Lesson Learned

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by CNE, Feb 29, 2004.

  1. CNE

    CNE LawnSite Member
    Messages: 238

    Ok, so I started my business last year in the middle of the season. I was looking for just a few clients, not too many the first year. I had already been told the minimum rate for the area is $35 which I have since found out is not set in stone. Anyway, I had posted a few business cards in the local post office and got a call from this lady asking how much I charged. I told her I would need to look at her yard to give a quote but it would be a minimum of $35. She instantly went into the spill "I had an old man doing it for $20" The "old man" she referred to was an old retired man in the town with a 30" snapper and a homemade trailer. Well, I wanted to ask, "so why are you calling me?" She said the yard was very small so I told her I would come out and look at it and see what we could work out. Turns out, the man moved and never called her back, the grass was about 6 inches high. The yard was very small like she said and I passed it every day, so I told her the first mow would be $35 to clean up the mess, and then I would do it for $25 after that. It takes about 10-15 minutes to complete when it's regularly mowed. Well, she was always at home and would pay me cash when I finished. She always had 2 20 dollar bills so I would have to give her change back. When the grass slowed down and wasn't growing as much, she told me to just check in a couple of weeks to see if it needed it. I did and it needed it so I mowed it again. This time I didn't have any change. I told her to just give me $20 and we would make it up on the next time. Again, I told her I would check back in a couple of weeks. Well, I did, it needed it, I mowed it. This day she wasn't home so I left her a note. "Mrs. Baker, sorry I missed you today. I stopped by to check your lawn. It looked like it needed one last mowing. You weren't home, so I went ahead and mowed it for you. I hope this was OK." Here comes the mistake. "If it WAS OK, you can send me a check for the $25 for this mowing and the $5 from the last mowing for a total of $30. If it wasn't Ok to mow it, then I appoligize and don't worry about the bill." Well, you think she has paid me? NOT! Boy was that a stupid thing to do. I think I'll go up on her this year if she calls. If she doesn't like it, she can try to find the "old man".
  2. mow2nd

    mow2nd LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 603

    now u know why the old man disappeared.................New customers are a scarey thing, especially if they had a service, u gotta wonder why they werent happy

    ALL AMERICAN LawnSite Member
    from Austin
    Messages: 21

    We had a customer that paid $55.00 each time we cut their yard. It was definitely a $55.00 yard (every two weeks). They happily paid each time. Then the "guy just getting started" and charging $25.00 no matter what size the yard, came along. They dropped us and picked him up. The yard was mowed each time we passed it going to other customers but there were grass clippings all over the street and the driveway. The problem comes when Mr. Just Getting Started isn't around any more because he can't make a living charging that rate. Now, that yard will never be a $55.00 yard for us, or anyone for that matter.
  4. CNE

    CNE LawnSite Member
    Messages: 238

    It was definately a cheap yard, very small. I didn't want to do it that cheap but it was either take it and have the income or she would have called someone else. Come to think of it, that might have been better. I am beginning to think that the people I asked about the minimum for the area told me $35 so I would charge that and they could charge less. I have found out since then that there are some exceptions to their rule. I had a call from one man who told me he was paying $30. I know him and he said he would rather pay me than someone he doesn't know but he wasn't willing to pay more than he already was. His yard is about a half hour job. From now on, I will charge what I think is fair and that's that. If I can average $45 or more an hour, I'm ok with that.
  5. CNE

    CNE LawnSite Member
    Messages: 238

    Oh yeah, this lady was one of those people who's yard is a burden to her and she would rather see it all die. You know the type. They would rather it die than to have to pay somebody to keep it up. She didn't care how crappy it looked when it was mowed, or if the grass was in the street. Not that I left it looking like that, but she would have been happy with some kid doing it once a month and clumps all over the yard. The type of person who doesn't appreciate extra effort from you. She has severely overgrown shrubs and trees all up the side of her house, no bed outlines just some remnant of what used to be mulch of some type. I told her I could take care of all of that for her but she didn't care about it. I really didn't want anyone to know I was her lawn care provider. They might think all of my client's yards look like that. I don't plan to call her this year and if she calls me I think I'll tell her I can't do it for $25 anymore.

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