The dreaded skip - Solving the problem

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by DFW Area Landscaper, Apr 27, 2005.

  1. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    This is by far and away the largest problem I am facing right now. People call and inquire about lawn service. I tell them we have weekly service and we have bi-weekly service. Same price for both. The deal is, the customer has to promise us that they won't apply any fertilizers to the lawn during May, June, July & August if they want bi-weekly service. I then explain to them that they will never have a real nice lawn if they aren't fertilizing during this time of year.

    Most folks elect weekly service. Fine. I send them a welcome letter that details our season...when we start service, when it is converted to every other week in late fall and when service ends in November. The letter also says that we do not allow skipping, although it doesn't indicate what will happen if a customer calls to skip.

    The best solution would be for us to schedule bi-weekly service from late March thorugh May 1st. Really and truly, that's all that's necessary. But I ain't doing that. It's hard enough to make a living with 31 cuts per year.

    Right now, I've just got too many folks calling up and saying "It just doesn't need it". Not only do I have to field a customer service call, but it's costing me revenue and actually causing me more work.

    Considering one or two solutions to the problem. Would like input.

    1.) Start explaining that we will allow skipped cuts, but we do charge a $10 administrative fee for a skipped cut. We also charge a $20 administrative fee for customers who switch service from weekly to bi-weekly. For customers who switch from bi-weekly to weekly, the $20 admin fee is waived.

    2.) Start explaining that if a customer wants to reserve the right to skip a cut when they don't feel it's necessary, we can do that, but the price per cut is $3 higher.

    Any other ideas? I'm really leaning towards the admin fee.

    Later,
    DFW Area Landscaper
     
  2. lawnranger44

    lawnranger44 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 370

    This is a tough situation, and it is just so hard to explain to people why we hate biweekly mowing. We tell them we don't want to be cutting it when its too long, it is harder to schedule, it will take longer and wear down our mowers and all they hear is "BLAH BLAH BLAH I WANT YOUR MONEY" All they want to do is save on some money. Therefore I agree with you that increasing the price may be the best option. I like the administrative fee idea.
     
  3. marko

    marko LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 963

    Allow a couple of skips per year on the weekly. If you charge an admin fee for not mowing you are going to pi** them off.
     
  4. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    Marko,

    That was the plan, originally. But now, dealing with the phone calls and providing more customer service for a group of customers who want to dictate the mowing schedule...well, it just pizzes me off. They want reliable service May through August and bi-weekly the rest of the year. If everyone did that, I wouldn't be able to make money.

    Perhaps a $5.00 admin fee for a skipped cut would more tolerable.

    Honestly, a reasonable person can see that we have to make money and if that means a few cuts per year when it doesn't really need it, so be it. Reasonable people understand the basics of business. You don't call the phone company and disconnect the phone while you are on vacation...the reason...fees. Our industry should be no different.

    Later,
    DFW Area Landscaper
     
  5. marko

    marko LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 963

    Thats what you need to tell them. Tell them that your pricing is based on many factors and one of those is your route scheduling. You understand if the are building a deck or whatever and need a weekend with no mowing in the back, but for them to dictate your schedule is not going to happen or work. Maybe on these guys, quote them $5 or more every other week rate and let them switch between certain dates when the grass slows down. This would be a niche that JMI does not have. Dont advertise it, but if someone starts complaining, tell them we have a program to go to every other week from may to july (or whatever). Its 5 bucks more a week and your lawn wont look its best, but it will save you some money.
     
  6. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    I think I will impliment the administrative fee. $5 to skip a scheduled weekly cut and $10 to switch service from weekly to bi-weekly.

    Sound unreasonable?

    Later,
    DFW Area Landscaper
     
  7. SpudsM15

    SpudsM15 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 627

    My approch to this problem is... There is no option for bi weekly mowing... I'm paid for the season... 31 cuts a year apr-oct everyweek. Of course its different in each area in terms of how long your season is. And this fee is non-refundable..... This is good and bad..... One because people don't like enter into contract.... But this cancels out all pita skipping customers... It definatly slows my new lawn sign ups but... All the lawns I've got this year are all full service.... Slowly but surely I'm fillling my routes... with these contracts.... the rest of my time is fillied with landscaping and Powerwashing...
     
  8. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

  9. greeneakers04

    greeneakers04 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 162

    Nice website. :waving:
     
  10. MWHC

    MWHC LawnSite Member
    from Wyoming
    Posts: 202

    We let them go bi-weekly but the rate is double. Every company has a different situation based on their climate. Where I live if the lawn isn't irrigated, it doesn't need mowed weekly, thus why do they need a lawn service? We have so many people that want on the list, the biweekly stuff isn't tolerated.

    Just a suggestion DFW: Keep things as simple as possible for the customer. Set your business policy and stick by it. Make it clear in writing (a few sentences is best). Most people are confused easily so simplicity solves many issues. If you choose a skip fee, fine. Set the policy and do it.
    I personally think just eliminating bi-weekly service solves the issue. If your climate dictates limited growth, mow as needed (decided by you) in those months and then hit it weekly the rest of the time.

    We mowed bi-weekly when we first started (15 years ago). We also found that eliminating that type of service "weeds" out a lot of penny pinchers. You also need to know your costs. We found that time on site was very unpredictable with the bi-weekly accounts. Some weeks it was easy, the next time you spent double the time on the account.
     

Share This Page