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GSO LAWNEN4CER
01-07-2013, 10:25 PM
So you land a leaf clean up job.The leaves haven't been touch all season.The property is a mess. You as a solo get with owners and they tell you what they want done. They give you the green light to start. The total job takes you 14.5 hr Whats your bill for the customer?

14.5 hrs.
4 gallons of 2cycle mix.
Gutter cleaning.

grassmasterswilson
01-07-2013, 10:42 PM
14.5 x hourly rate
Posted via Mobile Device

GSO LAWNEN4CER
01-07-2013, 10:51 PM
14.5 x hourly rate
Posted via Mobile Device

What would that be for you or your business?

GSO LAWNEN4CER
01-07-2013, 11:15 PM
Here's what I'm dealing with.The property owner lets her daughter handle her finances.The daughter calls a gives the green light to start the job.Shes asked if I billed hourly.I said yes.I start this past friday.I finish up today.
the total was 14.5hrs. So the mother & daughter meet me at the property this AM. The daughter says when your done,just tell my mother she will give you a check.So I finish up this afternoon. I give the bill/hrs worked and the mother goes into orbit.Sayn she can't afford the bill. She thought it was gonna be in the $30.00 range.(I'm not a 12yr old with a rake)

After talking to the mother,she gives me a check for the bill.Well 2hrs later the daughter leaves a message sayn she stoped payment on the check.How would some of you handle this situation?

knox gsl
01-07-2013, 11:18 PM
Here's what I'm dealing with.The property owner lets her daughter handle her finances.The daughter calls a gives the green light to start the job.Shes asked if I billed hourly.I said yes.I start this past friday.I finish up today.
the total was 14.5hrs. So the mother & daughter meet me at the property this AM. The daughter says when your done,just tell my mother she will give you a check.So I finish up this afternoon. I give the bill/hrs worked and the mother goes into orbit.Sayn she can't afford the bill. She thought it was gonna be in the $30.00 range.(I'm not a 12yr old with a rake)

After talking to the mother,she gives me a check for the bill.Well 2hrs later the daughter leaves a message sayn she stoped payment on the check.How would some of you handle this situation?

DA's office or Sheriff's Dept. In the future give an approximate figure.

alldayrj
01-07-2013, 11:18 PM
Give them the price BEFORE you start next time, and have them sign a contract
Posted via Mobile Device

knox gsl
01-07-2013, 11:19 PM
$435 is about par for a fall cleanup that hasn't been touched.

GSO LAWNEN4CER
01-07-2013, 11:27 PM
$435 is about par for a fall cleanup that hasn't been touched.

The bill with a discounted price was $500.00 thats at a discount of $35.00 per hr! The normal is $40.00. The leaves were 3ft deep with enuff sticks and debris to build a log cabin. And to top it off,I cleaned the gutters and roof of all the leaves and trash.

GSO LAWNEN4CER
01-07-2013, 11:28 PM
Give them the price BEFORE you start next time, and have them sign a contract
Posted via Mobile Device

How? You dont know how long its gonna take!

alldayrj
01-07-2013, 11:29 PM
How? You dont know how long its gonna take!

You've never cleaned up leaves before? Seems the whole job has been a great learning experience
Posted via Mobile Device

knox gsl
01-07-2013, 11:37 PM
So was this hypothetical or did it happen? $30-$35-$40/ hour is low to begin with and how big of a lot are we talking about. I can't think of any of my normal 1/2 lots that would take me 14.5 hours to complete even it were raining while working on it.

GSO LAWNEN4CER
01-07-2013, 11:37 PM
You've never cleaned up leaves before? Seems the whole job has been a great learning experience
Posted via Mobile Device

I've been doing leaves all season.My base customers as most others know.We do the leaves as they fall. EOW during fall.This is a referal customer.
That didnt touch the yard.

GSO LAWNEN4CER
01-07-2013, 11:53 PM
So was this hypothetical or did it happen? $30-$35-$40/ hour is low to begin with and how big of a lot are we talking about. I can't think of any of my normal 1/2 lots that would take me 14.5 hours to complete even it were raining while working on it.

