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View Full Version : Made a change in giving estimates that has saved a lot of time and gas.


QualityLawnCare4u
10-05-2005, 10:21 PM
I can not count the time I have gone to look at a shrub job and it was a waste of time and gas, I was lucky to get 5% of them. After an incident last month( offered 100 bucks for 8 hours of trimming) and with soaring gas prices I knew that had to stop. Shrub trimming was my biggest time waster. When someone calls now on a trimming I let them know right up front my minimum charge starts at 65 dollars (Gasp, choke, wheeze,) on other end of phone line. "But I don't have that much" they say, translated, we have acres of shrubs that have never been trimmed and you need a bucket truck to do them. Yards I tell them my minimum is 37.50 (sputter, choke, cough) "but my yard is not real big or bad" Translated, my yard is the size of the ponderosa and has not been mowed in 2 years! :) This past month I have gotten 90% of shrub or yards I have given estimates on. This has eliminated a bunch of cheapskapes and bottomfeeding price shoppers. Cant keep absorbing the 3.29 a gallon gas for free.

Drew Gemma
10-05-2005, 11:50 PM
I hear you I am picky on what I take on or do. Profit is profit!

olderthandirt
10-06-2005, 12:15 AM
Have them e-mail pics of the work they want done and you can give them a real esimate on what you looking at. The key word is estimate.

QualityLawnCare4u
10-06-2005, 01:45 AM
Have them e-mail pics of the work they want done and you can give them a real esimate on what you looking at. The key word is estimate.
Thats a good idea Mac, but believe it or not, I only have 2 clients that own or know how to use a computer! This is south Georgia! :) That would be a real time saver though.

olderthandirt
10-06-2005, 01:57 AM
Thats a good idea Mac, but believe it or not, I only have 2 clients that own or know how to use a computer! This is south Georgia! :) That would be a real time saver though.

Well theres your selling point. For all new full sevice customers that sign a 1 yr contract, they will get a new [not sure what its called] internet connection that hooks to the TV so they can stay in touch with distance relatives or always catch the latest news etc. and just add it into the yearly cost of the contract. I think they cost around $150 but not sure

Envy Lawn Service
10-06-2005, 02:22 AM
High gas prices are making a sharp business man out of you.

Congrats!

I use the same tactic to screen out the worst.

sheshovel
10-06-2005, 02:45 AM
I e-mail Landscape plans and estimates all the time,I also am able to communicate better and make changes and have xtra work approved faster and easier by e-mail.Luckly
most of my customers have a computer!

topsites
10-06-2005, 04:44 AM
Good, one Lco who 'sees it coming' when they hear the keywords. I keep trying to tell guys to watch out for these key phrases, there's more than a few of them but they are, over time, always the same (yeah, I have a 'small' yard, lol)...

I have found over time, at least 90% of the time when I hear the keywords or key phrase(s), it's always the same old song and dance. They don't want to pay a lot, my own CHEAPEST price is STILL way more than the MOST they were willing to pay... You quote them a LOW price and it's still too much, now they want to haggle and beg, cry and whine, oh please, and it never ends.

Even more unfortunate is I find these folk are a dime a dozen out there... 9 out of 10 of my 'new' customer (someone I've never dealt with before) is one of those wheezers. The trick is to weed them out, carefully find the one out of ten folk who is NOT like that and yes you will make mistakes but you're better off, only work for those who are not like that (bonus: The wheezers now go on to newer, less experienced Lco's so that natural selection may continue its wonderful work).

Whenever I see it coming over the phone, I usually don't even return the call. If I answer and it starts, I just tell them to call someone else (yes see, I don't want to turn them OFF, there's always someone out there bragging how they can do it cheaper, so let them do it). If I don't see it coming AND I go out there and by the time I get there I figure it out, it all depends. If they're not too bad with the hint-throwing (maybe they throw a hint once or twice), I give them a regular price knowing I won't get the job and just do my best to estimate quickly (time is money, too). If they can't stop themselves from throwing hint after hint (man I get tired of it), they can expect a price of roughly time-and-a-half to double the price... Here's why: Give them a really HIGH price and no more gasp, choke, wheeze, cough - It shuts them up fast, it stops the bs cold (no because I don't care for the theatrics either, to me all that isn't necessary, a simple no will do the trick, you don't have to fake a heart attack).

