First or One Time Mow

Brad B

LawnSite Member
Location
DFW, Texas
I just took care of a neighbor who lives diagonally across the alley. I would have charged $40 but said since he's right there I let him know I'd knock $5 off for service and I'd come over weekly. I saw his yard and I know he usually mows weekly but noticed he skipped last week along the back where I can see coming down the alley, he's just too old for it, so I changed clothes and brought over the mower. Then he opened his back gate! Oof! 10+ inches of "I fertilized the beginning of May" thick bermuda. Okay... he's struggling. When he knocked on my door I saw the panic and I legit thought he looked like he was going to pass out. His mower was stuck in the middle as he had tried to do a diagonal stripe... I still do it for $35 thinking whatever, it's my nice act of the week for a neighbor, and ended up double cutting both his front and back. Spent a ton of time edging very lush overhang. He'll be a regular client going forward... it's cool.. he's a neighbor... I thought I was going to have to call 911 for him... Total time working: 2 hours and 34 minutes!

Last week very similar, took care of a property for $40 with the plan for bi-weekly. I suggested they have me out this week too because I cut it on the highest setting and only a single pass because I was running such narrow strips and the girlfriend wanted me to, but there was some disagreement with the boyfriend who was on the phone. "Keep us on your schedule" as she rolled her eyes at him. Total time working: 1 hour 40 minutes.

After I finished the job for my neighbor I show him his back yard and say that I'll be over next week and he was very happy with the job but then says, "now that it's caught up I'm going to try to maintain it" and that he'd let me know if he needs help again. I died inside a little. I'm already eagerly awaiting a knock in two months asking me to come over for another $35 and having to explain that I can't do it again... For the bi-weekly this week I text for confirmation and I'm ghosted.

Haven't been in business long, but I think I'm good with my weekly service price for various yards. Right now I'm converting a little over 1 yard into a client for every 2 new yards I do. Some of this is my fault in cutting yards which I know right off the bat aren't going to become a client; I'm new and money is money. I'm not making what I want to make on an hourly basis for any of those first time or one time jobs.

My struggle is figuring out what should I charge when it's been a awhile since it was mowed or the customer only wants a one time mow. I could say 2 or even 3 times my normal weekly rate, but how do you communicate that to a customer when you're using Google maps to map square footage for weekly service estimates instead of driving to a home?

It seems tough to me to say, "For your first service it will cost between $80-$120 based upon the growth of your lawn and every week after that $40" and expect to get any work.
 

Andrew H

LawnSite Gold Member
Why are you using google maps to look at square footage, get up and go look at it, speak to the client, talk about your concerns, his concerns, why they’re hiring a company, areas that will be challenging,
And you’re not in business to make friends, you’re in it to make money.
Sorry, but 26 cents a minute, isn’t profitable, although in 1950 it probably was.
 

Youngandfree

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
VA
Like he said. Go look. Ask the customer if they want on your regular schedule or not on the phone call or site visit. 2-3 times for overgrown lawn is good. Are you using a 21" more if it's taking you 1.75 hrs.

Lastly, your story about the neighbor is why some don't recommend working for neighbors. I've been lucky at my old house. My new neighbor I would help the dude out cause that's what neighbors do.
 

Joana Williams

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
New York
We have picked up well over 50 customers this season. A portion of those customers had already over-grown properties.

We tell them the first service is X, usually $100.00 - $200.00, depends on how over-grown & size of lot. We will bag the entire property for them so it's nice and clean and back in order. Every single one of those people who had the over-grown properties said, yes let's do it!

We always tell someone on the phone, email, text, etc, the weekly price is based on " Already Maintained Properties, if it's over grown there will be a one time clean up charge."

Now we have given hundreds of quotes this season as well, yes here and there people will say no with their over-grown properties. And with that, I wait and watch every week as we drive by for the town to put their notice on the property and tell them it will be a $500.00 fine if they don't cut it down. ( They end up calling us back )

Over-grown properties stress out your machines, you have no idea what is underneath all that grass, you can brake blades, spindles, etc. ( Weed whack first to find your way as well )

You're in business to make money, don't sell yourself short.
 
OP
B

Brad B

LawnSite Member
Location
DFW, Texas
Thanks for the constructive feedback and suggestions you two. Early on it wasn't an issue given the year had just started, time to make some adjustments.
 

Youngandfree

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
VA
Thanks for the constructive feedback and suggestions you two. Early on it wasn't an issue given the year had just started, time to make some adjustments.
I just started my 3rd year as a solo part time operator. I'm doing 13 lawns, after working a 730-4. I have to be picky and pick profitable work since I only have evenings and weekends. It's a process everyone goes through at the beginning. The trick is learning from your mistakes as you make them.
 

RobertJ

LawnSite Member
Location
Midwest
Very new to this and going down this same road. I've already gotten rid of my EOW jungles that agreed to EW but changed to EOW, were suppose to pick-up the dog crap and even one that said, "You see all the dead bunnies" blah blah blah.
 

GRANTSKI

LawnSite Silver Member
Location
Ct Shoreline
Also beware starting out - your marketing can be attracting cheap skates. Some ppl look for the “new” or “little” companies because they think they can get a cheap price. Aka they are looking for a service that they can’t afford. Esp true if you have lines like “fair rates” “will beat any estimate” or a cheap cartoon logo pulled from Google ...
Either way a foot tall grass is considered a property cleanup at that point. For reference I would price a similar first cut that took 2.5 hours at around $250 and only do it for a guaranteed new weekly client. Esp Now you gotta sharpen your blades cuz they are shot so add another 20-30 minutes of hassle. (Every minute counts and needs to be paid the busier you get)
 

Muskee Books

LawnSite Member
Location
Maryland
I took on several of these these miserable jobs where they haven't touched it in way too long. I would charge double or triple the cost of what I would expect them to pay for a regular length cutting. When the grass is two feet high you should have no problem telling them that. Hard on the machines and takes WAY more time than it otherwise would. I've also read people on here say that they don't take those jobs anymore and I now feel the same way. There could be ANYTHING down there for you to hit with your mower and destroy something. It's really not worth taking those jobs if they're truly bad and if you do, you're basically gambling. Just having to sharpen the blades is the best case scenario. My personal rule is if push mowing/running walk-behind NEVER lift the front end to get past anything that gives resistance going forward. My biggest repairs have happened after doing this.
 

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