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View Full Version : Customers prefer nice solo guys


Eho
04-08-2005, 01:59 PM
Hey I was just thinking about this subject....I think customers prefer to use solo guys more than big companies. With solo guys they get the chance to know the ONE person who will be on their property and they feel like they can know them. Larger companies tend to have three man crews with many non-english speaking workers. Who would you rather hire?....a guy that you feel like you know and talk to or a big company who has guys who you can't even talk to. What makes me bring this up? Yesterday, I was in a neighborhood mowing where two other lawn care companies( big companies, big trucks, many hispanic workers) were down the street. A guy in his car stopped to approach me about mowing his lawn and I landed him as a weekly customer for the year. He actually lived on the street where the two others LCOs were yet he approached me while I was in the middle of mowing a yard on the street over from his. He got out of his car and talked to me when he could have easily gone to the other LCOs. This guy ws probably thinking: can they even talk to me?...also, he knew they were just workers and probably wouldnt handle this walk up business...their boss would need to do that. just something I noticed yesterday.
EHO

Woody82986
04-08-2005, 02:06 PM
I get that alot, but in reality in my town, there are only a couple of companies that have multiple trucks and crews. I do get a few every year that say they are fed up with having all those guys who can't communicate with them on their property all the time. I had one last year who hired me knowing I was a one man operation and then calleed me a few weeks into the season telling me that my mexicans had missed a spot. I politely told him that I was the only guy who worked for my company, and we both laughed for 5 minutes. He said he was so used to having Mexicans on his lawn that he forgot he hired a solo op. So, I think you may be right about some people wanting smaller operations for their lawn care needs. There are a few neighborhoods here that seem to prefer having the big trucks and cab overs come in so they look like they are dropping more money than they really are on lawn care.

Ant_Knee
04-08-2005, 02:15 PM
There are those who have preferences for one and those for the other. I have also heard on the flip side from some customers that they got tired of having a solo guy who would show up to mow sometimes and on other occasions would not show up for a couple of weeks and not communicate that with their client. I'm not saying that is typical of solos, it can happen to some larger companies that don't have a good handle on tracking the service they do provide. It seems to always come to the type of experience the customer had in the past that molds their future judgement.

Tn Lawn Man
04-08-2005, 03:13 PM
I find this thread very interesting because I have been giving a lot of thought about my company image over the past few years.

I have a small company but I represent myself as a larger company than what I am. I have done this in many ways such as advertisement choices, uniforms, and the way I have titled myself (manager/supervisor instead of owner) just to name a few.

My thought behind this is many fold:
1. Builds Customer Confidence.
- It shows that my company is knoweldgable and can accomplish the job.
- I don't have many people questioning my background, expertise etc... When I recommend something or tell them about their lawn they accept it without wondering if I really know what I am talking about.

2. Less Haggling
- I find that people don't haggle prices with me. Since my company is viewed more like an "established" "reputable" business they don't whine or question prices. It would be similar to walking into Dilliards or Sears and saying something like....I know you have that item priced at $29.99 but would you take $20 for it? It doesn't happen with me.
- This also means that you weed out bargain hunters. And bargain hunters, I have found, often means PITA

3. One Stop Shop
- My list of services offered is large, but they are LANDSCAPE/LAWN ORIENTED. People seem to know that if they want their lawn cut AND a flower bed installed they call me.
- Yet, by not having non lawn/landscape services offered such as driveway cleaning or errand running I have found that my business is taken more seriously.

DOWNSIDES

This is still something that I am exploring. No, I don't get the phone ringing off the hook, or land 30 new accounts in one week. Maybe I am missing out on money. I don't know for sure.

I have considered passing out home made flyers with "Joe's Lawn Service" type on there and a beeper number just to see how the other side operates and what kind of customers that would bring in. Hmmmnn???

