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View Full Version : Charge more because of rain and overgrowth?


roscioli
06-12-2003, 05:48 PM
Is it possible to add a charge becuase of all the rain we have had? I missed about 10 days because of rain, and the grass was crazy, had to double and triple cut some lawns, will I get away with charging for this?

rodfather
06-12-2003, 06:18 PM
Double Cuts = Normal Fee + 50%
Triple Cuts = Normal Fee + 75%

General Grounds
06-12-2003, 09:44 PM
:blob3: we have in our contracts that if mowing has to be skipped due to weather or sprinklers we will double charge, miss a cut 2 weeks and had to double charge, so far no problems with people cryin, if they cry i simply tell them to read the middle part of there contract. i so get the "oh yeah". tony

Old 5 LawnCare
06-12-2003, 09:46 PM
That means next year if we have a drought and you only have to cut the grass 2 times a month rather than 4 you will charge them less right?

Dont think so!

roscioli
06-13-2003, 09:57 AM
Old- That is exactly right. I only charge per mow, billed at the end of the month. Thats the way EVERYONE does it around here. So is the general consensus a "yes"?

drobson
06-13-2003, 11:36 AM
If I'm charging per cut, then I would not charge them extra if I didn't cut because of my choice (or mother natures choice), but if the customer asked not to have the cut done then they get charged anyway.

If they are on a monthly billing contract (i.e. $xx.xx per month for as many cuts as they need, then I charge the monthly fee if I cut them once or 5 times.

bobbygedd
06-13-2003, 01:32 PM
i always charge extra. when a 20 min job turns into a 35 min job, u must charge more

rodfather
06-13-2003, 05:49 PM
Originally posted by bobbygedd
i always charge extra. when a 20 min job turns into a 35 min job, u must charge more


Lately bobby, 20 minute jobs are taking more like 45 minutes:cry:

bobbygedd
06-14-2003, 08:59 AM
i know dude, it blows. when production is cut in half, but work hours are the same, whats a man to do? its not a matter of "whos fault it is" that it rained, its the fact that more time spent, due to an act of god, must be charged accordingly.

Strawbridge Lawn
06-14-2003, 09:14 AM
I would never even think of it. Not trying to be self rightous, but the weather is part of the job and working through and around it is also. We should never penalize the customer because we are unable to do our job. IMO Good way to loose customers in a hurry. Bewtween drought and flood there is a balance of how many properties you can maintain based on each persons ability equipment, staff and so forth.

roscioli
06-14-2003, 10:07 AM
What I have been thinking is, if the rain caused flood damage to the lawn (washout, ponding leading to reseeding, etc) we would charge to fix it. If the storm knocked down a tree, I would charge to remove it. Those are both acts of god that couldnt have been avoided by myself or the customer, and so is this... so I dont know what to say. Maybe a moderator can add a poll to this, 2 choices, charge more, charge same? It woudl be great if someone could.

carlriv
06-14-2003, 10:54 AM
What about those people that have the irrigation system running every day, even when raining so much? I send a letter that explains that they need to reprogram or there will be a significant additional charge.

bobbygedd
06-14-2003, 11:56 AM
you dont "penalize" the customer. and you certainly should not penalize yourself. dont u know that persistant rain, creates less production, but more man hours? are you willing to take a cut in pay, because it rained? what if it continues to rain like this all season, and you take a significant cut in pay, every week, for the rest of the year? will your mortgage company let u slide on your payments? after all, its not your fault it rained......

jsaunders
06-14-2003, 02:00 PM
What about Tru/Chem. they are still applying fert and the lawn is 10" tall and the sprinkler system is still on. YOUR DAM RIGHT I'M CHARGING MORE! I don't like having to charge more but there is no other choice because I'm not working twice as hard and long for half the money. The customer doesn't care if there is a drought and we can't mow so why is there a problem if we charge more because of the weather.

