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View Full Version : Why not "milk" the customer?


Mr. Magpie
10-06-2005, 11:28 PM
When on an estimate, and confronted by a penny-pinching, stingy prospective client, why not just agree to do their lawn for the price they seem to need, while spending only the amount of time you want on their property and see if you can retain them?

My bro and I call this "milking" the customer. And believer it or not, we retain most of these customers..... go figure. They are some of the best customers because they got the price they wanted!, and I gave it to them. I hit them in their G-SPOT and now they are my b*tch! (Even if they finally do cancel due to poor service or quality, at least I got, say, 6 months of good, profitable business out of them, rather than nothing. Right, right???)

Seriously, I want all of you to inform me on all the reasons NOT to do this, because apprently I am only aware of the reasons TO do this.

olderthandirt
10-06-2005, 11:36 PM
When on an estimate, and confronted by a penny-pinching, stingy prospective client, why not just agree to do their lawn for the price they seem to need, while spending only the amount of time you want on their property and see if you can retain them?

First you can't have customers set the price and second since you agreed to do there lawn you can not just give them "only the amount of time you want on their property" You have to give them the amount of time it takes to perform the job you agreed to. :dizzy: There not paying you for time there paying you there price to have a serviced performed

Mr. Magpie
10-07-2005, 12:32 AM
First you can't have customers set the price and second since you agreed to do there lawn you can not just give them "only the amount of time you want on their property" You have to give them the amount of time it takes to perform the job you agreed to. :dizzy: There not paying you for time there paying you there price to have a serviced performed

You still haven't said why this practice is detrimental to the biz. What do you have to lose with this philosophy, tell me?

So you lose them after a month? Or you lose them after 8 months? What's the difference if you were pulling in the same dollar/hour the whole time anyways? And why not try it and see what happens? You might end up retaining them and having a great business relationship that you normally wouldn't have had if you would have pouted and marched away from their property during the estimate.

See, those of you who pout and stomp away from the penny pinchers are potentially leaving good, solid business on the table. You are underestimating the value of hitting their G-Spots. Are you beginning to see the value of meeting someone's needs?

Now, if they are also beligerantly or condescendingly trying to lower your estimate, you have every right to place a value judgment on their character and decide whether they might be a PITA or not. But, there is commonly a difference between penny pinchers and PITAs, in my 3 year experience at least.

olderthandirt
10-07-2005, 01:23 AM
let me break your words down and you explain how this will work

When on an estimate, and confronted by a penny-pinching, stingy prospective client, why not just agree to do their lawn for the price they seem to need, while spending only the amount of time you want on their property and see if you can retain them?

What if there price is $5 and as I said in my original post to you, you don't have the option of deciding how much time to spend. The work determines the amount of time on their property. your forgetting you have a set determined amount of cost and your not going to meet them "agreeing to do their lawn for the price they seem to need"

My bro and I call this "milking" the customer. And believer it or not, we retain most of these customers..... go figure. They are some of the best customers because they got the price they wanted!, and I gave it to them. I hit them in their G-SPOT and now they are my ! (Even if they finally do cancel due to poor service or quality, at least I got, say, 6 months of good, profitable business out of them, rather than nothing. Right, right???)

Why would you not retain them or it should be they retain you? your mowing at a price they decided they were gonna pay you. You acknowledged it with this sentence "They are some of the best customers because they got the price they wanted!, and I gave it to them." not sure who is the b*tch.
And this next sentence goes to the part of you did not get what the job was worth but what the customer wanted to pay "Even if they finally do cancel due to poor service or quality, at least I got, say, 6 months of good, profitable business out of them, rather than nothing." So you got paid less than the job is worth and you show cased your crappy work to the neighborhood and that is why its detrimental to your biz.

topsites
10-07-2005, 01:38 AM
First you can't have customers set the price and second since you agreed to do there lawn you can not just give them "only the amount of time you want on their property" You have to give them the amount of time it takes to perform the job you agreed to. :dizzy: There not paying you for time there paying you there price to have a serviced performed

Yes that's all fine and dandy but what happens when you're quoting $45 and they only want to pay 30? No doubt they don't set the price, but they are willing to pay NO more than 30, end of deal. I can walk away and I try and see this schitt coming before I go give the estimate (like on the phone). The problem is, go give the estimate and I got time invested! Now from time to time I get REALLY TIRED of the schitt and do exactly what he did:
- Work for cheap, the labor rate is the SAME. Their money buys time, literally dollars buy minutes: Once their 30 dollars worth of time is up, the ferris-wheel ride is over. I really like the 20-dollar Armitron M-525 All-sport, shock and water resistant digital watch - It is tough, it does NOT break or screw up while I'm working AND it has a chronometer/stop-watch function: You BET I've done many a timed yard.
Another way to say it is, you get what you pay for.

H3ll yeah I do this too and it is not milking... Milking is when I sit around doing nothing while they're paying OR charging them for something I did not do - That's milking! In this case, they're only getting what everybody else gets on an x-dollars/hour basis... If they don't pay as much as my higher-paying customers pay, then the results are proportionally less as well. And yes again, more than a few customers are happy with this status quo, all they wanted was a quick-and-dirty (but you gotta watch out for the ones expect cheap AND fancy).

...It costs 2 thousand dollars for a paintjob on my car but I can get it done for 600 dollars someplace else! Does the 600-dollar paintjob look as good / last as long as the 2000-dollar one? Come on now...
Then again, why put out 2k for a 17-year old car if you only plan on keeping it another few years, see what I mean...

