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Discussion in 'Industry Surveys & Polls' started by daysel, Jul 18, 2007.
thats the way you do it spot on.
I have ran into this same situation several times. It always seems that people just want to take advantage of you. They want you to take care of their problem and once the yard is low enough for them to mow they will not use your services anymore. When I first started in this business I would take the job and low ball it get a new customer but this seldom works out. 9 out of 10 times they will drop you or only call you when it gets tall again. Plus they expect you to mow it for that cheap price again. I suggest you charge a healthy amount and stand your ground. The work is harder and you may have take multiple bags of grass with you. If you would charge 30-35 for a regular mow on that yard and its 2-3 feet tall I would charge a minimum of 100 dollars. If the grass has to be hauled off I would charge extra for that also. If they say no then let someone else break their back for no money. Remember they are the desperate ones who let their yard get that way.
I don't find overgrown lawns all that foreboding if you know how to price things. There are some limitations, like knowing when to bush hog over mow, but if there is not a brush problem I've not had problems with my Scag handling any overgrown lot or lawn yet. But again know your limitations! As for pricing around here there are ordinances covering out of control weed & grass conditions. I know what the weed & grass control will tack onto the property tax bill for EACH time a complaint is filed & they have to have it mowed. I usually take what I would normally charge if the lot or lawn was under control & use a multiplier based on the estimated height & time involved in cutting it. Never charge less than at least double, usually 3 times as much as normal & even 4 - 5 times dependent upon conditions.
It's pay cash in advance, no exceptions. Photos of before & after as well as photos of any possible sources of conflict before & after...... saves having to deal with dead beats & cheats. Always do a quick walk through before bidding & usually during the trimming phase again to check of potential hazards or problems, not perfect but usually avoids having major unforeseen problems or damages. If the above conditions are not met or acceptable to the property owner then I walk away.
Example would be a recent "will call" job I did last week next to a new regular account I just acquired. A +/- 10,000 sq. ft. lot with average two story on it, my regular price would be around $45.00. Front had been mowed before or at least someone had tried with a 21", weed & grass height about 12". Back was out of control, grass & weeds 2 - 3 ft., with some small brush & poison ivy (not allergic!). Price was $150.00, I cut it @ top height 1st pass & 3 1/2" inches 2nd & 3d pass, looked pretty fair when done, customer was happy and yes they were able to shell out the $150.00 cash in advance. Either had it in pocket or that's where they went while I cut the new regular lawn, don't care which. I had the money in pocket prior to starting, took me a little more than an hour to do the job, normally would have been about 30 minutes if not overgrown.
Most of these "overgrown" jobs shouldn't be a problem to a lawn contractor who knows & understands his equipment & how to price his work.
i give them two options and it always seems to work out:
1. You pay me a lot and ill do a great job
2. I charge you normal and destroy your yard
Most the time they pick #2. So we take something other than the company vehicle and I let my guys get out there machetes and golf clubs and anything they want to shorten the grass, then go over it with push mowers and call it a day. Its actually a nice stress reliever to have a client that doesnt care. I dont need to go to the driving range after one of these jobs
yeah same goes for me,4-8 inches normal rate,8-16 double rate,after that i givem a bid to bush hogg
These are the jobs I use my custom brush cutter on. Took an old 21in push and took a cut off wheel to the front from wheel to wheel so the blade sticks out (DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME SUPER DANGEROUS) and it would cut a tree down if I wanted it too. I rarely use it because it is so dangerous but on overgrown lots it works great. Then I go over it with the walk behind and the grass catcher and unload it every 3 frikken minutes.
I would for sure. I just charge accordingly.
Yeah and most of them apparently are one time calls but it gets cut my way
and that doesn't usually work if they just wanted something for nothing.
Way I do it is first time it cost a bit over the normal price, not much but it gets cut high,
then I come back in two weeks and cut it again, this time a ways lower, and it might
require a third cut to bring it down to a reasonable level such as 3-4".
And I don't absolutely have to cut it a second or third time either,
they can have at it after I cut it once but I do warn them, I cut it high.
Over grown lots requiring mowing is work.
Price it accordingly - if the people don't want to pay then don't mow but never turn down work. It's okay to price yourself out of contention but not through a lack of desire.
Overgrown yards or lots can be tough to price properly as often, even if you walk a yard, you may not find all of the blade busting obstructions.
Last one I did was three acres standing about two feet tall - told the guy $325.00.
He said no way so I walked. five days later he called and said to mow it - I replied the cost is now $400 as we had just received a bunch of rain so the lot would be much more difficult to mow. He agreed and I told him I get paid up-front when I am there - so no money means no mowing. He agreed so I mobilized out there and sure as canadian geese crapping everywhere he's nowhere to be seen. So I left. Get a call from the POA president where this domestic train wreck was located to mow - same deal meaning money up front. This time I said it's $450 as the dude was a no show and the POA president met me with a check for the full amount. Took me just under three hours to knockdown three foot tall weeds and found in the yard, among other things, a chevy small block motor, an automatic transmission, a rear deck lid to some type of car and a bunch of trash. So I mowed around all of it. POA called back for me to now clean up all of the crap so I quoted them an additional $500 - again met me with a check and it took me and one of my guys about an hour and a half to load everything up.
Ended up selling the motor and tranny for $250 each and the remaining metal went on to my scrap metal trailer.
Moral of this story, I stood my ground and for right at seven hours of work got paid a little over $1,400.00. Doesn't happen all that often but occasionally I'll get similar calls.
Another example, the local Tractor Supply r-o-w was overgrown with noxious weeds and woody brush they wanted removed. I figured it would take me and two of my guys one full day to clean up so I priced it at $2,200.00. Ended up taking right at five hours so for a total of fifteen hours of work I was paid $2,200.00 and now have the contract to maintain at $375.00 per visit two times per month.
When I'm passing out my flyers and see really overgrown lawns, I skip them.
Maybe I shouldn't because I could sure use the money, but I don't really have the equipment to do them right now. I might try them with a walk behind, but I'm not sure I'd want to risk damaging it either.
But I'm glad read about people not paying, which I usually don't worry about (it's happened very rarely) but the bigger the job is the more I should be concerned about it. Especially, like people have pointed out here: It seems that either they don't really have the money to mow it or they don't really care. So they might not care about paying you either! I think if I do decide to overgrown lawns I'm going to make sure I'm charging them appropriately, and ask for payment in advance. I agree that it might be worth it if you're sure your equipment can handle it and you do those two things.