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What would you say?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by racer56, Apr 12, 2007.

  1. racer56

    racer56 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Kansas
    Posts: 285

    I went full time this Spring and have done alot of advertising and picked up several new lawns to do. Half the lawns I picked up the grass was 8-9" tall when I showed up to cut it. Here is how most of them went. I get a call to come out for an estimate. I go out and give the price and then I hear I will give you call if we are interested or I'll need to talk to my husband... 2 weeks later I get a call and they say they want me to cut and can I do it today? I tell them the next time I can get them on my WEEKLY route and that I only take lawns for the year not for a week or 2 until the hubby gets the mower fixed or whatever else. They all say no problem and away we go.
    These lawns normally need cut 3 times when I get there and 5 times as long to trim as well of course. I guess I've been taking it in the shorts to get the lawn for all year. I'm abit nervous to hit something with my brand new Exmark. Should the customer be on the hook for that, due to the extremely tall grass?
    Just a few minutes ago I had one of these new folks call and say don't come in the morning as it hasn't grown at all since I had been last Thursday and not to mow her Dads either that I mowed 2 weeks ago Thursday. Each of these lawns needed cut 3 times each and only cut her Dads once and hers twice. Her house is across the street from a long time customer so that was why I wanted that one. She said she would save me the trip and I told her I would and right next door to her in the morning anyway doing her neighbor. She got kind of nervous and said she would have me do it next week. I told her ok that I kind of BUDGET for 2-3 mowing from April 1 to December1 that just get missed due to whatever and this could be one. She didn't like the sound of that I don't think but the conversation ended ok I guess.
    I hate the fact she had the benefit of knowing ahead of time what she was going to say and I had to think of something right off the bat that I could live with yet let her know I was not happy. This area here in SW Missouri is 4-5 years new to us and alot of folks here seem to have no problem saying anything to get you to come out and then dump on you. I need some help with getting over the see you in 10 days or I'll call you when I need it cut again I thought about charging for montly lawn maint and not by the cut to get around all this. Help
  2. ncls

    ncls LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 441

    Your weekly cut price is $____. Your first cut, due to length, bagging, etc. will be $$$____. I cut weekly from ______to _______ From_____to______I cut every 10 to 14 days, depends on temerature, rain, etc.

    People always will try to get one over on you. I just laugh now. I've been doing it so long, there's nothing new. I love the one you described. Come give me an estimate. I'll wait three weeks and then have him come over and mow. Wow, I'll save some money, and he must be stupid. :clapping:
  3. Liquidfast

    Liquidfast LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Posts: 739

    Our companies pricing and billing for new customers:

    Example only

    First cut price: $80

    Monthly fee: $160.00

    WE ALWAYS charge double for the first cut for ANY new customer that signs up with us after May 15.

    Our estimates all include "Estimate good until April 30".

    You are allowing this to happen by billing by the cut. If you do this, you open the door to interpretation. The customer is given a per cut price and thinks they can skip a cut and only have to pay for the following cut. Only bill per month. If the customer asks you to skip (which they wont) they still pay. Explain that it is better to pay monthly and as a bonus, the two months that have 5 weeks, they will receive those FREE. Usually works.
  4. Myk

    Myk LawnSite Member
    Posts: 138

    Where in SW Missouri are you located? That monthly thing sounds like a good idea. You can weed out your cheapskates that way too.
  5. ChadsLawn

    ChadsLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,110

    Racer, get use to hearing that. Its everywhere. I had a call lastyear. Went ot give a bid. Grass was already 6" high. Told her the clean-up cut is $100. Of course, "I need to talk to my hubby".. A month later she calls and says the "Hubby" says its ok. I asked her if it has been cut since our last talk. "NO" I said the price WILL NOT be the same. Went to re-bid and I told her to hire someone with a bush hog to mow it first. It was 2' tall.. Havent heard from her since.
  6. scchamblee

    scchamblee LawnSite Member
    Posts: 161

    I cut one of those two weeks ago... A lady works with my mom wanted me to cut her yard for her husband cause he had not had time to do it. I went and looked at it and told her it would be $100 she said that is fine to come by and get my money at work, I cut it and made it look great, got there to get my money and it was cash!!! . She called me back to tell me what a good job I did and that her mom was gonna need somebody to cut her 2 acre yard this summer so I am probly gonna get it. So sometimes it pays to do the ones you dont want to do.
  7. supercuts

    supercuts LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,785

    im assuming you only charge double for the first cut for ANY new customer only if it hasnt been cut yet! if not, id dissagree with this. you charge what the work requires. if it hasnt been cut yet and it hasnt grown, i have a few late starting lawns, you charge a regular cut. if it hasnt been done, it think tall and wet, you charge the fair price for your time and then get them on a weekly schedule for a normal price.

