View Full Version : Policy During a drought?. How do you charge?

01-28-2001, 03:41 PM
I have an oppurtunity to bid on a company that has 40 sites locally. They want to know what our policy would be say during a drought? They will be the one that determines when it is to dry and when to resume mowing. We noramlly have a period sometimes a month without rain, during the summer. How does everyone work this into the contract? Not get paid at all during this time would be devastating but I really do want the contract. Anyway like to hear from everyone.


John DiMartino
01-28-2001, 03:49 PM
Depending on your cuts per year,average them out over the # of months you want to get paid,so the times when there is no growth,you dont go poor,and when its growing like mad ,and your cutting every 5 days,they dont go poor.This will also give them a consistant monthly bill,so they can accurately estimate their future costs without hills and valleys.

lee b
01-28-2001, 03:58 PM
I agree with John, all of my accounts are based on a years service. Customers know how much it's gonna cost regardless of conditions and you get paid every month. You may have it a little tough during the growing season, but you make-it up during the winter.

01-28-2001, 04:39 PM
I agree with the above just average it out into monthly payments and when there is a drought still show up hit any spots that do grow and run around the yard with a weedeater and pick up what trash and this will help them to feel better about the monthly charge that they are paying Good Luck on the account

01-28-2001, 04:55 PM
I do precious few accounts on a per cut basis just for that reason. I agree with the above answers. In my region, we cut in April-Oct, sometimes November or Dec under very unseasonably warm conditions. I charge for April-Oct, 28 cuts. I may not put that many in, but I may and I want to cover my rear rather than feel like I am working for nothing during a rainy year. If we cut past October, the price is prorated based upon a 4 cut month.

Your area will likely be a little different depending on climate, but you get the idea. Either divide the # of mowings by the number of months you service the account, or by 12 months, your preference (and customer's).

Because that is how I do it doesn't mean it is right. Something else may work better for you. Good luck and don't undersell yourself by underestimating # of visits!

[Edited by Greenman2ooo on 01-28-2001 at 04:57 PM]

01-28-2001, 05:37 PM
I gave up an account last year and have given up one this year. They paid pretty good but would not go year round. When it was dry they just sat there, really taking up space on my "list" of accounts. When it started raining they would start calling. These were fairly large commercial accounts and took 2 1/2 to 3 hours to complete. I started viewing these as a liability rather than an asset. They would become more of an interference with my regular route if I had to stop and do them, I would get behind.

One of these sites would have been a beautiful place had the owner wanted to spend a few dollars and water it from time to time, could have overseeded in the fall and got plenty of comments. Landscape wasn't important I guess. If they would have been smaller and less time consuming I would have kept them but since they took so much time out of a day they had to go. About 80% of my business is made up of annual accounts. The other 20% is seasonal cutting that really offsets the additional expenses needed in the summer months. If you take on these make sure they provide some income every month-------if not they will keep you from growing annuals which is the only way to survive the winter(for me anyway-no snow).

01-28-2001, 06:26 PM
Down here getting monthly residentual contracts is like pulling teeth!!! No one will sign anything.Verbal contracts are a joke. They like it during the season but guess what, come winter they want to cancel. Thank God for comm. accounts!!! They are year round. I have all but given up on residentual monthly accounts. We have had a VERY dry winter this year! If I had to rely on residentuals, I would be starving! I have cut eight times in three months! I,m ready to go.

01-28-2001, 07:51 PM
When are presented with an agreement that is out of our hands for determining the number of cuts, we stipulate that we are to be guaranteed a minimum of 24 cuts per season (usually 32)to be billed at 3 cuts per month(instaead of 4) otherwise, we refuse the contract.

The only other possibility would be to give them a flat figure and have that number divided up amongst the billing cycles.

Hope this helps,

01-28-2001, 09:40 PM
I agree with John and the others also. I bill monthly 12 months a year. The bill is the same for April when it's being mowed every 5 days, as it is during July when I mow every 12-14 days.


01-28-2001, 10:20 PM
Thanks for replying, however they want a specific price on each location for each cut. And they specify the cuttings are from April 1 to Oct. 30. Mowing every 2 weeks. Maybe bill for a mowing and 1/2 or 3/4 each month to take carof this. Anyway Thanks!!


John DiMartino
01-29-2001, 12:09 AM
Mowing every 2 weeks wont cut it in the growing season,price your services accordingly,plan on double cutting a lot or leaving lots of clumps.This is not the ideal situation for your mower either,belt,and clutch wear are high with overgrown grass.

01-29-2001, 12:31 AM
Sorry Daren, you didn't mention that in your first post. I would not take on a job that demanded mowing every 2 weeks, this is for several reasons:

1) Each mowing would be a chore due to excessive clippings and needing either double mowing or bagging.
2) You would be mowing more that 1/3 of the blade off at one time most of the time which could be detramental to the grass
3) More than likely they would not be willing to pay for what I would charge to do double mowings or bagging

If you take it charge at least double what you would normally charge for each mowing. It's time to educate the customer.

