Hired and Fired the Same Week

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Whitey4, Oct 17, 2008.

  1. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,448

    One of my favorite customers tells me her son is looking for an LCO. I look at the property, it's pretty much a mess. Holes in the dirt where he removed some shrubs, edges all over grown on the sidewalk, like two inches of grass and soil. A big hole in the ground where he must have had a shrub next to a new paver driveway.

    I call him... and low ball the 3.7k of turf for mowing and blowing at 26 bucks. That is about a buck or two below market rates here. So, today I spend two hours, half of which was with a stick edger and a spade egtting the edges cleaned up. I blew out all the leaves from the beds and got them with my mower. I edged all the beds.... they were a sloppy mess. I wasn't sure what to do with the holes in the beds.... his mother had told me he wanted some shrubs previously, and I said as a favor I could get them a whole lot cheaper than retail for him.

    I should have known this guy would be a problem. He started whining about how when HE was an LCO (yeah, likely illegal and shlock) he got 10 bucks a lawn when I quoted him on the phone. If anything, I expected him to call and say what an improvement there was.... instead he is complaing that I didn't do the beds! I told him I spent 2 hours there today, and wanted to discuss what he wanted done with the ONE bed before I worked on it...

    He tells me he's been through this with other LCO's, and he says we're done, he'll give his mother the 26 bucks and that's that... and abrupty hangs up.

    Now, I know I'm better off without this character... I also know my work is better than 95% of the LCO's around here... I always go the extra mile, but still... it gets me P-O'd. Two hours trying to get his house looking somewhat maintained... and I get fired. This is the funny part... he said he did the edging himself a week ago. I took about 40 lbs of turf and dirt off his sidewalks. Left a perfect edge on them when I was done.

    I'm gonna have to really bite my tongue when I speak to his mother... had to vent. :angry:
  2. punt66

    punt66 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,538

    why would you do all that work for $26??? 2 hour up here would be arount $170....
  3. djchiodo3

    djchiodo3 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 345

    Your first mistake was showing up. Your second mistake was charging $26.00.
    You should have known how long it would take to do a professional job. You don't sound to profestional to me. No offense.
  4. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,448

    It was a new customer.... I figured I would get the place fixed up within a few weeks and have another regular account. If I knew what a sc*m bag this guy was, I would have hit him for 160 at least for the work I did today.

    I got burnt... and learned another lesson.
  5. billslawn89

    billslawn89 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,364

    anymore, i don't care if its a possible new client to be, i will always charge an inital cleanup charge or edging charge if its that bad! i also learned my lesson years ago when i started out!
  6. punt66

    punt66 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,538

    well take it as a lesson learned. I understand where your coming from. What i do is give an extra few minutes each week and let the yard gradually get better. Its too easy for a customer you dont know to take advantage like they did. Like you i also have that desire to make peoples yards that are a mess look better but i wont do it without a proper estimate.
  7. Kickin Your Grass

    Kickin Your Grass LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 479

    I wouldn't have unloaded my push mower for $26.00, much less stayed for 2 hours!
  8. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,448

    First, you are mistaken.... I was AT market rates for LI. Maybe a buck or two a week low, but that's all. The AVERAGE weekly mowing charge here is TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS.

    I knew I would be putting in extra time to get it shaped up in the beginning. This is how I have gotten and kept my best customers. I also do apps (legally) and my average annual billings per account with an average of 2.5 to 3.5k of turf is $1,500 a year. This guys mother woll bill out at $2,000 this year with apps ind installs.

    You do not understand this market.... the mowing is a loss leader. The money is made on fert, apps, installs and the like. To get that more profitable work, you mow almost for free. Showing up was a mistake? No... it wasn't. That is just a silly comment.

    Ask any other LCO from LI on this site... ask him what he gets for mowing 3k of turf. This place is rampant with illegal immigrants. Mowing prices are in the dirt, literally. To survive, we charge about an average of 40 bucks each for fert and pesticide apps. The cost in time and materials for those things are minimal. 5 minutes for a fert app... 40 bucks. I can do 6 properties in an hour. That is where we make our money.... that, and installs, designs and turf renovations.

    This is why so many questions about pricing on this site are meaningless. You want 35 to mow 3k of turf here? You are OUT of BUSINESS.
  9. djchiodo3

    djchiodo3 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 345

    There is a difference between showing up to maintain a yard that has been neglected and a yard that has had some maintenance. There is a fee which represents a normal cutting and a fee that represents doing a lot of work to get a place in shape. You seem to think that one should charge the lesser of the two to clean up a dump. If people hire you because your cheap, some one will come along who is cheaper. Get them to hire you because you are great at what you do. Have some pride and respect for you self.
  10. cgll1135

    cgll1135 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 89

    Whitey 4 do what it takes to keep building your business. If these guys don't live in your area how can they tell you what to charge. Just my 2 cents!:)

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