How To Hire and How Much to Pay Your New Lawn Care Service Provider

Are you tired of that old mower? Done doing the backbreaking labor? Had it with the heat? Sick of spending your free time doing yard work? Whatever your reasons for changing/hiring a lawn care company this season; take some tips from a Pro and avoid headaches later on. In this article, I’m going to give you a run down on what to be aware of and what to look for in your next or first, lawn care company and a few personal tips and a few useful bits of experience. First what does lawn care actually cost you to do yourself?

The True Cost…

Studies show that the average American spend roughly 70 hours per year mowing the lawn, tending to the landscape, and general yard work like raking leaves, picking up sticks, etc. 70 hours! On top of that we have to take into account the cost of the equipment and maintenance.

  • Push Mower = $380
  • String Trimmer = $145
  • Blower = $120
  • Fuel, trimmer line = $20.00 yr
  • Maintenance = $30.00 yr

It adds up fast… $645 in equipment minimum not counting hand tools such as rakes and shovels. Add another $50 a year in maintenance costs over 5 years comes to $895.00 for 5 seasons of equipment plus you get to do all that work right? Say you make $15 per hour x 70 hours a year over 5 years… That’s $6,145.00 for 5 years or $1,229.00 a year!!!! Plus you still have to buy mulch, plants, landscape fabric, weed killer, etc….

Hiring Avenues outside of Google and Siri….

Once the decision to seek out the services is made, it’s time to find a provider. In today’s world the internet is our first go-to but, there are some great hiring avenues outside of what Siri or Google says, and whoever’s ad popped up first is not always the best place to start. Call your friends and family first. Someone you know has a lawn care service provider that they are very pleased with. Chances are, you will be also.

               “A legitimate, and reputable provider will make every effort to provide the best service experience possible, from the estimate to completed job, not just say they will. They should accept credit cards, have a website, reviews, insurance, and most importantly should have many convenient ways to communicate with clients. A value minded provider will go out of their way to ensure your satisfaction, so they will get your referral and the company can grow. Referral traffic is a very important sales tool for us providers. Plus, the best compliment we can receive from our clients is their referral of our company to a friend or family member…”

Another great way to find a provider is Social media. Facebook has a new “Recommendations” feature that allows your extended friend network to offer recommendations on different businesses, service providers, restaurants, and stores.

What should it cost?

How much does it cost? That’s what everyone wants to know right? The truth of the matter is, you can call 10 companies, get 10 estimates, and will get probably get 10 prices. Whether you get a price to mow your quarter acre lot at $25.00 or $65.00 your final cost will be relative to the value you receive.

“In the landscape and lawn care business everyone has different expenses, business operations costs, profit goals, salaries, variable costs, overheads costs, etc. There’s an old saying that comes to mind “You can have it quick, cheap, or good. Pick 2.” I’m not advocating you hire the most expensive provider every time you need a service or installation. However, you should never hire the cheapest!”

There are different motivations for hiring a service provider and most folks (especially first-time buyers) want to treat it like a car purchase; It’s something everyone wants and needs, and they want it as cheaply as possible. While this thinking makes sense to most, it is a terrible strategy that will lead to problems 95% of the time…

What to watch out for…

There are a lot of ways hiring a service provider to perform 20+ services for a year can go bad. Reliability, consistent quality, accurate billing, and easy communication are just a few of the important elements of a great experience. Underbidding your job, inexperience, or poor scheduling practices can lead to an absolutely miserable time. Below is list of 5 “turn and run” pitfalls that should send you scrambling to get off the phone, or back in the house.

  • No one answers the phone?
    • When you call a reputable business, you shouldn’t get a voicemail during normal business hours
  • Cash Only…
    • It’s 2018, who doesn’t take a credit or debit card?…
  • No Insurance…
    • Mowers, weed eaters, and blowers throw debris. You don’t want to pay for a $600 window that your provider broke.
  • Doesn’t look the part…
    • There are reasonable standards that should be met. A sure sign of a “part time” provider is a work uniform from another industry or company,
  • Underbidders, Low ballers…
    • If they are way cheaper than the others, THEY ARE CHEAPER THAN THE OTHERS… A sure-fire way to wind up shopping for another provider in June is to hire one who doesn’t know how to price their services. If you ask for additional services and they are magically “included” … RUN!

What you should expect from the service

First impressions are very important however, not everything. Once your provider gets you an estimate, and you hire them, then what? From setting up payments, and scheduling, to providing the service, and customer experience, everything should move smoothly. First off, weather permitting the provider should show up when they say they will.

Don’t get to worried if the company shows up toward the end of the day. Your property is new to the schedule, and they are straining to get you on their normal route. It’s almost impossible to give accurate time frames in the service industry due to the constantly changing circumstances of each job.”

Don’t be afraid to speak with the technician or crew leader. They should be well trained and well versed in customer service, and the job they are performing for you. It’s always helpful to point out anything you know could cause an issue; hidden holes, sensitive or dangerous plants, gates that need extra force to close or open, etc.

We have seen it all and are fully prepared to perform your services. It is definitely helpful to let us know of anything that may not be readily visible. Dog chains in the grass, that piece of re-bar marking a garden bed, or horseshoe post that got left out last fall is a lawn mower’s worst enemy. This is also the time to make any special requests. A personal relationship should always be the goal for both the client and the provider.”

Your finished product should meet and exceed your expectations. The site should be clean and free of trash and debris. Your gates should be closed and secured as agreed. The provider should perform a walk around to ensure everything is done correctly and professionally.

               “Mowing is pretty straight forward; The turf should be cut evenly and closely at 2”-3.5”. Your provider should maintain straight lines when tracking the mower along. Experienced operators make 3 point turns and there should be very few, if any “turn marks” where the machines turned around on the turf. The weed eating (string trimming) should be complete and thorough. The provider should get under fences, and around fence posts, mail boxes, drainage areas, etc. There should be a 1” edge run down all the curbs, sidewalks, porches, and driveway. Finally, any debris should be blown from the patios, porches, sidewalks, driveway, and street. There shouldn’t be large piles of clippings, leaves, or sticks left behind.”

What really matters…

So, the mowing company came, they mowed, they left, and they didn’t do what you were expecting? Whether they missed something, did something wrong, did something poorly, or you just need some good old fashioned, customer service. This is the time when the companies Customer Service Experience is what really matters. At minimum:

  • You should be able to reach out to someone easily and get a quick response if not, immediate service…
  • You should have a contact at the Company…
  • Your service issues should be dealt with quickly, and professionally…
  • A Lawn Care Service Provider’s mess up, shouldn’t be your problem…
  • Payment, billing, and scheduling concerns should be addressed with speed and convenience for you…

In closing, your provider should care enough about their business to have certain standards and policies in place to ensure you a quality experience. The goal should be to make and keep you happy from the first service and for many years to come. In this article I have laid out for you what you should expect when hiring a service provider. This advice is intended to educate and help make the best buying decision possible.