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HOMER
08-03-2001, 08:25 AM
Taking the good advice of many on this great forum I have embarked on a mission to raise prices on some of my accounts. I have also realized that my "focus" is changing and handling fewer accounts but being more full service is the direction I want to go. Having said that I will share my story.

I have been maintaining a commercial account now for the last couple of years. This year it was recognized by the beautification committe and won the award, the sign is still up. When you come into town it is one of the first office buildings you see. The other day I had a conversation with the owner and told her that there was a lot of work that needed to be done. She had been letting someone else do the shrub work and weeding and it really wasn't being handled well. I proposed to her that I would start maintaining the entire grounds less weed control (shut up Stone). I also made her aware of the fact that I had been doing just the mowing too cheap for the size of the property and needed to refigure my bid. She seemed happy and willing to go down this road with me.

The other Saturday my better half and I spent a good 5 hrs at the site making improvements to every square inch of the place. We trimmed and pruned and sawed and mowed and blowed and...............you get the picture. As I have said before my other goal is to achieve the beautification award at as many commercial properties as I can. If this place got it before it should dang sure get it again now that we widdled away at the overgrown crap Saturday.

Armed with my new knowledge of how much time we would spend doing the other work at the site I set out to refigure my bid. Here is how I did it:

30 mowings at 2.5 hrs each for a total of 75hrs a year
3 full blown shrub, tree, and crape prunings a 5.0 hrs each/15 hrs year.
30 weed pulls at .5 each for another 15 hrs for the year.
105 hrs total hrs spent there for the year maintaining everything that grows. I broke down the dollars for the different functions and came up with a total of $4650.00 for the year. This place consumes an entire corner and is far from being flat and easy I might add.

The owner had been out of town so I called her Tuesday to see if they had returned. My first question was had she been to the office................she had not. I then proceeded to enter into the INCREASE phase of the discussion. I reminded her of our discussion and told her that I had done some re-figuring.............then I laid it on her...............she really didn't like what she heard:eek:
I let her soak it up and then reminded her that we're talking about the entire place here. She needed to run it by the office manager, she at least understood that they wouldn't be paying the other guy to do the shrubs now so including that into the price was understandable. The increase was $212.50 a month. I believe she thinks all that is from the added shrubs, it was also the adjustment made from doing the place dirt cheap for the last 2 years!

Guess what they want to do now? Yep, shop around and compare prices!:blob2: She even asked me who I would recommend! Of course I had nobody that I would recommend so I told her she would have to handle that the best way she could.

I guess the reason I'm pissed is because of the way the place used to look. It was a dump before I took it over and now it has at least got the attention of some people in town. When you really get into something and work you a$$ off to make it the best you can it's a little hard to swallow this "WE'RE GONNA GET A COUPLE MORE PRICES" craP! I guess the long and short of it is I won't be coming down on my price more than 10% regardless of the outcome. I factored in some fluff and know the amount of time it takes me since I've been doing it for a while.

I'm almost convinced that the majority of the people don't even realize when something looks good or how much effort goes into making it that way. Let the grass grow a little too long and they notice the heck out of that though. I haven't heard back from her yet so the outcome is still up up in the air. If I'm succesful with this increase it will be the 5th one this year. Maybe things will work out...................just goes to show you how the rich keep getting richer and the rest of us keep on struggling!

Sorry for rambling...............needed to vent.

thelawnguy
08-03-2001, 08:40 AM
I had given a long-term customer a really good price (for her) on a landscape install. (She is handicapped and living off of SSI disability checks, and I had routinely done extras for her thru the years to help make life a bit more tolerable, i.e. cleaned her car after snow, removed hazardous limbs, etc gratis).

She calls the other day and says she plans to "shop around" before committing. Whoa! I immediately told her to release me from my bid. What do I mean she asks. I tell her that if she finds Im well below other quotes that I do not want to be bound to a contract where I may have screwed up the pricing but if she signs the contract now Ill hold to the price.

She signed :D

lawrence stone
08-03-2001, 08:54 AM
Originally posted by HOMER


I proposed to her that I would start maintaining the entire grounds less weed control (shut up Stone).



If you had a pest license you would be in a much better position.

Pest apps are easy and provide the highest margin and the dumb scrubs are out of the picture and you are bidding against only qualified licensed companies.

If you can't perform all the needed functions of a full service lawn care and landscape maint. business what good are you?

kutnkru
08-03-2001, 10:13 AM
… I guess the reason I'm pissed is because of the way the place used to look. It was a dump before I took it over and now it has at least got the attention of some people in town. Wegman’s used to have their property maintained by a friend of mine before he sold his business. The property was virtually a river berm that had to be mowed and it was striped perfectly every cutting. The flower beds were dead headed weekly, trees were pruned and shaped regularly in an effort to keep the property looking like a mini Taj Mahal(sp). Now its cut with toro grounds masters and the overall appearance has declined dramatically.

