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View Full Version : Bi weeklys and their worth.


Kelly's Landscaping
12-19-2012, 02:29 PM
I am sorta on the fence with the bi weekly lawns. The belief that they are all cheap does describe most of mine but not all.

I was looking at the dollar income of the 30 I have this year and I come up with $16,400. So at first glance my partner and I were not that enthused then we looked closer and 5k of that came from 5 accounts. Which makes the typical gross per account even worse when you look at the remaining 25.

The year had some curve balls at the end the hurricane followed the week after with 8 inches of snow cost us the last 2 weeks of lawn cuts. Even so it looks like we will fall just a little short of last year and end around 218-220k. So minus off the bi weekly's and the remaining 150-160 accounts generated 202-204k so roughly 1200-1300 per account.

So I am looking at this from a few different angles. Income is certainly one but the other has to be scheduling of extra work and the effect this type of account has. The 30 bi weekly's had 1 perhaps 2 fertilizer accounts for us. You can forget about mulching all together and they produced a few bush trimming jobs. So they do not clog up my other days with any notable requests. I am neither happy nor unhappy with that. But the one area I did see a positive in was spring and fall clean ups and in this case I did add them together. So the 30 accounts which could have been as many as 60 clean ups only produced 11 total for the entire year. My remaining accounts produced 121 total for the entire year. So I only have a 36% chance of getting work I hate doing from bi weekly's but I have about a 78% chance of getting either a spring or fall clean up from a weekly account.


And so I am wondering if its worth taking on the lawn cuts meaning filling in space I want filled in with accounts that do not fill in space on my very limited spring and fall clean seasons. As long as they are priced high enough and are not hyper growth over ferted nightmares I am thinking there is reason to believe with the right ratio of them in the list it may be more profitable to keep them they cut them loose.

KeystoneLawn&Landscaping
12-19-2012, 03:18 PM
In todays economy, I try and keep as many income streams as possible. Bi week mowing being one of those. Like you, they do bring some other maintenance work as well.

LHS Lawns
12-19-2012, 04:00 PM
Yes most of them are cheap but speaking of just the grasscutting mine really only need it bi-weekly except maybe the Spring and then they let me cut every week until it slows down.

I've got as much additional work out of them as any of the weekly clients so its working for me.

I know some guys that wouldn't touch them in the past but they're probably singing a different tune since the economy tanked.

Woody82986
12-19-2012, 04:37 PM
Well, one way to look at them is whether they are in an area you are wanting more business in. If you are being seen in that area, maybe it is increasing your chances of gaining more clients there. Another way to look at it, is if you don't particularly think your return on those lawns is quite worth the time they take up on your schedule, you could consider raising your prices substantially for bi weekly work. It would most likely weed out the clients who weren't interested in tossing extra work your way, and you wind up keeping the clients that are still happy with your work for the increased amount. It ups your bottom line for that particular category.

Darryl G
12-19-2012, 04:55 PM
Good topic. I do all of my bi-weekly accounts on alternating Wednesdays...we call it "crappy lawn Wednesday." I do reserve the right to cut them as-needed in the spring. My cleanup numbers differ greatly from yours though. I did spring and fall cleanups on all but 1 of mine. I really don't give them much of a choice. My service agreements state "We perform spring and fall cleanups on all properties we service unless it is clearly not necessary or you make other arrangements and inform us of them in advance. The lawns we service need to be free of debris in order for us to safely maintain them."

I have 19 bi-weekly accounts (actually one is monthly) that ranged from $640 to $1,892 in total charges for the year with a total gross of $20,966. They were serviced between 11 (he does the first couple and last couple himself) and 16 times with the norm being around 14. My average per account was $1,103. The montly one is actually invoiced together with a bi-weekly for the same customer and I didn't calculate them seperately because I'd have to go through my actual invoices to seperate them. Total billing on those two together was $2,597.24 for the year. These numbers include the cleanups and anything else I did for them, including snow plowing, but that was minimal last winter (maximum 2 times) and I only plow about 1/3 of them, so most of that is lawn care/maintenance. I don't do applications so none of that is fert/pest. Two of those accounts are fertilized, one by the homeowner and one by TG.

It's interesting to me that with 58% less bi-weekly accounts (19 vs 30) I billed 28% more than you did on them Kelly ($20,966 vs $16,400). Mine are priced from $25 to $80 per service with an average of $49.31. 10 of them were billed $1,000 each or more.

Do you charge extra for bi-weekly service? Do you go ahead and mow them more often in the spring during peak growth? I do? How do you do the mowing in the spring if they aren't getting a spring cleanup? Do they do it themselves or does it just not get done? What about in the fall...how do you mow them without doing a leaf cleanup?

lawnkingforever
12-19-2012, 05:09 PM
I dropped many biweekly accounts last year, I still kept a few if they met certain criteria. Here are a few items which will allow me to service or turn down EOW yards.

1. I will not accept lawns EOW in higher end neighborhoods.
Perception is reality, I do not want residents seeing an
overgrown lawn with my name attached to it.
2. Payment is due at the time of service.
3. 50$ minimum for EOW.
4. I will not double cut, height of mower will be adjusted to
prevent an unsightly finished product.
5. Option to go 10 days if growth is fast in the spring.

I am down to 3 or 4 EOW yards. They are all close by my house. Bigger yards that sit by themselves with minimal trimming. The 50$ minimum was established so they would meet the required amount of total revenue on an anual basis needed to be a customer. These accounts can be very profitable if ground rules are established and they fit into the schedule. Otherwise they can be hard on equipment and a scheduling nightmare on weeks where there are rainouts.
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Kelly's Landscaping
12-19-2012, 05:10 PM
Yea a bi weekly tends to only be about 12 weeks and some cap you at 10 cuts and of course you can add them late season so the numbers aren't always true.

But my bi weekly's tend to always be small lawns. Doing half an acre or more bi weekly doesn't sound to good to me thus the prices reflect smaller lawn prices. Some tiny 25 dollar cuts mixed in with mostly 30-35s. My best bi weekly is 2 properties a rental that's 35 and a machine shop that's 65 so its 100 every 2 weeks. Most of my bi weekly's are on my partners list and reflect that the lawns are smaller and houses denser on that side of town.