So if the job SHOULD take 45 minutes for me to make it look good but you're only willing to pay for 30 minutes, then I'll do what I can in 30 minutes (yes, it helps to know some cheats/shortcuts to make things look right in the end). The guy who can paint my car for 600 dollars knows this little lesson, too...

olderthandirt
10-07-2005, 01:45 AM
He's not getting payed by the minute he's getting payed by the job WTH- charges by the minute and then watches there watch so they can say your times up off to the next one LMAO

topsites
10-07-2005, 01:53 AM
There is one thing, thou:

Whether they pay 30 or 45, I bust my tail the entire time their money is paying me for. Of course 30 minutes vs. 60 (yes, $30=$1/minute, then it's 50 cents/minute up to an hour, see how that works) entails a difference in the eventual outcome, but I do not by any means give off a lower quality work during any $45/hour job, plain and simple.

You gotta love it:
$30 = minimum charge.
$30 = 30 minutes, 50 cents/minutes afterwards first hour.
Second and consecutive hour(s) = 75 cents/minute rounded, give or take a few minutes.

That's it, and everybody gets what they pay for, fair is fair. Some are willing to pay more, some less.

I've even explained this to customers, and most of them are cool with it.

topsites
10-07-2005, 02:15 AM
He's not getting payed by the minute he's getting payed by the job WTH- charges by the minute and then watches there watch so they can say your times up off to the next one LMAO

I know what my machine can and will do. Run my mower over your yard ONE time, it takes 30 minutes for an acre. I run over it twice, it looks better and takes 45 minutes. Your choice, which one you want? Quick-and-dirty, or fancy? Regular Unleaded, or Super-high 95 octane?

Do you always stripe? Personally, I think striping is the biggest waste of time, it is purely cosmetic and can DAMAGE turf, a LOT of brown yards this year I saw came from someone striping... Go figure.
Oh but you're not milking, oh no! NO, you only charge them AGAIN to Aerate and completely RESEED the entire YARD every YEAR (after YOU ruined it by striping it EVERY week even in 108-degree HOT weather... Oh but since you don't know this, neither does your customer and so that's not milking!)

...Striping involves a complete turning around of the machine during which time NO grass is cut and divots CAN happen, then you're paying SO much attention to the stripes you fail to see the decorative light or the sprinkler riser that failed to recede. See, I am NOT responsible for damages in the yard, that breeds a monster you don't even want to meet (or perhaps you've failed to realize how many times a customer got YOU to replace something YOU supposedly broke, yet you can't remember doing it - Yeah LOL, I know a guy who will get you to replace his entire sprinkler system one riser at a time, over several years he's got YOU doing all the work for the same money as it would cost him to cut the grass himself AND replace the risers on that old 'You are responsible for yard damage' basis {It's $50/riser parts+labor, but you replace them for free, right? Cool! }).

I think folks who fail to see this are losing out on a vital part of business... 90 percent of people out there are NOT rich, they are average Americans earning between 20-40k/year or so and respect hard work, but then maybe they don't care if their yard is full of weeds, can you make it look better for 30 bucks in 30 minutes, yes, or NO?!

*I* have to say Yes, not them! All you salespeople out there keep thinking the whole game is to get them to say yes, to me that's scamming!
I hate trying to talk an eskimo into buying an icemaker... If they don't want it, you can either give them what they WANT, or get on down the road to the fancy job which takes even MORE time but of course since some get paid per job, time is of no essence...

Envy Lawn Service
10-07-2005, 03:12 AM
This is an ugly dang subject for me to even get into, especially since I have been 'stirred up' lately. I'm not so sure I should put my 2 cents in at all. But then again, if I don't, who will? And then I carry as much of the blame for not speaking out as the rest.

I've been at the job of running a business that provides quailty finished work and I've been at it a lot longer than you. I also see what goes on around me very clearly. So I can put up a whole big long list of reasons NOT to do this.

The best place I can think of to start from is to go off what Mac said and say, you are the one who is the b*tch every time in this sort of arrangement.... good place to build from... First of all, if you are submissive to their prices, who's the b*tch? You are from the get go.

Then you proceed to try and cut corners to make ends meet on the job. I see this everywhere I look all season. No big deal right? You are coming out somewhat on the job, feeling you are giving them what they are paing for right?

Well that may be the truth. But you are still the submissive one, bowing to their prices, and sacrificing your quality of work in order to meet that price without going in the hole. It's true you may retain many of them, simply because they do not care how it looks, so long as it's not a jungle, and even if it looks really shotty, they still might remain loyal and keep you slaving for them. Why? Because they are not so sure how hard it will be to find another dummy that is willing to deal with them an do their lawn for them for so little.

Meanwhile, have you ever stopped for a second to think about what this is doing to your business reputation to be associated with this type of work? No good customer willing to pay you for a quality job is going to seek you out if they associate you with that type of work. None of the neighboring accounts are going to want you either, unless at some point there has been a neighborly discussion where they laughed their azzes off about what a sucker you are... and these neighbors are coming to you seeking the same cheap labor and shotty work.

Not the kind of stuff you need your business associated with.... but you can sure get covered to your eyebrows in more crap jobs than any man can do.

The next thing is, you would not believe how neighbors hunt for things to gossip about, things about their neighbors they can complain about and so forth. Bad news travels fast. You just would not believe how often my customers and their neighbors approach me to make a small talk conversation about the neighbor with the trashy lawn, landscape, and/or service provider... and how they wish I could do it so they would quit bringing down the neighborhood. Believe me, if they discuss this with me, they discuss it with everyone they know and everyone like them. Nobody they know, do business with, work with or are related to will ever seek you.

