Extra charge for long grass?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Twotoros, Feb 23, 2001.

  1. Twotoros

    Twotoros LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 494

    I am just putting my spring sign-up letter out for my customers.
    Am I wrong to put my foot down this year and tell them there will be extra charges for extra long grass?
    This isn't the seasonal growth spurt kind of long grass.
    This is the chemically induced growth some of the spray guys load on. Seems like if they don't have the mowing contract they pour it on heavy.
    I explained this in the letter and offer to fertilize myself or find someone to do it. I worded it kind of like 'this is the way it will be as I've had it"and "I'm willing to lose customers over the issue.
    AmI wrong to not want to do extra work for nothing?
    Or should I back off and keep eating this problem?
    I haven't sent the letter out yet the weather has been so crappy nobody is thinking spring yet.
     
  2. 1MajorTom

    1MajorTom Senior Moderator
    Posts: 6,073


    I understand where you are coming from. There is nothing worse than going to a customers house when their grass is extra long. More work for you, and more work for your equipment.

    I see you made reference to 'mowing contract'. What exactly is your mowing contract?

    If your customers are getting their grass cut every 7 days, I don't see how you can penalize them.

    HOWEVER, if they are the type of people that are waiting 10 to 14 days between cuts knowing that they are intentionally fertilizing heavy, then I say by all means charge them more!

     
  3. Twotoros

    Twotoros LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 494

    7 days between,Major. No when I pull up after a week and there is 6-8" staring at me I freak . Please note that every one here like it cut 13/4-21/4" . so if I have to do four plus because of to much juice I find it unfair to me. I'm trying to get these people away from the bandits who over apply.
     
  4. Randy Scott

    Randy Scott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,915

    Twotoros, I don't know how many customers you have but is it possible to call them and meet with each one in person or somehow get in touch verbally so you can explain this to them. Sometimes people don't know your tone of voice by a letter and may take it the wrong way. No sense loosing customers if you don't have to. Just a thought! :) God luck.
     
  5. 1MajorTom

    1MajorTom Senior Moderator
    Posts: 6,073

    Wow, I didn't realize how low your customers wanted their grass cut, and how long it actually got in seven days.

    Yes, go ahead and send out a letter. You need to sound firm about the extra charge, but you don't want to come across too harsh either.

    I would mention something in the letter like, "due to the fact that I am taking off more than the recommended amount of grass at one cutting, I will be forced to raise your price if you insist upon heavy fertilizations and low height cuttings."

    By all means, you are the boss. You need to be happy cutting these peoples grass. You need to make it worth your while.
    If you can't, then I would advise replacing these pain in the butt accounts with more profitable ones.

     
  6. Twotoros

    Twotoros LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 494

    Good advice about contacting them in person however this problem arises with different customers from year to year. I'm only looking for extra charges when there is a over application . If they can be convinced to back off and cancel an app now and again. Sometimes I think the spray guys are out to get the lawn guy. Tomorrow I'ii take a look at the letter .Maybe tone it down or send a different letter to the ones I know will not be a problem. I stated in the letter I didn't mind extra work once in awhile .Maybe I'll post it and see what you think.
     
  7. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,494

    Be careful, as there is a large grey area here. When grass grows like that does everyone consider and blame it on the fertilizer? No. They blame it on the rain. This is the same thing the fert guy is going to say. If it's growing like that, tell the higher priced ones that you'll have to cut 5 to 6 times a month. This is necessary with the rapid growth. This is, of course if you're charging by the cut. If not, then yes there would have to be some sort of double cutting penalty. When I did that, I added 1/2 the cost of the cut (since the trimming and blowing are not doubled).
     
