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I understand those having a rough time with the dry weather, so I have a few solutions for you.

1st explain to your customers as they depend on you, you depend on them. I tell them I understand there may be times when the grass isn't growing, however we still need to get paid, they are expecting to spend the money anyway. Let them know you cannot control the weather, however when the season is good or in the spring they expect you to be there weekly or whatever your arrangement is if we do get a few weeks where the turf isn't growing as rapidly, advise them you will still come by edge sidewalks, driveway, pick up any trash etc. and bill them for their regular cycle. If they object then kindly tell them if we are going to provide a dependable service then we need to know our revenues that are expected to come in, them let them know that by you providing a service to them and they expect you to skip during period of dryness, that you have the right to drop them if a lawn comes along that is irrigated that will need weekly service. Usually they understand. Let them know this is how you, your employee's support yourselves. We have great success with this and would you believe it, our customers take us seriously. Men, women, we are not a matter of convenience for our customer we are in demand just like, heating/Air, mechanics, etc. Sure you can use this time to sell more work, but you still need to know your revenues. Also charge a monthly amount and those that select to pay it mow there 1st cutting with a discount and there last with a discount. hope this helps, and you don't have to wait until next season to implement this.
 

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Ahhhh,, now comes the difference between Men & Boys in this business of lawn & landscape. The part-time / week-end warriors cant make it in tough times when the only service they truly provide is a "cheap" quick cut and trim !!! The regular FULL - TIME business owners provide a true weekly service to their customers and can retain them during these "tough times" when mother nature is stingy with the liquid H2O.

BTW.....we offer full service watering to all of our customers who do not have installed irrigation systems.

:cool2: Man I love this country AMERICA
 
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how do you offer the watering without irrigation systems?? Im from Indiana also and am just starting out, this weather has to break soon, or so id think.
 

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i just dont see people in my area paying someone not to do something.when you go out somewhere to eat would you pay for your meal if you had to go in the kitchen and cook it.would you take your truck to a mechanic and you fixed the truck but still had to pay him. i know i wouldnt. people are willing to pay good money for a good service in my area, but they not willing to pay if you dont do anything. but i also understand different parts of the country are more better for are business then others
 

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Drought and dry conditions are a part of the business. And it's also why you can't charge $15 to cut a lawn, and why you have to plan ahead, and understand what is involved in pricing. A good businessman recognizes that the $$ you get for your 30 min on a property isn't all profit now, but rather you have to deduct expenses and plan for the times when it is dry and make that $$ stretch to cover that.
 

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Joe'slawnmowing said:
how do you offer the watering without irrigation systems?? Im from Indiana also and am just starting out, this weather has to break soon, or so id think.
Joe...we have vehicles equipped with water tanks / pumps and also equipped for flood type watering and large droplet spray nozzles. Most of our non-irrigated commercial properties have a "status" symbol thing going on and they are to cheap to have us install a system, but will pay us to water and keep the turf green.
 

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kh5150 said:
Joe...we have vehicles equipped with water tanks / pumps and also equipped for flood type watering and large droplet spray nozzles. Most of our non-irrigated commercial properties have a "status" symbol thing going on and they are to cheap to have us install a system, but will pay us to water and keep the turf green.
I understand you are providing the water but do you charge like a fert and squirt minus the chem cost then?
 

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We charge the same amount every week, regardless of whether the lawn needs to be cut or not.. There will be times during heavy growth, that it needs to be double cut.. Then there will be times with no growth at all..

It all evens out in the end. Also our payment plans are setup for 25-30 cuts.. No refund if 25 cuts are met. Our average is 28-31..

Separates the men from the boys is right..
 

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qualitylandscaping said:
We charge the same amount every week, regardless of whether the lawn needs to be cut or not.. There will be times during heavy growth, that it needs to be double cut.. Then there will be times with no growth at all..

It all evens out in the end. Also our payment plans are setup for 25-30 cuts.. No refund if 25 cuts are met. Our average is 28-31..

Separates the men from the boys is right..
I just don't get how you guys (gals) can operate on a per time cut. This is exactly what will drive you out of business.

I used to operate years ago like this, until I came to the realization that it's hard to make the paymets without rain.

I too run full service contracts. Fertilizer / spraying included. Here in MN, I base it on 22 cuts / year, 4 applications, spring / fall cleanup, then divide by 6 months.

People can budget the lawn mowing and I can have a budget for my business.

What are you going to do when you're mowing 3 or 4 lawns / week because it's dry, and the transmission goes out on the truck??

