View Full Version : I owe an apology
01-07-2002, 04:16 PM
In an earlier thread I kind of criticized people for labeling others as lowballers. Well I am man enough to admit when I was wrong. Lets just say the Dog got bit by a lowballer today.
This is the first year I decided to offer snow removal to my lawn customers. I took on only 15 people under contract to care for this winter. I specifically chose only small flat easy to maintain driveways to service. All in all I invested over $1000 in a good 2 stage blower, and salt.
We got our first snow and guess what, 5 of my fifteen accounts were shoveled by a group 3 trailor park trash hicks in a blue K car for $10!!!!! I charge $25 and I thought that was a bargin! I caught them just before they started to shovel another one of my accounts. When I told the guy I had this lady under contract, he flipped and knocked at the door swearing at the customer saying they already started shoveling( even though they didnt). The guy was drunk and reeked like beer. He stood there swearing at my customer, who is about 70 years old. I finally told the guy to hit the bricks, and he flipped. We just about fist fought in the lawn before he finally left.
I used to think that people had the right to do what they wanted, and that scrubs in K cars were just part of the business. It never really bothered me before, because I know those people never last. This guy was so drunk and stupid he wanted to beat up an old lady for $10. I guess the reason it never bothered me is because this is the first time it has really affected me. This guy cost me over $100 after I made a $1000 investment for snow removal. Its not fair. He cost me over $100 to make $40 and split it 3 ways.
Anyways I just wantwed to apologize if I seemed critical of others attitudes toward lowballers. I guess you never know what its like untill it happens to you.
01-07-2002, 05:16 PM
On this note, I lost an account this year to a low baller myself,the first account i lost yet,im glad though,i picked up 2 better ones to replace it,he's going to get what he deserves ,I dont have to do a thing to him,he's already doing it to himself,the good part is there is no way he'll be in business very long like this,unless he's a charity.
Those customers who hired the drunk dudes will probaley get their just deserves to, because drunks and dope heads aint gonna be dependable.
As far as lowballers they are a fact of life I guess we have to live with them.
The ones who dont pay income tax are the ones that i dislike .
The guys who pay their taxes and insurance but have less expense and overhead are not the ones that bother me as much.
And if the good jobs keep closeing up or leaveing the united states it'll proballey will get worse.
01-07-2002, 09:07 PM
Those guys sound like they needed a swift kick. Hopefully you made up for your losses by now. I atleast noticed a lot of driveways that were not cleared around here. I wish I had a plow. (maybe next year.) I am starting up a lawn care business in Irwin PA this spring. I figured because you are somewhat in the area you might be able to give me some helpful information.
I need lawns and was going to go with fiers.
01-07-2002, 09:53 PM
Welcome to the club Lawn Dog,welcome to the club. Most LCO's that have something against us "complainers" haven't been bit hard enough.Yet.
Those riff/raff you speak of are the kind to go back and rob your customer. Yet the homeowner always seems to go for price lately. When it comes to snow they want it done now and jump on the doorknockers price - high or low. I find snow a pain and done away with trying for the same reason.
As soon as the snow hits the hand shovelers come out in force. This group is a notch below a lawn scrub because they can't afford a used 21" to get started donig lawns. They survive by the laziest & lowest means possible.
I would talk to your customers in person and find out why they would choose scum-shovelers over your agreement with them.
01-07-2002, 10:10 PM
RJAER Quote: I figured because you are somewhat in the area you might be able to give me some helpful information.
My brother lives in North Huntingdon so I know exactly where you are located.
As for pointers...
I disagree with your statement, "starting up a lawn care business this spring." Sure the actual physical labor will begin in the spring, but now is the time when the business is started.
You need to have a business plan in order. Have a marketing strategy in place. Have you sat down and figured how many customers you are going to need to keep this business afloat?
What areas are you going to want to target? Will you travel into the Greensburg area? Or are you staying strictly in Irwin?
Try to get into the up and coming housing plans. "Little old Mrs. Smith down on Pennsylvania Avenue just isn't going to bring you in the big bucks." You might have to broaden your horizons a little than just Irwin.
