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  • I need some business advice

    Hello everyone. I'm a firefighter that is in his second year of lawn care and landscape on the side and things or really booming. Of course I'm still learning the business aspect of things and I've noticed a problem and don't know how or if I can fix it. I have over 24 customers I service on a bi weekly basis and what I do since my firefighter work schedule dictates the days I can cut is I notify my customers the day before to let them know I will be out at their property. Well if we don't get a lot of rain and or the customer has no money that week I'm finding a lot of people tell me to wait till next week so sometimes I go from cutting every two weeks to cutting only every three to four weeks and I feel like since I originally gave the estimate for a bi weekly rate that I should charge extra for going over the two week mark . Does anyone have any advice on what to do about this where I don't upset my customers but also don't lose money by only cutting once a month

  • #2
    Hello everyone. I'm a firefighter that is in his second year of lawn care and landscape on the side and things or really booming. Of course I'm still learning the business aspect of things and I've noticed a problem and don't know how or if I can fix it. I have over 24 customers I service on a bi weekly basis and what I do since my firefighter work schedule dictates the days I can cut is I notify my customers the day before to let them know I will be out at their property. Well if we don't get a lot of rain and or the customer has no money that week I'm finding a lot of people tell me to wait till next week so sometimes I go from cutting every two weeks to cutting only every three to four weeks and I feel like since I originally gave the estimate for a bi weekly rate that I should charge extra for going over the two week mark . Does anyone have any advice on what to do about this where I don't upset my customers but also don't lose money by only cutting once a month
    The short term answer is to explain to your customers that you have them assigned in a route. When they skip services like this it causes a void in your route. When they do this, it is costing you money, not only in missing their service but also that you could have added a new customer into that spot (this is called opportunity cost). Just let them know that there is a trip charge for a skipped service if they don't notify you at least 72 hours in advance. If they don't notify you and you arrive on the property and told to skip it, there will still be a charge of $20 for your wasted time, gas, and missed opportunities. I implemented this a few years ago and quickly found that nobody skips. Also, I require prepayment for all services and bill a month at a time. So, they are less likely to say skip it if they have already paid for it.

    The long term answer is to upgrade your customers. Try to get away from customers who want their lawn cut so the neighbors don't complain to the customers who want their lawn to stay looking taken care of, and cut even if it hasn't grown that much.

    Hope this helps.

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    • #3
      Great advice! Yes I have slowly realized my client base needs to change. I am slowly working on trying to change this by picking new high end and mid range neighborhoods and spending an hour or two walking through with door hangers with the estimate price attached. I have been trying to figure out a way to get my current customers on a prepayment basis. At the moment the way it works for me is that since I cannot come the same day of the week " due to my firefighter schedule" I simply carry a day planner and have everyones date listed of when the two week mark is up and I contact that customer 24 hours in advance to let them know I will be coming out and once I arrived on the property the homeowner usually leaves payment somewhere on the property so I cut and provide my service then I grab my payment and leave and when I get back in the truck I take my day planner and see what date is two weeks out and go ahead and right there name on that date. It would be nice to somehow get all my customers on a prepayment basis because I find that when I call 24 hrs in advance some customers want to change the day " push it back a week or two" then I cut the yard a few weeks later and work twice as long but only get paid for a bi-weekly price. So far this has been the biggest learning curve of it all , I seem to produce new customers on a regular basis and am growing at a good rate but my scheduling and payment arrangements need to change and im not quite sure how to do that without either losing customers or upsetting them. Thank you for your advice because it really is helpful!!

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      • #4
        I've never given only 1 price. I give 7 days, 10 days and 14 days. I give it in writing and I keep a copy for my records. Anything over 14 days will need to be discussed and it will have a higher rate.

        So, just like 99.9999999% of most other lawn guys, I'd say the mistake in bidding is on you. Before I ever gave my first bid in 1995 I saw your problem as something that I wanted to fix before it became a problem.

        Do this from here on out and you will never have this problem again.

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        • #5
          Do you feel that bi-weekly customers are just more prone to doing this? Wanting to skip a week to save cash?

          Have you considered potentially performing other services while you are there if the lawn hasn't grown? Trimming shrubs, clearing beds, trimming trees, etc? Maybe then, you could still perform work and still get paid?
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          • #6
            Do you need to tell them when you are coming by for service? I know it seems like a courtesy but if you sign them up with a general contract that states the bi-weekly service and then just run your route whenever work permits, then you will avoid this scenario completely. It also seems like texting all of your customers would be very time consuming.
            DLC

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