Should I fire this lawn care customer?

It’s fascinating to see how your lawn care business can change and grow over time. In this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, one entrepreneur talks to us about how he is considering firing a lawn care customer he took on early in his career but he has since grown beyond and now loses money every time he mows their property. This story may make you think about similar lawn care contracts you have agreed to and may currently be involved in. You may need to reconsider your current lawn care customer situations as well.

He wrote “so I have a large lawn mowing account that doesn’t pay much per visit but has a large monthly bill. I got them when I was first starting my lawn care business and I bill them by the hour. I only get $17.00 per hour as the deal I had set up with them is they provide all the lawn mowing equipment and gas all I have to do is show up. They pay me about $400.00 - $500.00 per month. I have considered firing them because they are sometimes more of a headache than they are worth to me.

I think I could make a lot more money else where. I am worried though that dumping them would have an immediate impact on my cash flow but I am sick and tired of working for them like this.

So I am on the fence of whether I should get rid of them or try to work out a better deal. If I do get rid of them I am just not sure how should I do it.

Besides the pay, another pain about this job is that their son acts like he is my ‘manager.’ He already this year has messed up the lawn, by over fertilizing it, and has been slow to get it fixed so now it’s my fault. There are drainage problems in the yard, so the mower get stuck in the mud from time to time and they won’t pay to get it fixed. This whole situations is just crazy since it’s a $3 million dollar house! The lawn is 4 acres. But I don’t just mow the lawn. I have to do it all, trimming, pruning, lawn renovation, moss killer on the drive way, etc, etc. From time to time I also have to haul their mower to the shop for maintenance, pick up packages for them, and a bunch of other things I have said yes to since I got started.

fired lawn care customer

fired lawn care customer

Most other days I make $275 - $300.00 per day. The most I can make on this property though is $136.00 per day for a full eight hours. I know I made a mistake early on and now I am getting paid $17 an hour, usually split across two, four hour days, twice a week plus 1 hour drive time each way.

So my time is 40 hours total for $544.00. With drive time factored in, I am only getting paid $13.60 an hour!”

A second lawn care business owner said “you are losing around $170 - $200 a day when you are mowing their property because you could be making that much more somewhere else mowing more properties in the same time that one takes. I would either try and raise your costs and use your own equipment or I would quit that job today. I am sure you could quickly find a few more smaller lawn care customers that would replace the income and take much less of your time. Then when you filled up your daily mowing schedule, you would be making a lot more money per week.

This is a classic case of how as your lawn care business grows, your needs change and the deals that sounded great early on, don’t sound so good later as you get bigger and have more higher paying clients.”

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