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Whitey4
10-17-2008, 07:16 PM
One of my favorite customers tells me her son is looking for an LCO. I look at the property, it's pretty much a mess. Holes in the dirt where he removed some shrubs, edges all over grown on the sidewalk, like two inches of grass and soil. A big hole in the ground where he must have had a shrub next to a new paver driveway.

I call him... and low ball the 3.7k of turf for mowing and blowing at 26 bucks. That is about a buck or two below market rates here. So, today I spend two hours, half of which was with a stick edger and a spade egtting the edges cleaned up. I blew out all the leaves from the beds and got them with my mower. I edged all the beds.... they were a sloppy mess. I wasn't sure what to do with the holes in the beds.... his mother had told me he wanted some shrubs previously, and I said as a favor I could get them a whole lot cheaper than retail for him.

I should have known this guy would be a problem. He started whining about how when HE was an LCO (yeah, likely illegal and shlock) he got 10 bucks a lawn when I quoted him on the phone. If anything, I expected him to call and say what an improvement there was.... instead he is complaing that I didn't do the beds! I told him I spent 2 hours there today, and wanted to discuss what he wanted done with the ONE bed before I worked on it...

He tells me he's been through this with other LCO's, and he says we're done, he'll give his mother the 26 bucks and that's that... and abrupty hangs up.

Now, I know I'm better off without this character... I also know my work is better than 95% of the LCO's around here... I always go the extra mile, but still... it gets me P-O'd. Two hours trying to get his house looking somewhat maintained... and I get fired. This is the funny part... he said he did the edging himself a week ago. I took about 40 lbs of turf and dirt off his sidewalks. Left a perfect edge on them when I was done.

I'm gonna have to really bite my tongue when I speak to his mother... had to vent. :angry:

punt66
10-17-2008, 07:25 PM
why would you do all that work for $26??? 2 hour up here would be arount $170....

djchiodo3
10-17-2008, 07:28 PM
Your first mistake was showing up. Your second mistake was charging $26.00.
You should have known how long it would take to do a professional job. You don't sound to profestional to me. No offense.

Whitey4
10-17-2008, 07:30 PM
why would you do all that work for $26??? 2 hour up here would be arount $170....


It was a new customer.... I figured I would get the place fixed up within a few weeks and have another regular account. If I knew what a sc*m bag this guy was, I would have hit him for 160 at least for the work I did today.

I got burnt... and learned another lesson.

billslawn89
10-17-2008, 07:34 PM
It was a new customer.... I figured I would get the place fixed up within a few weeks and have another regular account. If I knew what a sc*m bag this guy was, I would have hit him for 160 at least for the work I did today.

I got burnt... and learned another lesson.

anymore, i don't care if its a possible new client to be, i will always charge an inital cleanup charge or edging charge if its that bad! i also learned my lesson years ago when i started out!

punt66
10-17-2008, 07:41 PM
It was a new customer.... I figured I would get the place fixed up within a few weeks and have another regular account. If I knew what a sc*m bag this guy was, I would have hit him for 160 at least for the work I did today.

I got burnt... and learned another lesson.

well take it as a lesson learned. I understand where your coming from. What i do is give an extra few minutes each week and let the yard gradually get better. Its too easy for a customer you dont know to take advantage like they did. Like you i also have that desire to make peoples yards that are a mess look better but i wont do it without a proper estimate.

Kickin Your Grass
10-17-2008, 07:44 PM
I wouldn't have unloaded my push mower for $26.00, much less stayed for 2 hours!

Whitey4
10-17-2008, 07:53 PM
Your first mistake was showing up. Your second mistake was charging $26.00.
You should have known how long it would take to do a professional job. You don't sound to profestional to me. No offense.

First, you are mistaken.... I was AT market rates for LI. Maybe a buck or two a week low, but that's all. The AVERAGE weekly mowing charge here is TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS.

I knew I would be putting in extra time to get it shaped up in the beginning. This is how I have gotten and kept my best customers. I also do apps (legally) and my average annual billings per account with an average of 2.5 to 3.5k of turf is $1,500 a year. This guys mother woll bill out at $2,000 this year with apps ind installs.

You do not understand this market.... the mowing is a loss leader. The money is made on fert, apps, installs and the like. To get that more profitable work, you mow almost for free. Showing up was a mistake? No... it wasn't. That is just a silly comment.

Ask any other LCO from LI on this site... ask him what he gets for mowing 3k of turf. This place is rampant with illegal immigrants. Mowing prices are in the dirt, literally. To survive, we charge about an average of 40 bucks each for fert and pesticide apps. The cost in time and materials for those things are minimal. 5 minutes for a fert app... 40 bucks. I can do 6 properties in an hour. That is where we make our money.... that, and installs, designs and turf renovations.

This is why so many questions about pricing on this site are meaningless. You want 35 to mow 3k of turf here? You are OUT of BUSINESS.

djchiodo3
10-17-2008, 08:02 PM
There is a difference between showing up to maintain a yard that has been neglected and a yard that has had some maintenance. There is a fee which represents a normal cutting and a fee that represents doing a lot of work to get a place in shape. You seem to think that one should charge the lesser of the two to clean up a dump. If people hire you because your cheap, some one will come along who is cheaper. Get them to hire you because you are great at what you do. Have some pride and respect for you self.

cgll1135
10-17-2008, 08:12 PM
Whitey 4 do what it takes to keep building your business. If these guys don't live in your area how can they tell you what to charge. Just my 2 cents!:)

djchiodo3
10-17-2008, 08:18 PM
Another quick note. With the economy the way it is here in Sarasota, nobody is hiring landscape designers or having turf renovations done. I have been approached by a couple of landscapers looking for work and asking if I have any lawns I don't want. My tree man is calling me day and night asking for work. I have clients that have asked if I can hold off on doing insecticide turf spraying(I sub this out). The one thing that stays constant here is lawn mowing.

socty
10-17-2008, 08:23 PM
With the state of the economy as it is, I think we should all be on the lookout for this kind of "customer". You're lucky to even get paid. If it wasn't for this guy's mother, you'd probably be stiffed completely. But 26 for 2 hours is brutal enough. Now, when I get new accounts or do estimates, I discuss payment right up front, as unpleasant as that can be. School of hard knocks knocks again.

