Hypothetical for solo's

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by GSO LAWNEN4CER, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    "Decent profit" is a relative term. Back when I started up I was happy to be making $35/hr. Now I won't do anything for under $45/hr and that will only get you me and hand tools doing light work. Start adding power tools & equipment and heavy labor and my rate goes up from there. But the cost of living is high where I am, it's a realtively wealthy area and I'm not hungry for work.

    Some of my fall cleanups took a lot longer this year because they were essentially a hurricane cleanup and fall cleanup rolled into one. I generally don't give my regular maintenance customers a price up front. I just do it and send them a bill. I don't even discuss doing it with most of them, nor do they know when I'm coming. They know I'll get it done and be fair with them. New customers are different. I spell things out for them.
  2. biodale

    biodale LawnSite Member
    Messages: 184

    I use a collection agency to collect late bills. As long as the bill is justified turn them into collections. Yes, there is a cost of collections that I have to pay. But I would rather get 70% than nothing.
    I use emails as verification. The problem with verbal contracts is it is hard to prove. Most times the customer is not being dishonest, but rather truly mistaken and naive to think a job can be done for $30.
  3. PK Mows

    PK Mows LawnSite Member
    Messages: 88

    I'll start off critical and then try to explain why.

    It's very, very poor business to be so open-ended. I can't imagine not telling a Customer on the front-end how much a job is going to cost and what the timeline is. This springing a price on a Customer after the work is done is the sort of practice that makes the entire industry look bad. If I were this Customer, I would have expected teenager with a rake prices, not $35 an hour. If you wanna charge Pro prices, you gotta be a Pro.

    If you don't get it in writing, then it's your word against hers. Always provide a written estimate and have the Customer sign that estimate. If you have to adjust the price during the job, then you have to submit a change-order and have it approved and signed. If you don't do these two basic things, you can go to Court all you wish, but all that's going to happen is the Judge will ask for documentation and then decide as he wishes, and good luck with that. The onus of proof is on you, the person supplying the service, not on the Customer. And, the fact is in this situation, there was never a meeting of minds before work started, so there was never a contract, so good luck if they refuse to pay. The Courts aren't there to bail you out after you mess up, they will decide a case based on the Letter of the Law. You have no contract, you have a very weak claim.

    Now I don't get signed estimates on everything we do, there's no hardcore reason for that on a $40 cut. But if I'm going to invest the money to pay my guys 14 man hours, plus fuel, insurance, wear-and-tear, advertising, profit, etc., then I'm going to take every measure to ensure I'll get paid.

    It really does boggle my mind to see people commit to doing hundreds, even thousands of dollars of work but not spend a minute or two to get a signed contract. I think probably it's that people are either afraid of offending the Customer by asking for their guarantee to pay or that they're possibly not sure the deal is really real and want to slip in and out quietly.

    Now the problem with being afraid of offending the Customer is that a Customer who is actually going to pay promptly is not going to have a problem signing that contract. Think about it, they have no problem signing a big check, why would they be bothered signing a contract? Most people should see that as good business practice and feel more assured they are dealing with a Professional, and the estimate/contract should have language that protects them as well. And if they are hinky about signing a contract, you should probably run the other direction anyway.
  4. yardguy28

    yardguy28 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,463

    I think I pretty much agree with you if I understand you correctly. this is the way I have always felt since I've been in business.

    my prices are based off of what I consider to be a decent living and the cost of living in my area.

    I realize everyone's idea of a decent living is different and so is there cost of living.
  5. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Yes, I think we agree...you can't really say that $35 will not give you a decent profit without knowing what the cost of living and market are in an area and because we all may define decent profit differently. I can say that I can't work for $35/hour and make what I consider to be a decent profit.
  6. RussellB

    RussellB LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 8,748

    I never start a job without first knowing exactly what the customer wants and giving them an estimate. Your price does not sound unreasonable but they should have been advised prior to commencement of work. Same applies to auto mechanics working on my car or the guy working on my air conditioner.

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