Keeping customers during Florida Winter season

Discussion in 'Florida Lawn Care Forum' started by PalmValleyFlorida, Oct 26, 2016.

  1. PalmValleyFlorida

    PalmValleyFlorida LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    Hello, I am located in the Tampa Bay Area. Pinellas County to be exact. I've accumulated 25 weekly lawns since May 2016. The grass is not growing as fast now and this is my first year in business. Not really sure how to handle the fall/winter season. I've talked to some guys and they say that they make most of their money in the winter! But how? How are you keeping the monthly rate at the same price but only cutting twice a month!? How do you guys handle business the November - March Season?
     
  2. Well if your pricing it per month you explain to the customer it's an average. It averages out to essentially 3 services/cuts per month. It's harder to keep mow and blow customers with crummy lawns during the winter bc they for some stupid reason feel like they aren't getting their money's worth in the winter(even though you showed up 4x/Mo(and 2 months 5 times!)) and feel like it's not worth it to them. Full service clients it's different bc you are always doing something even if you don't need to cut the grass(spray weeds, trim, rake leaves, etc.). You basically need to spell it out for them up front and tell them how you operate your business.
     
    PalmValleyFlorida likes this.
  3. TimeToReap

    TimeToReap LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 323

    Ok here is what I found works best in Florida. Plus good solid business tips.

    Couple questions for you? How did you get your customers? What worked best that got you the most customers and not just the most customers but the better customers. Advertising the right places at at right times in the right way to the right people is everything. Your not just looking for lawns all over the place just to get lawns. You want good customers in development in a consolidated area. This makes you more money and makes your job easier. Once you control a majority of development you hire people to take that development while you work on another development and keep doing this till eventually you will have 5-6 or more developments of over 50 houses with multiple crews to where your not doing as much labor and more supervision. You will live a lot longer with a lot less pain this way and if you get sick or hurt your company doesn't go under and your left with nothing. You must push for this if you want to be successful otherwise the odds are highly stacked against you making it without tragedy striking in some way middle to later in life. You either wont be able to do it anymore or you or countless other plagues of things that all the companies that aren't lucky wind up failing as a result of. You could supervise from a wheel chair if you had to but if you had to mow lawns your done its over and you will be dependent upon others for rest of your life.

    In the beginning yes you take what you can get and there is a struggle for first year to year and half to two yearsa. You would be surprised about how little we all know about our own areas until we go out and start doing lawns in our own areas, communities, developments.

    What your really looking for is a need that a customer has that others in the industry don't fulfill on top of lawns. Now manly you want lawns but if you can fulfill a need that your customers have you will always have plenty of work and plenty of money year round. You will also be fulfilling a need that others dont and offering that on top of which you will find many of your customers will appreciate on top of not be able to find in other companies making you a sought after commodity. I will explain more on this later. But you should be thinking about that heavily. What can you offer your customers on top of or something that other companies wont do that your customers need. You need to fulfill a need of theirs besides just the lawn its an extra. Many times its really something small that doesn't require a lot of time or effort. It makes a difference

    In my first year and I am in Pasco county Florida by the way. Tampa/New Tampa area and you will see I have a unique way of thinking. I did more then just lawns. Lawns mainly but during fall and into winter especially beginning of winter season in Florida in our areas Pasco and Pinellas I did pressure washing from October to mid Jan. on top of mowing. From Oct to mid Jan pressure washing there is an abundance of.

    You also want to find a community or development where you would like to have a lot of yards and focus your attention on that community. Push hard to sell yourself to corner lots and charge the same price for a corner lot as you would for a regular house. Why? Cause your not losing on that deal at all. Advertising is expensive and time consuming. A corner lot is free advertising of your work in a prominent area that gets a lot of views from multiple directions of your work first hand many times while your doing it. Your the show and everyones watchings and believe me if its a great show people will want to pay to see it on their yard. Its great advertising of your work. When you want to take over a community you target the corner lots with great prices and your best work. People will tell you I always charge more for corner lots. Don't do it. Charge less. Your not losing money your actually getting a very effective advertisement of your work it will make you much much more money in time.

    Word of mouth will bring you the best customers. These corner lots are going to start it off. Do everything that all the other companies around you are not doing above and beyond.

    One of the main things lots of lawn care companies have a problem with that bugs the customers the most is consistency and communication.

    People don't show up regularly and do not communicate when they are coming. Call ahead say I will be out tomorrow. Even if you come the same day every week call ahead day before. If something happens let them know and around when you expect to make it up.

    Never tell them a date or time just a day (tomorrow I will be out tomorrow look forward to seeing you). If they ask what time you tell them well no guarantees but with your schedule for tomorrow your guessing around late morning, right around noon give or take, early to mid morning or somewhere around noon or in the afternoon. These are the phrases and terms you want to use. If you make this a habit it will become second nature. Never a specific on that as that way the disappointment isn't there when you tell them a time and show even 5 - 10 mins late or hour late.