A property that has 6 white oaks in the back yard,and hasn't been touched all season.And hilly terrain. And yes the daughter stoped payment on the check this afternoon. And yes $35.00per hr is a great deal.

weeze
01-08-2013, 12:58 AM
14.5 hr job? geez how big was the yard? as a solo i would never take on a job of that size to begin with. at my rate that would be $725. noone would ever pay even half of that. that's why i don't do those jobs. i do 3 acre leaf jobs that only take 2 1/2-3hrs at most. these leaves aren't 3ft deep when i do them though. i would've told them upfront it's gonna cost more than they wanna pay. as a solo you gotta know when to draw the line and it's a learning experience. my first year i took on some jobs like that. taking on more than was practical for me to do. i learned i'm not gonna take on a job that takes me more than 4hrs to do. it's best to just leave those jobs for the big companies to do. they have 10 guys they can send out to tackle something like that. working alone on it you just wear your body out and you never get paid well enough for it. everyone has different limits. you just gotta set yours. i doubt you are gonna get paid at all for the job. that's the worst part about it. all that work for nothing. i would try to get them to pay what they can and cut your losses and learn from it.

Brucelawns
01-08-2013, 01:45 AM
Definitely a learning experience. Explain to the customer that stopped the check what your exact expenses were. And I mean exact. Offer a slight discount at $400 and see their reaction. You need to sell this and not argue with them but sell. There's a difference. I never like to give an hourly rate for a job it can get messy. In the opinion of the customer if you're there too long they think you are milking them or if you do the job too fast you could lose money. There's not an exact science or price on some jobs especially cleanups. Sometimes you win on estimating jobs sometimes you lose. Experience and talking to others that are in the business like on this site or other companies will help in the future. Pick the brain from others. Next time give them a price unless you have done the job before and are regular customers. If they are first time or one timers and you don't know exactly what to charge give 2 prices and work from there. You could say if we take this amount of debris it'll be this amount etc. You need to sell and gain the customers trust back and sympathize with them a little. But just a little because you just worked 14 hrs for them. For example: "I worked my butt off for 14 hrs and cleaned your yard that was 3 ft deep in leaves and cleaned your gutters. They had sticks and twigs and crap cloggin them up. That was really hard. Doesn't it look good? I took 3 truck loads of debris to the dump that cost $60 a load". I think you get my and the other guys on here's drift:) Sorry for being so long winded but I've been in your shoes. Some customers can be and act like children. Some will try to take advantage of you. GL

Brucelawns
01-08-2013, 01:53 AM
Also never fall in love with a job. What I mean is, (and I've been guilty of this) you go out and see a job and really want to do it and estimate it too low just because you want to do it and think it would be cool or for whatever reason you really wanted it. Business is business. Maybe I didn't explain that well but maybe. Ha!

Brucelawns
01-08-2013, 02:03 AM
If it gets bad and only you can judge that when you talk to the customer offer them the opportunity to pay in payments but only do that if you think it's going bad. Not a fan of it but sometimes if you give the customer a little cool down period they may come around. Time goes by and their neighbor or relative or friend come by and comment to them that there yard looks great! The neighbor might ask who did the job. Or if the neighbor doesn't say anything but they noticed. People always notice. You may not think so but they are looking. That's what I tell my guys. Work as if the customer is watching on the front porch. I always think someone is watching. Kinda scary. JK!

GSO LAWNEN4CER
01-08-2013, 02:32 AM
If it gets bad and only you can judge that when you talk to the customer offer them the opportunity to pay in payments but only do that if you think it's going bad. Not a fan of it but sometimes if you give the customer a little cool down period they may come around. Time goes by and their neighbor or relative or friend come by and comment to them that there yard looks great! The neighbor might ask who did the job. Or if the neighbor doesn't say anything but they noticed. People always notice. You may not think so but they are looking. That's what I tell my guys. Work as if the customer is watching on the front porch. I always think someone is watching. Kinda scary. JK!

Thats how this whole thing started.One of my regulars is across the street.The lady I did the clean up for over the weekend got my info from my regular.Her daughter calls me last week to set up the work. I tell her I can get it knock out over the weekend. Put in 14.5 hrs working blowers pretty much non-stop. Had a lil handheld poulan pro 25''cc blower I got 5yrs ago.After that 15rd brawl Sat afternoon she had enuff.:laugh: Can hear piston pieces rattling around!:laugh:

StrokerTurbo7.3
01-08-2013, 03:40 AM
Get some legit equipment for the job next time and you would have had it done in a 1/4 of the time, had money in your account from the customer, and the customer praising you saying "look forward to seeing you next fall".
Posted via Mobile Device

GSO LAWNEN4CER
01-08-2013, 04:28 AM
Get some legit equipment for the job next time and you would have had it done in a 1/4 of the time, had money in your account from the customer, and the customer praising you saying "look forward to seeing you next fall".
Posted via Mobile Device

I did have good equipment.Was using the lil guy to help the big blower.The Husky back pack is a beast.

