Procedures for starting your commercial accounts!

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by alpine692003, Sep 11, 2004.

  1. alpine692003

    alpine692003 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,502

    I've been reading through some of your guys threads about garbage this and that and having to pick up stuff..

    For you guys that have commercial accounts, what are your beginning procedures for your crew and yourself before you start mowing the lawn, hedge trimming, gardenbed maintenance?

    Do you have one guy who gets on site then fully walks through the commercial site with a garbage bag and a tool picker to pick up garbage througly, ie) dog poop, bags, toys and move them out of the way..

    Then your 2nd guy starts unloading all the necessary equipment, the 3rd guy setups ie) lays down tarps, fills up equipment?

    What are some of your guys basic steps before beginning servicing the commercial accounts?

    ;) ;) ;) ;)
  2. Up North

    Up North LawnSite Bronze Member
    from MN
    Messages: 1,063

    My 3 guys (me, myself, & I) will pull into an account and my first guy (me) will get a visual scan as I drive in, then hop out of the truck and walk to an area or two where I can see the whole lawn just to get a perspective and make sure there's nothing going on I can't deal with. Then my second guy (myself) will back the Z off the trailer and start mowing. I carry a debris bag behind the seat of the Z for garbage, sticks, cans, whatever. Dog poop stays put, I won't pick it up, if the Z launches it I just make sure it doesn't land somewhere it ain't supposed to be. (usually not a problem). My third guy, (I) not sure what he does...

    Just kidding around on the me, myself, & I stuff, not trying to be a smart aleck. I actually have a couple accounts that always have a ton of garbage and I get tired of stopping & getting off the Z to pick something up. I need to find one of those long grabber things that I can just reach out and grab it as I slow down. As far as pruning, I just start snipping away and let everything fall to the ground then suck it up with my blower/vac. It's a cheap Homelite that I started out this year but now I just use it as a vac and backup blower if needed. I don't do any garden beds, but I'd probably pull the weeds, snip the dead flowers then suck them up with the vac.

  3. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,373

    Buck -

    If you've got a Home Depot either in Brainerd or Bemidji, that's where I got my garbage grabbers.

    I just carry a 3-4 gallon pail around with me in between my feet, then I can pick up the garbage as I drive up to it while mowing.

    Alpine -

    If you've got commercial accounts with toys on them, you've got some that I've never seen.

    As far as laying down tarps??????????

    There's really nothing special, just take the equipment off the trailer, start mowing. Either that or start trimming first.

    I think some people on here overthink this mowing thing a little too much sometimes.

    This isn't rocket science.
  4. jerryrwm

    jerryrwm LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,274

    Just a thought for those doing commercial accounts that have irrigation systems.

    My main business here is irrigation maintenance, and I do monthly maintenance walk-thrus on a number of properties. Some I am contracted by the LCO, and others by the management/owners of the property. There are two main repair problem areas that continually crop up on these properties.

    1. Heads damaged by vandals (read: skateboarders, bikers, and people who have too much time on their hands), heads damaged by pedestrians (read: poor installation of heads near sidewalks - people will naturally cut across corners of sidewalks and there shouldn't be 18" risers installed there), and vehicle damage (read: poor drivers jumping curbs, and parking so that the bumpers extend into the planting areas breaking the heads).
    These items are beyond the control of the LCO and are detailed in my monthly reports.

    2. Heads damaged by the LCO maintenance crews. These are usally caused by several factors which you as owner/operators can help minimize and save a lot of hassle, money, and ill feelings. The two biggest causing pieces of equipment are mowers and edgers. (Who woulda thunk it?)

    When I do a W/T it is my responsibilty to "operate every valve and see every head". This way I can see where the problem areas are. And it's not hard to see the geysers and floods where a head is supposed to be. And it's not real hard to see what caused the damage. Broken bits of plastic scattered about the lawn are a real good indicator that a mower blade has found a sprinkler head. Or that stream of water spraying out over the curb at an unusual angle coming from the head cover that had an edger blade run across it. (Steel blade vs plastic head - Blade wins) Heads that are knocked off and laying by the hole - that's a toss-up as to what caused that, and I usually designate that as a 'vandal/vehicle' damage item. (I do try to give the LCO the benefit of the doubt.)