    You see what I'm saying if you tell them around noon and get there at 10 am they view that as great you came early wow thats great. Even 11 am or 11:30 am. Even though you said the word around they heard noon. This is how peoples minds work and if you show up after noon they don't view you as being late because you said around noon or noonish. Where as the other way if you give them times and your late at all they view that as bad and you may never get rid of that impression of you by them even if it happens once. Alot more on these subjects later.

    Now short and as simple as possible and to your question don't charge summer mowing prices. Find out what the highest going rate is for yards the size your doing in your area for mowing and look that up on a site like Homewyse, here is link ( http://www.homewyse.com/services/cost_to_mow_lawn.html ). Punch in your zip code, square footage of yard and you will find the low and high rate in your area Take 15% off the highest price once you have a price for your yard multiply it by the amount you mow the yard in what month ( Example May-September 4 times a month, Oct-December twice a month, Jan-March once a month, April twice a month thats the monthly bill and spread it to a monthly service year round and tell them they are getting this highly discounted rate of 15% off due to the fact that you charge by the month year round then tell them you mow once a week in winter. This does amazing things. One you make more money through out the year. Not much more but you actually extracted more money while giving them a discounted rate during summer months. Two you have leverage if they want to try and switch things up on you or cancel. You just remind them, You remember I gave you the discounted rate if you cancel or change things next year when you want me back its going to be the regular rate. Three they are actually paying less out of pocket per month during busy months so your beating your competition price wise plus they all have to find extra income in winter. You don't as you have steady income coming in throughout the year plus plenty of free time cause your only mowing once a month during winter which leaves you plenty of free time to pick up extra side work or time off if you feel like. Naturally your not making what you make in summer but you still have money coming in. We as humans tend to spend money as we make it. You can't do that and you don't have to struggle budgeting so much as you will have income coming in all year. I hope you followed that and it helps some.

    Pressuring washing when your first starting out building a customer base for mowing in first year or two is a great idea. Get a used pressure washer off craigslist and throw up some adds Oct-January. Learn to fix every piece of equipment you have no matter what it will save you a ton and help you if you get in a bind. You can teach yourself through internet, youtube there is a wealth of resources so there is no excuse not to learn this stuff. Warranties run out and some times in life we all wind up short on cash flow. Its part of life there will always be ups and downs. Stay ahead of repairs. When something ususally goes or is about to go get it fixed when your making great money first. Stay ahead of your equipment. Used equipment is great if you know how to fix it. Buy it, fix it, tune it up , use it and make a killing with it, sell it for what you bought it for. Craigslist is your best friend. Hope you understood that and some of this helps. My sentences are hard to read sometimes I am by no means a great english sentence structured person. Just read it slow. Hope this helps.
     
  4. williams lcm

    williams lcm LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,450

    When advertising look for only healthy nice st.augustine lawns. They grow year round but slower in winter. I tell customers up from it so much per year with x amount of cuts. Trust me you work hard enough in the summer and the winter goes by in a blink.
     
    MoWinmoneyy and Patriot Services like this.
  5. Michael J. Donovan

    Michael J. Donovan Head Moderator, Online Communities Staff Member
    Messages: 4,388

  6. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,848

    We don't have this problem with healthy irrigated lawns. They still need at least 2 cuts a month. This is explained up front. We average 42-46 cuts a year. Sometimes 5 in a month. The price is simply averaged for everybody's convenience.
     
  7. Utah Lawn Care

    Utah Lawn Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,575

    How do you handle people who hire you in March and fire you in October because you won't be mowing as often? Do they get a fat bill for the extra work? Do you insist on contracts?
     
  8. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,848

    We don't have the firing problem. A healthy lawn with other landscaping will still need an appreciable amount of work in winter here. I'm in the exact same area as the OP. We don't use contracts. 10 years ago we did have a harsh winter that about killed most lawns off. We did not charge for those 3 months but more than made up for it in sod jobs. Mow and go might have a harder time being retained and need to sell themselves.
     
  9. Scagget123

    Scagget123 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 43

    I'm new to the game. I have two corner lots but both are biweekly. I only have 4 customers and they are all biweekly and I have a lady who is off and on. I get shut down a lot but keep trying. Should I put up signs with my business and number on the corner lots?
     
  10. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,848

    Thats up to the lot owners. IMHO it wont garner any business. Start simply with quality doorhangers, Thumbtack, CL. Market to middle class neighborhoods bear you. Takes a little money to get quality customers these days. A roadside sign especially a homemade one goes unnoticed. Where in FL are you located?
     

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