2 man crew
06-14-2003, 02:29 PM
This is why bidding jobs correctly is so important. When pricing jobs I expect heavy rain and growth in the spring. If we have a dry spring thats great.

My contracts states "Customers are responsible for weekly mowing payments durring any drought or watering ban."

Strawbridge Lawn
06-14-2003, 02:49 PM
All I can say is go ahead and hike yourrates because of the rain. Don't get angry if someone else is doing the property(ies) next year or sooner.

MOOSE
06-14-2003, 03:16 PM
Ok, The jobs are taking longer. But does that mean you have to suffer. Why not charge more. I job takes 20 minutes to mow, right now it's 35-45 minutes. So that means your doing DOUBLE THE WORK. Right!

Well I charge about the same as Rodfather had posted. I have not had any complaints and the jobs still look great.

If your cutting a lawn for $30 and it takes you about 10-15 minutes. And now it's taking u about 25-30 minutes shouldn't you charge more.

Why slit your own throat.

Woody82986
06-14-2003, 05:52 PM
Nobody knows your customers better than you do. It is a simple choice. Do you think you will piss the customer off by charging more or do you think they wil understand the situation. If charging more if the grass is a little high is worth potentially losing the yard then go for it. Personally I always look for the customers that contain a reasonable amount of common sense and can justify spending more money if it takes longer.

roscioli
06-14-2003, 08:27 PM
A lot of valid arguements out there, and a lot of non-answers... I still don't know what to do, I am in the same boat as I started. I understand it might piss someone off, but seriously, if it continues like this, I am screwed for the year as far as income goes. I plan on heavy growth springs too, but this is ridiculous. This is heavy growth + 1/3 of the time to be able to mow it in... twice the work, half the time. I guess it wont matter to me for very long if I piss a few off, I am selling the biz ASAP anyway.

AztlanLC
06-14-2003, 09:37 PM
I just keep thinking that the standard service for this industry should be only yearly contracts, if it rains a lot at the beggining of the season you get paid the same, but if it gets dry and you don't have to mow, you still get paid the same.

up here (ny) the mowing season only last 28 weeks, plus spring clean up and fall clean up, that's how I figure my prices, maybe this year I'll get the 28 cuts because of all this rain, but last year we only did 18-22 on most of the properties,

bobbygedd
06-15-2003, 12:52 AM
this is what you do: personally, depending on the type of grass and how much extra time was actually spent, i either charge a "surcharge", or i charge it a 1.5x original fee. a surcharge is usually $10 over the cutting fee. do yourself a favor, get contracts, cover your butt. i leave the part about extra fees kind of open. it states: if your lawn cant be cut do to rain, or wet turf causing unsafe conditions, we will return on your next scheduled day, if excessive growth causes us to double or tripple cut the lawn, there will be an extra fee for this visit. you see, the amount is not specified, it just says "extra fee", which pretty much leaves the ball in my court. if the customer cancels, so what. why do u need a customer that u cant make money from?

Lawn-Scapes
06-15-2003, 01:34 AM
I would let the customer know before hand. Just explain to them it will be 1.5 times the normal rate for the extra time and effort to get the lawn done.......

roscioli
06-15-2003, 02:11 AM
Thanks Bobby- Thats what I was figuring for.... Most of my cost is simply showing up at the house and dropping the trailer gate, so 1.5 sounds reasonable for double cutting, and will sound even more reasonable to the client. I think since this will be my first time attempting it, I will be flexible, and also explain it in a letter to each client. By flexible I mean if someone calls and says "I didnt realize that you were going to do this, and dont think it is fair" I will say "This is the first time the weather has been so bad that I had to, and I understand, please subtract that amount from your bill, but also please understand that it might happen in the future".

bobbygedd
06-15-2003, 10:29 AM
NO NO NO! DONT let them subtract anything from the bill! when u send a bill, it is a bill, not an option. set a standard, and stick to it

Strawbridge Lawn
06-15-2003, 01:03 PM
May just have to park the heavy Z's and W/B's and gop to 21" ers. 3 or 4 in a row kinds thing. Not making light of it, but the ole way of doing business. self included. cheers

tiedeman
06-15-2003, 06:45 PM
I am kind of iffy on the whole situation of charging a customer more just because of rainy weather. I am for covering the costs that it takes longer to cut, but then again the customer can not control the rain so why should be charged more. Like I said, I am on both sides of this situation.