Whitey4
10-17-2008, 08:30 PM
There is a difference between showing up to maintain a yard that has been neglected and a yard that has had some maintenance. There is a fee which represents a normal cutting and a fee that represents doing a lot of work to get a place in shape. You seem to think that one should charge the lesser of the two to clean up a dump. If people hire you because your cheap, some one will come along who is cheaper. Get them to hire you because you are great at what you do. Have some pride and respect for you self.

You are insulting and well ignorant of the facts. I DO have pride and respect for myself.... why do people like you have to turn a discussion into personal slights?

READ.... I am NOT cheap. I am a businessman. As such, I have to be at market rates for my territory or starve... go out of business. I'm profiatable, but WHERE those prifit come from based on specific services is NOT important.... it's about how much profit per account I get.

You sound like a mow and blow guy... that overlooks more profiatble services. Maybe you should look at YOUR business plan. You are in Florida... are you certifeid for pesticide apps? I never see you in the apps forum. Don't be a lowly M&B guy.... get some self respect and do IPM management. There... how do you like having your comments turned around?

Disclaimer.... M&B is fine.... I said that to make a point to this guy who would judge me as having low self respect....

Whitey4
10-17-2008, 08:39 PM
With the state of the economy as it is, I think we should all be on the lookout for this kind of "customer". You're lucky to even get paid. If it wasn't for this guy's mother, you'd probably be stiffed completely. But 26 for 2 hours is brutal enough. Now, when I get new accounts or do estimates, I discuss payment right up front, as unpleasant as that can be. School of hard knocks knocks again.

I have installed over 25 plants this year, done 7 lawn renovations, 15 aerations and over seedings, and it's my first year. I don't think I lack any self respect. In a down economy, near NYC where so many Wall Streeters and finacial market people live... I have gotten off to a great start... and self respect? I got that, pal.

I read this guy wrong... I made a mistake. It happens. I will be more cautious in the future, but after today, I can live without the personal insults.... thanks.

Whitey4
10-17-2008, 08:52 PM
Whitey 4 do what it takes to keep building your business. If these guys don't live in your area how can they tell you what to charge. Just my 2 cents!:)

Thanks cgll.... I have often posted here in this forum how regional demographics and markets make pricing and quoting issues inappropriate, or at least less meaningful. What works in FL may not work in NC, which may not work in LI, NY.

I have to compete with low ball, low quality LCO's. They drive the market prices down. Even the better LCO's charge 25 bucks for mowing. I won't take a mow and blow only account. It has to be full service with all apps, or then, it's correct.... dropping the gate for 25 bucks is a mistake.

I speak with my customers.... I did two bed rehabilitains this year. The shrubs were overgrown into each other, and I simply explained how they would do poorly, even die unless they were moved. Those two jobs got me $2500 for 3 days of work. Almost no materials except for some dwarf ornamental grasses, a few heathers and some pansies.

Far too many people at Lawn Site shoot their mouths off about things they don't know... in this case, the LI, NY market. I made a mistake with this customer, vented, and get told I lack self respect? :cool2:

I'm the best Flyin LCO in my territory, and I know it. Self respect is not an issue. Maybe I should mention the OTHER 4 accounts I got in the past 2 weeks? On referrals.... I won't even have to advertise next year. This ONE referral was a bust... it happens.

ALC-GregH
10-17-2008, 09:10 PM
Now, when I get new accounts or do estimates, I discuss payment right up front, as unpleasant as that can be. School of hard knocks knocks again.
I have to remember this quote and try to be more open when discussing price and payment. I'd like to get my existing client's on a monthly payment plan but have them pay the first month up front, that way the billing can be sent out 2 weeks prior with the next 2 weeks allowing them to pay the next payment. By the time you get the next payment, you'll be finishing the mowing that you already gotten paid to do.

ALC-GregH
10-17-2008, 09:14 PM
and Whitey, don't let them get you down. Keep on doing what your doing, you'll have the last laugh.

punt66
10-17-2008, 09:55 PM
Thanks cgll.... I have often posted here in this forum how regional demographics and markets make pricing and quoting issues inappropriate, or at least less meaningful. What works in FL may not work in NC, which may not work in LI, NY.

I have to compete with low ball, low quality LCO's. They drive the market prices down. Even the better LCO's charge 25 bucks for mowing. I won't take a mow and blow only account. It has to be full service with all apps, or then, it's correct.... dropping the gate for 25 bucks is a mistake.

I speak with my customers.... I did two bed rehabilitains this year. The shrubs were overgrown into each other, and I simply explained how they would do poorly, even die unless they were moved. Those two jobs got me $2500 for 3 days of work. Almost no materials except for some dwarf ornamental grasses, a few heathers and some pansies.

Far too many people at Lawn Site shoot their mouths off about things they don't know... in this case, the LI, NY market. I made a mistake with this customer, vented, and get told I lack self respect? :cool2:

I'm the best Flyin LCO in my territory, and I know it. Self respect is not an issue. Maybe I should mention the OTHER 4 accounts I got in the past 2 weeks? On referrals.... I won't even have to advertise next year. This ONE referral was a bust... it happens.

easy, easy. Have a beer. Dont let a bunch of people you dont know put a knot in your knickers. This site is full of know it alls with no experience. But in the future, dont give away your services. That helps to kill the market. I am a solo and a neighbor up here in CT. I dont give my services away and have 62 weekly clients. It takes time to get a clean list and when your first starting you take what you can get. But you will get alot of PITAS because your the new kid and they have been through all the rest. So you need to use your judgement.

Florida Gardener
10-17-2008, 10:29 PM
Whitey, you are def right about demographics playing a part in prices. I live in South Florida(east coast) and we literally have a million LCO's. Lots of mow/blow guys, a lot of big dogs who do hunreds of residential and a lot of commercial/HOA,even a good amount of Latino's who own their own business. I am new in the biz as well. I have already made a good amount of pricing mistakes but that is how you learn. One thing we have down here are a lot of "ritzy" neighborhoods. These people want quality and pay for it. There is still the "lowballer" in the neighborhood, but his quality shows why he is the lowballer.

You got beat. No big deal. At least you didnt cut this guy for even a month. Sounds like a prick. No big deal.

You def strike me as a respectable and knowledgeable person on this site. I wouldn't worry about what anyone else says. Good luck with your business.