But we try to split them up as evenly as possible so ideally 15 being done each week. In reality someone always asks for a favor or something causes us to skip them on the on week and by the end of the year it seems to always be 10 one week 20 the other. And thus we talk in terms of heavy week and light weeks. But never all on one week that would be unworkable.

Darryl G
12-19-2012, 05:20 PM
Lawnking...sounds like you have a pretty good handle on it. One of the nice things to me about them is that I'm billing them higher year round, but in summer they cut fast because they're generally not fertilized and none are irrigated.

Thinking about my numbers vs Kelly's a little more, I'm billing my bi-weekly accounts on average over twice what he is $1,103 vs $547. Something just doesn't seem right about that. His average $ per account is lower than every single one of mine.

P.S. - I see Kelly replied while I was typing. Yeah, some of mine are good sized lawns.

lawnkingforever
12-19-2012, 05:54 PM
Lawnking...sounds like you have a pretty good handle on it. One of the nice things to me about them is that I'm billing them higher year round, but in summer they cut fast because they're generally not fertilized and none are irrigated.

Thinking about my numbers vs Kelly's a little more, I'm billing my bi-weekly accounts on average over twice what he is $1,103 vs $547. Something just doesn't seem right about that. His average $ per account is lower than every single one of mine.

P.S. - I see Kelly replied while I was typing. Yeah, some of mine are good sized lawns.

You are correct. During the summer, these type of yards are gravy, non fertilized with little growth very nice profit margins. I will not skip these yards, they get mowed no matter what. If I could find more of these yards within my perimeters I would take them. My business is built on high end accounts clustered in the same developments. These are nice steady streams of income. But the fences, swingsets, pools, edging, ect .... wears you down by the end of summer. These EVO week accounts are just wide open mowing, no sidewalks or mulch beds to worry about. Pull up, run the grandstand for a bit, collect payment and leave. Nice break from the high end yards.
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GMLC
12-19-2012, 06:27 PM
A few years ago I just stopped taking on bi-weekly accounts. Slowly but surely I have replaced all but 3-4 with weekly just by various reasons like customer moving, divorce, bought mower etc. etc. Less paperwork, easier scheduling and routing makes my life easier. After all one weekly account eliminates the need for two bi-weekly.
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herler
12-19-2012, 06:34 PM
Sorry, you have to take the good with the bad, can't win them all, goes with the territory, just how it is, grass isn't greener the other side of the fence, I ain't right in the head, you want the cake you have to eat the potatoes, I hate it too but if you want the rich customers you have to service the poor ones, I'm not rich either.

Darryl G
12-19-2012, 06:43 PM
A few years ago I just stopped taking on bi-weekly accounts. Slowly but surely I have replaced all but 3-4 with weekly just by various reasons like customer moving, divorce, bought mower etc. etc. Less paperwork, easier scheduling and routing makes my life easier. After all one weekly account eliminates the need for two bi-weekly.
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Not really....not when you factor in other services. I look at it more in terms of how much the account brings in per year. I billed one of my bi-weekly accounts over $1,000 for a storm/fall cleanup (it's usually around $600).

I'm not saying they can't be a pain and that I wouldn't rather have all weekly accounts, but I'm not about to drop them either (with one exception - the one that cuts it himself at the beginning and end of the season will be gone). But these customers all know that they're not priority customers and that my weekly ones take priority....it's nice to have something that can slip without getting stressed out over it.

All of my bi-weekly accounts ended up falling on the same week this past season due to weather. It was a bit of a trick to get them back in shape and on their proper schedule. I ended up cutting a bunch of them at 16 to 18 days...that wasn't much fun! I do reserve the right to charge an excessive growth surcharge due to conditions not under my control, but it's not something I do often.

GMLC
12-19-2012, 06:54 PM
Not really....not when you factor in other services. I look at it more in terms of how much the account brings in per year. I billed one of my bi-weekly accounts over $1,000 for a storm/fall cleanup (it's usually around $600).

I'm not saying they can't be a pain and that I wouldn't rather have all weekly accounts, but I'm not about to drop them either (with one exception - the one that cuts it himself at the beginning and end of the season will be gone). But these customers all know that they're not priority customers and that my weekly ones take priority....it's nice to have something that can slip without getting stressed out over it.

All of my bi-weekly accounts ended up falling on the same week this past season due to weather. It was a bit of a trick to get them back in shape and on their proper schedule. I ended up cutting a bunch of them at 16 to 18 days...that wasn't much fun! I do reserve the right to charge an excessive growth surcharge due to conditions not under my control, but it's not something I do often.

I agree with you 100% about the extra services. I had all my bi-weekly's scheduled on the same day each week like you. But as I stopped taking on new bi-weekly's and they naturally phased out (I didn't just drop them) that day got filled with weekly's.
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weeze
12-19-2012, 08:39 PM
i dont' think you could have a business down here if you didn't do bi weekly cuts. most of mine are bi weekly. some of the yards are 2 1/2 acres and i charge $125 a cut. that's $250 a month. i don't think anyone would pay $500 a month for lawncare here. lol the few i have that are weekly are small yards that take 30min or less paying $35 a cut. i do have one that pays $45 a cut that gets weekly but it's in an upscale neighborhood.

there's another company that does most of the houses in that neighborhood and they only charge $35 a cut. i've seen them many times. it's 3 mexicans working for someone. they just jump out of the truck and one guy cuts like 5 yards and another trims them all and another blows them all off. i guess they can afford to do that since they get done alot quicker and being solo i can't compete with their prices. i'm not gonna spend 45min-1hr somewhere and only make $35. i guess their recipe is to charge less and do more to makeup for it. my plan is charge more and do less lol.

KeystoneLawn&Landscaping
12-19-2012, 08:47 PM
Sorry, you have to take the good with the bad, can't win them all, goes with the territory, just how it is, grass isn't greener the other side of the fence, I ain't right in the head, you want the cake you have to eat the potatoes, I hate it too but if you want the rich customers you have to service the poor ones, I'm not rich either.