David Haggerty
06-15-2003, 07:36 PM
Originally posted by roscioli
I am selling the biz ASAP anyway.

You might be on the right track there if you can't bring yourself to charge for the work you do.

Dave

Green Goblin
06-15-2003, 10:43 PM
If these are just weekly mowing accounts, simply explain to them the situation. If you are mowing every 10 days due to rain and the account is a $30 account. Doing it twice in 20 days due to rain would be $60. Do 1.5 and it would be $90. If you were mowing normal and every 7 days in 21 days it would be $90. Explain that as a result of excessive growth it takes much longer to mow and in order to make it look nice longer time is required. Of course it isn't their fault it rains more but it isn't our fault that it rained either.

brucec32
06-18-2003, 12:47 AM
I've been able to nearly keep up, even with the rains, because

a) I don't overbook and account for a normal rainfall situation ahead of time. #1 cause of complaints in the biz is probably not showing up on time. If it doesn't rain, I can always fill that time with add-on work if I want.
b) working a little extra and on weekends
c) the above means it doesn't get too tall in between mowings
d) most important, keeping the proper equipment mix so I can handle wet weather better. This means keeping a wide area wb around for when it's too wet to handle the ZTR's weight. Or having decks optimized for wet mowing available to use. For some reason, my Toro 44" (classic deck) wb cuts wet grass like it's nothing, while my Exmark 48" ztr deck gives a great cut, but clumps more on wet tall grass. I use the best mower for the conditions. Mowed one today where it was SOGGY and the Toro was fantastic.

I could charge a few customers extra and they probably wouldn't mind, but others would be calling to complain. The rains are hopefully temporary and not very usual for here, so why tick off customers for a few more dollars for a few weeks? In the long run, I will just eat the extra time it takes. My philosophy has been to build up goodwill with customers by giving a little extra over the years, and I think it's paid off. Virtually no drops, and little objection to price increases over the years. Did one today in 30 minutes for $43 that I've gradually raised the price on over the years. No way I could get that from a new customer. Sometimes prying a customer's hand open to get a few extra dollars isn't worth it in the long run.

My main problem with rains has been it wrecking my tightly packed routes, since some lawns can be cut when wet, and others can't due to drainage or other problems, and I have to double back to hit them later in the week. But I try to see the positive side and just enjoy the extra rest time in the truck in between jobs.

Strawbridge Lawn
06-18-2003, 07:04 AM
Good post bruce. I try to stay away from cuttin in the rain and many of those explanations allow me to do so.

DaveHLLC
06-18-2003, 07:38 AM
I Agree , I have 140 accounts and have been able to keep on schedule with almost all of them. If it looks like rain we just mow lawns ahead of schedule when its dry. Yes some lawns take longer when there wet but do you charge less in the summer and fall when it takes you less time to mow?

Lawn-N-Garden Guy
06-19-2003, 09:58 PM
You all know whats really funny ?

A month ago I replied to the same question and 90% said they don't charge x-tra , Which I can't understand why not when your paying your men per hr. I don't think they would take it too lightly when you xplain to them you are paying them for an hr's worth of work when they have two hrs in. And xplain to them its an act of god! LOL

I totaly agree with charging xtra for extra time,Like someone said if a tree falls ,Its an act of God,but that dosen't mean I'll clean it up for free.

roscioli
06-19-2003, 10:02 PM
Lawn and Garden- Do you charge less in the heat of summer when you only spend 1/2 the time?
I had a big long response written up here yesterday, showing that I decided not to charge extra because it would open the can of negotiation to this very fact. I also thanked all those who sent helpful responses, and gave a little heck to those, like David Haggerty, who just added useless garbage. So, thanks guys, and I have made up my mind not to open that table for negotiation when summer comes and my route takes 1/2 time on every lawn..

