Should I be charging for those small service calls?

You have probably been in a situation before where you get constant service calls from a lawn care customer who never seems to be satisfied. They may expect you to perform these additional service calls for free as well. This raises an important question about when you should be charging for such services and when they should be included in the cost of your annual lawn care agreement payments. As we will see from this discussion on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, there are certain elements that you may want to consider when trying to decide if you should be adding a charge to the service call or not.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I just recently bought an already operating lawn care business with 35 lawn accounts, commercial mowers, truck and everything. It has been going great so far, but there is this one lawn care customer who always calls me and complains that she needs a sprinkler repaired or for any other little thing. Up to this point I always go and do the work at no extra charge, but it is starting to get tiring. I thought her requests would stop but now I see they are not going to. Should I start charging her to cut down on this nonsense and make sure I am covering my expenses to perform these tasks? Even if what ever she calls me for only takes me 5 or 10 minutes on site, the total amount of time it will take me is at least 30 minutes when you factor in that I have to get there, perform the job, and get back. I don’t know what to do, I need help”

A second lawn care business owner said “when you bought the lawn care accounts were they already under a contract? I do have a service in my contracts that includes irrigation maintenance. However, in the contract it is stated exactly what is and isn’t include with the service. If it is anything beyond that it cost extra. You may need to check your existing contracts with those customers first before you start adding fees.

As with everything in life there is a line in the sand that has to be drawn. I have some lawn care clients we will do more for than others. This sometimes is based on the size of the contract, or if they are super nice people and you just want to do a little something to show your appreciate for their business etc. At the same time it’s that old saying ‘give them an inch and they will take a yard.’

At the end of the day we all have to eat and pay for our expenses, we can’t give everything away. There are many times when we simply say, thank you for your call, our rate for ………. will be $xx.xx. From that, they will either say sure or don’t bother. If we have to call another service professional to make a service call at our home, we know it comes with a charge, and our business should be no different. People will at times try to take advantage of you because of the fact you are the sole business owner and you may feel compelled to say yes to what ever their requests are.

As you said, if the service call takes 10-15 minutes, there is probably at least double that time involved in getting there and getting back. Such a job can easily turn into an hours worth of time out of your day. When you see the job for what it is, you start to see how these jobs can really take large blocks of time out of your week. If you do charge for them, you may think it is only  a few bucks, but it will add up over time.

Time is money and that is true. After reviewing your contract with her, you might decide these service necessitate a charge. Don’t go charging her obscene amounts for little tasks..keep it simple, but make sure you don’t leave gaps in your day where you are performing services at a loss.”

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