View Full Version : How many times have you heard this one this Fall?

12-10-2002, 09:20 PM
I Thought That The price for a Fall clean-up was the same for a weekly mowing?

I get about 5 customers a week after they see their Bill for the Fall clean-up They call me up all pissed off saying "I Thought That The price for a Fall clean-up was the same for a weekly mowing?"

After I tell them How much I charge and that I go at an hourly rate then I have to tell them If I charged how much I charge to mow their Lawn I tell them that it wouldn't even be worth it too set foot on their yard at that price!:dizzy:

bubble boy
12-10-2002, 09:38 PM
hear it once in a while...they learn quick.

often i hear it from the spouse who i didn't originally call for the FCU.

12-10-2002, 10:12 PM
You need to outline the price ahead of time in the contract so their are no surprises. If you are going to run it hourly, say so and tell them a lawn of their porportions will usually run between $x and $y.

12-10-2002, 10:14 PM
I hear it to. I tell the it takes alot longer. If they dont believe me, they can sit and watch. I let them know that even if the leaves are done weekly its still takes about 1 1/2 to 2 times longer. I try to price it by the hour but some customers dont like to hear the hourly wage, they just about croak, it seems like. If they insist on a set price, here's what I do, however long I think it will take, I multiply that by 2 or even 3. If you think its gonna take 4 hours, its probably gonna take 6, 8 or even 10. I hate leaves, so I price them way high.

12-10-2002, 10:35 PM
I lost a customer this week to this very thing. I had been cutting this property all year and now with fall in full force I starting charging for leaf removal. This property is about 5 ac. with 2 1/2 to 3 in trees. Pretty large cleanup for my one man show. Customer flipped out with the November billing stating she could not pay $175 for leaf removal. She had been paying $145 for mow and trim. Backpacking and tarping is pretty labor intensive but customers don't seem to understand that.
To top it all off as she is paying for my final bill and giving me my walking papers, she comments she needs a full crew to service this property and mow along with leaf cleanups for $145 a pop.
Oh well easy come easy go!:dizzy:

The Mowerdude
12-10-2002, 10:43 PM
Greenman, you're right on with your post!

MacLawn, you too.

Customers don't like surprises. And many times they are totally clueless when it comes to leaf/yard clean ups.

If my regular mowing customer gives me the go ahead, I explain to them that this is going to take quite a bit more time than just mowing. However, we've found that if we have some kind of miscommunication and I lose, at least the yard clean up for the following year, they call me back the year after that, when another LCO has come along and really put it to them.

Beyond that, I still haven't really come up with a good solution to deal with those who refuse to admit to reality. I think we all have those in our areas.

A few years ago, a man called me from a neighborhood that has no "wannabes." That means that if you're not absolutely, filthy rich to the point of vulgarity, you can't afford to live there. He wanted me to haul off some leaves that he had had his handyman blow into piles. When I got there, the piles were huge!! And there were about 20 of them. It took me 4 trips to the dump to dispose of everything. I turned in a bill for $500. Now for this man, this is the dust on top of his night stand. But he pitched a holy fit - called me every name in the book, questioned my family heritage and my wife's too. Then he said he wasn't going to pay it. I told him if he didn't pay it, I would simply deposit every last leaf I collected for the following month in his yard. I was looking for a way not to have to drive all the way to the dump. He wrote the check.

Last year, I was unloading a trailer full of leaves and here comes the guy's handyman. He was taking care of the leaves that my $500 the year before was too much to pay. He was getting $10 per hour and had been on the leaf job for over 2 weeks now. He had some 90 hours in it and was pretty sick of it, but the customer was happy. The moral of THIS story is that many times it's not the money. It's all about control. Sure, he didn't call me back, but it was a one timer anyway. If you let your customers buffalo you, you'll lose your shirt. I'd rather lose the customer than lose the money. When we get to the point that we give away work in an effort to keep from losing it, we're scrubs. That's really the problem with scrubs. They don't have the courage to charge a price they can stay in business with. They don't know how to put a stop to the hoop jumping that their controlling customers are making them do.

So when I'm faced with this, I'm polite, I explain how I arrived at my price, why I have to have "x" amount and I stand my ground, even if I lose the customer. And I HAVE lost customers over this but I've been patient and low and behold, they come back.

