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Have you lost residential lawn accounts this year?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Ramairfreak98ss, Apr 25, 2008.

  1. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,210

    I sure have. We've lost 2/3 almost of all residential accounts. At first, i started to doubt our quality of cuts or something, but many are simply switching to choose to cut the lawn themselves, hiring cheaper companies or friends/relatives.

    Not to mention, i see 5 BILLION guys/companies driving around everything from cars with 21" mowers to 20 year old crappy SUVs with $500 trailers and a 10 year old walk behind, others look like theyre a legit company but "just" started business, IE: newer pickup, stick on signs, new open cheaper double axle trailer, darn new zero turn, same for the walk behind etc.

    In Jersey at least thats the moto, everyones in the "lawn" business with the economy the way it is. Sure sucks. Ive had dozens of calls for lawn quotes only to have them say $40!.. Sir i had two other quotes that were both under $30 lol.

    Im not cutting a half acre for $30 with a fence in the back yard, sorry.

    I lost another 1.5+ acre account in a development that i cut 5 in last year, they didnt like that i didnt credit them back for "august 07" lawn cuts where we didnt need to cut the entire lawn... but at their request, not mine. So while the woman is saying only to cut the front, she really means, "Although we are in a contract, i am choosing to have you charge us half this week to only cut half of the property and we expect a rebate at the end" lol. They now have their old company from their old house in north jersey coming down to cut their central jersey property. The lady raved about them to me constantly even though she liked our service, go figure.

    Now thats bad enough, but we cut the next door neighbors 1.5+ acre lot too ok, she got our contract for mowing and was going to send it back, then wanted me to add in aerations, lime application, mulching and weed removal.. So i email it to her, cut the lawn once already, and today she sends me another email after a week that they will be having a relative cut the lawn voluntarily until they fix their old lawn mower :(

    Today i see the company that the neighbor is now having cut their lawn again, but theyre also cutting the 2nd one i used to cut next door too, the one who just emailed saying a "relative" will be doing it voluntarily? WTF? These were both A+ customers the entire year, paid bills on time, never had a gripe about anything, did landscape and maintenance work for the one.

    The big kicker was it looked like two guys, driving a 06+ Dodge dually landscape body truck, so it wasnt by any means a "poor" or starter up company, but they were there with a 16+ ft landscape open trailer which looked old and two walk behinds? Keep in mind, these two lawns are pretty much WIDE open. Back and forth and back and forth they went, we cut two properties on an adjacent road to them, which were an acre each with the 48" and 61" zero turn, showed up after they were already there mowing, me and my helper get in and drive past em, they're STILL going back and forth with what looked like "red" 48" walk behinds, maybe toros or something. One guy was fully walking it and another had a sulky.

    I've seen a ton worse, but how many of use use walk behinds on two side by side properties that total 3+ acres? We used to mow the one for $54.00 weekly and the other for $70.00 bi-weekly, which i dont think is an unfair price at all, these two Joes must cut it cheaper than that though.

    They need to sell their expensive new dodge truck and get some new mowing equipment if theyre really going to cut stuff that big... on the other hand, maybe thats why they charge "guessing" $45.00 a week to cut them VS my $55.00 ?

    My $70 bi-weekly customer they must have talked into a weekly cut, although it never ever needed it, because we just cut it last Friday and they were there today cutting it again :/

    Besides the terrible lawn account sign up for the 2008 season, were booming with commercial work with mulching, landscape maintenance, bed edging, cleanup work, weeding as crappy as it sounds works out well most times.

    Im just worried in the middle of the summer, when the mulching type work comes to a halt until the fall, my 1 day per week lawn route surely will leave a TON of non money making time in the week :( Last year we filled up to a full 2 day route. I had to go out a 3rd day a lot to get everything done, and was hoping to have a solid 3-4 day cut week this year, instead we've shrunk to 1 day and were done after 8hrs easy
  2. Green Finger

    Green Finger LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 839

    Keep in mind gas prices are going up, housing values are low, market isn't doing well. When they are looking to cut expenses. Usually it's lawn care first.

    evaluate and communicate with your customers and you might consider keeping your prices the same or adding extra free services or cutting prices a little. just a thought.

