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coolluv
03-29-2007, 08:54 PM
I started last June and was hoping on getting more customers but from what I hear from potential clients is that my prices are high. I have gone on several bids this season and put out about 1500 advertisements but the prices that people seem to expect are way low, 1/2 acre properties with sidewalks that have grass between the curb and the sidewalks that need to be edged and bedding around the entire house that need to be edged are going for $20 or $25 a cut makes me think what the heck are these companies thinking.

I thought that I researched this business enough to make some decent money but between the lowballers and the Mexicans I'm starting to second quess myself. I have seen flyer's advertising $20 to $25 for half and three quarter acres per cut with free fertilizer for the year and I think how are they making it. Maybe its just me I don't know. I get a call from a possible client and I go for an estimate and I think alright I should bid $45 but I need the work so I bid $38 a wk. Nope still to high.

I went and looked at a 1 acre property in a 400,000 to 600,000 thousand neighborhood and the lady says I have a Mexican that does it for $35 but he doesn't pull weeds in the flower beds, Do you pull weeds? I'm like for $35 bucks what do you expect. Can I wash your car and clean your house too.

I went on about 10 estimates in the past 2 wks and I get the same response, Well I have a few more people coming out to give me estimates I will let you know. Soooo I call them back and they say yea I went with another company. I say do you mind telling me what they are charging you and they say no its $20 or $25 a wk. I just say ok thank you and I hang up thinking to myself how can someone make any money charging that for cutting the grass edging all of the curb areas and the sidewalks and the driveways and all of the trees and flowerbeds and still make a profit. These are not small properties, they are half acre or more with extensive time to edge all the concrete and bedding areas.

I sure hope things get better because I'm really getting disgusted. And for those of you in Georgia on this site that are in the business I would really like to know what kind of response you are getting.

Totally reconsidering my business, Dave...

tjsquickcuts
03-29-2007, 10:21 PM
Guess it just depends on the area you are working.....Our minimun is $40.....and I refuse to go lower.....and most people dont have a problem paying it once they see how professional we are during the estimate meet and greet phase. Not to meantion, I always tell them, anyone can cut your grass, but only a professional can Maintain you entire property....

Nik_Danger
03-29-2007, 10:33 PM
A few years ago there were many companies here where young business owners were making good money and doing competitive work. Everything looked good, and being in the business was an easy way to have a stress fee job. Now most of the labor crews leave their business owners and run illegitimate businesses. They undercut so freakin low that the few of us left that do it honest have no chance. I had a customer cancel me out to pay $15 cash a week for front, back, trim, edge and blow. The kicker is that they do a terrible job. Weekly scalpage, wavy edging with a line trimmer, and blowing all the clippings in the street...I talked to that customer recently, couldn't be more happy. Whatever. On the plus side, I feel that it may only be a trend. A buddy of mine had a crew of maybe 8 or 9 altogether. All but 2 went home to stay because things are getting so risky here. That doesn't cancel out the other hundred thousand illegals here that are still in business but it shows that they realize that they can't freeload forever. $15 dollars a yard tax free on stolen equip. is pretty decent...if its stolen, but equipment theft here is as common as anything. This is in Dallas so it may be different where ever you are...feel your pain, but stay confident. There is a difference between a professional and somebody who does a half ass job for peanuts.

ATL Lawn
03-29-2007, 11:34 PM
$25? WTF what part of town is this????

QualityLawnCare4u
03-30-2007, 12:55 AM
Its pretty bad down here in south Georgia to. I have lost a BUNCH to the 20 dollar lowballers. Most don't care that I am licensed or insured and do good work, just want cheap and sloppy. If I could find a decent job I know what I would do.... I read post on here about folks wanting to quit a 50k job to go into the lawn biz. I wish them best in thier new venture but no way in h*ll would I quit a job even paying half that much down here.

coolluv
03-30-2007, 05:17 AM
Toasty22 This is in Forsyth, Gwinnet, south Dawson, counties. You know, where you drive down Hwy 9 and think you took a wrong turn and ended up in Mexico.

Dave...

Eakern & Dog
03-30-2007, 06:26 AM
I agree. There seems to be more low ballers than usual. I just keep on going. I can't see how anyone can stay in biz for $20 a mow,even if there are not legit. Keep on trying !




