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If your contract states 30 cuts, and your customer.....

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by justmjc, Jan 6, 2004.

  1. justmjc

    justmjc LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 261

    want's to end the season off at 26 or 28 cuts, do you enforce the entire contract and bill for the remaining weeks? Do you bill for the weeks you are asked to skip?

    My uncle says that if you skip a week he still needs to get paid. Do you enforce all these billings or just risk losing/drop the account.

    I don't want to list 30 cuts on a contract and when the grass starts slowing to every 2 weeks of cutting, they just say, ok your done for the year. I want my money until a set period. Obvisously if the weather does not permit it, but if it's still growing and they say stop.

    Do you still bill them the remaining cuts or say ok, I'm done.
  2. o-so-n-so

    o-so-n-so LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Alabama
    Posts: 1,218

    Thats the reason for the contract. So they wont cut you off at the seasons end. If your contract states 30 cuts, I would show up if all I had to do was blow off walkways, pick up debris or something. I know...people can be ridiculous at times.

    I have a friend that starts all his contracts in november just for this reason. If they quit you, you are ahead.

    You might consider in the future of bidding based on 30 cuts and word your contract to read "As Needed" as long as you control the fertilize application. You don't want the homeowner applying fert at a rate that would cause the grass to run rampant and you mowing once a week and working your butt off.
  3. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,137

    This is a subject that I can't agree with most people about. I for one, don't bill people for work that I don't do. If the weather turns dry in the summer and there isn't a need to mow a lawn, I won't. Should I get paid for that? I don't think so. Some people think that when you are hired as a lawn service, that customer should pay for the full length of the season, even if a week is skipped. My take on it is, if I'm hired to cut the grass, I'm going to charge when I do the work. If I'm not doing the work, I'm not going to charge for it. I know lots of people don't agree with me, and that's fine, it's my opinion.

    On the other hand, if there is work to be done, and people don't want me to mow a week because they are cheap, I'm not a happy man. If grass is growing in October and the lawn needs to be cut, I'm going to cut it. I have had a few people that will try to put me off so they won't have to pay, and I don't play that way. You have to watch out for your best interests as well.

    So usually what I'll do is state that if the lawn is not growing due to weather conditions, I will allow for call offs. But if the grass is growing and needs cutting, I'm cutting.
  4. He's said it perfectly.

    My business philosophy exactly! The only thing I might add would be why do it this way.
    It's because it drives customers nuts to bill them for work not performed. Especially here in the north where it becomes pretty clear when the lawn goes dormant.

    Scheduling them for 30 cuts per season is already getting into their pocket for an extra four cuts. Unless someone's applying liquid "N" with a bucket!

    I have one client who is scheduled for 30 billing increments. One extra for pruning and shearing, another extra one for mulching the beds, and two more to cover core aeration in the fall.
    This year due to the extra rain I think I billed them for 32 service calls. But they got their money's worth each and every time.

  5. Pilgrims' Pride

    Pilgrims' Pride LawnSite Senior Member
    from MA.
    Posts: 481

    Hey guys,

    I was cutting when I first started out and I was up front with customers from the get go.
    I explained that I would not be inteerested in taking on an account that i would not service every week.
    I realize that there are times when the grass won't need to be cut and should I arrive and find that to be the case, I will spend that time doing other work whatever that might be.
    I explained that I lose if I take an account that is only bi-weekly or is going to skip visits and that my kids still like to eat!.

    Only one time did a potential customer object to my plans.
    They also went through several services that year!!

    I agree with mtd however, I would never bill for work not done.

    Pray for snow or spring!

  6. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    and of course, my opinion is different. if we agree on 30 cuts, then it's 30 cuts, i'll tell you why: what is a "grasscut"? defintion: on a medium residential, a "grasscut" is no more than 30 minutes of my time, mow, weedwack, edge every other week, blow drive and walks, clean up curb area. now, there are times (high, wet grass, or in early fall, when the leaves start to come down) when this service takes longer than expected, but that's ok, because i know in late july/august, it will slow down and i'll make that lost time up. this is how it averages out. now, if u state that "you only charge for work you do", that's fine, but your cutting fee should then vary from time to time to cover the extra work during rainy seasons, etc. our contract states "the schedule calls for weekly mowing, however, from time to time it may be necesary to skip mowing, any missed cuts due to weather(rain, drought, non growth, acts of god) will be solely at our discretion." the reason for this is because if u start to allow the clients to call and say don't come this week, it will start happening all too often.
  7. Currier

    Currier LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 564

    I don't include a set number of cuts in my agreements. I basically call it a 7 month season beginning in April. I bill one set fee April thru October. Some months have 5 cuts some 4 and April may only have 2/3. It all evens out in the end.

    I tell my customers their price is based on anywhere from 26-32 cuts. Usually it is right on 28. It works for me...
  8. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,137

    I agree. Which is why I only agree for call offs when the yard is pretty dead/dry. Usually, the customer will leave the decision to me, it's rare that I get a call off. Believe me you, I want to get paid, but I'm not going to drag my mowers over dead, burnt grass just to say I cut it. When I set my fees, I take into account how much average work it's going to take. And when I don't do any work, I don't charge.

    I see the attitude too much that a customer seems to owe us something just because they are on our customer list. I don't believe that. That's a dangerous attitude to take. We owe them our service, and then they owe us charges for that service. That's how I look at every customer. If it gets dry in the summer, and there's no work for me to do, I'm not going to charge them just because they are my customer. I charge them when I do the work.

    That's not to say I'm going to let them call off whenever they decide they want to save some money. As I said, when there's work to be done, I'm going to do it and they are going to pay.
  9. Scraper

    Scraper LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,656

    I agre with MTD. In my case I have customers on a 12 month paying cycle where I estimate their cuts for the season in the beginning (Usually 28-30) and at the end of the season I determine how many cuts were made and either adjust their winter bills accordingly to make up or refund the difference.
  10. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    mt, i agree about not dragging my machine over a dead dried out lawn, but, for one i'm not gonna drive from house to house to look and see if it needs cutting, and number two, when you allow "call offs", the trouble begins. iv'e had them call me off, and when i go next week i need to double cut. so now what? i think allowing "call offs" opens the door for problems. 99.999% of the time the lawn does need cutting each week. granted, a couple weeks may allow you to skip the wacking and edging, and you're only taking off a quarter inch of top growth,and leaving some stripes, but, like i said, this is how it evens out. and, miss that week, get 3 days of rain, and you're bustin your ass the next week. so, one way to avoid it, 30 cuts is 30 cuts, skip one at my discretion only, u call me off, i don't agree, u pay for the visit anyway, you don't pay, chances are the way we work our billing we are always ahead of you, so u WILL pay anyway.

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