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  • New lawn care business

    Hey guys, I have recently started a part time lawn care business. I have a lot of background with maintaining lawns. I have been taking care of my parents businesse's lawn, my grandmothers lawn, my moms house and my moms rental house for the past 3 years, so I have a little background with lawn care.

    I'm set with my equipment, I have a 5x10 trailer, a 50" zero turn, a push mower, string trimmer, edger, backpack blower and a lawn sweeper.

    So I can do the mowing and trimming part, but i can't say i'm to good at the business part, so I have a few questions.

    My first question is pricing. I used the estimators on this site and for a lawn that I will be mowing this week for a new customer it says I should only be charging $12.50, that doesn't seem worth it. Should I say, charge a minimum service charge of $15-20 and then add the 12.50 on top of it?

    My second question is, what happens if my clients grass doesn't need mowed yet for that week. Should I just mow it on a higher setting and charge them for it, or should I water their grass, and find some other things to do for them to occupy my time there, and then charge them for a visit.

    Thank you in advance for all your input.
    sigpic
    Carlisle Lawn Care

  • #2
    The most common mistake I see people make, is charging only for when the lawn needs to be cut.

    You charge them for a position on your schedule, whether their grass grows or not. This is how you make good money.

    "Oh but my lawn doesn't need to be cut" - Doesn't matter, all or nothing.

    If people charge only when the lawns need to be cut, they are probably suffering right now with how little the grass has actually grown. Not to mention, clients wait until the grass is up to your neck before they decide to call you.


    Running an on-call business is trouble. Your equipment gets beat up, your schedule AND income aren't stable.

    -

    To avoid clients not wanting to pay you, you need to only accept post-dated checks.
    Last edited by CHEESE2009; 07-14-2012, 07:19 PM.

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    • #3
      Thank you for the answer.

      I planned on having people sign service agreements for either weekly or bi weekly, I really don't want to just be an on call service, unless they only need it mowed once or twice a year,then I am fine with that, but will collect payment first.

      I'll have to word it somehow in my agreement that I will stick to my schedule except for if weather prevents me from doing so.

      So that settles that, I will still take care of their lawn as scheduled and collect payment, but i'm still a little unsure about estimating and pricing.
      sigpic
      Carlisle Lawn Care

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      • #4
        Thank you for the answer.

        I planned on having people sign service agreements for either weekly or bi weekly, I really don't want to just be an on call service, unless they only need it mowed once or twice a year,then I am fine with that, but will collect payment first.

        I'll have to word it somehow in my agreement that I will stick to my schedule except for if weather prevents me from doing so.

        So that settles that, I will still take care of their lawn as scheduled and collect payment, but i'm still a little unsure about estimating and pricing.

        Basically, you want to make sure all of your expenses are covered, and that you are making enough profit to grow your business to the next level, and also make a decent salary for yourself.

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        • #5
          okay, so I know its an expense for me everytime I hook my trailer up and tow it somewhere, so I should have a minimal fee for just that. I don't think a $15 service fee is outrageous, and it would cover any time, gas and wear and tear on my vehicle and trailer to get to the place. Then I would charge whatever I think is necessary to perform the work they want done.
          sigpic
          Carlisle Lawn Care

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          • #6
            The most common mistake I see people make, is charging only for when the lawn needs to be cut.

            You charge them for a position on your schedule, whether their grass grows or not. This is how you make good money.

            "Oh but my lawn doesn't need to be cut" - Doesn't matter, all or nothing.

            If people charge only when the lawns need to be cut, they are probably suffering right now with how little the grass has actually grown. Not to mention, clients wait until the grass is up to your neck before they decide to call you.


            Running an on-call business is trouble. Your equipment gets beat up, your schedule AND income aren't stable.

            -

            To avoid clients not wanting to pay you, you need to only accept post-dated checks.
            How do you go about the post dated check thing? Do you just tell your clients thats how it is? I have a feeling there are a lot of people especially in my area that wouldnt go for that. I want to start targeting higher end clientelle. That seems to be the way to go. Although I have one guy who is a Facking architect and makes good money but Im always chasing his ***. Just shut him off this week. Im a month out on getting paid by him. Thats enough for me.

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            • #7
              If the client is unwilling to give you post-dated checks, it's because they are financially unstable and are terrified of losing the option of not having to pay you. (rip you off).

              I was hesitant at first, as I was worried of how many people would consider giving me checks considering everyone here is cheap!

              Anyway, once I started doing it, my life and company have both improved.

              I no longer have to worry about getting paid, because I technically have it all up front now.

              -

              My service is from May till October (6 months).

