Lawn customer not home, what should you do?

Have you ever run into a situation with a lawn care customer where they questioned if you had shown up to mow their property? How should you deal with such situations or better yet, what is the best way to avoid them before they become a problem? That is what a lawn care business owner was wondering when he posted his question on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum.

He wrote “When your lawn care customers aren’t home during your visit do any of you leave a card ? I was thinking a card with my logo on the front and something like this on the back.

Mowed while you were away on _______Date and time_______.

Next scheduled visit (weather permitting) on _____Date______.

Is this a good idea or over kill?

As this is my first year running my lawn care business and this week marks my first return visit, the biggest question I had was when to return. The customers and I talked about this while servicing the first time but the answers were unclear. I got 3 different response – ‘no more then once a week – every couple weeks – when needed.’ So I was thinking if I scheduled them before leaving this would in a sense create a contract between us. They would understand my intent. Be it 7 – 10 – 14 days between cuts.

To prove I was there isn’t the intent. To agree on a return date would be the goal. Of the 3 lawn care customers I have right now, they are more inclined to go 14 days between cuts. This is very hard on my machine and not the best for the lawn. As I grow I will be trying to replace these accounts with weekly ones. Gettin started you have to start somewhere..”

One lawn care business owner suggested “if you are doing such a bad job that you need to leave a business card to announce to your customer you were there then yes, it’s a bad idea. Since I am sure this is not the case, I don’t think you need to do this. The customer will see the yard has been mowed. Only leave a card if you see something that you can do that needs to be done, and give him an estimate for the work. The customer may not have even noticed the problem or thought of you for that work. Remember the more you can do the more money you can make.

A second lawn care business owner said “I don’t worry if my customers are home or not. I explain to every single one of them that we come out once a week and they are not required to be home as stated in our general service agreement (contract). If the lawn needs it, we cut it. If it doesn’t, we normally don’t cut it until the following week. I explain that bi-weekly cuts are charged at normal rate times 1.5 times.

My contract also states that my customers have 5 days from the date the lawn was serviced to pay if paying weekly. If paying monthly, they are issued an invoice the last week of the month for the upcoming month and have 7 days or until we cut it to pay for the month. I have never done the monthly prebilling before but it is something I am experimenting with this new year. I am using the Gopher Lawn Care Software to handle this for me.

I am considering putting post it notes on the door saying we were there since when I go to collect money I have already had clients say ‘It doesn’t look like you cut it. What did you do?’ I then have to tell the customer, we cut it 5 days ago. It has grown since then. Each client knows which day I am scheduled to service their yard. If it rains, it’s postponed until the next clear day. Usually I drop an invoice in their mailbox after I mow their lawn so they know I cut it and how much they owe and when the money is due. That usually stops the complaining phone calls. Most of them, 90% of my clients won’t call. I call them the day before the money is due and remind them and 99% of them have the money on time.”

A third lawn care business owner advised “I would establish a monthly billing amount and explain to each customer beforehand that your lawn will be serviced twice a month, each week, etc. weather permitting. You will be billed at the last week of each month. Explain to them it is not required they be present to have their lawn serviced. Try to avoid the guaranteed service day of the week, this can get you in a bind. I try to inform people that if they want their lawn cut every 14 days (for example) that their lawn may get serviced a little before that or a little after that, but they WILL get two cuts per month nonetheless.

All of my customers are fine with this. I’ve never had anyone tell me that it doesn’t look like it was cut. But I pay attention close to every detail, like the edging, cleanup, and some I spray roundup around trees to make a neat circle. You can tell them that if it doesn’t look like it was cut, then it must be because you do a quality job every time, the same way each time. (Although I do try to vary my mow patterns to avoid compacting grass.)

As you get more customers, you will find this sticky note thing to become a real pain, and if you ever forget to put a note, now you have given the customer a right to argue with you. In my view, you are better off without a pain in the ass customer that will argue with you over whether or not you cut their grass, if you know you did cut it. Leave those customers for the low-ballers!”

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Lawn Care Business Books And Software.
How To Get Lawn Care Customers Vol. 2
The landscaping and lawn care business plan startup guide
A rebellious teenagers guide to starting a landscaping & lawn care business
The GopherHaul Lawn Care Business Show Episode Guide.
Stop Lowballing! A Lawn Care Business Owner\'s Guide To Success