I agree with that thought. What would you guys think if you stopped at McDs for a hamburger and they told you only if you buy fries and a drink also, no single sales? I split mine so half one week half the next. Like said by others, in the spring bi-weekly will get cut weekly if needed and all my customers are good with that.

jrs.landscaping
12-19-2012, 10:13 PM
I agree with that thought. What would you guys think if you stopped at McDs for a hamburger and they told you only if you buy fries and a drink also, no single sales? I split mine so half one week half the next. Like said by others, in the spring bi-weekly will get cut weekly if needed and all my customers are good with that.

I'd go to Burger King :laugh: !! Bi-weekly has their place, on commercial accounts I don't mind them but as far as resi's go I've found they're usually price shoppers who want somethig for nothing.

MOturkey
12-20-2012, 01:50 AM
I'm a mowing only service, so I'm not looking to book extra services like many of you, but I have actually become quite the fan of EOW accounts. That said, not every account should be considered for an EOW service schedule, but for those that qualify, they can be good money makers, at least from my standpoint. I was actually going to run the numbers on mine this year, but haven't gotten around to doing so, but I'm almost certain my EOW accounts netted a higher percentage of cuts (based on the maximum number possible during the growing season), than did my weekly accounts.

I have around 15 EOW accounts. Many are weekend or vacant properties, most have poor soil conditions resulting in slow, thin growth for the most part, and mowing on a bi-weekly basis is not a problem. This year, with the drought, I skipped a lot of weekly accounts, but the EOWeekers, not so much. It has to get really dry on most properties before you don't have enough growth to mow on a two week basis.

If priced correctly, I feel they can be quite profitable. In my case, I serviced most of them the same day, so in theory, every other week, you can have an extra day off.

lawnboy dan
12-20-2012, 08:22 AM
i am mow only too-the evo is essential to this type of biz model.

LHS Lawns
12-20-2012, 08:35 AM
I dropped many biweekly accounts last year, I still kept a few if they met certain criteria. Here are a few items which will allow me to service or turn down EOW yards.

1. I will not accept lawns EOW in higher end neighborhoods.
Perception is reality, I do not want residents seeing an
overgrown lawn with my name attached to it.
2. Payment is due at the time of service.
3. 50$ minimum for EOW.
4. I will not double cut, height of mower will be adjusted to
prevent an unsightly finished product.
5. Option to go 10 days if growth is fast in the spring.

I am down to 3 or 4 EOW yards. They are all close by my house. Bigger yards that sit by themselves with minimal trimming. The 50$ minimum was established so they would meet the required amount of total revenue on an anual basis needed to be a customer. These accounts can be very profitable if ground rules are established and they fit into the schedule. Otherwise they can be hard on equipment and a scheduling nightmare on weeks where there are rainouts.
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Thats a good "laying down the law" to the EOW customer. I have one customer that wants the 10 day cut in a an area where I have five every week customers.

He gets his three cuts every month but the 10 day thing doesn't work out. It gets cut when I'm there which ends up being cut one week skip a week cut the next two.

In the Spring I convince him to go every week and most of the time he agrees so its not so bad. He is one of the top three PITA customers but he is right across the street from the other customers I service so to protect my territory I keep him.

Its a waterfront high end small town in the county about 10 miles off my route but its worth it as long as I have enough business to make it profitable. With the cost of operating I can't go down there on a odd day to cut just one yard. They are all small yards but add up nicely.

If I had a set of ground rules to follow like you have I'd probably be better off. I'll have to keep it in mind for the next time.

KeystoneLawn&Landscaping
12-20-2012, 10:08 AM
I'd go to Burger King :laugh: !! Bi-weekly has their place, on commercial accounts I don't mind them but as far as resi's go I've found they're usually price shoppers who want somethig for nothing.

My point exactly. If you were Mcds and the other LCO BurgerKing, sooner or later there may only be BurgerKing..... I understand why some don't want to have bi weekly accounts. I look at it as an opportunity to show that customer, their friends, family and neighbors the quality of work provided by us. Sorta advertising that you get paid for. I have received referrals from bi weekly customers. So if you connected the chain, the value of those customers may be higher than some numbers may show.

Kelly's Landscaping
12-20-2012, 12:05 PM
Awww the shame of it all my thread has been corrupted by people who not only eat fast food but openly brag about it. When working if and when we stop its always a deli and if I choose to eat out its Ruth's Chris steak house or Pepe's Pizza or at the very least Outback. In a free country where you have a choice on where you eat I don't know how you ever pick the fast food. :rolleyes:

Back to the bi weekly's mine tend to be sickly lawns and very fast cuts. 10 mins per on more then half of them. The advantage of a bi weekly is in drought times you seldom skip them where the weekly's can blow a hole in your schedule.

So while my numbers aren't close to yours Darryl at first glance I am on them for a very short time. 30 works out to about 20 on my partners list and 10 on mine so he has typically 10 to do in 3 days so it adds only 3 per day to his list each week (he does 30-35 per day) and that's less than and hour per day for him. Me its even less than that about 5 on each week so less than 2 per day. Our numbers are lower because we do not have the clean ups to bump up those numbers. And the point I was making was we were finding that's a good thing. We wouldn't have the time to get to them all anyways. So this gives us extra cuts with out the problems all those extra accounts would cause trying to get to their clean ups. Much like some of my new developments are they have thick lush grass and are often beautiful lawns but the developers tend to remove all the trees so all thats there are little ones that got planted at the time of construction 5-10 years back. And whats sweet about them is they often do not require nor want fall clean ups and thats a good thing it allows you to pack more cuts in your year with out the clean up hits.