01-29-2001, 12:49 AM
I agree with John and Ray. I think I would probably either, forget this bid, bid high, or give a bid based on cutting every week with some education to the customer. If they don't like it they can get some other fool. You would be better off then trying to do this based on 2 weeks and when they said it need to be done. When you allow for this you will always end up screwed. Trust me, had a learning experience similar and it really cost me more by putting up with others stupidity. I would have made more by working on other things.

01-29-2001, 05:19 AM
I agreee with the above post. They (the client) sound like a "cheap charlie" . Any client who wants bimonthly cutting are usually trying to "save" money. But it winds up costsing them more. Example- 30 cuts at $30 =$900 or 18 at 60 =$1080- Typically we charge for 30 seasonal mowings. I would suggest charge for at least 18 mowings.
If this is a seasonal account bringing you into a leaf cleaning situation definately 18 mowings. Explain to them you will be ther every 10 to 12 days.
Many clients do not understand that a bimonthly account truly takes longer do do every job, especially re routing the drive time. Bid fair but make your profit
Good Luck.

Davis TLC
01-29-2001, 06:33 AM
I agree with everyone else on this post. I had a similar situation on a residential account. They wanted it cut bi-weekly, well when the grass was growing like crazy in the spring it was taking longer to cut. I had to double cut it and informed the customer that there would be additional charges for having to double cut to make the lawn look good. I doubled the regular charge, they agreed to go to weekly cutting which made the lawn look better. They thought they were going to save money by having me cut bi-weekly, wrong! You sometimes have to educate them, be nice but explain the reasonings for weekly over bi-weekly cuts, and if they still want the bi-weekly, then by all means charge them more, at least double the weekly rate with at least 18 cuts minimum. If you have room in your schedule to allow for this kind of customer then take them, if it will cause problems with your scheduling then don't bother, looks like they are just looking to save a buck or two.

01-29-2001, 07:32 AM
If thses people are being this demanding now (before you work for them), it sounds like you will be in for it if you get the job. 1 customer like this can ruin your attitude for the whole season. If there is any way you can make the work up with other new customers, my opinion would be to run that way fast.

Don't you wish you could show them this thread to explain how rediculously cheap they are being ?


01-29-2001, 10:06 AM
Im giving up 3 accounts that went the bi month cut route. Last season was wetter than any other. Their weed infested fields were a b~~~h to cut because it was so wet. The time it took me to clean the mowers didnt cover what I charged them. They paid fairly well, but like an earlier post stated they were a hassle to do when real work needed to be done.

01-29-2001, 01:21 PM
I kinda went off in a different direction in my last post. I got away from the original question regarding what to do during a drought. I would explain to the client on a service agreement the " Mother Nature Clause" It is impossible to anticipate rain or lack of it , caused by nature. Period

PS what if there was a hurricane, would you be expected to clean-up the mess for free, cover every base



01-29-2001, 01:44 PM
I HAVE ACCTS LIKE THAT.You will be putting
triple the wear on your equipment.You
need to charge that way in your bid and explain why.
Then give them an idea of the cost and quality
they could expect with your weekly service.
Use pictures if you can.There is a cheapy
there with there hand on the reins.If you
do it right, he may see the benefits of full

Strawbridge Lawn
01-29-2001, 02:02 PM
My stratefy here in SE VA is to offer an annual service even though cutting after Oct 15th is typically confined to new lawns or the fescues into late Nov. The cold 3 or so months include additional service added into the contract such as
Shrub trimming, Flower Garden Weeding, Fall Leaf Service, aeration, Mulch (2), Fertilizing (2) and a few goodies. So in the winter months they are not paying for the grass cutting they are in essence paying for those extra services and keeping food on my table. All for about $100.00 per month (min) for an 8-12K sq FT Lot.

01-29-2001, 03:24 PM
What if you cut every week but find you still have to double cut to make it look nice? On top of that before you cut it the first time you have quoted them the price based on one pass, not thinking you would have to double cut, but after you get into it you realize you screwed up?

01-29-2001, 04:03 PM
You've learned a hard lesson. Talk to the customer and see if something can be worked out, if not you ahve made a time consuming mistake.

01-29-2001, 04:31 PM
40 sites locally? Is it a series of radio or cellular towers? Perhaps satellite garages of a large business? Surely one could do these bi-weekly. There are many sites that legitimately only need mowing 5 to 8 times a season in our area.

But this type of mowing requires special equipment. Mowing these properties with the machines you would use on normal comm/res properties would be costly in maintenance in the long term. As far as the drought, you alone have to determine if you can use that type of business in your own situation. For some, maybe a break like that would be welcome.