Landscaping & Design/Pricing fall cleanup

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Question
Hi,what is the average rate for a fall cleanup? I have a client that I have had for 2 years and now her husband is complaining that it takes to long when we are working. Her yard is huge and it does take awhile if you are doing a good job. Would you recommend to price by the hour or by the job? Thank you for you to take the time to help me. Sincerely Laura

Answer
Hi Laura. Thanks for the question.

I can't really comment on the average rate for a fall cleanup as the market is different in every place. I will give you a few of my thoughts on some other issues. This appears to be a sales/value issue. These are quite common in the landscaping business.

As far as pricing by the hour or job, that is up to you. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. It is usually the local market that will dictate this for you. Most companies have the same pricing policies and it may be difficult to veer from the local ways of doing business.

How are you currently charging for a fall cleanup?    

Most landscapers quote work on estimates of materials and labor hours. When quoting jobs you have to be able to see the "unforeseen" as well. Almost every job throws a curve ball at you that eats into your time.

Here is what separates companies in this business.

lazy people that lack pride in their work ignore the curve ball.

On the other hand, people that take pride in their work will deal with it even if it means eating a bit of time. The word of mouth often will get you more business but,

The most successful people in the landscaping business can turn the curve ball into an opportunity to be more profitable and professional. Most customers will appreciate that you have a better eye for detail and you will be able to charge for these instances accordingly.  

This is also where you really need to hone your sales skills. Just remember that every customer has a different level of expectation. You will need to be able to read the customer and what kind of job they are expecting.

There is nothing wrong with charging a little more than company "B", so long as you can sell the value of your services. Be up front with people. When you put together a quote, make sure you detail as many things as you can that you include in your service.

Remember that people buy based on benefits and features. The more you show them, the more likely they are to see the value in what you are selling. If you see difficult areas in the job that may take a little more time, you should make note of it to the customer.

Have you approached the husband about his concerns? Were you on the job yourself? Was this one of your crews slacking off a bit? Is the wife concerned as well?

Whenever you have an objection, you need to deal with it. Ask questions to find out whether it is a true valid objection to your pricing or not. Maybe he was talking to a friend or neighbor and they were discussing spring clean up prices?

The discussion may have revealed he is paying more than someone else that is actually receiving a lower quality job.

You are in business to make money. You may have to make a decision based on finances over quality. This is unfortunate, but can happen.

If you really want to challenge yourself make a personal improvement project out of this. Turn this customer into a testimonial for your business. This should be your goal. If you can do this, you will only improve your sales and customer service skills.      

Let me know your thoughts and we can discuss this further.

Thanks so much.

Kevin  

Landscaping & Design

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Kevin Goulding

Expertise

I can answer questions about construction techniques for dry-laid ( mortarless ) projects with natural stone and manufactured products as well. I can give details on preparation work for hardscaping in harsh northern climates with deep winter frost. I can also provide you with PDF files with thorough step by step how-to's on many other landscaping projects in your yard. I can answer questions on planting and transplanting trees, how to seed a yard, how to sod a yard and how to properly work with edging and landscaping fabrics. I prefer not to give information on softscaping unless it is related to my climate/hardiness zone. I am in zone 4.

Experience

10 years of landscaping and training other landscapers.

Publications
www.dream-yard.com

Education/Credentials
I have been studying landscaping technique for many years. I spend many hours reading, researching and cross referencing different techniques used all around the world. I have also taken a landscape design course through ICS so I could understand basic residential design. I have used all the tips and different techniques I have studied, and put this together with my experience as a landscaper to write a series of how-to modules. My modules are thorough, and very easy to read and follow.

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