I give the customers one pass if they come out and tell my guys to skip. My guys will inform them they can call, email or text up until 5am their usual service day. I look at messages before heading out in the morning and can make final changes to the routes... most customers are uneducated and don’t give it a second thought about the time and fuel spent to come “look” at their lawn...they see it the 7 days in between services. In 15 seconds they can look out a window and send me a message as opposed to sending a couple guys there when other stops could be getting done. Over 600 lawns. No 2 grow the same. As mentioned, your neighbor watered this week and you didn’t. That line of thunderstorms hit half a mile away the other night but didn’t reach you...impossible for me to monitor every inch of our service area.
I used to try to use my best judgement when I was solo. When I hired guys, I thought they could use good judgement if a yard didn’t need to be mowed...it back fired on me more than once. A mid week mow would call on friday wondering why they weren’t cut. We would be no where near the property and have to figure out how to work them back in. Would cost me $150 to mow a $40 lawn. Another time, we thought we were doing them a favor by skipping. Lawn was burnt up. Called flipping out that they weren’t mowed and were having a 75th birthday party on Sunday for grandma or something. Who was driving to mow on Saturday morning? ME. After that I said never again...if somebody complained about being mowed when it didn’t need it, I’d rather refund their $40 then skipping and holding my breath for that call. FYI, I haven’t had to refund anyone.
I use the monthly service fee method. I still charge when we skip. If it doesnt need cut, the crew knows to do a bit of gardening or pruning instead, if needed. I don't charge extra for leaf cleanups. The easier summers make up for the fall.
I treat residential customers the same I would my commercial sites. As long as everything looks good, everyone is happy.
Now, here we go with the "cutting dust" arguments....we make it VERY clear to our clients that they MUST let us know if they want us to skip. We do this for (2) main reasons....
1. I don't want my guys making that decision in the field
2. When we use to make that decision, it was a lose-lose proposition for us. Some clients were mad we skipped because then the property wasn't edged, trimmed, etc. They may have a tall dandelion here or there and their lawn and they want everything even. Other clients were mad we didn't skip when they definitely needed a mow.
That being said, I'm not really happy with the way we need to do this. We're hoping to change our entire process next season. Hoping to go to monthly pricing. We cut when needed, skip when needed. We decide. Price remains constant each month regardless. I THINK this would be better for us.