How do you justify asking for payments in winter...?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by jmartin, May 9, 2006.

  1. jmartin

    jmartin LawnSite Member
    Messages: 33

    Hi, everyone. New guy here. First, let me say that this is a great site! I've learned a lot just poking around on here.

    I've just decided to start seriously planning my new lawncare/landscaping business. I have some experience in lawncare, just received a degree in landscape design, and want to make this my profession.

    My question is, how do you respond to a customer if they ask why they should pay the same monthly fee in Dec/Jan/Feb as they do in the spring/summer months? I would like to mainly offer 12 month contracts to my customers.

    Also, I plan on offering pressure washing and aeration services and was wondering how popular these services are in general, or what other services could be profitable.

    I appreciate any advice you guys could give to this "newbie". Thanks!
  2. BSDeality

    BSDeality LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,849

    you're just breaking the payments up into 12 months, but working hard for 10 of them.
  3. jmartin

    jmartin LawnSite Member
    Messages: 33

    I see what you're saying, but you know some clients will ask why they still have to pay during winter for services you can only perform in the other warmer months.

    If I fill out a contract saying I will mow, trim, and blow 2/ month for "$X" amount each month, then what services do I offer for the winter to justify the same fee? A lot of people won't buy the explanation you gave above, even though I understand and agree with it. I just want to know how to explain this to customers so I don't lose any jobs because they think I am ripping them off.

    Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it!

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    You're not offering a dang thing in the winter...say for instance, 30 cuts at $30 apiece ($900), $300 total for leaf removal, that comes to $1200...split over 12 months that's $100 per month. They could pay over 9 months or whatever, it would just be higher.

    You could always throw in some extra winter service, like stop by once per month to clean up sticks and stray leaves, just build it into the cost.

    It's just simple math but most customers apparently did not take math in high school :laugh: :laugh:
  5. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,558

    Try offer them 30 cuts a year and the cost of those cuts is $600 for example. Well they can pay all $600 up front or you can arrange monthly payments of $50/month for 12 months. If the contract starts in spring you are actually doing the work before they pay in full so you are actually deferring part of the payment until winter. And you tell them that this allows them to pay a consistent amount year round so they can use pay pal or something similar.. Some people are so stupid that they don't understand basic math..or act that way.
  6. SW Landscape Maintenance

    SW Landscape Maintenance LawnSite Member
    Messages: 64

    Tell your customers that you offer an equal payment plan. Its a budget plan for the customer. They know what they are going to spend each month and in return its a steady cash flow for you. I think if the customers whats an explanation about why the 12 months tell them. If they like you and are happy I don't think they will question you, they will agree to pay over 12months out of respect. I do the same plan , over 12 months but yes I snow plow and sometimes see them once a month and sometimes zero. Never had any complaints. Prove to them you are dependable during the busy months and every thing should be find.:) :canadaflag:
  7. jmartin

    jmartin LawnSite Member
    Messages: 33

    Thanks for the great advice, guys! I think some people actually look at it like they are paying each month for service to be performed each month. This should make it easier for them, and myself, to understand. Thanks again!
  8. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,995

    here is the thing. Many cheap bastards will discontinue service and you will be out the deferred payments.

    I have that happen in Florida, and we work 12 months out of the year.

    There are 2 easy ways to fix that.

    one, raise rates 5% or so and the 20% of people who quit will be made up for by everyone else.

    two, go on a 9 or 10 month payment plan. so you are at least doing some work each month to "justify" them paying you.
  9. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I myself would highly recommend both the 5% raise and the 9-10 month payment plan because for those Lco's around me here in virginia, they have had roughly the same experiences with folks plain not paying come Jan-Feb. Doesn't matter if you explained it to them via the $600 / 12 = 50 per month, it's like Precision said: They just quit on you, and stop paying.

    As for me, I get paid by the cut so I bank my money, plan which you might consider as well (saving, that is).

    The reason I recommend the 5% thing is because sooner or later someone will not pay, regardless. In addition to this, you get a few bounced checks from time to time and even long-term customers just assume there is no fee from our side of things (thou the bank charges me $5, it's also the aggravation of having to chase the money, then they just act like oh well yeah here's your original money (and never a fee)). So, in order to cover this bs, everyone pays the cost of bounced checks, and non-payment collection costs (whether I get paid or not, some never pay, no matter what). I know it doesn't sound fair, but after so many years of being the nice guy and covering this cost, something had to give. Of course, non-payers have their service discontinued immediately so as to minimize the impact, not to mention we the hard workers refuse to carry their lazy butts on our budgets.
  10. Aadman

    Aadman LawnSite Member
    from VA
    Messages: 24

    What I did was throw in a winter time gutter cleaning and twice a month leaf removal. I put in my contract that if they cancel after September they have to pay a three month lump sum fee, after December a 2 month lump sum fee.
    I add in the cost of leaf cleanup, gutter cleaning, with lawn care and divide over 12 months. I also give a 10% discount to year round.

    1/3 of my customers do year round and I won't take any more. They get a little more special care. My year round customers also get priority on storm clean up, mulch jobs or special yard projects. They also get to spread out the cost of the fall/spring cleanup over the 12 months with their bill.

    I also bought hanging flower baskets for all my year round customers who are mothers for delivery this week.

    The elderly are the ones really leary on year round service. I offer and if they take it great...Don't wear yourself out trying to sell it to a retiree.

    I have now turned down 2 year round services. One is a PITA with lawn care and I don't think I could take it during bowl season and the playoffs.


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