You say that now.......but if you ever worked one of those "55 K" jobs you would change your mind. The high pressure jobs where you are never "off ". A job where a cell phone and blackberry is not enough.......they gotta know your room number when you are on vacation and want you to "VPN in" on the lap top.The kind of job where when you are eating a romantic dinner or watching a movie .......the sound of someone else's cell phone triggers anxiety.
The kind of job where you are expected to work 55 to 60 hours a week MINIMUM while you wonder if next year you'll be packaged out the door along with the other "high" salary employees. Did I mention that they expect you to pull rabbits out of hats and "chit" out people, products and reports that were done by folks they laid off the year before........ Start dividing 55K by those regular 55 hour to 65 hour weeks,extrapolate the stress, factor in the back biting, political in-fighting and then glance in the mirror at the person you've become .Suddenly........ anything and anywhere else becomes a better place.

dave k
03-30-2007, 08:34 AM
I live in the Athens Ga area and cut lawns in Gwinett, I won't leave my drive way for under 45 a cut, for 1/2 ac properties I charge 45 and 3/4 to 1 ac I charge 50 to 55. Aerating I charge 50 for the 1st 5000 sq. feet and 1 cent per sq. ft. there after. I was considering raising my prices this year for the cost of gas and diesel but changed my mind. It is a huge problem and all you can do is educate customers and find new ones. Don't give up.
Dave

Prestige-Lawncare
03-30-2007, 08:53 AM
You say that now.......but if you ever worked one of those "55 K" jobs you would change your mind. The high pressure jobs where you are never "off ". A job where a cell phone and blackberry is not enough.......they gotta know your room number when you are on vacation and want you to "VPN in" on the lap top.The kind of job where when you are eating a romantic dinner or watching a movie .......the sound of someone else's cell phone triggers anxiety.
The kind of job where you are expected to work 55 to 60 hours a week MINIMUM while you wonder if next year you'll be packaged out the door along with the other "high" salary employees. Did I mention that they expect you to pull rabbits out of hats and "chit" out people, products and reports that were done by folks they laid off the year before........ Start dividing 55K by those regular 55 hour to 65 hour weeks,extrapolate the stress, factor in the back biting, political in-fighting and then glance in the mirror at the person you've become .Suddenly........ anything and anywhere else becomes a better place.

E-X-A-C-T-L-Y

lowballer17
03-30-2007, 08:57 AM
You right to work loving, Walmart shopping, immigrant hating, marrying your cousin, trailer park living wanna be business owners.

topsites
03-30-2007, 09:01 AM
It's not that your prices are too high, it's your demand generation is too low, so put out 20,000 ads some kind of way and your problems are fixed. I like to advertise until even I think my prices are too high lol, maybe you should, too.

TNT LawnCare Inc.
03-30-2007, 09:39 AM
Have nothing agaisnt the Mexicans,what i cant understand is why they just dont charge the same rate as us? Ive said it before ,theres no reason to lowball if thats what you want to call it .There is tons of work out there.

lowballer17
03-30-2007, 09:47 AM
lots of work out there.
just keep passing out flyers, ads in papers, word of mouth....

Lowballing is a good way to get your foot in the door fast.. Lots of accounts in a short time.. then slowly raise price up due to, factors: cost of living, Gas increase, insurance, etc..
Most customers will not object to a price increase once they know you are reliable and do good work.

GreenT
03-30-2007, 10:43 PM
You say that now.......but if you ever worked one of those "55 K" jobs you would change your mind. The high pressure jobs where you are never "off ". A job where a cell phone and blackberry is not enough.......they gotta know your room number when you are on vacation and want you to "VPN in" on the lap top.The kind of job where when you are eating a romantic dinner or watching a movie .......the sound of someone else's cell phone triggers anxiety.
The kind of job where you are expected to work 55 to 60 hours a week MINIMUM while you wonder if next year you'll be packaged out the door along with the other "high" salary employees. Did I mention that they expect you to pull rabbits out of hats and "chit" out people, products and reports that were done by folks they laid off the year before........ Start dividing 55K by those regular 55 hour to 65 hour weeks,extrapolate the stress, factor in the back biting, political in-fighting and then glance in the mirror at the person you've become .Suddenly........ anything and anywhere else becomes a better place.[/QUOTE]


How true... :laugh:

You have a way with words my friend.

