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One of those homeowners

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by HBLandscaping, May 13, 2007.

  1. HBLandscaping

    HBLandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 268

    Well I had one of those days, a client called me at 9:15 tonight to question his bill (Which was sent out on May 1st). Last month I met with the husband and wife to adress their needs for this season. When i walked out I had my hands full (I filled two pages with work to be done). After an estimate was worked up the homeowners ok all the work. These have been my cleints for 4 seasons now and all this work has been done each of those paast 4 seasons.

    Afew weeks ago I recieved a check for $680 for the following work - Weed, Edge and Mulch 17 trees, 6 flowerbeds (3 - were the whole length of the house(Full size single family house) by 8-12 ft deep, the other 3 were about 16 x 8), and then tear up grass around the A/C units concrete slab and extend a flowerbed to cover this area (10 x 8).The work took 2 labors 8 1/2 hrs to complete, supplies, labor etc the total price was $680.00. This total was $86.00 more then the cost for the same project the last 3 years. Tonight the homeowners complained that the bill is to high. My estimate that they OKed was 650.00.

    Then I also completed that month and billed for - Prep and applying grass seed to a 45ft x 60ft area in their backyard, applying Fertilizer to the hole yard, spray and clean mold off of the side of the house (10x16 area). I had one labor on the job and it took 2 hours to complete the work and charged $220.00. Then they also got at the sametime a bill for April's grass cutting $180.00

    Now tonight the owner (Husband) is complaining that a "Thousand dollars is to much for that little bite of yard work"

    What do you guys on here think? Im charging $45 an hour for one person, $65 for a second person (I pay the second labor $10-15 an hr). I dont think my prices are to high, there a little low for this area. This has been a good client up until this year and now its nickle and dime this and that. Now there is more work that they want done but Im now a little worried about starting the others jobs. Im at a lost as what to do, Should I turn down the rest of the work? Not agree to do these jobs next year? Im just not sure, id hate to loss this money but is it worth going thought this again?
  2. DiyDave

    DiyDave LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,695

    If you've had your fill of them, get level with them(make sure they are paid up), and then dump them. My favorite is to send 'em a post card that says "due to circumstances beyond our control, we can no longer service this account", I like to set it up to dump them about a week before a holiday weekend. Its good entertainment.:laugh: :laugh:
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    idk, idk, for sure I can't say, it does seem high but you're not new and you know your cost, I've had more than a few sour on me in the years, not sure if it's just me or what thou...
    I get'm too, years before all is good, then suddenly nickel this and dime that, and more more more, for less, please.

    To a point I'm still up to the challenge of reducing my costs, but it's also to the point where I attended that particular school for close to 5 years non-stop... My cost is low, it can get lower but at the same rate I feel I should get some compensation... Because I did NOT rack my brain for sleepless nights on end and improve and make things better so I could work for less either.

    I think one part of it is competition is just really tough right now, demand and supply, all I keep getting are dishonest calls for good work which turn out to be crap jobs... You know 'hey I need weekly grass cutting!' then I get out there and the grass don't look like it's been cut at all, worse yet it's a crap lot and there's still a slew of leaves in it, like it's never been cleaned since they fell... Guess they think I'll run my Wb through all that and chop chop chop and choke on dust and all that for the usual $30, oh no no, wait, some will pay $60-$100...

    Then they think it's high when I quote them $1,600 or so to get their yard into shape.
    But in my case I know they are right, I do quote super high for these cases, more so because they were not being upfront from the git go, it burns when someone gets smart with me like that.

    Guess with women I could get out there and walk around, then at some point say something stupid like 'gee you're a clever little devil you...' But then I never know if they're married lol.

    omg have I bred monsters? :laugh:

    I do it, too, thou... I don't do it so much on purpose anymore, most of the time it's just the way the cards fall into place... I just had one who kept wanting the 'old' deal and I already gave this customer all of last year at the 'old' deal and they just resisted and tug-of-war'd in the argument so I never showed up again... Then I realized this sunday was mother's day, so it happens either way, I think.
  4. HBLandscaping

    HBLandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 268

    Well, My price for labor per hour is 1/2 what the other local (Within 5 miles of here, 6 in total) companies charge. I know for a fact that 3 of the other "Landscaping" Companies charge anywhere from $85 - $120 per hour and thats for starters, thats not if they send in a whole crew. Im located in "Rich Ass" Montgomery county and for the most part My prices are way to low, but I have to be competitive because there are so many Lawn/Landscaping Co's in this county.

    Also being in this county, just the cost of living is crazy. I make enough to live (Barely) but one bad week and Im **** out of luck, You can say I live pay check by pay check. Im a small business and I dont have 100 jobs a week like the other companies in this area or do I have the large employee base where I can send out 2 crews or over load one job site to get a 8 hr job done in 2 hrs. Each of the last 3 years I have made atleast 2,000 - 2,500 dollars off this client (Snow removal, Grass cutting, Mulch/Weed/Edge and Misc work) For a smaller business like mine this money is much needed to servive.
  5. cantoo

    cantoo LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,910

    Maybe it's time for this client to get some prices from other companies? If I sense a future customer thinks we are too high I tell them to make sure they get a couple of other prices before they decide. I will even suggest a few companies they can call. We know what we need to make and if they think we are too high let them try a bigger company and see how they make out.
  6. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,028

    I don't know exactly what to tell you but I will tell you that I had a customer like that also. The key word is "had". 10 years and they always paid their bill but every so often the husband complained about nickle and dime things. The problem was communication. Not between me and them but her and him. She would ask me to do all kind of extras, string trim this area, round up that, do the gutters, fertilize on and on. I would charge accordingly. He would send little notes in the payment. Finally last year he got a bill at the end of the season and he decided to pay what he wanted to pay. End of story.
    I know some people don't like seeing big bills but that is out of our control. If they want the work done and we have a reasonable price then we HAVE to get paid. It sounds like this guy is gonna be shopping for another landscaper. I hear ya with the rates and I don't live in your area but a customer like this is eventually gonna be more problems unless you do a face to face and explain your situation. Get a few phone numbers of companies that charge that high rate and give them to the customer. He already knows you are reputable even though you aren't a big company so you have that working for you. He may or may not want to contract with another smaller LCO but there is that unknown factor in making the switch. Like I said a face to face will help unless you just want to dump him. I was sufficiently fed up with my customer and elected to dump him so I didn't do the talking. Good Luck.
  7. TurfDesign Eric

    TurfDesign Eric LawnSite Member
    Posts: 19

    I was a landscape lighting installer last year. The company I worked for was out of baltimore but we did alot of work in Potomac. It seemed like we saw a new landscape company every day while we were down there. Your prices do seem low for the area, I would talk to the customer & try to figure out what the issue is.

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