Mowing programs... Your terms vs customer terms

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by grassmasterswilson, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    I didn't really read any of the replies. But here are my thoughts on the OP.

    As you grow and get comfortable to where you have a certain number of clients and a solid income, you get to start dictating the terms. Because now you don't NEED new clients. Your only real motivation for getting more clients is if you can get more clients only on certain terms - terms that provide you with more money, more profit, more long-term stability.

    Unfortunately, a lot of LCOs never make this transition. They keep getting more of the crappy EOW and seasonal accounts they already have, thinking more is better. Well, I guess more is better than less. But really, once you get to that point where you're stable, your goal should be more to get QUALITY accounts, rather than a larger QUANTITY of crappy ones. Over time, your goal is to replace the older accounts with new ones that serve you and your company better. Where you can maximize profit and get money more regularly and for more of the year. You should also start raising your prices at this point as well. (As your company grows and gets more popular, you should always take advantage of that. Multiple price increases over the years as demand increases.)

    So you're heading on the right track.

    If I were you, I'd start figuring out which neighborhoods seem to be more likely to want Every-Week service, vs. EOW. And start focusing all of your marketing toward THOSE neighborhoods. If you aren't doing any marketing at all right now, start! There are lots of ways to market to specific areas of town. Figure out how to do that. This will drive demand from the kind of people you want.

    Next, I'd start taking on ONLY every-week accounts. The EOW stuff is crap. You'll be much more profitable and efficient if you can fill that time slot every single week with the same lawn, rather than skipping that home EOW and trying to find a home in that same area to fill it's place.

    Then, I'd offer my clients two options: 1) Seasonal Service. 2) Year-Round Service. And really, you want the year-round ones. That should be your goal. So you have to figure out ways to incentivize your new clients to CHOOSE the year-round option. First thing you need to do is make this option less expensive. Obviously, you're not going to be mowing very often during the winter months. So take some money out for that. Next, you may only be coming EOW for the winter months - or even once a month, if it's snowing or something. So figure on taking some out for that. Then come up with an AVERAGE monthly rate for your client to pay - flat fee - year round. This price needs to be a good $20 lower per month than your seasonal package will be. You will also probably have to figure out what other services you're going to offer to justify the winter service. If you're not mowing, then what are you doing in those winter months to earn your money? Pruning? Raking leaves? Winter fertilizer treatments? Blowing off decks, patios, driveways, etc? Figure out some things to add into your service that will make people WANT to keep you around all year. Provide VALUE.

    If you do this, you'll notice that more people will chose the Year-Round service over the Seasonal service, just because the monthly total is less expensive. Then you'll start getting a lot of weekly, year-round accounts. Well, weekly for most of the year anyway. But the more important thing is that you will now be getting paid the same amount each month, all year round, from these accounts. THAT'S the kind of accounts you want.

    Once you start getting a bunch of people on the year-round program, then you can eventually stop offering the seasonal program. This is all exactly how I built our lawn care operation, when I first started. Once I got about 40-50 regular accounts, I stopped offering EOW services. From then on, I only offered Every-Week services. I also added the option for year-round service, as I described above. Once I got about 80-100 accounts, I stopped offering the seasonal, weekly service option. At that point, I had PLENTY of customers to keep me and a helper busy. So I only wanted to accept new clients if they were willing to go Year-Round. Within a few years, as older clients fell off and newer clients were more of my business, we got to the point where most of our clients were Every-Week and Year-Round. Over time, all of our clients were year-round like that. Today, we have a little over 310 of them.

    If you're in an area where it isn't totally snowy or icy for months at a time, you can find ways to sell year-round service - even if the lawn isn't being mowed. You just have to work at it and market to the nicer neighborhoods who WANT that kind of service - if you have those kind of neighborhoods. Now, I realize not everyone around the U.S. has nice upper class neighborhoods where people want year-round service. I've been to cities where I could tell hardly anyone really cared for their landscape in the winter. That sucks. But for the rest of us who do have nicer neighborhoods in the areas we service, this is a good recipe for success.