In addition to this, there will be many of those penny pinchers who are picky control freaks, always complaining about something, always wanting something for nothing, and always trying to squeeze you for everything you're worth to be sure they feel they get more than their monies worth every week. Some of them you will be able to satisfy with your tactics, at a loss to you... and many you will not. Many will expect it to be flawless for $20.... and if it's not, you are history, and they are badmouthing you every chance they get, just because it is their nature.... an of course they will never bring up what they were paying you.

This sort of stuff will run you in the ground in the long run, because not only do you become a magnet for this type of customer, but one day you wake up in a nightmare, because this is the only class of client you can get.... not to mention the PITA factor involved in dealing with them week to week.

You post here like you have re-invented the wheel.... but this is nothing new. Actually it's common-place.... And some have learned to even take it a few steps further than you. Many on the local yocals come along behind me and do this very thing.... They lowball me to get the work, knowing full well they are going to milk it and cut every corner they can in order to come out....

Sometimes the customer learns they get what they pay for, and end up calling me back. Other times, the account is ruined for good, and they expect that pricing from now on. So they either live with the service for the price, or continously go through LCO's in the same price range on a regular basis.... and actually wonder why they can't find anyone who does an acceptable job.

Still yet, some others will do the mowing for whatever, even if it means a loss, so they have their foot in the door.... and then they RAPE them on billing for the extra services. People eventually get wise to this though. So they hire a guy to mow... who often comes in real low for reasons above.... and then one day he shows for a cut and finds the extras already performed.... and very likely they have turned the tables on both parties, playing them against each other, and playing them for fools. This has gotten bad enough that I have ran into several good accounts in the past few years and they have a strict policy that they do not use the same contractor for more than one task... and often the policy is to not tell you that up front... and other times it's the opposite to help insure they are weeding out the corner cutters.

Another variable of this is what happened to an account I serviced last year. Lowballer came in low on the whole contract, lawn, landscape, the works... blew me out of the water. So far this year, they have averaged 2 cuts, one whacking, and zero edgings per month.... and absolutely zero other services. The beds have stuff blown all in them and infestation grown up knee high because they haven't touched it....

Basically, it's all been done...
And most of it is a detriment to the industry...

It's no wonder my disclosure of my minimum fees end most of my estimate calls on the spot.
People expect cheap because this sort of crap out of control.
Seems the majority here think $35 is the high end maximum to pay for mowing...
Regardless of the size of the lawn... unless it's several acres.
And mulch, $50 for a massive load deliverd and installed.

QualityLawnCare4u
10-07-2005, 07:15 AM
Two simple reasons for me

1) I tell the client what they will pay, end of conversation.
2) When I finish a yard I like to stand and admire it and say to myself "dam Danny, you made it look good". Now when I have to start doing crappy cheap work I dont feel good about Ill quit. I dont want people riding by and saying "dang, that quality guy does sh--y work. My reputation is all I have when there is nothing left. When this job becomes about money only (and yes we all have to make a living) and I no longer care about quality its long time to find another job.

PMLAWN
10-07-2005, 09:59 AM
Meanwhile, have you ever stopped for a second to think about what this is doing to your business reputation to be associated with this type of work? No good customer willing to pay you for a quality job is going to seek you out if they associate you with that type of work. None of the neighboring accounts are going to want you either, unless at some point there has been a neighborly discussion where they laughed their azzes off about what a sucker you are... and these neighbors are coming to you seeking the same cheap labor and shotty work.

Not the kind of stuff you need your business associated with.... but you can sure get covered to your eyebrows in more crap jobs than any man can do.
.
Envy-- You could have saved a lot of typing by just saying this as it is the best reason for not doing what Magpie wants to do.
You will live and die by how you are viewed in the market place.

Hay-but the way, We can actually start cutting grass again with all this rain!!!!

BALDEAGLE
10-07-2005, 10:18 AM
1) your reputation :dizzy:

2) the ability to earn a decent living payup

3) ever hear of a lil old fashioned thing called, ...PRIDE... ? :nono:

LawnGrassHoppers
10-07-2005, 10:33 AM
the thing is if the customer does not want to pay what you want than move on next to the next job. there are so many jobs out there that it don't matter.i personally would not put my quality of work or reputation on the line for a couple of dollars thats not worth it at all.people that do that give us a bad name or do this not as a job but as a part timer who doesn't follow the books like how it should be done in order to be successful.

Richard Martin
10-07-2005, 10:36 AM
Envy wrote everything I would have said.

LB1234
10-07-2005, 10:36 AM
Ain't gonna get many referrals from that customer. Might give you a bad name in the town, never now who they know. And most of anything in this world is WHO you know not WHAT you know

LawnGrassHoppers
10-07-2005, 10:42 AM
some choose to learn the hard way. if you ask me its all common sense and not being greedy! payup :D

Mr. Magpie
10-07-2005, 10:44 AM
Good points.

Woody82986
10-07-2005, 10:47 AM
There are several reasons why I would never do this. I don't let anyone but me set the price I want for the property. Plain and simple. I provide quality work and don't take any shortcuts that provide less than top notch work. People talk and they will notice the crappy job you are doing, which will cut down the potential client pool in the neighborhood for you, quickly limiting options. The last reason is that it destroys a possible client chance. If I can walk away being $10 or $15 higher than they want to pay, I haven't limited myself and cut off this potential cliet yet. I have still left room for them to call me back or for me to call them back. If I stoop to their price, do a crappy job and then get canned, they will never call me back, therefore taking yet another client out of the works forever. I don't ever want to have to go down a street and have to say, I cheated them and did a crappy job so they won't hire me back ever... or that house.... or that house... or that one on the end... I'll never get to work there again because I had a poor business ethic.

