A steep incline can really effect the amount of time it takes to mow a property or even collect leaves off of it. As we will see in this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, there are easy ways to perform steep jobs as well as difficult ways. Easier ways allow you to get more jobs done in less time, therefore allowing you to profit more. The harder ways take more time and leave you with less money at the end of the day. Let’s have a look at how to make your life easier and make more money.
One lawn care business owner wrote “after doing this leaf cleanup job today I am thinking I should change my lawn care business name to Insane Grade Leaf Collection. Wow was this job a tough one. On the job I used my compact utility tractor and it was all she could do to get up this grade. We had to dump the vacuum attachment cans four times. That is a record for me for one property and I have worked on some pretty big lawns in the past. The customer was so pleased with the results that she gave us each an extra $50.00 cash so at the end of the day we went for pizza and a beer.
I have no idea what the actual grade was but I had to use four wheel drive and differential lock front and rear to get up it. The way the property sloped so steeply down the back yard, it would be too slow to even attempt to blow all those leaves into a pile. This yard was about 1/2 an acre and I charged $185.00 to remove the leaves. I was in and gone in about an hour. This included me and one helper. In fact, we were able to knock off 6 other jobs that day.
If I had to make a guess, I would say the grade was close to 40 degrees. There is no way a ZTR could mow this property. The customer said in the past she was hiring a guy with a push mower but asked if we would do it next year. She also asked about fixing the lawn, and building a retaining wall so that she could have some flat area. We will probably end up with a $30 to $40 thousand dollar contract from this customer alone when it is all said and done.
When I get to such a unique job site I always ask my clients what they have done in the past to handle their property care. For this site, the customer said she used a company that sent over two employees, and it took them about 4 to 5 hours. They actually had charged her $125.00 which was less than my bid and hauled the leaves away. In my opinion that company is losing money. Even though we charged more, I sold the customer on the fact we shred the leaves for use as great compost. Afterwards, the customer confirmed she chose us this year because she has many flower gardens and wanted to have the leaves shreded and left for use as compost in the spring. The way she looked at it and she is correct, the money she normally pays for compost is close to what we charge for the entire leaf cleanup service, so she is actually saving money in the long run.
Having the right equipment is critical to be successful in this industry. I fully understand many just simply can’t afford some of the gear I have. The compact utility tractor and the unit I have on back for leaf collector is almost $26,000, but it does far more than collect leaves. It can also run a 5′ roto tiller, and go almost anywhere with it.
It takes money to make money, I know have learned that a long time ago. The more services you can offer and if you can afford to buy equipment that saves time, it pays for itself very, very quickly.
I am running Gator high lift mulching blades on my tractor which will lift wet leaves off the ground and shred them, while I use a tow behind leaf vac unit. Then my helper just blows the harder to reach leaves out of the in the property edges, flower beds and from around rocks etc for the tractor to mow up. Using the vac attachment can take a lot of time, and I don’t always use it. Sometimes instead if I can simply drive over the leaves, up to 10″ deep, they will be shredded into a fine powder and left to feed the lawn.
When I first got the call for this customer, I showed up to her location, gave her a quote, explained what our specialized equipment will do and she was sold. I am not a hard sale guy, for me my sales pitch is basically this is what we do, this is the cost, it’s very simple and that helps me get the bids.
So the customer that wants the lower cost, is not the customer that is in my target market and never will be. I have the gear to provide a better service, but as with anything it comes with a cost. I get almost 95% of the bids that I present. If you can’t afford my service, I respect that and I wish you well. I think the key to such an attitude is that I am not hungry for work.”