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Need Advice on "On Call" Basis

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by DMAN, Mar 19, 2002.

  1. DMAN

    DMAN LawnSite Member
    Posts: 76

    I just received word from my largest client that they will no longer be able to "support" weekly cutting of their properties(one commercial and one residential) this year. The owners now want to know if i would be willing to cut on a "on-Call" basis?? These accounts is important to my bottom line and they are very good clients with payment. However, I don't know how to approach this situation. I don't totally want to lose the account but i don't want to get a call when "they" think the grass has to be cut and it ends up taking me more time per cut then last season. should i raise my price, demand bi-monthly cutting, drop the account and move on?? BTW this account is not on a contract. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  2. walker-talker

    walker-talker LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 4,771

    I would say it depends on how busy you current schedule is. I do this for a real estate management firm and I do charge a little extra for this option. I go mow and bill, there are no estimates involved. I only mow part-time and it is no big hassle. Within a year or two I will be full-time and will have to deal with this as you are now. It they mean that much to you, I would work with them.

  3. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,360

    You need to ask the question of:
    Who will be cutting it normally?

    If someone will be cutting it regularly and they will call you when they can't get to it, then ok.

    If they plan to have nobody cut it and just wait until it gets high and call you then forget it.

    I have 1 person I do this for. They only have a front lawn. I told her up front that if her husband would be cutting it regularly and it was being maintained then ok. But if they let it grow up then I would charge 3x's the price or not do it at all. I end up doing it for them about 8 or so times a year. They have always kept it maintained and looking nice, so I just fly thru and no problems.
  4. I do these on call mows as time allows. No set pricing though, I see the job then price it accordingly. I have an old mower that I use for these special jobs so I'm not putting my best equipment in places it shouldn't be. Like most other non weekly services it can bring premium prices.

    LAWnENFORCER LawnSite Member
    Posts: 65

    It sounds like this client has some financial problems. I had a similar problem with a residential account. They wanted to do the "as needed" service, instead of every week. I agreed, but told them I would decide when it needed to be mowed. I mowed it every two weeks and everyone was happy.

  6. strickdad

    strickdad LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 544

    this useually ends up being a "mess" they will wait till its knee deep then they will call and expect you there in 10 min. they will expect the same results as normal, and it want happen. if you are catching grass, you will be off of mower more than you are on it. if you discharge it, its easier if you bring a hay bailer than it is to rake. they wont expect you to go up on price, but you will have too. we have had a couple like it and they almost never work out!!!one idea to help lower there intial cost is to put them on a 12 month plan...
  7. Mowingman

    Mowingman LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Texas
    Posts: 4,664

    I have placed some conditions on this type of will-call service. Grass must be no higher than 4" or pricing reverts to my regular $/hr for the service and the contract rate no longer applies. Also,customer must call by the Friday preceeding the week he wants it mowed. My only guarantee is that I will then mow it "sometime" during that week.:)
  8. MWHC

    MWHC LawnSite Member
    from Wyoming
    Posts: 202

    The last few posts are dead on. It rarely ever works out to your benefit when the customer is making these decisions. Remember that these people are not in the lawn business. They have no concept of what your costs are.

    When customers play this game (yes it's a game) we charge by the hour / no exceptions; if we choose to keep them around. Usually i dump them. If you keep them make the rate so high you make BIG money.
  9. TOSLC

    TOSLC LawnSite Member
    Posts: 175

    Something else to think about is your image? If the other people driving by, or neighbors see the grass getting high, then see you coming to cut it. What will they think about you? This will be a direct reflexion of your business, regardless of who's at fault.

    BRIAN GALLO LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 282

    I couldn't agree more with the last 4 replies. I had some customers like that, and all you do is fight the lawn. Then they usually ask you why you can't make the lawn look like their neighbors (a retired guy that keeps his lawn 1 1/2" high and cuts it every 3 days) all for $15 bucks! I used to think I had sub-standard equipment because I had to go over the lawn 3 times to get rid of all the clumps.

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