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-   -   New lawn care business (http://www.gopherforum.com/showthread.php?t=16958)

xandrew245x 07-14-2012 07:56 PM

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.

CHEESE2009 07-14-2012 08:17 PM

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.

xandrew245x 07-14-2012 08:24 PM

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.

CHEESE2009 07-14-2012 08:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by xandrew245x (Post 111683)
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.

xandrew245x 07-14-2012 08:36 PM

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.

wat5150 07-14-2012 08:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CHEESE2009 (Post 111682)
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.

CHEESE2009 07-14-2012 09:08 PM

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!

xandrew245x 07-14-2012 10:00 PM

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.

CHEESE2009 07-14-2012 10:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by xandrew245x (Post 111700)
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!

xandrew245x 07-14-2012 10:23 PM

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 :)


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