What’s the best way to deal with dog doo when mowing?

If you are a lawn care professional there is no doubt you have to deal with customers who have pets and pets who leave a mess on the lawn. No one likes cleaning up after a dog but if the lawn is to be mower, someone has to do it. Should it be you? Should it be the customer? Or will you simply mow over it?

This is an issue that was brought up on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum when a member asked “I am sure that I am not the only landscaper with some customers that have no disregard for cleaning up after their dogs. What do you guys do?

I know I can put it in the lawn care contract to have the yard clean prior to our arrival but they will either ignore it or just drop us. Any pointers? There are some things I don’t mind but I have been in some yards that are loaded with land mines, and it just messes up your equipment as well as the quality of your service.

During mid summer I was so sick of it that I was thinking of adding like $5 to every lawn with dog crap and hiring someone just to pick it up for me. We then have to spend like 10 minutes banging off boots and making sure no one tracks it into the truck. I hate when it gets into the tires tread but a lot of times I can clean it off with the customers hose. The absolute worst was one day this past season, one of my guys was on a weed wacker and didn’t see a dog pile until it was too late. It exploded on him like confetti. It’s a good thing we weren’t too far from home. I had to take him home to change his clothes. I think that was the main turning point and I knew that I had to do something about this problem.”

Another lawn care business owner explained his policy that has been crafted from years of experience. He answered “I have notes about surcharges for this in my lawn care agreement forms. I also ask when I arrive to do the estimates if they have dogs? How many & do you clean up after them? If the answer to the last question is no, not really, or they look at ya funny & think for a minute before answering yes add a couple bucks per service for cleaning the dog crap off your tires & dealing with the stink in your trailer.

If I include it in the estimate, I don’t surcharge them on top of it. Just having it on my paper work seems to be motivation enough. I have clients who see me pull up & come running out with a bucket & shovel to avoid being charged. I have rarely had to impose this fee but if the “crap” gets out of control I can. I’m sure I’ve lost one or 2 estimates because of my up front approach about it but I don’t care. Look the customer in the eye & make a light hearted joke about it. Maybe say something like ‘hey, if you had to deal with extra crap at your job you’d expect to be compensated right?’ That kinda makes fun of the situation but gets the point across.

My lawn care contract reads like this:

Premium turf maintenance package to include mowing, trimming, edging, blow off all concrete areas. (fee per service) $_____________
Doggy Patrol : If animals are kept on the property, $3.00 will be charged per visit, per dog kept. This charge will
Apply anytime the yard is left soiled. The fee is to cover the costs & time associated with equipment clean up. $____________

Total per service fee $____________”

I like that. I think if I was a customer and I had the options to pay for dog clean up service like that, I would be happy with it. I know a lot of pet owners and they don’t like cleaning up after their dog. If they can spend a few bucks a week to have it taken care of, then why not! I almost fee like the $3.00 per dog is cheap! I think it is a good deal for the consumer. How do most of the customers respond to it?

“That’s a good point. At first I was going to charge for cleaning the yard, but the bottom line is I don’t wanna be hauling a bucket of dog crap in the truck or trailer around all day. I charge for having to clean up the equipment. I still ain’t gonna pick the crap up though. It’s their crap, they can step in it too, so I’ll leave it for them.”

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