Leaves: Customer vs Landscaper Discussion

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by Darryl G, Oct 19, 2012.

  1. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    I just thought I'd open up a discussion regarding dealing with customers and their wants, needs and perceptions regarding leaf cleanup vs the way we as lawn care/landscaping professionals see it. I'm not having any particular problem at this point, but it's always an ongoing battle every season for me to get customers to understand that I can't let every leaf fall off every tree on every property I service before mobilizing for cleanups.

    Case in point: I knew we had some wet weather coming so I ran around this week servicing properties...mowing and cleaning up any leaves that were down already and dropping their cutting height down 1/4 to 1/2 inch. On some of my properties with maples and birches and white pines, there are quite a few leaves down already. The oaks are still not dropping much. The way I see it is that I got their yards cleaned up and the grass cut before the leaves got all wet and matted in long grass. I did the getting while the getting was good so to speak. The way most customers see it is that I wasted their money, because with the rain and wind we're getting now, you can hardly tell I was there. Customers seem to see leaf cleanup as an event, whereas I see it as a process that is repeated, going around to each of my properties until either they're all cleaned up or winter sets in.

    I'm to the point where I have my customers "trained" relating to how I do my cleanups, but I still get them asking me to come back next week when there are more leaves down. Mind you, the grass is still growing at a pretty good rate on my nice lawns, and they need cutting anyway. On the crappy, unfertilized lawns it's no so much of an issue. So far I have just done what I've wanted...I haven't had any customers insist that I not service their lawn, but I just know that the owners of the yards I did yesterday are saying to themselves that it was a wasted effort to do their lawns right before they get dumped on again.

  2. Blades Lawn Maintenance

    Blades Lawn Maintenance LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Montague, NJ
    Messages: 1,237

    Well Ive never had to deal with fall cleanup so I'd like to see what some will say
  3. unit28

    unit28 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,554

    I've stayed in direct contact with everyone, and kept repetitive schedules
    with clean ups.

    I've only had one non compliant customer this season.
    This particular customer has never had an issue except this year. I did offer a good bi weekly rate, but they have put me off. When I give them the final offer I'm sure they'll scream about it. Communication is key. But in regards to what the weather will do
    always expect the worst. I've had wind blown and sometimes dramatic leaf drop happen before I'm done on all of the lawns. If I've passed through that area of the lawn and leaves start coming down where I just cleaned, I may or may not re-clean it before I load up and take off until next week. Since I'm running this on pre-set schedules, the customer always knows what to expect. Keeping a repetitive schedule equals affordable pricing.

    Leaves fall according to photosynthesis, species type and weather.
    And what's worse,..... is neighbors with trees to.
    I'm not eating a few hundred bucks on leaves from non compliant customers.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2012
  4. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    I don't really discuss things much with my regular customers. They know the deal already. I just show up and bill them. I have one that does some of it herself, but otherwise I do the cleanups on all of my mowing accounts. The only reason I called one of them was because she was behind on payment and she was up for a service on my schedule. The funny thing is that after we talked she called back to say not to come, but I was already out on my route. It wasn't until after I was already in progress that I found out she had called, but when she saw how many leaves I was blowing out of the grass she understood.
  5. orangemower

    orangemower LawnSite Silver Member
    from pa
    Messages: 2,768

    I have quite a few leaf clean ups each season. Some don't really need a actual clean up once the grass stops growing. One particular property DUMPS leaves to the point I can't mulch them after like the third week of doing them. I have to start bagging. Last year I had piles of leaf dust laying everywhere after the third week mulching. It took 3 more clean up visits that took about 3-4hrs each time to finish up for the season at one of them. Over 60 trees on a 1 acre lot! Last fall they had a company come in and remove 8 large trees so this season might not be AS bad though I already started mulching leaves. It's been 9 days and he called today to let me know they need mulched again. :)
  6. C Jovingo Landscaping

    C Jovingo Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 436

    I let new clients know that clean up in stages is cheaper than 1 big clean up. I tell them that if I wait & do 1 big, the leaves will be thick & wet, making it hard to use blowers to move them. More raking + tarp dragging = more time, more money.
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  7. rviviano23

    rviviano23 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 1

    hey guy green hornet landscaping here. what i do is charge alittle bit more on top of the cut every week I'm there. that way it covers me for the extra time spent, then do a final cleanup. i always send out a memo to all clients letting them know what is going on. i tell them $5,10,15,or $20 would be added according to the amount of leaves that fall from week to week. usually not a problem. why should i clean and cut every week for the same price and then have the client tell me they don't need a cleanup because you did a nice job keeping up from week to week. that's B S that has worked for me for 20 yrs. later. east northport ny long island
  8. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    I also add a little bit to their mowing price if necessary until it's full-blown cleanup time. On some properties I can save enough time elsewhere to not have to charge them extra at first, such as doing an abbreviated trim. I don't usually do a lot of mulching of leaves....I'll take it as far as a double cut and if that isn't going to do it I'll just bag it rather than running it over forever. Pretty much I mulch when leaves are at the nuisance level but once they're blanketing the lawn I bag them. On a lot of my properties I can just blow the heavy accumulations to the woods and then just bag it. A lot of my properties are in the woods, literally just a clearing in the woods.
  9. LawnScapers of Dayton

    LawnScapers of Dayton LawnSite Silver Member
    Male, from Dayton, OH
    Messages: 2,572

    As of Oct 1 I switch to biweekly visit to all my regulars....mowing and cleanups. Trimming is reduced to a minimum...... So far we are mulching, bagging etc. This week we will most likely move in to blowing and using the vac trailer heavily.... Although many on this weeks route have curbside municipal pickup. I have 1 employee with me and we are typically able to do 12-15 clean ups per day. I dump the 16 cu yard vac trailer at a local organic farm for free....

    leaf trailer (2).jpg
  10. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    So do you bring you mowers out with you on another rig when you're using the dump trailer? That's similar to the setup I had one year but working solo it was a lot of work to get all the leaves to my trailer and suck them up. I seem to do better running my Lazer in my dump trailer, grinding and bagging them. It's not like sucking them up isn't work. You have to either handle the nozzle or lay it down and rake to it. It just seemed I was more worn out doing it that way and didn't make any faster progress. Granted there are some properties where it's more efficient, but overall I didn't like it. If I had a dump truck rather than dump trailer that might be different.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2012

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