However, losing customers is a fact of life. We all lose them. If they don't jump ship over this, it'll be for something else. The sooner you learn not to worry about it, the better off you'll be.

12-10-2002, 10:50 PM
We charge regular fee to show up and round up leaves. Then we charge $7.50 a bag, we use the 55 gal bags from home depot and we pack them full till they won't hold anymore. This is a whole lot cheaper than paying us $25 a man hour. Every once in a while I will get some old bag that is still living in the 50's and wants something for nothing or tell me the fixed income story. And yes there are those out there on the "fixed income" but I usually can tell if they really do not have money or not. The ones I know are on a fixed income we generally cut them a big break but the others with the brand new Caddies and freshly arranges patio plants get no break what so ever. Same goes for lawyers and doctors. They won't cut the little man a break so why should I cut them a break. When I hear the complaints of high prices I usually give the plumber analogy to them. If they are willing to pay some fella $55 to $65 to unplug a toilet and they won't even pro-rate then why should I budge off my prices? Also the Van a plumber drives might be loaded down with 7 grand worht of tools etc and we haul around 15 grand worth of equipment. I can go on and on and on. Perhapse I should stop rammbling. Anyway yes I still hear it.

12-10-2002, 10:59 PM
Nope, can't say I have ever had that.

Randy Scott
12-10-2002, 11:19 PM
Not once.

I would say you are not communicating correctly. Five customers a week? You need to make things clear or you will be losing customers. :eek:

12-11-2002, 01:36 AM
20 year client, first year client, one time cleanup: they all get it on paper -

$xx.xx per mowing, monthly or biweekly edging included
$xx.xx per fertilizer appl
(couple of other services given with $$ per service)
$xx.xx per hour ornamental work, spring and fall cleanup

Estimated total annual cost: $xxxx.xx

sometime Estimated cost for balance of season: $xxxx.xx (new client in mid-season gets both cost for full season, so they know that up front, and an estimate of what to expect for this partial season).

Have been $400-$500 off on some over the years, by over- or underestimating, mainly on cleanup times. (But once 10 yrs ago, I missed a part year $800 something estimate by only 25¢.) Charges listed separately for mowing and cleanup. Cleanup charges figured by hourly rate for excess beyond average mowing time, 5 minutes or 5 hours. Never had cleanup charges disputed.

12-11-2002, 09:52 AM
in my opinion the customers are just playin dumb ,when they do this.
hoping u will go along with it.
i just let them know up front
the estimated cost,with no appologies.

bubble boy
12-11-2002, 10:49 AM
Originally posted by awm
no appologies.

took me a while to do this. now it comes naturally.

The Mowerdude
12-11-2002, 10:54 AM
I'm sure that others have experienced this as well as me, but neighborhoods certainly DO have personalities. And folks DO compare notes.

Here in Belle Meade, the most upscale neighborhood in the area, many folks seem to have what I call the "plantation" mentality. To explain; these folks like to visualize themselves as plantation owners and everyone that drives a truck into the drive is a personal servant. Many times the rattier your truck looks the more they like it, as though to say: "I know you're very poor, so here's a shiny new quarter to help you out."

While there ARE exceptions to this, this attitude is way too pervasive to be coincidental.

Now if you get a block over into West Meade, you run into many, many wannabees. And they're even worse. I suspect that it's because they're somewhat resentful of not having quite enough money to live the other side of the tracks. (No kidding, the train runs right down the middle between Belle Meade and West Meade.) But once again, their attitude is way too common for them NOT to be comparing notes.

However, some of the new subdivisions farther out toward Franklin are just the opposite. I'll do a flyer campaign, put out 500 flyers and get 120 calls. Sometimes, I'll get calls from 5-6 houses on the same street. So it bears what I'm saying. Sometimes you hear the same darn complaint from everyone on the street and you know that they got to talking about their LCOs over at the Jewish Community Center, or Belle Meade Country Club.

