Should you implement an end of the season mowing price hike?

Sometimes it’s not until late in your first mowing season that you begin to realize that you are not making money on some customer properties. So much is going on through out the year that you might be too busy to really sit down and review your profitability. When you do take a moment and review your customer base and your prices, you may find a price increase is called for. But should you implement it at the end of the season? If so, how will your customers handle it? That is what one business owner was interested in knowing when he asked this question on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I’ve been running my mowing business full time for the last 7 months or so. When I first started, I was optimistic about getting all my grass clients on weekly service. Some of them, you just can’t convince other wise and I charged more than the normal rate for bi-weekly service, but it’s still not enough.

Now please understand, I don’t have to many clients in this situation and I still make money on some of them. But with at least a few customers, I can now see I am barely breaking even on them and I want to change this by next year.

The agreement for these break even customers is to mow their property every two weeks and take care of the grass and weeds. One customer asked me two months ago to trim a bush for her and I did so but took the opportunity to discuss a rate increase for the month of October. The rate would go from $32.50 to $40 a mowing. $40 is the minimum I want to go for bi-weekly clients now. To get her a better value for her money I said I would agree to add the hedge trimming to the agreement. This is more than fair I think. She’s not going for it though and looking for another landscaper. That is fine with me as I’ve been prepared to lose her for a while with the rate hike looming.

My question is, how successful are you guys at retaining a client after a rate hike?”

A second lawn care business owner said “generally, customers are okay with rate increases as long as the service still represents a good value to them. I have always had good luck giving rate increased at the beginning of the year. That way, customers don’t feel they are being confronted with a rate increase in the middle of the season.

If a customer balks, you can always offer to give them an add-on for free. Something small like the bush trimming or blowing out a bed that gathers lots of leaves and debris during the mowing season. An extra small job here and there will help them accept the increase easier.”

A third added “I know it may be hard if you don’t have a really good client base, but in my personal opinion, quality customers is way better than a quantity of customers. Then the best is a quantity of quality customers, that comes with time and hard work.

In other words, you can’t make everybody happy. If the customer can’t except a small increase, they may not be that quality customer you are striving for.

Every time I have raised prices, one or two will move on to another company. That’s business, and that’s it. Good luck and don’t stress it to much.”

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