Lets talk leaf cleanups

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by shovelracer, Dec 11, 2007.

  1. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,009

    So every year I get a handful of calls from customers angry about their leaf clean up bill 2 weeks before the holidays. I gather that this is not actually about me, but the fact that junior wants a dirtbike, an Xbox, a laptop, a this and a that, and the wifey wants jewelry, a new car, and a vacation to somewhere expensive. Meanwhile dad hates his job, isnt getting a christmas bonus and just paid 900 to fill the oil tank.

    Anyways I'm used to this very small percentage complaining, and most come back again and again. What got me this year was that a few got real nasty and started demanding explanations as to why their bill was so high. This caught me by surprise and left me speechless. Well if I lose them its no big deal since I freaking cant stand people complaining about pricing. Its not like Im getting rich off this gig.

    As for the cleanups most are 1-2 acres, heavily wooded, in nice neighborhoods. Most are stored on property, but a few are removed. It is not uncommon to have a season total of 20-30 man hours in each cleanup involving around 30-50 yards of leaves. I run crews of 4-5 guys most of the time with a full arsenal of top of the line backpack and ground blowers, ZTRs, tarps, rakes, buckets, etc. I run contracts, rarely give a maximum, and I charge by the man hour and cant change that since there is too much of a variable due to weather, wind, etc. I charge a fair amount that makes me money on each man and pays ALL expenses now and future, but I am not as expensive per hour as some of the higher numbers Ive seen thrown around here.

    So, please share your experiences if you will. Do I need to, or should I justify my prices to these customers. If so how, cause they never get it anyways. All they here is that I charge more than they themselves make per hour. And when the bill arrives and the yard is clean its very easy for them to say well I would have done it. Funny part is that I am raising my prices even more in the spring.
     
  2. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,501

    what kind of $ #'s are we talking about here you're charging?
     
  3. EngineeredLawns

    EngineeredLawns LawnSite Member
    Posts: 100

    Most people have no idea what the equipment cost. You can let them know that you are using aboput $12000 of equipment on their yard or what ever the cost is and that they are free to get other quotes. You also need to let them know that there are other cost such as vehicles, fuel, and insurance.
     
  4. GLLawns

    GLLawns LawnSite Member
    Posts: 132

    You could also just let them know that these are your prices period. No explanation needed, you are not required to explain your pricing. They know that you are using equipment that is not cheap, like you said they are usually overextended in other areas and are just taking it out on the lawnboy.
     
  5. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,009

    My average cleanup runs 800-1000 on the smaller big lots, and the larger ones easily drop 1500+. Complainers are usually very small at around 600-800.
     
  6. TGK

    TGK LawnSite Member
    Posts: 134

    In my humble opinion you allready justified it! you put 20-30 man hours into that work. If they dont respect your time, then my course of thinking is they are cheap pieces of s$%^ that only look for it to be done for less money. Stay your course and look into bigger work to replace the little guys for example state contracts and offices etc. I get very angry as well when they complain about the price.
    Chris
     
  7. NC Greenscaper

    NC Greenscaper LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 446

    As for the cleanups most are 1-2 acres, heavily wooded, in nice neighborhoods. Most are stored on property, but a few are removed. It is not uncommon to have a season total of 20-30 man hours in each cleanup involving around 30-50 yards of leaves.
    So, please share your experiences if you will. Do I need to, or should I justify my prices to these customers. If so how, cause they never get it anyways. All they here is that I charge more than they themselves make per hour. And when the bill arrives and the yard is clean its very easy for them to say well I would have done it. Funny part is that I am raising my prices even more in the spring.[/QUOTE]

    How do you leave that many leaves on site. 30-50 yards are alot of leaves. I have to remove mine and pay for disposal. I run into complaints also. With leave clean up i try to give a close estimate up front so there aren't any surprises. However you are much larger than my 2 man crew. Those must be big jobs.
     
  8. bruno_rs

    bruno_rs LawnSite Member
    Posts: 195

    rule of thumb, which works for me in my particular area, is fall clean ups (excluding cut & catching lawn afterword) comes to approximately 10x's the weekly fee... for the SEASON. for example a 100.00/wk lawn should be 1,000.00 give or take alittle. that does NOT include the cut and catch immediately following each cleanup. usaually i will be out 4x's on a particular property during the fall. if you can find what formula works for you, it's easier and less abbrassive to tell the customer (in ADVANCE) fall cleanups are 10x's the work... rather than "do you have any idea how much my equipment is worth and/or cost"? keep in mind, you may come accross a few (and i have some) that do not necessarily work perfectly with my formula, but it get's me in the ball park... i always estimate on the highside AND let the customer know that. worst case scenario is always better than an unwanted surprize. this job, for the most part, is thankless enough and nothing pisses me off more than an irrate and/or irrational customer bitching after the fact. as one poster said... it's so easy for the customer to say, once you've busted you a$$ to make their property look perfect, "if i knew it was going to be that much, i would have done it myself!" good luck, have a good one.
     
  9. Lovingreen

    Lovingreen LawnSite Member
    Posts: 147

    You shouldn't have to justify your prices to anyone.

    I am not sure why your customers are surprised? Do you give them an estimate?

    You may change the way you bill it so it does't all get billed at once right before christmas.
     

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