Do you skip lawns during droughts?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by south jerz, Jul 15, 2005.

  1. south jerz

    south jerz LawnSite Member
    Messages: 87

    I see people on here cutting 50% of their lawns during droughts and calling those cutting during droughts idiots. We are not idiots, we enjoy making money. Do you get paid for skipped cuts? If you don't, then why not just set the blades higher in anticipation of slow growth? That way it will need cutting every time. Even if I don't anticipate and raise blades, I have cut lawns when actually engaging blades made VERY little difference in the cut, it was mostly just fresh stripes on the lawn. Unless the customer calls and cancels, they are billed weekly. LCO's get hurt enough by the rain, why let the sun bring you down too?

    Even if the grass grows 1/2" it's getting cut. If you skip a week you are not only making no money that week you are losing money by having to spend increased time cutting a jungle two weeks later.

    We don't use contracts in our company. Am I missing something here?
  2. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,373

    If you were in a real drought, and the grass just grows 1/2" each week, then in 2 weeks the grass would grow 1", give or take.

    The reason behind using contracted rates, is that it should state the grass will be kept at a height of, say, 3-5". Now, if you mow one week at 3", and it's only growing 1/2" / week, then 3 weeks later it would be at 4 1/2", and still inside the 3-5" margin stated in the contract. Obviously it's going to start to look a little shaggy by now, especially if the account isn't on a weed control program, but that's not what's outlined in the contract.

    Now you've gone 3 weeks and still received the same pay as mowing every week without doing any work. No work but still getting paid = more money on the bottom line, pretty simple.

    Plus, each time you run over a dry yard, leaving your stripe, where the tire track was, that grass is being bent over, increasing the risk of damage by bringing on even more sunlight to the grass.
  3. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,940

    At this time of the year, "jungles" don't happen in two weeks.

    Navigating your mower across a dry lawn with no growth, when the days are hot, not only damages the turf, but damages your reputation with the customer. No, not all customers are aware of your ploy, but most are and most likely they will be former customers soon.

    Yes, skipping cuts hits the revenue stream, but that is part of the risk of being in a business that is closely related to weather conditions. If the risk isn't worth it, then another business unrelated to weather is a better fit.
  4. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,143

    What he said.
  5. lawnprosteveo

    lawnprosteveo LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tulsa
    Messages: 1,930

    In a real dry summer here, the fescue doesnt grow at all and unless the customer waters/fertilizes, then the bermuda doesnt either.

    I refuse to run my mower over their lawn when I cant even tell where Ive cut. Thats ripping off the customer. Money lost to me? Sure. But that doesnt give me the right to charge them for something not needed.
  6. Leone LawnCare

    Leone LawnCare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 154

    u will see that when your overhead reaches a certain point that not cutting lawns really hurts. Some of us are at a point where if we dont cut it hurts a lot. What we do if a lawn is burned out is still cut but do a real bang up job with edging and whiping weeds out of cracks and stuff so we still earn our money
  7. jtrice11

    jtrice11 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 380

    all of our contracted customer pay wether it gets cut or not. Its not my fault the grass isn't growing. But I should state that we do alot of "freebies" for them at their request. Numero uno is having a good relationship with your customers.
  8. Big Lew

    Big Lew LawnSite Member
    from pa
    Messages: 34

  9. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    You can war with customers all the time and insist on getting paid even if it doesn't need mowing, or mowing when it absolutely doesn't need it, or you can price your service accordingly to cover the known phenomena of occassional droughts, and cut them some slack. Some take the hardline path, others the easygoing one. I think that the small loss of income is offset by the increased customer retention, goodwill, and ease of signing up new business (since you're not hitting them with what they may see as onerous conditions) In the long run, it's probably a wash in terms of revenue.

    Much of this comes with experience, you learn when you need to price a little higher or lower, depending on the type lawn you are bidding. Obviously one with an irrigation system won't have this problem, yet may have some times of the year when it takes longer than a non-irrigated one to mow due to faster growth.

    One easy solution to this is to offer other services in lieu of mowing if they request it during droughts. Just provide an equal $ amount of other work. There is almost always something that needs doing on a yard.

    But I would like to add one thing, and that is that so many guys get into this with dreams of riches, and this is just not that kind of business. It is mundane and established, with low barriers of entry, not something innovative and new where you can corner the market and rake in the cash. If you cannot make a profit you find acceptable with reasonable business practices (hiring legal workers, treating customers fairly, paying taxes, being responsible, etc) then please do the rest of us a favor and just go sell used cars or something.
  10. LawnScapers of Dayton

    LawnScapers of Dayton LawnSite Silver Member
    Male, from Dayton, OH
    Messages: 2,572

    I skip lawns that don't need cut and I do not charge. That is one reason why I have never had to advertise for more business. I do however, in my contact have a clause that states additonal charges may be applied, if the following week requires more work due to the previous skip........ No complaints and most times there is additional trimming or double cutting due to the 2 weeks of growth. So the loss for skipping in most cases is 1/2 the regular weeks rate.

    Not a big deal to me. If I am not mowing I have no problem lining up other maintenance jobs. They pay the same or better than mowing anyway.....


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