              Clients make out 3 checks out to my company name, that are all given to me with a signed contract, and each check pays for 2 months of service.

              I deposit check 1 on May 1st.
              I deposit check 2 on July 1st.
              I deposit check 3 on September 1st.

              -

              If at any time the client doesn't want to pay, all they have to do is call the bank and cancel the check they had created. So when a client says they don't trust checks, you can freely call them an idiot (not really, but they honestly are for thinking this).

              You cannot deposit all of the checks at once, as they are "post-dated".

              For example
              If it's May, I can't deposit a check that is written out for July. If the client is unhappy with my service before July, he/she can ask for their checks back, or cancel the check with their bank and it will not work when deposited.


              It's seriously convenient!!! No more chasing money, EVER!


              TRUE STORY
              The majority of my clients utilize post-dated checks, but very few still pay cash because I still figured there are some good people out there. Guess what is happening?
              The ones who still pay in cash, I am chasing them. Their payments are all overdue.

              Sad isn't it? Forget about PayPal, Email Money Transfers, Cash, etc... ONLY use post-dated checks. Save yourself the trouble!
              Last edited by CHEESE2009; 07-14-2012, 08:12 PM.

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              • #8
                I like the idea of post dated checks, but like wat said, I don't know how I would feel asking for a post dated check. Obviously they would have to trust me. I thought about offering different payment methods, I will defiantly keep post dated checks in mind as an option.

                I thought about offering an automatic payment with credit/debit card, once a month I could charge them for the word done and then send them a receipt.

                I would also still accept cash, if they stop paying then I stop doing work simple as that.
                sigpic
                Carlisle Lawn Care

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                • #9
                  I like the idea of post dated checks, but like wat said, I don't know how I would feel asking for a post dated check. Obviously they would have to trust me. I thought about offering different payment methods, I will defiantly keep post dated checks in mind as an option.

                  I thought about offering an automatic payment with credit/debit card, once a month I could charge them for the word done and then send them a receipt.

                  I would also still accept cash, if they stop paying then I stop doing work simple as that.


                  The goal is to get out of chasing clients, and removing any chance of them ripping you off.

                  If you put it in your contract (checks) it will look legit. I'm sure a lot of your competition uses this method. I honestly think you NEED to at least try it.

                  If clients rip you off, and you just drop them (I do that too), you'll still feel like crap lol... We don't want that!

                  I'm going to think hard about another solution, how to get your clients to use checks... Stay tuned!

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                  • #10
                    I defiantly like checks, not fighting you there, credit cards you have to pay every time its charged, cash can easily get lost...or just never make it to the bank before it gets spent. A check can't be spent and is easy to hang onto, doesn't cost you anything, and can be post dated like you said
                    sigpic
                    Carlisle Lawn Care

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                    • #11
                      I defiantly like checks, not fighting you there


                      <3 I'm a lover, not a fighter.


                      LOL

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                      • #12
                        I have a good question that maybe someone could answer.

                        The house across the street from me was for sale, until the guy committed arson and burned the house to the ground. The house has been sitting empty for months and the grass is close to 4' high. I know it is bank owned now, and I don't see it going anywhere anytime soon, so someone should really be taking care of the grass. How would I find out what bank owns the house so I can contact them and see if I can get some business.
                        sigpic
                        Carlisle Lawn Care

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                        • #13
                          someone PLEASE feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on this one...here is what I understood about bank owned properties. A lawn care company works with the banks to maintain the property. Some lawn care companies subcontract it out if they aren't in the area. I'm guessing its like bidding a commercial contract?? It seems like a lot of pain in the *** work to find out the bank that financed the property, but who knows. Maybe it could pay off in the end. Afterall, the banks can't sell the property to recoup the $$ if it looks like hell in the front yard. Not to mention city/county violations for long grass.

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                          • #14
                            They will never sell the property looking the way it does, and I know they are violating the rule for grass height in our township. Its right across the street and would take me maybe an hour to regularly maintain, thats pretty easy money for me, and I will probably be able to do it for a couple years, I really don't see that house going anywhere.
                            sigpic
                            Carlisle Lawn Care

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                            • #15
                              I have another question, I'm only doing this part time, I work a full time job 7:30-4, I'm sure others are in the same situation. How many clients do you think I could handle on my own.

                              Also whats a good form of advertising. I have made a pretty nice add on craigslist, put my business in the yellowpages and made some door hangers with my business card attached that my friend is going to hand out this week. I also plan to put a 14 day add in the newspaper, which I have read gets some pretty great returns. Anyone have some other good ideas for advertising that actually works well?
                              sigpic
                              Carlisle Lawn Care

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