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Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by snoweagle, Apr 10, 2001.

  1. snoweagle

    snoweagle LawnSite Member
    from N.W Mn
    Messages: 5

    How do most of you charge? do you charge one price for the cutting and charge another for edging/trimming/spring&fall cleanup? Do most of you cut each customer by the week or doyu let them determine when the lawn should be cut?
  2. Acute Cut

    Acute Cut LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 980

    I am in the minority i believe here, but i charge a flat rate per month. Example: 5K lawn with minimal edging and regular trimming. 25$ for a week (X4)= 100$. i let my customers know that they will recieve a bill for 100$ from april till nov. Then there is no confusion. The benifit of the flat fee in my opinion is that in later summer, when the lawn doesn't need to be mowed near as regularly, then you can mow bi-weekly and still make the same money. I DO NOT let my customers make my schedule. I am a solo operator and do not have time to run all over the city for mr. and ms. jones.
  3. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,943

    I agree about NOT letting the customer set the schedule. When I started a few years ago, I let that happen. But, now I don't take a customer who wishes to do that. When I started, I took "anybody" just to get customers. After awhile I realized the weekly regulars meant the best money - not surprising, but it took some time to learn! However, then I realized my best option was to have a mix of weekly, and others on MY schedule. I've settled on about 75% regulars and 25% non-regular. I work solo, so don't have much slack. The non-regulars can be fit into the schedule, and at the same time I can keep the weekly customers mowed on the same days. If weather interrupts the routine, my first priority is getting the regulars back on schedule. If I had a full schedule of weekly customers, an interruption would make it difficult to catch up.

    Those wanting their own schedule tend to be those who mowed their own lawns until recently. It was easy for them to choose when to mow, but they don't realize that you cannot work in the same way. They often feel that you are sitting around your phone, waiting for it to ring, them calling you to come later that day, or the next day. They call at 10:00 a.m. or 3:00 p.m., leave a message on the answering machine, surprised that you are not available to answer the phone. That system didn't work for me.

    As for the monthly fee, I would like to have more of those. I do have only one customer, and we make it work fine. I set the schedule, depending upon growth. He trusts my judgment to keep the lawn looking right. He has been more than generous with payments, usually adding a good bonus at the end of the year "for doing a good job." Most other customers want weekly only. This season I've asked for, and received, permission to move to five day cycles during heavy growth. Last season, I showed up too often on a seven day cycle, only to find a problem. This may be a way of moving them to a monthly fee next year.

    The more you work with customers and do a job that is acceptable to them, the more they will trust you to make decisions on your own. The key is to learn what is acceptable to THEM. Not everybody is the same!

    [Edited by Roger on 04-10-2001 at 10:30 AM]
  4. Eric ELM

    Eric ELM Husband, Father, Friend, Angel
    Messages: 4,830

    I charge each cut. In the spring, some want theirs mowed twice a week and some months there are 5 cuts without cutting it twice in a week. Some months there are extras and I've not had any problems billing like this. Most of our customers have irrigation, so we can just keep cutting even if it is dry. :)
  5. crew

    crew LawnSite Member
    Messages: 163

    I am Like acute- I bill monthly for a seven month season. The only exception is some low maintenace, low profile commercial properties for a local utility. Unlike most I do not bill a seperate charge for cleanups.
  6. cajuncutter

    cajuncutter LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 626

    Acute what about that 5th monday or tuesday that springs up every couple of months? If it is a 25 dollar yard you just charge a flat fee off 100 a month? You may be loosing a little money every once in a while. What I like to do is take the average amount of visits each year which in my area is between 40 and 45. So I just use 43. I take 43 multiply by the amount of the yard, lets say 25. So I come up with $1075. I then take that number and divide by 12 which comes to 89.58. Round up to the nearst buck which in this case is 90 bucks. This is just for mowing weed wacking edging and blowing. Now you can go about the fall and spring clean ups like this. You evaluate the tree situation, if it is a lot and you do not think you can figure out how much bagging you will be doing then let it be known to the customer that when the time comes for the fall and spring that there will be a charge for each bag of debris. We fill 55 gallon bags full. Sometimes so heavy we have to use a wheel barrow to get them to the curb. The charge for each bag is 7.50. Usually takes an hour to do 4 bags for one person. That includes the time it takes to roundup the debris. That comes to 30 bucks an hour which in reality is cheaper than the norm charge for running my equip. If you think you can include the price of the clean ups with out using the bag formula then plug that number into your total and then divide by 12. You may also throw in a weed and feed fir the spring and a winterizer for the fall for free as a selling pitch. On some accounts I also throw in 2 gutter cleanings and any after that would be an additional charge. I hope this may help. It sure is nice to have money comming in during the winter and this is one way to go about that.
  7. Bassman

    Bassman LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 270

    I have two types of customers, (actually three).
    Year round that gives a reliable bankable income on an annual basis.
    Seasonal monthly customers during spring, summer & fall. Some of these seaosonals leave the time to start maintenance up to me after the winter. Others call when they want a visit until it becomes obvious they need weekly service.
    Then there are the cut-backs, cleanups, etc. that are on a per call basis.
  8. lawnboy82

    lawnboy82 Banned
    Messages: 957

    last year i had 3 types of clients. they were: normal people being the least of the client base then there were those who have lots of money which would be next on the list. then the majority would be those who are crazy. i am greatly saddened today because i have lost my most nutty customer. and i lost 2 other nuts last week. i have managed to keep a couple of the whack jobs though. so maybe this year it will be money then whackos then the normal ones.
  9. Acute Cut

    Acute Cut LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 980

    To answer you question about the 5th week months. They get it free. (did i just swear/hehe/) On a flat monthly basis i come out WAY ahead. Come august or september i have the option to not cut if it doesnt need it. Do you think a lawn will be mowed 4 times in October? Not around here. BUT, i will still bill the flat fee. I am tired of working on the feast or famine idea. I toped 7K last year in my peak month. Spring is less money and fall was less money. Go figure. Now i will have the EXACT same month every month. I will know exactly how much $$ is coming in. My customers know that they will be charged the full flat fee in the later months, but they also know that right now they can recieve a "Free" mowing on months that are timed to thier advantage.

    Last year i did what you do. Charge per mow. Then i had the unthinkable happen. i had a customer question my integrity. She complained if i used my discrescion on when her lawn needed mowing and TOLD me to mow every week. So i did. Need it or not it was cut. Come October when the lawn stopped growing 22" a day, i kept cutting. The lawn looked almost exactly the same height every week. When she got her bill she called me up hotter n a snakes belly on a hot texas tin roof! I had "cheated her" and "lied to her" about the work i had done. She says she had been watching and the grass was never cut all month long. This comes the night of her last mowing of the month. I had cut it JUST THAT DAY! She paid and i dropped her. But because of that i had to switch to the flat fee and if any of my customers question it i tell them that story. They all know me and know my philosophy. "A man is only as good as his word"

    Now we have a No IFs, No Ands, And no Buts! Flat fee.

    New customers are also subject to a deposite now too. but ill save that for another post. Actually, i think ill go and write it now.

    Hope i answered ya'lls questions.
  10. Currier

    Currier LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 564

    I just switched to the monthly flat fee this year. Same as Acute, the feast and famine was getting old. Now my book keeping and business planning is much more consistent and manageable.

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