Am I nuts ?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Dan1944, Feb 7, 2003.

  1. Dan1944

    Dan1944 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 149

    What are your thoughts on this situation.
    I live on the west central coast of Florida and this year because of El-nino most of the lawns I service (all St. Augustine) stopped growing in early Dec, now they are totally dormant. I have about 85% of my accounts on a yearly contract, I broke it down figuring a 10 month cutting cycle. This year it will be more like a 8 month cycle, so far I have lost one customer (no I will not take him back when he calls in March) . But I am feeling guilty about sending bills out and collecting money for not doing a thing. for it. So I have started to deliver and spread mulch for most of these accounts, Most only require about a yard of cypress about $18.00. I am doing this free of material and labor (about an hour and a half per account). I have stressed to every one that this is a one time thing due to weather conditions. Am I nuts ? or as one person said to me “Good public relations”.
  2. DLCS

    DLCS LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,386

    I don't see anything wrong with it, if that is what you want to do. But, I wouldn't feel guilty about collecting payment if I had a contract for them to pay 10 months a year. How were you to know that Florida would have an unusually cold winter? What are other LCO's doing in year area. But, giving them something like the mulch is a good idea. I think your good gesture will help you keep these customers to sign another 10 month contract for next year. They will know you like to treat them right and give them something for their money. Seems like the climate is changing. Here in northern Illinois we have had only 5 inches of snow all winter.
  3. HarryD

    HarryD LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,068

    up here in the midwest there is no way you would get anyone to pay you for sitting on your can. you would be hard pressed to get anyone here to sign a year long contract even if it included snow removal.
  4. kutnkru

    kutnkru LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,662

    I guess it all depends on how your agreements run.

    If you have your contracts from Mar-Mar and this past winter you werent able to render the number of cuts so you wish to "give" a little something back to say ThankYou - I see nothing wrong with this gesture.

    On the other hand, if you have rendered the services you said you would, and they "owe" you for services they recieved but didnt pay for yet (ie. 5 cuts in a month), then technically they need to make their payments according to your agreement as they are paying you for past sevices divided amongst your monthly agreement. the fact theres no activity at this point is moot.

    If at the moment the properties arent in need of something, and they arent a FULL service contract (ie everything under the sun), I wouldnt jump too quickly to grease their palms, as they havent done the same for you -- by not signing a FULL service agreement.
  5. TJLC

    TJLC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,308

    My work is really slow now also. Most of my accounts are monthly contracts. I don't feel guilty about them not needing anything because I remember last year working about 6 months straight without a single day off. I will do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. I'm going to enjoy this "slow" time because I know all hell will break loose soon enough. I have not had any monthly customers complain so far. I think they understand that I can't control the weather. I don't force anyone to go on a contract, it's always their choice.
  6. thartz

    thartz LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 486

    Dan 1944; this is a two way street.What happens if you get a month or two of heavy rain? if you have to cut more than you have estimated will your customers be willing to pay you for your extra service? I would hate to see you hang yourself by doing free work.Admittedly I have on very rare occasions with customers I have had for a long time;but they know I can't predict weather so one year I make out like a bandit; one year I eat a little bit of profit.Just don't spoil your clients to the point they expect handouts.
  7. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    perhaps something to consider in the future is to overseed with some cool season grass for their grass stays green all year long. Once the heat comes back the warm-season grass will spring back to life.
  8. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,912

    First off I'm sure it's the same on the west coast as it is here on the space-coast .... 42 Services per year .....Weekly cutting of grass during the growing season (April/ Oct.) ...... Bi-weekly during dormant season, (Nov./ March.) we show up regardless of how "dormant" it is ..... we may not cut but we edge n weed eat n blow off the cement

    But let's look at the "whole picture" .... you say they are on "monthly billing" .... I assume that means you charge the same amount of $ for each of the twelve months ....correct

    What about the 3 months in the Summer when there were 5 mowing events .... did you charge more (5 M-T-W-TH-F at some point for each month)

    Look at it this way

    An Example:
    Ms. Ann has a mid size home in Merritt Island and wishes to have lawn service; she has received a bid for $ 85 per month. This breaks down to $25 per cut ($25 x 42/12 = $85). This means in the Summer Months when she will receive 4 cuts yet only pay $85 not $100 and in the Winter Months she may only receive 2 services yet still pay $85. We must keep in mind that there will be 3 Summer Months when she will receive 5 cuts and 2 Winter Months when she will receive 3. November thru March she will receive bi-weekly service and April thru October she will receive weekly service, yet what she is truly paying for is 42 visits per year.

    I may be wrong .... as I hope every-one success in business but so if you continue to provide free mulch (or any labor) you will be out of business in 3 years ... what will you do when you grow to say 50 accounts or 100 accounts (not that you may not have that already but $1k free stuff is a lot of steak n beer)..... Good Luck in 2003
  9. John Gamba

    John Gamba LawnSite Fanatic
    from ct
    Messages: 10,812

    keep it up Dan your doing great
  10. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    Here in the mid-south- Fayetteville, AR -I look forward to those winter months. we figure our # mowing times, and whatever else is in the contract, and divide by 12. if it snows to may, so be it. I can't base my contracts on weird weather. dave g

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