What do you guys think of this pitch???

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by DFW Area Landscaper, Jun 4, 2007.

  1. DFW Area Landscaper

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

    Never fails, every March, April & May, we get countless orders for shrub trimming and clean-ups. These orders are a LOT harder to do because a lot of people want to walk their property with our shrub foreman before we do the work. We are constantly setting appointments, which leaves us with a potential to really pizz a customer off by standing them up. And for the one timers, it's a phone call that has to be handled to get the revenue, and that phone call can easily eat 10 or 15 minutes.

    About a year ago, I started offering automatic shrub trimming and clean-up service. With this service, we automatically send our shrub crew out 4X per year. One of the visits is a winter visit, where we clean the leaves, prune the crepe myrtles, etc.

    We are literally 60 days out on shrub trimming orders at this time. We are working them on a squeeky wheel basis, where, if a client calls to ask how much longer it'll be, we expedite them to the top of the list. Even with this ridiculous interval, we have only lost one or two jobs because they did it themselves.

    The problem is, if I add another shrub trimming crew to meet demand, they WILL run out of work by July/August....the demand will just dry up. But I could easily buy some Hedge trimmers for my mowing crews and send them out on Saturdays...they would love to earn more cash, I think. And for the jobs that require chain says, chippers and ladders, we could leave a note on the door and schedule the real shrub crew to do the big stuff. Or they could leave the large debris and we'd schedule the real shrub crew to run by with the chipper within a few days.

    The problem is, warm bodies and shrub trimming can be a disaster. Our previous shrub foreman was generating a complaint of "butchering" on every 3rd or 4th job. Our current shrub foreman has generated 3 complaints in 18 months. He is outstanding.

    Soooo...here is what I am thinking of doing. When they call to order shrub trimming, I will offer two options. If they commit to 4 visits per year from our shrub trimming crew, I will send out our normal shrub crew, who I KNOW does great work. On the other hand, if they just want a one time shrub trimming or clean up, we will add them to schedule, but because of increased demand in the spring, we cannot guarantee our best shrub foreman will do the job and we will not discount the work if the client isn't happy with it.

    So, do you think this solution makes sense??? If all of the one time jobs we've done over the last two years would have signed up for our automatic shrub trimming and clean-up service, my business would be a lot easier to manage because I'd have steady, year round revenue from this work.

    It's basically that or next year, we will only accept this type of work from clients who agree to 4 visits per year. I can see that conversation getting pretty nasty, though. And with this solution, shrub trimming revenues would definitely drop.

    DFW Area Landscaper
  2. Dean of Green

    Dean of Green LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 254

    What you have come up with makes sense. You might even want to consider 5 or 6 shrub visits per yer for the higher end customers. One thing that has worked for me is telling the one time a year visits that you can do it now but in the future we do our once a year shrub work in January and February. I don't really care if they don't agree to that(winter is the only time I will do a once a year shrub job). I have a few that I do that for and I also remulch their beds at the same time. It is good winter work. Time management is key and you are on the right track with that.
  3. barnard

    barnard LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 618

    Sounds reasonable to me.
  4. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,988

    Well I think if you tell them this up front, then that would work well.

    Too bad you couldn't find a way to put your best work on every job, one-time or not. Perhaps some of those one-time customers would commit to a seasonal shrub program if they got real nice work.
  5. DFW Area Landscaper

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

    This is by far the hardest part of the business to manage. Period.

    What's been happenning is, clients are calling in to order one time, or they are new sign-ups for automatic. Either way, because they have ordered the service, I am feeling the pressure to get to them. Meanwhile, my clients who have guaranteed us 4 trips per year are getting put off. They are not complaining, but this isn't what we promised them. Many will only get 3 visits this year and most might be quite happy with that.

    The other piece of the puzzle is, with winter clean-ups, we are doing most of them in January, after all the leaves have dropped. That puts all of these clients' next visit 90 days out during our peak demand period for this service...April.

    So far the squeaky wheel basis has not been too bad. Perhaps that is the way to continue.

    Now for the hard part: My shrub foreman is also my chemical application guy. I have finally trained him to leave a note on the door if there is excessive shade and recommend tree pruning & st augustine sod AND I've finally got him trained on correctly identifying dallisgrass and making recommendations there, too. He understands EVERYTHING.

    Right now, he is in charge of two trucks...the shrub/clean-up truck and the chemical truck. One of them is always parked idle. Next year, I'd like to bring on another driver and run a one-man chem crew all year and never be forced to pull my 2-man shrub-crew out of service for chemical apps. The current guy is GREAT at shrub trimming. Because he's on commission pay, do I put him on chems, where he makes a lot more $$ per hour or do I keep him on shrubs????

    I totally don't know what to do with this predicament.

    DFW Area Landscaper
  6. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,988

    Why not attempt to find a suitable employee for his replacement? Put the two together for a couple months on shrubs and let the guy do some training?
  7. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    Ahhh.... the age-old issue of everybody wanting everything and once and how to manage that.

    This is sorta the kind of thing where each operation finds it's own way...

    However, I think you would do well to empower and motivate your key employees to help their co-workers achieve their level of skill and excellence on the job. Have them help you cross-train the others in the mental and physical aspects so they can pitch in during high demand periods.

    As for your shrub/chemical foreman........ have you ever thought about asking him what he might rather do? He might be glad to pick one of your current employees to train as foreman on the job he'd rather not do.

    He may want the chemical job for more money, or he might would rather not be around it and be content at shrubs. You don't know until you bounce a few ideas off him.
  8. smcunningham

    smcunningham LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 773

    dfw, i'm having the same issue, but i'm a solo operator most of the time. my shrub jobs are 30 days out...i do have about 30% of my shrub jobs on a 4 times a year visit.........theres a thread about it. let me see if i can find it...
    there was alot of good feedback in it..

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