Turf Magazine - January, 2012

NATIONAL FEATURES

In Your Own Words

Charging Customers Per Month (Year-Round)

Turf Management: "Has anyone had experience charging customers on a monthly basis, year-round? I think this would be a great way to keep income strong during the winter and sell additional services the customer wouldn't have otherwise bought.

"I am considering setting up a $99 a month lawn care program. This would include:

"28 cuts x $35/cut = $980

"Unlimited residential snow = $150

"Aeration = $100

"Total = $1,230 ($102.50/month)

"This would be the rate for up to 12,000 square feet.

"Additional services could be purchased as requested and fertilization could be added to the monthly rate for $25 a month. Additionally, customers will be billed so that they are always paying ahead for the next month, effectively preventing delinquent accounts under this program.

"I would also write in the program contract that if the program was ended prior to 12 months, the customer will be responsible for paying the true rate of services minus what was already paid.

"Thoughts?"

New City Lawn Care LLC: "Let me tell you from experience this is all I do, and works very well. Just communicate with the potential customer and everything will work out just fine for you."

Turf Management: "My only real concern is having customers drop off in October and then not paying off the remaining balance of services provided. I will have all this written out in the contract of course, but we all know if a customer isn't going to pay they will usually find a way to avoid doing so. Do you have any problems with this?"

New City Lawn Care LLC: "You know I don't have a real big problem with this, but I charge a flat rate per month, probably a little more than your calculations, but I do have a couple who every year bump me down to two times a month for half the bill for three months, but all in all I keep the customer, they are happy, I still make money, etc., so it does happen, but I just deal with it and live with it to keep a customer here and there."

JasonsLawnCare1: "I live down South and we mow eight months and do leaf cleanup two months out of the year. We do nothing in January and February. No snow removal. I still don't do the 12-month thing. I just charge by the month and take off two months and start back. This way you avoid any problems of them not paying in the slow months. Either way you get the same amount of money. I think they like the break since it's right after Christmas and they've spent a lot of money on presents. It kind of gives them time to recover. If you do snow removal, then 12-month plans should work since you would be working year-round nonstop. Just make sure they do want snow removal before going into that plan, otherwise they might tend to stop paying in the winter months."

orangemower: "I do it for mowing only for a few customers. Anything else is extra. It works out good as I have a few checks coming in for the three-month downtime we get in my area."

"In Your Own Words" is contributed from the lawn care and landscape forum at www.lawnsite.com, which has been named one of 10 Great Media Sites by Media Business magazine and was chosen as a winner of the Most Engaged Media Brands for 2010 by min, a firm that tracks the media industry. Visit them, and join in the discussions.