Mr. Magpie
10-07-2005, 10:51 AM
I figured it out. Due to the fact that I will not be doing this for much longer (getting hired soon as a FF/Medic), and because my financial needs are being met and exceeded tremendously by what I am doing with my lawn business, I am realizing what I already knew..... that I am not pushing the envelope as far I can in my local industry. If I was, I probably would not want to waste my time "milking" these people, for some of the reasons you posted.

I agree. THere are so many accounts out there that are better than the penny pinchers. I kind of wish I would have been more of a go getter these past years..... I would be able to sell my biz for a lot more and have a lot more money in my pocket on less hours of work.

Thanks for putting up with my question.

Nosmo
10-07-2005, 10:58 AM
When you and the customer are discussing the job and price you are either going to come to an agreement or move on. The customer is not really buying your time he is paying for a job he wants done.

It's that simple all he wants is a job done for what he has agreed to pay. If you agree to do the job for the price which you two have arrived at then it should be your duty to do the person an acceptable job.

Just because it wasn't the price you feel it is worth is no reason to do a crappy job. There is an old saying - If a job is worth doing then it is worth doing right.

Nosmo

LawnGrassHoppers
10-07-2005, 11:06 AM
do unto others as you want others to do to you! lifes golden rule! :D

Edgewater
10-07-2005, 11:08 AM
Good luck trying to make that work with multiple crews.

There is no way a crew will know exactly how each property is different in terms of level of service and time allowed. The crew leaves the shop knowing that on thier route they are responsable for X level of service. Not X for mrs. A and y for mr B

Remsen1
10-07-2005, 12:05 PM
I've thought about advertising as two seperate companies. One has advertising directed toward economy grade mowing and the other has advertising marketed toward high quality service.

Then if I answer the Quality phone and the caller sounds like a economy-type caller, I'd give an answer like "call Economy, they could probably service your needs better; they do respectible work at a fair price, with fewer bells and whistles. My price of $50 is for mowing, edging, trimming, weed control, fertilization, a complete turf managment program. In order to deliver a quality product that I can stamp my name on I cannot decrease the level of service in order to meet your price."

Then when/if they call Economy. "Yes Quality does refer alot of work our way. You only want your lawn mowed and trimmed and you only want it bi-weekly? Sure I can do it. The price is $37 bi-weekly. Service will include mowing and trimming (only) of specified areas. Please keep in mind that (per contract) any requests that are in addition to what we've agreed on will be performed for an additional charge."

At this point they've called two companies one shocked them and one was closer to what they wanted to pay (but still higher than what they had in mind). Will they bother with calling a third company? if they're really cheap and have no pride YES, but I wonder about the majority of self conscious folks.

The economy company will have a economy looking truck with economy looking advertisement, and you'd be hard pressed to see me on one of these properties, especially if they are near existing customers.

I've been throwing this idea around quite a bit. I'm also hoping that the quality company drives up the prices so when the economy company says $37 (which is still very profitable) it sounds great to the customer. Both companies would perform the level of work they're expected to. If the customer nit picks and wants better service they get referred to back to their agreement and told to consider hiring Quality. If a Quality customer wants cheaper prices they are told to consider Economy. Never would they be given the option to get Quality type services at Economy type prices.

jtrice11
10-07-2005, 12:18 PM
When on an estimate, and confronted by a penny-pinching, stingy prospective client, why not just agree to do their lawn for the price they seem to need, while spending only the amount of time you want on their property and see if you can retain them?

My bro and I call this "milking" the customer. And believer it or not, we retain most of these customers..... go figure. They are some of the best customers because they got the price they wanted!, and I gave it to them. I hit them in their G-SPOT and now they are my b*tch! (Even if they finally do cancel due to poor service or quality, at least I got, say, 6 months of good, profitable business out of them, rather than nothing. Right, right???)

Seriously, I want all of you to inform me on all the reasons NOT to do this, because apprently I am only aware of the reasons TO do this.

I would not be comfortable risking my reputation like that. After you get canned by 100 people for "poor service" how good do you think your business will be?

Lawn-Scapes
10-07-2005, 12:39 PM
Envy.. Great post. THANKS for taking the time!!!

mrusk
10-07-2005, 12:59 PM
How the heck do you guys mow with out stripping. Stripping does not take any special skill or time. The mower does it on its own. How do you mow in a circle like a homeowner? The quickest way between point A and point B is a stright line. So i mow in stright lines.

Matt

Mr. Magpie
10-07-2005, 04:50 PM
I've thought about advertising as two seperate companies. One has advertising directed toward economy grade mowing and the other has advertising marketed toward high quality service.

Then if I answer the Quality phone and the caller sounds like a economy-type caller, I'd give an answer like "call Economy, they could probably service your needs better; they do respectible work at a fair price, with fewer bells and whistles. My price of $50 is for mowing, edging, trimming, weed control, fertilization, a complete turf managment program. In order to deliver a quality product that I can stamp my name on I cannot decrease the level of service in order to meet your price."

Then when/if they call Economy. "Yes Quality does refer alot of work our way. You only want your lawn mowed and trimmed and you only want it bi-weekly? Sure I can do it. The price is $37 bi-weekly. Service will include mowing and trimming (only) of specified areas. Please keep in mind that (per contract) any requests that are in addition to what we've agreed on will be performed for an additional charge."

At this point they've called two companies one shocked them and one was closer to what they wanted to pay (but still higher than what they had in mind). Will they bother with calling a third company? if they're really cheap and have no pride YES, but I wonder about the majority of self conscious folks.

The economy company will have a economy looking truck with economy looking advertisement, and you'd be hard pressed to see me on one of these properties, especially if they are near existing customers.