Smallaxe
01-08-2013, 06:13 AM
The daughter doesn't have a clue as to what you did or did not do... The lady of the house may have noticed all the labor that went into it... you didn't give a ball park figure, evidently so now you're stuck with her aftershock...

I would let her know that it was definately a fair price, that you are one who WORKS for his money and you have in NO WAY ripped her off, and you are disappointed that she would STEAL a paycheck from a working man... She sounds like a Democrat... walk away and use her name in all future estimates... :)

grassmasterswilson
01-08-2013, 06:42 AM
Always give a actual price estimate even if its a range. If your not sure say I bill out at 30/hr and this might take 10-15 hrs.

I'm a solo also and would never take a 2 day job without giving a number! Probably would say no from start since that's too big of a job for me even with a walker, backpack blower, and tarps.

Maybe before and after pics on jobs like this?

scagman52
01-08-2013, 06:47 AM
So you land a leaf clean up job.The leaves haven't been touch all season.The property is a mess. You as a solo get with owners and they tell you what they want done. They give you the green light to start. The total job takes you 14.5 hr Whats your bill for the customer?

14.5 hrs.
4 gallons of 2cycle mix.
Gutter cleaning.

How long have you been in this business? It seems to me you should have been able to come up with a figure of how long it would take you to do the job. By telling the customer that it will take around so many hours at so much per hour would have told the customer that it was going to be alot more than the $30.00 she had in her mind. I say it is your fault for not being specific enough!

Roger
01-08-2013, 06:55 AM
Can we presume this event did not happen? The title is "hypothetical," which means the situation has been framed as something that could happen, but did not. If it did happen as stated, then it is not "hypothetical," rather reality.

If it was reality, then the last comment was on target, "... it is your fault for not being specific enough." No, you may not know exactly the time and cost the customer will be charged, but you should be able to provide a range, and get an approval for the range. The $30 and $400 is a huge gap. If a range of prices, with a minimum was given, then you and the customer had common expectations. Without having given even a range of prices, the expectations of a final cost was not even established.

hackitdown
01-08-2013, 01:27 PM
Always give a actual price estimate even if its a range. If your not sure say I bill out at 30/hr and this might take 10-15 hrs.


This is how it is done right. ^

chesterlawn
01-08-2013, 02:58 PM
To the op what kind of equipment were you using? Did you have a truck with a loader, tarp or did the leaves stay on the property, how big of a yard? Maybe I missed it.

pseudosun
01-08-2013, 03:35 PM
I don't know everything, and probably not as much as most people here, BUT taking on a large job like that by the hour would make me very worried about pay time. I'd do my best to give an estimate. I've done it enough times to visualize the job. If it turned out to be a little low, atleast they wouldn't stop payment on the check. How much is your time spent fighting to get your money worth? I've done a couple of those recently, and they jumped at my price. They thought it would take me so much longer. I wrapped up two huge tarps, and ran my mower, done. I'm not comfortable with hourly pay at all. On that same street, i gave a man a price, and he said "well, i want to see how long it will take you." I walked. Having said all of this, i think your customer has no idea about the amount of work you did. You have to deal with them on their level, and that is "bottom line". "How much is this going to cost me?"

jrs.landscaping
01-08-2013, 05:10 PM
Maybe you could use your own advice in this "hypothetical situation?"

Here's how it works! You get a call from a lead, soon to be customer. You get the basics of what they want, and what day is good to come by.They give your the Address. Using the Address, you go to Google earth and measure the property.This gives you a good idea of a ballpark price.Going by my price guide. You show up to customers home,look over the property and give a final price.

According to you here is how to give an estimate. :waving:

larryinalabama
01-08-2013, 05:28 PM
Not to bust anyones bubble but customers percieve 40$ per hour to clean leaves is a ripoff. Emergency Room Docs only make 50$ to 60$ per hour.