ECS
04-08-2005, 03:41 PM
Excellent post Tn Lawn Man. I can relate and agree with #1, #2, #3. Although the phone does not ring off the hook, when it does ring it is usually from a referal aqnd I like that a lot.

I have had a couple of people comment to the fact that I was white english speaking. This I believe will be a huge factor in my success.

Jpocket
04-08-2005, 03:56 PM
Excellent post Tn Lawn Man. I can relate and agree with #1, #2, #3. Although the phone does not ring off the hook, when it does ring it is usually from a referal aqnd I like that a lot.

I have had a couple of people comment to the fact that I was white english speaking. This I believe will be a huge factor in my success.

Im Black and English speaking, I do well.

ECS
04-08-2005, 04:05 PM
Jpocket, please don't get me wrong and do not take offense. I should have worded that a little diferently than what I did. I was basing what I said on the area where I live which has a lot of Hispanics that do not speak any english. I hope you did not take offense to what I typed above as that was not my intention. The Jackson Hole valley is mostly white with a large labor force of hispanics.

lawnguyland
04-08-2005, 04:26 PM
In relation to the above I must back him up in that people mean (I hope, although some people suck) english speaking and that's because obviously if customer and contractor don't speak the same language it's a pain to communicate either way. But anyway...good post and all is true, I get that a lot from folks and yeaterday I heard this one "I'm glad you work alone because the last guy was too loud! He hd five machines going at once and I couldn't stand the racket." This one should be interesting, but I've learned to deal with the kooks as long as they pay!

Mo Green
04-08-2005, 04:48 PM
Good thread. Glad to see some good quality discussion here.

I think if I were going to hire a lawn service for my lawn, I would prefer the solo guy for a few reasons.

1-Only one person to deal with, and you know that you are always talking to the owner.
2- You know who is coming to cut your grass each week.
3- Very easy to set up a good business relationship. Trust is much easier to establish one on one.
4- you are not feeding the machine. In other words, most solo operators have a smaller overhead. Where as, most larger companies have larger overheads.

bobbygedd
04-08-2005, 05:03 PM
why do lawnboys think soooo SMALL? a solo man will always be limted in his income, and potential income. yes, it's real peachy and nice that the customer loves a solo op, but the solo op is a slave to his work, and can never amount to anything real

Duramax99
04-08-2005, 05:08 PM
Bobby, dont you work with Paco?

Mo Green
04-08-2005, 05:09 PM
why do lawnboys think soooo SMALL? a solo man will always be limted in his income, and potential income. yes, it's real peachy and nice that the customer loves a solo op, but the solo op is a slave to his work, and can never amount to anything real
Aren't you a solo operation?

bobbygedd
04-08-2005, 05:13 PM
MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS BOTH OF YOU. i aint tellin nobody what i do, cus you're all a bunch of RATS! the fact remains, solo=small= peanuts for $$

Mo Green
04-08-2005, 05:16 PM
RATS??? What are you talking about. I feel that I have a valid question. You are solo, right?

bobbygedd
04-08-2005, 05:17 PM
RATS??? What are you talking about. I feel that I have a valid question. You are solo, right?
maybe, maybe not. put it this way, there are less than 5 people on my crew

Duramax99
04-08-2005, 05:28 PM
Hence you are a small company

Mo Green
04-08-2005, 05:41 PM
maybe, maybe not. put it this way, there are less than 5 people on my crew
True.....1 is less than 5.

HOOLIE
04-08-2005, 05:50 PM
I think customers perceive they'll get a better price with the solo guy, that's part of it for sure. Of course many enjoy that one on one relationship versus a crew that whips in and out in 8 minutes. There's also the perception doing a lawn faster equals lesser quality. They think the solo guy is doing a better job just because he doesn't have the extra manpower at his disposal.