What about the newspaper? Which paper is it out there? The Tribune Review? Or is it the Post Gazette? Whichever one, make sure you are in there starting in March whether it be a small box ad, or in the service directory. You need to get your name out there. When grass slows down growing because no one waters, you have to get another advertisement out there listing other services you do. You are not just going to make it "cutting grass" your first year. Hedge trimming and mulching are good choices starting out.
Don't be fooled into everything you read here about everyone just taking on weekly customers. Because in the beginning, especially if this is going to be your bread and butter, you will need to take on what you can get. That means taking bi-weekly accounts. Then as your business grows, you can slowly weed out those accounts into more profitable ones.
And finally, your work needs to be top-notched, but I believe dependablility is a huge issue in this area. If you can show up on time, do good work, you stand a good chance of getting referrals. We pick up a good portion of our business because other lawn companies are not dependable.
01-07-2002, 11:06 PM
Thats ok...I forgive you
01-07-2002, 11:34 PM
Lawn Dog, what did the customers have to say when you reminded them of thier contract?
01-08-2002, 01:07 AM
"Lawn Dog, what did the customers have to say when you reminded them of their contract?"
That's what I was thinking. I think the contract may need a going over, or you got some money coming.
01-08-2002, 01:08 AM
Has anyone tried to sue civilly related to tortuous interference in these situations where the lowballers are taking contracted customers? Any lawyers out there?? Is there a duty of care (other than ethical obligation) that they request if a customer is under agreement?
A residential driveway here and there is bad enough, but a commercial property lowballed that is under contract would not be a good thing.
I am starting fresh this year (new LCO) and I can promise that will be the first thing out of my mouth when talking with prospective customers. If I can not win by playing by the rules, the game is not worth playing.
It is going to be a black and gold winter y'all. Former Pittsburgher, now in Central Ohio.
01-08-2002, 09:34 AM
You're a lot more gracious than I would have been, calling those people lowballers.
I don't have my "Lawnsite dictionary" handy so I don't know what they really are. But to call them lowballers kind of implies they are just businessmen with a really attractive price.
Sounds like these guys were shoveling first, then demanding payment. That is extortion! People don't want this kind of scum in their neighborhoods. The professional guy should be one of the first people to object.
If you'd called the cops on them, you could be calling them inmates by now. LOL
I know this sounds harsh, but if we don't take a stand, do we have any right to complain?
01-08-2002, 09:40 AM
Yes I did remind people of our agreement. The main excuse I got was that they didnt know if I was comming, and they were there. I started at 7am. I cant be at every account by 7am. The sad thing is I only took on customers who I have had a great relationship with over the years. I turned people down because I only wanted a maximum of 15 snow accounts.
Sueing these people is not an option. In my contract I did specify that there could be a stop fee if we arived and the driveways were done without cancelation. Im not going to go that route either though. I called my turncoat customers last night and explained that if this happens again they will be taken off my list for snow. Then I will have to rebuild I guess.
01-08-2002, 09:53 AM
Originally posted by RJAER
I am starting up a lawn care business in Irwin PA this spring. I figured because you are somewhat in the area you might be able to give me some helpful information.
I need lawns and was going to go with fiers.
I agree with 1 Major Tom. I would be a good idea to offer services in Greensburg as well as Irwin. There are a lot of new housing plans in Greensburg. I have a friend who services Greensburg. He has mostly commercial accounts. He swears buy advertising in the Pittsburgh Business Times.
If you are just going for residential, Fliers are a good idea. The most effective way to get them out is to have them inserted in the newspaper. It is more effective than box ads, and it is not as expensive as you would think. Plus you get to pick and chose your areas. The Valley News Dispatch has some really reasonable prices for this. I dont know if that paper is avaliable in your area. It is owned by the Trib. So the prices for the Trib should be comparable.
Dont be afraid to use some of the free methods of advertising. When I started I used to put fliers up on the buliten boards in grocery stores and anywhere else where free advertising was made avaliable.
Use the winter to develop a plan of attack and then stick with it. Keep visiting Lawn Site, you will learn alot here.
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