Customer wanting Lawn Cut at 1.5

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by longislandlawn, Sep 28, 2013.

  1. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,508

    Why? Because it suddenly took a turn for the intelligent?
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  2. gcbailey

    gcbailey LawnSite Silver Member
    from WV
    Messages: 2,756

    No comment..... I'm definitely in the learning phase when it comes to the technical side... I know what the lawns should be cut at in my area, but this has been interesting to say the least :)
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  3. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,139

    I understand many folks just don't get it, when asking me to "cut it shorter" is like asking a Nascar driver to go "slower."
    And don't say that to a customer, they'll disagree and say "no, we're saying go faster, faster"
    Telling you, it's a lost cause.

    But I have to admit, it did not occur to me the other day when some lady requested I cut hers at 2" that I should have just told her it would be $60 (for a lawn I'd normally do for $30) due to the fact that I have to remove the blades so as to reset the spacers, remove the rear wheels to reset that height, and reset both front casters, that entire process has to be done twice (once to lower, and then again to bring it back up)... We're looking at a good hour's labor there, come to think of it maybe I should have said $90...

    It's not as simple as dial-a-height, but even if it were, I risk damaging the blades and other parts of the mower AND I risk taking out certain pieces of yard ornaments such as water meter covers and sprinklers that set high and who the F knows what, either way the blades will need to be sharpened.
    It costs $5 a blade at the dealership, there are 3 blades on the machine.

    As for the icing on the cake it has been my experience, the customers:
    a) Don't want to pay more than the usual rate / certainly are not willing to pay double their usual.
    b) Are going to have the same or similar reaction to my price quote vs. had I just walked away (which I did).
    c) Generally speaking, regardless of reason, folks who INSIST I cut it at ANY height "shorter" / "lower" than whatever I have my mower set to, generally have a far from perfect lawn.
    d) Think of me as a lawn BOY, not all of them do but the upper echelons have that tendency.

    Those have been my observations.

    There's more:
    Come fall there's that "cut it shorter" so we can aerate / seed...
    But you know what, it doesn't make a difference, you can cut it at the same height or you can cut it shorter and either way it turns out the SAME come spring.

    And that is why, when a customer says "cut it shorter" to me, I'm half out the door.
    Not quite, I cut some customers a bit of slack in that sense, but I do get tired of hearing it.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013
  4. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,062

    I have a Greensmaster in excellent condition that I will never use again. Spartan Distributors (Toro distributor, Sparta, MI) went through it completely over winter 4 years ago, I believe, and it has not been used since. Reel sharpened and new bed knife second from the thinnest, which I believe is called "tournament." It is possible after sitting so long that the idle and running jets and fuel bowl float could need some attention.

    I have been waiting for an opportunity to trade it with a golf course for or toward and old Sand Pro. I have never listed it in equipment section here, figured not many would need or appreciate it. This is my first and last mention of it. PM if interested.
  5. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,132

    Most lawn services in Hawaii have at least a McLane. There is not much to go wrong with a McLane. Just be sure that the blades on the reel always have a relief angle on the trailing edge of the blades and that the reel is set for light contact. Do not let any one grind off all the relief and set the mower for no contact. it will work for the first time you use the mower, thereafter it will shred the tips of the zoysia. That method of sharpening and adjustment is only for bent grass golf greens with the need to regrind those blades very often. I maintain my reels by keeping the relief angle, face grinding the bedknife, and backlapping with 180 grit compound every 2 weeks. The Toro makes it super easy to backlap. I simply stick a 1/2" square drive into a socket on the reel pulley. That drive is turned with a heavy duty drill in reverse.
  6. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,508

    Thanks, thats the info I was looking for. Since it's only going to be about 20k of turf a week do I still need to backlap that often? I'm sure the ones following that ritual are cutting far more turf than I am with theirs.:usflag:
  7. Big Bad Bob

    Big Bad Bob LawnSite Bronze Member
    from zone 5
    Messages: 1,074

    Zoysia is a good turfgrass...... when it is growing and green. Not very popular in zone 5 because it is dormant from Sept to May. But yes, for the 4 months it is growing, you can cut it very short and it looks great. Also pretty weed resistant because it IS so thick, But who wants a lawn that is brown 8 months out of the year? Well except when it is covered by 3 feet of snow. :)
    Most of the cool season grasses will brown out pretty easily if you were to cut it too short. I have proven this to customers time after time and have also figured out that customers who would want cool season grasses cut at 1.5 inches only do so, so the grass will go dormant and they don't have to pay to mow as much. Who wants a lawn that you only mow once a month, is full of weeds, (which is what happens when it is cut too short) and puts forth a "don't give a damn" impression of our service.
    Also, I have had a few customers who had me renovate their lawn and replace the Zoysia with more appropriate grasses. I try to attract customers who take pride in the appearance of their lawn and landscape.
  8. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,132

    That applies to you especially. Zoysia is one of the most abrasive turf types to mow. When the blade clearances and sharpness are not what it is supposed to be, that is where you get the shredding of the leaf tips. The whole lawn will turn white after you mow it. Your customer will be pizzed. Especially if they are as demanding as you say they are.
  9. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,132

    To add, most people I know of with a McLane have no idea how to backlap or adjust blade clearances. They leave it to the mower shops who save for one, grind off all of the relief and either set the blades too tight to be run without relief or zero contact. No relief and blades too tight=broken reel drive chains. Not to mention what this does to the leaf tips once the blades lose their sharpness after about an hour or so of use.
  10. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,508

    I have the luxury of living on a golf course community and being friends with all the staff. They have always maintained my machine. I trade welding work to them. My other house had a large area of fine bladed Zoysia and another of a dwarf Bermuda cultivar. I spoke this morning to the blade mech there and he understood fully what you were saying and said that's how mine has been for years. I've never had a broken chain and the cut was superb. I'm just trying to get a better understanding for myself on these nuances. There is a shizzload of info to know on the running and care of these machines and I have made the commitment to learning all I can.
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    Last edited: Oct 7, 2013

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