Metro Lawn
03-30-2007, 11:19 PM
It's funny that most of the people that cry about cheaper prices (low ballers) actually support the process. Be honest: You have 2 mower dealers in town.. you are in the market for a new mower.. Shop A: $7995.00 Shop B: $8495.00 Where do you buy your mower from??????? I am guessing Shop A. You would go with the lower price wouldn't you? Does that mean Shop A is a low baller? Or is it simply Shop A has lower operating costs and does a higher volume and can afford to sell the mower cheaper and still turn a profit? Just my opinion.

David C.
03-31-2007, 07:03 AM
Lowballers are everywhere!! Even here in Alabama!

I recently went on an estimate/quote

Lady had her house plus two rental trailers

Her house covered 1.5 acres(easy)

The first rental covered an acre(easy)

The second rental---Lord help us---the tenant "trashed" it before she left!! It hadn't been mowed in several years!!! It was a garbage dump---literally!!! She never took the garbage to the road for pickup/collection!!! She just dumped the garbage out the back door!! Weeds and Privey hedge and no tellin' what else had the place "covered"

The Landlord wanted the garbage picked up & hauled off and the lot cleaned!!

So I start "factorin'" on a price!!!

I cut her a deal(so I thought!!!)

Her 1.5 acre=$70.00

The first rental lot=$90.00

The second rental lot that was trashed-----$20/hour to clean the trash and haul it off and clear underbrush and weeds/briars-------estimated time was 20 working hours(I'm Solo)=$400 or less but no more than 400------I told her that would be my "max" for cleaning the lot however----I would just charge by the hour because it may be I could have it done in less than 20 hours.

I leave----she calls back and says she found a lawn service that will do all three for $150.00-----including the trashed rental lot!!!

AMAZING!!!

No way I could or would have touched all three for that price

She turns my price down-----a few minutes later my phone rings----a house on the lake------an acre----I give the lake lady a price----she never bats an eye---"Sure!! Go ahead!! You mowed my son's yard yesterday and he says he likes your work!!!"

So----do a good job on what jobs you have----mow, edge, trim, and blow, and fertilize and weed out the flower beds as if you were doing it for First Lady Laura Bush!!!

What I'm trying to say is-------people talk!!!! Some will talk about the lowballers-------"He'll mow your yard cheap!!!!" Some will talk about YOU!!! "He'll mow your yard GOOD!!!"----------some folks like it cheap----never you mind them-----some like it GOOD!!! Pour your efforts into those GOOD ones!!!

When the lowballers haff ta "shut er down" because of high fuel or because the IRS finally caught up with um-----you'll still be there!!!!

brucec32
03-31-2007, 03:57 PM
I started last June and was hoping on getting more customers but from what I hear from potential clients is that my prices are high. I have gone on several bids this season and put out about 1500 advertisements but the prices that people seem to expect are way low, 1/2 acre properties with sidewalks that have grass between the curb and the sidewalks that need to be edged and bedding around the entire house that need to be edged are going for $20 or $25 a cut makes me think what the heck are these companies thinking.

I thought that I researched this business enough to make some decent money but between the lowballers and the Mexicans I'm starting to second quess myself. I have seen flyer's advertising $20 to $25 for half and three quarter acres per cut with free fertilizer for the year and I think how are they making it. Maybe its just me I don't know. I get a call from a possible client and I go for an estimate and I think alright I should bid $45 but I need the work so I bid $38 a wk. Nope still to high.

I went and looked at a 1 acre property in a 400,000 to 600,000 thousand neighborhood and the lady says I have a Mexican that does it for $35 but he doesn't pull weeds in the flower beds, Do you pull weeds? I'm like for $35 bucks what do you expect. Can I wash your car and clean your house too.

I went on about 10 estimates in the past 2 wks and I get the same response, Well I have a few more people coming out to give me estimates I will let you know. Soooo I call them back and they say yea I went with another company. I say do you mind telling me what they are charging you and they say no its $20 or $25 a wk. I just say ok thank you and I hang up thinking to myself how can someone make any money charging that for cutting the grass edging all of the curb areas and the sidewalks and the driveways and all of the trees and flowerbeds and still make a profit. These are not small properties, they are half acre or more with extensive time to edge all the concrete and bedding areas.

I sure hope things get better because I'm really getting disgusted. And for those of you in Georgia on this site that are in the business I would really like to know what kind of response you are getting.

