Originally Posted by darryl gesner
I just thought I'd open up a discussion regarding dealing with customers and their wants, needs and perceptions regarding leaf cleanup vs the way we as lawn care/landscaping professionals see it. I'm not having any particular problem at this point, but it's always an ongoing battle every season for me to get customers to understand that I can't let every leaf fall off every tree on every property I service before mobilizing for cleanups.
Case in point: I knew we had some wet weather coming so I ran around this week servicing properties...mowing and cleaning up any leaves that were down already and dropping their cutting height down 1/4 to 1/2 inch. On some of my properties with maples and birches and white pines, there are quite a few leaves down already. The oaks are still not dropping much. The way I see it is that I got their yards cleaned up and the grass cut before the leaves got all wet and matted in long grass. I did the getting while the getting was good so to speak. The way most customers see it is that I wasted their money, because with the rain and wind we're getting now, you can hardly tell I was there. Customers seem to see leaf cleanup as an event, whereas I see it as a process that is repeated, going around to each of my properties until either they're all cleaned up or winter sets in.
I'm to the point where I have my customers "trained" relating to how I do my cleanups, but I still get them asking me to come back next week when there are more leaves down. Mind you, the grass is still growing at a pretty good rate on my nice lawns, and they need cutting anyway. On the crappy, unfertilized lawns it's no so much of an issue. So far I have just done what I've wanted...I haven't had any customers insist that I not service their lawn, but I just know that the owners of the yards I did yesterday are saying to themselves that it was a wasted effort to do their lawns right before they get dumped on again.
I like your way of doing clean ups. In my previous years I had no bagger system, so I would just cut my lawns like usual until they didn't need cutting and then when all the leaves were down, I would do a fall clean up. Now I stay on top of the leaves and the lawns stay cleaner and all my customers are on the same page so far, also i'm not sure 15 dollars is enough to bag some of my lawns, especially when the leaves are thick and i'm dumping the bags 3 times for some lawns. I wouldn't think you would have any issues with customers in you area, I'm in old lyme and old saybrook 2-3 times a week in the summer. Next year that won't be the case as i'm going to send out flyers every few months to different towns to really increase sales.