How to handle family and friend requests for free lawn care.

As a lawn care business owner, you are going to be more knowledgeable than the average person when it comes to property care. You are also going to have a lot of lawn care equipment that most homeowners don’t have. This will ultimately lead to you taking requests from family and friends, to perform all sorts of services for free. How should you handle this? That is the question which was asked on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum. This discussion should help you better deal with similar situations in your life.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I need a bit of advice. I am by nature a very goodhearted person who ultimately believes in doing the right thing. Since I own my own lawn care business, I have professional equipment (commercial mower, truck, trailer, tractor, etc) that many of my close friends and family do not have access to besides me. My current policy when dealing with friends and family is that I do not charge them for performing odd jobs. As long as it is for things that require less than a couple of hours every now and then. Something like trimming a few bushes or hauling a load of mulch here and there, is ok.

However, some of my friends have recently stepped up the requests that require the use of my equipment and time to help them move into their new home, or clean up their lot, or install a wood fence. I am the type that always offers cash before ever asking a close friend to do something for me. However, I have a few friends who do not even offer money for my time and equipment.

It’s not that I am upset enough to bring it to their attention, but has anyone ever had any of these awkward situations or had to deal with something similar? I feel like I am getting to the point where enough is enough. I don’t really know what I am planning to do. The idea of giving them the brush off in a mild way by claiming to be busy is something I am considering. I am extremely busy as we all are and as I get older I am finding out that life seems to speed up. I feel like I have more and more needs that have to get accomplished in less time. I don’t have a problem with being busy, that’s the way I prefer it, but I do wish people like my friends who don’t have much knowledge of the landscaping world would appreciate the fact that the work that I have done for them is a huge cost savings compared to a full rate contractor doing it for them.

Like I said I don’t expect anything going in to it because they are good friends, but if they were like me, I would have offered cash to help offset the costs of fuel, equipment, etc. I appreciate your input of helping me decide the best way to handle this.”

A second lawn care business owner said “people will be people. Some will greatly appreciate what you do and others will take you for granted.

If you find certain people are not appreciative of what you are doing for them or they are taking too much of your time, maybe just say you can’t because you are busy. Or something that is like a mild brush off. After a couple of attempts they will probably give up and move on to do this to another friend.

What I tell my family is ‘the work is free, accepting complaints is very expensive.’ I did try to mow my dad’s lawn for free for a while until his wife started knit-picking every detail. Now I charge about 75% of what it should cost and strangely the complaints stopped.

Friends have got to realize that you could be making money on a lawn care customer’s property and if they aren’t going to pay, that’s fine, but the service is going to be performed during non-business hours only.”

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