Leaf Clean Up Am I Crazy

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by Wright48, Oct 31, 2010.

  1. Wright48

    Wright48 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 291

    This year has been very dissapointing for my fall clean up schedule. I sent bids to all of my customers and only about 40% came back so far. A few people said its to much money that im charging for the clean up. This person has a 6,000 sq ft. property loaded with trees and the back yard is fenced in. I gave her a quote of 485.00 to do the clean up witch means I come twice in the month of november. Am I over charging or are people really that cheap ?!:hammerhead:
  2. Lbilawncare

    Lbilawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,119

    People start to get cheap at the end of the season, unfortunately. 6000sq ft is small for that much money, but without seeing pics you may be right on. Customers don't realize that we have to pay to dispose of their leaves, and it is harder physical work than mowing, not to mention the freaking dust !
  3. MDLawn

    MDLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    People are kinda cheap but its hard to say. Today I was approached by someone wanting thier lawn mowed and leaves mulched (I was doing this on a property as they watched for a minute). They started to pull out a few dollar bills, literally just a few dollar bills. I then say that I charge my customers at a certain rate which is around $XX.XX, or double mowing rate. The look was the priceless one of "What 10 bucks isnt enough for this job?" I just said sorry and told him no. Its tough because its crunch time and people need this done before the snow flies around here but their wallets are already frozen shut. I think with leaves they know they can get out there with a rake and do it but its a pita so then they try to find the first sucker to do it cheap. Work is work, time is time, and I'm not doing it for free. I want to make some money. I think there can be times when I am too high and need to adjust but I am selling a convenience service.

    STIHL GUY LawnSite Fanatic
    from CT
    Messages: 5,226

    i hate cheap people that expect you to work for $10 an hour
  5. Big Bad Bob

    Big Bad Bob LawnSite Bronze Member
    from zone 5
    Messages: 1,074

    Also, 90% of my breakdowns occur while doing leaf cleanups. It is hard on equipment.
  6. sdk1959

    sdk1959 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 909

    I don't do leaf removal, but mulch instead over several visits for properties with a lot of trees. One property is almost an acre I mulch and charge $85.00 a visit for 6 visits or $510.00 total. On this property if I did leaf removal I wouldn't take a dime less than $800, it would easily take a 4 man crew 7 hours for a end of season leaf clean-up including travel time to the dump. Takes me about 2-2.5 hrs per mulching visit depending on the amount of leaves. It includes blowing out the leaves in the beds, under the shrubs, all hard surfaces.

    Now before you automatically write off mulching because of the predominate anti-mulch mindset on Lawnsite and the "oh my, bits of leaf mulch on the lawn, so unprofessional" mantra let me ask you this, do you talk to your customers? Do you know what THEY want out of their service? Not what you THINK they want. Did you know if you talk to your customers you will find most of your customers don't expect their lawn to look like some pristine fairway at a golf course after a fall clean-up whether the leaves are mulched or picked-up and removed.

    Talk to your customers, you will find what their real expectations are, then you can truly meet those expectations, not guess at them. A lot will be open to the idea of leaf mulching over several visits if explained right and most will not notice bits of leaf mulch and the ones that do could care less. All they know is you will make regular visits, the yard will look nice when your done, and it's a little less money too vs leaf pick-up and removal.

    The reason I mention all this is Salesmanship is ALMOST NEVER mentioned in these forums. Most posters on here refer to individual customers as " a account" and customers as "accounts" some even say it when talking to a customer. Little wonder they have little "account" loyalty. Your one of the few here that didn't use the term "account" but used the term "customer" and referred to that customer as "this person". Keep doing that, it's a step in the right direction.
  7. Big Bad Bob

    Big Bad Bob LawnSite Bronze Member
    from zone 5
    Messages: 1,074

    I talk to mine, when they are on site that is. I never see some of them but most of the ones I do talk to and try the mulch program on, simply want the leaves removed. I have even had them call me to tell me the last visit was unacceptable and could I please pick the leaves up from now on. I can tell them about it saving them money and most seem insulted. I have one who bluntly told me to let him worry about what he can afford. I have even done a demonstration mulch on their lawn and most still want it picked up. I guess if you can get away with it in your area, with your customers, more power to you. It's not what they want here and they are willing to pay extra for it.
    I say give it a try though and see if it flies. Nothing wrong with it if you can get them to take it, I guess. I have a mulch kit for my Toro that hardly gets used after September.
  8. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,028

    If you have customers like Bobs then remove them and get paid well for it. If you have educated the customer and they know there are options, do the option they want as long as they have no problem paying.
    My customers don't complain about mulched leaves because they know I do a final vacuuming and everything looks good in the end. I will say that only one guy doesn't want them mulched and I agree as they are 90% Oaks. We blow them off and vacuum withm the Walker however the price does increase because of this and he understands.
    If you don't listen to the customer eventually the customer will find someone who will. I learned this in my first early years when I did things "my way". I don't cater to every little whim of a customer but if I can do something to help out and make money then I will do it. If its a constant complainer or a person who is too picky I will not work for them and I will actually recommend other LCO's who may be able to help them. So far that has worked well for me.
  9. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    keep in mind that any homeowner with a leaf rake and a tarp can do their own clean-up. you don't need any high dollar tools...
  10. MDLawn

    MDLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    I completely agree with this and believe thats why it is such a hard sell because all they see is a 19.99 tarp, 5.99 rake, and can watch their kids, if the have any, do the work.

    I think mulching leaves is definitely customer specific. If someone wants them gone then take them, if they want them mulched then mulch them and price it accordingly. My full clean ups are more expensive than weekly mulching and most people choose mulching because of that. Even with mulching I remove alot of the leaf debris after it's shredded. I do have a few customers that don't have trees on their lots but I know they would not want mulching.

    This is a service idustry and we a providing a service that a customer wants and you need to follow accordingly unless you cannot provide it or if there is something that goes against a standard practice. When you get a haircut the barber or stylist doesnt just cut it the way they want it, they ask "how do you want it done?"

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