What are you going to do when the lawns are dried out for 2 months and you need to make the house payment??

You've GOT to get paid each month. If your current customers don't go for it, as you add new customers, sell it to them this way, and drop the old ones that won't go for it. As you younger guys get older, you'll realize you'll need to operate this way to make a living.

Tell them if they want a lawn service for the long haul, then they need to support your life. If not, then you need to find someone else. If you can't find anyone else, then you've better start looking for other income, because this isn't going to get it done.
 

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qualitylandscaping said:
We charge the same amount every week, regardless of whether the lawn needs to be cut or not.. There will be times during heavy growth, that it needs to be double cut.. Then there will be times with no growth at all..

It all evens out in the end. Also our payment plans are setup for 25-30 cuts.. No refund if 25 cuts are met. Our average is 28-31..

Separates the men from the boys is right..
There you go!!!!.....

And that's exactly right, seperates the men from the boys, in that the men have a 'pair' and a contract and get paid regardless. The boys have none of this and let the customer decide for them on a weekly basis when they have permisson to cut and get paid. It's just that simple.

Now, I said simple, but that does not mean this is an easy thing to execute simply because there are too many of those who don't have a 'pair' and/or do other things to make ends meet.

All of this is written in my contracts. So I go over it, explain the ins and outs, and SELL the reasoning behind my policies. Not everyone will agree to it though. But after my sales pitch, if they don't understand, agree and sign... then I WALK.

Yeah, it hurts to WALK on a job for this reason sometimes. But in my experience I have found that this is a painful MUST if you want to avoid problems, sign good customers and actually make any sort of reliable income/profit.

What I found out is, once I made this a COMPANY POLICY and a WRITTEN part of my CONTRACTS.... the only existing customers that did not sign were the penny pinching PITA ones on the list. I also found that when I 'folded' on this and made an exception to solidify a contract.... it was nothing but problems and I should have just walked.

In all honesty, it usually all does really even itself out in the end as far as total difficulty/total annual growth removed/total work hours invested.... and for the last 3 seasons, I guess you could say I've really been on the loosing end of the deal due to all the rain we have had.

BUCK UP OR SUCK UP.
The choice is yours.
 

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qualitylandscaping said:
We charge the same amount every week, regardless of whether the lawn needs to be cut or not.. There will be times during heavy growth, that it needs to be double cut.. Then there will be times with no growth at all..

It all evens out in the end. Also our payment plans are setup for 25-30 cuts.. No refund if 25 cuts are met. Our average is 28-31..

Separates the men from the boys is right..
There you go!!!!.....

And that's exactly right, seperates the men from the boys, in that the men have a 'pair' and a contract and get paid regardless. The boys have none of this and let the customer decide for them on a weekly basis when they have permisson to cut and get paid. It's just that simple.

Now, I said simple, but that does not mean this is an easy thing to execute simply because there are too many of those who don't have a 'pair' and/or do other things to make ends meet.

All of this is written in my contracts. So I go over it, explain the ins and outs, and SELL the reasoning behind my policies. Not everyone will agree to it though. But after my sales pitch, if they don't understand, agree and sign... then I WALK.

Yeah, it hurts to WALK on a job for this reason sometimes. But in my experience I have found that this is a painful MUST if you want to avoid problems, sign good customers and actually make any sort of reliable income/profit.

What I found out is, once I made this a COMPANY POLICY and a WRITTEN part of my CONTRACTS.... the only existing customers that did not sign were the penny pinching PITA ones on the list. I also found that when I 'folded' on this and made an exception to solidify a contract.... it was nothing but problems and I should have just walked.

In all honesty, it usually all does really even itself out in the end as far as total difficulty/total annual growth removed/total work hours invested.... and for the last 3 seasons, I guess you could say I've really been on the loosing end of the deal due to all the rain we have had.

BUCK UP OR SUCK UP.
The choice is yours.
 

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qualitylandscaping said:
We charge the same amount every week, regardless of whether the lawn needs to be cut or not.. There will be times during heavy growth, that it needs to be double cut.. Then there will be times with no growth at all..

It all evens out in the end. Also our payment plans are setup for 25-30 cuts.. No refund if 25 cuts are met. Our average is 28-31..

Separates the men from the boys is right..
There you go!!!!.....

And that's exactly right, seperates the men from the boys, in that the men have a 'pair' and a contract and get paid regardless. The boys have none of this and let the customer decide for them on a weekly basis when they have permisson to cut and get paid. It's just that simple.

