High end "do whatever it needs" properties

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by grassmasterswilson, Aug 22, 2014.

  1. Outlawn

    Outlawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 735

    I like these customers, too. I have several of them and I just bill for what I do, when it needs done. It's a privilege, so don't abuse it.
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  2. grassmasterswilson

    grassmasterswilson LawnSite Platinum Member
    from nc
    Posts: 4,550

    Thanks guys. I've always done pruning as an add on service. So I need to either add it to his monthly price or just tell him we could add on pruning and any other additional work(other than mowing, Fert, etc) at my per man hour rate.

    While I can confidently price the mowing, fertilizer, seeding, and even pruning. I worry about how much side work and extra stuff a "do what it needs" customer will want.

    Guess this is where a specific quote includes detailed scope of work comes in.
  3. These are the kind of people that are expecting you to know what your doing. If a few plants are looking bad, replace them. If plants needs fertilizer, fertilize them. If the lawn is getting fungus, treat it. They expect you to be the professional and not have to talk to you about these things. Like Larry said, if you don't do what needs to be done you will probably get fired. Treat these people well because they pay better than everyone else.
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  4. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,144

    Something I learned to do over the years.

    I *NEVER* start out with the assumption that I can just do whatever I want, they can say anything they like but I *ALWAYS* clear the price with the customer before I get started. We both know what is going to be done, a time-frame is settled, and a price is agreed upon.

    Of course when I get a call like that I usually walk their yard and see what needs to be done, then we have a discussion.

    Only years later when I'm pretty sure I know my customers do I SOMETIMES take it upon myself to take care of some small stuff but as a rule EVERYTHING is cleared up in advance... The ONLY things I don't clear every time are seasonal things we've done before, they know it's coming and so do I, pretty much we already had an agreement.

    There is no other way.

    Put another way...
    Work without express consent from the customer is good as work for free.
    They may not mean it like that, most probably don't, but some do and either way...

    It just doesn't matter, never do work without them knowing or it's only a matter of time before you get stiffed, guess how I learned.
    Don't learn this one the hard way, but if you must learn it the hard way please pick a small project (like under $50).
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2014
  5. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,144

    Here's what I do...

    Learn to 'foretell' the future, like when plants are looking like they're going to need pruning in the next few weeks, call them / leave a message / text them and let them know that on your next visit you'd like to trim the bushes (and tell them which ones) and how much it's going to cost. It's also cheaper if you can plan on doing two and three things during the same visit, learn to look out for your customer so their cost is low.

    Sometimes I will say if that's all right then I will proceed as planned but if it's not or you (meaning the customer) have other ideas to please let me know.

    So you can make it pretty effortless, but don't leave out communication.
  6. sjessen

    sjessen LawnSite Gold Member
    Male, from Knoxville, Tn
    Posts: 3,334

    One possible alternative is to give a monthly price on the services you can confidently bid and then bill per service on the extras for the first year. After that you will have a better idea of the overall requirements to keep the property in the shape the owner desires. Year 2 do the monthly pricing based on the total costs incurred during year one +/- any changes or upgrades that need to be made.
  7. PicturePerfectLawns

    PicturePerfectLawns LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,308

    I had a guy tell me the same exact thing this week. He told me he wanted to the beds maintained, mulched when they needed it, grass kept out of them, the shrubs kept trimmed, tree's trimmed when needed, lawn fertilized when needed, and so forth. He also has two acres of brush in the back on a lot connected to the golf coarse he also owns. He wanted me to cut it all down. Eventually wants to get everything nice and under control, wants it all seeded with native grass, and so forth. He told me just to bill him for the yard and the back two acres. He's not a hurry with the two acres, but he said "let him know if it's going to cost over 15K to clean it up. You can bet I went out there last week with an Billy Goat and walked it all down. Took me nearly the whole day, some of that stuff was tough, and way over-grown, but that Billy Goat tore right through it. I still have a lot of work to go back there. I'm hoping to do a lot of work out there when it slows down and gets cold!
  8. redmax fan

    redmax fan LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,193

    when mowing lawn each week list things that should be done then call guy with a price for the ok
  9. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,144

    I'm not sure if I'm reading this right but you never gave the customer a price before you started?

    That is a problem.

    These rich people are not stupid, mark my words.

    Without the customer's informed consent and agreement on a price, you have no contract.
    And without a contract, the customer doesn't have to pay you.

    Folks, I am telling you...
    These people are not giving you 'unlimited credit.'
    It may sound like they are, but they're not.

    You need to have specific consent from the customer, you both need to be informed of what is to be done, about how long it is going to take, and how much it is going to cost, and before any work is started you need a mutual agreement between yourself and the customer.
    That is called a contract.

    Without a contract you're playing a game of Russian Roulette.
    You do work outside of a contract, they don't have to pay you.

    Even if it's only a $50 hedge trim, they need to know the work you're doing is going to cost them $50 upon completion.
    Otherwise it's only a matter of time before they don't pay.
  10. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,144

    Customer says to you:

    Oh yeah, yeah, I know I told you that you need to let me know if it's going over 15 thousand but...
    That work you did there, that little bit of brush clearing?
    I thought that would cost like, $25.


    Well you never said it was going to be like $500 just for that!

    There is the problem.

    Without a contract, once the argument starts you're drawing the short end of that stick.
    There is nothing you can do, legally the customer has not been told how much the work that just got finished would cost.

    You need SPECIFICS.
    Work abc for $120, and then you need a yes or no from the customer.

    I can walk into a mechanic's shop and tell them to "fix my car" and "let me know if it's going over 50 thousand"
    They rebuild the transmission for three thousand, and I balk!

    Guess what?
    I'm in my right, I never consented they rebuild the tranny for 3 thousand dollars.
    I thought that part would cost, like $400

    Who is in trouble now?
    Put the old transmission back in, I tell them.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2014

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