Some of you out there actually advertize for fall clean ups we haven't done that since our first season in 2003. We work for our contracted clients and we still seldom finish each fall there is no room to take more work in fall and hasn't been in 9 years. So I was looking at the 16.4k the bi weekly's made us as good money with no strings attached. And that makes me wonder why some here constantly put down lawn cuts and talk up all the other stuff. I am quite happy with the 5500-6000 we bring in a week mowing lawns Wednesday thru Friday. Id like to see that number grow to 10000 its the extra work that holds us back and I was thinking perhaps the bi weekly's aren't so bad it if allows for a fuller schedule when it matters.

Darryl G
12-20-2012, 02:10 PM
I get it now. They're extra income without a lot of extra commitment on your part...sounds like they fall into the gravy department for you while they're part of main course for me (sticking with the food theme, lol).

jrs.landscaping
12-20-2012, 07:17 PM
EOW accounts can be beneficial, I guess it is just like the weekly accounts you have to weed out the bad from the good. I also skip on fast food, We have our local spots for every service area.

orangemower
12-20-2012, 07:45 PM
I have a few EOW customers. All but one makes me more then some weekly accounts. I have one EOW account that I charge $60 to service. I can trim, cut and blow it off in less then 30min. I've gotten a bunch of other work from her as well. Good example, she has a pile of decorative rocks and she moved into a new place that I'll be doing work at now. It took me 2-1/2hrs to load them by hand, haul them to the new place and unload. When she asked what she owed, I told her whatever she thought was fair. She handed me a check for a $150. She's been a great customer from the start.

Florida Gardener
12-20-2012, 07:57 PM
I know the topic of EOW has been brought up here on LS many a time. I don't doubt that those accounts can work well up north, but here in Florida, forget it. We work year round on fixedobthly payments. So someone who is EOW in the summer, is either non-existent in the winter or you cut maybe 3-4 times. I just don't have time for that not need it. Plus, no extra work. Extras might be a deterrent to some of you, but it's the best money here in Florida. As I always say though, Florida is its own thing...
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BrunoT
12-20-2012, 10:17 PM
Just charge accordingly for the projected extra time, fuel, and drive-time involved. They can be more profitable than really nice lawns if the lawns are actually good prospects for biweekly mowing. Just don't try to mow luxurious thick lawns like that.

But for a lawn that gets no fertilizer, irrigation, etc, it's worked well for me. I'm averaging about $75 to $80/man hour on-site vs about $60-$65 for the nicer weekly places. Since I do the work I'm more interested in revenue per unit of exertion than total dollars, period, as my limiting factor is fatigue, not time.

weeze
12-20-2012, 10:24 PM
i guess that's a big part of it on bi weeklys down here. noone uses fertilizer nor do they have irrigation systems. only the top end neighborhoods have that and they want weekly cuts anyways so no problem there.

Tharrell
12-21-2012, 10:31 AM
EOW accounts have their place that's for sure.
It's the 10 day accounts that throw a wrench into my schedule.
They're commercial and may go to a property management company next year. Good riddance. They just want to save money and avoid ordinance fines.
A friend moved up here from south Florida and is sold on EOW, says it works great down there.
He needs to weigh in because here, we have different grass and I'd like to hear the difference in EOW in this zone.

scotts lawn care
12-21-2012, 10:11 PM
Every spring I seem to always be on the fence about our EOW accounts.

It's hard to turn down customers that I have been mowing for many years. And most of them just don't have the income for weekly mowing.

The ones that bother me - the ones that have $ - and are too cheap to pay for weekly service!

32vld
12-22-2012, 04:06 PM
My first EOW was an old lady that claimed her lawn never grows.

I agreed to do her EOW with the warning that it looked as her lawn would have to much growth to stay that way and we would have to go weekly.
Well her lawn needed to be mow weekly and she would not switch over. So we parted ways.

Next year a I picked up a weekly lawn that wanted me to do her FIL's law EOW. I told her about my first EOW and that if this lawn grows too much it WILL be switched over to weekly. This lawn had a ton of shade. Hardly grew. Got my normal price.

When you get your normal price and have another EOW so you alternate the weeks you mow there is no reason to not take them. EOW can be cheap and not want fert, or any up sells. There are weekly's that don't want fert or any up sells either.

Better to have a schedule full of 40 hr work a week with any type of customer at your price then to then to sit around waiting to fill up ones schedule with "only the good customers". Then to only bill out 10, 20, 30 hours at your normal rate.

Will P.C.
12-22-2012, 08:38 PM
Every spring I seem to always be on the fence about our EOW accounts.

It's hard to turn down customers that I have been mowing for many years. And most of them just don't have the income for weekly mowing.

The ones that bother me - the ones that have $ - and are too cheap to pay for weekly service!

100/month is a hell of a lot more affordable than 200/month.

MOturkey
12-23-2012, 11:35 AM
My first EOW was an old lady that claimed her lawn never grows.

I agreed to do her EOW with the warning that it looked as her lawn would have to much growth to stay that way and we would have to go weekly.
Well her lawn needed to be mow weekly and she would not switch over. So we parted ways.

Next year a I picked up a weekly lawn that wanted me to do her FIL's law EOW. I told her about my first EOW and that if this lawn grows too much it WILL be switched over to weekly. This lawn had a ton of shade. Hardly grew. Got my normal price.

When you get your normal price and have another EOW so you alternate the weeks you mow there is no reason to not take them. EOW can be cheap and not want fert, or any up sells. There are weekly's that don't want fert or any up sells either.

Better to have a schedule full of 40 hr work a week with any type of customer at your price then to then to sit around waiting to fill up ones schedule with "only the good customers". Then to only bill out 10, 20, 30 hours at your normal rate.



Exactly the way I look at it. Turning down bi-weeklies because you are fully booked is one thing, doing so just because you think they are beneath your dignity to service, is not smart from a business standpoint.

bel-nor
12-31-2012, 09:26 PM
I must say the 2012 season was my best year yet. This amist the worst drought in the midwest history. I aquired several aditional customers and had to have a helper this year. my customers are mostly bi weekly and 10 day which I have seen are not lookeed upon highly here. During the spring the 10 day accounts needed service every 7 days and bi weeklys were serviced every 10 days. Adjustments were made and still getting random calls for cleanups and one timers, rentals and out of towners. The drought hit and the service was adjusted as needed, as not to burn out a single lawn. The drought showed me and my helper exactly what can happen to the die hard weekly servicers who overcut during the heat wave. Then some servicers were not servicing during the 100+ weeks. I only have a few customers with sprinkler systems and their grass did a little better than most, however weekly servicing would have been disasterous.