Now, I said simple, but that does not mean this is an easy thing to execute simply because there are too many of those who don't have a 'pair' and/or do other things to make ends meet.

All of this is written in my contracts. So I go over it, explain the ins and outs, and SELL the reasoning behind my policies. Not everyone will agree to it though. But after my sales pitch, if they don't understand, agree and sign... then I WALK.

Yeah, it hurts to WALK on a job for this reason sometimes. But in my experience I have found that this is a painful MUST if you want to avoid problems, sign good customers and actually make any sort of reliable income/profit.

What I found out is, once I made this a COMPANY POLICY and a WRITTEN part of my CONTRACTS.... the only existing customers that did not sign were the penny pinching PITA ones on the list. I also found that when I 'folded' on this and made an exception to solidify a contract.... it was nothing but problems and I should have just walked.

In all honesty, it usually all does really even itself out in the end as far as total difficulty/total annual growth removed/total work hours invested.... and for the last 3 seasons, I guess you could say I've really been on the loosing end of the deal due to all the rain we have had.

BUCK UP OR SUCK UP.
The choice is yours.
 

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This is the second or third thread I've seen on basically this same subject lately, and with good reason, the lawncare business is highly dependent upon the weather, especially the amount of precipitation.

Here is my take on the subject, for what it is worth. Mowing is not my full-time occupation, so I, perhaps, can afford to be more objective than those of you who are in the lawncare business expecting it to provide a decent living for you and your family, but I hope everyone realizes that objectivity, even about yourself, is not necessarily a bad thing.

If your properties are commercial or govenment contracts, where you get paid X number of dollars each month, with the stipulation you keep the grass mowed to such and such a height, then I suspect most of you would pray for a drought. Such was the case with a friend of mine, who, for years had the bulk of his business under government contracts, and got paid whether he mowed or not. A dry summer made him money, a wet one cost him.

If, however, as I'm sure 90+% of you do, service more residential accounts on a per mowing basis, then I believe you have to operate under a different set of rules, and expectations.

My analogy is this: If you take your truck, or mower, for that matter, into the shop for repairs, you expect to have the necessary repairs, and pay for that service. How long would you continue to use this particular dealer or mechanic if you found he was having a "slow" week, so decided to do a few things extra, which didn't need to be done, just to pad his income?

I can imagine the reaction of most of you if his response was, "Well, you depend on me to be here when you have a breakdown, and I just can't make ends meet fixing just the things that need fixing, so while I had your truck in the shop I rebuilt your transmission that was working perfectly fine and charged you $1,200 for it. Thanks for your business and have a nice day."

If you elect to make your living in a business regulated by the weather, you have to expect to have lean years, and good years, no different than all the farmers in this great land. I think we can all understand why there are fewer and fewer full-time farmers as time goes by, also.

I, personally, cannot cut grass that is not there and bill someone for it, nor expect someone to subsidize my income by paying for unneeded or unwanted services. Some of you have mentioned going by and trimming, picking up trash, etc., so as to somewhat justify your fee. I'm assuming you were providing these services as part of the usual package, so how do you feel you are doing something "extra"? I can see offering some "spruce up" services for regular customers, because properties often get a ragged look, even during a drought, but I wouldn't, personally, feel right charging a full fee for 1/3 the work and time.

I suppose that is why I am in this business part-time, and feel for those of you who rely on it for all your income, but I've told many people through the years, there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing any honest work to make a living, whether it be bagging groceries, or driving a truck. When, however, one's chosen profession does not provide adequate income for you and your family, then it is time to do something else. I don't particularly enjoy my "day" job, but I've been doing it for 22 years because it has provided an adequate living for me and my family. If it had failed to do so, then I would have done something different.

I hope no one takes offense at this post, but I'm trying to be objective, and realistic. I think there are a lot of guys getting into the lawncare industry, simply because it is relatively easy to do so, and the idea of working for one's self appeals to them, for whatever reasons. There is nothing wrong with this, but a business is a business, large or small, and one has to expect problems with any business. If you can't deal with those problems, get a job. Neill
 

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MOturkey said:
This is the second or third thread I've seen on basically this same subject lately, and with good reason, the lawncare business is highly dependent upon the weather, especially the amount of precipitation.

Here is my take on the subject, for what it is worth. Mowing is not my full-time occupation, so I, perhaps, can afford to be more objective than those of you who are in the lawncare business expecting it to provide a decent living for you and your family, but I hope everyone realizes that objectivity, even about yourself, is not necessarily a bad thing.

