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tomcat172002
07-13-2008, 09:30 PM
Hi,

I just started my lawn care business. Right now I have 14 customers and have basicly leveled off this year with growth. I was looking to see how I could increase my productivity. I traded in my 36 inch rider for a 48 inch and that has helped out alot. I was thinking of splitting up my customers and edging there lawns every other week. I know it looks really good if I edge every week but if I do it every other week that would save me time. I want to keep a good level of service for customers but I also want to make money as well. Anyone out there what is your take about edging every other week or every week. I do work by myself so I don't have a partner to help my out. Anyone input would be appreciated.

Thanks

Tom

ADANMOLINASR
07-14-2008, 12:12 AM
Keep In Mind You Are In The Buisness To Make Money........make Shure Every Time You Are Getting Paid. You Should Edge Every Time You Cut The Yard. Charge Extra For Every Additional Drive Out There To Do Work.............hope This Helps............a.m.

UniversityLandscapers
07-14-2008, 12:48 AM
I always edge every week, it just makes it look so much better, although a few lawns I cut don't need edging cause they are in such crappy shape. I've found now that I'm in my second year, my productivity has gone way up. Once you're at it for awhile, you can keep up nice straight lines and a clean cut at higher speeds, especially while trimming/edging. Last year, I couldn't do more than 8 lawns in a day, now I can easily handle 11-12 without sacrificing quality.

quickcleanlawn
07-14-2008, 12:51 AM
Are you edging with an ol fashion edger or a stick edger?
I don't even own an edger.
I use a trimmer every time,to keep the edges clean.
if its a yard I just picked up and its over grown I let them know that I don't edge, but I can cut it back , and once its cut back to the side walks edge turn your trimmer up and just maintain it .
I personaly think the edge looks cleaner when done right with a string trimmer.

Steve
07-14-2008, 07:51 AM
I know it looks really good if I edge every week but if I do it every other week that would save me time. I want to keep a good level of service for customers but I also want to make money as well. Anyone out there what is your take about edging every other week or every week. I do work by myself so I don't have a partner to help my out. Anyone input would be appreciated.

Great question. Here is my immediate thought. Ideally you should perform the service more often than less because you can make more profit in the month of service.

So then I was wondering, do you feel you are charging enough for your services? If you were charging the ideal amount, would you want to service it more often than not?

Is that potentially the problem? That the service fee is too low?

tomcat172002
07-14-2008, 02:54 PM
Well,

This is my first year cutting so when I bid my accounts I gave them a flat price for edging and cutting. Like $25.00 per week. Last week for the first time my edger broke so I didn't edge. I noticed that I must have saved a few hours at least just cutting and weed trimmiing. After I got my edger fixed I definated went around and got all the lawns edged on my next cut. No one questioned why I didn't edged but the time I saved made me wonder if I should try it every other time? I don't charge and extra fee for edging should I charge extra for that like a cutting fee and and edging or just give a flat rate and include it all?

UniversityLandscapers
07-15-2008, 01:43 AM
I'm with Blaine on this one...

I don't own an "edger", I just tilt my string trimmer up and edge with that. I rarely, and I mean rarely, see anyone using an actual edger on lawns unless they're cutting a new edge, everyone around here uses a string trimmer, and I have never even considered buying an edger...in my mind it's a useless tool. If you have a decent gas powered trimmer with square line in it, then it can still cut a decent edge even if the lawn hasn't been edged in a while. I use a Stihl FS 55R with .095 square line, and it will hack through longer grass on the edges and throw away a decent amount of dirt...do that 3 or 4 times and you've got yourself a nice clean edge with that little trench and then it's a piece of cake to maintain.

Steve
07-15-2008, 07:32 AM
This is a great discussion so far! It hits two of the major questions. 1st are you using the right tool to be most efficient and 2nd are you charging enough to do the work so you are feeling you make enough of a profit?

Tom, what is your view on all this now after hearing from everyone?

tomcat172002
07-15-2008, 08:38 AM
Thanks for all your respones. First I am using an Echo PE-200 its a good edger. I got the head changed out becausue the old head was getting clogged with dirt. So the equipment I am using is fine.

The person I used to work with would always edged everytime he cut grass. He would charge alot and he said he could command it given his service. Since this is my first year I think I will continue my premium service and next year I will have to re-evaluate my pricing. I guess this really goes back to the type of Landscaper do I want to be? Since I am in a richer community I do everything so the lawns look their best. I know I didn't quote my highest prices at first and next year if I raise my prices I should be able to get the price raise due to my service. If I stop with the edging now next year my customers might shop around. But if I continue to do what I am doing my customers should pay a little bit higher of a price for the service I offer.

What do you guys think?


Tom

Steve
07-15-2008, 08:47 AM
Tom these are a lot of good thoughts.