We have come a long ways from the real 3.5hp pushers of the 1960s (olde to cutman) to today. The reality is as anyones accounts change you have to change with them. This under appreciated non regulated industry puts money in your pocket and helps your family. I like the work and I enjoy at 55years old watching a young man try to keep up with me.

Happy New Year and I hope we get another early starting season

dmk395
01-01-2013, 09:11 PM
I've done quite well with bi-weekly's because I price them right. Jack up the prices, and it becomes worth it!

Patriot Services
01-01-2013, 09:50 PM
I've done quite well with bi-weekly's because I price them right. Jack up the prices, and it becomes worth it!

The way it works best is get the customer to disclose first they are looking for EOW. People get it their heads that EOW is automatically half the weekly rate. I get 75% my monthly rate for twice a month cutting this way. Per cut guys are going to have a harder time getting a higher rate.
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JimLewis
01-02-2013, 02:47 AM
I haven't taken on a bi-weekly account in 16 years. Once I got to the point where I had enough accounts to keep me and a helper busy all week long, and enough money to pay my bills, everything started to change. I figured every account from that point on was just bonus. So from that point, I only took on accounts that I WANTED to have. And I didn't want bi-weekly accounts, when it was fairly simple to get weekly accounts. From that point until today we have never taken on a bi-weekly account. And we continue to grow at a fairly rapid pace every year.

DaveyBlue32
01-02-2013, 02:53 AM
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DaveyBlue32
01-02-2013, 03:03 AM
My biweekly's buy landscape work, mulch, pruning, tree work, Ect. And they're on the way to the next job, or down the street, ie it cost me less, my sign is parked / stopped infront of more houses on that block... I diamond cut the front of there's too...there neighbor's see the strips and the 3 new weekly's paying me top dollar for that cut makes it work out...its my block...world domination by straight stripes!
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DA Quality Lawn & YS
01-06-2013, 03:32 PM
biweekly residential are worthless to me, unless they are very large properties and pay.

JimLewis
01-06-2013, 09:30 PM
I don't understand why anyone would want a bi-weekly account when you could just as easily fill that spot in your day with someone who's willing to pay you for weekly service. It's like settling for a part time job when you could just as easily keep looking for a few more days and end up with a full time job. Why would you settle?

Darryl G
01-06-2013, 09:57 PM
Jim: Bi-weekly accounts aren't all bad. Don't forget that they all have friends and neighbors, so you get additional exposure as well as potential for additional side work from them. A lot of mine are senior citizens who don't do any of their own yard work. And my bi-weekly accounts pay full rate for all extras and generally pay a surcharge as well for mowing. They are among my most profitable accounts when analyzed on gross income/hour.

I put this up earlier in the thread, but here it is again. These numbers are for 2012. I have 19 bi-weekly accounts (actually one is monthly) that ranged from $640 to $1,892 in total charges for the year with a total gross of $20,966. They were serviced between 11 (he does the first couple and last couple himself) and 16 times with the norm being around 14. My average per account was $1,103. I don't think that's too bad.

Of course they do have their down sides which I'm sure everyone is aware of, so I won't go into that. But bi-weekly accounts can be quite profitable as long as you're charging accordingly, and in some cases moreso than higher end accounts. You're in and out and no need to get fussy. Are you going to get big install jobs off of them...almost certainly not, but I do get a fair amount of maintenance work out of them they're generally pretty easy to please...I am pretty selective with them though.

JimLewis
01-06-2013, 10:16 PM
Jim: Bi-weekly accounts aren't all bad.....They are among my most profitable accounts when analyzed on gross income/hour.......

Yah, I get all that. I understand it's more profitable per hour, if you want to think of it that way. But I'm looking at the bigger picture. Let's say I have 100 weekly accounts. And for easy math let's say they each pay me $200 a month. So I'm grossing $20,000 a month from these accounts.

But what if 30 of those accounts are bi-weekly, because I've convinced myself that it's a good idea not to turn down bi-weekly accounts. Now I'm still doing 100 accounts, but 30 of them are only at $120 a month. Now, my gross per month is only $17,600. Sure, those bi-weekly accounts are making me 20% more money. Sounds pretty awesome, until you realize that I'm actually making $2,400 less each month. What good is it to have "more profitable" accounts, when they mean I'm going to end up bring in less total revenue? Especially when I could have just stuck to my guns and got 100 weekly accounts?

The other problem is that hole in your schedule. Every other week you now have a little hole in the middle of your daily schedule at a certain time every day. I'd rather fill that hole in my schedule with someone who wants to hire me EVERY week rather than filling it with someone who can't afford to do that.

And all your other points don't hold any water at all. Your bi-weekly customers have customers next door who will see you and give you more exposure???? So what! So do every one of my weekly accounts. They feed you extra work sometimes? So what! So do my weekly accounts. They pay the full rate for all extras??? Again, the same with weekly accounts. None of these "advantages" are exclusive to bi-weekly accounts.

And then there's the fact that when people don't allow you to cut every week you end up cutting 50-100% more grass each time you mow. That's a pretty big down side as well. I just don't see the point. No advantage at all, to me.

Darryl G
01-06-2013, 10:48 PM
Jim, Jim, Jim...you're missing the point....you split your bi-weekly accounts so half are on one week and the other half on the opposing week, so there is no hole. You wouldn't replace 30 weekly accounts with 30 bi-weekly accounts, you'd replace them with 60 bi-weekly accounts. The point is that you get twice as many next door neighbors, twice as many people to refer me to friends, neighbors and relatives. You have to pick bi-weekly accounts so that they're accounts that really don't need to be cut every week. And I think I said this earlier, but I do reserve the right to cut them "as-needed" during peak growth in the spring.

