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View Full Version : Converting seasonal accounts to year-round


higherground
06-09-2012, 10:07 AM
hey all - Im entering my second year as a full timer and I must say last winter was rough... lots of debt and no-joy. anywho I was able to keep 80% of my accounts from last year and picked up a strong surge of new commercial accounts and my magic 8 ball says the future looks pretty good but I better get off my butt and start selling annual services to my existing seasonal accounts.

I ask you old hacks: sell me, tell me, how do you approach the topic of year yound is better from a customer viewpoint.??? cause cutting firewood aint my thing.

also: Im primarily a mow/edge/hedge/trim/blow and go guy.... any good verbals to include in the invoice for upselling fertilizer/soil analysis/ core aeration? e.g, sample invoice stuffers?

thanks in advance

Glenn Lawn Care
06-09-2012, 07:13 PM
The key is to up sell! Send out a newsletter to remind your clients of the services you offer. When you talk to your clients ask him if the are interested in a fert/squirt program.. if you offer it that is. Or shrub trimming, mulch. Everyone needs their weeds sprayed in their driveway, rock/mulch beds.
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Marketing Pro
06-09-2012, 07:22 PM
Sell them on the Value. I'm in Florida so maintenance is much more a year round issue. However, I am just far north enough that some winters can really slow down with mowing. We sell the year round deal like this...

1) Price point value. Pay one low flat rate per month vs paying a high amount over summer months. Like budgeting your utility bill to the same amount each month. As you convert them consider what they are paying you now per year and be careful with your year round price point. Let's say you have a customer paying you $35 each service and you service 28 times a year. Probably none in December, January, February right? That's $980 a year with balloon summer costs as high as $175 in July for a 5 week month. $140 on a 4 week month. This is a customer to convert at about $85 a month which comes out to $1,020 per year. You just cut their high summer payments by as much as HALF! However, you also just up sold them 4% more per year!

If you're already charging a flat fee, the same method could work.

2) Work scope. You're on the right track there. How do you justify the winter cost? Consider expanding it to provide value to the winter months. Aeration is good, fertilizing is good too. What about putting up Christmas lights in December and taking them down in January? When we know we're going to have a colder winter (like 2009, 2010) we ask our clients for any winter project requests. We do them...minor ones within reason...for no extra fee. ALL our commercial accounts have some kind of "added value" built into the deal anyway. Do you have any seasonal residents in second homes? We offer 360 degree photography e-mailed once a month when they are away.

3) Stop offering the service you are trying to convert. Sell ALL new clients as year round.

Be careful. Conversions are tricky in any industry. Be prepared to lose some.

higherground
06-10-2012, 09:43 AM
thanks guys..

now Im thinking about that first contact meeting (usually over the phone)..

customer: Im in subdivision XX - how much do you charge to cut?

me: $45 to $75 per cut typical for that subdivision depending on the size of the yards.

customer: what does that include.

me: mow, trim, edging as needed, pruning shrubs as needed, spraying around utilities and flower beds as needed, blowing walks. mulch/fertilizer/straw are extra. Were you looking for regular maintenance? every two weeks?

customer: yeah - if we like your work.

me: I'de like to come by and take a look if I could and give you a quote. What is the address? What time would work best for you?

customer: address xx, 5pm.

me: great - Ill see you then.

at that meeting I ask - what have you been paying if you dont mind me asking? did you have a budget in mind? .. then I start selling. but I rarely rarely walk away from work.

Im selling mid-level services mow/edge/prune/trim/spray/weed/blow for a flat rate price per cut.. most at $50 to $60/cut -- 2x/mo in season (mar 15-dec 15) -- 1x/mo off season. fertilizer : $50/application upon request. mulch $65/yard installed upon request. straw $7.50/bale installed upon request. no contract.

I guess I win around 90% of the jobs I match the price of the previous service provider. 50% on a blind bid.


ok.. now lets up sell.. suggestions?.. again Im worried about off-season income.

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im experimenting w/ $100/mo year round = $25/cut weekely in season.. but its killing me....

$35/cut weekly?

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for those yards that havent been touched in a while Ill upcharge to get it "maintainable".. $125 - $195 for the first cut... xx/to maintain.

Duekster
06-10-2012, 09:52 AM
me: mow, trim, edging as needed, pruning shrubs as needed, spraying around utilities and flower beds as needed, blowing walks. mulch/fertilizer/straw are extra. Were you looking for regular maintenance? every two weeks?



