This is a question for those of you who do regular garden maintenance rounds.
Do you think it would be acceptable to charge customers for lawnmowing as a seperate service rather than including it in the general garden maintenance.
The reason for this is that last year i found customers had unrealistic expectations for what the standard of lawn they would get with me mowing it during my fornightly (or in some cases monthly!) visits. I also had cases where i'd come back on the next visit to find a lawn that i'd been keeping to a good standard had been scalped or otherwise damaged by the customer.
So i was thinking with new maintenance round customers i'd quote one price for regular maintenance for the rest of the garden only (e.g. on a fortnightly basis all year round), and another price for yearly maintenance of the lawn, scheduling frequency of cut at different times of the year and other lawn maintenance tasks (and with an off-season in winter).
Do people think this is viable?
I go at it the other way, and include everything in a monthly price. I avoid fortnightly contracts so far as possible for the very reasons you mention; you almost never seem to keep them happy. Lawns need cutting at least once per week in the peak season, or they look scruffy in week two and the customer will only blame the gardener!
I have lost count the number of clients that i have thankfully aquired just because of the problems you highlighted. The problem as I see it, the gardeners have time boxed their visits and quite often they haven't allowed sufficient time for all tasks or in some cases they take far too long to mow a lawn. Something has to give and normally ends up with the householder sacking the gardener or taking the mowing off them.
Have a peek at http://www.landscapejuicenetwork.com/group/keyobjectivesprivategrou... where we briefly touched on this subject.
Personally, I don't include other services for domestic clients except one in my visit price. Lawn cutting is undertaken for a contracted 18, 21 or 30 visits per year and charged at a fixed price per mow, additional services are then quoted (normally fixed price) as required.
As JP said - keep the two tasks separate.
Why not charge a high enough price to allow for a thorough lawn cut in addition to the general maintenance? It may be a higher figure overall than the client expected but it gets them a top class service.
I do not do a lot of garden maintenance as it just does not pay me enough. But where I have agreed to do some then the lawn mowing cost remains separate. I justify the higher hourly rate (which I feel is needed when the time taken to mow equates close to £30 00 per hour) on the fact the lawn has nice defined stripes because the mower I use is the best part of a £1000 and that has to be paid for and maintained. This is a bit different than a few hand tools which is all that is mostly required for the other garden tasks and subsequently I can not command the rate that mowing provides.
Not that I am in any way diminishing the premium some of you guys should command for the qualification and expertise that you bring.
We offer a bespoke service for each client. We do not quote hourly rates as we are selling a product of a maintained garden rather than time spent on it. We discuss what the client wants, the benefits and drawbacks of various options. Do they want a perfect lawn, or just kept down so the kids can play on it etc. The time taken to do various tasks changes within the season and from year to year. We then give an annual price divided in to monthly installments. This gives us the flexability to spend whatever time is needed. How long we spend achieving this is not relevent to the client. What is relevent is how good the garden looks for the cost.
Having said this, we do get some people who rather pay some one to dawdle about for twice as long as needed because they think they are getting a cheaper hourly rate, even though it's costing them more for the same result!
Keep it simple I say and bundle them up together.
Manage expectations. Explain what grass will look like on a weekly / fortnightily and monthly cuts, work out a cost for each and then let them decide.
Thanks for the feedback everyone - it feels really good to have found a site full of experienced and friendly people!
I know i have to change the way i'm doing things, so think i'll try a bit of market research for both keeping grass cutting seperate from maintainance and for Cesare's suggestion of a bespoke service. I agree that the machine/maintenance/petrol costs mean that maintaining a lawn well should have a greater "hourly rate" than most general maintainance, but i also try to charge slightly more (and enjoy the work more too) in gardens where i am able to use my horticultural knowledge and skills to a greater extent than the kind of garden where there's not much more to do other than weeding and tidying up.
We had different rates to begin with Helen but found it much better to have an average rate for the gardening service, again its more straight forward. There is a danger of confusing the customer and yourself!
yes i do :