Mowing a ton of rough properties for one customer

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by southerncomfortlc, Jun 23, 2013.

  1. southerncomfortlc

    southerncomfortlc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    I currently mow for a local home builder who has around 60 properties to care for at any given time. I received this customer this year which is our first year in business. In order to get him as a customer we had to come close to matching what his previous guy was charging him, which meant going a bit cheaper then i would have liked to. Our rates are as follows
    Lots with homes: $35 usually 1/4-1/2 acre
    Empy lots: $25
    Construction lots:$25
    Ditch lines: $65 for 1-5 lots, $100 for 6-10, $150 for 11-15, and $200 for 16-20

    My only issues with this builder are that his empty lots are currently very overgrown, and that he has us mow for his parents at $60 for 2 acres on a crappy lot.

    What do you guys think I should do? im not really in a position to reject this guys work as he is throwing us over $2600 a month in work but his empty lots are taking up a lot of time to get them in order, not to mention being extremaly rough on our mowers.

    My options are as follows
    A. Try to renegotiate for the first mows, and then go back to the normall rates after we get them in order. After his empty lots are mowed he will be having us mow them once a month

    B. Reject mowing the empty lots. keeping his ditchlines maintained is his main priority so this shouldnt be a big deal (especially considering it does not look like his last guy mowed the lots in over a year)

    C. Suck it up, do them the first time for the qouted price
  2. MyLawnCareLLC

    MyLawnCareLLC LawnSite Member
    from NE Ohio
    Messages: 67

    I have a customer who has a few rental properties that we started doing this year and I was in the same situation. I talked to the owner and we negotiated on the first mows because the grass was overgrown and then after that we went back to the normal prices and he had no issue with it, I would suggest you talk with them because you already service him. I would only agree not to or drop the empty lost if your able to afford the work. You have to decide if it is worth dropping it and saving wear and tear on equipment and time or if its worth the money over the course of the year after the first cut.
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    GOATMAN GEORGE LawnSite Member
    Messages: 88

    I've had this problem and am still in one, I don't think I will ever match any price the customer claims he was paying, unless it was 5% MAX less than my bid I might consider it.

    I matched it on customer with some high image commercial accounts, but I am pretty much breaking even with a 2 man crew there on the weekly mowing. There is too much time picking up trash. I am making money on the fert/weed control and also got his 1 acre property to treat for the season so I am keeping him.

    A)If you break even on the first month but get it for the rest of the season it is probably worth it and I wouldn't say anything since you already committed.

    B)If you think you are going to continually lose you have to explain to him that made a mistake accepting the job at the previous price and can't perform to his expectations at that price. Offer an adjusted bid or decline his business.
  4. jsslawncare

    jsslawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,673

    Never believe the customer when they tell you what they were paying. They just want the cheapest rate. And like the guy before you who got the same story and matched the pricing of the "old guy" It's too much work for the price that's being charged. Always bid at rate that you make money and the customer's happy with the price. You are in business to make money, right?
  5. Snyder's Lawn Inc

    Snyder's Lawn Inc LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,530

    $2600 work each month for 60 properties. How many total hours you have in the 60?
    Sound like you need re look at this That sound really cheap.
    Like you said you step down to customer price.

    What type mower you using to mow over grown lots?

    You might want get a small tractor and a bushhog .
  6. LBOperator

    LBOperator LawnSite Member
    Messages: 209

    A sound idea
  7. southerncomfortlc

    southerncomfortlc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 20

    The thing about his lawns is yes they are cheap compared to what we charge residential (which i usually bid at what works out to be $1.25 a min) but most of this guys neighborhoods have multiple properties in the same neighborhood. for one of his empty lots its $25 but after the ditchline is factored in we usually get $35-40 which would come to around $1 a min if the lots were maintained more. right now his lots are crap and they take 2 hours or so a piece. I think I am going to suck it up for the first month because after that we will be good. Come next year though I may drop him as ill have enough residential work to afford to do it.

    Btw: he only wants his fields mowed once a month but the ditchlines twice monthly.

    Also we have a World Lawn 52", an Exmark metro 36wb, , we are in the process of upgrading to dixie though for our Z.
  8. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,568

    I would look at a scut with a mid mount and small bush hog
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  9. Snyder's Lawn Inc

    Snyder's Lawn Inc LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,530

    So by the math takes you around 34 hrs to do all 60, way the fuel price + your labor are you making anything
    Dang 52'' and 36'' mower You better buy a bigger mower.
    3360 DC is a Horse But I'll give you some more advise. To mow tall grass and you looking at a DC buy a manual deck the Electric Pto cant handle the tall grass you'll burn up the clutch. I found out hard way. I tried it once
    I still have 6 manual decks My Lot mower I use is a 2006 3372 a non Electric PTO
    Last lot I mowed was 6.8 acres and mowed it in 3 hrs I only mow it twice a year I used 3372. The key with a mower is only take half of the deck and other half over lap the last pass so you double cut on one pass.

    Good luck this year
  10. mikesturf

    mikesturf LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 797

    Great advice. He will drop you as soon as he gets a price cheaper than yours. he probably goes through landscapers yearly.
    I would not buy new equipment either just for this customer.

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