… When you really get into something and work you a$$ off to make it the best you can … I'm almost convinced that the majority of the people don't even realize when something looks good or how much effort goes into making it that way. We did a lawn installation for a friend at a Commercial Site, and now that the grass is in and still green (something the hydro seeder’s couldn’t do the first time correctly) the GM wants to talk with us about a price for maintaining the premises. What he fails to remember is that when his property was a mess and needed to be cut, and weeds knocked down, and a lot of little extras to keep it from being in code violation, that my friend whom had referred us for the seeding was the one who was always there for him. WHERES THE LOYALTY IN THIS!!!!:angry:

Let the grass grow a little too long and they notice the heck out of that though. Isn’t that just the way it is in our business that clients seem to be the most ungrateful and sooo forgetful of everything we do for them at these times! I guess it’s the 1 OH ****! wipes out 100 ATTA BOYS! :confused:

I empathize with your aggravation and frustration Homey!
Kris

gusbuster
08-03-2001, 03:16 PM
Homer,
Been through your sanitation all to often. Slap it into shape, and then let go because of price increase.

I do get even though when and IF I'm called back. Has happened a couple times. I tell them that since they discontinued my service, work needs to be done to the place, need to charge more for my services. It happens. If your doing AWSOME WORK, you will get the account back. This is what's nice about commercial jobs.
John

cantoo
08-03-2001, 04:15 PM
Homer, time to remember your saleman skills. Customers are more likely to say yes when they are in a happy mood or are impressed with your work. The best time to have given the increase was when she first seen your improvement to the property. She didn't have a chance to see the good work that you had done and you gave her the increase over the phone. There is no easier way to say No than over the phone, it's harder for the customer to say No to your face, especially when they are looking at the quality of your work. Also before and after pictures are lifesavers.
I have found that the easiest way to loose a job is to try to do the whole thing over the phone, face to face is the way to go.
One other thing, you should always have someone to recommend when a customer asks you no matter what it is they want. An expensive company and a real cheap company,, you will be the the medium they are looking for.

awm
08-03-2001, 05:59 PM
homer im betting this goes around a couple of times and she ends up calling you and asking you if you will still take it.
THATS LIFE.

gorrell
08-03-2001, 06:25 PM
Homer, I hope this mess resolves itself in your favor. In the future when you begin at a property like this(unmaintained)take plenty of before pictures. These can be extremely beneficial if this problem rears it's ugly head again................Lynn

65hoss
08-04-2001, 12:00 AM
Homer, stay in contact with them. Make sure your name stays on the front of their mind at all times when dealing with other bids. Hang in there!

crazygator
08-04-2001, 12:50 AM
Homer,
As others have stated, do your best imitation of a salesman. Even dress up, well ok dress up some. Make an appointment with all the people needed there and walk them through everything you did and do. Then they will see just what it is like, and by the way schedule it for the hottest time of the day so they will get the full emphasis, if you know what I mean. Good luck and it will work out for you! Also remind them of the award you spoke of and that might add some kick too!

RMDoyon
08-04-2001, 01:00 AM
Homer,
Just keep giving her follow-up calls and letters and don't let up. .

Like Woody Allen said: "90 per cent of life is just showing up".

Sad but true especially in lawn care.

Roger

HOMER
08-04-2001, 01:05 AM
I've asked two other LCO's to go by there and give me their opinion and a rough estimate, they won't be actually bidding but I thought I would do my own comparing. All I got out of both of them was "I charge the hell out of folks for shrubs!" Well then.................go tell the owner that.

Funny thing................I was basing the shrubs on a $35.00 an hour price figuring on a good 3.0 to 3.5 hrs each time. I was mowing another commercial account 2 doors down today and talked with one of the employees as he was leaving. The conversation turned to their shrubs that had recently been trimmed. I found out that they had been paying $600.00 each time for a landscape company to come in and trim them. This time the owner of the building let his son do them and paid him $400.00! I trimmed double the amount of shrubs the other day for nowhere close to that price. Most of these shrubs were more like shoulder high screening hedge that I could do with my Echo's and have done in 20 minutes. A few of them were small and needed some time taken. I could do the work in an hour and clean it up in another 20 minutes. What the man's Son did wasn't even that good! Why is it then that owners will pay the high dollars for shrub work but not routine maintenance on a large commercial property.

We need to collectively change some attitudes!

Lawn DOG
08-04-2001, 01:20 AM
Hey Homer,
What Stone said.

HOMER
08-04-2001, 01:34 AM
What Stone said don't mean skit here. Nobody with a pesticide license is bidding on it anyway, isn't even an issue but thanks for the input.

One doesn't need to have a license to prune a shrub round cheer.