Totally reconsidering my business, Dave...

1. Flyers are one-shot advertising. One principle in marketing is that your advertising be sustained. You need something they see regularly, then when they need that service, they think of yours. That means newspaper probably. Look at your local papers and their rates.

2. What part of Atlanta? If you're in an area full of recently unemployed (near a closed auto plant, for example) or that otherwise has a high "good old boy" to yuppie ratio, competition will be fierce. I've never had much price resistance in North Fulton Co.

3. $25 is a postage stamp sized lawn, and a simple one at that. If your market really is that bad, I'd find a different biz or be willing to drive to where the serious customers are.

4. Rates in real dollars have gone down (remained stagnant) in the last several years due to the immigrant labor and competition factors. Better equipment and techniques that raise your efficiency are one way to cope. Real wages for all workers in America, adjusted for inflation, haven't risen since 1972.

5. You only have about 6 months of actual mowing experience in the business, after you subtract the winter months. You don't yet have what some people are looking for (experience, reliable reputation, etc) to differentiate you from "some Mexican" or any fly by night operation just looking to earn a living till something better comes along. So in that case, low price wins every time. Anyone who hires someone for $35 on that size prop who is looking to replace him over weed pulling is not going to be looking to pay top dollar for quality.

6. How's your presentation? Professional brochure, uniform shirt, spiffy vehicle and the right equipment for the job? Do you come off as personable and friendly at quote time? Are you reasonable on terms based on area customs? (insisting on 12 month contracts and 50 visits a year in places with real winter, for example). A lot of guys hit prospects with a lot of legaliese and conditions and another guy comes along who is more easygoing, guess which they'll go with? Got a website? That will impress professional class people. I personally am hesitant to deal with any company that doesn't have one, since it says "I'm not in this for the long run". A good website also helps you refer them to it in your ads so they can get more info about you and your service at their leisure. You don't have space in ads, nor time in a presentation, to hit them with all that. You need somewhere they can go to check you out.

But basically it sounds like either your area demographics are not great, your marketing and presentation is missing something (only getting calls from cheapskates, for example), or you just don't have the experience yet that some are looking for.

I had to restart my biz after a year in another city and was back at 100% capacity within 6 weeks. Quality of customers takes another year or two to shake out, but I had plenty of work. Conversely, trying to start up in another city with bad demographics (cheapskates used to low rates in terrible mowing conditions) I got almost nowhere. So most likely the problem is that there are more mowers than customers. Supply and demand at work.

IF you are really good, you can go the high end route and market to higher income types, but you have to be certified, licensed to apply pesticides, and willing to do anything on site (they won't lift a finger). They will pay very well but you'll need laborers eventually since I doubt you want to be doing hand weeding, stick pickup, etc, etc all day.

brucec32
03-31-2007, 04:08 PM
A few years ago there were many companies here where young business owners were making good money and doing competitive work. Everything looked good, and being in the business was an easy way to have a stress fee job. Now most of the labor crews leave their business owners and run illegitimate businesses. They undercut so freakin low that the few of us left that do it honest have no chance. I had a customer cancel me out to pay $15 cash a week for front, back, trim, edge and blow. The kicker is that they do a terrible job. Weekly scalpage, wavy edging with a line trimmer, and blowing all the clippings in the street...I talked to that customer recently, couldn't be more happy. Whatever. On the plus side, I feel that it may only be a trend. A buddy of mine had a crew of maybe 8 or 9 altogether. All but 2 went home to stay because things are getting so risky here. That doesn't cancel out the other hundred thousand illegals here that are still in business but it shows that they realize that they can't freeload forever. $15 dollars a yard tax free on stolen equip. is pretty decent...if its stolen, but equipment theft here is as common as anything. This is in Dallas so it may be different where ever you are...feel your pain, but stay confident. There is a difference between a professional and somebody who does a half ass job for peanuts.

And now the true price of "cheap labor" comes to bite us in the rear end. When labor rates are artificially undercut too far, then the employees can see the obvious and will go out on their own rather than work for peanuts. Why would anyone mow grass for a business for $12/hour when they can, even lowballing, double that (often tax free since they don't report anything) working on their own for little old ladies who will pay $25 for 20 minutes' work?
Someone willing to break dozens of laws every day may well not have any problem stealing a few machines to start up his dream business, either. He obviously can't save enough of his wages to buy a $3,000 machine. We've basically made our own bed in this business trying to find a shortcut around the laws of supply and demand for labor. Now the time to pay the piper is coming around.