Whitey4
10-17-2008, 10:44 PM
easy, easy. Have a beer. Dont let a bunch of people you dont know put a knot in your knickers. This site is full of know it alls with no experience. But in the future, dont give away your services. That helps to kill the market. I am a solo and a neighbor up here in CT. I dont give my services away and have 62 weekly clients. It takes time to get a clean list and when your first starting you take what you can get. But you will get alot of PITAS because your the new kid and they have been through all the rest. So you need to use your judgement.

Thamks ALC-GregH, and sound advice me thinks from punt66.... Yeah, I popped a brew. And my knickers were in a know BEFORE I started this thread! I don't give away services... but I do extra work up front on new accounts in the interest of longer term profits. That carries some risk. Most of the time, it has paid off.... today, it backfired on me.

You make a great point... as a new LCO, I only have customers that fired their last LCO... that makes them much more likely to be pita accounts. On this one, I saw the red flag... but gnored it. Whe he started to tell me how he was a "landscaper" getting 10 bucks a lawn back in the day... that was the red flag. But, since his mother was one of my best accounts, I went ahead and did what I did anyway. I guess I thought like mother, like son. Wrong

Mowing prices were at 20 bucks here two decades ago, for a fact. One big outfit here with 5 houses right around my house after 20 years went from 20 a week to 23 just this season. He isn't a bad LCO either.... but he does use the undocumented worker so to speak.

It's my first year.... and I have, and will make mistakes. I'm a rookie.... but I'm the best freakin rookie my town has ever seen in this biz.... and the word is spreading. For instance... call me crazy, but at the end of my day, I checked on my lawn renovations. If they were dry, I irrigated. Freaked people out, in a good way. Didn't take long... tight route, but the referals came pouring in. Those referrals will save me $1000 or so because I won't have to advertise next spring.

Giving it away, or smart business srategy? As I grow, I will cut back on things like this as my rep grows.

Thanks for the welcomed support greg and punt!

NC Greenscaper
10-17-2008, 10:45 PM
Whitey 4 do what it takes to keep building your business. If these guys don't live in your area how can they tell you what to charge. Just my 2 cents!:)

On the other hand. Try to be open to different ideas and opinions. That's the beauty of the site. Don't get so sensitive. Most of us have made the same mistakes. That's why we do things a certain way. Take the comments, weigh them and move on. Personally, I not going to clean up some one else's mess w/o being compensated. And I'm not going to do it until there is an agreed upon price. JMHO

ericmcj31
10-17-2008, 10:46 PM
Whitey--

I have to admit, at first, I too thought you to be a low-baller. But after reading more in-depth, yourbusiness plan isn't too bad after all. Don't get me wrong-I WOULD NOT HAve charged $26 for a 2-hour cleanup, but that aside, sounds like you're doing OK. I mean it makes sense-get in the door by the mowing, but make the $$$ by the other things. We do other things with companies around here to help me "get in the door" with people who otherwise prob. wouldn't call me--and it has led to some pretty major jobs. So-don't be disheartened by someof the fellow posters here-there are some good, majority are no-it-alls who are prob. like you -first year in bus. or high schoolers. Not knocking you or them neccesarily, I too was there once, but knowledge comes with good, hands-on experience. Good luck, and try pricing your clean-ups a little better next time-otherwise, sounds like you're doing pretty decent!

Whitey4
10-17-2008, 10:51 PM
Whitey, you are def right about demographics playing a part in prices. I live in South Florida(east coast) and we literally have a million LCO's. Lots of mow/blow guys, a lot of big dogs who do hunreds of residential and a lot of commercial/HOA,even a good amount of Latino's who own their own business. I am new in the biz as well. I have already made a good amount of pricing mistakes but that is how you learn. One thing we have down here are a lot of "ritzy" neighborhoods. These people want quality and pay for it. There is still the "lowballer" in the neighborhood, but his quality shows why he is the lowballer.

You got beat. No big deal. At least you didnt cut this guy for even a month. Sounds like a prick. No big deal.

You def strike me as a respectable and knowledgeable person on this site. I wouldn't worry about what anyone else says. Good luck with your business.

Thanks, man. I have gotten tips from some of my customers.... one very nice fella said Her's some mad money I have... slipped me a twenty, and said "You are an honest hard working man. You deserve it."

One of my new referrlas said "Mrs X RAVES about you!" Mrs X is one of my biggest whiners.... never any positive fedback. I think she believes if she told me how pleased she is, she's afraid I will raise her prices... which, by the way, I will. The other 2 accounts I have there (a group of 3) have already told me how much better the lawns and shrubs look compared to last year.... :laugh:

Florida Gardener
10-17-2008, 11:00 PM
Whitey, i am on the same page as you with doing a little extra this first time for more biz down the road. The thing that annoys me a little is out of my 19 or 20 accounts i have, a couple dont really care about their lawn. They just want it cut, has a good amount of weeds,etc. I feel like all i will get out them is just cutting. I could be wrong though.

That's really good though that people are raving about you. If you already have word of mouth biz, that's awesome. BTW, when did you start and when will you raise prices? im deciding on when i should do that as well.....

djchiodo3
10-17-2008, 11:17 PM
Dear Whitet4, I am sorry I'm not there to give you a box of tissues. I have been doing professional lawn maintenance for over 20 years. I don't know what I am talking about. I guess I hurt your feelings. I am so so sorry.

Whitey4
10-17-2008, 11:17 PM
On the other hand. Try to be open to different ideas and opinions. That's the beauty of the site. Don't get so sensitive. Most of us have made the same mistakes. That's why we do things a certain way. Take the comments, weigh them and move on. Personally, I not going to clean up some one else's mess w/o being compensated. And I'm not going to do it until there is an agreed upon price. JMHO

I have always been too thin skinned. Personality fault. I'm learning, both by this mistake, and absorbing some of the constructive suggestions here. I do think I will negotiate increased fees for neglected properties in the future, and it reinforces something I forgot.... ALWAYS walk the property with the home owner BEFORE doing any quotes or work! If I had done that... I could have avoided this whole problem.

Diamond...

I had like 10 call me when you need a cut accounts last year... no edging...lol... just sloppy part time income.

I decided to get serious this year. I have 2 years of formal schooling in Ornamental Horticulture, have been a volunteer gardener at the prestigious Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay LI, and I took a 30 hour course, studied for another 60 hours and got NYS DEC certified for pesticides this past winter.

