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$60.00 an hour (will the customer freak out????)

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by FERT-TEK, Oct 22, 2005.


    FERT-TEK LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,035

    Will or do your customers freak out when you tell them that you are billing them $60.00 an hour for your services?

    I am nervously planning a form letter letting my lawn maintenance customers know that beginning next month I will be billing them at a rate of $60.00 an hour to service their properties. It might help to know that this neighborhood has 15 year old trees that are 6" caliper. In the past I was able to successfully mulch those properties and leave them looking pretty good. Unfortunately the trees are dropping too many leaves to mulch to my standards, no one has complained though. No contracts signed but this has never been a problem in the past. Each year,they receive a service agreement that outlines the cost for fertilization and mowing at the beginning of the season. Unfortunately, I didn't include a leaf clause in it and will have to introduce it to them now.The letter will read something like this......

    Beginning November 1st through the end of the mowing season Fairway Lawn Care will offer several leaf removal packages to care for your property. All lawn maintenance packages including leaf removal will be billed at a rate of $60.00 per hour or $1.00 per minute. This method is necessary during leaf season because collection times vary for each property. Leaf removal packages include the cost of fuel, dumping fees, and labor needed for mowing and removal of bagged leaves from your property. Below you will note that I have included the actual time needed to service your property using the above $1.00 / min. method. Please note, your cost was calculated the week of October 16 for free with the use of a stop watch. Please review the following list of options and initial which option you desire for your property. Fall clean up's are also available per estimate at the end of the year if you desire. Typical cost of fall clean ups start at $125.00

    ___ 1) Weekly mowing including the collection and removal of leaves from all turf areas. This leaf collection includes front, rear and side yards of your entire property. This does not include the optional cost of leaf removal from landscape areas. Your property took _________ minutes to service during the week of October 16th.

    ___ 2) Collection and removal of leaves from all turf areas from your front yard only. This does not include the optional cost of leaf removal from landscape areas. Your property took _________ minutes to service during the week of October 16th.

    ___ 3) $5.00 discount per week from above estimated times if collected leaves are left behind on your property. Collected leaves will be left in a mutually agreed location. Please note that leaves left behind will not be left in bags using this method.

    ___ 4) Weekly lawn mowing service only with no collection or removal of leaves.

    *** Please note that Fairway Lawn Care cannot control leaves that migrate from neighboring properties after service is complete for that week.
  2. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,033

    I wouldn't dare to spring that sort of stuff on customers at this time. That's something that should have been done at the start.

    Our lawn service argreements include mowing through Oct 15 at a per week rate. Any mowing after Oct 15 includes collection of leaves and is billed at our current cleanup rate plus disposal.

    I think you're agreement is kind of confusing. Is the $1/minute in addition to your regular fee? What is the relevance of how long it took you on the week of Oct 16? Won't it take longer if you're collecting leaves.

    FERT-TEK LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,035

    I will try to clean up the language describing the pricing if others find it confusing too. The $1.00 per minute represents the total cost per week to mow, collect and dispose of waste. This time will change slightly as more or less leaves drop. I suppose I can make it a standard fee but what happens when almost all leaves are dropped and it takes less time to service the property? I suppose I am trying to err on the side of the customer not myself.

    Regarding changing the yearly agreement, nothing is changing. Leaf removal was never part of the agreement. I will continue mulching as agreed upon in the service agreement, leaf removal is now an option if they desire.
  4. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,899

    What was your old rate? Did they even know what the old rate is/was? If it went from 58.00 to 60.00 they should'nt freak out. If it went from 40.00 to 60.00 you may have some splainin to do. If they just had a fixed rate for service they may have forgot what your hourly rate was even if you told them repeatedly. Are you sure you are not freaking out about the rate? I would drop the stopwatch comment I know you are only trying to emphasize your commitment to accurate billing but perception is a funny thing and they are not in the biz. May seem like you are greedy trying to capture every penny.
  5. RonB

    RonB LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 429

    From the why you say it in the thread title, are you letting the cat outta the bag by informing them you are charging 60 p/h? If so, I wouldn't do that.

    You also mention none have complained about the way your doing it now. Why change if everyones already happy? If it is bothering YOU that you can't get them all up like you want, mention it to them personally, then give them the option of a better job for an additional fee.
  6. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,758

    Im going to tell you what the old wise ones told me on here and it is correct. Never, nada, tell your client what you charge per hour. You give them a price for the job (even though it may be 2 hours x 60 bucks = 120) you tell them 120 for the job not that you are charging them 60 bucks for 2 hours. People will feak at this big time, especialy the older folks who "did not make that much a week" in the 50,s. I have gotten several jobs I gave a price on that I know if they knew the per hour would freak out. When I do have one pita to ask my hourly rate I just tell them I look at it and figure it by the job, never tell them how I arrived at that figure.
  7. Tonyr

    Tonyr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,973

    Personally, I have found folks struggle knowing they are paying this amount for the type of work we do, even though when you quote a job by time it is based on $1/ min minimum, telling them an hourly rate seems to frighten them.

    Don't tell em anything, putting hourly rates on contracts can lead them into simply shopping around, though the job price of someone quoting a cheaper price may be the same, hourly price is less, slower machines etc....but bet ya balls, they will choose the cheaper per hour guy.

    I have this prob. with our local council, I run a 60'' deck mower, walk behind edgers etc, set up for big commercial jobs.....the guy who gets all the work is 30% less per hour, yet runs a small home owner garden tractor, and a small toro ztr, per job I would be so much faster it isn't funny, but on the works tender we have to state our hourly rate, not job tenders....isn't apples for apples.

    So, I wouldn't mention hourly rate, but things are a bit different down here...

    FERT-TEK LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,035

    one dollar a minute but that was the rate I estimated properties. When I get a request for an estimate I would leave my weekly price I never explained how I came up with that price.
    I just want my customers know that they are not getting ripped off and that I have to be paid for the extra time I spend on their property. For instance today a property that oridinarilly took 18 minutes to mow trim and blow took me 45 minutes. I am not freaking out about the price just how to help sell this to the customer. I wont use a stopwatch for every cut just the first week to be accurate. $60.00 an hour is the going rate for our industry in the Chicago area.

    FERT-TEK LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,035

    That is pretty much what I am trying to do. This leaf season my maintenance properties are not meeting my standards and I also want to maximize my profit by upselling this service. Otherwise I am leaving money on the table. I suppose I do not have to let them know how I arrived at their price unless they approach me. Might even work better that way. Most of my customers are hands off so to speak. I come out and do their properties and rarely have the opportunity to talk to them because they are working.
  10. FERT-TEK

    FERT-TEK LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,035

    That is why I started this thread. I wanted to get advise on how to handle this. So far I am heavilly leaning on giving them their leaf removal price and explain how I came up with this number later if they ask.

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