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How do I charge / handle the extra lawn mowing work needed during Fall Leaf season

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Chivas Regal, Sep 6, 2007.

  1. Chivas Regal

    Chivas Regal LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    I have a problem that I'm trying to figure out. I'm in the Mid-Atlantic region (NOVA). Here, the cutting season is late March through around the week before Thanksgiving. My problem is this. I charge my customers the same amount per/cut the whole season. However, for about a month from Mid-October to Mid-November there are a LOT of leaves on the grass. Because I don't have the manpower (my employees are still busy mowing lawns and doing lawn care) we don't offer Fall Cleanups until the week before Thanksgiving.

    Therefore, when we mow lawns during that month, there's a lot more work to be done to mow the lawns so they still look good.

    Last year, when I was out in the field working, my work around for this was to:

    1. Using the walk behind mower and it's blowing power, I would shoot the leaves in two different directions. So, instead of mowing back and forth, I would mow in increasingly large circles. Though this does take more time than normal mowing, it's not a terribly significant amount of time for most of our lawns, which are typically 1/4 acre). This method would get the leaves off of the grass without having to remove them, and the lawn looked good (the mulch beds were another story:)...

    2. This would still leave a lot of leaves on the sidewalk, mulch beds, etc. So with the blowers, we'd blow off any clumping of leaves that might occur and, with the leaves that were blown to the street, we'd usually take the blower and blow them into the street, and then again use the blower so that the leafs weren't noticeable. All the while, trying to avoid the evil eye we'd inevitablly get from a neigbor.

    I'm not comfortable with this solution, but to do what probably needs to be done, which would be to bag the leaves, it would take probably twice as much time, if not more, and I don't think my customers would go for doubling up the price.

    Any suggestions? I cannot think of a great solution to this problem, except to maybe require a Fall cleanup in, say, early November, or else we have to double the price.
  2. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,889

    You need to charge more for the cutting these months
  3. All_Toro_4ME

    All_Toro_4ME LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,578

    Definately charge more. IF you lose them, oh well. They're replaceable. Fall cleanups require more work and more time. Try them with the blower first, blow all the leaves to a central area, then run over them with your Z with bagger. Should reduce your time significantly. But still, charge more.
  4. jbell113

    jbell113 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 654

    You do it sorta like I do. I have two mowers ...one is a side discharge the other is for mulching. First we blow all the leaves out of beds roadways driveways. Side discharge mower blows them to the middle of the yard then run them over chopping them up and there in two seperate rows. Then the mulching mower chops it up till its gone. If there are woods nearby we can pile them up and push most of the leaves with the mower into the woods. Then blow to disperse. Works most of the time. Now in my contracts it states that the beds will be cleaned out no later than February but we usually go ahead and do it.
  5. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,442

    We have the same situation that you do....but we mulch with a plate over the outlet all year so when leaves come along we do the same. We start at outside of property and work towards center....with plate on they is some debris that drops down and we catch it on next round. By the time we finish mulching everything the first time the trim guy is finished he blows out any leaves that are strays on street and we run back over them with mulcher. It doesn't take but a few extra minutes. With all these big machines it just isn't worth arguing with a customer about a few bucks......same deal as trying to get them to pay extra on bi-weekly when grass is tall...too much trouble.
  6. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    We just make it up in the fall cleanup price. Price ahead of time accordingly to cover this extra time (double cutting, etc.). We also take extra time to blow of sidewalks, driveways, and patio areas many of times before mowing. You HAVE to work this into the price structure somehow. Even though it helps us in the long run (much less material being hauled out in the end), we have to compensate for the time, extra wear and fuel, and labor.
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Ahhh yes I agree charge more, one way is just add +$5 to the per cut fee then sometimes or a lot of times you make out but a few times you bite the bullet still it kinda adds out in teh end.
  8. Americal Vet

    Americal Vet LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 250

    I have a vac to get the worst out from the hedges and beds around the house. Those that are stubborn I blow out onto the lawn. Takes no time at all while mowing to place them in a windrow and then drive along and sweep them up. I have some customers that want them in a compost pile or bin, and then again I have some that want them bagged and placed at the curb. Depending on the property I will sometimes dump them in the woods. I maintain a set all inclusive price so this is taken care of ahead of time. It is something I offer in the price which includes fall clean up, gutter cleaning, etc.

    It appears that you don't have a set price except for the mowing. Go ahead and talk to the customer about leaf removal, and at the same time you may want to talk about gutter clean out, and maybe some power washing before it gets too cold.
  9. RegalLawnCare.Com

    RegalLawnCare.Com LawnSite Member
    Messages: 106

    This is Chivas Regal, the original poster (I'm new to lawnsite (it's awesome!) and thought I ought to use my company name).....

    I've been thinking about this a lot. Some of this has to do with the fact that I am trying to get away from using temporary workers to do ANY work for me. I want to use my regular guys, therefore, I put off doing "Full-blown" Fall Cleanup until the week before Thanksgiving. I might have to change this so that we start Fall Cleanup the beginning of November, but we still mow lawns through the week before Thanksgiving (and some after that), so where would I get the people unless I get temps? Also, I haven't prepared my customers for a price difference during the Fall, but I think that I'm going to send an email/letter to all of my active customers and propose the following:

    Plan A - Customers who don't currently have there grass bagged:

    from October 1st to November 15th We will charge 50% extra for lawn mowing to clear the LAWN of leaves. The method we will use is to mow in concentric circles, blowing leaves either towards the house/street, or towards either side of the house. We will use blowers where leaves are blown into landscaped areas to make sure that they leaves aren't too unsightly, and will use our Billy goat to suck up any debris/leaves that get into the street and walkways. Any cleanup work done after mid-November will fall into "Fall Cleanup" work.

    Plan B - Bagging the Leafs, for customers who DO have their grass bagged, or don't like Plan A:

    For twice the price of lawn mowing, we will bag the leaves during this time period (October 1st to Mid-November).


    This would NOT be optional. I would just deal with complaints on a case by case basis. I don't want to lose ANY customers because they have a problem with this. If they do have a major problem, we won't charge for the work, but next year we will follow a plan like this. For customers who complain that they don't like that leaves are being pushed into their landscaped beds, I would say that we handle this during our "Fall Cleanup". This might actually attract more customers to opt for the Fall Cleanup service.
  10. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,889

    Bi weekly customers,,,,, Ya I hear ya on this one but I solved the bi weekly issue a long time ago.

    I Handel it this way, the customers who want to save money and have just a bi weekly service are given 2 prices. 1 price is for weekly service and the 2nd price is for bi weekly. after giving them those prices I ask them what service they want bi weekly or weekly. if they complain i explain exactly why the bi weekly cutting is so much more than the every week cutting if they still squak I pull out a list of school kids and low ballers I keep just for this reason and say mabey these guys are more affordable.

    Now this is exactly just 1 reason of many why I stopped having SET monthly prices 10 friggen years ago.

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