    Now, the causes of these two main head damage problems can be a number of things.

    1. Poor installation - heads are placed too close to the curb - (On installations I will place sprinkler heads at least 3" from the walk or curb and most times 4". That will let the head water along the curb and still give enough room to run an edger by the head.) Irrigation installer's fault.

    2. Poor installation - heads are set too high. After installation the ground may have settled leaving the head exposed or they may have been set too high in the first place. Irrigation installer's fault.

    3. Defective heads - The flow tube sticks in the up position. This is usually caused by dirt and debris getting into the wiper seal and not allowing the flow tube to retract properly. May be caused by top dressing with sand and soil amendments or just a worn out head. No one's fault specifically but it is a problem none the less.

    My suggestions would be to become a little familiar with the site and the irrigation system at the start of the contract. Either do a walk-thru yourself or with the irrigation tech, and ideally with the property manager. Note the areas that the heads are too close to the hardscape areas, heads that are too high, etc. and discuss what can be done to correct the situation - ie. moving heads, lowering heads, etc. You can bill this time spent in the contract as one of those "contingency factor" line items. (I call them the OSF items - "Oh Sh*t Factor")

    Also, you might have one member of the crew walk the area and step down the heads that are sticking up. This can be done while they are doing the excess trash pick up (parking lot debris and blown paper, napkins, etc.) I especially like doing W/T at strip centers and properties that have restaurants and night clubs just for the loose cash that is laying around. (Have found $20 bills laying around several times) It only takes a few minutes to do this before the mowers and edgers head out. And this can be billed in the contract also.

    I understand that time is money because that is what I am selling also. But I have several properties that back charge the LCO for repairs that are needed because of mower damage. You may argue that a defective head that is cut off and a head that is damaged by an edger or mower shouldn't be your responsibility. But ultimately it is. You have contracted to maintain the property with all of it's little nuances and that includes the existing irrigation system regardless of how poorly it was installed. And the heads that do wear out over time and stick up are your responsibility also just like that rock or bolt or piece of wood that your mower picks up and throws through the plate glass window. It wasn't you who put it there, but your company will ultimately pay for it one way or the other.

    And I'm sure that there is not an owner among you that likes to get a backcharge of $50.00/hr plus parts for chopping off a stuck head. As I said, I do several properties for the management companies and a couple LCOs have worked an arrangement with me to fix their damage and bill them for it. Keeps the management company off their butts, and they can take corrective actions with their employees to minimize these occurances.

    Just some thoughts after doing a walk-thru on a new property that has serious issues that might have cost the LCO a ton of money and aggrivation.

    Jerry R
    alpine692003 likes this.
  5. alpine692003

    alpine692003 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,502

    Good idea .....

  6. specialtylc

    specialtylc LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,656

    I do a large shopping center here that is 40 acres in size. It has about 6 acres of turf. I have 2 guys that start off with a trash can in hand and spend 2 hours picking up the trash in the grass areas first, ahead of mowers and then do the shrub beds and islands.The other 3 crew members start the mowing and edging. We dont use trash grabbers as its way too slow. Too many small pieces of paper , etc. Any trash that is encountered by the mowers before the trash crew gets there is picked up by the operators, usually not that much.We have bags on all the mowers.
  7. alpine692003

    alpine692003 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,502

    Damn, thats some time... 2hours!
    :dizzy: :dizzy:
  8. ArmandoR

    ArmandoR LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    undefined I have seen those grabers at walmart for $7.00 :)
  9. Likestomow

    Likestomow LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 997

    I love that Minnesota humor... you betcha!
  10. Up North

    Up North LawnSite Bronze Member
    from MN
    Messages: 1,063

    Oof da yeah. Vee got that Norveejen background ya know... :D


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