What do you tell customers when the grass doesn't grow?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by 2006Silverado, Oct 17, 2007.

  1. 2006Silverado

    2006Silverado LawnSite Member
    from GA
    Messages: 117

    This is part vent, part seeking advice. Have a HOA that I mow. Every other week. They are cheapskates, the community isn't full, they don't have much money to spend, etc. etc. I've been doing their maintenance for a few months now. The last 2 times I mowed, I had to drop my Exmark to the lowest level to even make it look like the grass had been cut. There's a couple areas where it gets high enough it needs mowing, but most of the common areas everything is just dead, it's like mowing straw.

    The conditions down here in GA are just horrible. I don't even know how you justify to these people to keep their service up when everything is just dying and they can't water anything...Another customer, every 2 weeks, last time I was out there 'can we make it every 3 weeks' ok fine, went out there the other day, just short of the 3 weeks, looks just like it did when I last mowed. :cry:

    Cutting real low and letting them just move the mowing out further isn't the best way to handle things. I just don't get how people are making it down here. They're saying already next year is going to be the same. Drought all year, total watering ban all year!
  2. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,940

    Cutting at the lowest level seems like the last thing you want to do for an already highly stressed turf. Literature on turf care suggests raising the cutting height during the dry part of the season. You run the risk of doing even more damage to the turf by cutting it low.

    Our industry is strongly weather-based. To be sure, the conditions are not favorable, and lowing the cutting height to justify the service seems like the wrong thing to do. I agree "Cutting real low ..." is not good. We have to be prepared for a significant slow-down in revenue during tough times. If not, then its time to move to another industry that is not weather dependent.
  3. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Messages: 8,738

    I see lots of lco's out there turning dormant(centipeed/bermuda etc)/dead(fescue) lawns into dirt. You don't mow under these extreme drought conditions. If you have a contract then they have to pay you for doing nothing. Or you do hedges/blowing etc.
    I have been waiting until it finally rains and then 3 weeks after that to mow
  4. carcrz

    carcrz LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,085

    The best thing you can do is get them on seasonal contracts. They pay for a "weekly lawn maintenance" & are billed each regardless of the amount of work done. I show up every week regardless of if I mow or not. I always trim the edges if they need it & pick up any trash that's there. This keeps the grass from looking like a dirt field & helps the grass stay greener a little longer.
  5. JoeinJasper

    JoeinJasper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 173

    I agree, cutting low only makes the problem worse. I am in the north metro Atlanta area and have nonirrigated fescue that has stayed green all summer. Fertilize well in the late winter and let it grow to 3-4 inches, then mow to maintain that hight until it gets hot, then allow to grow to 4-6 inches then mow as needed - not every week. Explain that your job is to keep the grass looking good not to mow it to death. Joe
  6. grasswhacker

    grasswhacker LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,873

    Yup, just lay off mowing anything until we get some growth again. I know it puts a hurting on our incomes, but continuing to lower your blades to justify your service on the lawn does a dis service to the homeowner, because it will end up killing the grass. I had to pass on 4 lawns yesterday.
  7. loom-gen

    loom-gen LawnSite Member
    Messages: 150

    man it just won't stop raining up here in kansas city. What ever will we do with all of this water? I'll probably need some help- what, with mowing and leaf cleanup all at the same time. if you need the work, come on up. or, you could charge your customers $10 to stand in their yard for thirty minutes with the garden hose just to get you by but I digest... To justify the short cut you just tell them you have to cut before the bad weeds start to seed out and infest the yard the following year. Remember there is an excuse for every thing. It doesn't have to be true; it just has to sound true.
    I, myself, would never stoop to such tactics.
  8. carcrz

    carcrz LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,085

    I don't know what world you're living in, but it's been dry all summer until this last couple of weeks. Granted, these last couple storms have been much needed.
  9. daveintoledo

    daveintoledo LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,587

    they wil get someone else, you have probably already permenently damaged the grass
  10. PlatinumLandCon

    PlatinumLandCon LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,315

    Cut back mowing, but bill monthly. Make it in the agreement that you can cut back the mowing to reduce grass damage.

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