Customers paying for busy work?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Commander, Apr 13, 2002.

  1. Commander

    Commander Banned
    Posts: 116

    Do any of your customers ever offer to pay you for your busy work? I have a customer who lives about 3 hours from his house that I am currently working at. The guy pays his bills end of the month, no problems, and will be spending a good chunk of money with me this year. The thing is, because he is so far away he asks me to obtain permits for him, and do little stuff. The other day he offered to pay me (I would have to note it on the bill) to have permits sent out to him for removing a few trees. I talked with him on Friday and he said he would pay me to go to his house and take pictures of trees that are being removed. Do any of your customers ever offer to pay you for these types of things? What would you even charge to drive 20 minutes one way and take 10 pictures?
     
  2. randosh4

    randosh4 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 179

    charge your hourly rate :cool:
     
  3. goodbeus

    goodbeus LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 392

    depends if you want to the extra stuff like that...had this realtor once, did 2 of his rental properties...the next day, he called and said he wanted me to load some furniture and move it to a location 2 hours away....at the time, I already had 4 days of work...he didn't ask for a price or if I would do it, just gave an order...I laughed, told him I ran a lawn service, not a moving company....had another client that lived near me come banging on my door early one morning for half an hour on my day off...finally got out of bed, swung open the door...she wanted me to give her a ride to the mechanic shop so she could get her car....well, with a few choice words, I told her I don't run a taxi service and that I won't be doing her lawn anymore...:angry:
     
  4. MJ

    MJ LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 312

    Funny this came up, Commander. A couple of weeks ago, I had an out of state person email me responding to my ad for snowplowing. He asked if I'd be offering any summer services. There are many summer residents around here - probably several hundred within a 20 mile radius. They may only be here for 2-4 weeks/yr. I hadn't thought of it, but that was his suggestion - "busy work" as you put it. Some suggestions that he made were arranging for and overseeing contractors, hauling in furniture, hauling stuff to the dump, raking, mowing, picking up acorns etc. There are many things that need to be done that they don't want to take up their vacation with. He talked to one lady where he lives who is looking for someone to haul two trunks to her summer place on the coast. Another lady I worked with for several years retired and makes good money driving other people's cars to Florida - she gets a free vacation and they pay her return plane ticket.
     
  5. Customers assume because we mow lawns, we'll do anything for a buck. As if we were a source of cheap labor.

    I can't afford to get off of my mower to work. The pay's better from up there.:D

    Dave
     
  6. LawnLad

    LawnLad LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 738

    Often we take care of odd type requests for our customers to give them "good" customer service. Good is relative, I know.

    If you can handle the details, do the extra little work if you can make money on it.

    I know of an outfit that manages estates, much like commercial property managers. They take care of everything for the customer. They may not do it all in house, but the customer need only call one person for window cleaning, HVAC service, landscaping, seal coating, snow plowing, firewood, painting, tuck pointing, roofing, putting up/taking down awnings, cleaning the pool (indoor or out)... you name it, they do it.

    If you want to talk about customer service - this is it. It means having very qualified sub contractors to do the work the customers want done. Could this be done where you have absentee home owners who rent their homes during vacation season or simply close 'em up? Who opens the house up? Closes it down? Who maintains it? Who is sending pictures/reports of the property? Often a property management company will do some of this - but maybe a customer trusts you. Would you do it? I would if it fit into my business mix and I could make money on it. This is only because I choose not to specialize in just one or two things. I just have to know where my limitations are and not say yes to everything. It's a tight rope we all walk to some degree.
     
  7. BRIAN GALLO

    BRIAN GALLO LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 282

    I get customers constantly asking for non-lawn services. If its something small I can do quick - I will to help out. If its something big I politely decline. I have had people ask me to paint their house - which I thought was kind of strange. I don't see the connection to lawn care??????:confused:
     
  8. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,501

    If it's related to our business, we will do it to a point.

    If it's something like pressure washing/sealing a deck, sealing a driveway, or topping out a tree, I nicely tell them to let your fingers do the walking.

    We tell them we can't be everything to everybody...in a nice way, of course.

    just my 2 cents.
     
  9. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,131

    I will do the odd jobs if I'm already there and have time. Last year I was doing some extras (hedge trimming and weeding) at a waterfront property. The guy had me carry all his patio furniture out to the waterfront patio, put the umbrellas up, table cloths on and go in the water for a table that blew in. I charge him hourly and he refers me a lot, so I don't mind. I'll even carry his trash to the curb if it's garbage day.
     
  10. Commander

    Commander Banned
    Posts: 116

    I find this kind of thing a rather common practice with the crowd of people I am starting to work for. This guy wants me to get him permits for cutting down trees which I will be doing. He wants me to take pictures of the trees as he will not be up before I cut them down. A friend of mine works for a contractor, the contractor pays him to keep an eye on the job site each day. Not really to go inside the houses and what not, but just to make sure that people are there when they should be, that materials are arriving on time, etc. Of course this guy sits at the job site from the time the land is cleared, until it is close to being occupied.
     

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