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Did I charge too much????

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by gargoyle7417, Jun 13, 2005.

  1. gargoyle7417

    gargoyle7417 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    I have this customer who I normally charge 40 for the basic lawn service. The other day he asks me to clear out this section of his back yard 20 by 15 that is full of weeds(over 6ft tall) and vines and has 2 trees about 4 inches in diameter and 30 feet tall maples also about 2 small bushes ...anyways he asks me to do it and I charge him 205. then 40 for the yard and then 15 for bushes and then 15 for weed and feed, very small yard that's why 15 for weed and feed, then he writes this letter

    "I know I should have said something about this last night, but I think you charged me too much for what you did in my yard. Don't get me wrong -- you do awesome work and I really appreciate it! However, consider this:

    1. Several weeks ago, I asked you for an estimate on clearing the back portion of my yard and you told me you thought it would be about $60.

    2. I estimate that you provided about six hours of work for $285. That's $47.50 per hour, which is more than I make after having practiced law for five years.

    As a fellow capitalist, I would expect you to charge as much as you possibly can for your services -- I know I do. On the other hand, you should expect me to balk at rates that I think are too steep. I consider what you did to be hard labor, and I think a fair hourly rate for hard labor is $20. You don't have to give me a refund, but I would like to come to some sort of resolution before you do more work for me. Just let me know what you'd like to do, and if you think I'm being an unreasonable jackass, let me know that too! It may be that I am just oblivious to reality, so I'm open to discussion."

    My response is below let me know what you guys think

    will respond to each point accordingly

    1. I do not remember the $60.00 that you mention in your email below, last weekend when you gave me 60 bucks I told you the day after that you overpaid because at that point I only charged for the basic lawn service which is forty which typically takes me about an hour.

    2. the 285 is broken down like this, I charged 205 for the clearing of the backyard which took me about 5 hours, typically for my work as you can see for the yard service it averages about 40 an hour( this is not just labor, it is for my equipment - more on this later). that comes out to 200. Then I charged you 40 for the yard - now we are at 245 Then I charged 15 for the weed and feed, that stuff is expensive( it cost 60 bucks for that bag and you only used a smallportion of it so I thought 15 is fair) so it's not like I'm making money on that. So now we are at 260, then I charged 15 for the bushes (front and side) and roundup. That comes to the total of 285. I gave you your credit of 20 and so it dropped down to 265. Seth I really like working for you and I hope we can come to a resolution. Now I did use your chainsaw for a good portion of it and that helped out a lot so I can give you a discount on that, after charging you I spoke with 3 others in the business and they all said I undercharged you, I told them I wanted to be reasonable and keep you as a customer. I have been told not to worry about it and that I charged a more than reasonable price - Seth here is what I propose, since I used your Chainsaw I can give you a free yard service which is $40 and I will treat your yard again for weeds because I think it will need another application which is about 12 to 15 dollars. Does that sound fair, please let me know what you propose - or if this will suffice, let me know what you would like I am open to discussion on this but so far this is my offer.

    One last thing, usually I work very hard and fast I get the job done in that matter because to me time is money I'll give 2 examples of the speed I work at and prices paid.

    There is this preschool I maintain it sits on a hill and the children play on the pea gravel well every 8 years or so after years and years of children playing the pea gravel moves down hill pushing against a wooden fence, the job is to make-shift some ramps and with wheelbarrows because nothing else fits down there take the pea gravel and distribute it at the top of the hill, well the owner told me she wanted me to do this. I told her I would n't know what to charge because I didn't know how long it would take. She said it would take me all weekend and that I should hire some help. She said the last time she did it the guy hired 5 guys and it took him all weekend, so I hired 6 and it took me 4 hours. needless to say when I called her and told her I finished she paid me but felt like she was cheated, this was the price we agreed on and so she paid me but felt like I should of been there all weekend, I didn't understand because I did it for the job not the time. Granted my guys hustle and I can pull many references where they surprise people day in day out. SO the point of this story is I could have stayed there all weekend and make her feel like she got her money's worth but I just wanted to get it done. 4 years later I still have this customer.

    the second story is with this lady that I usually cut her yard, she pays me 40 - it too takes me about an hour. One day she approaches me and wants me to do her bushes and get on her roof and clean her gutters - I told her it would be extra and she became very upset with me. ....telling me that my time was not worth 40 dollars an hour ....I told her ...."Ma'am please understand the riding mower I use to cut your yard cost me $6000 which I make payments on my blowers cost 450 - 500 each which I have 2 of, the weed eater cost 275, the push mower costs 600, my truck payment cost 440 and then I pay insurance. The trailer I use to haul the tools around in cost 1200, then I have to maintain all of my equipment to make sure that my equipment performs and I can be here on a regular basis, she is still my customer and the anything extra I did she paid for, of course I'm not charging for little things but ad hoc stuff.

    Let me know your thoughts I am willing to give you a free service and treat your weeds for free, I think this is fair if you don't please let me know.......in the future I will discuss any price for any project with you to make sure we are clear on this, Seth again I like having you as my customer and do not want to lose your business what do you propose, is my offer fair?
  2. jtrice11

    jtrice11 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 380

    My first thought is that if this guy has been practicing law for 4-5 years already and isn't even making 50 bucks an hour, he must be a crappy lawyer.