What would be your ideal fee to charge these lawns for the service you are providing? What would you like to raise it up to next year?

tomcat172002
07-15-2008, 10:15 AM
I think I should probaby raise my prices on a case by case basics. I have 2 customers who are women in there 90's. I know they are on a fixed income so I will keep their prices the same next year. However, I called around other grass cutters to get an idea about their prices in the neighborhood. They are charging between $27 and $35. I am charging $23 to $25 I think I should raise my prices to about $25 or $26. I want my customers to know they are getting a great service with a good price. The combination of those factors will ensure that if they shop around they will continue to stay with me.

Steve
07-15-2008, 11:53 AM
Tom,

What price would you feel comfortable with performing top notch service each and every time?

I wonder if $35 a lawn would be a price you would feel more comfortable with.

It sounds like you really enjoy performing top notch service, but if you don't feel justly compensated for it, you won't want to continue doing it for long.

tomcat172002
07-15-2008, 05:19 PM
Steve,

I think your right I am going to have to increase my prices so I can feel the service I am doing is worth the price. Becasue this was my real first year cutting I was an unproven contractor so I didn't have a leg to stand on when it came to commanding a top notch price. But after one year out there and eveyone compliments me on what a nice job I do. Next year I should be able to get more for my cuts. I think if I increase my prices $25 to $30 that would make it worth my while. Also I work a full time job right now so all the money I am making this year is to pay off all of my equipment. If I can break even in my first year next year I could afford to hire a kid part time. I think just getting enough customers my first year was the hardest part of starting out. Next year hopefully I should be able to grow at a nice pace.

Tom

StartALawnCareBusiness
07-15-2008, 11:41 PM
This is a great thread because it examines a trap many people starting out fall into.

No offense to Tom but I have seen this time and time again. A new guy starts out and feels the only way he can compete is by dropping his prices to underbid all the competition. Customers flock to the new guy. He works his butt off providing full service for $10 less than the going rate. Somewhere around mid-season, he starts to do the math of the money he's leaving on the table...$10/week x 10 customers is $100/week. Yikes, underbidding can add up fast especially when you are trying to pay off equipment.

Tom, tell me a few things? What is the difference between a $23 customer and a $25 customer? You say you live in a rich neighborhood. How big are these lawns? What is your total time spent on a $23 customer vs. a $25 customer? How much equipment expense do you have?


Keith

tomcat172002
07-16-2008, 07:06 AM
Keith,

When I started passing out flyers and quoting customers the only customers I got were people who previously didn't have anyone last year cutting their lawns. The competition quoted a higher price so they said they went with me because of price. I didn't have anyone who previously had someone who cut there lawns call me. I know every customer now personally and I know next year there is no way they would change; with unless they can get someone do to it cheaper. Since I see my competition on a daily basis they edge and mow just the same as I do they just charge a little more.

The difference between $23 and $25 on 14 lawns is going to be $28 per week that like and additional lawn per week. I know my customers and if I raise my price to $30 right off the bat I am going to lose them. One of my customers a friend of mine asked me to cut for $20 a week he has a gate which I couldn't get through with my mower so I had to do it by hand. At the end of 2 months he said he thought that the price was too high. I told him for 45 minutes its way to low so we both decided to drop the service.

I do a top rated job in the community that I cut in but so does everyone else. If its not broke don't fix it thats how most of these people are. So why would someone go with my grass cutting over someone who is doing a good job for them for the past 10 years????

My break even point on my equipment is 15 months of cutting so I should be able to break even in 15 months. I know that might be a long time but this is not a get rich quick business.

StartALawnCareBusiness
07-16-2008, 08:40 AM
The difference between $23 and $25 on 14 lawns is going to be $28 per week that like and additional lawn per week. I know my customers and if I raise my price to $30 right off the bat I am going to lose them. One of my customers a friend of mine asked me to cut for $20 a week he has a gate which I couldn't get through with my mower so I had to do it by hand. At the end of 2 months he said he thought that the price was too high. I told him for 45 minutes its way to low so we both decided to drop the service.


Tom, the purpose for my question is to determine the service difference between $23 and $25. How many minutes do you spend on a $23 lawn...how many minutes do you spend on a $25 lawn. Does the $25 lawn include a service that the $23 lawn does not include or is it merely a function of size of lawn, distance you have to travel, etc?

If you determine customers will pay $2 extra for ala carte services, develop a menu of additional services for customers to choose from.

You never know until you ask and you may be able to bump your customers to $30/week very quickly by simply offering a few extra minutes work on additional services.

Keith

Steve
07-16-2008, 09:42 AM
This discussion is getting better and better.

As I was reading all this I was thinking about how when McDonalds was getting going, they were growing pretty quickly and looking for ways to cut expenses. One of the ideas that came up was to serve burgers with meat shaped like a donut, no center. This would allow them to use less meat per burger.