I guess just play to your strengths, whatever your size is.

greendave
04-08-2005, 05:51 PM
Bobby is his own worst enemy..........

sheshovel
04-08-2005, 07:00 PM
Regardless of whether or not BobbyG is solo,we all have read in his posts what kind of business relationship he has with his customers....that is

none

I doubt if he even knows what they look like and the second they show themselves to him and even hint that there might be a problem,he acts like a little baby and drops them without notice.

Todd's lawncare
04-08-2005, 07:11 PM
They do like solo they know who is coming over every week to care for the lawn not . And they dont have the drunks and bums of the town doing it !

bobbygedd
04-08-2005, 07:20 PM
Regardless of whether or not BobbyG is solo,we all have read in his posts what kind of business relationship he has with his customers....that is

none

I doubt if he even knows what they look like and the second they show themselves to him and even hint that there might be a problem,he acts like a little baby and drops them without notice.
i have the right relationship with my clients. i am THE BOSS, and we both understand that. that is the way it's supposed to be! the contractor is in charge, the client calls me for my services, I TELL THEM what kind of service i offer, and how much, and when it will happen. they say yes, or no, it's that simple. i look at solo guys, and the first thing i think of is, " he looks like a pee on." that's no offense to anyone solo, by "pee on" i mean a guy who will work night and day, kill himself, and never grow. kind of like a hamster running on a wheel, running, running, working sooo hard, running....but never going anywhere. just my opinion. i think the public views a solo as "the little guy", and will expect cheap prices, and alot won't stop and ask for service, because they see you alone and figure you can't handle it.

lawnman_scott
04-08-2005, 07:28 PM
i have the right relationship with my clients. i am THE BOSS, and we both understand that. that is the way it's supposed to be! the contractor is in charge, the client calls me for my services, I TELL THEM what kind of service i offer, and how much, and when it will happen. they say yes, or no, it's that simple. i look at solo guys, and the first thing i think of is, " he looks like a pee on." that's no offense to anyone solo, by "pee on" i mean a guy who will work night and day, kill himself, and never grow. kind of like a hamster running on a wheel, running, running, working sooo hard, running....but never going anywhere. just my opinion. i think the public views a solo as "the little guy", and will expect cheap prices, and alot won't stop and ask for service, because they see you alone and figure you can't handle it.
So you dont stop to chit chat, be their buddy, send their dogs birthday cards either? Good for you.

rodfather
04-08-2005, 07:28 PM
I think you guys all have valid points about the solo op showing up each week with the personal attention and familarity and all...but...when my 3 man crew (I have 2) show up on a prop with 2 guys running with 61" mowers and 1 trimming, well, let's just say we're not gonna make a career out of being there (or on any other property) as well.

We're good, we're fast, and we're gone. Period

DennisF
04-08-2005, 07:36 PM
I find that a lot of older people like to see the same face every week. It seems to give them the impression that they have a friend taking care of their lawn. Someone they can rely on.

But overall I don't think it makes a lot of difference to most people whether the LCO is solo or a crew. If the quality and reliability of the service is top drawer...the average customer really doesn't care who is doing it.

rodfather
04-08-2005, 07:49 PM
I find that a lot of older people like to see the same face every week. It seems to give them the impression that they have a friend taking care of their lawn. Someone they can rely on.

But overall I don't think it makes a lot of difference to most people whether the LCO is solo or a crew. If the quality and reliability of the service is top drawer...the average customer really doesn't care who is doing it.

You are correct Dennis...it's the end result they are most concerned with.

yrdandgardenhandyman
04-08-2005, 07:58 PM
They do like solo they know who is coming over every week to care for the lawn not . And they dont have the drunks and bums of the town doing it !


And, they know they'll get consistent service.
And it's easier for the solo to get a price hike approved. That way you keep your clients. Well, the good ones.

And as to the question as to whether solo is better for the LCO, I guess it depends on what your goal is. My goal is just to live well without "The Man" in my face all the time.
To others, the goal is to become "The Man".