I would never price something by the hour unless I know the people real well.

pseudosun
01-08-2013, 05:50 PM
I think hourly pay works against you. Let's say you've become really efficient and finally have top notch equipment. You're able to do a large amount of work in a small amount of time. Customers imagine a job will take alot longer than what it will be. If you know how to price, you can get them to commit to a figure for the whole job. If you do it really quick (alot less time than what they thought); that's just tough for them. You already have an agreement. I can see how a jacked up rate may help you. To me, it seems like if i do a job quickly, i'm going to get paid less. I'm not saying my way is right; it's just right for me. I think a price in the beginning also protects the customer. What if a worker decides to drag ass, and then bill the customer for it?

larryinalabama
01-08-2013, 05:57 PM
I think hourly pay works against you. Let's say you've become really efficient and finally have top notch equipment. You're able to do a large amount of work in a small amount of time. Customers imagine a job will take alot longer than what it will be. If you know how to price, you can get them to commit to a figure for the whole job. If you do it really quick (alot less time than what they thought); that's just tough for them. You already have an agreement. I can see how a jacked up rate may help you. To me, it seems like if i do a job quickly, i'm going to get paid less. I'm not saying my way is right; it's just right for me. I think a price in the beginning also protects the customer. What if a worker decides to drag ass, and then bill the customer for it?

Its like this, I do a leaf job for a customer once a year, done it for 5 years now. It took the home woner literally his weeks vacation to do it. It takes me 2 hours, hes happy to pay me 150$.

Ive done some odd stuff in the off season for customers by the hour, only because I know the people and really have know idea the job will take.

lawnkingforever
01-08-2013, 05:58 PM
Not to bust anyones bubble but customers percieve 40$ per hour to clean leaves is a ripoff. Emergency Room Docs only make 50$ to 60$ per hour.

I would never price something by the hour unless I know the people real well.

Exactly right on one point and wrong another. People do think 40$ an hour is high for leaf clean up work. This why I mainly do leaf cleanups for lawn customers only. Spot on, Larry.

Emergency room surgeons make alot more than $50 an hour.
Posted via Mobile Device

Smallaxe
01-08-2013, 06:08 PM
If I was still using a rake for leaves, like when I started, I would not be able to charge $5/hr and still have a reasonable price... Every time I get a larger blower, the price could actually go down a little bit andit could go even faster if I had a sensible way of loading the truck... :)

The guy that said you're paid for efficiency by use of top notch equipment, not solely by time, has it exactly right...

weeze
01-08-2013, 06:17 PM
hey if you can get that kind of money then more power to you. it's not about being lazy it's about being smart. i don't only work 4hrs a day. i'm not gonna spend more than 4hrs and one job per day. the biggest yard i have is 3 acres and i'm done in 2 1/2 hrs. i don't need anything bigger than that solo.

around here noone would pay anything near that price or $1800. the biggest paying leaf job i got was $125 here. it took 2 1/2 hrs. that's all people are willing to pay here. most of them just let it go and don't even get leaf cleanup where i live.

Will P.C.
01-08-2013, 06:50 PM
I don't know any 'facts' about this situation but it could possibly be considered a crime for writing a bad check. Is 400 dollars worth the trouble of fighting it? Probably not. You might try using it as leverage to recoup some of the money. 200 bucks is better than 0.

Not to be harsh, but common sense should have taken over and given them some type of ball park range before you started. Many people don't have 400 dollars in their checking account for an extraneous expense like leaf cleanup.

When taking on a new customer and the has the potential to go over 200 dollars, you should give them a heads to see if they even have the money.

yardguy28
01-08-2013, 06:59 PM
Here's what I'm dealing with.The property owner lets her daughter handle her finances.The daughter calls a gives the green light to start the job.Shes asked if I billed hourly.I said yes.I start this past friday.I finish up today.
the total was 14.5hrs. So the mother & daughter meet me at the property this AM. The daughter says when your done,just tell my mother she will give you a check.So I finish up this afternoon. I give the bill/hrs worked and the mother goes into orbit.Sayn she can't afford the bill. She thought it was gonna be in the $30.00 range.(I'm not a 12yr old with a rake)

After talking to the mother,she gives me a check for the bill.Well 2hrs later the daughter leaves a message sayn she stoped payment on the check.How would some of you handle this situation?

my hourly rate is $35 per man hour.

as for handling the situation I would sent a letter snail mail informing them they have 14 days from the date of the letter to send payment or I reserve the right to use lawyers, liens, small claims court or collection agencies to collect any unpaid balances.

then I would sit back and go about my business.