By the way, have any of you noticed how folks who approach you on the side of the road tend to be time-wasters like the above? I have...

topsites
10-06-2005, 04:57 AM
There is one more thing... Over time, I've learned to detect 'price range.' Without them saying it (and obviously without me asking), I can usually tell you before the estimate is over, how MUCH they're willing to pay, and that's their 'price range.' IF this price range is somewhere near my own, we're in business. If their HIGHEST is still way below my LOWEST, it's time to quote an even HIGHER than standard price. Here's an example:

I had a bid to move (yup, dig out and re-plant) 12 Leyland Cypress trees (smaller ones, about 7-10 foot tall each), all in a row, an underground power line MAY have presented some issues, either way, you need an excavator because you do NOT want to dig out established trees with a shovel (I have done it, is how I know). Anyway, as I'm talking, I detected customer's price-range was around 200-300 dollars, while my price range was 600-750.

By the way, I had already told the person it would be cheapest (yeah see, I'm not stupid) to simply cut the old ones off and haul away the debris, and plant new ones. Because you can buy new ones (small, foot-tall models) at Home Depot for around 12 bucks each... But no, no, didn't want to 'kill' a living thing... Ok, so 7-10 foot tall Leylands now are at least 50 dollars each new, more like 80-100... see, here goes: You need 12 trees moved, each is worth 75 bucks or so, gee, you're looking at 1,000 dollars worth of plant.

This means:
1) I COULD've done it for as little as 400... That would've been my lowest price, down to the wire and if I am desperate, make one mistake and lose money. Quote them this price and NOW they start to haggle or better yet, give me the dirty look. Besides, customer had already stated they did not want this. <- This can pizz me off on a bad day too, all the whining about the price but oh NO we don't want cheap work!
2) Quote 600-750 and the bs begins with the cough, choke, wheeze, gasp.

So, I quoted 975 and the bs was over right then and there. It shocks them, their brain freezes and they can't even THINK of wheezing, and I was on my way out of there. Also, now anyone comes along and quotes the old 400 (yeah because back in the old days I WOULD've made that mistake), and gee, they go for it readily and now someone else gets to learn what I've been through so many times.
Meanwhile, they are SO shocked by my price, they will NEVER call me again (that was another one used to frustrate me, some call you time and again just for you to go through the bs again and again).

I love it.


p.s.: I give estimates in my car - Cheaper on gas, especially since at least half the time, I don't get the job.

dcplace2004
10-06-2005, 06:20 AM
400 to 480 dollars plus a dump fee...if you charge 100 dollars for trimming 8 hours, you are a lowballer and should get out of people's yards...you make it difficult for all other LCOs!!! If you want to work in the hot sun trimming bushes for 9 dollars an hour--which it would be cause you probably don't charge a dump fee--then you are an idiot...

QualityLawnCare4u
10-06-2005, 08:05 AM
Well theres your selling point. For all new full sevice customers that sign a 1 yr contract, they will get a new [not sure what its called] internet connection that hooks to the TV so they can stay in touch with distance relatives or always catch the latest news etc. and just add it into the yearly cost of the contract. I think they cost around $150 but not sure

Mac, they are called web tv and I still have one. Just got my first puter less than a year ago. Most of my clients would even be ummm whats a nice way to say too stupid to use web tv. Only one word goes over good here, lawncare for FREE or some type of free manual labor.

QualityLawnCare4u
10-06-2005, 08:15 AM
400 to 480 dollars plus a dump fee...if you charge 100 dollars for trimming 8 hours, you are a lowballer and should get out of people's yards...you make it difficult for all other LCOs!!! If you want to work in the hot sun trimming bushes for 9 dollars an hour--which it would be cause you probably don't charge a dump fee--then you are an idiot...

Did you misunderstand my point? Their is no way in ^^^% Im doing 8 hours of trimming for a 100 bucks but we have a dozen more who would do it in a flash. I wasted my time and gas going to see this old fart and listening to him gasp and wheeze and try to haggle me down on price after I told him twice that my first price was firm. I knew when I got out of the truck and seen the guy it was a complete waste of time, gut feeling is never wrong. On this one I wasted about 40 minute and 7 bucks worth of gas, no more!

QualityLawnCare4u
10-06-2005, 08:17 AM
I e-mail Landscape plans and estimates all the time,I also am able to communicate better and make changes and have xtra work approved faster and easier by e-mail.Luckly
most of my customers have a computer!

Sheshovel, being able to send emails and pics would be a great time saver, but this is what I get for living in an area that time stopped in the 60s.

PMLAWN
10-06-2005, 08:29 AM
There is one more thing... Over time, I've learned to detect 'price range.' Without them saying it (and obviously without me asking), I can usually tell you before the estimate is over, how MUCH they're willing to pay, and that's their 'price range.'
If , on the phone, BEFORE you go out , you find out their price range you will save a lot of time.
And what is wrong with asking their price range
"(and obviously without me asking),"
Ask away and avoid the bottom feeders

tinman
10-06-2005, 11:08 AM
Good, one Lco who 'sees it coming' when they hear the keywords. I keep trying to tell guys to watch out for these key phrases, there's more than a few of them but they are, over time, always the same (yeah, I have a 'small' yard, lol)...