I've been throwing this idea around quite a bit. I'm also hoping that the quality company drives up the prices so when the economy company says $37 (which is still very profitable) it sounds great to the customer. Both companies would perform the level of work they're expected to. If the customer nit picks and wants better service they get referred to back to their agreement and told to consider hiring Quality. If a Quality customer wants cheaper prices they are told to consider Economy. Never would they be given the option to get Quality type services at Economy type prices.
This is a damn good point I am contemplating right now. Your crew would be the quality guys enrichening the neighborhood with lustrous properties while your other crew could be the mow n' go guys that simply keep grass down.

THis would create some MINOR logistical problems with crews crossing paths like 10 times throughout the week (inefficient), but it would be nice to JUST MEET PEOPLE'S NEEDS. Suck up the supply of customers in your area like a Hoover. Meet their demand because you have the equipment designed to do it.

THese pennypinchers are gonna find someone for their price.... why let the lowballers get the business?

Olderthandirt, care to comment on Ramsen's idea?

By the way, do unto others.....??? The way you apply that principle is always your opinion because it is from a self-ish point of view. I would want people to give ME what I payed for, so I will do the same to others.

olderthandirt
10-07-2005, 06:14 PM
Olderthandirt, care to comment on Ramsen's idea?

Sure since I suggest it a couple yrs ago, 2 companys means double the insurence not just added on expense but 2 seperate policys.Double books. double scheldules etc. What to do when theres complaints? Send the crew boss out, thats fine till he can't resolve the problem and the owner who is responsable has to step in. If both co. are just mow and blow it might work but I still can't see where you gonna generate enough extra income to justify carrying 2 sets of everything. I woulds rather skip the cheap ones and upsell the good customers and leave the penny pinchers to those that cater to that crowd.
BTW -- I don't think it would be long before word got out that its the same company and all you would have is economy customers

Brianslawn
10-07-2005, 06:15 PM
do unto others as you want others to do to you! lifes golden rule! :D

i thought it was do unto others as they do unto you. :confused:

youre not milking them, youre giving them their moneys worth. i give a price and if they frown on it i tell them they can have the half price special. they pay half price and i only mow half their yard. hell.... wells is the only one who lets the customers set the price and apparently hes so desperate for work and bored with bikinni pics, he has no other choice. :dizzy:

Brianslawn
10-07-2005, 06:20 PM
Sure since I suggest it a couple yrs ago, 2 companys means double the insurence not just added on expense but 2 seperate policys.Double books. double scheldules etc. What to do when theres complaints? Send the crew boss out, thats fine till he can't resolve the problem and the owner who is responsable has to step in. If both co. are just mow and blow it might work but I still can't see where you gonna generate enough extra income to justify carrying 2 sets of everything. I woulds rather skip the cheap ones and upsell the good customers and leave the penny pinchers to those that cater to that crowd.
BTW -- I don't think it would be long before word got out that its the same company and all you would have is economy customers


dont have to have 2 sets of everything when company b is a part of company a. thats how we do it. brians is full service and landscaping and lawnmaster is low cost mow and blow division. both names are on everything, just different crews and service level.

Precision
10-07-2005, 06:57 PM
I've thought about advertising as two seperate companies. One has advertising directed toward economy grade mowing and the other has advertising marketed toward high quality service.

Then if I answer the Quality phone and the caller sounds like a economy-type caller, I'd give an answer like "call Economy, they could probably service your needs better; they do respectible work at a fair price, with fewer bells and whistles. My price of $50 is for mowing, edging, trimming, weed control, fertilization, a complete turf managment program. In order to deliver a quality product that I can stamp my name on I cannot decrease the level of service in order to meet your price."

Then when/if they call Economy. "Yes Quality does refer alot of work our way. You only want your lawn mowed and trimmed and you only want it bi-weekly? Sure I can do it. The price is $37 bi-weekly. Service will include mowing and trimming (only) of specified areas. Please keep in mind that (per contract) any requests that are in addition to what we've agreed on will be performed for an additional charge."

At this point they've called two companies one shocked them and one was closer to what they wanted to pay (but still higher than what they had in mind). Will they bother with calling a third company? if they're really cheap and have no pride YES, but I wonder about the majority of self conscious folks.

The economy company will have a economy looking truck with economy looking advertisement, and you'd be hard pressed to see me on one of these properties, especially if they are near existing customers.

I've been throwing this idea around quite a bit. I'm also hoping that the quality company drives up the prices so when the economy company says $37 (which is still very profitable) it sounds great to the customer. Both companies would perform the level of work they're expected to. If the customer nit picks and wants better service they get referred to back to their agreement and told to consider hiring Quality. If a Quality customer wants cheaper prices they are told to consider Economy. Never would they be given the option to get Quality type services at Economy type prices.


I am doing it right now.

Precision Lawncare is full service only. old clients excluded. We take care of your entire maintenance package (possible exception of fert) or we don't take care of it.

Simply Mowing is a mow blow and go company.

I am having great luck with internal referrals, in both directions.

When I am on the phone with a prospect, I qualify them and if they called the wrong company, I tell them I own 2 companies and explain out how it works.

The two great advantages to the mow and blow company are:
much larger pool of prospective clients
I don't need to ever set foot an a clients property. Trained monkeys can use pushmowers and cut 1/4 acre lots.

Simply Mowing follows Just Mowit's plan. No estimate, no prescreen visit, credit card payment only, set pricing per lot size. I put in 3 hours of work per week (plus maintenance time) and my 2 guys are cutting 45 yards in just over 2 days with very little advertising. Come spring I am ramping that company up big time. Profit % is much higher.