Since then, I have spent hours and hours on the computer, picking the brains of my local LCO association experts and done all I could to increase my knowledge base. Look at my post count and join date. In particular, the folks in the pesticides froum have been very helpful.

So, I had an educational baseline to start with... and just love making things grow. At the age of 53, I finally found my true calling. I have been a 6 figure exec, but I'm happier doing this. Just had a bad day today....

Whitey4
10-17-2008, 11:18 PM
Dear Whitet4, I am sorry I'm not there to give you a box of tissues. I have been doing professional lawn maintenance for over 20 years. I don't know what I am talking about. I guess I hurt your feelings. I am so so sorry.

Apology accepted. :)

landscaper22
10-17-2008, 11:23 PM
I just don't get the difference in these markets. And I am not trying to slam any of you guys. I just have never understood how the mowing market in a place like LI would have a lower pricing market than my area. The funny thing is...the cost of living in my state is a lot lower than NY, and our prices for mowing are much higher. I understand what Whitney is saying though...he makes his money in other areas like apps. But still, with expenses being so high, I would just not mow any grass if I had to do it for that low of a price. Or I would require a contract that would include apps as part of the contract.
Anyway....Whit, I hate you had to deal with a customer like that. You will run across them sometimes. They will make you feel like you are the worst LCO in the world. I still hate dealing with those a** holes, but it happens. You just learn over time how to deal with them and let it roll off your back.

Back to the pricing issue. I am at the point where I no longer care what the competition charges. I charge what I want to make, or what I feel I need to make. I have heard countless times.."Oh that is too high, or so and so will do it for less than that." But I stand firm. You will be surprised how many people still decide to use you based on your reputation and not based on price. Many people just talk crap and lie to get you to come down on your price. If they are only concerned about price you don't really want them anyway.

djchiodo3
10-17-2008, 11:24 PM
I am so glad. Now I can go to sleep without feeling guilty.

Whitey4
10-17-2008, 11:30 PM
I am so glad. Now I can go to sleep without feeling guilty.

I knew you needed to repent. You have been absolved. Underneath it all, you are a good man.

djchiodo3
10-17-2008, 11:43 PM
Going to confestion on Sunday. Wish me luck.

Whitey4
10-17-2008, 11:52 PM
I just don't get the difference in these markets. And I am not trying to slam any of you guys. I just have never understood how the mowing market in a place like LI would have a lower pricing market than my area. The funny thing is...the cost of living in my state is a lot lower than NY, and our prices for mowing are much higher. I understand what Whitney is saying though...he makes his money in other areas like apps. But still, with expenses being so high, I would just not mow any grass if I had to do it for that low of a price. Or I would require a contract that would include apps as part of the contract.
Anyway....Whit, I hate you had to deal with a customer like that. You will run across them sometimes. They will make you feel like you are the worst LCO in the world. I still hate dealing with those a** holes, but it happens. You just learn over time how to deal with them and let it roll off your back.

Back to the pricing issue. I am at the point where I no longer care what the competition charges. I charge what I want to make, or what I feel I need to make. I have heard countless times.."Oh that is too high, or so and so will do it for less than that." But I stand firm. You will be surprised how many people still decide to use you based on your reputation and not based on price. Many people just talk crap and lie to get you to come down on your price. If they are only concerned about price you don't really want them anyway.

I can't explain it, other than to say it is what it is. Before I started this biz, I got prices on 5 different LCO's thsat were mowing near my home. They were all between 22 and 26 bucks. All of these LCO's have latino workers... are they legal? I really don't know. They come in, do 4 houses with a crew of 4 in under an hour and disappear as fast as they got here.

The quality is not good. Rutted lawns as they never change mowing patterns, they cultivate the beds but leave weeds near the shrub's roots there. You know, the ones that can't be taken out with a tool... have to be hand pulled. It's all about time. Get in, get out, hope the customer doesn't fire you.

Poor weed controls, no customized lawn treatements, one size fits all... productivity outweighs quality of service. Some of my lawns get 2 crabbgrass pre-M's... others don't. Want to kill difficult weeds? One app won't work, but that is what they do. I may hit a lawn 3 times with broadleaf weed control... and it's 40 bucks a pop. But I test for pH before I recommend a lime app.

Any kid with a mower could mow here, and they used to. Not anymore... there isn't enough $ in it for them.

I hope to get my biz built to the point where I can charge what I want. Being my first real year, I'm not there yet. I am no where near ready to cherry pick accounts. I still need to grow my account base. Once I am at capacity.... then my prices for mowing go up, but again, I look at yearly time, overhead and materials. I have a profit margin I want to hit, and even in my first year I am very close to my target gross profit margin. I need to work on net... I do have debt.

Whitey4
10-17-2008, 11:58 PM
Going to confestion on Sunday. Wish me luck.


Confessions are done on Saturdays. Services are on Sundays. You don't need luck... you just need to be sincere. I will pray for you.

Yes, I do that for people that I think might be able to use some prayers. You made my list for Sunday. As much as it might annoy you... on Sunday, prayers will be said for you. I hope that does not offend.

djchiodo3
10-18-2008, 12:05 AM
You win. I'm out of here.

Whitey4
10-18-2008, 12:12 AM
You win. I'm out of here.


LOL.... *trucewhiteflag*


It's all good dude... it's a message board... there are few rules! Passive aggresive works at times! In any case.... have a good weekend, and may your fave NFL team win, unless they are playing the Jets.

MileHigh
10-18-2008, 12:20 AM
Whitey I totally understand about charging what the market will bear...but there is a HUGE difference in cutting a lawn that is trashed as opposed to cutting a lawn in maintenance shape...

If your not charging extra for the initial mowings on messed up properties, your losing some money up front.

Good Luck..

Whitey4
10-18-2008, 12:46 AM
Whitey I totally understand about charging what the market will bear...but there is a HUGE difference in cutting a lawn that is trashed as opposed to cutting a lawn in maintenance shape...

If your not charging extra for the initial mowings on messed up properties, your losing some money up front.

Good Luck..

You are right.... and like I said, I'm in my first year, and this was another lesson learned. I also will NOT sign any new customer wothout a face to face walk through of the property! I swore I would not deviate from that... got cocky... and got burnt.

