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Business Owners & Managers

How to Set Client Expectations About Hours of Operation

It isn't easy to precisely calculate the daily hours involved in a new lawn care business.

However, defining what services you will provide, estimating time on projects of varying sizes, and budgeting time for communication with clients are all necessary when setting hours of operation.

Part of the communication aspect of the lawn care business involves setting realistic client expectations about what you can do and when you can do it. These expectations need to be discussed at the outset of contract and provided in writing for your protection.

Meet the Fictional Carefrees

To illustrate some of the problems that arise without clear client expectations, we've invented the fictional entrepreneurs Curt and Carla Carefree of Cheerful Lawn Care, which serves the Friendly Acres neighborhood.

The Carefrees limit their services to mowing, edging and tidying clippings. Their clients contract with other companies for tasks such as fertilizing and aerating.

Most of the homes in Friendly Acres are on quarter-acre lots. It takes the Carefrees about 30 minutes per quarter-acre job.

Here are some difficulties they are encountering:

  • Client A has a half-acre lot and wants mowing at 4:30 p.m. He is upset when the Carefrees explain it isn't possible, because the job will take 45 minutes and their workday ends at 5 p.m.

  • Client B regularly telephones the Carefrees during the workday with questions about schedule and lawn care. This increases their time on jobs for other clients.

  • Client C has to rearrange her appointment, but calls the Carefrees after hours and doesn't get through.

The Carefrees joke about changing their business name to Grumpy Lawn Care, but what they need to do is improve communication about hours of operation, including business communications.

Set Expectations at Outset

To keep expectations clear, always record contracts in writing. Set client expectations at the outset of a work relationship by clearly stating work hours in the contract and explaining the approximate length of time needed for jobs of varying sizes.

Also include your policy about when calls and emails will be returned. Then follow through promptly. Try not to bend the hours, because clients won't take your schedule seriously.

Seek Digital Support

Mobile software programs that help with scheduling, invoicing, maintaining records you and the client can access, and messaging help make things easier both for you and the client.

Explain How Weather Affects Schedule

Don't forget to address the issue of how weather may affect your lawn care schedule. Your contract needs to mention that service times may need rearrangement when events such as rain and lightning occur.

Keep It Honest and Tidy

Finally, business will run smoother when clients understand the reasoning behind your work hours and know when they can expect to hear from you. Be honest and realistic with them from the start about what work is possible and when.

And, if you have a monthly contract with clients, it may reassure them to receive short, weekly emails reporting on the work you did for them and any helpful lawn care tips you have to offer. They'll see it as added value in your tidy care of their property.

How do you manage client expectations? Join our forum to share your tips or ask other pros for advice.