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Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by LAZERLAWS, May 4, 2007.


    LAZERLAWS LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16

    I'm new to the lawn business here in central Florida and had a question.As I read on this forum I only see people talking about charging by the cut for residential acc. why not charge a monthly rate?

    LAZERLAWS LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16

    The reason I'm asking is I just started mowing this summer I only have a few acc. Two of them signed a 12 month contrat with me for $90 a month with 1/4 acre lots.I'm I cutting my self short or i'm I on the right track?
  3. AllAmericanlawn

    AllAmericanlawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 275

    $30 minimum per cut or your low ballin were i come from. That would be $120 a month unless you have 5 weeks in a month.
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    This is where my problem with contracts begins, and ends...

    There is no way you will be cutting no lawn come July-August with anywhere the frequency that you will be cutting it during spring. It just doesn't happen, at least as a rule, once the heat comes around ALL lawns go dormant, even if we stay on track with rain and a lawn is fertilized and irrigated, it still does not need weekly cutting... Nor can most lawns sustain weekly cuts, once it gets hot and dry, if you even try to keep cutting weekly you will burn and kill your lawns, and I can not see most customers going for this.

    What I do see are two things: First, I see a lot of new Lco's fixing to make the same mistake I made my first year, and that is to assume that you can cut weekly the entire season. Simple fact is, you can't. You might get a few who don't realize what is going on, thou it's pretty hard to miss a big brown patch that used to be green all around your house... Either way, once the lawn is dead there is no more growth, so then comes the problem of justifying how you're cutting nothing.
    Some kind of way, I foresee most any Lco attempting to cut weekly past the spring season taking some kind of a loss, either that or compromise and agree with customers that lawns really only need cutting every 10-12 days through June, then every 2 weeks or longer intervals after, until just into September when things pick back up a bit.

    You can try and sustain weekly cuts through June, the healthiest lawns can handle it with minor spotting, but beyond that the whole lawn first develops yellow dry spots, and if you cut it even one more time before it recovers, then it will turn brown and once it turns brown, the lawn is dead and I would imagine you are done.
    Oh, I forgot to mention the possible liability, thou I think most will let you off the hook, but there's going to be some awful fried customers out there...

    Second, I see customers signing these contracts that compensate for the summer months by offering a slightly lower per month rate, so they get you to cut the grass right now when it grows like crazy, because it's worth it to them. Then, when it gets hot and dry and you're not out there but twice a month (if that often), suddenly they all take the 'get out of this contract' clause and call you to tell you they will no longer need your services. A few will lag out, meaning ooops we forgot to cancel right away, so you get 1-2 cuts into it and perhaps the July bill, but with a 2-week notice at least the smart ones will start calling around mid-June, I would suspect.

    Either way you're finished, or am I missing something here?
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I can see it now, John and Pablo customer (names irrelevant, made up):

    Hey John, check this out, I'm going to cut my grass cheap and easy this year.
    J: huh?
    P: Look, call one of these contract guys, first talk him down from the usual 35 to 30, right?
    j: Yeah, ok...
    P: That's 14% off, then get a 3/4 deal because of the summer months (assumed rest of explanation for brevity) so I get 8 cuts for 180 bucks, dig it?
    J: Yeah, so?
    P: That's 8 cuts for the price of 6, another 25% on top of 14% = 39% off...!
    J: Hmmm, what about when it gets hot?
    P: Easy dude, first make sure to cancel the contract on time, then call that per-cut Lco and tell him I want 'season-round service,' now I gotta pay him regular price, don't try to talk this guy down, just agree readily to whatever price, like $35 a cut.
    J: I'm listening...
    P: Get that per-cut guy to cut it 3 times during the worst of the heat, man I'm talking 108+ heat index, but all it needs it is once every 3 weeks or so, so 3 x 35 = 105, plus the original 180, I'm out just under 300.
    J: ahhh-hah, then what about sep-oct?
    P: Shoot that ain't bad, it's cooler and it grows a bit, cut it myself then, don't forget to tell the per-cut guy around end of august that 'hey thanks for the help, I'm going to take over now.'
    J: Not sure I get you thou...
    P: I cut it myself 3-4 times, that's it, do the math... Fuel, labor, and the stupid mower and all that sweating, ain't it worth 300 / year to have a couple of these guys you see all over the place sweat it out through the worst of it?
    J: You know, hand me a beer, lets talk about this one some more.

    No way?
    Oh, yes way.

    LAZERLAWS LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16

    I got $90 a month by figering here in florida you cut roughly 36 times a year.With the amount of rain we get here through out the summer.Through out the growing season you mow four times a month and in winter month (nov.-late Feb.) once a month.I could be wrong with my info or even have no idea what i'm talking about but that's the info I gathered.
  7. Prestige-Lawncare

    Prestige-Lawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 753

    You've got the right idea for a 12 month contract ... and here's how you cover yourself. Figure out what it would cost your customer to have your service for the entire year at a slightly higher rate. To keep them from dropping you mid-season (the hot months) ... have your escape clause read that if they cancel early, all previous cuts are then charged at the higher rate, and the final payment to get out of the contract is the difference in what they actually paid for the "contract price", and what they would have paid you for the per-cut price.

    Contracts for 12 months (especially up here in the northern states) work to the benefit of both yourself and your customer. Your customer pays a "budgeted" monthly rate ... and you have income during the winter months as well. The key to making it work is to make sure it is stated in the contract that early termination requires that the customer pay a higher adjusted final bill.

    Works with good customers ... the PITA customers are the ones you have to stay on top of. And remember ... the escape clause is only as good as your following through on collecting the pay-off. You can not be afraid to take someone to court because of their breach of contract.
  8. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,465

    We do a 12 month contract and it doesn't matter when they sign up it goes until June of next year if they sign now. We dont' worry about the fact that they are behind we like the winter money. People like a fixed amount and they are more likely to pay on line or have some other auto method of payment. Can't run a big business trying to chase payment per cut. And if the people cancel in November we have penalty cost of each visit which ends up costing them a lot...so most change their mind after trying. Contract is simple and easy to understand.

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