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Per Mowing Question

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by CA CLT, Jan 20, 2007.

  1. CA CLT

    CA CLT LawnSite Member
    Messages: 61

    Excuse me for possibly sounding naive after being in this business on and off (mostly on) for 22 years, but I have a question for you fellows that are in the part of the country where this is a seasonal business. I see a lot of talk about charging for "each mowing" or "per cut". Do you get to decide when to mow that yard throughout the season, or does the customer call you again and say "we're ready"? To my way of thinking, if the customer is in control of this and they are calling you every 14-16 days, your labor to go through 15 days worth of growth is a lot more than if you were mowing every 7 days. Now understand that everything out west here is done on a monthly basis, (charge for weekly service X 4.25 weeks per month), so when you guys talk about "per cut" it is a foreign concept to me and probably most other professionals in this region.

    I have worked a wide variety of residential and commercial maintenance in both Southern and Northern California, and have never charged like this, so I'm just curious as to how this works for you all. Thanks!
  2. sjessen

    sjessen LawnSite Platinum Member
    Male, from Knoxville, Tn
    Messages: 4,260

    Most of us that price on a per cut basis insist on weekly service during the peak growing season. During droughts or when the grass slows cutting times may be longer depending on circumstances. But, no, the customer does not normally decide the length of time between cuts. For those who have tried to cut their expenses this way I inform them that should expect to pay more to compensate for the extra time required to service their property.
  3. CA CLT

    CA CLT LawnSite Member
    Messages: 61

    I see. Just knowing how... ahem.... 'frugal'.... some customers tend to be, I knew there would be some who would try that tactic and wondered how you guys dealt with it.

    I'll shed some insight on our seasonal changes and how we keep the customers confident in us. We have fall to keep us really busy with leaves to start. When it starts to rain heavy we are off the turf for 1 or 2 weeks. A good fertilizer will keep our lawns green and growing throughout winter. Usually in winter every other week the turf needs mowing. In between, we do a lot of winter pruning and bed work. Admittedly, there are those weeks when everything is kind of caught up, and we go in and "make a little noise". For the most part though, there is always something to do. On the mow, edge, blow type of customers (which I try to avoid), if it is real wet or soft and we cannot mow, what I will do is tell them we will come in and do some other clean up work for them instead. Sometimes when they have seen how much better their places can look, they'll upgrade to full service in time. Its all about building goodwill and trust, and bidding it at a price that will allow everything to balance out at a good profit througout the entire year.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    Per cut is not the ideal way to bill....I used to do it this way. This past year I experimented with billing monthly and I signed up quite a few new customers and nobody had an issue with it.

    I'll continue with it this year of course...for the old customers I'll stay with per cut....eventually within a few years most clients will be on monthly.

    Combine monthly flat-rate billing with automatic credit card payments and your problems will rapidly disappear...:)
  5. CA CLT

    CA CLT LawnSite Member
    Messages: 61

    With the weekly charges it would seem that the receivables would be all over the place. I would tend to do as I have always done, and as you are doing Hoolie, and bill monthly. I like the auto deduction plan.
  6. lawnpro724

    lawnpro724 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,201

    price per cut and billed monthly
  7. Uranus

    Uranus LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 1,624

    I do the per cut method. I give them the weekly price and they can take it or leave it. I Guestimate my time there doing a spring cut when the grass is really growing and use that as my price. I dont let the customer do the "requested cut". Meaning I tell them that they may be being cut every tuesday every week. When they sign on I try to let them pick a day to be cut but I tell them I'll try my best to do it on the day they want, but we all know everybody wants to be cut between 2 and 5 pm on friday. So bottom like is I cut them on the same day (weather permiting) every week. I bill once a month and dont allow anyone to get behind on payments more that 2 months before a call and then holding back service until payment. Works good for me and that is how many of us do it up here. Some do give a discount for prepayment for the year. I will be doing the prepay next year once I get a grasp on some more of my cost and get a history of accounts going.
  8. kppurn

    kppurn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 426

    I am looking into doing things this way starting this year. Collecting money in a timely fashion is starting to become a joke. I just hope current customers don't resist the transition.

    As for per-cut, most that I know insist on weekly service and bill at the end of the month.
  9. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,889

    I charge per cut, but my charge per cut is based on weekly cutting, My customer's very rarely save money by having me cut bi. weekly because I charge more. Rarely are lawns skipped.....BUT..... Mostly when the temp is between 99 100 degrees or more out. they all get skipped because I am either jet skiing or water skiing. If their is a reason a lawn takes longer or generates excessive clippings the bill is adjusted to reflect that.
    The bottom line is so what if the customers want their lawn skipped, it is their dam lawn, they don't want it mowed for some reason that is their right But they also know they will be paying more for the next cut.
  10. CA CLT

    CA CLT LawnSite Member
    Messages: 61

    Skipping a client's property because it is hot out and I want to play, would go over like a fart in church with any customers that I've ever had. :nono:

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