Homeowner's Viewpoint

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by kenp, Feb 27, 2003.

  1. kenp

    kenp LawnSite Member
    from SC
    Posts: 36

    Hi guys,

    I'm very impressed with how much you all obviously care about your chosen line of work and improving in any area you can. I love to sign on and read about your trials, escapades and funny stories.

    Let me tell you this real quickly:

    When I grew up, like most kids, I cut some grass in my neighborhood outside Chicago. I remember one huge lawn Mrs. Dietz paid me $2.50 for each and every week from the time I was 9 until I went off to college. Understand, also, that these were the same customers that my mom would send me to shovel their walks for free with any major snow storm. It was good for my character. I ended up trimming a lot of bushes, etc., and loved it. In no way was I a professional in knowledge or quality of work.

    Anyway, I cut their grass, walked up to the door, and they paid. I might get a bottle of pop, but usually not. I loved it.

    I have always loved cutting grass. I love the smell, I love the sounds, I love the outdoors. I love the lines, I love the sharp edges. I love to trim bushes, to shape them and see them change. I stand back and admire them. You get the idea.

    I moved to South Carolina two years ago into a home with 1.3 acres, a large house, pool, and a large drive. I figured that now, my 21" Honda mower would be inadequate unless I wanted to cut grass many, many hours a week. I figured I would get some estimates from companies to cut my grass. I can (and love) taking care of the bushes and all. It gives me a good excuse to be outside, by myself, nobody bothering me. The guy that cut it for the homeowner that sold me the house did it for the previous owner for $225.00 per month. He came out, looked at the property with which he was quite familiar, and followed up his visit with a lengthy contract in the mail, the likes of which I had never seen except at a closing on a home. I'm not kidding. But what really was strange to me was the "set-up":

    (And this may not be odd to anyone else in the world but me...)

    I was to sign a contract for $350.00 per month. For this, they would , well, basically, "mow, blow and go". And, oh yea...the contract was for twelve months, whether they come out or not. Now here, we go months without cutting the grass.

    Now, I'm just wondering - - instead of the $4,200. per year to have my grass cut, I embarked on a long search for a good ZTR, learned a lot from your site, and bought a Hustler Z 60". I got a demo with 13 hours for $6,800. I cut the grass whenever it needs it, there is little to no blowing or edging because of the way I have changed beds, etc., and I'm tickled pink to do it.

    I mean, if I could have paid to have it done WHEN IT IS DONE then I maybe would rather not have the mower taking up so much room in my garage, etc.

    Anyway, from my perspective, the twelve months each and every month contract was the deal breaker. It seemed that all LCL's required that.

    I've just always wanted to ask you what you thought.

    Thanks.
     
  2. kenp

    kenp LawnSite Member
    from SC
    Posts: 36

    Believe me, it sticks out like a sore thumb when you are involved in a serious thread and one of your members interjects something like "Hey, so what, you can bill for it" in the middle of it. I know that is not the consensus of how you all see your responsibility to the customer.
     
  3. Sounds like you live in an area where there is much more demand than supply. I wish I could dictate those terms, take it or leave it. Can you post a map of how we could get there?
     
  4. Gravely_Man

    Gravely_Man LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,076

    Whereabouts in SC do you live? That will help some of us know what kind of a market you are in. I am very familiar with your state.


    Gravely_Man
     
  5. bruces

    bruces LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 648

    Personally, I bill on a "per service" basis. I bill for the services I perform during the month at the end of the month.

    It seems that most members on here that use a 12 month billing compute the amount of service to be performed, add it up, and divide by 12. If the number of cuts is a few more or a few less, the billing is still the same.

    If the bill is computed like that, you really shouldn't have a gripe, you are getting a "level pay plan".

    The problem may be in the way the proposal was presented to you. If he just said $350 a month, with no explanation of how it was computed I can understand why you didn't like it. If he explained that this is for this much work, billed over 12 months, then that is a different story.

    Just another point of view without knowing how the proposal was presented to you.
     
  6. kenp

    kenp LawnSite Member
    from SC
    Posts: 36

    I live in the Greenville area, Gravely_Man.

    And Bruces, I know what you are saying. In my opinion, you'd have to spend a lot of time mowing my grass to add up to $4,200. per year. (You ought to see how little time it takes for me to do a nice job with my "Z".) I remember asking the owner, who presented the bid, what about all of the months that the grass is not growing, and he said that he has to have the contract for every month in order to protect himself, or something to that effect. I just know that I will have paid for this mower very soon with about 40 minutes a week to match what the LCO offered.
     
  7. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,403

    I too am amazed at some of the "gutsy" bids that are tossed out there to homeowners. With 1.3 acres, I can't imagine why it would require $335/month for 12 months worth of lawn services, even if it was a little more than mow n' blow. But some guys prefer to work less and make more sales calls. So I guess it's a free country. Just not my style.

    A home that I do basic mowing/leaf cleanup on for about $1000/year, plus maybe $300 of extras like shrubs and mulch...received an unsolicited bid from a company with a fancy presentation. Mow, edge, trim, blow as needed, plus pick up any sticks in the lawn....$2800/year! About triple what I was getting, which was about $38/visit (40 minutes on-site) so I wasn't exactly low ballin' it.


    I charge per service visit. I marvel at how some guys can get customers to pay them over the winter when practically no work is being done. But it seems to work for them.
     
  8. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    ken, hi, and welcome. i will respond as best i can, im sure others will follow. im sure as a consumer, when u hire someone to provide a service, u expect proffesionalism. well, in order to provide u with top quality reliable service, there comes a price. a pro company carries insurance, permits, good equipment, etc. this all costs alot of money. since the price of me doing business is the same, wether or not we experience periods of excess rain, or drought, i must "lock" my customers in to a monthly fee. after all, all our operating costs need to be paid, rain or shine. its not that we dont want to cut on an "as needed " basis, but as a company, we cannot exsist that way. hope this helps
     
  9. kenp

    kenp LawnSite Member
    from SC
    Posts: 36

    I even drive my "Z" ten or twelve minutes away to a friend's house and mow his 1/3 acre lot. I still have only in the 30-something hours on my meter and I used it a good portion of last summer! (My three-year old twins also love to be driven around on it for fun (with the blade off). You can't beat a ZTR.

    I do know that when I lived up in the Chicago area, the grass sure grew much faster and thicker in the growing season. Gotta love that soil.

    (I'll never forget going to a Home Show in our town last year, stopping at the booth of a national lawn care company, and asking advise as to growing a nice lawn in this clay. The response was that "soil has nothing to do with it". Even my wife almost choked on that ridiculous answer. I have lived the difference between good soil and clay.)
     
  10. kenp

    kenp LawnSite Member
    from SC
    Posts: 36

    I do understand, Bobby. Those are good points.
     

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