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I've had it up to here ^^^^^ with non-profits

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by LwnmwrMan22, Mar 28, 2008.

  1. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,372

    The title says it all.

    This account was #4 in my previous thread about losing 2nd, 3rd and 4th biggest account.

    It paid $825 per month, year around, for the lawn mowing, fertilizing, chemical apps and snowplowing.

    When I got the account, it was already a month into the mowing season, so I said that I'll just waive the first month's fee. It was a situation that it was new construction, and hadn't been mowed yet this last season.

    I got the call on a Thursday and asked if I could put a bid in. I was at a property about 10 miles from this location, so I asked if they would be available in 20 minutes, that I'd run right over there. They said that would be wonderful, that they were having an open house the following Monday and would like to get the property taken care of.

    I immediately went over to meet with the director. It's a YMCA. I told her how much it would be, that I could do it on the weekend with the baggers, and it would be perfect for them for the open house. She said that sounded great, but that she had a meeting with another contractor to get another bid. I said that's fine, just let me know.

    The next day I got the call and said that the other contractor never showed, and after talking with my references, that the director felt more than comfortable with having me perform the services at the account. I said okay, I'll be in there on Sunday and cut, bag and trim the entire place up, so it looks top notch for their open house.

    I did everything I said. I offered to remove construction debris at a donated labor rate, just pay for the dump fees. I even went so far as to donate a check for 10% of the contract before they opened.

    Never any problems, I checked in with them every week to let them know of different issues I noticed about the outside of the property, to let the general contractor know that "this piece of metal was loose" or this bush was already dead, etc.

    I did the snowplowing as was described. They were always opened immediately before they opened. I even donated 16 saltings this winter, to the tune of about $2000.

    I get the call today. "We're going with a different vendor for our lawn maintenance and snowplowing services. Due to cost of living and increase cost of running our building, we need to cut costs".

    I didn't raise my rates on this account. I included again that I would donate all salting services. I wrote on the bid form that I appreciate their business and I look forward to being able to donate to the YMCA again this year.

    This is not the first non-profit that I've dealt with that, for whatever reason, cannot do math, or am basically looking to have everything done for free. I just don't get it. They build a $7M building, and think they can run it for a $1.42.

    It would take me a little over 2 hours to do the summer work each week, and a little under 2 hours to do the plowing and sidewalk work. It would also take about 15-16 bags of fertilizer each round (4).
  2. ALarsh

    ALarsh LawnSite Silver Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 2,412

    Sounds like you are feeling a little bit of a pinch this year. Being in this business so long, have you ever gone through a previous time when things were getting tight? You may look into picking up some residentials as it wont hurt nearly as bad when one or two drops. Good luck to you this season
  3. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,028

    That sucks. Is it the same group of bean counters that you are dealing with or did they change personnel. Who is making the ultimate decision? I personally have never dealt with non profits or commercials for that matter. I have 2 small Dr's offices that don't really count. It seems that they set a guy up and then take the rug from under him. There is a reason for everything and it sure sound like you went above and beyond what many would do so hopefully in a week or 2 you will pick up a job that more than fills in this one. Take care.
  4. Atlantic Lawn

    Atlantic Lawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Outer Banks NC
    Posts: 939

    Get back out there and start hunting for new contracts, I'm sure You can pick up more than you've lost. Dedicate a day to doin' your cold calls and meet some new clients.
  5. chesterlawn

    chesterlawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 708

    I've found that in the past, customers never remember the free services you give them. When your in a stiuation of loosing a contract and you remind them of the freebies, it's like they don't hear you or it doesn't register. No more freebies, it doesn't pay.
  6. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,448

    I think I would write them a tactful letter, explaining what you just wrote in your post. If nothing else, it would make me feel better, and would likely cause them to second guess their decision making process. And no, I would not take them back unless it was understood there would be no more freebies.
  7. AdamChrap

    AdamChrap LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 937

    We have found the best way to do freebies is after you do them include them on the invoice as they would normally cost then deduct it at the bottom. Example: You give them 20 free slating's that would normally cost say $200. To them they think "Free Salt' They need to be thinking "$4000 SAVED". We have a contract that we have had for 9 years and have been trying to get them to let us charge by the hour for snow plowing for years but they like it rolled into the contract. It only toke one winter of putting on the bill each month how much it would normally cost for them to say "WOW" they actually felt bad for all the years that we have been doing it the other way. This year we have a contract price for the mowing and the plowing is by the HR!

    That is not the only place either. We have a few churches that we have had for about 8 years and we have always had the discounts we give them reflected in our invoices.
  8. AdamChrap

    AdamChrap LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 937

    Why no freebies? This is a non-profit organization. Does no one do charity work anymore? In our community it is almost expected and defiantly helps with getting accounts and general PR.
  9. Bunton Guy

    Bunton Guy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,755

    I don't give out free service as the grocery store & gas stations don't give my family free fuel & food. Everything cost money...sounds like you lost out on some good money if you would have charged them what you should have.
  10. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,372

    I do okay without having to charge every thing out constantly.

    My parents raised me to where you help people out when you can.

    I've always felt that if you can help your community, that you do what you can.

    I DID put on the monthly invoices each time we salted, and then showed a credit at the bottom for the salt work.

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