It usually takes about one lawn care season to get you to a point where you begin to understand your overhead and operational costs. At the end of your first season, you may look at your bank account and realize with all your efforts, you have very little money to show from it. If you find this to be the case, you may want to consider either cutting costs or raising your prices. But if you raise your lawn mowing prices, won’t you lose your customers? Not if you do it properly. Let’s look at a question that was posted on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum.
A lawn care business owner wrote “after my first year in business, it is clear to me that I will need to raise some of my customer’s prices. This was my first year. I inherited some of my customers, whose properties I had maintained for several seasons, from a previous company I worked for. Wouldn’t you know it, these are primarily the customers who are underpriced. The previous business owner low balled a lot of his clients and many of them have had the same price for a number of years. It’s no wonder he went out of business.
However, I don’t know how to go about raising their prices and am afraid of losing some of my customers. Does anybody have advice on how to present this? I want to bring this news to the customer in a gentle, non-offensive manner…explaining the economy, rising costs etc etc etc. Please help.”
One lawn care business owner suggested “I personally would not send my customers a letter no matter how many you may have. It’s like breaking up with your girlfriend over a text message. It’s kind of cheap to me. I would go around and speak with all of my clients personally and just have a chat with them. My clients like me for being like that. Most businesses just send a letter in the mail. I go right up to their front door and talk with them personally. To me that is more respectful as a business owner.
How much are you thinking on raising the prices? You should figure that out first. How you word it is up to you. If you know your customers personally it will obviously be easier to confront them about this. If you don’t, your main goal is to ‘complete’ things in a polite fashionable manner. Even if they get pissed and you lose them. Keep a professional attitude, apologize and offer them a business card and a free service so they have time to find another company to suite their needs. You have to be upfront….not strict ….but upfront … and polite.
Something I have found is my cheaper customers complain the most. It is amazing how much they can complain. Early on, I had a guy that I only charged $25 for a full leaf removal service. He had a 2 acre yard. I did this because he was a friend of the family. So I gave him a dirt cheap price. Every time he would come out of his house, he would pick these odd places that he wanted leafs removed from. He came up to me and said that I was not doing a good job. The leaves were still falling as I was cleaning them up! I told him that I got everything cleaned up but since the leaves were still falling, they were covering his yard back up again.
He wanted me to keep cleaning them up until they were done falling. I had finally had it and said “ok…. give me $150 a week until leafs stop falling and I can do that for you.” He threw a fit and I got so pissed I terminated the service after I was done with the job. I was definately glad to get rid of him.”
A second shared “I think you are doing yourself a disservice by not raising the prices to the current going rate or at least close to it.
If you admit a lawn’s price should be raised by a certain dollar figure and you only raise it by half that, you are leaving money on the table per mow. At say 40 cuts per year that can really add up per customer over the course of a year.
It can be a big chunk but customers are aware that prices rise occasionally and your customers probably will not balk at a reasonable amount. They still won’t like it but if you give quality service they will likely agree. Quality service is the key here. If they have no complaints with your work and dependability, a rise in prices alone will not make them drop you.
When it comes to raising prices, I’ve always found personalized letters with personal follow-ups a few days later work great.”