94gt331
01-08-2013, 07:07 PM
Here's what I'm dealing with.The property owner lets her daughter handle her finances.The daughter calls a gives the green light to start the job.Shes asked if I billed hourly.I said yes.I start this past friday.I finish up today.
the total was 14.5hrs. So the mother & daughter meet me at the property this AM. The daughter says when your done,just tell my mother she will give you a check.So I finish up this afternoon. I give the bill/hrs worked and the mother goes into orbit.Sayn she can't afford the bill. She thought it was gonna be in the $30.00 range.(I'm not a 12yr old with a rake)

After talking to the mother,she gives me a check for the bill.Well 2hrs later the daughter leaves a message sayn she stoped payment on the check.How would some of you handle this situation?

Wow she only thought the bill would be $30 what a dumb b^^^h. Your screwed on that one I think. Sounds like white trash to me. I would have given a estimate to her first. I give estimates to all new customers before a job starts. Normal maint. customers of mine don't even ask me for a price on there cleanups anymore which is nice because they know I'm fair with them every year. And I get cleanups like you on a constant basis in the fall my crew of 3 guys does about 2 big cleanups a day, ton's of leaves around my area. Good luck to you on getting your money, let us know how you make out.

StanWilhite
01-08-2013, 07:10 PM
Here's what I'm dealing with.The property owner lets her daughter handle her finances.The daughter calls a gives the green light to start the job.Shes asked if I billed hourly.I said yes.I start this past friday.I finish up today.
the total was 14.5hrs. So the mother & daughter meet me at the property this AM. The daughter says when your done,just tell my mother she will give you a check.So I finish up this afternoon. I give the bill/hrs worked and the mother goes into orbit.Sayn she can't afford the bill. She thought it was gonna be in the $30.00 range.(I'm not a 12yr old with a rake)

After talking to the mother,she gives me a check for the bill.Well 2hrs later the daughter leaves a message sayn she stoped payment on the check.How would some of you handle this situation?

Small claims court, you should have a cut and dried case if they didn't ask for an estimate. They also cannot get away with writing you a ck and then stopping payment on it....the judge will frown heavily at that. As long as your pricing is anywhere around reasonable, I think you've got an "open and shut" case.

Roger
01-08-2013, 09:14 PM
Small claims court, ...., I think you've got an "open and shut" case.


From what we read, it sounds that way. Despite getting a favorable ruling from the "open and shut case," the OP may never get paid. A favorable ruling is only that -- collections is beyond that, outside the judge's ruling. I think that is where the case now resides -- not being able to collect.

Roger
01-08-2013, 09:17 PM
....

Emergency room surgeons make alot more than $50 an hour.
Posted via Mobile Device

When they get paid. They may charge much more than $50/hr, but so much of the ER work is for non-payers, the doc may get nothing. Supplying the service is part of the obligation of the hospital.

... sorry, not to derail the thread, .... carry on.

Snapper Jack
01-08-2013, 09:49 PM
Here's what I'm dealing with.The property owner lets her daughter handle her finances.The daughter calls a gives the green light to start the job.Shes asked if I billed hourly.I said yes.I start this past friday.I finish up today.
the total was 14.5hrs. So the mother & daughter meet me at the property this AM. The daughter says when your done,just tell my mother she will give you a check.So I finish up this afternoon. I give the bill/hrs worked and the mother goes into orbit.Sayn she can't afford the bill. She thought it was gonna be in the $30.00 range.(I'm not a 12yr old with a rake)

After talking to the mother,she gives me a check for the bill.Well 2hrs later the daughter leaves a message sayn she stoped payment on the check.How would some of you handle this situation?
Go to the local sheriffs office or the magistrate to take legal action against them for canceling the check for work services rendered,it will get resolved.

GSO LAWNEN4CER
01-08-2013, 10:59 PM
We guys go it all ironed out today.Talked with the daughter this AM. She's gonna break the bill up into two payments.One mailed this AM and the other next week. She handles her mother finances because her mother is in the early stages of dementia,and gets confused. So it worked out pretty well. And she did say the property looks a ton better than it did.

When she called I took the approach of its a easy fix,no need to get nasty about the situation. So I asked her what would be the best for her at this time.Kinda putting the ball in her court. She said I'll mail you a check today,and the rest next week. I told her that will work.