Eho
04-08-2005, 07:59 PM
I think the end result is what matters BUT I think the reason I got this new lawn is because I was a solo guy. Keep in mind there were two other companies on the street next to me so he chose me over them.
EHO

yrdandgardenhandyman
04-08-2005, 08:00 PM
They do like solo they know who is coming over every week to care for the lawn not . And they dont have the drunks and bums of the town doing it !


You oughta see some of the crews around here. :gunsfirin

Mo Green
04-08-2005, 08:14 PM
I think you guys all have valid points about the solo op showing up each week with the personal attention and familarity and all...but...when my 3 man crew (I have 2) show up on a prop with 2 guys running with 61" mowers and 1 trimming, well, let's just say we're not gonna make a career out of being there (or on any other property) as well.

We're good, we're fast, and we're gone. Period
But as the business owner, you are still there. That to me is what makes the difference. I think it doesn't really matter as much if you are solo, or have 2 or 3 guys with you. The fact that you, the owner, are on the property, says alot to the homeowner. I'm sure with most crews, when the owner is on site, the quality of work is a little better.

GrassBustersLawn
04-08-2005, 08:49 PM
Eho

I think that people believe they can get a better price from a smaller/solo operation. Moreover, I think they think they can SCREW a small company easier than a bigger one. They PERCEIVE a bigger company will charge more because they are more "sophisticated" (know their business (NUMBERS)) where 3/4ths of smaller ones are out for beer money!

Mike

rodfather
04-08-2005, 09:11 PM
But as the business owner, you are still there. That to me is what makes the difference. .

Yes, I show my ugly face once or twice a month when I can...scary thought that is LOL

Jeff@SGLC.ca
04-08-2005, 10:12 PM
I'll have 2 crews this year and I'll be on the main one for the first part of the season to get the truck up and running smoothly then I'll get back out and supervise. I still show up and visit with customers and spot check properties. I think customers like to see someone come out on top of the crew to take care of their lawn. Also means I can carry on a longer conversation with my better customers instead of when I'm supposed to be actually cutting.

fga
04-08-2005, 10:24 PM
i get the "i like the owner showing up, and personal service" feed back all the time. it's me and 1 guy. keep in mind, 1 good worker is more productive then 2 or 3 slouches! it does get tough that i have to do all the extras, like estimates, repairs, etc. etc. and still be the man on the scene.
my goal is 200 houses a week with me and 1 guy, or 250 a week and me and 2 guys. i have spoken to so many large companies, and they all saty the same thing, if they dumped a worker or 2, they would be able to dump alot of there accounts and still make the same money.

thank god i have a trailer this year, cuz there's no more lifting. i found myself having alot more energy.

Precision
04-09-2005, 12:42 AM
I think you guys all have valid points about the solo op showing up each week with the personal attention and familarity and all...but...when my 3 man crew (I have 2) show up on a prop with 2 guys running with 61" mowers and 1 trimming, well, let's just say we're not gonna make a career out of being there (or on any other property) as well.

We're good, we're fast, and we're gone. Period

my goal in a paragraph.

My clients are concerned with quality, consistency, durability and price. The first three change in order of importance with each client, but most are not so concerned with the last one. Most have been the scrub / lowballer / drunk route and are now very willing to pay up for the first three qualities.