12-11-2002, 11:13 AM
The only customers I have heard this from is the PITA ones. Although I have been in the turf industry for quite a while, I have been a full time LCO for about a year and a half.
I have found the PITA customers took advantage of a certain lack of business knowledge on my part - mostly with verbal and written contracts, enforcement of such - etc.
Now, when a new customer comes a long, and they are with regularity, I spend however long it takes to explain my pricing schedule.
Since adopting this patient, customer communication attitude, the current customers are happy and the PITA's bug some one else.
BTW, the only customers I have lost are the PITA's.
Life is to short to worry about their problems and attitudes.

12-11-2002, 12:26 PM
Originally posted by The Mowerdude
you know that they got to talking about their LCOs over at the Jewish Community Center, or Belle Meade Country Club.

LMAO, you know us Jews are tight with the money.

All kidding a side, the more money they have in the bank the harder it is to get your hands on it untill you build a firm trusting relationship with the customer.

12-11-2002, 12:30 PM
Originally posted by LAWNGODFATHER
Nope, can't say I have ever had that.
Same here. If I do "extras" for my customers, I charge them extra. Simple as that.

12-11-2002, 12:33 PM
Originally posted by LAWNS AND MOWER
Same here. If I do "extras" for my customers, I charge them extra. Simple as that.

Must add to the above--"and you point that out in the contracts when they sign them.

12-11-2002, 12:37 PM
Originally posted by LAWNGODFATHER
Must add to the above--"and you point that out in the contracts when they sign them.
Sure, if you use contracts. I for one don't use contracts. My customers trust me and I trust them. Many of my customers are like "If you see something that needs to be done, do it".

12-11-2002, 05:01 PM
You put it on the money with standing your ground. I started this at 17 years old, I just turned 18 and standing my ground is what kept me doing this all summer. Customers would call for an estimate and I would show up. I'd see right away their mentality changed because they seen a younger person show up and they thought they could control me in the way they talked. As soon as I handed them my nicely formated bid/service agreement, they would try to argue about the price. I just stood my ground and sometimes I got the account, sometimes I didnt but they'd call back due to other companies shoving an estimate up their u kno what. Its about being confident. Mower Dude right on!

12-11-2002, 05:28 PM
I haven't heard that in many years...I don't do any work without a signed agreement that specs price...doing anything less is called unauthorized work, and you might as well forget about having any legal leverage in the collection process. Never do anything without agreeing on price ahead of time, ever.

scott's turf
12-11-2002, 05:30 PM
We use contracts and leave out the fall clean-up for the new customers because it is hard to tell what it may be like in the fall. When I send out my Oct. invoice I have a better understanding of what the fall clean-up will cost and write up an estimate with the bill for them to sign and return if they are interested. This elimanates most problems and reduces phone tag by not requiring them to call and set up the service.

12-11-2002, 07:56 PM
I find that a proactive approach to fall leafing service is the best. I also spell out everything in my maintenance contracts. I make sure that the client is well aware of my fall fees. Then I put the ball in their court and explain to them that I can come weekly, every 2 weeks, or 2X's November & 1 in December, etc.. It is up to them most opt for weekly or bi-monthly. Also, I will not touch beds until the last visit unless the client requests otherwise. It takes a whole lot of time to properly clean beds, and there is no way I could keep all of my accounts done even if they all chose to go every two weeks. Some clients just do not realize whati s involved w/a clean-up and this will lead to future problems if not properly addressed from the get-go.


12-12-2002, 03:11 AM
To bad I just found out about lawnsite! I was a true scrub this year, but i've learned alot from my mistakes(lost money). I can't wait till next season just to see if each and every one of my clients react to the new prices "what $35 what happened to $20"
Well now I know why i was so cheap! Insurance and taxes are awsume! :angry:
I was wondering why my prices were never contested. I remember someone saying "you'll know when your chargeing to little: When the client always agreees and agrees fast!"

Darryl G
12-13-2002, 03:54 AM
I agree, gotta let them know what to expect up front. The only compaint I got blew my mind...the bill was $56.25 for the fall clean-up and the lady called and complained!!!!!!

12-14-2002, 12:35 PM
I send out a couple of notices to customers about leaf clean up. If they don't respond I don't clean up there leaves. When they call me I simply remind them of the notice I sent and then asjk them if they would like me to clean up there leaves.