Do you include a clean up charge for new lawn care customers?

Have you ever run into a situation where you were called to give an estimate on a lawn mowing job that had the potential to become a new annual lawn care contract customer for you, but the property was a mess? How did you handle that situation or how would you if presented with one? Did you include a clean up charge first in your estimate or did you absorb the added cost? That is what one lawn care business owner was curious about when he wrote us on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum to find what his best choice was.

He wrote “I have been hitting the pavement for the last two weeks handing out lawn care flyers and talking to people. All my efforts seem to really be working as I now have 15 monthly lawn care contracts signed up and ready. The other day I was out mowing a lawn and the neighbor came over. He said that he was talking to the homeowner I was mowing the lawn for and liked my monthly contract prices. He wanted to see about getting set up for me to mow his lawn. I told him I would be over as soon as I finished the property I was on.

Afterwards, I went over and took a look at his property and all I could think was, what a mess. His yard is about the same size as the one I was doing so normally I would charge him the same price. However, his lawn had not been taken care of for a long time. That got me to think the first couple of times mowing his lawn would take me twice as long to get it back in shape. After that it would only take around 20 minutes to mow.

The issue I am got stuck on was if I should give him my normal price and eat a small loss on the first two mows? Or maybe I should tell him that the first couple of mowing will cost him more?

Yes it would be an extra 40 minutes to get the lawn up to par, but still right now it is not that bad as I could fit the extra time in my schedule. So I was leaning towards just eating the cost because the 12 month lawn care contract would make it worthwhile. Even though he does have a lot of debris in the way and that is what will take my time to clean up, I still kinda like the idea of the initial clean up charge that can just be added on the first monthly bill. So I figured I would try that and see what he says.

So with that I went to talk to the potential customer and explained to him about the extra time it would take to clean up. He understood about the extra time but wasn’t really wanting to pay for a clean up charge. However, I offered to split the clean up charge and put it on his first two months of the contract. He said that would work for him and agreed. So lucky me, I now have him on a 12 month mowing contract!

I kinda feel I got lucky on this though and am wondering if it really would have been worth losing the potential lawn care customer over an extra 20 - 40 minutes. How would you handle it?”

A second lawn care business owner said “congratulations on that, I think you got lucky! Whenever I am approached by a new lawn care customer and I can see it could become a long term mowing situation, I usually take the loss for any cleanups involved if they sign a contract. In the long run, an extra 15 or 20 minutes of my time is well worth a 12 month contract.

In order to make a decision on this, you really need to know how much you could potentially be making off this customer in the long haul and weigh that against how much you want to charge for an additional cleanup. Then the financials should really help you see the best choice to make.”

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