  8. Twotoros

    Twotoros LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 494

    Runner , desert here can't blame the rain.
    here is the letter:
    *************
    I’d like to thank you for your business in the past and once again need your attention for a couple of minutes to review this proposal for the 2001 season. The white copy has all of the services I offer for this year and the prices for your property.
    I‘ve found that trying to keep my prices low is becoming more of a problem the longer I am in business. This will be my sixteenth year in business. If after you review your proposal and find the prices unreasonable, then I urge you to call me and allow me to explain the changes. I also urge you to compare with other licensed lawn care companies. I will no longer compete with the many unlicensed fly-by-night so-called services. Many do a good job but because they cheat the system and they have a 35% edge over me. The days of lowering my bottom line are over, as I must consider the future of my business. If you choose not to renew services because of price then please let me explain my point of view in person.

    This year I will offer two grades of fertilizer. The first are the products I buy from Wilbur-Ellis Co. They are good products and are the cheaper of the two programs I offer. The other program is Scott’s brand premium fertilizer.
    I am offering Scott’s crabgrass as well as Scott’s weed control, which can be applied late spring and early fall. Also the Scott’s fertilizer, which can be applied instead of the weed control products if you do not like herbicides on your lawn. The program Scott’s suggests is 4 or 5 applications: crabgrass/fertilizer applied early spring, broadleaf control/fertilizer late spring, fertilizer in summer (optional), broadleaf control/fertilizer early fall, and Scott’s winterizer in late fall.
    If you would rather have a spray fertilizer program I can arrange that with a service that I can trust and that can be billed through me, saving you from having to pay two different companies.

    PLEASE READ:
    What I’m trying to get away from is the fertilizer programs some my customers have used in the past. These other companies put way too much product on the lawn and cause extreme growth, leaving me to deal with the consquenses. It is like you going to work one day and your boss saying, “ Will you put in 30-90% more time on the job today? And by the way you are doing it on your time.” I hate to say it but those days are also over! If you choose to use a lawn spray company that over fertilizes your lawn I will add on extra charges to cover my time. I don’t mind a little extra time once in awhile but I have pulled up to jobs with 6-8 inches of growth in on week. This makes it very hard to do a good job even when spending extra time on the job. I may lose customers over this problem but I won’t budge on this issue. This is my sixteenth year and I am getting old and stubborn. I hope I do no sound to harsh, if so call me we’ll talk.

    Tip:
    Please try not to water your lawn 24-72 hours before mowing. 24 hours when it’s hot,48 hours when it’s warm and 72 hours when it’s cool. This is to insure you get the best possible cut each week.
    Remember your lawn likes deep, infrequent watering. All you lawn needs to be healthy is 1” of water per week or 11/2 inches if it is hot. This equals two deep watering cycles per week!!!!!

    I hope to be of service to you another season. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Gary Gallipo

    ***********************************************************
    That's it plus a letter with service prices.

     
  9. Skookum

    Skookum LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 675

    Gary,

    I understand your problem, like many on this forum do, I have walked away from accounts that were just too much trouble from this same situation. Mine was the homeowners themselves doing the apps at about 9 to 10 apps a year of Scotts Turf Builder and 4 step programs! Guess the "4 step" never registered with the one guy. But hey 2 x 4 has got to be better, right?

    Anyway, this is just my opinion, but your letter sounds just a touch harsh. I think it is right from our stand in this industry on this subject, but I just feel that it could be a little more appeasing to the customer. Try writing it as as a plea to understand your situation not as a ultimatum to them about the situation. Just my .02!
     
  10. my opinion on your letter..

    Too much focussing on the non renewal. some will think about to not renew only because your light them on. Don't shows problems, bring solution (marketing pitch), offering fert is a good one.

    Also do not insist too much on the fact that they can call you, limit it by one statement at they end.

    About flight by night, state what difference with you: insurance, better equipment, formation, knowledge and diagnostics, no under table, employe, etc.

    You want more, sure they will want more, insist on the fact that them properties will always look better.

    ca passe ou ca casse.

    Denis

    [Edited by 4 Saisons on 02-23-2001 at 03:25 AM]
     

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