In the book Ray Kroc, the owner, hit the roof and he said our basic product must be able to carry itself. If people think we are ripping them off with our burgers, then we have nothing.

So my point of all this is, if you ever get to the point where you are burned out from offering the services you sold a client, you need to do one of two things. Either increase the price so you feel you are being fairly compensated or drop the customer. Otherwise you end up selling burgers with the center of the meat cut out. This would lead to a lot of bad word of mouth.

Ok, sorry to break in here. Back to the questions Keith asked.

tomcat172002
07-16-2008, 05:36 PM
Ok let me get back to my original problem. I work a full time job and my 14 customers take 2 days to complete. Right now if someone asked me to cut their lawn I couldn't because of time. Maybe 14 lawns in 2 days is way to slow. I have to figure out ways to become more efficient so I can do some more mid season marketing and sales. Its not a question of dollars and cents it a question of time. I want to be able to go after some more customers. I increased the size of my mower from a 36 rider to a 48 riding mower. I didn't sacrifice quality but I am able to get more done in less time. That helped out alot, I dropped a customer who was just to far out of the way which actually helped open up a time slot for me to add maybe one or two more customers. On some of the lawns that I wasn't able to edge the difference between missing one week and edging the next was noticable on others you couldn't tell I didn't edge. That's is what I am trying to get at do other high quality lawn services cut every week or every other week? I was ready for my customers questions about why I didn't edge I had a really good reason because of my edger problems. But no one asked so that made me think about spliting up my customers on an every other week basis. What do you guys think ?

StartALawnCareBusiness
07-16-2008, 09:36 PM
What do you guys think ?


Steve's McDonald's analogy is the perfect answer to your question.

Keith

Steve
07-16-2008, 09:44 PM
That's is what I am trying to get at do other high quality lawn services cut every week or every other week?

I would say they shoot for every week. That makes the most money.

tomcat172002
07-16-2008, 10:48 PM
Keith,

The Mcdonalds analogy doesn't really work here. If Ray Kroc could only sever 14 people a day then yes he would have to find a way to become more efficient. This is a TIME issue NOT a MONEY ISSUE. Unless I can cut lawns at 2am there are only so many hours in the day I can cut. Buying a new mower helped cut down the time I spend at each customer. My next thought was to hire some one. But when my edger gave out I shaved alot of time off of every cut. Enough that if I hired someone they would have to edge and trim and blow but if you don't do that then I can pick up more customers.

Funny thing just as I was writing this another lawn care person called and asked me if I could pick up an account that he couldn't handle. Thanks to my 48 inch rider I should be able to fit him in. But I don't have too much room to grow without become more efficient.

Keith and Steve thanks for all you input this was really a great thread. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tom

Rexdale Grass
04-06-2010, 09:19 PM
So here is my take on this hole edging and maintaining the edge thing. The old trimmer on it's side is what I do to maintain the edges around gardens, driveways and sidewalks. I've done it like that for the past 10 years only using a hand edger to cut back really thick stuff on side walks. Today I got a chance to us my stick edger I just go for my KM110 stihl life saver never had is soo easy what would have taken me an hour was done in 10 min and I know I will probably do this every 2 or 3 weeks just to keep it crisp I think it is worth having and I will get back on this to tell you if it should be done every week.
but as long as you maintain that edge with the string trimmer only cut it out when it fills in.

dixiegroundscare
04-07-2010, 12:08 AM
So would you guys say it was fair that you give your customer an estimate with edging and one without edging, and for weekly edging maybe tack on 5 dollars every week?

Steve
04-07-2010, 05:23 AM
So would you guys say it was fair that you give your customer an estimate with edging and one without edging, and for weekly edging maybe tack on 5 dollars every week?

Are you saying in addition to weekly lawn care? I would think it would be better to just include it all in one price for lawn care and do the service when you felt it was necessary.

I will get back on this to tell you if it should be done every week.

I look forwards to it.

but as long as you maintain that edge with the string trimmer only cut it out when it fills in.

I do wonder how often it would have to be re-cut.

pzittere
07-27-2013, 10:48 PM
its my first year as well and quickly i have found edging is desired here.
i bought an edger and it does take a little longer on jobs. i tried with my trimmer and it seemed just as much work, although iam going to check into the square line at .95.
I do charge extra for edging and people are willing to pay. My minimum is $25
and $10 extra for edging.

Cliffwesternnewyork
07-28-2013, 05:11 PM
edge once, then clean the ditch with a weed whacker it still looks clean.

How did you get so many customers, what are you doing to attract individuals

Georgia Grass
08-04-2013, 03:07 PM
Edging of concrete surfaces is part of our standard service. We edge on every visit.