How to set expectations with new customers?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by P. Nelson, Oct 4, 2002.

  1. P. Nelson

    P. Nelson LawnSite Member
    Posts: 42

    What is your process from the time a new customer calls to the time you have an agreement and the mower blades are spinning on their property? Do you use a checklist that tells the customer what to expect from you and what you expect from them? Do you include in the list extra services with their prices? I have a customer that had a clean yard when I started mowing a few years ago. Now they've got grandkids and toys are strewed about the yard and the dog (that wasn't their before) is leaving lawn ornaments for me. That is just one example. I am trying to get ideas together to makeup a checklist. Have another customer who I told that once his grass needed cut around his newly installed pool that the price would increase due to the increase in cutting and trimming. He acted like he'd never heard that when it came time to cut it. Thanks:)
     
  2. HarryD

    HarryD LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,069

    blow grass in his pool then see what he says , hes got to expect its gunna cost a bit more because your gunna have to bag mow around the pool or hes gunna be cussing you every week :D
     
  3. yacht

    yacht LawnSite Member
    Posts: 104

    Be sure they understand in the beginning what your new price will be once the grass grows around the pool. Don't hesitate to let them know that extra time to move toys is going to cost them money. Otherwise it will cost you money.
     
  4. greenman

    greenman LawnSite Addict
    Posts: 1,405

    Mow around a few of the "lawn ornaments" a couple of mows and see what happens. If the customer know what day you are coming then they should pick of a little bit. If the mow around doesn't work then try a small increase. Sometimes with the lawn ornaments its possible to kick them out of the way while mowing when you get close enough. Kick 'em where you have just mowed. I knock 'em out of the way with my sulky.
     
  5. Tony Harrell

    Tony Harrell LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 739

    One or two small items on the lawn aren't a big deal to me. The ones that look like a toy store in a hurricane are the oes to charge.
     
  6. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Posts: 4,739

    Not had this happen a whole lot, one customer had small rubber balls for her dog (hollow) those got chopped :D :nono:
    Another time (first timers) they knew I was coming but didn't think about it. So I explained it would need pickin' up first and they came out and did it while I got started in another area. Course you know not everyone's going to like that idea (might seem like they're submitting to you or something :rolleyes: )
    LOL....

    Eric
     
  7. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 14,700

    I don't have too much trouble with dog do or things in the yard but here is the listing I give to a new customer so they know what to expect from me.

    Service
    Mow front & back yard. My equipment includes a 60" Dixie Chopper mower and a 36" Exmark mower. Edge concrete sidewalks and driveways with steel blade if requested.
    Line trim around beds, fences, trees, AC, & areas not accessible with mower. I will use a backpack blower to blow grass clippings from sidewalks and beds as necessary. If during times of low rainfall you do not feel as though your lawn needs cutting then please call me at least 24 hours in advance to cancel that week's service. If I show up to cut your lawn and I feel as though it doesn't need to be cut I will skip that cutting. I will never cut
    your lawn just to take your money.

    Mow Day & Time
    I work Monday through Friday. My mowing schedule is for the most part based on the length of time that a person has been a customer. The customers who have been with me the longest get mowed later in the week and newer customers earlier in the week. You will be assigned a specific mow day based on this. Every attempt will be made to mow your lawn on the same day of the week but occasionally there are conditions which arise,
    such as rain, that will prevent mowing. If conditions prevent me from mowing your lawn for 2 or more days then I will skip the cutting until the next scheduled mowing day.

    Mowing and Leaf Season
    The usual mowing season runs from late March/early April until October. During leaf season I will continue to visit your lawn every 2 weeks to mulch your leaves. I do not pick up leaves and remove them. If you do not want me to mulch your leaves just tell me.

    Payment
    I offer flexible payments. You can pay at the time of the service or I can bill you. I take cash or checks. Please make all checks payable to: RICHARD MARTIN. If your account becomes delinquent service will be halted and collection actions will proceed. An
    account is considered delinquent if more than 4 weeks passes between payments when you are a "pay every cut" customer or 4 weeks passes after you are billed. I will make every attempt to contact you prior to disruption of service.

    Complaints
    I strive to do the best job that I possibly can on each and every visit. If you are dissatisfied for any reason whatsoever please do not hesitate to tell me. I want you to be as happy with my service as possible.

    Price Changes
    Price changes usually do not occur during a current mowing season. I do, every few years, review pricing for my customers. Some factors that influence pricing are insurance costs (I carry 3 different kinds of insurance), equipment costs, fuel costs, maintenance costs and labor costs. I will also review your pricing if there are changes to your lawn such as installations of new beds, plants, an increase or decrease in the size of your lawn or if you decide to change the frequency of mowing.

    Weeds
    Cleaning out your flower beds is not a part of the mowing service. For these types of gardening services I suggest that you call Maids In The Garden and tell them that I recommended that you call them.

    Biweekly
    Biweekly mowing schedules are available at slightly higher rates. Please be advised that most yards will not look their best (in season) with less than weekly service.

    Gates
    You must leave your gate unlocked on mow days or give me a lock code. I cannot afford to come back to mow your back yard due to a locked gate. I am very careful about locking and closing gates, but I do not guarantee that a pet will not escape from the yard.

    Pools
    There is no deduction if you build a pool unless I will not have to cut the back yard.

    Cancellations
    There is no obligation on either party to begin or continue service. "You like me" & "I like you" makes for a mutually beneficial relationship.

    Fertilizer & Weed Control
    In an effort to do what I know best, I do not apply fertilizer/weed control.

    How I Price Lawns
    I will usually measure a lawn to give an accurate price. I tried for years to do the "look at it and guess" method but it usually did not work out well. I will not give out the formulas that I use but they have been checked repeatedly to insure fairness to both you and me. If you do decide to get prices from one of my competitors and their price is lower than mine then there must be a reason. You may want to ask them if they are insured, pay taxes on their income and if they are completely legal including having workers comp on their employees (remember, they are working on your property). I am completely insured, report and pay taxes on all income and I am completely legal to work in the State of Maryland.
     
  8. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,134

    Good thread and EXCELLENT post by Richard Martin.

    That's a tough act to follow, but here's an example of what my contract says:

    Lawn service to be on a weekly basis for the months of May, June, July, August, September, and October. Your service will be scheduled on every other Thursday. In the event of inclement weather the service will be scheduled for the next available day. Lawn service will include mowing all turf areas, trimming all turf areas inaccessible to mower with a line trimmer, and sweeping the resulting clippings with a power blower. All clippings will be discharged to the lawn or mulched (not bagged). The cost for this service will be: $250.00 per month.

    I handle an issues that might arise on a case-by-case basis with the customer either by phone or in person. I've got 3 lawns right now that have gotten more difficult since I started mowing them this year. 2 are due to test pits in the lawns for septic system repair/replacement (no city sewers here). They mess up my mowing patterns and create more string trimming. The other is due to removal of some flower beds and replacement with turf, as well as a new concrete sidewalk to edge along. Since it's late in the season, I'll just wait until the next contract to ask for more $$.

    Richard - Mind if I "borrow" some of your language for my new contracts?

    Darryl
     
  9. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 14,700

    darryl gesner wrote:

    Richard - Mind if I "borrow" some of your language for my new contracts?

    You and anyone else may use any portion or the entire text as they see fit.
     
  10. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,134

    Richard - Thanks. I think I might have them make the checks payable to me instead. They can still call you with any complaints though.:D

    I'm thinking of adapting it to fit how I do things (a little different, of course) and including it as a "policies" attachment to my contracts. By stating everything up front, I think it will minimize the potential for conflicts with customers down the road.

    Darryl
     

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