I think in your case it would be more of an image problem than anything else...you just wouldn't want to be seen on some of them.

P.S. - So you also get twice as many spring and fall cleanups, which in my area can be a substantial money maker.

bel-nor
01-06-2013, 11:05 PM
Darryl G you got the idea right, you can take on more bi wks and circulate your name with more people. When you lose accounts or extended heat and drought takes place your still making money. Even with sprinkler systems you probably can not cut every week. I got two friends plumber and HVAC and their prices per hour and per job blows our prices out the sky. Not many repeat customers and plenty of competition. I say be flexible even in advertizing you never no who you may offend with doing thins one way.

JimLewis
01-06-2013, 11:12 PM
Jim, Jim, Jim...you're missing the point....you split your bi-weekly accounts so half are on one week and the other half on the opposing week, so there is no hole.

Well, that really only works if the two bi-weekly accounts are in the exact same area. Otherwise, you're driving clear across town one week and another part of town the following week.

We do just about 300 accounts. They are very tight routes. All the homes on any given service day are usually within a mile or two of each other. If I was going to take on a bi-weekly account, the other bi-weekly account would have to be in the same small area, otherwise, it would mean we'd be driving a ways outside of our standard route.

Plus, even if they WERE in the same exact neighborhood and I was doing one landscape one week and the other landscape the second week, I'd still have 50-100% more work to do when I arrived after 2 weeks of the lawn growing, 2 weeks of weeds growing, 2 weeks of leaves falling, etc. No thanks! I find it pretty easy to pick up weekly accounts. My competitors can have the cheap-skate bi-weeklies.

Darryl G
01-06-2013, 11:30 PM
Jim: I've learned enough about you and your business over the years that I know bi-weekly accounts would not fit your business model. But for some of us they can work out pretty well. And yes, my bi-weekly routes are in two different areas, but they're still nearby and fairly tight. It's just one day a week. $21K/year is a substantial amount to us smaller operators...well it is to me anyway. Some people have a hard time with this, but I'm not looking to grow my business to having crews...I'm happy with it being a small family business, but I am always looking to grow my revenue and increase my profitability, and for that bi-weekly accounts can fit the bill nicely. I have a hard time turning down an account pays me $1,000 per year for their spring and fall cleanups at a rate of $60/hr plus hauling fees just because I only cut the grass 15 times a year instead of 26 times.

JimLewis
01-06-2013, 11:42 PM
Darryl, I have nothing but respect for you. You know that. We can agree to disagree.

....I have a hard time turning down an account pays me $1,000 per year for their spring and fall cleanups at a rate of $60/hr plus hauling fees just because I only cut the grass 15 times a year instead of 26 times.

See, I wouldn't have any problem not taking that account. Because I know for sure a different weekly account would fill that same slot soon, earning me $1800 a year. It's like fishing. If the fish are biting and you only have a certain limit of fish to catch, you just keep the big ones and throw back the small ones, even though the small ones are good eatin' too. Now, if you're in an area where the fish ain't biting (or maybe you're using the wrong bait) I guess you gotta take whatever you can catch.

weaver
01-07-2013, 12:16 AM
I say if you can make 1100 per season from an EOW customer that's good but around here the people that call for that service are looking to get by cheap and are the first ones that call you in June and tell you just skip this wk and catch me next. Done been through all that. I'm solo and can only do so much and fill my spots with the wkly people. As far as having 60 EOW customers vs 30 wkly I'll take the 30 wkly. Way easier to please 30 bitchin people vs 60. Just my opinion..
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Darryl G
01-07-2013, 01:17 AM
Jim: I don't think we really disagree, we're just in different places. I wouldn't take bi-weekly customers if I were you either, lol.

Weaver: See, I have a finite amount of manpower too, so to me it's all about optomizing my $/hour and having flexibility. Lets say it rains on Wednesday and I can't cut them. My weekly customers still get cut on schedule and the EOW ones get cut as I can get to them. They get bottom priority and all but lose their right to complain. And keep in mind that these accounts are cut EOW because that's all they need most of the time. If I feel they need to be cut weekly in May and June that's what I do. And in the summer they still get cut EOW and are paying me extra even though they don't take any more time then. I don't expect to convince anyone to go dumping their weekly customers to take on EOW ones, I'm just trying to explain that there are some positives to having them and why I personally continue to offer it as an option.

weaver
01-07-2013, 01:21 AM
Totally agree.. good stuff Darryl...
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knox gsl
01-07-2013, 01:33 AM
Darryl I'm with you. I'll shoot for weekly but if they don't take it and are willing to pay the biweekly price I still win. I am going to put the new customers on autopay from a CC because they are usually slow by the the end of the year.
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orangemower
01-07-2013, 10:57 AM
I can't remember if I posted on the subject but I had one bi-weekly that even if I let it go 3 weeks, I could still come in a bag the entire place (small 1/4 acre lot) in less then 40 minutes and have the place looking perfect for $60 per cut. There were times when I had forgotten about her and she would call saying it time to cut again. LOL I STILL made more per minute bagging it even in the worst conditions then I make on some of the larger high dollar properties I have. I did the property with my BOP 36 Dually most of the time. On occasion I would use my Scag with a 61in cut. I was in and out in less then 25 minutes using it. :)

Aaronnc
01-09-2013, 01:25 AM
I think it depends on how your business is set-up and your expectations and goals. Since your even considering dropping clients, I'm assuming your not based on cash flow to cover payments/overhead etc..... And more based on profit/time and efficiency.

That being said, it's a simple question. Is the outcome/income from these clients worth your time and energy? Simple sure, but perplexing at the same time. Do a simple spreadsheet keeping them, and do one without. I tell people to put a price on their perceived and/or real headaches they have, and then do a simple P&L statement.
If the $ is not worth it then drop. If the $ is then deal with it from a different approach, or else keep them till you replace them with another client.