To an extent, my first year went so well,I started to think I walked on water. Every single account had marked improvement. The lawns looked freakin great. The installs and transplants all went very well. I started to think I was... well... I got too cocky. This might have been a good thing or me in the long term. You learn as you go, and I'm still learning.

Despite the rare setback, I am very happy in this biz. It's gone well.

foreplease
10-18-2008, 08:27 AM
First of all, Whitey4, if I were looking for someone to work on my lawn you would be the kind of person I would like to find: educated, state licensed, have done something else in life such that you know this is what you were meant to do, are enthusiastic and conscientious about it.

Back to the original topic/question: that of venting or being angry about your experience with this customer. I hope my take on it will make you feel a little better.

You have a mostly happy and successful customer base. The trend is that your available time is filling up with accounts that you like who appreciate your work. Even better, the amount of work many of them need is growing which is efficient for you (and them)--it's easier to, for lack of a better term, up sell than it is to develop new accounts. When you do that, each account looks better because of the additional services. They're happy, you're happy, they look better, you look better.

Suppose you have only enough time left to add one account of the type you currently have on three of the however many days a week you work. If I came along and said "Look, Whitey4, I can see you only have three slots left. How would you like it if I kept you from making a year-long mistake? If you pay me $20, I will confidentially give you the name of the biggest a*s*s*h*o*l*e in town (I guarantee he's not a person you would suspect by talking to his references) so that you do not sign with him for an entire year."

Would you pay me? Probably not, however you just got paid $26 to find that out and you still have the time slot open for a good referral.

You might have inadvertently fanned the flames by using the term "low ball" in your original post. If you had said, "invest one of my available mowing time slots at $26 on the chance that the services he wants will increase" people here might have found it more difficult to come after you.

I call him... and low ball the 3.7k of turf for mowing and blowing at 26 bucks. That is about a buck or two below market rates here.

Liquidfast
10-18-2008, 09:12 AM
What people seem to forget is this.....when customer A hires you cuz you come in cheaper than the others it is usually and I say usually cuz they are and have been shopping price.
I hear "I got my foot in the door" and am raising my rates for sure next year all the time.
Problem is....that same customer that hired you really only cares that you show up and are cheap. So don't bank on the "I lowballed to get my foot in the door" theory cuz in the majority of cases, that foot will be stomped when they slam the door on it for the next cheap guy.




.

Ducati996
10-18-2008, 09:25 AM
First, you are mistaken.... I was AT market rates for LI. Maybe a buck or two a week low, but that's all. The AVERAGE weekly mowing charge here is TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS.

I knew I would be putting in extra time to get it shaped up in the beginning. This is how I have gotten and kept my best customers. I also do apps (legally) and my average annual billings per account with an average of 2.5 to 3.5k of turf is $1,500 a year. This guys mother woll bill out at $2,000 this year with apps ind installs.

You do not understand this market.... the mowing is a loss leader. The money is made on fert, apps, installs and the like. To get that more profitable work, you mow almost for free. Showing up was a mistake? No... it wasn't. That is just a silly comment.

Ask any other LCO from LI on this site... ask him what he gets for mowing 3k of turf. This place is rampant with illegal immigrants. Mowing prices are in the dirt, literally. To survive, we charge about an average of 40 bucks each for fert and pesticide apps. The cost in time and materials for those things are minimal. 5 minutes for a fert app... 40 bucks. I can do 6 properties in an hour. That is where we make our money.... that, and installs, designs and turf renovations.

This is why so many questions about pricing on this site are meaningless. You want 35 to mow 3k of turf here? You are OUT of BUSINESS.

You might not understand the LI market at all - or the difference between cutting a lawn and substaincial clean-ups...what you did was a clean up for which $26 wouldnt cover a estimate, or the gas to show up to give one.

You could have stayed home and did better on the obvious -

ProTouch Groundscapes
10-18-2008, 10:05 AM
hey whitey, i understand your frustration. i rarely make any posts anymore regarding rates or work ive done. people dont seem to understand fully that what they can get $45 for, our market can only pull 25-28.

i have also done something similar to what whitey was describing. there were a couple times where in order to gain a new client for maintenance, i would tell them. "normally i would charge this cleanup(or whatever service) seperately, but since you are a new customer, i will do a cleanup and cut for the price of a cut." then, you charge everything out how it should be after that. its just an incentive for the customer. whats the difference in that or giving out discounts/rebates to bring in new customers?

alot of you saw you wouldnt even drop the gate for your pushmower for $26. i wish there were more of you in my area, would give me a lot less competition. you would go out of business with that mentality. your overhead is probably alot higher than ours. ALL of our equipment was PAID IN FULL at time of purchase. i make absolutely no payments on anything. my overhead consists of liability insurance and fuel expense, and license fees for my pesticide/herbicide app license.

around here you pull up at an intersection and see 4-6 lco trucks. what we do, is try to get clients with market rates, impress them with our work, then we raise prices when needed. but we make ALOT of profits from other work such as fert, hedge trimming and other non mowing services.

david shumaker
10-18-2008, 10:23 AM
anymore, i don't care if its a possible new client to be, i will always charge an inital cleanup charge or edging charge if its that bad! i also learned my lesson years ago when i started out!

Same here. I've learned my lesson too. I charge for a CLEAN-UP....no more extra work free thinking they will want regular service. They usually want a cleanup for dirt cheap and will let the yard go for another year to 5 years until they find another sucker to do a free cleanup again. I've started to stay away from these type yards because they usually don't have the money for full service. Here are 2 quotes from LANDSCAPE MANAGEMENT Magazine: "The only customer who gets special below-cost rates is your mother" and " It's also time to fire clients who won't pay reasonable rates".

topsites
10-18-2008, 10:33 AM
And I do agree in that with the state of the economy I've also lowered my
rates and am being more reasonable than say in the past two years, but
there are a few things I have learned over these same years...

One, there will always be folks who either can not or do not want to afford my
services. Whether their finances are too constrained or they simply don't see
why it should cost so much, the reasons vary from the simple to the complicated
but it all boils down to the same thing...

Two, whenever I have quoted appropriately, that is, I did not try and do these
folks a favor, I didn't overquote but I wasn't taking any shortcuts and gave
them the price as it should have been, it was almost always over right then and there.

