How to get all your ducks in a row

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by green-pa, Mar 11, 2007.

  1. green-pa

    green-pa LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 737

    I just got my first call yesterday. And a lotta questions came up in my head.
    What if a customer wants to know how much it would cost him for the whole season? How do I know how many cuts it will be? I want to be cutting people on the same day in the same area of course. Is it best to just charge a per cut at this point in the season ( in late March-April)? I mean, won't it only be like 1-2 cuts per month 'til like May or June? More importantly, how do u arrange it to where your ducks are in a row ( i.e. your customers in one area will mostly all be cut in one day vs 2,3, or more)? Surely some would either have to have their yard cut earlier than usual or later than usual for the first cut, to match up with any other clients in the area. Do most people understand this or, how should I do;)
  2. GVLandscaping

    GVLandscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 29

    Congrats on the call! Seems like from what you said you been working hard to get it I am sure you deserve it.

    Did the customer tell you what they are looking for? I know for instance my grandma what it cut weekly no matter what. Maybe that what your cutomer is wanting. Dont know gotta feel them out for that.

    Ask your customer what day they prefer. I know when I worked for another company there was this one guy that said we could have his contract as long as it was cut on friday. Needless to say thats when it was done. Then make the other customers fit to that schedule. Tell the others that you will be in such and such area on a certain day and they will most likely say ok. Most of what I have seen is that most dont care when its done just as long as its done.

    Hope I answered your questions. Again congrats on that first one its the toughest and dont I know it still currently with 0 of my own.:cry:
  3. supercuts

    supercuts LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,814

    sounds like you've been doing real thinking and have good questions. i would try NOT to ask the customer what day they preffer, but tell them it may be any day of the week. the problem you will have if you let them pick is your 2nd question, you will be driving all over to accommidate those requests. since your new, you might ask them a prefferance for the day of the week but make it clear as you grow the day may change at any time. if you let them pick now, they will want that day as long as you work for them and will get upset if you try to change it, i know from experiance. as your scedual fills up you dont want to drive across town(s) every day, but only one day out of the week. when i go to bid a new customer,i already know what day they will be done, due to their location. i know fridays im downtown, tues up north, and so on.

    you will be surprised how much time is wasted driving from one end of a town to the other, not to mention the fuel you waste pulling a rig. with about 85 accounts, we spend around $1000/month in fuel, and around half is for the truck. and we dont leave town!
  4. gardenkeeper88

    gardenkeeper88 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 350

    Easy now. it's only March & it sounds like your stressin already LOL.
    Good points. No. Indiana we start cutting mid April on a reg. weekly basis so i'll bet you will be early to mid April. we can figure 26- 28 cuts / season so you mybe 3-4 more. if you can get the customer to sign up for contract price (whole seaon and divide it for even months like 8,9,10 whatever than in march or april youwill make a little more than just a couple of cuts, plus if it gets dry & they don't water than your still making the same. If they don't water in the summer then you may have to figure less cuts per season. All my lawns are irrigated and I don't ever have to skip any when it's dry. Day of the week the first one you can put about any day but after that first one then you have to firm about the day for your routes to keep them tight. And if you tell them up front that "this is the day we are in your area" most understand. For me mon- tues are commercial days, wed is my homeowners assoc. day thurs- fri are my individual residential days. this isn't quite as tight of a route as I like but I know when I add a 2nd crew to mowing it will tighten it up. Hope this helps good luck.

  5. Woody82986

    Woody82986 LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,128

    I try to make sure that the nicer neighborhoods in my area are cut as close to Friday as possible. My clients that don't live in the nicer neighborhoods unfortunately kind of get the shaft on that one. But I want the nicer lawns to look nice when the weekend hits so more people are out and notice.
  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Get a duck whistle lol, but seriously unless you have some experience there is no way to predict the exact number of cuts, the easiest way to do it is charge per cut. You can tell them whatever you want, but I always tell them the truth:

    Sir/Ma'am, I've been doing this for x years (or this is my 1st year) and it will take 2-3 cuts for me to adjust my schedule to your yard's growth pattern, after which I should be good to go. (you'll likely want to adjust this into your own words so it comes out sounding natural, but the first few times you'll likely come off sounding a bit plastic or robotic oh well no big deal).
    That is all you need to tell them, really you'll need to communicate with them at first in order to get it right, a phone call saves fuel but you should get the hang of it in short order.

    Here's the gist of it in VA:
    The grass grows the most in early-mid spring, requiring cutting schedules from as often as weekly to every 8-10 or 12 days for about a month and it depends on the lawn, but after this it starts to slow down and keeps slowing down throughout May-Jun. Come end of May towards June, you'll want to space out your cuts towards 10-12 days and every 2 weeks, by end of June towards July most lawns grow pretty slow and I have most of mine on 2-3 weeks and Jul-Aug is generally every 3-4 weeks.
    Now in september things pick back up and it is almost like spring but not quite, for about a month, then it starts to slow back down with the cooler temps, some stop growing as early as October while others grow right up until Xmas but it is a slow growth, anyway that's about all you need to know.

    The following pointers help: A chemlawn (whether chemlawn treats it or not, I call every picture perfect lawn a chemlawn that's just me) will need it the most (meaning a fertilized lawn w/ an active sprinkler system), requiring in my case, anywhere from 20-24 cuts / season, and there's everything in between all the way down to the moss-covered mostly weeds yard which hardly needs cutting 6-7 maybe 8 times / year.

    As for scheduling, you'll have to adjust a few by a day here and there but for the most part they'll fall in place on their own. While I do my best to accomodate weekend warriors (ppl who want it cut towards the weekend), I can not guarantee it but I will do my best (and I don't tell them this part but my scheduling needs take priority over this, anyway I can usually get the weekend warriors done according to their wishes but not always).
  7. green-pa

    green-pa LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 737

    Thanks guys! Some really great insite here!!

    WALKER LANDSCAPE LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,413

    Green PA PA
    Think of this as your learning experience this first year you are going to make alot of mistakes. We all did but pay close attention to your mistakes. I would take down as much info as you can this year because you will also learn alot too. How many cuts? What not to say to a customer. "I should have charged more for that one" That last one is the one you will allways be working on.:dizzy: Get you a price list together per man hour for each of your services you are going to provide andstick to them.
    My .02 worth good luck;)
  9. StBalor

    StBalor LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 798

    Do not let them choose the day. What if this person wants it done on monday. Then the neighbor calls and wants it done on tuesday? You will have to make 2 trips to the same area in 2 days. You choose the days and the schedule. Try your best to keep them together.
  10. green-pa

    green-pa LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 737

    Yeah, that's right. If it's only like 5m from my house ( on my side of town)then I'd probably be ok with lettin' em pick a day if they were picky. But if they are 15-20m away or more, I'll just have to decline em or charge an additional upcharge for the extra trip/gas which they probably wouldn't want to pay and hopefully they would just let it fall on the day that's best for my route and thus I wouldn't loose them to comp.

    Thanks everyone for your replies! U guys are awesome!!!

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