Will P.C.
01-08-2013, 11:07 PM
Famous last words "the check will be in the mail tomorrow"

Just keep an eye out as many people say this with no intention of paying

GSO LAWNEN4CER
01-08-2013, 11:13 PM
Famous last words "the check will be in the mail tomorrow"

Just keep an eye out as many people say this with no intention of paying

I still have the $500 check just in case I need proof that work was done.When the final check clears,I'll shredd the check.

pseudosun
01-08-2013, 11:15 PM
I'm familiar with customers with dementia. I lost a customer because he said that he paid me, and i had to tell him that he didn't. I really thought the wife would understand what was going on, but she automatically took his side, and told me to leave.

herler
01-08-2013, 11:21 PM
So you land a leaf clean up job.The leaves haven't been touch all season.The property is a mess. You as a solo get with owners and they tell you what they want done. They give you the green light to start. The total job takes you 14.5 hr Whats your bill for the customer?

14.5 hrs.
4 gallons of 2cycle mix.
Gutter cleaning.

Wrong answer.
You need to have agreed on a total before you started.

Here's what I'm dealing with.The property owner lets her daughter handle her finances.The daughter calls a gives the green light to start the job.Shes asked if I billed hourly.I said yes.I start this past friday.I finish up today.
the total was 14.5hrs. So the mother & daughter meet me at the property this AM. The daughter says when your done,just tell my mother she will give you a check.So I finish up this afternoon. I give the bill/hrs worked and the mother goes into orbit.Sayn she can't afford the bill. She thought it was gonna be in the $30.00 range.(I'm not a 12yr old with a rake)

After talking to the mother,she gives me a check for the bill.Well 2hrs later the daughter leaves a message sayn she stoped payment on the check.How would some of you handle this situation?

You screwed up, of course they thought it was going to be in the $30 range,
I completely understand the customer's position, $500 for 15 hours, man
you are crazy I wouldn't pay you either!

It's your fault!
*** YOU FAILED TO AGREE ON A PRICE BEFORE YOU STARTED!!! ***

What you are doing now in ways of getting paid borders on extortion and strong armed robbery.
People like you are giving this Industry a bad name.

Can we presume this event did not happen? The title is "hypothetical," which means the situation has been framed as something that could happen, but did not. If it did happen as stated, then it is not "hypothetical," rather reality.

We could presume, except that reading this thread I have every reason to believe it did happen,
the fact the title includes the word hypothetical really isn't helping either.

I'm all fired up so even if it were hypothetical it was a bad idea for a thread.

MillerIn503
01-08-2013, 11:57 PM
Glad that at least a verbal arrangement was met, in all hopes the daughters word is good. After all is said and done. How long did it take for this yard to get to a 14.5hr. clean up job? Maybe look at this job predicament as a sell and try to get a possible route from this client. Using the confusion of payment on this one clean up job as a catalyst to make more negotiable money from the situation. Sell the preventative maintenance fees that come along from routine yard care. The daughter wants to care, so use that.

Duekster
01-09-2013, 12:01 AM
In my hypothetical I get paid my max price and the lady of the house is lonely

GSO LAWNEN4CER
01-09-2013, 12:10 AM
In my hypothetical I get paid my max price and the lady of the house is lonely

Did you trim her bush?:laugh:

MillerIn503
01-09-2013, 12:20 AM
GSO, it sounds as if the daughter is now the care giver to the mother and home. Sell to her and not the mother, the importance of regular upkeep and that routine maintenance will prevent future high cost clean ups and provide a beautiful yard year round. Not just once a year, because it has to be done. This assuming that this is the case(no current routine care). Separating yourself from the negative first impression of payment negotiation. See how you can make the situation pull into a possible financial profit with a routine maintenance account year round. Both you and the client win...

GSO LAWNEN4CER
01-09-2013, 01:39 AM
GSO, it sounds as if the daughter is now the care giver to the mother and home. Sell to her and not the mother, the importance of regular upkeep and that routine maintenance will prevent future high cost clean ups and provide a beautiful yard year round. Not just once a year, because it has to be done. This assuming that this is the case(no current routine care). Separating yourself from the negative first impression of payment negotiation. See how you can make the situation pull into a possible financial profit with a routine maintenance account year round. Both you and the client win...

Already have,she wants me to clean up and up keep till the house sells.They are gonna put it on the market this summer.

MOturkey
01-09-2013, 11:01 AM
GSO, I think you handled the situation correctly. Hopefully you will receive payment with no problem. Life is a learning experience, and although I always THINK I have made all the mistakes at least once, new ones continue to crop up. :) Next time you will realize you need to give people some idea of the costs involved before you start a job to avoid a problem on down the road.