Last but not least, no matter how low I have quoted a price before for some
it's still too much, hence one can not work cheap enough, so quote appropriately.

NC Greenscaper
10-18-2008, 01:16 PM
[QUOTE=ProTouch Groundscapes;2560995]
i have also done something similar to what whitey was describing. there were a couple times where in order to gain a new client for maintenance, i would tell them. "normally i would charge this cleanup(or whatever service) seperately, but since you are a new customer, i will do a cleanup and cut for the price of a cut." then, you charge everything out how it should be after that. its just an incentive for the customer. whats the difference in that or giving out discounts/rebates to bring in new customers?

The reason you don't do that is you want to avoid getting stiffed for over 2 hours work for $20.

"alot of you saw you wouldnt even drop the gate for your pushmower for $26. i wish there were more of you in my area, would give me a lot less competition. you would go out of business with that mentality. your overhead is probably alot higher than ours. ALL of our equipment was PAID IN FULL at time of purchase. i make absolutely no payments on anything. "

Listen! Because you paid cash for some equipment doesn't necessarily reduce your overhead expenses. You have depreciation expense just like those that make payments. You still spent the money up front and someday if you stick around you will have to replace the equipment you paid cash for.

my overhead consists of liability insurance and fuel expense, and license fees for my pesticide/herbicide app license.

NC Greenscaper
10-18-2008, 01:19 PM
And I do agree in that with the state of the economy I've also lowered my
rates and am being more reasonable than say in the past two years, but
there are a few things I have learned over these same years...

One, there will always be folks who either can not or do not want to afford my
services. Whether their finances are too constrained or they simply don't see
why it should cost so much, the reasons vary from the simple to the complicated
but it all boils down to the same thing...

Two, whenever I have quoted appropriately, that is, I did not try and do these
folks a favor, I didn't overquote but I wasn't taking any shortcuts and gave
them the price as it should have been, it was almost always over right then and there.

Last but not least, no matter how low I have quoted a price before for some
it's still too much, hence one can not work cheap enough, so quote appropriately.

Well Said :)

1cooltreeguy
10-18-2008, 01:25 PM
Man Dude, you have to be kidding? I would have dumped that 40 lbs of crap right on his yard. $26? What is that? NO WAY!!!! First there should have been an initial price to clean up the place....plus dump fee....plus whatever....When I first started out I kinda thought the way you did - "I will give them a good deal, then get them as a regular customer...yada, yada, yada" But Remember, WHAT yOU GET THEM WITH YOU HAVE TO KEEP THEM WITH...if you lowball to get them they you have to lowball to keep em...MAN

Whitey4
10-18-2008, 03:51 PM
You might not understand the LI market at all - or the difference between cutting a lawn and substaincial clean-ups...what you did was a clean up for which $26 wouldnt cover a estimate, or the gas to show up to give one.

You could have stayed home and did better on the obvious -

My closest friend is also a solo LCO... for twenty years now, which in part, was why I looked into this business myself. He and I team up on the bigger jobs we might get. His average price for a 3k of turf property is also 25 bucks. I have spoken here to other nearby LCO's. In fact I met a very nice guy named Dominic (Tree Guard) first here at Lawn Site and then in my own driveway when he was doing my next door neighbor's house. He's been in the biz a while as well...and since my neighbor is a friend, I also know what he's paying.

So, I do know quite well what the maket rates in my town are. I know how much 7 different LCO's around here are charging customers. I'va also had new customers tell me that my annual billings (including ferts and pesticides) are roght in the middle of the other price quotes they have gotten.

As for this mistake, which I readilly admit to have made is one I will not repeat. Because I did not walk the property with the customer, his expectations and mine did not match up. I may still agree to do a "cleanup" sort of thing for a new customer, but we will mutually understand the arrangement. That did not happen in this case.

Therre is another LCO here... has 3 crews of 4 men each I believe... he has one neighbor for 19 years now. He was at 20 a week for all that time... and only this year went to 23 bucks. He does a decent job, too. I price myself higher than him, but my pruning rates are in line with his.

I have been a business man in one capcity or another for over 30 years. I did my due diligence before I started this business. I used to set prices and distributor margins for electronic test equipment. I understand market research. That doesn't mean I'm a know it all, but I know enough, and more than most in this business.

I made a mistake... got burned, and learned a lesson. This is my first real year as an LCO... and I had no delusions that I would never make any mistakes. I will say however, that the mistakes have been few and far between.

Whitey4
10-18-2008, 04:00 PM
Man Dude, you have to be kidding? I would have dumped that 40 lbs of crap right on his yard. $26? What is that? NO WAY!!!! First there should have been an initial price to clean up the place....plus dump fee....plus whatever....When I first started out I kinda thought the way you did - "I will give them a good deal, then get them as a regular customer...yada, yada, yada" But Remember, WHAT yOU GET THEM WITH YOU HAVE TO KEEP THEM WITH...if you lowball to get them they you have to lowball to keep em...MAN

I did not low ball.... I think it was a 28 dollar property, and I went in at 26. That is based on local market rates here. So, if being about 7% lower than I think i should have been... is that low balling?

Tell ya what... his mother is one of my best customers. lots of installs and apps this year. I quoted this guy to keep her happy as much as anything else. The account was outside of my 1.2 mile customer radius. That route by the way, was part of my biz plan from the start... very tight and nearby.

1cooltreeguy
10-18-2008, 04:10 PM
I did not low ball.... I think it was a 28 dollar property, and I went in at 26. That is based on local market rates here. So, if being about 7% lower than I think i should have been... is that low balling?

Tell ya what... his mother is one of my best customers. lots of installs and apps this year. I quoted this guy to keep her happy as much as anything else. The account was outside of my 1.2 mile customer radius. That route by the way, was part of my biz plan from the start... very tight and nearby.

Hey, it's cool, - it is your budge and route(customer) - You know what your business plan is....I guess we all run into situations and customers that play us from time to time. I have some reg. customers that try to bait me into taking care of their family homes for a good deal with the expectation that I would get more lucrative jobs from them. I just try to be real careful.:waving:

punt66
10-18-2008, 05:14 PM
[QUOTE=ProTouch Groundscapes;2560995]
i have also done something similar to what whitey was describing. there were a couple times where in order to gain a new client for maintenance, i would tell them. "normally i would charge this cleanup(or whatever service) seperately, but since you are a new customer, i will do a cleanup and cut for the price of a cut." then, you charge everything out how it should be after that. its just an incentive for the customer. whats the difference in that or giving out discounts/rebates to bring in new customers?