sheshovel
04-11-2005, 12:16 AM
i have the right relationship with my clients. i am THE BOSS, and we both understand that. that is the way it's supposed to be! the contractor is in charge, the client calls me for my services, I TELL THEM what kind of service i offer, and how much, and when it will happen. they say yes, or no, it's that simple. i look at solo guys, and the first thing i think of is, " he looks like a pee on." that's no offense to anyone solo, by "pee on" i mean a guy who will work night and day, kill himself, and never grow. kind of like a hamster running on a wheel, running, running, working sooo hard, running....but never going anywhere. just my opinion. i think the public views a solo as "the little guy", and will expect cheap prices, and alot won't stop and ask for service, because they see you alone and figure you can't handle it.
I disagree as usuall here BobbyG ya know why"?
I have been running my business solo for years now and only bring in help if I have too.I don't like having to show somebody over and over how to fill in a hole or blow off a driveway or plant a plant.
I don't like having to pick them up cuz the car is broke or feed them cuz they got no $ for lunch.
I don't like haveing to teach them how to listen and take direction from day one.
I can get it done faster every time by not having to keep one eye open on them and stop to answer stupid questions every three minutes.
Intell I find some somewhat intelligent help forget it I'm solo.Hired a girl a while back,she showed up #1 good mark,looked like she could take soil from one place and put it in another#2 good mark.So I left her to it and guess what..1/2hour later she comes over to my job and tells me she's got of all things Ahsmha
and she cant breath!Why the hell did she not tell me this before????That's why I'm solo

aclassic
04-11-2005, 01:17 AM
i too am a solo op and i too have gotten most of my contracts through people liking that they will see me every week and not some random crew that i've hired. but i do kinda agree w/ bobbyg on the "being a slave to your work" part. i have seen many of his posts and yes he does go a bit far on some things, but if you hire a good employee that you can trust then you can start to get somewhere and make more money. as an example: if your a solo op charging, lets say $40 per hr. then you are bringing in that 40 per hour, but if you hire someone then you can potentially double your work. and if you only pay them $10 per hour, then you make $30 on every hour they work. i know my figures dont include paying overhead/taxes/etc. but you get the idea that you should be able to make more money hiring someone, plus it makes you less a slave to your work and they could cover you if need be.
i enjoy doing all the work because it gets done the way it should be done, and i always know that, but it sure would be nice not to have to to all of it all of the time, plus the extra $ would come in handy for my future International Harvester Scout

timinkc
04-12-2005, 11:26 AM
i run solo 95% of the time, and agree residential, and small commercial customers like the one man show... i know i don't like to have strangers on my property. where this doesn't hold true is the larger commercial properties. the few i have could care less if i wowed it, or a gang of transvestite hookers, just as long as it gets done.

nocutting
04-12-2005, 11:39 AM
Hi, I'm solo now...got divorced 2yrs ago [ signed away all my equipment and client base ].....Its alot better now, my profitability has increased greatly, I guess I take on only the clients that share our mutual enthusesium for the "Enviroment"......And at least the "Guys" at LESCO, dont mind me hanging out there to shoot the _hit.....Gotta talk to people once in a while?- Regards Saxon :)

pagefault
04-12-2005, 02:07 PM
Im Black and English speaking, I do well.

I'm white and I speak English. Half of the people I have worked with in the past and want to work with again are Mexican and bilingual. The black population here is very VERY small, or I am sure that there would be a number of black people on that list too.

If someone told me that they were happy to have me working for them because I am white, I would drop them without even finishing my work for that day.

BigMack
04-12-2005, 02:29 PM
Tn Lawn Man

Just keep up whay your doing... You do not need 30 in a week. You will be bigger and better than the many man crews

Shawns Lawns
04-12-2005, 06:19 PM
I went to give an estimate yesterday on some cleanup and before i left she asked me if i would be the one showing up to do the work. I agree that customers want the one on one realtionship with a smaller operation. :waving:

rodfather
04-12-2005, 06:24 PM
I went to give an estimate yesterday on some cleanup and before i left she asked me if i would be the one showing up to do the work.

I tell them I can't be on every job every day...they accept that. But, I will always check on the work done to be sure.

paponte
04-12-2005, 08:50 PM
I can't agree. I have alot of new accounts this year that got tired of the solo guy breaking down, not being reliable, and not doing a quality job. They are impressed at how quick and efficient our uniformed crew does the job, and how they can almost set their watches by us. As far as the customer getting a one on one relationship, they all have my personal cell number and use it whenever necessary. They like the fact that the maintenance crew just does that, and the installation/construction crew is certified and well trained in what they do. :)