Precision Lawncare will remain and by going to full-service only the profit % should go up there too.

thartz
10-07-2005, 07:19 PM
Why do 50 lawns for 20 bucks when you can do 20 lawns for 50 bucks? Being the "Walmart" of lawn care just wastes your time and speeds up the death of your equipment.Can you justify doing business this way when you look at your costs? Can you replace your equipment? How about you? can your body last forever.I think you're looking too short term by saying you could lose them in such a short period of time due to poor work.I would rather have quality work and have a secure and higher quality life knowing my accounts are mostly repeat customers who I don't take for granted and they know I'm trying to run a business that is on a professional level.You'll sleep a whole lot easier if you don't have to wake up each morning having to hustle continuously to stay busy.Do other professions let their clients set their price? try that with an electrician,plumber or mechanic next time you use their service.

olderthandirt
10-07-2005, 07:42 PM
dont have to have 2 sets of everything when company b is a part of company a. thats how we do it. brians is full service and landscaping and lawnmaster is low cost mow and blow division. both names are on everything, just different crews and service level.

But your defeating the purpose of getting 2 bites of the pie. You need 2 dif. names if you want to project 2 co. other wise why not offer full service at x amount of $$ or mow and go at a cheap rate?

6'7 330
10-07-2005, 07:50 PM
Who the hell would want into the cutthroat world of servicing cheap asses?

olderthandirt
10-07-2005, 07:55 PM
Who the hell would want into the cutthroat world of servicing cheap asses?
Bingo !!!!!!!

wacamaster
10-07-2005, 08:09 PM
You can't just lower your price. You have to realize coming by a lawn service isn't the easiest thing.. they can call 100 people in the phone book and not get 1 return call. You'd be surprised if you said.. $45.. and they say $35.. and you stand your ground... they will end up paying you $45. I had a lady I bid $60 and she said she could only afford $40 and her husband died and half social security ect.... I stood my ground.. then she said $50 and you don't have to trim.. I explained how my crews are set up to provide a full service and it's either a guys trimming or he's sittin in the truck.. then she gave in and agreed to $60 and said she'll just cut back on milk or something. I knew I had her the whole time.

Brianslawn
10-07-2005, 08:11 PM
starving youre grandmas to death again wacamaster. :confused:

wacamaster
10-07-2005, 08:16 PM
About the multiple companies thing... I knew a guy who had in's with property managers and city work and so forth. These people are usually required to get 3 bids. Well he had 3 different companies so he could land a nice landscape job by just setting 2 real high then having the 3rd come in lower.

Brianslawn
10-07-2005, 08:25 PM
About the multiple companies thing... I knew a guy who had in's with property managers and city work and so forth. These people are usually required to get 3 bids. Well he had 3 different companies so he could land a nice landscape job by just setting 2 real high then having the 3rd come in lower.


exactly.....

Mr. Magpie
10-08-2005, 10:50 AM
Who the hell would want into the cutthroat world of servicing cheap asses?

Because those cheap asses don't bother you once you give them the price they want. Most of them don't even go in their backyard ever.

Mr. Magpie
10-08-2005, 10:59 AM
Sure since I suggest it a couple yrs ago, 2 companys means double the insurence not just added on expense but 2 seperate policys.Double books. double scheldules etc. What to do when theres complaints? Send the crew boss out, thats fine till he can't resolve the problem and the owner who is responsable has to step in. If both co. are just mow and blow it might work but I still can't see where you gonna generate enough extra income to justify carrying 2 sets of everything. I woulds rather skip the cheap ones and upsell the good customers and leave the penny pinchers to those that cater to that crowd.
BTW -- I don't think it would be long before word got out that its the same company and all you would have is economy customers

Why are you suggesting the difficult option? No, it is not two companies legally, just perceptively. Two phone numbers and two different signs on the side of the trucks, two different business cards, ect. Tell me why you would feel like you had to seperate them?

If the crew boss goes out and can't solve a problem? DROP THE CLIENT. They are probably only $50 a month anyways.

Justify two sets? Many LCO's have to crews. SO what if one maintains all the sh*thouses? Your old equipment gets demoted to their truck, ect.

Let's here some better reasons to NOT do this. Yours suck.

Look man, for every cheapskate you control in your area, that's one less for the lowballers. Eventually they will suffocate and die off, leaving you, the all powerful HYBRID company standing strong.

Now, what could you possibly say to this? I'm sure you will come up with something :laugh:

Mr. Magpie
10-08-2005, 11:13 AM
Simply Mowing follows Just Mowit's plan. No estimate, no prescreen visit, credit card payment only, set pricing per lot size. I put in 3 hours of work per week (plus maintenance time) and my 2 guys are cutting 45 yards in just over 2 days with very little advertising. Come spring I am ramping that company up big time. Profit % is much higher.

Precision Lawncare will remain and by going to full-service only the profit % should go up there too.
Hell yeah, brother.

Olderthandirt, did you notice the part about "profit % is much higher"?

Ok, remeber, we are talking about servicing crappy accounts, with crappy work provided, not just penny-pinchers..... everyone is so worried about their reputation here, well if you are basically fully controlling one ofthe lowballers companies without anyone knowing or ever possibly knowing, this is where we are in the conversation......

The profit % on my sh*thouse, penny pinching lawns is significantly more than my nice accounts. This is a general fact of lawncare, ready?: When you are asked to perform simple tasks (mow, blow, go), you profit big. WHen you are asked to make things look good, you suffer from headaches and wasted time more often than not." It's those ever-present Mow and blow accounts that keep most in business.

Penny pinchers most of the time don't even know what their backyard looks like. THey are too busy meeting their bills, driving their kids to school, working too much, ect. to even care about whether there are stripes on their lawn or not. THe payments are small, the city is off their ass, they are happier than a pig in sh*t that they are getting low price and stealth service that does not bother them.