    as far as your scenario, it sounds like the customers are walking over you, you took the time to make it perfect without charging extra. so, the customer thinks they can go longer and you will still put extra time in making it look good, which will save the customer weekly fees. i would be polite and upfront, telling them if its not doneweekly the price is at least doubled because of the extra time it takes and you feel you have been taken advantage of. this will show them you arent taking their crap and standing up for yourself.
  8. racer56

    racer56 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Kansas
    Posts: 285

    Joplin area. The lady that called and told me not to come by is getting billed anyway. I have thought about it alot and I was very clear that I come every week until Dec. 1. I told her I try and cut only twice in July but that depends as each year is different. I feel the extra work done still puts me way behind the game as it is and to make things worse I was next door today doing another customer and her lawn needed mowed big time. It will be very tall in another week if it warms up. Starting to think the folks around here aren't doling any of this intentionally but are just plain stupid :hammerhead: . I understand this area is one of the lowest paying areas in the midwest but my equipment costs the same regardless of location and the other overhead isn't much different.
    THis lady is going to make me work twice as hard next week. Should I do it for the same price? I thought if I charged to mow or not it would stop that. I know most of the other lco put up with it so I know I will say goodbye to a few of my new customers if I charge no matter what but if I don't folks around here have NO morales and will just continue to take advantage of me I guess. I guess with the old standby customers I've got are really class folks all around. Kind of odd but not one of them have lived here more than a few years. I'm about ready to ask if they are from here orginally when they call for the first time and if they are just hang up,lol.
  9. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    oh dear...

    - You can't cut lawns weekly, come June you'll burn them to a crisp.
    > Look, how often did you cut your own grass before you became an Lco?
    > Did you, when you became an Lco, forget how often most lawns need cutting? Reason I ask is, I did.
    > Only a few irrigated chemlawns might need weekly cuts, they'd have to be super fertilized and kept damp most of the time, on top of sustained 80 degree days with 50 degree nights.
    > The rest I put on 8-10, 10-12, and 12-14 day schedules.

    No, you do not let the customer dictate when you cut their grass, but insist on cutting it weekly and they will fight you.
    Fight back, and they're gone.
    Ok, you figured as much, but you are right.

    So, adjust your mind to cutting grass like every 8-10 or every 10-12 days, for most non-treated / non-irrigated lawns. You can do 8-10 for most right now, but once it warms up if you cut it too often they will turn patchy and then they will burn. If you burn one, you're done cutting because it won't come back for 1-2 months (if it ever does).
    Best way is to relax, and if you see one with patches, don't cut it again and delay all your cuts immediately.
    Either way, once you relax your aggressive weekly cut schedule, I think you will find your customers to be more pleasant :)

    - When I give an estimate, I want a yes or no from the customer, and unless they say YES then the default answer is No, it's that simple.
    > We have to think about / will call you = No.
    > What's the matter, my price not good enough?
    Ok, no problem, thanks for letting me off the hook. (no don't say that lol, but you get my drift).

    - Tall grass = double price.
    > IF the customer delays your cut, meaning you went out to cut it and it really needed it and the customer stops you (or they call when they know dang well it needs it), then you increase the price if it's really tall.
    > But for this to work, YOU have to KNOW when it needs it, and 'weekly regardless' is not the answer. As a rule, it can be ankle height but not much more, but it ought to look at least a bit scraggly. Yeah, you know, some growth.
    > You can not do this if it's your own fault that you're late cutting, only if the customer delays you, and then it is a trick because most don't want to pay.

    One more thing: today I cut all lawns with what I call a standard double cut. Yup, twice over the whole thing.
    But my first year that seemed ridiculous, still I learned to cut at least some sections twice (the worst parts).
    This helps a lot with the clumping and the streaking, makes it look better.

    The other thing is tolerance... Unfortunately, hard-nosed as we'd all like to be, if you're not at least somewhat tolerant then you will have no customers. Between being hard-nosed and tolerant there exists a balance, finding this happy medium is the answer, I wish you luck.

    I hope that helps, hope I wasn't too hard on ya, I went through this same mess early on, but it evens out in short order, it's actually a minor headache in the grand scheme of things, you'll be fine.
  10. Woody82986

    Woody82986 LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,128

    Do they not install inrrigation systems in Virginia? If I were to say I won't cut your lawn every week, I would be crap out of a lot of clients.

    I recently began stating verbally and in writing that my estimates were good for 48 hrs from the time given. That gives the client plenty of time to "talk it over with the spouse" or to basically mull over the deal. After the 48 hrs, if they want me to cut, the price has obviously gone up for the first cut unless the lawn has been recently cut within 5-7 days.

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