If your properties are commercial or govenment contracts, where you get paid X number of dollars each month, with the stipulation you keep the grass mowed to such and such a height, then I suspect most of you would pray for a drought. Such was the case with a friend of mine, who, for years had the bulk of his business under government contracts, and got paid whether he mowed or not. A dry summer made him money, a wet one cost him.

If, however, as I'm sure 90+% of you do, service more residential accounts on a per mowing basis, then I believe you have to operate under a different set of rules, and expectations.

My analogy is this: If you take your truck, or mower, for that matter, into the shop for repairs, you expect to have the necessary repairs, and pay for that service. How long would you continue to use this particular dealer or mechanic if you found he was having a "slow" week, so decided to do a few things extra, which didn't need to be done, just to pad his income?

I can imagine the reaction of most of you if his response was, "Well, you depend on me to be here when you have a breakdown, and I just can't make ends meet fixing just the things that need fixing, so while I had your truck in the shop I rebuilt your transmission that was working perfectly fine and charged you $1,200 for it. Thanks for your business and have a nice day."

If you elect to make your living in a business regulated by the weather, you have to expect to have lean years, and good years, no different than all the farmers in this great land. I think we can all understand why there are fewer and fewer full-time farmers as time goes by, also.

I, personally, cannot cut grass that is not there and bill someone for it, nor expect someone to subsidize my income by paying for unneeded or unwanted services. Some of you have mentioned going by and trimming, picking up trash, etc., so as to somewhat justify your fee. I'm assuming you were providing these services as part of the usual package, so how do you feel you are doing something "extra"? I can see offering some "spruce up" services for regular customers, because properties often get a ragged look, even during a drought, but I wouldn't, personally, feel right charging a full fee for 1/3 the work and time.

I suppose that is why I am in this business part-time, and feel for those of you who rely on it for all your income, but I've told many people through the years, there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing any honest work to make a living, whether it be bagging groceries, or driving a truck. When, however, one's chosen profession does not provide adequate income for you and your family, then it is time to do something else. I don't particularly enjoy my "day" job, but I've been doing it for 22 years because it has provided an adequate living for me and my family. If it had failed to do so, then I would have done something different.

I hope no one takes offense at this post, but I'm trying to be objective, and realistic. I think there are a lot of guys getting into the lawncare industry, simply because it is relatively easy to do so, and the idea of working for one's self appeals to them, for whatever reasons. There is nothing wrong with this, but a business is a business, large or small, and one has to expect problems with any business. If you can't deal with those problems, get a job. Neill
Only a part-timer would have this opinion.

A real lco can grasp the concept that spring growth is very heavy, summer growth is moderate to none, and fall growth is somewhat heavy.

In the spring we double and sometimes triple cut a lawn or bag it. I do not charge extra for double cutting, unless for some reason we need to do it all summer. Although there is a hefty charge for triple cuts and bagging. I know the growth will slow down during the summer and we can complete the same property in 1/4 of the time.

Customers don't like to see changes in rates. It makes them wonder why they are paying you $30 for mowing and trimming, but then you charge them $25 if you only trim because the edges grew but the lawn didn't.. Doesn't make sense to them considering it usually takes longer to mow.

They sign up assuming they will be paying X amount of dollars per season. So they are ready for it. It's not like we are just "putting a new transmission on your truck". We are not charging any more than agreed upon. Just doing what we are paid to do.. If we go 4 weeks or more without cutting, I will equal out our cut time in pulling weeds or trimming shrubs etc and bill them for the extra time over our normal..
 

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Thirty years ago when we were a part time services we did watering. We would help the customer get hoses and sprinklers and Timers. We charged $5 every time we drove by to set the timer and change the position of the sprinkler. Most yards could be done for about $15 per week, and we kept getting our mowings. Obviously all of our customers were within a mile or two of our house.
 

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Qualitylandscaping, I may not be a "real" LCO according to your criteria, but I am smart enough to grasp the concept of grass growing more in the sping, and less in the summer.

Although you were quick to judge what I had to say, I really feel we basically agree. You mention you bill monthly which guarantees an income. You also state you guarantee 25 cuts per year, which means you really aren't doing something for nothing. I'm assuming if there was a prolonged drought, and you actually cut less than 25 times, you would refund a portion of their payment, am I correct? If so, then you are not expecting payment for work which wasn't necessary, which is exactly my point.

It seems you are also quite good at the problem-solving end of this business, something I commend you for. Neill
 
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