I have found over time, at least 90% of the time when I hear the keywords or key phrase(s), it's always the same old song and dance. They don't want to pay a lot, my own CHEAPEST price is STILL way more than the MOST they were willing to pay... You quote them a LOW price and it's still too much, now they want to haggle and beg, cry and whine, oh please, and it never ends.

Even more unfortunate is I find these folk are a dime a dozen out there... 9 out of 10 of my 'new' customer (someone I've never dealt with before) is one of those wheezers. The trick is to weed them out, carefully find the one out of ten folk who is NOT like that and yes you will make mistakes but you're better off, only work for those who are not like that (bonus: The wheezers now go on to newer, less experienced Lco's so that natural selection may continue its wonderful work).

Whenever I see it coming over the phone, I usually don't even return the call. If I answer and it starts, I just tell them to call someone else (yes see, I don't want to turn them OFF, there's always someone out there bragging how they can do it cheaper, so let them do it). If I don't see it coming AND I go out there and by the time I get there I figure it out, it all depends. If they're not too bad with the hint-throwing (maybe they throw a hint once or twice), I give them a regular price knowing I won't get the job and just do my best to estimate quickly (time is money, too). If they can't stop themselves from throwing hint after hint (man I get tired of it), they can expect a price of roughly time-and-a-half to double the price... Here's why: Give them a really HIGH price and no more gasp, choke, wheeze, cough - It shuts them up fast, it stops the bs cold (no because I don't care for the theatrics either, to me all that isn't necessary, a simple no will do the trick, you don't have to fake a heart attack).

By the way, have any of you noticed how folks who approach you on the side of the road tend to be time-wasters like the above? I have...

Exactly right topsites,,,,,,90 % of people who stop u on the side of the road are just waiting for a super price & once you give a reasonable price they are gone. One guy stopped me one day to look at a yard in town,,,,small yard not much weed eating, blah, blah, blah,. I say I'll take a look later today. He asks for a price now. Again I say I need to look. He says ok....Then when I get down with the yard I'm on. I see a voice mail on the cell phone. Uh I talked to u earlier ,,, & I better hold off on that estimate". Waste of time moron.
Another thing with these road side stoppers is not that they are just cheap, but are broke. And even if they start the service, they usually do not last long. They see u working & think,,,"Damn that would be great if I could just pay this guy some money & I do not have to cut grass again". Then they scratch that first check & the pain of paying u is too much.
Same thing with my other service , pressure washing. I they see u doing a house & stop to ask a price, they rarely go for it. And if they do, they are usually PITAS. Did a lady's house last week after she saw us next door & said oh my house is smaller than the one u are doing. I said not much smaller and my minimum is $XXX for a house anyway. She says ok then when we are almost done she says , "oh see it did not take as long on my house,,, it is SMALLER". Obviously wanting a discount & bent that we are almost done so fast for her little check. So then I start moving stuff back onto the patio & she starts raising hell that I am not putting stuff back as it was & I am rushing to get done,,,like I am cheating her. I tell her we'll stop right now if she feels like we are cheating her & I do not need her money & that I don't get talked to like that from her or anyone else. She says oh no I will pay, blah , blah , blah. At the end she straightened up & acted right but still a PITA. Usually if someone pisses me off (rarely as I am very patient) while doing a job, I offer to stop & they owe me nothing, just do not call me ever again for anything. That usually shames them into acting like a decent human. And if it ever did not, I would take that loss just so i would not have to bother with them again. And they would have a hard time bad mouthing me as they did not pay. Obviously I could not do that if it was a big landscaping job or something like that which alot of u guys do.

Big Wes
10-06-2005, 04:34 PM
I like the people who ask you for a price to do their lawn and they live in a real nice upper class neighborhood. Then the first thing that comes out of their mouth is.. " I don't have much money". :D My estimate is automatically doubbled when I hear those infamous words out of the mouths!

QualityLawnCare4u
10-06-2005, 05:29 PM
I like the people who ask you for a price to do their lawn and they live in a real nice upper class neighborhood. Then the first thing that comes out of their mouth is.. " I don't have much money". :D My estimate is automatically doubbled when I hear those infamous words out of the mouths!

Yeah, I like to hear those words to, especially before I go waste my time and gas. And it usually is in the better areas here also where the folks are pretending to be well off. You know to go ahead and quote high because you dont want them anyway,