Customer doesn't think its worth it.

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by P. Nelson, May 2, 2002.

  1. P. Nelson

    P. Nelson LawnSite Member
    Messages: 42

    Just got off the phone with a new customer who I've mowed for one time. He's got about 4 acres of which I mow 2 and the other 2 is a hayfield. His property is very well kept and very very nicely landscaped with a myriad of plants, shrubs, trees, flowerbeds, you name he's got it scattered all throughout his yard. Lots of stuff to mow around and be careful of right. I quoted him a price of $75 to cut only, no trimming. He wanted to do the trimming himself since he trusts noone to his precious trees being knicked by their weedeater. He asked if I could mow the bank along the house which is a tree-lined section about 6 ft wide by 400ft. I looked at it and said yeah I can do that no problem. When I got in to mow the bank to my surprise it was very steep and unaccesible against a road that is narrow and traffic though not heavy, can be sporadically. I nearly got hit by a car when mowing this bank. Even with my small 21" mower I had a tough time getting this bank trimmed.

    So I called the customer back and told him that I would still mow but not the bank and since I'm not doing the bank I will charge only $65 instead of $75. He calls me back and says since I'm not mowing the bank how about I mow what I am now plus the 2 acre hayfield for $75. This hayfield is flat nothing to go around but the growth is high and would take about 45 minutes to 1 hour. I explained to him that I couldn't do it for that amount of money. I told him that my rate is $65 per hour and it would take me at least 2 hours to cut everthing which would = $130 dollars. He says "I can put a guy on a backhoe for that kind of hourly rate and I don't think of a lawn mower as being of that same calibre". I didn't let on to him but that p***ed me off! I explained that I can't run an $11,000 dollar machine for the amount of money he was willing to pay and if he changed his mind I would meet him in the middle @ $90 which is generous.

    I know that I should've walked the bank before agreeing to cut it. That's my mistake. This is a very nice property that is a relatively easy mow...but would you take $75 bucks for 2 hours of work with an expensive machine?
  2. TGCummings

    TGCummings LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 773

    I think you did well in sticking to your rate, since you know your costs better than any of us.

    The only thing I would have changed (besides walking that bank!) was not to tell him your rate. Customers never understand $60/hour+ for mowing, even if you are using a machine far more expensive than they'll ever know. A better way to approach that would have been to tell him that you could add the field in to the work for an additional $xx and then just stick with it. No further explanations are necessary. No haggling or explaining the rate.
  3. eslawns

    eslawns LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 712

    I wouldn't take $75 for two hours with anything not held in my hand. For what you describe, it would be about $120 for me. My rider is only a 48" so it would take longer.

    Forget the man and move along.
  4. HLC

    HLC LawnSite Member
    Messages: 128

    I went to bid a job once and knew when I drove up that I wasn't going to get the job and didn't really want it. However, I went ahead and gave her a bid ($35 without bagging). Of course she went ballistic. Said "I can get the kid down the street to do that for $10" So I told her that that may be her best option but I threw in the fact that the kid down the street probably didn't have an $8K mower. She promptly informed that it wasn't her fault that I paid too much for my mower. I just bit my lip and walked away............without saying "Have a nice day" or "kiss my @$$"
  5. Liquid Cooled Exmark

    Liquid Cooled Exmark LawnSite Member
    from CT
    Messages: 14

    If he doesnt want to pay you what you quoted him after he decides to add the 2 acres then just walk away like you did. Good work. i find that i would walk the prperty first b4 saying that, as you said, your mistake, we all make them.
    just go on your way andget work somewhere else.

    Customers do not understand how much our equipment is, for all they know is we go out and buy 1100 dollar agway riders or something .they have no clue we spend $5,500 for a 52"walk behind and more for a rider. So they think we are just unreasonable and trying to get there money, when we need that money for bill, expenses, employee's. we know what we are doing, we dont need that type of hassleing.


    BRIAN GALLO LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 282

    I seem to find that the large properties that you have to use your big expensive equipment on are harder to get a good buck for than the smaller props. I don't think most people care what kind of equipment you have or what it costs to operate it - they have a set $$$ figure in their heads (usually low) and it's tough to change it. I agree with the others about not offering any explanations. Give the price, and that's it. If that guy has a backhoe biz, I bet he doesn't give any explanations or discounts?
  7. mdb landscaping

    mdb landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,205

    I agree, i maintain two gas stations, and no matter how clean it is, the next week it will be trashed again. ive found exhaust systems bottles etc. etc... Just quote him a price that involves the time it will take you to clear the trash and bottles off the lawn. Even if he picks them up this week, there will be more in the weeks ahead.
  8. MikeLT1Z28

    MikeLT1Z28 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,732

    i would never tell a customer how much my equipment costs, just gives them more reason to say lco's charge too much to make the money back up. i just tell them i am a professional with professional equipment, not the teen down the street hauling his parents mower around for weekend money.

    HOWARD JONES LawnSite Member
    Messages: 233

    Also consider this: you probably didn't walk the hay field, either, and I'll bet it's rough enough to force you to go slow. I know my pasture is.
  10. P. Nelson

    P. Nelson LawnSite Member
    Messages: 42

    I'm going to take your advice and not give the hourly rate. I guess that's just the hourly rate that I aim for. You have to aim or you'll never hit your target. I have room in my schedule for this guy but not at that amount of money. I know I screwed up on not walking the bank and will never let that happen again. I agree that you must give them a rate for the job not explain what you expect hourly. If I had a 21" Murray and my rate was $10 dollars/hr and it took me 9 hours he would probably pay the $90 because $10 bucks an hour seems extremely reasonable, vs $65/hr...yet the customer gets the same amount of work done for the same amount of acreage cut.

    Live and learn. Thanks.

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