Duncan Lawn Care
06-19-2003, 11:47 PM
Michael Roscioli, why are you still here posting questions? You've repeatedly said you quit the business to work in the family restaurant.:confused:

bobbygedd
06-20-2003, 07:17 AM
yea man, go flip the burgers. "super size that, sir?" "would u like the value meal, or just the sandwich?" get this: in the summer, when im sweatin my nuts off, and its 105 and im still showing up, they get what they are paying for: one pass with the mower, trim, edge, blow and go. thats what they are paying for. and get this: when its a tripple cut, extra blowing, extra wacking, extra cleanup, they pay more! check it out: u will see that, when u begin your new career as a fryboy at uncle jedthrows resturaunt, when a client asks for a hamburger, and it costs $2.35, now, when the client says i want the hamburger, with extra cheese, fried onions instead of raw, and throw on some bacon, will you charge extra? i mean, after all, if the same client ordered the regular burger, but said hold the ketchup, you wouldnt reduce the price, would you? so why charge extra for the toppings? smarten up kid

David Haggerty
06-20-2003, 08:45 AM
Originally posted by roscioli
Do you charge less in the heat of summer when you only spend 1/2 the time?

Yeah...The answer to that question is yes I do.
"cut as needed...charge for work performed."

I don't wear a watch, and I might as well rip the days of the week off of the calendar. Because north of the Mason-Dixon line grass doesn't grow in response to what day of the week it is.
'Round here it's either feast of famine. In 1988 I made nothing and have the tax returns to prove it! This year will make up for it.

LCOs' who have to try to cram grass growth patterns into a 7 day schedule to satisfy residential customers are in for a life of agony. Like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.
Some have worked out a compromise, earn less in the spring, make it up in the summer. But at least they're gettin' paid!

I have a little trouble getting some of my customers to pay for not mowing the grass. Because some of them are $700/cut.
So I have to mow every time I bill.

Your threatening to quit all the time reminds me of my brother-in-law threatening suicide all the time. I offered to load the pistol.

But you're only trying to shoot yourself in the foot. So what do you need loaded up? Maybe piano wire in the weed eater head? Lasts forever.... (probably the only way a person could seriously injure themselves with a weed eater) I just thought you might really get into stupid scenarios.

Yes I am super critical. And I believe what I print. My name is on every post! Gawd! Think how bad I'd be if I posted anonymously :dizzy: :dizzy: :dizzy:

Dave

Westbrooklawn
06-20-2003, 08:58 AM
My monthly contracts pay me whether I mow or not. If it rains and we can't mow we still collect as if we did mow. Therefore we are effectively getting paid "double" for the next time we mow after a missed mowing. The same applies if we are in a drought situation.....if the grass is dormant and doesn't need mowing we still collect the same monthly contract amount.

This is the benefit of monthly contracts, and all of Mother Nature's quirks can be taken into consideration when developing your monthly price.

roscioli
06-21-2003, 01:13 AM
Phew- Thought I would get it pretty good... but only from 2 of ya?
Duncan- I go to work from the family on July 7, Mowing and running the business professionally until july 2, vacation in between. Still working out final details on sale.
Bobby- I am not sure what your post was all about? Supposed to bash me, or compare your nuts to the hamburgs on my grill? I am working as a manager in the restaurant, making quite a bit of money for someone fresh out of college... not quite flipping burgers, but hey, keep it coming.
David- That was a useful post, and I appreciate that. Your first post should have been thrown out. "Some have worked out a compromise, earn less in the spring, make it up in the summer. But at least they're gettin' paid!" Thats what I had working, and it did work, up until this crazy spring. It worked for 3 years actually. My compromise has been shot to hell, and I am not making as much money as I should, hence the question. The part about piano wire and suicide, I am not quite sure of, but I guess the first sentence in my response might clear it up a little.