The reason you don't do that is you want to avoid getting stiffed for over 2 hours work for $20.

"alot of you saw you wouldnt even drop the gate for your pushmower for $26. i wish there were more of you in my area, would give me a lot less competition. you would go out of business with that mentality. your overhead is probably alot higher than ours. ALL of our equipment was PAID IN FULL at time of purchase. i make absolutely no payments on anything. "

Listen! Because you paid cash for some equipment doesn't necessarily reduce your overhead expenses. You have depreciation expense just like those that make payments. You still spent the money up front and someday if you stick around you will have to replace the equipment you paid cash for.

my overhead consists of liability insurance and fuel expense, and license fees for my pesticide/herbicide app license.

Most minimums for LCO's in CT are $45... The average price of a home here is $350,000... Come here and drop your gate for $26 and you will be living out of your truck. Were all in different markets. It would be great to live in FL and mow in CT. Then you would be very wealthy.

J.A.G LAWNCARE
10-18-2008, 05:54 PM
[QUOTE=NC Greenscaper;2561173]

Most minimums for LCO's in CT are $45... The average price of a home here is $350,000... Come here and drop your gate for $26 and you will be living out of your truck. Were all in different markets. It would be great to live in FL and mow in CT. Then you would be very wealthy.

if i came to your area for $26 per mow ,you would be living out of your truck not me ....................................:cool2::cool2::cool2::cool2::cool2::cool2:

Whitey4
10-18-2008, 06:42 PM
[QUOTE=NC Greenscaper;2561173]

Most minimums for LCO's in CT are $45... The average price of a home here is $350,000... Come here and drop your gate for $26 and you will be living out of your truck. Were all in different markets. It would be great to live in FL and mow in CT. Then you would be very wealthy.

I can only wish that was the market here... but it isn't. I will only sign with customers for full service... 3k of turf, $40 for fert per app. Probably 45 next year. Same for weed and pest controls. I do an average of 12 apps a year including lime. I can apply fert to 6 houses in an hour. Same for any granular app. I can do 4 houses an hour for spray apps. My material costs run about $5 per account. So, my gross PM on apps is $35 or more. That's $210 an hour for fert apps.

In Connecticut, how much turf is the average property? A lot more than LI, as it's 2.5 to 4k of turf for a large yard here. The average home price here is near 500,000. I'm talking that much for a Cape Cod, before the housing market crash.

In the end, I get about $1500 per account and that does not include any renovations or plantings. I love doing transplants. Almost all labor. I get about $140 an hour doing that stuff.

In MY market... you mow so you can get the profitable stuff. Just the way it works here.

Frontier-Lawn
10-18-2008, 08:54 PM
First, you are mistaken.... I was AT market rates for LI. Maybe a buck or two a week low, but that's all. The AVERAGE weekly mowing charge here is TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS.

I knew I would be putting in extra time to get it shaped up in the beginning. This is how I have gotten and kept my best customers. I also do apps (legally) and my average annual billings per account with an average of 2.5 to 3.5k of turf is $1,500 a year. This guys mother woll bill out at $2,000 this year with apps ind installs.

You do not understand this market.... the mowing is a loss leader. The money is made on fert, apps, installs and the like. To get that more profitable work, you mow almost for free. Showing up was a mistake? No... it wasn't. That is just a silly comment.

Ask any other LCO from LI on this site... ask him what he gets for mowing 3k of turf. This place is rampant with illegal immigrants. Mowing prices are in the dirt, literally. To survive, we charge about an average of 40 bucks each for fert and pesticide apps. The cost in time and materials for those things are minimal. 5 minutes for a fert app... 40 bucks. I can do 6 properties in an hour. That is where we make our money.... that, and installs, designs and turf renovations.

This is why so many questions about pricing on this site are meaningless. You want 35 to mow 3k of turf here? You are OUT of BUSINESS.


my min for a .19 lot is $27.50 per cut if smaller then .18 $20 and all extra work is billed at extra $.

punt66
10-18-2008, 09:09 PM
[QUOTE=punt66;2561393]

if i came to your area for $26 per mow ,you would be living out of your truck not me ....................................:cool2::cool2::cool2::cool2::cool2::cool2:

your missing the point. You wouldnt earn enough to live at $26 a cut. And home owners wouldnt think much of you with that estimate either.

Ramairfreak98ss
10-18-2008, 09:27 PM
I wouldn't have unloaded my push mower for $26.00, much less stayed for 2 hours!

yeah me either. We ONLY will edge badly needed sidewalks if they sign a yearly contract.. that way if they cancel, they pay the non contractual price, which is 15% more.. Cant believe you just worked for $13/hr lol. live and learn i guess

Liquidfast
10-19-2008, 10:53 PM
Newsflash..........If you are a business owner working for $13/hr., you are NOT a business owner.

Even if you were under the impression it would lead to more work, you still worked for $13/hr.




.

Whitey4
10-19-2008, 10:59 PM
Newsflash..........If you are a business owner working for $13/hr., you are NOT a business owner.

Even if you were under the impression it would lead to more work, you still worked for $13/hr.




.

Did you bother to read the entire thread? If you did... my opinoin of your response is about the same as what this customer's was. Thanks for the feedback. Now, shut up.

tradeyouraccounts
10-19-2008, 11:44 PM
Nearly always best to confess than repent but its always good to vent.

BeautifulBlooms
10-20-2008, 07:53 AM
ONLY DO WHAT YOUR CONTRACT SAYS!

If they want extras charge for them.

ALWAYS BID TO MAKE MONEY AT WHAT YOU DO!

Liquidfast
10-20-2008, 09:28 AM
Did you bother to read the entire thread? If you did... my opinoin of your response is about the same as what this customer's was. Thanks for the feedback. Now, shut up.



Ok. I just read the entire post. I have changed my opinion some. If you worked for $13/hr (U.S. funds) you are still not a business owner.

Am I missing something??? Funny how people post opinions, feelings, thoughts etc on the net then LASH out at responses. LOL.