    Hope that helps.
  2. oqueoque

    oqueoque LawnSite Gold Member
    Male, from Jersey
    Messages: 3,504

    Something tells me that you are not a vegetaerian.
  3. Tarheel Lawn

    Tarheel Lawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    Most of our customers understand we aren't the kid down the street mowing the grass we set up a weekday and we are there weekly or bi weekly just about 95% are weekly I charge a little more for bi weekly usually 80% are 12 month agreements all of our commercial is 12 mo weekly and I will stay that way if a commercial client wants seasonal usually ill be outbid by his cousins niebors friend the next year anyway once we clean it up and make it easy on them I have some seasonal residentials they let me know when to start and stop I make the schedule from there any extra work trimming mulch whatever they let me know when we are there or leave us a note, email, call and I do the work the next week if they need it done quick they let us know asap and we try to fit it in I try to make it as easy as possible but ITS ALOT EASIER AND CHEAPER TO MAKE CURRENT CUSTOMERS HAPPY THAN IT IS TO GET NEW CUSTOMERS I WANT TO ADD CUSTOMERS NOT REPLACE CUSTOMERS and just like everyone else I have a few that I would just about do anything for anytime they have been that good to us
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  4. grassmasterswilson

    grassmasterswilson LawnSite Platinum Member
    from nc
    Messages: 4,988

    Jim Lewis

    Thanks for the advice. In 2014 I plan on only offering weekly and eow services. I will do year round and then not sure if I do seasonal for growing season or growing and leaf season.

    I still get a lot of people who want me to bill them for the services done. I bill everything monthly. So I may still have to offer flat monthly and al a carte.
  5. 205mx

    205mx LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,393

    Come up with a monthly price for mowing. Then they are not worried about how often you are there as longs it is cut
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  6. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,296

    Contract pricing only really works where year round service is offered. Would never fly in the frozen tundra up here. People aren't going to pay for green service when it is ten below with snow on the ground. Wish I could do monthly contracts.....jealous of yall southerners.
  7. 205mx

    205mx LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,393

    I mean monthly mowing price. $175/ mo April - Oct. services prorated at $42 each in other monts.
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  8. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    You're welcome. Glad it was helpful.
  9. yardguy plus

    yardguy plus LawnSite Member
    Messages: 36

    jimlewis.....I've been in business 8 years now and my goal IS quality accounts over quantity accounts. always has been. but I still don't and never will dictate terms.

    I've been turning away business now for the past 2 years because my schedule has been full with regular weekly accounts.

    I still take requests when I can on what day of the week the client would like to be serviced.

    now I realize not everyone can do business the way I do and not everyone wants to. but there is NEVER a time you have to dictate. only a time when you want to. and for me I don't want to, ever.

    as I said I treat each and every client as I would want to be treated and I would never put up with or hire a company that dictates and has that "my way or the high way" attitude.

    just my 2 cents though.
  10. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    There are some gold nuggets in this thread. Rather large ones. :)

    The longer I’m in this business....the more I realize I do in fact know what is best for the lawn. Older clients tend to be more set in their ways I have found. From now on it will be my way or the highway. You just have to present and package it properly.

    Why would you want to be an athletic personal trainer for a client who is unmotivated and wants to dictate to the trainer how it is going to be or what is best for them when you are the trainer. There is a specific demographic of client who is the easiest to deal with as a personal trainer.

    In lawn care I’m exclusively seeking clients who will flow with my program and their lawn will absolutely rock. I have a few EOW accounts but the hassle factor really is not really worth it. I understand the budget issues but really....this is a living for me not a charity. Mowing rates here are lowish and I have even considered getting out of mowing completely unless the client is on “MY BUNDLED PACKAGE” for a level price per month and I’m in full control of fert, watering and mowing height.


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