I also don't think you were out of line with your fee, which works out to about $35 per hour. If I were mowing for 14.5 hours, I would expect to get roughly twice that much.

MOturkey
01-09-2013, 11:10 AM
I'm familiar with customers with dementia. I lost a customer because he said that he paid me, and i had to tell him that he didn't. I really thought the wife would understand what was going on, but she automatically took his side, and told me to leave.

I mowed one summer for a gentleman who was apparently in the early stages of Alzheimer's. I realized it after he would tell me a story, then repeat the same story 5 minutes later without realizing he had already told me.

Anyway, a week or so after the last mow, he stops by the house and tries to pay me. Again. I had a little trouble convincing him he had already paid me. I can certainly see how this could go the other way as well. In hindsight, if you are dealing with anyone you think might have a mental deficiency, it is probably a good idea to document each and every transaction in writing.

Richard Martin
01-09-2013, 12:39 PM
Nevermind. This guy ain't worth it.

StanWilhite
01-09-2013, 01:06 PM
From what we read, it sounds that way. Despite getting a favorable ruling from the "open and shut case," the OP may never get paid. A favorable ruling is only that -- collections is beyond that, outside the judge's ruling. I think that is where the case now resides -- not being able to collect.

If he gets a favorable ruling and stays after the court they can freeze the defendant's bank account and do other things to encourage payment.

I went thru basically the same deal but fortunately for me one of my very closest friend was a circuit judge in the same county. He gave me a little advice that worked out really well. You just have to stay at it and not let it be forgotten....by the court, or the other party.
Good luck!

Darryl G
01-09-2013, 01:36 PM
Yeah, you should have given an estimate before starting work. My book rate is $60/hr but I'll discount it to $50 if I don't need to involve my mowers and it's after I'm done with my regulars. You should be able to give an estimate plus or minus 20%.

Valk
01-09-2013, 01:44 PM
Would have loved to see some before & after pics...

A season's worth of leaves would likely kill/smother some turf.

Had you cleaned up this yard 4 times @$125/visit...would you have saved some time over all?

GSO LAWNEN4CER
01-09-2013, 10:22 PM
Would have loved to see some before & after pics...

A season's worth of leaves would likely kill/smother some turf.

Had you cleaned up this yard 4 times @$125/visit...would you have saved some time over all?

Your right.The leaves killed pretty much the whole back yard.Nothing but mud under the leaves.

BrunoT
01-11-2013, 09:53 PM
How? You dont know how long its gonna take!

A professional would, at least within an hour or so. Estimating accurately is a big part of the job. And unless it's the Taj Mahal, you need better equipment and techniques to be competitive. 14.5 hours is a lot of time.

If you're going to do your OTJ training with paying customers, expect some hiccups. But start with providing your rates up front, in writing, and getting a contract signed if it's for a substantial amount. Even if they were willing to agree to an open-ended pricing scheme, there should be a meeting of the minds as to the general price range expected.

At $35/hour you're still way below what it takes to make a decent profit.

As for the bill, it's probably illegal to stop payment on a check given as payment for services. You might inquire about that if they don't pay up.

yardguy28
01-12-2013, 12:00 AM
A professional would, at least within an hour or so. Estimating accurately is a big part of the job. And unless it's the Taj Mahal, you need better equipment and techniques to be competitive. 14.5 hours is a lot of time.

If you're going to do your OTJ training with paying customers, expect some hiccups. But start with providing your rates up front, in writing, and getting a contract signed if it's for a substantial amount. Even if they were willing to agree to an open-ended pricing scheme, there should be a meeting of the minds as to the general price range expected.

At $35/hour you're still way below what it takes to make a decent profit.

As for the bill, it's probably illegal to stop payment on a check given as payment for services. You might inquire about that if they don't pay up.

you have no idea what his market bears to be saying $35 per man hour is way under to make a profit.

in my area the going rate is roughly just that $35 per man hour.

guys who make statements like that kind of get on my nerves considering every location has a different market. talking about prices in your market does no good to him unless he's in your market.

the market ain't the same everywhere bud......