David Haggerty
06-21-2003, 07:39 AM
And I appreciate your civil response to my less than civil tirade.

I thought your post of 06-15-2003 06:11 AM mentioning a letter to the client was appropriate. Communicating with the customer is crucial.
But as bobbygedd emphasized don't be too eager to give in to the customer's reluctance to pay.
If you allow them too they will work you for nothing.

But this is coming from the prospective of an LCO who has a majority of accounts sold on price. These accounts have very little "wiggle room" in the agreement.

I have one "golden" account where I have to search the property for things to do to earn the money they pay me. So no, on that account I'd never bill for double cutting.

Dave

I also appreciate your putting your name on your posts. It shows me you're a man of your word.

roscioli
06-21-2003, 11:03 AM
Thank you david for a civil response, as you put it. I was pretty worked up last night after reading both yours and bobby's posts, but I was glad to see your response this morning. Thanks, Mike

bobbygedd
06-21-2003, 11:13 AM
chill out rosco, im only havin fun. in fact, check this out. when i was a kid, my mom owned 2 hot dog trucks, one on each side of a major highway. working hours were 10 am till 4:30. what a racket, major bucks. we are talkin mid 1970's and rakin in about 8 bills a week, slingin weinies. i remeber helping out in the summer, countin the money thinkin, boy, cant wait till i grow up, this is a great way to make a living. well, she managed to lose her business to some very bad habits. the food industry is a great place to work. hope u enjoy it and prosper. at least you will be in an air conditioned resturaunt wearing decent clothes. good luck

SpudsM15
06-21-2003, 11:43 AM
Just about every client I have asks me in the summer months to come every other week and cut it lower. I hate it when i have to explain to them what a favor i'm doing for them not double chargeing in this weather. So far the longest i've gone not cutting a lawn is 9 days which isn't to bad. but then i make it up when i cut the lawn next in 5 days. all my clients have a assigned day and time if i can't come on that day i come asap....
then the next cut is on the assigned day.
If the clients want it cut every other week in the summer I will have to rethink my weekly price... But i don't do it everyother week cause thats stupid! If i do they will get charged double the price + a few bucks... Hey if they agree then maybe i'll think about it

brucec32
06-25-2003, 10:35 AM
Originally posted by Lawn-N-Garden Guy
You all know whats really funny ?

A month ago I replied to the same question and 90% said they don't charge x-tra , Which I can't understand why not when your paying your men per hr. I don't think they would take it too lightly when you xplain to them you are paying them for an hr's worth of work when they have two hrs in. And xplain to them its an act of god! LOL

I totaly agree with charging xtra for extra time,Like someone said if a tree falls ,Its an act of God,but that dosen't mean I'll clean it up for free.

It's a philosophical question that people can differ on, but my thought is you're supposed to account for things like heavy rains beforehand when pricing jobs. I can do some lawns in 20 minutes when conditions are perfect. Other times the same lawn might take 35 minutes. Do I charge based on 20 minutes? Nope. Do I charge based on 35 minutes? Nope, I try to come up with a number that isn't so high I lose the job, yet accounts for the extra time it sometimes takes. This year has been unusual, but for me, a solo operator, I'm willing to eat the extra time rather than get into conflicts over prices. I realize that with employees you may feel more pressure to cover your costs adequately.

If your contract or verbal agreement doesn't state "will charge more for heavy growth when it rains a lot ", then I don't see how you can charge extra and get everyone to be happy with it. Like someone else said before, you don't charge less when it's dry and easier to cut, do you? I can imagine that'd be the first thing out of the customer's mouth when you tried upping the charges.

Yes, you DESERVE the extra money, but wanting isn't always getting.

one tip...when you do have to spend extra time on site, try skipping a minor step like edging bed borders if you think you can let it slide a week. The saved minutes add up. Compared to a few lawns not getting mowed, I think it's preferable.