your way of doing business. Many here aren't so lucky. Now I am assuming your " as needed" is pay by month regardless of if you are there 4 times or 8. I do agree that if you can get a customer to see the logic of this way, you will see an improvment in the lawn. I see guys that are on an "every week regardless" schedule and in the brown out of August they are rolling over crunchy dormant grass putting tire burns in it because they "have to mow". Its stupid. I myself are on what you can call as needed but I bill by the cut. It is hard to change to a monthly billing schedule after having very long term customers get used to by the cut billing. Thanks for sharing and realize that I am sure some may take issue with your procedure but I like it.

nortonlawncare
02-11-2012, 01:11 PM
i still dont get the as needed debate when you guys say it's your decision. do you go to the lawn and see what it looks like with a loaded trailer and then drive away if it's not "ready"? it just seems to be a waste of gas and time.

i don't know about you but i like predictable billing, as in i know what to bill my clients each month, unless there is an added service.

not trying to be a dick, i just wanna know how you decide when it's time to cut your "as needed" lawns

Grasskeepers
02-11-2012, 01:38 PM
I do weekly only. and they ALL get mowed 20 times a season. Makes for a very efficient season. you'll know your lots like the back of your hand.
I price the SEASON AS A WHOLE. all extras inclued like aeration, detaching,fertilizer and the final mow bagged.
Just for math

$200 Fertilzer 3 times
$200 Spring Clean up
$800 Seasonal mowing

1200 the season
over 6months may- oct

200 a month

since its the same price every month quick books can auto create an invoice for six months for $200 at the end of the month all i do is press one buttom and it bills all 50 customers. i love this save me sooo much time

weeze
02-11-2012, 01:49 PM
i still dont get the as needed debate when you guys say it's your decision. do you go to the lawn and see what it looks like with a loaded trailer and then drive away if it's not "ready"? it just seems to be a waste of gas and time.

i don't know about you but i like predictable billing, as in i know what to bill my clients each month, unless there is an added service.

not trying to be a dick, i just wanna know how you decide when it's time to cut your "as needed" lawns

the 3 as needed customers i have call me when they want me to cut the yard. otherwise i don't go until i hear from them. everyone else i just go cut their yards on schedule. i have several that ask me to text them the day before or the day i cut their yard so they will know to leave a check or send me a check in the mail.

i do have a few that i send a bill to once a month but the majority pay at the time of service. i like that because that way if they don't pay i can stop cutting. nothing worse than cutting a month and never getting paid for it. i haven't had any not pay yet though. most just like to do it that way. pay me the day i cut it. that way they aren't owing me money or anything.

clydebusa
02-11-2012, 02:07 PM
I do all mine as needed. Most customers been with me for years and understands that could be 5 to 8 days and 10 to 14 days during the dog days of summer. I do have contracts with most and it states the same. I do construction work and LCO is about 25% of my business. So being flexible helps me and the customers.

ralph02813
02-11-2012, 02:11 PM
i still dont get the as needed debate when you guys say it's your decision. do you go to the lawn and see what it looks like with a loaded trailer and then drive away if it's not "ready"? it just seems to be a waste of gas and time.

i don't know about you but i like predictable billing, as in i know what to bill my clients each month, unless there is an added service.

not trying to be a dick, i just wanna know how you decide when it's time to cut your "as needed" lawns

Each of my mowing days is a route, I am going by anyway, so I check them as I go, most that might be skipped I kind of almost know it before I get there - worse case senario, I cut the front yard and charge them for 2/3 cut. Cause I bill monthly for work done.

jackal
02-11-2012, 02:54 PM
I have some that want it every week wether they need it or not. Most are every ten days which is about as fast as I can get them done. A few are rural routes every two weeks. Its crazy but it works.

Lawn Pawn
02-11-2012, 04:21 PM
I subbed out as a mower for several years using all my own equipment. Got straight X amount an hour, driving or mowing. They sent another crew around to do the trimming.

