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11-09-2010, 07:55 PM
You gotta love these past few weeks. I’ve fighting the rain which never seems to end, doing my absolute best to work on the dryer days – though, they are pretty rare this time of year. Customers all want our ‘leaf removal’ service, which has been nothing short of complex. It’s difficult to get these jobs done when each customer wants first priority over the several other jobs, yet it’s totally understood and pretty much expected.

To know how our ‘leaf removal’ service is being orginized, there are several things to factor in;

We are seriously short on time, and we could actually run into a problem where few customers may actually not recieve our end of season service. Knowing this, what is the right way to keep this business functioning? I have several ideas;

1. Complete work for customers who have respected the ‘set’ payment due date, with no remaining balances to pay off.

2. Complete the smaller jobs first, keeping the ‘majority’ of customers satisfied.

3. Complete the bigger jobs first, once they are out of the way I can quickly complete the smaller jobs.

4. Follow my lawn maintenance route, keeping everything seemingly orginized.

5. Complete jobs for the more aggressive customers, granted the other customers will be understanding with me. Higher chance to have reoccuring customers.

6. Complete jobs for my most honest and peaceful customers, as they should be treated the same way as they have treated me – and may feel betrayed if saved for last.

7. Complete jobs furthest from my starting point, and end on jobs closer to my starting point. These jobs will be closer, which makes them easier to get to with time restrictions and the weather becoming worse with every passing day.

That’s not all of it, as a promotion – these jobs aren’t too profitable and making sure I don’t go over budget is pretty risky. ‘Leaf Removal’ jobs can take anywhere between 25min- 2:30hrs, and knowing how much time I have to spare before dark or predicted rain is crucial. I have to be able to choose which properties I work on during each day in order for me to avoid getting stuck. Meaning, I may only be able to complete 3 big jobs and one small job, which is a little less than 8 hours of work (not including travel time or unloading/loading of the trailer!).

Now with rain, I’d usually stick to doing several small jobs – so I don’t get stuck in the middle of one big job, and not being able to complete it. The outcome is justified by the amount of properties I had maintained before the rain – using my time wisely.

So understand, lawn maintenance in general doesn’t consume that much time during the day, 25-40 minutes is usually the maximum amount of time it takes per property to maintain. Though, ‘leaf removal’ is a completely different service which requires a very different strategy. Unfortunately, customers expect the same consistant service on which they have experienced previously. It’s like comparing apples to balloons…

So for all my customers, know that any moment now – I will be appearing around the block from your house, ready to give your property a well deserved end of season service.

If not, blame mothernature – see you in the spring!

11-10-2010, 11:46 PM
That’s not all of it, as a promotion – these jobs aren’t too profitable and making sure I don’t go over budget is pretty risky.

What kind of promotion did you offer this Fall?

What is your view on that promotion? Would you do it again next year or would you do something differently?

11-17-2010, 04:46 PM
Honestly, I went through with the promotion out of rage with a family member. This person will never accept being guilty or wrong, considering all of his suggestions/business advice would run me into the gutter - he wouldn't stop arguing with me as he was very high up on his horse... So I did this to prove to him he's a complete moron, feels good. lol. I sent him the bill.

The idea he thought of, "Give fall cleanups for free, it will gain you customers" I debated him all winter that the outcome would be very displeasing.

So being a close family member, this got me to snap and just do it - kind of hoping it'd backfire miserably so I can shove it in his face. "see what good your advice is?"

Basically, what happens when you give away fall cleanups, is you have no real income but spending spending spending... It takes a lot of gas to do cleanups, and as I said - he has to pay the bill!

My choices were simple:

1. Don't offer fall cleanups = no profit, no loss

2. Charge for Fall Cleanups = Profit

3. Discount and offer fall cleanups = Minor profit, more satisfied customers

4. Give away free fall cleanups

Sure #4 looks appealing and will do the trick on getting me ... I cant actually say it got me BUSINESS as I made no money - it got me customers.

Unfortunately, and very obviously it did me no good. His idea was outright stupid and risky.

This is where I get TOO many customers to handle and customers are more likely to be disappointed then anything.

I was lucky enough to manage just about all of my customers, though that's because I wanted to prove my point without actually harming my business.

The real thing to do is, never offer anything for free: it kills you.

Free one time, is expected the second time. It's a good way to get on a customers bad side, "you did it last year, now you want to charge me?" - something I really don't like putting up with.

11-17-2010, 06:48 PM
I understand I am in a little different situation in that I can pick and choose the most profitable jobs, based on the manpower I have this time of the year which is desperate low and of course the weather and I swear I have never seen so much water. I sprayed a place yesterday after 4 sunny days and the water was 1/3 of the way up the tractor tires and had it not been four wheel drive I would have been frigged.

Anyhow bud, if you can't make money then don't do it, IMHO. When we offer discounts or free service for a specific function then it becomes an expectation.

We didn't bother with leaf cleanup this year even though we have the commercial collectors that mulch the leaves, I still have excavation and tree jobs to do which are far more money and I only have two staff left for the season so that is the focus, assuming it stops friggin raining.

One job is a rock retaining wall using blast rock, big bucks and easy work with the excavators we have so that is the focus.....then again long term calls for snow on Saturday, that will bring everything to a halt.

11-18-2010, 03:32 AM
Scott, very interesting.

How did you market this? Also, what was the plan on how to give away the leaf cleanups and then get the customers to pay for what in the future and what was the plan to get them to do that?

11-18-2010, 02:20 PM
Scott, very interesting.

How did you market this? Also, what was the plan on how to give away the leaf cleanups and then get the customers to pay for what in the future and what was the plan to get them to do that?

Customers had to have no remaining balance by the end of the season - they had to have hired me from May 1st - October 16th to receive the discounted fall cleanup.

If they were a month late in hiring me, not a huge deal - I'd offer it to them. If they were a week late in paying me, they lost the offer.

They have all been told it's a promotional season, next year the prices may be going up. They understood.

11-19-2010, 03:01 AM
If you were to do anything like this next year, what about the offer would you keep and what would you do totally differently?