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CSRA Landscaping
10-24-2001, 10:51 PM
I recently got the transmission, a C6, rebuilt on my F350 for $481.50 and that's tax and all. I asked the guy how they could do it so cheap and still give a 12 month unlimited mileage warranty and he looked at me and said "I own it, I do the work, I don't pay anyone else to do it." Huh .... that really got me to thinking.

This is what consumers dream of. Fast and reliable service at a great price. So, without screaming lowballer, how many solo ops out there feel that they can charge lower than what a huge corp. would charge and still make a reasonable profit?

I've been turned down several times for being too high and consequently I've had to lower my prices but I don't feel badly for it.

kutnkru
10-24-2001, 11:06 PM
I dont want to sell price. I want to offer a quality service at a fair price. I prefer the motto: Cadillac Service @ Chevy Prices. Im not the cheapest and Im not the most expensive, but I am upper middle-end according to figures I have been able to compare this fall.

Kris

scottt
10-24-2001, 11:13 PM
I know this isn't exactly what you asked but this is what I have done. I can charge less than the big outfits and still come out with a decent profit. So when I first started I charged a little less, but not much. This was just until I got enough accounts where I was making what I wanted. Then I slowly raised prices until a few people cancelled their service. Then I still made as much as I was before but worked less. This opened up my schedule for a few more higher profit accounts. I plan to continue this every year. The best part is, most of the people who cancelled had less than perfect landscapes and now my accounts are usually the best looking ones in the area.

casey
10-24-2001, 11:16 PM
Originally posted by CSRA Landscaping
Fast and reliable service at a great price. So, without screaming lowballer, how many solo ops out there feel that they can charge lower than what a huge corp. would charge and still make a reasonable profit?


Being a lowballer can, in some circumstances, mean being a smart businessman even if you're not a solo opp. Volume & value=profits.

cp
10-24-2001, 11:20 PM
I'm too new to giving advice on "How-To" do business.

With that said, I agree with KUTNKRU, and will elaberate that in this industry there are a lot of levels, i.e., Solo part-timers with Craftsmans and Wal-mart pushers, Solo full-timers like myself that operate for a profit, and on up to the big corporations.

A long story longer, I market myself to a specific niche within my capabilities and above the part-timers and price accordingly.

Shady Brook
10-24-2001, 11:22 PM
That C6 is supposed to be one of the best tranny's Ford has ever made. I hope mine holds out a while longer.:D So it is a safe bet that he will not have to replace it, and there are a million out there so parts are inexpensive.

I am near solo, having two part time guys. Problem is, I still have to have all the equipment as if I had two full time guys. I still have the insurance and trucks... in any event, my overhead is not all that much less with no employee as it is with one.

If I can have guys do the same work as I (not likely) and pay them $10/hr, I can do work cheaper then if I do it myself. Beside if you work by yourself you can charge more, because you will do a super job. Customers like to have the owner on site, which I advertize, and will be willing to pay a bit more to talk to "the man" if there is a problem.

If I am solo, I can and will charge a bit more per lawn then if I were big. That is how I see it.

Jay

CSRA Landscaping
10-24-2001, 11:58 PM
Kris, you and I agree.

Scott, exactly what I was thinking of. Glad to see it worked.

Casey, we're not lowballing, we're pricing competitively.

CP, TELL me about it! Lotsa craftsman mowers out there. I can't hang with 'em. ;)

Shady Brook, that was my problem although I was approaching the situation as if I were an established company and tried to skip the grubbing.

This is good, it's what I wanted. Let's keep it going.

TLS
10-25-2001, 12:27 AM
I'd be a little leary of the work done for $481.50. Every trans that I had rebuilt cost about a grand when all was said and done. These were TH350's and TH400's both 4x4.

Parts and taxes $181.50 (maybe?) and that leaves $300 to put on lift remove front and rear driveshafts, remove transfer case (slide back) drain fluid, drop tranny, wheel over to workbench (thats over 1 hr there $65/hr) dissassemble, ...blah...blah...blah. and reverse un-install procedures. I cant see how he did it? Maybe it was just a "in truck rebuild"? Transmissions are mysterious and if treated correctly will last.

I'd look into what exactly he did for that $481.50.

CSRA Landscaping
10-25-2001, 12:34 AM
TLS, I don't know how it is in PA but here in Dixie, every shade tree mechanic can do better, so that may be a factor.:D

At any rate, I looked over the paperwork and I got my warranty, I'm satisfied.

HOMER
10-25-2001, 02:54 AM
I looked at this then left.........then came back!

Maybe you can do it cheaper than a big company but why would you want to? The work isn't any easier because your a one man operation.......it's tougher because you don't have the extra help. You can only do so much in a day by yourself, why not get the most out of it. I understand your question but don't see the need to be real cheap just to get work..............it's hard work either way you look at it so you need to charge a good price to do it.