MOW ED
08-04-2001, 09:02 AM
Homer,
You are doing the research and you know what you should be getting, if you are in the ballpark for the price you want then stick with it.
I know how hard it is to start low on a property and try and catch up, there is always the possibility that you will lose it. Its hard to swallow in the short run but in the long run it makes you a more competitive businessman.
I don't know where all this BS about being a licensed applicator came from regarding this post. They might as well be telling you to install sprinkler systems or rock walls because the profit margin is high.
I personally raised prices this year ranging from 8% to 20% and I didn't have one person out of the bunch question my pricing. You know your market, you do quality work, GET WHAT YOU ARE WORTH!
Good Luck.

gusbuster
08-04-2001, 09:11 AM
Originally posted by HOMER
Why is it then that owners will pay the high dollars for shrub work but not routine maintenance on a large commercial property.
We need to collectively change some attitudes!

Homer,
Not to knock you, but you run a business. It's called the bottom line(cost). Hope that answered your question. As to changing attitudes, well that won't happen for a long long time.
John

mrclean
08-04-2001, 07:11 PM
Homer,
The school that I come from says that the customer is always right... even if they aren't. Sometimes you have to make them think they are right, and make them think you understand. (Calm them down) Too many times I see salespeople that want to win the fight. My feeling is that you don't want to win the fight, because if you win, you loose. We also forget that customers only know what we tell them. They are not the professionals in this biz, we are. My advice...
1) let them know that you understand their concern and let them know you are on their side, not just out for your self.
2) Explain what you did and why and remember that you have to run a business no matter what their decision.
3) Tell them what you know (pricing others would charge for shrubs)
4) Remind them about the beautification award that they have won and the work it took to get it. Explain what it does for them when others see that award.
5) Let them shop if they want, you can't stop that. But, they may realize what value you offer. Then you will have a customer for life. If they choose someone else let them go, you can't stop that either. If it is a cut-rate outfit they will find out when their property begins to look shabby. Then what will happen? They will call you back. Then I would raise my price again for the aggrivation ;-) Just kidding with that last remark (or was I?)

Good luck,
Max

jeffex
08-05-2001, 07:57 AM
aahhhh we are very naieve{?} I used to wear my heart on my sleve about our work too!! The bigger you get or want to be i have realized that schmoozing goes along way to getting contracts. Big buisness is not about FAIRPLAY it is cutthroat and a$$ kissing. Take the prop. mgr. out to lunch so you can explain the merits of your service. When a person controls the purse strings they want to be courted. Homeowner assoc. are the worst but if you want them find out who the pres. is and do some FREE work for him. In my experience they will throw ethics aside and enjoy the schmooze. No matter how good your work is you can't stand on that alone. Just my view!!! Big companies like Brinkma_ probably make thier deals on the golf cource They bid at $27 per hr labor in my area then jack up billable hrs. I have seen thier bids from a local cemetery.

kris
08-05-2001, 10:11 AM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by jeffex
[B]aahhhh a$$ kissing. Take the prop. mgr. out to lunch so you can explain the merits of your service. When a person controls the purse strings they want to be courtedQUOTE]

Reminds me of a situation this year when a property manager wanted to borrow my fert spreader ...after loading it for her I then grabbed a bag of fert to throw in ... Well she had a fit!!! lol
Guess this wasn't allowed;) Could have been that it was right in front of her office.

Jeffex I feel is right on about this.

There are times when it won't matter what you do Homer..They are just cheap, cheap, cheap and will go with the cheapest.

HOMER
08-05-2001, 11:16 PM
Good news,

The owner of the business I was complaining about called tonight to tell me they could not find anyone to get another bid from. She also said that the place looked really good and they understood that I had not raised my prices since I had started. She did say however, that when and if they found someone to get a bid from they would probably still do it to compare prices just to see where I was at.:confused:

Anyway, it seems like everything has worked out for now and I'm going to leave well enough alone ...............maybe they will adjust to the new prices and forget about it.

Thanks for all the support and comments:)

gusbuster
08-05-2001, 11:36 PM
Good for you Homer!.
Good luck with this client. Just don't sell your soul to keep this commercial client.
John

MATTHEW
08-08-2001, 09:42 PM
Hey Homer. I have been there too! The thing is that a lot of managers get bonuses at the end of the year if they spend less than what was in the budget. They wouldn't know a good job from a bad one. It is dollars and cents (not sense) involved here.
Some LCO's get over $100.00 per Hr. doing shrubs. Here is an old saying in the sales world that you must remember:
"Some will-some won't-so what"
Just get your name out to as many prospects that you can. Hold on to the good ones-bag the losers. Good luck.;)

Mike (MLC)
08-09-2001, 12:08 AM
Hey Homer,
I hope that this company sticks with you for a few more years. BTW could you possibly show us a pic of this place. I think we would all like to see this place with its beautification award. ;)

HOMER
08-09-2001, 05:36 AM
Ya,

I gotta get some film for the camera, the POS digital I bought doesn't work any more.