    Anyway, I think you charged appropriately and I think your response is fair. I'd leave out the 2 stories regarding your efficiency, its only minimally relavent. I always charge by the job.
  3. DAZ982500

    DAZ982500 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 72

    I think you responded to him in a proffessional manner.You provided him a breakdown of your charges, I am assumming that you understood your rate per prior to the job, and you were willing to work with him.On the other hand, if you feel your numbers are good, which I think they are you should 'nt have to put alot of effort into,"making your case".I had an experience with an attorney in the past who I did work for who I had to beg to get a fair rate per hour from.This was his standard operating procedure if it was"nt for him being my fathers best friend and him getting me out of 'A WHOLE LOT OF TROUBLE" I would have dumped him.I hope he is not a cheapskake like my example.Be fair,professional and stand the ground you cut.
  4. gargoyle7417

    gargoyle7417 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    yeah it really upsets me when customers think that you should get paid by the hour, granted that is how I estimate job costs but when thye hear the hourly rate they freak out, so I jsut say I don't work by the hour I work by the job. Thansk for your responses I just wanted to make sure. :cool2:

    RKISTNER1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 169

    I think this guy is using that new math"h+U+A=Head Up A$$.
  6. mastercare

    mastercare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 289

    Your price is fair, if not generous. The fact that you used his chainsaw might make an argument for the cheaper price, but like I said, you're already on the cheap side, or at least fair.

    Like was said above, don't tell him stories of "how this other job went".... he doesn't care. I'm sure you could come with stories about jobs that went wrong, or were very profitable. He only cares about his job.

    I think that people need to understand why we charge the hourly rates we charge. People don't understand that to do a 5 hour job, you have to:

    Return their phone call, prepare an estimate, and present the estimate just to get a "go ahead." Then you have to schedule your workers, pay them a fair wage (maybe provide workman's comp, Soc. Sec. tax matching and Liability insurance). Then you have to drive to their house, do professional work, with your equipment (which is expensive, depreciates, and needs maintenance + repairs). At the end of the day you need to take their "garbage" home with you and dispose of it somehow, unload the truck (which was loaded this morning). Then you go into your office, enter the charges into an invoice, print it, stuff in the envelope, stamp it and mail it. When he pays you, you have to enter the check and close the invoice.

    People think that if you work for 5 hrs....it only costs you 5 hrs of labor. There's a lot more that goes into it, and I don't have a problem explaining all those costs to a customer. If they had the time, and equipment and it was easy work, they'd do it themselves.

    When was the last time a plumber/electrician/auto repair shop did work for you that only took 10 mins? Did they charge you for 10 mins time? Or $65 an hour? Try getting any skilled (I know lawncare isn't rocket science) person to come perform work for you and do it any cheaper.
  7. gargoyle7417

    gargoyle7417 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    You are so on the money he jsut sent me a note saying

    "I was going to point out the fact that everyone has certain expenses. For instance, I borrowed $75K to go to law school, and I have to make payments on that every month. I have to pay malpractice insurance. I have to pay membership dues for the Arkansas Bar. I have to pay for a certain amount of continuing legal education each year. Blah, blah, blah. My clients, however, don't care about my expenses. They care about two things: (1) the fact that I do good work, and (2) the fact that they can't purchase equivalent skills elsewhere for less money.

    You definitely do good work, and I don't think -- insofar as what you regularly do in my yard -- that I could get as good of work anywhere else for less money. That, and the fact that I like you, is why I am keeping you. I do think I could have had that area behind my shed cleared for less money, but that's my own fault so I'll get over it.

    OK, I'm rambling here. The bottom line is that you do great work, I'm happy to have you, and I appreciate your willingness to accommodate my being a cheapskate.

    See you in a few weeks,"

    I'm not backing down but I made him an offer (one free lawn service) and I seriously doubt he could have anyone come in and do it for less unless it is a scrub who would not do quality work. Thanks for all the replies.
  8. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Messages: 10,178

    ask him what he would think his child should get paid for: overexposure to the sun, which has been proven to cause skin cancer=death. overexposure to dust and debris which has been proven to cause lung cancer=death. exposure to pesticides, long term effects unknown, they havn't been around long enough.
  9. kc2006

    kc2006 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,443

    So in other words the guy was just trying to get something for free.

    "You charged too much...but I like the work...but its too much...but I couldn't have got that quality for less....but I could of paid less...."

    That guy cracks me up.
  10. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    he is over analyzing the cost lol. I hate customers like that. I give em a fair break down of costs on a larger job but if they call me to trim a few trees I look at em and give em a price. If they dont like it and say no thanks I ask them what they think is fair. If its 5 bucks less than what I wanted fine Im here lets do it now. No sence wasting a trip over 5 bucks. If they are way low I reffer them to an arborist who I know is twice my price for trimming trees. I usually get a call back the next day unless they are pig headed. You were MORE than fair. Can't justify a lower price just because your faster at it.

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