65hoss
10-25-2001, 02:59 AM
I'm with Homer. Why not get the best you can? Higher profit margin on less revenue is no better than lower profit margin on higher revenue. Working smarter not harder goes for the bottom line also.

CSRA Landscaping
10-25-2001, 02:59 AM
You're right Homer. I'm not going to lose my behind on prices, believe me. Thing is, I have got to do something as a new business or I'm sunk. I don't want to keep having to go to work with my pa-in-law. good as the pay may be. I want to be self-sufficient. You see, I don't have the work at all right now and I've got to do something to get referrals.

I do good work and I can do it fast. I'm reliable and I can give a fair price. I know how I feel when I think someone is trying to rip me off and I know that I've been way high a lot lately and I'm just not seeing anything to show.

Eric, this is all about working smarter.

A day where I make $100 is better than a day that I didn't work at all.

HOMER
10-25-2001, 03:06 AM
See if these people (in the future) are willing to negotiate. If you have given them a price and they reject it then ask them what they had in mind. Be willing to compromise to some extent, you don't always need to walk away empty handed.

30 accounts that pay you $100.00 a month is $3000.00
60 accounts that pay you $50.00 a month is $3000.00

It's a heck of a lot easier to maintain 30 than it is 60.
If Paw in Law is paying you then you have the time to be selective and go about this the right way.............don't do like some of us have and have to shed customers because you bit off more than you could chew.................and you will given time.

Island Lawn
10-25-2001, 03:12 AM
I could scratch by with less profit...but I don't want to.
Homer said it best.

I try to charge as much as the market will bear.

Sometimes, I charge more than the market will bear and I get to spend more time with my family!

And sometimes, the market suprises me with how much it can bear!

I've been turned down several times for being too high and consequently I've had to lower my prices but I don't feel badly for it.

Sounds like you have it figured out.

Good Luck.

casey
10-25-2001, 03:17 AM
Originally posted by HOMER
.
30 accounts that pay you $100.00 a month is $3000.00
60 accounts that pay you $50.00 a month is $3000.00


Did you add in apps. & other extras for those additional 30 accounts? Did you factor in drought, customer loss, & a larger word of mouth base?

Did you consider those accounts paying less would not expect the perfection that comes with labour intensive time consuming attention to detail?

HOMER
10-25-2001, 03:27 AM
What's your point?

You intend to run more than you can handle cause your scared your gonna lose somebody? If that's your way of thinking then you will lose them due to dependability. I don't lose any customers................I have all but 5 of mine on yearly agreements...........if it don't rain then they can water if they want to or leave it dry, I still get paid.

My point was not the 30 customers but the amount you can get by with and still maintain them. The numbers were examples.

I leave the apps to the app people. My average residential stop is 25 minutes.........by myself...........I'm makin' it just fine.

MOW ED
10-25-2001, 09:01 AM
If you are doing the same work as a large company and want to command a higher rate for your services then charge like the big company.
People are going to eat at Mc Donalds and they are going to eat at the best steak house in town. I prefer the steak house and I want those customers that like steak too. McDonalds sells lots of hamburgers because it has to. The steak house is only open for supper.

Remember, its not what you make its what you take home.

KerryB
10-25-2001, 10:50 AM
I am a long way from being an expert on this but here goes.
One of my accounts belonged to a "very large lco", when I first bid on it. The owner asked me why she should change to me instead of the larger guy, Because our prices were the same. I asked her if she remembered the last time the owner of that lco was on her prop. She couldnt remember. I told her I would be there everytime and I do better work because its my name and my reputation on the line not someone elses.
Sell yourself, your company and your reputation, not your price.

CSRA Landscaping
10-25-2001, 11:03 AM
All these are very good suggestions and I either have used them or will use them. I like Homer's approach to this the most. Homer, an example of how badly overpriced I've been is this: I have a customer whose yard I know a competitor would do for $25. I do it for $60 a pop and I get $240 per month from there. The only reason this guy went with me is because he's single and he's got the dough, so he didn't feel like shopping around. Another: I picked up a new customer here in town whose yard will take no time at all and I told her $40 per cut and she said that she'd have to do it every other week. I know if I change it to $25 per cut, she'll go every week and I'll be getting $100 per month rather than $80 per month.

HOMER
10-25-2001, 11:30 AM
That extra $20.00 will be eaten up in expenses.........stick with the $40.00!

HBFOXJr
10-25-2001, 11:54 AM
Which applies to you guys that are afraid to get the prices up where they need to be?

Volume + Value does not equal profits!!! If your underpriced, your underpriced, period. When your losing money because of pricing, more work makes you lose it faster. When your work is properly priced but your losing money because of a down turn in volume, more work is needed to solve the problem or you must cut costs to make a profit at the lower volume levels.