This is a hard question to help with without knowing your internals. Good Luck

JimLewis
01-09-2013, 07:29 AM
I think it honestly comes down to settling. I think most people on this site and who have chimed in on this thread would agree that if they had the choice, they'd rather have any account be a weekly account vs. bi-weekly. Nobody in this business is really HOPING they'll land a ton of bi-weekly accounts....let's be honest. But some are willing to SETTLE for a bi-weekly account, if that's the only way the customer will do it, because they feel it's better to take any account than to say no.

Florida Gardener
01-09-2013, 07:53 AM
I think it honestly comes down to settling. I think most people on this site and who have chimed in on this thread would agree that if they had the choice, they'd rather have any account be a weekly account vs. bi-weekly. Nobody in this business is really HOPING they'll land a ton of bi-weekly accounts....let's be honest. But some are willing to SETTLE for a bi-weekly account, if that's the only way the customer will do it, because they feel it's better to take any account than to say no.

I agree with everything you have said about bi-weeklies. In my area, they are not a good customer. You don't get any extras, and when winter hits, they let you go or you cut the property maybe 3 or 4 times while you are making the same money on your weeklies....

Maybe for some guys on here, it works. But I don't want any part of it and in South Florida, it's not a good customer.
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lawnkingforever
01-09-2013, 09:06 AM
[QUOTE=Aaronnc;4637806]I think it depends on how your business is set-up and your expectations and goals. Since your even considering dropping clients, I'm assuming your not based on cash flow to cover payments/overhead etc..... And more based on profit/time and efficiency.

Very true statement. As a solo lco maximizing your time/profit margins are vital and having efficient systems in place to do so. A run a route that is tighter than most; mow 6 or 7 in one neighborhood move onto neighborhood two that is close by and mow 8 more. I am not trying to mow the world and EOW accounts simply do not fit into what I am trying to accomplish. I still do a couple of these accounts on Mondays to fill in the day.
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Darryl G
01-09-2013, 09:52 AM
I see your point Jim, but one other factor...if all of my accounts were weekly I wouldn't be able to get to them all at times. I would have to drop some accounts, hire someone from outside the family or add a mowing day to my schedule, none of which I want to do at this point.

And keep in mind that mowing is only a small piece of the pie on some of these accounts...the cleanups, plowing and other maintenance and extras account for a larger portion of my income on them. I billed one of them over $3,500 last year...I left that one out of my figures because it's billed together with a small $30 monthly (their cottage "grass" parking area). Mowing only accounted for about 25% of my billing on that account last year. The guy isn't cheap, he just doesn't fertilize or irrigate, so it doesn't need cutting often.

The bottom line is that my bi-weekly accounts fit in well with my operation and I don't want to replace them with weekly accounts...strange as that may seem. It all depends on your situation. The barometer for whether or not an account is worth holding onto for us smaller operators is different than for someone like you. For me it's largely how I feel when I pull up to the account to service it and how much it brings in per year. If I dread pulling up to the account and/or it's less than $1,000 per year it's a candidate for the axe.

MOturkey
01-09-2013, 11:51 AM
The bottom line is that my bi-weekly accounts fit in well with my operation and I don't want to replace them with weekly accounts...strange as that may seem. It all depends on your situation. The barometer for whether or not an account is worth holding onto for us smaller operators is different than for someone like you. For me it's largely how I feel when I pull up to the account to service it and how much it brings in per year. If I dread pulling up to the account and/or it's less than $1,000 per year it's a candidate for the axe.

Very well said.

Woody82986
01-09-2013, 12:10 PM
Lively debate here. I like it. I think it's all a matter of where your company is located, what type of company you are running and what you want to take on. Simply saying that ALL companies who take on any bi weekly work are settling is a tad off kilter. That being said, I'm quite positive that if given the choice, the overwhelming majority of us would choose the weekly client over the bi weekly client, but not all. There is something to be said for the bi weekly client that ends up bringing in more money than a weekly client because they want clean ups and bed maintenance and other services that push them ahead of your average weekly client. I prefer weekly clients and only take on bi weekly clients that will fit well into my schedule and are profitable. I don't go out of my way to accomodate bi weekly clients. And I'd also like to point out that our views on cutting frequency are largely associated with the fact that we run on a 7 day weekly cycle. If we ran on an 8 or 9 day cycle and that's all we ever knew, I'd bet money that nobody would be on here saying "every 7 days is a must". I know most situations don't end up this way, but picture this... 3 lawns within 3 blocks of eachother. One lawn is smaller and weekly with no trees. The two other lawns are twice the size and have an abundance of trees but no irrigation and are bi weekly lawns. At the end of the year, all three lawns bring in the same amount because you did the weekly lawn and one of the bi weekly lawns on one week, and the weekly lawn and the other bi weekly on the next week. There were only seconds of difference in drive time between the two weeks and the work times ended up nearly identical so there's no real slack in the schedule from one week to the next. What's wrong with taking on those two bi weekly lawns in that scenario? This scenario busts the "settling" theory. It doesn't always work like this but when it makes sense to take on bi weekly lawns, I bet this scenario comes close.

MOturkey
01-09-2013, 12:22 PM
Lively debate here. I like it. I think it's all a matter of where your company is located, what type of company you are running and what you want to take on. Simply saying that ALL companies who take on any bi weekly work are settling is a tad off kilter. That being said, I'm quite positive that if given the choice, the overwhelming majority of us would choose the weekly client over the bi weekly client, but not all. There is something to be said for the bi weekly client that ends up bringing in more money than a weekly client because they want clean ups and bed maintenance and other services that push them ahead of your average weekly client. I prefer weekly clients and only take on bi weekly clients that will fit well into my schedule and are profitable. I don't go out of my way to accomodate bi weekly clients. And I'd also like to point out that our views on cutting frequency are largely associated with the fact that we run on a 7 day weekly cycle. If we ran on an 8 or 9 day cycle and that's all we ever knew, I'd bet money that nobody would be on here saying "every 7 days is a must". I know most situations don't end up this way, but picture this... 3 lawns within 3 blocks of eachother. One lawn is smaller and weekly with no trees. The two other lawns are twice the size and have an abundance of trees but no irrigation and are bi weekly lawns. At the end of the year, all three lawns bring in the same amount because you did the weekly lawn and one of the bi weekly lawns on one week, and the weekly lawn and the other bi weekly on the next week. There were only seconds of difference in drive time between the two weeks and the work times ended up nearly identical so there's no real slack in the schedule from one week to the next. What's wrong with taking on those two bi weekly lawns in that scenario? This scenario busts the "settling" theory. It doesn't always work like this but when it makes sense to take on bi weekly lawns, I bet this scenario comes close.

