Contract cuts vs price per mow.

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Shawns Lawns, May 21, 2006.

  1. Shawns Lawns

    Shawns Lawns LawnSite Senior Member
    from Maine
    Posts: 638

    It seems to me that if you cut without a contract and without seasonal pricing the customer wants you to skip cuts. They will try to tell you your business and that the grass does not really grow till the middle of May and stops in August for the year. So following that theory you might only have a cutting window of 12-14 weeks of cutting for a PITA of course. Now if you have seasonal pricing and it's in a contract, they all the sudden want you there every week, whether it needs it or not, they want to feel they are getting there moneys worth. And if they are a PITA they probably want you there more than what your contracted for. I guess it's all in who your customers are and how they would like you to take care of their property.:waving:
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    I'm per cut and what I see baffles me, it astounds me how supposed experts in the grass-cutting Industry could be so ignorant when it comes to just how often grass really needs cutting. Not to disagree entirely as there are a few customers who, like you say, think they can delay the grass cut beyond the reasonable thou for the most part it really boils down to some common sense.

    What I see a lot and I mean a whole lot is greed taking hold of the lawn guy, I see guys insisting that grass either needs to be cut weekly throughout the year, or then I see them going for contracts where they charge an exhorbitant monthly rate, again based on weekly cuts, all of which to me is absolute rubbish.

    For one, grass hardly grows in Jul-Aug, now if I am the expert then it isn't fair for me to use this knowledge against the customer by charging them a full months worth of weekly cuts when I already know I'm only coming out every 2-3 weeks... Although some may think this is smart business, to me it's clever and it is called gouging.

    The most aggressive schedule I have is 8 days, and that's for a fert + sprinkler lawn. A FEW lawns may need it more frequently but most of mine fall in the 8-10 and 10-12 day range in the spring. Then, as the year goes on, grass growth slows down and I delay the schedule by 2 days (right now is one such time) and most lawns go on a 10-12 and 14 day schedule, with a few going on 2-3 weeks.

    So you are correct, the average cuts / year is 16 for me, the least cuts / year I get is 7 and I no longer service most of those kinds of lots thou the most cuts / year I get out of a lawn is around 22 or 24, this is the extremes of the spread while most lawns fall closer towards the average. In order to earn enough money to survive, I simply get more customers so I literally don't have time to go out there any more than it needs it.

    But no, I absolutely refuse to do what I see most of the Lco's here doing, which is the rough equivalent of changing someone's car oil monthly, whether the car has been driven 3,000 miles or not, that's what I see, gouging and greed... Thus it should be of no surprise to anyone when, if you as the expert take advantage of the customer's possible ignorance, they in return do the same to you.
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Every once in a moon I run into the oddball who thinks I'll cut their lawn 'on a regular basis' when in reality they only want me to come out when it's 104+ outside while they cut it themselves when it's nice and cool, and there are other instances of customer slickness but for the most part I find this kind of stuff rare in my business.

    If it isn't rare in yours, then perhaps you are doing something wrong and in so doing, you would be attracting the wrong kind of customer, customers whom as a rule, avoid me like the plague... Unfortunately, I have found at least half of all folks out there are at least as smart or clever as you or I, so to be cunning or clever in a business is not a good idea because you attract them kind of people and if you're thinking you'll get over on most of them, chances are a few and likely more than a few will do it to you as well. In the end it is a constant fight, a frustrating ordeal where everybody wins some, so again it is of no surprise to me when in such a business, the customer ends up licking their chops, too.

    That's been my experience, so I run as straight and tight a ship as I can, I don't want nothing to do with dishonesty and slickness and other sorts of clever behaviour, I just don't need the associated hassles as I find life easier without all that.
  4. CutInEdge Lawn Care

    CutInEdge Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 677

    I guess it boils down to the area you are in. Here in Central FL. During the rainy season every 5 days is not often enough. I have yards that have to be double cut just to disperse large amount of clippings every 5 days or go to a 4 day cut. Now most of these are in a sub division with St. Augustine. However, if you ever cut bahia during a rainy season ( We got over 94 inches of rain last yr. most of that in 6 months) you will see that 8 to 10 days would give cause to bring out the combine or swather. I have aprox 80% of customers on contract just for this purpose and the one time cuts are the ones that like to push the window. As it has been stated on LS many times( it's about the amount of time) So, if you give an estimate for say $35 for EOW and you are still getting considerable growth and you know you need to be there every 8 days but the customer (pay by the cut) and want you there every third week you are looking at that customer as if they are just trying to save a buck when in your heart you know that if you are wanting to go to every 8 days, a 21 day cycle per customers request is going to cause you considerable time. There is a happy medium, However, I believe geography plays a major part in the scheme of things. Good Luck!!!