    It's better to keep them w/o losing your shirt. Eventually you'll make your money.
  3. S man

    S man LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,562

    I've lost several. But also picked some up.
  4. DJ Contracting

    DJ Contracting LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 487

    But i'm having the oppisite happing to me this year i have added ten more accounts 6 from a friend that got out of the business, and three from one of my Dr. accounts, and one that seen us working on another Dr.s home that i just picked up. I had said this before, that i tell all my customers that if somebody mentions that they refered me to them then and i get the account, they get a 5% discount on their next bill, it has worked great for me. This even turned out that i have to give a bid for sow plowing on three of their offices, anyway good luck and try my method.
  5. jnrogers

    jnrogers LawnSite Member
    from East TN
    Messages: 221

    Hey Ramairfreak98ss how far are you from Boonton township in Morris County? My boss has called several lawncare companys up in NJ to mow his parents yard and nobody has even called him back. It is 2 acres and very easy to mow. They need somebody to also do some minor landscaping. If you are interested let me know.
  6. CFB

    CFB LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 515

    I'm lucky enough to live in a pretty wealthy community with tons of jobs. 100K town and national headquarters of State Farm, Country Insurance, Mitsibishi, and a one other national headquarters that is slipping my mind. Business is good as ever. Lost 1 account, picked up many. And I raised prices on every existing customer this year at least $5.

    And BTW nothing wrong with older equipment and a small trailer if it still gets the job done well. My people are happy. Every one of them.
  7. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,210

    I know, well March 20th we sent out letters with 2008 contracts to all customers from last season. The letter had stated in it that we would still honor the same 2007 cut price for their 2008 season contract ;/ See how much that helped, i know some places are going up locally, one company very close to me, i know went up on two lawn from $34 to $38 and another from $42 to $47 from last year to this year. Those customers then called me for a price, told me later what the other company charged more for this year and then they didnt accept my "lower" price either, and both have some kid cutting the grass :(
  8. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,210

    Hey thanks, Morris is way north of here.. Well "way" north for us dirty jerzeyans lol. NJ is a tiny state in all honestly but it would probably take us a 2hr drive to get up there, its "that" far considering poor road structures and traffic mostly. Id have to most likely take the NJ turnpike 35+ miles north to 287 west, which is parallel with NYC and all of those roads suck for traffic all times of the day, plus the NJTP costs a fortune especially commercially or with trailers :( Maybe ask RODFATHER on here... i know hes up in north jersey but im not sure his coverage areas, hes got some good equipment like ours to mow big areas too.

    Oh, and i too have heard of a lot of lawn care guys going out of business this spring or companies going under, ones not calling back etc. I was possibly going to pick up six 1 acre accounts almost all in a line that a small company cut last year, until my customer called me to tell me instead of sending me her contract, a local neighbors kid is going to cut all of them :/
  9. meets1

    meets1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,850

    Same here. Prices that I was getting 5- 10 years ago are getting beat by a few local LCO's. Lost a bank - started at 36.50 8 years ago, last year charge was 45.00. They went with another LCO this year who gave them a price of $32.00 / mow, bagging everything. Go figure.

    I hate to complain about gas, food, machinery, but when this happens and you get beat by X amount I have to wonder what these guys are thinking or doing differently.
  10. jahbp

    jahbp LawnSite Member
    Messages: 66

    My sister lives in High Bridge which is in Medford NJ they have a big lawn they got rid of their lawnservice and bought a rider from Home Depot. I guess everybody is cutting back it really sucks ,If I still lived In Cherry Hill I would be cutting it for nothing That would suck even more .

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