Mr. Magpie
10-08-2005, 11:20 AM
Brians & Precision, both you guys actually do this HYBRID style of service delivery. Do you think you have you ever lost a prospective client because they figured out you were both the same company? If you did, could you have kept your secret better and avoided this occurrence?

Do you have two insurance policies for your different divisions?

Which division is more profitable? Do you ever see this changing?

WHat problems, if any, are realized from doing this style of service?

Mr. Magpie
10-08-2005, 11:26 AM
Who the hell would want into the cutthroat world of servicing cheap asses?
Because those cheap asses don't bother you once you give them the price they want.

If price IS ALL THEY CARE ABOUT, and you GIVE THEM THE PRICE THEY WANT, what is left about these people to give you a headache? Tell me.

Woody82986
10-08-2005, 11:38 AM
They could give you a headache because those same people that only care aout price, probably have a huge mouth and like to go around doing nothing but reaming out all the people and businesses that screwed them over by providing horrible service. If you provide a sub par service for the price they want, you aren't doing them a favor. You just end up hurting yourself when they drop you and spread your name around town. You said yourself that if you drop the price to what they want to pay, you won't do as good a job, or you will cut corners... so why would you put yourself in that position.

Woody82986
10-08-2005, 11:39 AM
I think everyone else might have left you behind in this thread, you seem to have had the last 4 or 5 posts before I posted... lol

Mr. Magpie
10-08-2005, 11:47 AM
They could give you a headache because those same people that only care aout price, probably have a huge mouth and like to go around doing nothing but reaming out all the people and businesses that screwed them over by providing horrible service. If you provide a sub par service for the price they want, you aren't doing them a favor. You just end up hurting yourself when they drop you and spread your name around town. You said yourself that if you drop the price to what they want to pay, you won't do as good a job, or you will cut corners... so why would you put yourself in that position.
I'm not putting myself in that position, my other crew would be doing that.

Now, you are making a value judgment on a certain type of person (stingy). This is no longer fact but speculation and in many many cases is not true. Besides, if you read my other posts, I said that if one of these pennypinchers gives you a problem, you simpoly give them the boot and forgoe the small amount of money they represent to you.

Look, I know that there are many of my customers that I just know they have been quiet for years now, pay on time, and never complain because they have the cheap price that I gave them way back when I was prone to give cheap prices. It just so happens that I do a quick job for them, a job that they like nonetheless, and their accounts are actually more profitable than most of my others. This is not just me, this happens to a lot of LCO's. Why don't we just fess up to this reality, however annoying it may be and adapt to it by having antoher mow and blow crew under a different name?

Mr. Magpie
10-08-2005, 11:53 AM
By the way, when I say a "quick job" , i don't mean a crappy job. I mean, for instance, saying you will include some shrubs in the mowing price, and then only doing the shrubs once in a blue moon.

Or, only edging every other cut.

Or, their lawn dies, and you say you will just blow leaves instead to make up for the lack of grass, while all along spending less time blowing the leaves than you did cutting.

Or, doing certain sections only every other time.

Or, billing them a lot for extra services that they request along the way.

Et cetera.

Woody82986
10-08-2005, 11:54 AM
I think it ends up being a dishonest business practice. I believe that for me, it would violate my ethical judgement. More power to you though if you want to do it. Like I have always said, there are many many way sto run a business without going belly up.

Wells
10-08-2005, 12:38 PM
hell.... wells is the only one who lets the customers set the price and apparently hes so desperate for work and bored with bikinni pics, he has no other choice. :dizzy:
Who said I was desperate for work.....that couldn't be farther from the truth.
I've just learned to land a larger percentage of clients by establishing their budget up front. Once I know what their willing to pay I know how much work I have ahead of me in order to land the client. By understanding what a client is willing to pay upfront gives me a better idea if I should just walk away or continue explaining the differences between the 12 year old kid and the legitimate business with actual operating expenses. I generally always walk away from a bid knowing if I have a new client or not.

The rest of you guys drop off your bids and hope and pray that the customer is smart enough to figure things out for themselves. Then when you loose the bids because your pricing was to high you sit on this board complaining about it.

Granted my methods are different then the rest of you guys but it works very well for me and you don't see me replying to these other threads that i'm loosing potential clients. My methods are different and unique and it's what makes us stand out. It might be good, it might be bad i'm at least trying to think and work outside the box.

Brianslawn
10-08-2005, 12:44 PM
just messin with you wells. bobby might disagree with you though... :waving:

Brianslawn
10-08-2005, 01:04 PM
Brians & Precision, both you guys actually do this HYBRID style of service delivery. Do you think you have you ever lost a prospective client because they figured out you were both the same company? If you did, could you have kept your secret better and avoided this occurrence?

Do you have two insurance policies for your different divisions?

Which division is more profitable? Do you ever see this changing?

WHat problems, if any, are realized from doing this style of service?

we dont loose any. we are able to profitably service everyone. both names are on everything, but trucks. when it comes time to giving bids on large bizs and we know someone on inside. all they need is 2 or 3 bids. guess who gets the contract.... i'll give you a hint.... its one of our companies.

consolidation is the key!

Fantasy Lawns
10-08-2005, 01:25 PM
If we have 2 crews out mowing on the same day .... n a dirt lot is 2 or 3 houses down from one of our premiums

Are we sending 2 different trucks on that route ???

That's plain silly .... I wish the best of luck on too those whom must keep a "secret" crew or split company's .... if we mow a dirt lot it's the same crew or another crew which also mows nicer yards

I usually get much more fore the dirt lots ... I don't want em ... I bid em as such n if I get it great

Prime example .... nice widow lady calls to get one of her rentals on service ... nice neighborhood ... give her a general idea of price over the phone ... (I don't do tire kickers ... n I mow in the area ... I know the general time frame) .... tell her those are around $85 per month ($24.28 per cut) .... takes 2 guys in mid heat 15 minutes or total of 30 min. labor

I actually drive by it n tell her $95 .... it's a dirt lot .... that was 2 years ago n I still mow it

Provide a good consistent, reliable service n leave the games to the kids

That being said ... to have a commercial division & a resi division .... that works !

