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StartALawnCareBusiness
09-08-2007, 06:56 PM
Hi all:

I was digging through some of my old blogs last week and I came across this article I wrote about taking on new customers during leaf raking season.

Leaves are already beginning to turn and fall in some parts of the country. *So, this article might be of interest to you.

Leaf raking can be a very profitable job for a lawn care business. *However, be aware of some common traps in raking a customer’s lawn.


As Autumn draws on and the green leaves of summer turn to the golden colors of fall, this is an exciting time for anyone in a lawn care business.

Leaf raking is a big profit point in the lawn care industry. *Damp leaves left clumped on a lawn can damage grass. *They clog gutters and down spouts. *They also make flower and shrub beds look untidy.

With all the potential problems that leaves contribute to a lawn, homeowners will soon be calling you for leaf management advice.

We are often asked by lawn care companies: “How do you estimate leaf raking for a new client.” *We tackle the estimating process and how much you should charge in our lawn care business course. *

In this week’s tip I want to caution you about taking on new customers at this time of year.

This is a true story that happened to me in my first year of owning a lawn care company. *A new customer called to get an estimate for raking the yard and cleaning out gutters. *He had several large trees in his yard. *Although his yard was covered with leaves more than half of the leaves were still on his trees. *Since he had a mulching area to keep me from having to haul off his leaves, I gave an estimate of $150. *He did not want to spend that much and said that if I would do it for $110, he would let me cut his yard next summer. *The leaf job went well and I collected my money and went home. *The next day he called to say that I had not raked all the leaves and that I needed to come back by. *I explained that the leaves in his yard had fallen after I had finished and that I was not responsible for those leaves. *Not wanting to lose his business next year, I went back and did a quick touch up job which took an hour. *Still, I was satisfied as it was a big yard and I would get to do his mowing work all the following year.

When Spring rolled around, I took my equipment to his house and was told that someone else had already been contracted to mow the lawn for the season. *I reminded him of our agreement and he said that the other people were doing it for $5 less than my estimate.

Though it made me mad, I didn’t think too much about it until the next fall when he called and said that his other lawn care company had quit and he wanted me to rake his leaves again. *My response was to remind him of our previous agreement and I told him the price for leaves alone would be $250. *He declined saying he would get someone else to do it.

I learned a few lessons from this customer.

1) *I did not have a signed agreement - You should be very careful about taking a customer’s word that they will let you do their lawn “next season” in return for a cheaper price today. *If the agreement is verbal it is very easy for a customer to back out of the agreement.

2) *Price each job as an individual effort - If a leaf job is worth $250 to you then bid it accordingly. *Do not let the potential of other work influence your price significantly downward. *That other work may never materialize.

3) *Explain to the customer that leaves on the trees are not included in the price - Leaves continue to fall through the entire season. *If you contract to do a leaf job, let the customer know that any leaf droppage that occurs after the job is done is not covered under the quoted price.

When we consult with new lawn care business owners, we often tell them that leaf pickup is very easy to under price. *A job which looks like it should take less than 1 hour can often wind up taking 4 times that long. *

This Autumn, when your phone starts ringing with new customers looking to get a great price on leaf management, take extra caution when giving estimates.



Keith

Little's
09-09-2007, 12:51 AM
When I started my business, I had a property management co. give them a bid on a leaf clean-up job. The yard had 3 large elms on it. I gave the bid of $150 and submitted it in writing. Well it was more than 2 weeks later when they had gotten back to me with the approval , and I told them I will get right on it tomorrw. In that 2 weeks, at least 3 times as many leaves had fallen, which turned a 2 hour job into almost 5 hours. It was a nightmare, not to mention it had rained the few days before. It was awful. This year I am going to tell people the bid is good for 48 hours, and bid accordingly. :blush:

StartALawnCareBusiness
09-09-2007, 02:30 PM
A 48 hour expiration on a bid is a grand idea. That will work on a variety of different tasks such as bed maintenance and shrub trimming...and those crackpot customers who get estimates in March and then call you back the end of May when their grass is 3 feet tall. http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Keith

Clean Lawn
09-09-2007, 05:52 PM
I am new to the business and don't know how to bid for fall clean-up so any advice for accurately bidding for it would be greatly appreciated. My worker and myself have done things for others but never had to price anything before. I know our customers will want it done and Hampton Roads is too large an area for us not to throw our hats in the ring for more fall work.
Any bidding help would be a blessing. Thanks so much for this post it was great!

svelasquez
09-11-2007, 05:41 AM
Keith, thank you for a lucid and insightful post. I'm very new to the business. This past summer is my first season and many of my customers are calling about leaf removal for the fall. I don't know how to answer their questions since I've never done this before. Many want to know if I'll take the leaves away, but I have no idea where to take them if I did. I've been offering to bag them and leave them for the client to dispose of.

Thank you again!

Steve in NJ
My Webpage (http://www.handyhomemedics.com)