Good points as well. In my case, I have enough EOW accounts to fill an entire day, so I can theoretically work a day less every other week. In practice, this doesn't usually work out, because I often mix the weeklies and bi-weeklies, but am considering setting my schedule up this summer to get that extra day off.

JimLewis
01-09-2013, 12:37 PM
I agree with everything you have said about bi-weeklies. In my area, they are not a good customer. You don't get any extras, and when winter hits, they let you go or you cut the property maybe 3 or 4 times while you are making the same money on your weeklies....

Maybe for some guys on here, it works. But I don't want any part of it and in South Florida, it's not a good customer.
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It's the same here. The bi-weekly accounts are always the cheapskates who rarely want anything else, won't go for our more comprehensive maintenance packages, cancel during the winter months, balk at our prices for additional services, etc. When someone says they want bi-weekly around here I can tell instantly what kind of financial position they are in. Because in Oregon grass GROWS. The only reason you'd ever do bi-weekly is because you're broke.

Darryl G
01-09-2013, 12:48 PM
Yes, that pretty much in line with my thinking Woody.

Here's an example when a bi-weekly account doesn't make sense. I made contact with a potential customer who bought a cord of firewood off me and he asked about mowing his lawn in the spring. I inspected the lawn in late fall/early winter at dusk and figured it would be a slow growth lawn that I'd charge $50 for if it were weekly. I bid it at $65 as a bi-weekly cut. The problem is that a section of it is always badly overgrown at 2 weeks, requiring me to bag it. I figured it would take me an hour tops and it ended up taking me 70 to 80 minutes each cut. He will not allow me to cut it more often than EOW (not in his budget). Due to slopes and obstacles (lots of outcropping rocks) I have to cut it with my walk behind and there is excessive trimming even then. It requires about a mile detour off my route, but that's on a narrow, bumpy and winding woods road, so my total time with travel approaches 90 minutes. Extras on the account ending being a $20 surcharge to deal with leaves on one of my fall cuts, which was questioned by the customer. The customer never paid me according to my Net 15 terms and on a couple of occasions had not paid the previous month by the first of the following month (>30 days). I screwed up taking on this customer at that price but I stuck with it for the season, but this customer will not be on my route next year!

Kelly's Landscaping
01-09-2013, 01:40 PM
I got the honor of Jim posting on one of my threads that is cool I know your seldom on. The point I was making was in my particular area the bi weekly's allowed me to fill up my cutting schedules by splitting them between the 2 weeks as evenly as possible. Thus relieving the pressures that full service accounts would put on my very limited extra work days and fall and spring clean ups as well. My company has an average drive of around .9 miles per lawn i.e we have nearly 200 accounts and drive less than 200 miles a week on the mowing lists.

I take you at your word Jim if you say that this wouldn't work in your area I tend to believe you. New England is very old and property lines are very strange streams, rocks, even a barn may have been what was used to draw the lines. And very few states were done this way the majority of the country used a grid system as they settled. What it means for us is lawn sizes vary massively in a very small area. 3 miles from my house I have lawns as small as 500 sqft and as large as 120,000 sqft and everything in-between. The tight developments often have some nice healthy thick lawns and you wouldn't consider going anything other than weekly. Where 1 or 2 streets over it will be a street that has 40 to 50 year old homes and a few that date back 200 years all with heavy tree cover and sickly shade lawns that are perfect for bi weekly mowing. And so here if you want a thick mowing list you need to take on the old non conforming neighborhoods that are spread through out the towns in-between the newer developments. If the road is wide enough and the parking is there I'll take it. Now there are 1000s of homes near the beach that I can not touch with my rigs but interestingly here the beach area is the slum so no loss heheehehe I told you our state was weird.

And yes Jim I know Oregon grass grows it's where all the grass seed we can buy here comes from. I would guess other than logging probably your number 2 industry there.

Darryl G
01-09-2013, 02:23 PM
Honor? That scrub used 21 inch mowers for 16 years before finially breaking down and buying a used 36 inch belt drive mower, and here he is posting like some sort of elitist! :laugh::laugh::laugh:

Just teasin...lol.

Florida Gardener
01-09-2013, 07:44 PM
It's the same here. The bi-weekly accounts are always the cheapskates who rarely want anything else, won't go for our more comprehensive maintenance packages, cancel during the winter months, balk at our prices for additional services, etc. When someone says they want bi-weekly around here I can tell instantly what kind of financial position they are in. Because in Oregon grass GROWS. The only reason you'd ever do bi-weekly is because you're broke.
I don't think the guys who don't cut and prune year round will get it. There is always something to be done on my properties. I agree, the bi-weeklies here are cheap and really don't have the money to be spending on maintenance.
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2ExploreTech
01-10-2013, 01:50 AM
I understand that in urban or sub-urban areas, doing biweekly mowings may not be that desirable, particularly with small yards. With larger yards or landowners, biweekly mowings aren't that bad. As mentioned from some earlier, they usually are not fert. and irrigation is rare. Yards have more 'breathing room' so using wider mowers are possible. They often have secondary mowings included -- trails, orchards, pond lots, along the road, maybe even an old cemetery.

One suggestioned that I have used, if the property is large enough, is to mow 1/2 1 week, then the other 1/2 the next. Trim accordingly and clean up weekly, not counting storm damage or leaf season of course. Yes, this just became a weekly, I know. In one case the owner works down in the city, so having someone keep track of the property and be responsible enough to take care of things as needed worked out well. [Almost embarrased to say it, but one of the selling pts was that the deck would be level with sharp -not bent - blades -- just because the lawn isn't a golf course doesnt mean the mower should scalp it]