I never mention bi-weekly service. If they ask I tell them the problems with it but I take it if they want it.

higherground
06-10-2012, 09:53 AM
I never mention bi-weekly service. If they ask I tell them the problems with it but I take it if they want it.

Im all ears.. what problems?

Duekster
06-10-2012, 09:55 AM
Im all ears.. what problems?



Plenty of threads on it. Even discussed some earlier. There is a 1/3 cut rule that this hard to maintain even with weekly service.

higherground
06-10-2012, 10:02 AM
i looked.. nothing jumped out. short list? good link?

Duekster
06-10-2012, 10:08 AM
i looked.. nothing jumped out. short list? good link?

If you are mowing centipede it may not be that big of a deal.

Removing more than 1/3 of the blade puts the grass in stress. It needs to regrow the leaf structure in order to survive. It will do this at the expence of the root system. The grass will thin out and become less drought resistant and more prone to weed issues.

higherground
06-10-2012, 10:41 AM
90% of the grass around here is centipede. we cut it to 2.5" deck height. most of what we cut above that are dandilions and bahia and im kind of hoping they die. the average time a centipede lawn needs to be cut around here is 10 days to 2 weeks unless it just got heavily limed/nitroed. the only real reason for more frequent is a picky customer w/ pickier neighbors and a strict hoa.

I can see offering 10 day cycle service for peak months.

Duekster
06-10-2012, 10:52 AM
90% of the grass around here is centipede. we cut it to 2.5" deck height. most of what we cut above that are dandilions and bahia and im kind of hoping they die. the average time a centipede lawn needs to be cut around here is 10 days to 2 weeks unless it just got heavily limed/nitroed. the only real reason for more frequent is a picky customer w/ pickier neighbors and a strict hoa.

I can see offering 10 day cycle service for peak months.

The old 10 day cycle can be a bear to manage if you have a lot of accounts.

higherground
06-10-2012, 11:54 AM
The old 10 day cycle can be a bear to manage if you have a lot of accounts.

yepp.. but more $ is more $... and I think I could sell the upgrade.

Duekster
06-10-2012, 12:03 PM
yepp.. but more $ is more $... and I think I could sell the upgrade.

Mowing frequency = (Cutting height / 2) / growth rate.

higherground
06-10-2012, 12:07 PM
Mowing frequency = (Cutting height / 2) / growth rate.

rain = grass = $

Duekster
06-10-2012, 12:12 PM
rain = grass = $



Pretty much, you need weekly in the spring and move toward 10 day cycles in the summer. If you do ferts, do it in late May / arly June.

32vld
06-10-2012, 02:45 PM
Problem with divating from 7 day based cycles is that you will have to cut peoples lawns on Saturdays and Sundays or cut a day early or a day late.

How can you cut all your Saturday lawns a day early when you have a full day of Friday's lawns to mow on Friday cutting a day early.

Mowing should be scheduled weekly M-Th with F for rain outs and up selling of other work.

So grass grows faster in the spring, slows down rest of the year. By the fall everything evens out.

You want things to line up perfect then stop working with nature/living things, buy a cookie cutter and make perfect cookies.

Then if things dry up that much in the summer then you mow every other week. Same when lawns start to slow down in the fall.

Duekster
06-10-2012, 02:57 PM
Problem with divating from 7 day based cycles is that you will have to cut peoples lawns on Saturdays and Sundays or cut a day early or a day late.

How can you cut all your Saturday lawns a day early when you have a full day of Friday's lawns to mow on Friday cutting a day early.

Mowing should be scheduled weekly M-Th with F for rain outs and up selling of other work.

So grass grows faster in the spring, slows down rest of the year. By the fall everything evens out.

You want things to line up perfect then stop working with nature/living things, buy a cookie cutter and make perfect cookies.

Then if things dry up that much in the summer then you mow every other week. Same when lawns start to slow down in the fall.

Commercial accounts early in the week and Residentials late in the week. Friday is catch up / project day.

higherground
06-10-2012, 03:04 PM
Commercial accounts early in the week and Residentials late in the week. Friday is catch up / project day.

pretty close to what im doing.. IMO: sunday is best for most commercials.. fewer cars and people to deal w/ = moving faster.

Duekster
06-10-2012, 03:27 PM
pretty close to what im doing.. IMO: sunday is best for most commercials.. fewer cars and people to deal w/ = moving faster.

I do not recall the last time I worked on a Sunday .