Don't sell personal service. The minute you want to expand and send someone else to do a task you have a problem. "you'll be getting to big for your britches" in the mind of the customer.

Don't get confused over why customers buy a service. They don't buy because they want to see you. They're buying because they have a need for a service. Stick to the issues and why your COMPANY can address them better than the others.

bruces
10-25-2001, 12:29 PM
I'm just part time, maybe my attitude is because of that, but I'm looking to expand.

When I price a job, I price it to make money. If I have to be cheaper than what I believe is a fair price for me to make money to get the work, I don't want it. If I am not making money on the job, I won't want to do it right, etc.

I would rather have less work and get a decent rate for doing what work I have so that I can do a good job and feel like I got an adequate rate for my work, than feel like I am working for substandard rates.

Another thing, I don't believe in starting at a low price with the expectation of being able to raise the prices in the future. If the customer isn't willing to pay to start with, why would we think they would go with substantial increases next year.

If you get a client used to paying a fair price to start with, you won't have to worry about big raises later to get a fair rate.

KerryB
10-25-2001, 12:35 PM
Your point is well taken and true to a point Harold. But, these LCOs that have owners that never go to a site have no control or little control over what their guys are doing. Employees do whats expected only if they are inpected. The LCO owner should at least inpsect the work every time all the time or the quality will go down. Maybe I am a sinic but you cant tell me that your employees have the same drive and motivation you do. Or that they give a rats butt about your reputation. They care about that paycheck every week. So you say you can fire them, true, but the damage has been done and if you didnt catch it in time the customer can fire you.

CSRA Landscaping
10-25-2001, 02:37 PM
I don't see how, Homer. She's 2.5 miles down the road and it'll take me about 20-30 minutes total.

HBFOXJr
10-25-2001, 03:19 PM
Originally posted by lawndoctor
Your point is well taken and true to a point Harold. But, these LCOs that have owners that never go to a site have no control or little control over what their guys are doing. Employees do whats expected only if they are inpected. The LCO owner should at least inpsect the work every time all the time or the quality will go down. Maybe I am a sinic but you cant tell me that your employees have the same drive and motivation you do. Or that they give a rats butt about your reputation. They care about that paycheck every week. So you say you can fire them, true, but the damage has been done and if you didnt catch it in time the customer can fire you.

I don't employee people like you talk about. That's why I don't have many employees. I'm picky who I hire and do pre-employment testing to minimize my personal poor decisions and the BS that is given on interviews. I check references and ask pointed questions of former employers that can be answered yes or no but give me the information I need and not have the past employer be subjective or personal.

If you are going to grow your must have employees that can be trusted for integrity and quality of work. Those kinds of people do care about my reputation because their rep is tied to mine as well as their continued employment with me. I pay well and provide good benefits and expect a lot in return. After all my customers pay well and expect a lot in return. We are all playing at a higher level as a result.

In the past many area companies have quickly and willing hired people that have worked for me just on my reputation. What they wound up with were my cast offs or those that couldn't measure up and left on their on. For the most part they have been sorely dissapointed because they need quality people just like me and those who left here had too many flaws and weaknesses.

I'm not a nice guy to work for if your screwing up. I take the attitude that I'm gonna make you or break you. I've made a few and broken many. Many have been broken just because I wasn't good at hiring and interviewing and made poor and sometimes impatient employment selections. I've worked hard over the last few years to minimize that part of the equation. The effort has paid off.

I've alwasy been a small company and in such there is no place for incompetent, lazy or dishonorable people. They belong with my larger competitors or smaller lco's that just want to gripe or take what's available now. I survive by making fewer and smaller mistakes.

Big deal if a customer fire me. If your in business, your a gambler. Put the odds in your favor and never place a bet you can't cover. I get rid of more customers in a year than they of me. Life is short and this is my business and I'm doing it my way.

KerryB
10-25-2001, 03:43 PM
Harold, the way you talk it seems to me that you are the type of owner that goes to the job site. You have employees that know what to expect from you and know what you expect from them.
The LCOs I am talking about are the ones that the owners never leave the office. They think their employees are doing what they are suppose to. Its not till the cust calls to ask why wasnt the work done properly that they find out about a problem.
You are absolutely correct about hiring only employees that think and work almost like you do. They are few and far between. You are lucky to have found some of them.
Even if the owner isnt on site while the work is being done most customers find it reassuring that he at least inpects the work during or after it is finished.

CSRA Landscaping
10-25-2001, 07:48 PM
At the risk of offending some folks, could we get back to the topic?

