Ever let your employees know what you charge?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by pjslawncare/landscap, Nov 1, 2006.

  1. pjslawncare/landscap

    pjslawncare/landscap LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,410

    Sometimes one of my guys will start asking what I charge for a lawn. I dont know about u, but if they arent a leadperson, I usually tell them something like "enough to have a little left over after all my business expenses are paid".
    I dont mean to be rude or snooty, but a lot of guys think Im putting it all in my pocket and only paying them their $10 hr. How do u handle this?

    MOW PRO LAWN SERVICE LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,566

    Never let your price out.
  3. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    We print the price of the job on the schedule. Our workers are paid a set percentage of each job. They need to know how much they are getting paid on a lawn the first time or two they mow it. That way, we don't charge too little.

    Occassionally, they will tell us we need to raise the price on a new client because the lawn was larger or more time consuming than we expected.

    Additionally, when we pay our workers at the end of the week, they get a print out from Quickbooks that shows each address they mowed and what we charged.

    In our market, you can pretty much assume that if someone is mowing a lawn, they are charging $25 or so. If my workers want to undercut someone on price and run their own business, they'd have just as much ability to steal my clients as they would someone elses.

    If your workers are going to steal your customers there is little you can do about it. Either they are honest or they aren't. In our situation, a worker can go to the storage unit any time they want, punch in the gate code, drive off with an F-150 and trailer full of equipment never to be seen again. We have to trust our workers and we do.

    Generally, I think people are trustworthy if you just give them a chance. If you treat people like thieves, they are liable to act like thieves.

    DFW Area Landscaper
  4. fearthedeere

    fearthedeere LawnSite Member
    Posts: 109

    for me, it's the inevitable fact is that my helper will be around during client interactions, and he'll find out my rates. Lucky for me he's very trustworthy. I went over the situation with him a couple years ago, and told him that since he's going to know a lot of my pricing, that it is an honor and responsibility to him. It's an honor because I trust him, and resposibility because he doesn't need to be talking about my prices to anyone else...And he doesn't...not even his closest family that he may talk a lot about work with.
  5. scott's turf

    scott's turf LawnSite Senior Member
    from NH
    Posts: 949

    How do you handle paying your employees if there are breakdowns, a job that you grossly misquoted, or jobs that you have to go back and fix because of quality issues? I could see where the employees may get **** for wages with this method. Don't get me wrong, I think it works out good for you but I am not sure if legally the labor laws allow such a method. Anyone else know more about this?
  6. DBL

    DBL LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,219

    sometimes they know sometimes they ask and we tell them but sometimes they dont and i dont really care they still get their hourly wage no matter what the job price is
  7. nobagger

    nobagger LawnSite Gold Member
    from Pa
    Posts: 3,065

    I had a guy at the beginning of this season keep asking me how much for this,that, and everything else. I finally asked him "do ya want to start your own lawn care service or what?" He said no, so I told him quite asking! His mind frame was, well I'm mowing this lawn and your mowing that lawn (side-byside customer's) why am I not getting half of the total price. I asked him if he was nukinfuts! I then said ok if you want to split down the middle I'll give you half of every stink'in expense,bill and whatever else comes along for my business and you'll be responsible for paying half of everything! He never asked again!:hammerhead:
  8. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    As for break downs, we have a spare truck, spare mowers, spare everything. Break downs are a non-issue for us. The only time loss is driving time to swap machines and our crews are never more than 10 or 15 minutes away, at most. The only thing we don't have a spare of is the trailer but we keep the leaf springs and lighting components on hand, which is about the only thing that ever causes a trailer to be non-functional. So even if a trailer breaks down, we can have it back in operation within an hour or two.

    As for grossly misquoting a job, that isn't usually an issue. We don't do any shrub trimming or clean-ups on a firm price quote. Everything is done on an hourly charge. Our shrub-man gets paid the same way. We bill $36/man-hour for his labor. We buy mulch for $2.65 per bag and retail it for $4 per bag, plus a $60 delivery fee. Our shrub man gets a percentage of the markup and the delivery, same as he gets for his labor. Same thing for chemical treatments. The $60 delivery fee works well (actually a little too well) for a one-man operation but when we expand this to a two-man crew next year, the formula may need to be tweaked.

    If our mowing crew shows up to mow the lawn and it's extremely overgrown they call on their cell, I call the client on their cell and get an ok to charge an hourly rate the first time. If the property should be $40 per cut, weekly, and we have quoted $25, weekly, we take the hit on the first cut, the crew tells us to raise the price, they come off the schedule until the client ok's the price hike. This happens very rarely. 95% of the lawns in my market are essentially $25 lawns.

    From what I understand, most of the larger lawn mowing companies in my area are doing things this way, that is, the piece rate pay structure. The workers don't loaf with this arrangement and there is no need to micro-manage them. If they do poor quality work and the client complains, they go back for a free re-cut the next day, or, if a re-mow won't help, we issue a credit for the cut that was butchered.

    Our workers seem to be happy with this arrangement. Turnover at the crew leader position is minimal and we have never had a crew leader quit (it's always been the other way around).

    DFW Area Landscaper
  9. Scag413

    Scag413 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,283

    I think that employees shouldn't know the prices you charge. Maybe the foreman of each crew who has earned your respect but nobody else. If I ever truely run my own business, I am 16, then I will include in the contract that they if they quit and run their own business, then they can't comeback to an of my accounts and underbid for like 2 years. If this is not in tact then they can take a hit for the first year by charging dirt cheap to build their business and then once it is built they raise their prices back up to what is reasonable.
  10. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,501

    I discuss my prices with only 2 people...myself when I am talking to myself and my CPA brother accountant.

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