Lisk
10-08-2005, 02:35 PM
let me break your words down and you explain how this will work



What if there price is $5 and as I said in my original post to you, you don't have the option of deciding how much time to spend. The work determines the amount of time on their property. your forgetting you have a set determined amount of cost and your not going to meet them "agreeing to do their lawn for the price they seem to need"



Why would you not retain them or it should be they retain you? your mowing at a price they decided they were gonna pay you. You acknowledged it with this sentence "They are some of the best customers because they got the price they wanted!, and I gave it to them." not sure who is the b*tch.
And this next sentence goes to the part of you did not get what the job was worth but what the customer wanted to pay "Even if they finally do cancel due to poor service or quality, at least I got, say, 6 months of good, profitable business out of them, rather than nothing." So you got paid less than the job is worth and you show cased your crappy work to the neighborhood and that is why its detrimental to your biz.

BINGO.......Always remember the QUALITY of YOUR work!!.....For every customer there is always plenty of potential REFERRALS, based on the quality of your work, that could be that 1 huge connection for you!! DONT FORGET IT!! :nono:

olderthandirt
10-08-2005, 02:36 PM
Why are you suggesting the difficult option? No, it is not two companies legally, just perceptively. Two phone numbers and two different signs on the side of the trucks, two different business cards, ect. Tell me why you would feel like you had to seperate them?

If the crew boss goes out and can't solve a problem? DROP THE CLIENT. They are probably only $50 a month anyways.

Justify two sets? Many LCO's have to crews. SO what if one maintains all the sh*thouses? Your old equipment gets demoted to their truck, ect.

Let's here some better reasons to NOT do this. Yours suck.

Look man, for every cheapskate you control in your area, that's one less for the lowballers. Eventually they will suffocate and die off, leaving you, the all powerful HYBRID company standing strong.

Now, what could you possibly say to this? I'm sure you will come up with something :laugh:

To debate this with you is a waste of time #1 your geting out of the business as you said.

You better check with a business attorney and an accountant if your incorperated.

I don't need the work so why would I want to even think about working for someone thats cheap "They are probably only $50 a month anyways." My customers are closer to that a wk.

If you think you have it all figured out and my answers to you suck then by all means don't quit stick around and see how many yrs you can make a living doing it. :waving:

Mr. Magpie
10-08-2005, 08:46 PM
To debate this with you is a waste of time #1 your geting out of the business as you said.

You better check with a business attorney and an accountant if your incorperated.

I don't need the work so why would I want to even think about working for someone thats cheap "They are probably only $50 a month anyways." My customers are closer to that a wk.

If you think you have it all figured out and my answers to you suck then by all means don't quit stick around and see how many yrs you can make a living doing it. :waving:
I still may keep my biz when I get hired.

If it is a waste of your time to debate this, then by all means don't. But, what you are doing is sticking your head in here, making bold statememts, and then leaving. If you must, go reply to some other threads which deal with less important issues than MEETING THE NEEDS OF YOUR LOCAL CLIENT POOL. You say you don't need them, but if you had the pennypinchers and another two crews, YOU WOULD BE MAKING MORE MONEY. So, you don't need more money? Aha, see, those pennypinchers represent a certain amount of potential profits..... so why don't you want to deal with them?

If I was staying in this business for the long run to support a family, I would make an absolute killing, no ifs ands or butts. I still might keep my biz and have a manager take over. I am a lawn guy for life or as long as I live in a good area. That's why I am into this convesation.

Precision
10-08-2005, 09:18 PM
I don't have a secret crew or company. I tell clients of the no-frills company that my other company can do upsell work like landscaping and the like.
The full service people know I have two companies if they ask, if not I don't make a point of telling them, but only because the other company has nothing to offer them. Most who do know are impressed that I am servicing both markets and mention it when they see the other crew.

As far as crossing paths or decreasing efficiency or whatever. The companies are completely independent of each other. Separate costing, separate equipment and all that. Sure it might be that we have two neighboring houses, one with each company. So what, company one does a good job but only cuts, edges, line trims and blows. Company two also trims hedges, kills weeds, fertilizes, and whatever else.

Company one can do 25 houses in a day with 2 21 inch mowers, a line trimmer, an edger, two blowers 2 gallons of gas, 2 gallons of mix gas and 2 employees in a ford ranger.

Company two needs a full size truck, a 16' trailer, a 60" ZTR and a 36" ZTR, 2 line trimmers, an edger, hedge trimmer, chainsaw, tarp, sprayer (periodically) a spreader, pole saw, irrigation equipment, and the list goes on. AND it takes a 3 man crew to service 25 properties in a day. 60" mowers don't help reduce time while trimming or spraying round up and the changing of hats for each task kills efficiency.

More importantly, I need to be in the truck for company two or get an employee who can maintain the properties at an acceptable level. Haven't found that person yet.

Company one needs two trained monkeys with one having the ability to not hit things with the truck and read a map.

Brianslawn
10-08-2005, 09:48 PM
we dont have any trailor house next door to mansions around here. i know several guys that do houses next door to mine, fantasy.... maybe i should call them up too, and tell them to quit wasting gas and ride with me. or else, i can do them while they are doing mine in a different part of town. we use same mowers and everything else. maybe you should give consolidation some thought fantasy. sure beats running 2 crews on the same route!