When we encourage, on a mass scale, the wholesale breaking of labor, tax, and immigration laws, why would we expect our employees not to feel free to break the same laws working for themselves for double the pay or more? We in the industry have acted as if we got to choose which laws are breakable. Why would we expect immigrants to do differently?

I caught a couple of guys slowing down and eyeing my trailer to grab tools off my truck yesterday. They sped back up when I came around the corner. First time that's happened to me. Times are changing. It was on a dead end road and there was no other reason for them to be stopping there, so I assume theft was their goal. They came back by on the way out after turning around within seconds, so I know they had no other business in the area.

The fact that many are going home shows that even a small amount of enforcement of laws goes a long way.

brucec32
03-31-2007, 04:18 PM
You say that now.......but if you ever worked one of those "55 K" jobs you would change your mind. The high pressure jobs where you are never "off ". A job where a cell phone and blackberry is not enough.......they gotta know your room number when you are on vacation and want you to "VPN in" on the lap top.The kind of job where when you are eating a romantic dinner or watching a movie .......the sound of someone else's cell phone triggers anxiety.
The kind of job where you are expected to work 55 to 60 hours a week MINIMUM while you wonder if next year you'll be packaged out the door along with the other "high" salary employees. Did I mention that they expect you to pull rabbits out of hats and "chit" out people, products and reports that were done by folks they laid off the year before........ Start dividing 55K by those regular 55 hour to 65 hour weeks,extrapolate the stress, factor in the back biting, political in-fighting and then glance in the mirror at the person you've become .Suddenly........ anything and anywhere else becomes a better place.




So true on the phone triggering anxiety. Except when I quit that life it was my beeper . Now I still cringe when I hear one. I never took more than a long weekend off the last 3 years of it. I can still recall getting paged out of bed on my few days off, and being told to do my job plus the job of the 40 hour/week employee they just made me get rid of.
One thing I love about this biz is you sign up folks in Spring, then cancel the ad, turn on the answering machine, and rarely have to deal with any of that stuff if you do good work.

There's no free lunch. Add up 2.5 hours/day of commute time, 50 hours in the office, and you make about $18/hour with that 55K job. Plus now you have to pay someone with after tax dollars for your lawn service, painter, powerwashing, and other household chores because you have zero free time to do it. Subtract that out and you'd be as well off working as a lawncare foreman for $15/hour. You're just trading physical stress for mental. You'll also have high blood pressure and be 40 lbs overweight from the sedentary lifestyle.

Tadams
03-31-2007, 09:20 PM
Hey Bruce32, I always enjoy reading your posts. Very thoughtful, honest,realistic, and business oriented. Your posts have made me evaluate some of my strategies and business practices- Thanks. I was just wondering- Do you have a website?

Anthony-MB
03-31-2007, 10:51 PM
I feel for ya,
I too am in the Forsyth area. Three years ago many well known lawn services were charging $30 to $35 a week for full package (mow, edge, trim bushes)
That was in the nice areas with 1/2 acre and half million dollar homes

Now, it seems to have dropped to $25

One major thing has happened in our area, building of new homes are down. Which in turn means those workers(labors) need to find other sources of income. So many go into lawn care and flood the market.

But heres a good tip the closer to Alpharetta you get, the more customers are willing to pay

Its wierd, if I quote an northern Forsyth customer with 1 acre at $50 they'll baulk and say they can get it done for less.

But in Alpharetta they gladly pay $30 for 1/4 acre. mowing only

Eakern & Dog
04-01-2007, 03:48 PM
I feel for ya,
I too am in the Forsyth area. Three years ago many well known lawn services were charging $30 to $35 a week for full package (mow, edge, trim bushes)
That was in the nice areas with 1/2 acre and half million dollar homes

Now, it seems to have dropped to $25

$25 ????????.........for 1/2 acre ? That's what I charge for a postage stamp lawn and then only if I had other clients on the street or nearby. I would never do 1/2 acre for $25.....mow it or anything else to it. If that's what your competeing with then I feel your pain ! I can go just as broke at the river bank with a hook, line, sinker and pole :-)

Tadams............are you having the same issue up in Cartersville ?