Common Problems for Lawn and Landscape Owners

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by tpatt09, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. sgbotsford

    sgbotsford LawnSite Member
    Messages: 127

    Dog crap: You find one the hard way, you either stop the engine, spend an hour poop scooping, and resume, and add it to their bill. OR you run the weed eater high enough to miss the crap, then explain to the customer later.

    Slow payers. Explain the problem. Give them a range of choices:
    A: Prewritten cheques for the season. Explain that there is a $50 charge for an NSF cheque, and that thereafter the business is cash only before work is done.
    B: Pre-authorized regular billing on their credit card.

    Other options: On the bill give 5% off for payment received in X days. 2%/month for late payment. Build the discount into your quotes. Make it clear to them that you want them to pay on time.

    Register with paypal. They have a slick system for electonic invoicing.

    Neighbors who cut their yard too short. Ask the client if you can lime the property line. Put a decorative line of rocks. Sell the clients a hedge. Sell the clients a fence.

    PITA clients. Finish your contract and drop them. If you have a LOT of PITA clients YOU are doing something wrong.

    People who complain about estimates: Extimate costs X dollars. Price comes off of first month's fees. Also: On your website, have a guide line to "How much is this going to cost me?" and have some typical scenarios and prices. Make the prices on your guide slightly high, so that when you estimate a job, you can come in 5-10% lower than what the guide said.


    Come back a week later in the evening and have a chat. Walk the yard, and show them what the lowballer did. Leave your card and say taht they are welcome to come back. Also if the price is too high, have a proposal for a smaller number of services that would still be done to your standard.

    People who interupt you. Have a tear pad of frequent interuption explanations, tear one off and hand it to them. But seriously, how often does this happen?

    Other contractors. I've usually had no problem with this. Try to catch them as they pull up. Find out what they are going to do. If they need access, interupt your routine and mow a path for them. If they are there to work on the water system ask them to come back in an hour when you are done. If they are real pains, go away and finish later. Phone the client explain the issue and request that they call you when the X are going to be worked on, and that in the future there will be a surcharge if you and the other company can't work around each other.

    Children nearby. Get a mower that doesn't throw stuff. Mow in a pattern that directs the debris elsewhere. In 20 years I have twice thown something hard enough and far enough to be a hazard to someone else. Both times I was cutting short, and went over a gravel driveway.

    Explaining to customers about dumping. Build it into the bill. Don't charge them extra for it. Mulch mowing -- $40 Mow and haul away clippings, $50. Or bag it and leave it at the curb for the next pickup.

    Work runs out. In the working season, automatically move $X per month to a special account for winter. Learn a new specialty. You've got a shop, you are likely pretty good at keeping things working, offer winter tuneups for people who mow their own lawns. Later you can make them your customers.

    Depending on your area firewood may be a viable fall season enterprise.
  2. H & M Yard Improvements

    H & M Yard Improvements LawnSite Member
    Messages: 214

    Dog crap in the yard
    Sweat dripping on your lenses of your glasses
    Slow paying customers
    Customers who are cheap
    Going on an estimate and not getting the job
    Tardiness and availability of workers during the week and Saturdays
    Mother Nature (rain and drought conditions)
    No snow when the Clean ups dry out
    Snow when the clean ups are not finished
    Equipment breaking down
    High gas prices
    Swamp ass in the middle of july and August (lol)

    Am I forgetting anything? Lol
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  3. H & M Yard Improvements

    H & M Yard Improvements LawnSite Member
    Messages: 214

    Oh yeah I forgot freezing your ass off in the colder months!
    Posted via Mobile Device
  4. weeze

    weeze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,745

    -swamp ass!@ lol that's a good one!!!

    -the months of july and august (everything else is cream cheese)



    -low branches that i usually end up cutting down for free because they are so annoying

    -crap in the yard...can be dog crap or things like trash or toys or whatever

    -the customers that are always wanting to talk

    -first time cuts where the yard hasn't been taken care of properly for a long time

    -people calling you friday after lunch thinking you will cut their yard before the weekend or that you work on saturday or sunday which i don't unless i'm really backed up from the rain

    -people wanting you to start or stop cutting for the season at different times than you wanna start or stop (usually 1 or 2 cuts later start or 1 or 2 cuts sooner than you should stop)

    -people that get slow or lazy paying you towards the end of the season

    -people that find it strange that your job has an off season. they think you should always be working year round or your job isn't a real job yet they never think to say a word to teachers about it lol.

    -estimates that give you false hope

    -mower payments(only $900 to go!) $200 extra a month will help out alot!

    -truck payments(only $9000 to go!) $355 extra a month will help out even more!

    -people moving so you lose a customer(lose a couple every year to this)

    -not gaining new customers fast enough(it just takes time)

    -seeing long time businesses that charge alot more, have alot more customers, and do a terrible job on lawns

    -paying for licenses and such to be legal yet noone ever checks if you are or not and knowing there's people out there that aren't legal and getting along fine

    - wondering if you can really pull this job off as a career and when that point will be reached lol

    i'm sure there's more i'll think about later. despite all of this, this is still the best job i've ever had and probably the best job i ever will have in my life.

    Last edited: Dec 20, 2012
  5. cpllawncare

    cpllawncare LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,659

    Jason, I have a copy of my business license and ins certificate with the phone number and a list of reference's in my portfolio book, it really helps to explain to potential clients about how important this stuff is and it helps confirm in their mind that they are dealing with a professional not joe blow down the street. Although, a lot of times they still don't care, but it makes me feel better that I'm presenting myself as a professional anyway.
  6. TriCityLawnCareLLC

    TriCityLawnCareLLC LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 1,025

    The days and weeks are just not long enough
    I refuse to work on Sundays

    PITA customers- I weed them out
    Customers who don't pay- i weed them out
    I don't go after low-end work
    I have had the dog crap splatter while trimming-not fun
    LONG DAYS at work, then more work when you get home (sharpen blades, fill sprayers, fill spray tank, cleanout truck, wrapup paper work. return phone calls, maybe head out on an estimate.)

    but all in all, i love this work-that's why I do it. I am striving to build a very reputable company with systems that work and produce good growth. If there is a major problem you have to find a way to solve it. Also, attitude determines Altitude.:usflag:

    TGC_MIDOHIO LawnSite Member
    Messages: 1

    Hey Guys,

    New to posting but in the business for 22 yrs. May not work in some areas but wanted to pass along something that we do for those few owners that leave their yards full of poop. (from not cleaning up after their dogs not the occasional drop and run from a neighborhood stray .)

    We run a tire down the sidewalk to their door as soon as we're unlucky enough to roll through a pile. Looks innocent enough and something about stepping over it seems to get them thinking.

    Never have had anyone say a word and usually after a few times they do start picking it up. (at least in areas close to their sidewalk
  8. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,638

    I know the feeling, this month on my truck only.

    Transmision service 160$.
    Exhaust mainfold 120$, radiator 220$, plus 1 hard days work by me.
    Muffler shop 80$.
    Almost 600$ and Ive only worked 10 days this month.

    I still want to go through all my equiptment and stock up on a few parts over the next 2 months, theres another 400to 500$.
  9. corey4671

    corey4671 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,931

    Glad to see someone else that's sweating the next few months like I am. have some pruning jobs, mulch and a few cleanups to go along with the occasional mowing of some ryegrass but March/April can't get here soon enough!
  10. cpllawncare

    cpllawncare LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,659

    I think I'll be alright as long as I don't have a cotasphre(sp), March 1st is just around the corner guys, we can make it, I'm better situated for next season, all I really need at this point is a set of tires for the truck, $1200 I'll wait until closer to the season though.

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