    Also we have alot of underground septic tanks here so the grass will grow 2 feet tall over this area everyweek. Even in January the area over the septic will grow 4 to 6 inches a week, while it is marginal if the rest of yard needs mowed.
  5. Freddy_Kruger

    Freddy_Kruger LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,064

    I wish there were some winnipeg lco's here.

    Around here if they got fertilized, its a jungle after a week, now I'm inexperienced but I started this season charging by the cut but most I talked to want it by the month. So I will charged them by the month and cut it everyweek but I'm hoping when the growing season slows down I can get away with three cuts a month for a couple months so that it will all even out.

    Very weather dependent here, its hot in summer and if we get rain...
  6. AdamChrap

    AdamChrap LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 937

    22-24 is your most! I have mowed some lawns 30 times in a year and that is not more then a once a week and i live in northeast Ohio! The contracts we have are set on 26 mowings, Some are 28 but those are ones we have serviced for years and get treatments so we know how many times they will need cut. Plus I don't think it is gouging, I think they are paying for my availability. Kinda like renting a movie, even if you don't watch it you still get charged for the time you have it out of the store. Why? Because if it was in the store they could have rented it to someone else, Well if I didn't have that account I could be mowing someone else. I have a schedule and they pay for a guaranteed spot on it. It is not gouging by any means.
  7. scagwildcat

    scagwildcat LawnSite Senior Member
    from nw. ct.
    Posts: 507

    i myself have a per cut contract, in the past i always had client call to say, i think we can mow it bi-weekly, well, most of these people tried to save money and applied fert on thier own, it was taking me three time the norm. every week to mow. then i started not being so picky i would just leave clumps of wet grass on the lawn. almost every one called me and complained!!! what i told them was, YOU CALLED, YOU SAID THAT YOUR LAWN IS NOT GROWING AND YOU WANTED IT CUT BI-WEEKLY. what do you want me to do ? your lawn is growing, its been raining alot, and the price i gave you was per week, if it clumped it would be my fault, but i cant do anything about the clumps now!!! almost all of them paid me extra to go back and do a clean-up!! now for the past two years my contracts reads, weekly mowing price, bi-weekly price, which is almost double the weekly price, this scares them from calling, also in the contract i put a paragraph that states, if the buyer calls to have their lawn skipped they will be charged the bi-weekly rate. if we recognize that your lawn does not need mowing we will skip it at no additional charge the following week, however if only certain areas of your lawn need mowing we will charge accordingly... this kinda keeps things going when its very dry as the weeds keep growing on the not so nice lawns...
  8. Freddy_Kruger

    Freddy_Kruger LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,064

    That's the way I work it in snow clearing. Monthly contracts I get paid whether it snows or not and nobody pays me extra if I go out 10 times, lol.
  9. I cut "As Needed" too. When it grows to 4" I cut it back to 3"
    In SW Ohio that's usually every 5 days April thru June, every 7 days in July then every 10-14 days in Aug. In Sept it usually recovers to every 7 days. Then a couple of times in Oct. Lots of exceptions for drought and rainy spells.

    I charge this way not because I'm so honest. Just most of my customers have college educated purchasing agents that only want to pay for work actually performed. Imagine that!

    Anyway, I started this job a few years back. $1,100 per cut. They assigned me to report to some junior "manager". He was going to put the pressure on me by telling me "YOU"RE NOT MOWING OFTEN ENOUGH!" I calmly replied that I was mowing on a five day schedule, that I could go to four or even three days if he wanted. I said I'll mow it every day if you want! He just kind of gulped and said, "every five days is fine."

  10. carcrz

    carcrz LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,085

    I tried mentioning the everyday mowing schedule. Even said they could just pay me their yearly salary to show up every day from 8 - 5. They just chuckled & said I was doing a good job & to keep up the good work.

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