When should you reopen a lawn care contract, midseason?

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you landed a mowing contract and sometime mid season, the customer alters their property which then takes more time from you to perform the job you bid on? What do you do in such a situation? That is what one landscaper was curious about in his discussion on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum. A few responses gave him an idea on how to best handle the situation, but would you handle it differently?

One new lawn care business owner wrote “I am very new to the lawn business and I am having trouble with one account. I have a $3,800 per season mowing contract that I mow, trim, and prune hedges once per week. I estimate I’m making about $146 for 3.5 hours work per week on this one. I do this one by myself.

Anyway, the customer recently put up a 12×12 screen room in the back yard. Where it used take a few minutes to mow this area with the rider, now I have to pull out the lawn furniture and hand mow and put everything back. All of this adds about 30 more minutes to the job. So my question is, would you renegotiate for a new mowing contract or be a nice guy and just do it?”

A second lawn care business owner shared “I would let it go for the rest of this season and raise my price for next year. If you tried to get more money now it might mean you won’t get this contract next season or worse they could drop you now. But if you raise your price for next season and explain why, I would think it would go over better with the customer.’

A third added ‘I like that response, BUT, You are losing time and time is money. The money per season sounds good, and it sounds like a good client. I am guessing they would be willing to hear and understand how their new ‘convenience’,  inconveniences you and your services provided.

In the long run it’s your call. It’s all a gamble and they pay. Explain your end and ask for more. Can you afford the loss next season?

I’ve lost a lot of income doing exactly what you’re doing right now. You’re not the bad guy here if you’re properly maintaining the property to their satisfaction. Politely explain your situation and hope for understanding. I work for free on my terms, not the client’s. (I pick and choose losses, I try not to consider those choices as losses BUT they are. You cannot allow your clients to dictate such choices.)

I’ve run into so many situations of loss that I’ve lost count. Is $4,000 a year on a single account (unseen/unknown) something to hang onto, at least for now?

My point is to advise the client that circumstances between original bid and services provided have been altered to the service provider’s detriment. Folks paying what they are sound like reasonable people who would understand basic economics. My job is now more intricate and time consuming / my job now costs more. if the added expense is likely low / reasonable. Let it ride, say nothing and what’s next?

Next week you might find a homeowner-grade paver walkway that needs to be cut with a trimmer instead of your mower. There’s another 10 minutes lost that could be cash somewhere else. And you already lost a 30 minute cut from the list?

It might sound petty but there are only so many working hours available on any given week. Most of my clients get a lot for free. That’s on me, my choice. I grow much from bulb, corn, and seed. I grow and share perennials. Again, on me. But in this instance, where a provider spends significant time over their bidded price due to unforeseen modification?

Speaking up can be done politely and with tact. No need to ask for reimbursement or an immediate rate hike. Simply mentioning to the client that you might need to thin your losses is effective. They’re curious to know what your losses might be… They have friends who tell them how great our industry is…. They’re clueless to the reality of waking up to grass stained wet boots and grinding blades while they suck down a latte and adjust their tie. I don’t work for anyone that’s ever done what I do. Doubt I ever will.

Reasonable people respond well to such tactics. You’re not selling new, very gently informing them that they’ll soon swim again in the shark infested waters they swam before finding YOU if they choose to let you go. Intelligent people want to stick with a proven winner. That makes doing business easy. If your client is satisfied, you’re in. Good business isn’t only about a satisfied customer, if you’re losing they’re going to lose too. They’re going to lose YOU.

If you let folks walk on you, they’ll likely run and stomp at the same time. You HAVE to have boundaries ‘or you’ll get what we have right here… a failure to communicate’. Communication is (almost) everything. If they like you and what you bring, they’ll pay for it as long as it’s not out of line…’

Read more about Lawn Care Business Bidding Tips, Upsells, And Disasters To Avoid. Learn how to improve your bidding process with this lawn care business book and be prepared before hand by knowing what you should be looking out for before a problem occurs.”

If you need help estimating lawn care or snow plowing jobs, get these lawn care and snow plowing estimation calculators.

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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