Harold, I didn't read your post earlier when I had replied to Homer but I did just now. I don't think either one of those applies to me and I'm not afraid to 'put prices where they need to be.' Thing is, Harold, estimates that get no work and compliments don't feed my family or pay our bills.

casey
10-25-2001, 08:01 PM
Try this.
Bid low.
Adjust the time spent at a low bid prop. accordingly.
Recession is coming, those inflated prices are going to blow up on some LCO's real soon.

HBFOXJr
10-25-2001, 08:32 PM
Originally posted by CSRA Landscaping


I do good work and I can do it fast. I'm reliable and I can give a fair price. I know how I feel when I think someone is trying to rip me off and I know that I've been way high a lot lately and I'm just not seeing anything to show.

Eric, this is all about working smarter.

A day where I make $100 is better than a day that I didn't work at all.

About that "way high lately", maybe you don't know your costs of operation and don't know production times and that is why you are higher. Then again maybe you do but the market place is out of wack and there is no place for an intelligent person to succeed.

Big businesses of all kinds know costs but also try to carefully pick the geographic area with the proper demographics to do business.

lawrence stone
10-25-2001, 08:43 PM
Originally posted by HBFOXJr


Don't get confused over why customers buy a service. They don't buy because they want to see you. They're buying because they have a need for a service.

And 90% of those people buy on price.

If you want to exclude 90% of the general public be my guest.

If you are not in a position to be competitive you should not be shocked that your equipment is sitting idle and you have no cash flow.

Some of you guys have delusions of grandeur.

Most of you guys are just lawnboys with a new ZTR.

Maybe you will figure out how business actually works before the finance company comes to repo your lazy boy on wheels.

CSRA Landscaping
10-25-2001, 09:29 PM
I hate to say it, but my pa-in-law and I had a conversation similar to what Mr. Stone just posted. He's a business owner, does all the work himself, and does close to $100k. And he's priced much lower than the competition.

casey
10-25-2001, 10:32 PM
Eliminate or reduce time consuming labour intensive practices such as weekly trimming, striping, and the urge to leave each prop. immaculate. Your "artistry" is wasted on yourself.

lee b
10-25-2001, 10:36 PM
Stone-cold, I haven't found much to agree with you on here lately, but I do agree with your response to this thread. I'm starting to believe that alot of folks on here {not all} have serious delusions of grandeur. If you are over-pricing, somebody else {who does just as good of work} is gonna take that account. If you are underpricing, then your cutting your own throat. Everyone has to figure out their expenses and the price they need { per hour, job, or whatever}, to cover ALL their expenses, be competitve, and make the profit margin their market will bear. Nobody on here has the same market or the same desires in life, everybodies situation is different. If your not working then your not making a dime. ALL OF US ARE LAWNBOYS, Lawrence, some are just better at managing our business than others.

HBFOXJr
10-25-2001, 10:50 PM
Originally posted by lawrence stone


And 90% of those people buy on price.

If you want to exclude 90% of the general public be my guest.

If you are not in a position to be competitive you should not be shocked that your equipment is sitting idle and you have no cash flow.

Some of you guys have delusions of grandeur.

Most of you guys are just lawnboys with a new ZTR.

Maybe you will figure out how business actually works before the finance company comes to repo your lazy boy on wheels.

I guess if your genrating most of your income from cutting grass, hedges, edges, leaves etc. your probably right.

I derive my income from installing real irrigations systems, servicing what I sell, plus what others have screwed up and growing some real fine turf with my fertilization program.

No grandeur here. My work looks better and performs better and its costs me money to deliver those results to a customer. I'm not afraid of asking for the money I need to deliver the service and my feelings aren't hurt if they attempt or need to by on price alone.

I'm not getting rich and I'm not overpriced for what I deliver. I just won't take shortcuts in my work and I can't take shortcuts in my prices.

kutnkru
10-25-2001, 10:54 PM
Originally posted by HOMER
... Maybe you can do it cheaper than a big company but why would you want to? The work isn't any easier because your a one man operation ... it's tougher ...Homer is dead nuts on this one IMHO.

If someone is paying a given price for service that they are not happy with then it only makes sense that they are going to have a little bit more than what they did before to get staisfaction.

Its very simple in my book. If you couldnt get what you were after for $30 then its gonna cost you $35 to get it done correctly. NOT the lower bids that fly-by-nighters claim!!!

Kris

CSRA Landscaping
10-25-2001, 11:55 PM
I think Harold has pointed out something that I failed to take into account. What I am referring to is, specifically, maintenance. I'm not the least bit afraid to charge what it's worth for ferts or other stuff. I wish more folks would get me to do installs. :D

Island Lawn
10-26-2001, 01:38 AM
Some of you guys have delusions of grandeur.


Hello Mr. Kettle!
I AM
Mister Pot.

Please excuse me, but I can't help but notice....

YOU'RE BLACK!


:blob2:


(It's funny cause the pot is calling the kettle, black!)