FROGSLAWNSERVICE
11-07-2008, 10:25 PM
$26 dollars??????
here's my 2 cents first look the job then make an estimate
after that set the price and after both parts agree on price then do the job
theres many cheap people that think that LCOs would do anything for a few bucks
remember is your bussines so you set your price
good luck 4 u

Whitey4
11-07-2008, 11:48 PM
Ok. I just read the entire post. I have changed my opinion some. If you worked for $13/hr (U.S. funds) you are still not a business owner.

Am I missing something??? Funny how people post opinions, feelings, thoughts etc on the net then LASH out at responses. LOL.

Geeze pal... I said I screwed up on this account... and I'm NOT a business man? How about the other 10+ new accounts I did this sort of thing with that I ended up billing out at over $1500 this year? Four of those accounts came in at over $3000 with the transplants and installs I did. Agsain, I'm talking about properties with an average of 3k of turf, maybe 1k of beds.

I just finished figuring out how much I made per hour this year, my first year, after deducting overhead, materials and debt. So, this is NET profit per hour.... $42.74. That is after investing about 10k in equipment!

I think that is pretty good. My gross per hour ran about $74.

Clearly, I am not a businessman. My business plan, marketing, advertising, sales ability to up sell renovations in a down economy... all horrible. Every account within a mile... poor planning. Bad strategy. I am screwed.

Liquidfast... is that like diarrhea? OK... just a joke, but I don't think you are being very objective here. I am THRILLED with my first year numbers. I am only at about 50% capacity, so I still need growth in terms of new accounts, and I target the pickiest customers around here, because they will spend the most $ on their properties to make them look perfect... and that is what I do best, making lawns and gardens look perfect. But, I guess my vision as an LCO is all wrong.... LOL. I should get 300 mow accounts, a bunch of Latinos and gross 250k. That is what every other shmoe around here does... and it's why I can separate myself from the herd.... and bill more because I get the premium, profitable jobs by year's end.

Actually... what makes me different from every other LCO here is that I AM a business man, while they are foremen.

puppypaws
11-08-2008, 02:37 AM
Geeze pal... I said I screwed up on this account... and I'm NOT a business man? How about the other 10+ new accounts I did this sort of thing with that I ended up billing out at over $1500 this year? Four of those accounts came in at over $3000 with the transplants and installs I did. Agsain, I'm talking about properties with an average of 3k of turf, maybe 1k of beds.



No, you didn't screw up anything. What you actually did was a very good thing. You had a property where you went the extra mile to begin with showing the owner your work, which you are proud of, and this is a good thing.

You keep going that extra mile when needed, and you will go far, it will always more than pay for itself in the long run.

It just happened to be you were dealing with an idiot, and they come about in all walks of life. When you come across this type person get away from them as quickly as possible, most of them have other troubles in life which carries over into everything they deal with.

David Haggerty
11-08-2008, 05:11 AM
I think you should bill him for the extra work. I don't think you'll ever collect. But at least you've showed him the value of the work you've done.
Maybe he'll show the bill to his momma. It might make her think before referring another deadbeat, son or not.

Even though he didn't specifically authorize the additioal work, you performed the work under the assumption you would continue to service the account. He owes you.

punt66
11-08-2008, 08:29 AM
Geeze pal... I said I screwed up on this account... and I'm NOT a business man? How about the other 10+ new accounts I did this sort of thing with that I ended up billing out at over $1500 this year? Four of those accounts came in at over $3000 with the transplants and installs I did. Agsain, I'm talking about properties with an average of 3k of turf, maybe 1k of beds.

I just finished figuring out how much I made per hour this year, my first year, after deducting overhead, materials and debt. So, this is NET profit per hour.... $42.74. That is after investing about 10k in equipment!

I think that is pretty good. My gross per hour ran about $74.

Clearly, I am not a businessman. My business plan, marketing, advertising, sales ability to up sell renovations in a down economy... all horrible. Every account within a mile... poor planning. Bad strategy. I am screwed.

Liquidfast... is that like diarrhea? OK... just a joke, but I don't think you are being very objective here. I am THRILLED with my first year numbers. I am only at about 50% capacity, so I still need growth in terms of new accounts, and I target the pickiest customers around here, because they will spend the most $ on their properties to make them look perfect... and that is what I do best, making lawns and gardens look perfect. But, I guess my vision as an LCO is all wrong.... LOL. I should get 300 mow accounts, a bunch of Latinos and gross 250k. That is what every other shmoe around here does... and it's why I can separate myself from the herd.... and bill more because I get the premium, profitable jobs by year's end.

Actually... what makes me different from every other LCO here is that I AM a business man, while they are foremen.

Glad to see you take pride in your work to give it away for free. Maybe if i call a plumber to fix my sink he will install my new bathroom for free in hopes he will get future work. hhmmm You want to be a business man then be one. Giving services away for free isnt in my business plan and yet i have more work than i can handle. You should do professional work if you claim to be a proffesional. Stop ruining your market.

Florida Gardener
11-08-2008, 11:50 AM
dude, he got beat on one job and you say he isn't professional or a businessman? it's his first year in biz and from the looks of it i would say he did quite well. i dont think there is anything wrong with trying to give a little to get more in the future.

im glad that you run a perfect business and that you have more work than you can handle. those of us who are just starting out aren't there yet, so we may have to take a hit somewhere. it's not the end of the world.

punt66
11-08-2008, 12:47 PM
dude, he got beat on one job and you say he isn't professional or a businessman? it's his first year in biz and from the looks of it i would say he did quite well. i dont think there is anything wrong with trying to give a little to get more in the future.

im glad that you run a perfect business and that you have more work than you can handle. those of us who are just starting out aren't there yet, so we may have to take a hit somewhere. it's not the end of the world.


Never work for free. Never. If you want to give a little extra then do it a few minutes in each visit. There is nothing wrong giving the extra touch. But spending 2 hours on a 10 min cut for 26 bucks is like a mechanic rebuilding a transmission in your car when you were there for an oil change. He worked 1/4 of an 8 hour day for $26. And although he knows now he made a mistake he is still defending. Dont give work away. If your work is as good as you say that will speak for its self. Your business will grow. Dont be a sucker.

Florida Gardener
11-08-2008, 12:51 PM
punt, i totally agree with you. I just think people are giving him too much **** for a mistake that was HIS. Live and learn.