I would get so mad!!!!! I finally had to quit working for them or have a stroke!! Mowed so many times the really crap properties that were just dust.. or dormant creeping charlie. But had to mow every week!!!!

Best / worst part was... some of these properties were little old ladies that never went outside... or vacation homes that were empty!
One of these properties that was occupied by a little old lady, the trimming crew never showed up for six straight weeks one summer.
But I mowed every week.

So having said that... I NEVER mow my accounts unless they should be mowed.
If they are at my discretion... or on a weekly schedule.

And have dropped the call as needed ones that do not call soon enough.

I am my boss... and treat all accounts as if they were my parents, with respect.

nortonlawncare
02-11-2012, 04:54 PM
i try to stay away from the as needed because they seem to be the ones who dont have money to pay and when they do they want to pay close to nothing

plc87
02-11-2012, 05:19 PM
Norton, it's completely different where i'm at. My target audience is basically wealthy people who dont care what I do as long as I produce great results for a fair price (most dont even care about that). Producing great results requires me to mow when it's needed. It's pretty universally known that only cutting 1/3 of the leaf blade each time you mow is best for the grass so I try to stick as close to taht as possible. Meaning in the spring when it's raining and growing like crazy i'm mowing every 4-5 days (sometiems 5 days is even too long!) Late this summer when there was a drought I was mowing every 10-16 days depending on growth. All my clients are within 4 miles of eachother which makes it a piece of cake to ccheck them all in an hour drive. Many people dont have this luxury so I feel for you if not. I used to have clients that wanted it done every 2 weeks, I told them I would settle with every 10 days. During spring growth my 60 inch super z would bog down, clump, and leave the yard looking like crap and not to mention it took double the time just about! I gave them an ultimatum this spring and said it's eitther as needed or find someone else so we went our separate ways.

nortonlawncare
02-11-2012, 05:44 PM
i guess it could depend on the client base and the grass. here most every place i mow has irrigation so the grass grows a lot, i have a few that i do bi weekly and it's out of hand. But if the system works for ya why change it

edensgate7
02-13-2012, 06:42 PM
Welcome to Lawnsite. Kouts Indiana, Thats the place where the police cars go missing and then try to swim. I saw that on WGN.
You are lucky in the sence that you have a niche market and have done an excellent job of educating your customers to your way of doing business. Many here aren't so lucky. Now I am assuming your " as needed" is pay by month regardless of if you are there 4 times or 8. I do agree that if you can get a customer to see the logic of this way, you will see an improvment in the lawn. I see guys that are on an "every week regardless" schedule and in the brown out of August they are rolling over crunchy dormant grass putting tire burns in it because they "have to mow". Its stupid. I myself are on what you can call as needed but I bill by the cut. It is hard to change to a monthly billing schedule after having very long term customers get used to by the cut billing. Thanks for sharing and realize that I am sure some may take issue with your procedure but I like it.

thanks for the greeting. Our police here have a pretty easy job since the crime rate is relatively low so they aren't on their toes like they should be. anyway, I actually send an invoice once per month to all customers. Almost all of them have been on for more than 4 seasons so yes they are used to the way I do things. Some invoices have 2 mowings, some have up to 6. It just depends on how fast the grass grows and which month it is. So, in may, the high quality lawns will be paying for 5-6 mowings on average. In July/August, they usually get by with 3-4. On lower quality lawns, knock a mowing off each of those figures. All in all it usually adds up to an average of 27-32 cuts per year per yard.
I don't understand the dust mowers of july and august around here either because it just kills the grass that has gone dormant due to lack of regular moisture. When the rain picks up in the fall, the lawn is half dead because they mowed it when it was 90 degrees and no rain for 3 weeks and the yard never really looks good after that.
As far as people taking issue with how I do things, I don't mind it. Like I said before, I have never lost money on a seasonal basis and I have built the business from a push mower behind a bike to 1 truck operation that does 130 K per year in sales which suits me just fine. I am happily married with a 6 month old so the business isn't my total life. I may have to be a little more selective on taking new accounts this year though with the new baby but things will work out:)