Darryl G
01-12-2013, 12:28 AM
"Decent profit" is a relative term. Back when I started up I was happy to be making $35/hr. Now I won't do anything for under $45/hr and that will only get you me and hand tools doing light work. Start adding power tools & equipment and heavy labor and my rate goes up from there. But the cost of living is high where I am, it's a realtively wealthy area and I'm not hungry for work.

Some of my fall cleanups took a lot longer this year because they were essentially a hurricane cleanup and fall cleanup rolled into one. I generally don't give my regular maintenance customers a price up front. I just do it and send them a bill. I don't even discuss doing it with most of them, nor do they know when I'm coming. They know I'll get it done and be fair with them. New customers are different. I spell things out for them.

biodale
01-12-2013, 01:11 AM
I use a collection agency to collect late bills. As long as the bill is justified turn them into collections. Yes, there is a cost of collections that I have to pay. But I would rather get 70% than nothing.
I use emails as verification. The problem with verbal contracts is it is hard to prove. Most times the customer is not being dishonest, but rather truly mistaken and naive to think a job can be done for $30.

PK Mows
01-12-2013, 01:58 AM
I'll start off critical and then try to explain why.

It's very, very poor business to be so open-ended. I can't imagine not telling a Customer on the front-end how much a job is going to cost and what the timeline is. This springing a price on a Customer after the work is done is the sort of practice that makes the entire industry look bad. If I were this Customer, I would have expected teenager with a rake prices, not $35 an hour. If you wanna charge Pro prices, you gotta be a Pro.

If you don't get it in writing, then it's your word against hers. Always provide a written estimate and have the Customer sign that estimate. If you have to adjust the price during the job, then you have to submit a change-order and have it approved and signed. If you don't do these two basic things, you can go to Court all you wish, but all that's going to happen is the Judge will ask for documentation and then decide as he wishes, and good luck with that. The onus of proof is on you, the person supplying the service, not on the Customer. And, the fact is in this situation, there was never a meeting of minds before work started, so there was never a contract, so good luck if they refuse to pay. The Courts aren't there to bail you out after you mess up, they will decide a case based on the Letter of the Law. You have no contract, you have a very weak claim.

Now I don't get signed estimates on everything we do, there's no hardcore reason for that on a $40 cut. But if I'm going to invest the money to pay my guys 14 man hours, plus fuel, insurance, wear-and-tear, advertising, profit, etc., then I'm going to take every measure to ensure I'll get paid.

It really does boggle my mind to see people commit to doing hundreds, even thousands of dollars of work but not spend a minute or two to get a signed contract. I think probably it's that people are either afraid of offending the Customer by asking for their guarantee to pay or that they're possibly not sure the deal is really real and want to slip in and out quietly.

Now the problem with being afraid of offending the Customer is that a Customer who is actually going to pay promptly is not going to have a problem signing that contract. Think about it, they have no problem signing a big check, why would they be bothered signing a contract? Most people should see that as good business practice and feel more assured they are dealing with a Professional, and the estimate/contract should have language that protects them as well. And if they are hinky about signing a contract, you should probably run the other direction anyway.

yardguy28
01-12-2013, 08:25 AM
"Decent profit" is a relative term. Back when I started up I was happy to be making $35/hr. Now I won't do anything for under $45/hr and that will only get you me and hand tools doing light work. Start adding power tools & equipment and heavy labor and my rate goes up from there. But the cost of living is high where I am, it's a realtively wealthy area and I'm not hungry for work.

Some of my fall cleanups took a lot longer this year because they were essentially a hurricane cleanup and fall cleanup rolled into one. I generally don't give my regular maintenance customers a price up front. I just do it and send them a bill. I don't even discuss doing it with most of them, nor do they know when I'm coming. They know I'll get it done and be fair with them. New customers are different. I spell things out for them.

I think I pretty much agree with you if I understand you correctly. this is the way I have always felt since I've been in business.

my prices are based off of what I consider to be a decent living and the cost of living in my area.

I realize everyone's idea of a decent living is different and so is there cost of living.

Darryl G
01-12-2013, 08:35 AM
Yes, I think we agree...you can't really say that $35 will not give you a decent profit without knowing what the cost of living and market are in an area and because we all may define decent profit differently. I can say that I can't work for $35/hour and make what I consider to be a decent profit.

RussellB
01-12-2013, 08:42 AM
I never start a job without first knowing exactly what the customer wants and giving them an estimate. Your price does not sound unreasonable but they should have been advised prior to commencement of work. Same applies to auto mechanics working on my car or the guy working on my air conditioner.