Situation-Fixed contract price, need advice on customer

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by mcw615, Apr 11, 2011.

  1. mcw615

    mcw615 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 473

    If you're a professional company, your prices are based on time-or at least should be. This residential account I have had for 5 years, first started mowing the first three years entire lawn with 21" mower until I grew to larger equipment.

    Okay...front yard is not big, about 1,000 sf. Had to email him friday when I accidently broke an item on the property, he was okay with the situation when he replied. He did throw a didn't we agree a few years back to only use the push mower on the front lawn? I've got to call him here soon today to talk about some things. Mowing is based on time, takes 35 min with 60" to service property, to do the front takes an extra 8-10 minutes by the time I pull off 60" Z number 2, the 44" WB then un hook the 21", mow the lawn then put all the equipment back on the trailer. That adds 10.00 a cut. I have been doing the front the last 2 years with the 44" but I have the last 2 cuts used the 60".

    Its a contract, it states how often the grass will be cut, the height of each cut but not what specific equipment will be used. Always want to make the customer happy then guess its taking a hit and loosing this year and approach and say here is the price difference because it's all based on time???!?
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  2. JPsDuramax

    JPsDuramax LawnSite Senior Member
    from Georgia
    Messages: 346

    If he has been a good customer for that long, then just use the 21" for him. Yes it is a pain but you dont want to lose him over one disagreement. I've done things like this in the past, and 9 out of ten times, the customers end up referring more work to you because you took the time to listen to their issues and you addressed them. Just my two cents.
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  3. ghunter502

    ghunter502 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Kansas
    Messages: 287

    I agree I would stay with the 21" too.
  4. Flatop

    Flatop LawnSite Member
    Messages: 236

    5 Year is a long time to have a loyal customer. I suggest using the 21" I'm sure he has had a few lawn care fliers arrive at his door during those 5 years. If you don't use the 21" he will likely start looking for other LCO's who will. If I may make a suggestion, have the 21" close to the gate when your aware his house is scheduled for lawn care service.
  5. txgrassguy

    txgrassguy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,083

    First of all my cost(s) are not solely predicated upon time, rather the cost(s) are based upon a series of conditions that exist at each site evaluated independent of additional sites.
    Secondly, I disagree that five years is a 'long' time for a client - the majority of my existing client base is over eight years with quite a few over twelve now.
    To determine what step(s) one needs to take to properly maintain a particular client's property is part of the professional relationship a contractor should develop with a client. Equipment utilized is just one facet of this relationship.
    Regarding your relationship with this client only you can determine what is right or not for his property maintenance - you have seen it, we have not. Personally I see nothing wrong with changing equipment to become more efficient in the services provided as long as the finished product is not compromised. Given that your host turf is of the C3 family and the 21" stripes differently than the other equipment - the appearance is what the client is noticing and not the equipment utilized.
    So, if this is in fact the case, either mount a striping device on your other machines or agree to use the 21".
    Regardless, what you are relating wherein the client has questioned what equipment is to be utilized = something has caused him to re-assess the relationship as it exists so you can either knuckle under to the client (a tactic I personally refuse to do) and accept being less efficient or respond to the client with contract details indicating no itemized equipment is specified for maintenance meaning if the client is requesting a specific machine which lowers your efficiency than the cost for service increases.
    Sounds to me like he is shopping for a new service provider yet hasn't come right out and said this to you.
    And for those of you whom are afraid of loosing a client to a flier they may have received, well you are not doing enough to separate your business from the competition that thrives on flier type marketing. So either bend over and take what the client feels like giving you or learn how to operate a business to the degree that a client not only doesn't accept a flier they don't care to change contractors.
  6. Sammy

    Sammy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,734

    When you went to the bigger and faster equipment, did you reduce your price because it is now taking you less time ?

    Just use the 44" wb that you have been cutting it with for the past two years.
  7. Creative Cuts

    Creative Cuts LawnSite Member
    Messages: 74

    if it's only a $30 yard then let him go, u need to try to make as close to $1 a minute as possible. But i have a few yards i would do this for and others i wouldnt care if they got someone else. Only you know how important that 1 account is to your bottom line.
  8. mcw615

    mcw615 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 473

    I agree with these to an extent. Yes, each site is not based on one solid rate factor, yet the time is a guideline. You do have to separately calculate if this property is off your main mowing route course, the time to travel to the site etc. However, your base billable hour rate (Labor/Labor Burden) + (Overhead/office, shop, utilities, etc.) + (Planned profit). Then for mowing you have in addition to your base billable hour rate: Costs per hour of fuel consumed+cost of mower+mower maintenance+repairs.
  9. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,943

    Rather than fussing about returning to use the 21" mower, you should consider yourself fortunate to be his provider. You violated the understanding you had with the customer when you changed mowers. This is not the time for you to be complaining, or even making comment, about the matter. Why do you think you should remain his lawn care provider, after you violated the understanding about the mower he wanted to be used? Remember, he is the buyer, and he holds all the leverage. You work at his property at his pleasure, not yours.
  10. jsslawncare

    jsslawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,673

    Make'em happy or get rid of'em.

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