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americanlawn
01-18-2009, 04:52 AM
We're getting our renewal letters in now for the 2009 season. One customer said "fert prices decreased during the past 90 days", so now expects us to lower his price. What do you think?

rscvp, thanks

punt66
01-18-2009, 05:05 AM
I think they are not stable. How much was the increase?

mrkosar
01-18-2009, 08:19 AM
did you increase prices last year relative to fert prices? explain that the cost of doing business has went up and material costs are only a portion of the price they are getting. you are also factoring in inflation and possible volatile fert prices later in 2009.

on the other hand it sounds like a customer who is well educated which is always a plus in my opinion. maybe a little picky, but work with them and keep all customers you can in this economy.

phasthound
01-18-2009, 08:33 AM
Explain to your client that your cost for fert & fuel skyrocketed last year and you did not pass those increases on to him.

ted putnam
01-18-2009, 09:25 AM
Explain to your customer that they don't pay for fert, they pay for SERVICE. If fert is so cheap and that's all they think they get, they can train a monkey to push a spreader... Surely you've had this come up before...

SpreadNSpray
01-18-2009, 10:32 AM
We're getting our renewal letters in now for the 2009 season. One customer said "fert prices decreased during the past 90 days", so now expects us to lower his price. What do you think?

rscvp, thanks


I don't give my customers that type of info. If they get a price increase it's a simple note that has their new price for the following year. I don't get into why. The list would be too long.
Good thing your customer doesn't know about your increased production from your ride on. They would really expect a break in the price.

whoopassonthebluegrass
01-18-2009, 11:31 AM
Screw the cheapskates, Larry. Tell them that because you value 'em as a customer, you'll knock a dollar off the season total.

JDUtah
01-18-2009, 11:42 AM
Dear customer,

I hope our history has proven that American Lawns cares about you, your lawn, and your economic welfare. An example of this took place last year. The world urea fertilizer markets tripled in price. We worked to obtain product at a reasonable price so you did not have to see a similar increase. We cut into normal margins to do so. Fertilizer prices may have dropped within the last three months but not to the point they were at before they skyrocketed.

Please understand that we are still concerned about you and your economic position, especially in an economy like this. Maintaining your current price by cutting into our margins is just one example. We appreciate your business and hope to continue serving you. Our goal is to always provide you with value and professionalism.

Sincerely,
Larry (owner)
American Lawn

Just an idea...

Ric
01-18-2009, 12:02 PM
Explain to your customer that they don't pay for fert, they pay for SERVICE. If fert is so cheap and that's all they think they get, they can train a monkey to push a spreader... Surely you've had this come up before...

Ted

I am not so sure some companies don't use trained Monkeys or are trained monkeys. But my customer pay me what I know, more than for what I do. I sell Fine Yards not Fertilizer. I will admit when Diesel went to almost $ 5.00 a gallon some customer either tipped me or ask when was I going to raise prices. I told them then that while I knew they would except a price increase not all of their neighbors would. I couldn't charge a different price for the same service. So I ate the margin and kept my quality and reputation. What goes around comes around and those companies that slacked off on products are now losing customers while I am picking them up. BTW Now that diesel is $ 2.25 a gallon those customers are no longer tipping me that extra $ 10 or 20 that they once did. While I didn't turn the tips down I sure didn't ask for the Tips either. I have no problems with them no longer Tipping me.

Spread N Spray

When ask by my customers, I told them the fact of life and world economy. Part of China and India living better is they are eating better. Fertilizer is a global product produced all over the world and subject to world economic prices. While both Gas and Fertilizer prices has come down, don't look for them to stay down. Gas in my area is back up from $ 1.55 to $ 1.85 and I don't think it will stop there.

Whoopedass

When a Customer tries to beat up on my price, I tell them This must be a bad time to tell them I am raising prices. I go on the offensive not defensive. Sure I might lose them, but they are worth keeping if they are being a PITA about prices.

whoopassonthebluegrass
01-18-2009, 12:08 PM
When a Customer tries to beat up on my price, I tell them This must be a bad time to tell them I am raising prices. I go on the offensive not defensive. Sure I might lose them, but they are worth keeping if they are being a PITA about prices.

Glad we still see eye to eye on SOMETHING. :laugh: I have no tolerance for bargain hunters.

turf hokie
01-18-2009, 01:41 PM
We're getting our renewal letters in now for the 2009 season. One customer said "fert prices decreased during the past 90 days", so now expects us to lower his price. What do you think?

rscvp, thanks

That is akin to them trying to figure out how much money you make when they are not aware of any of your business inputs when they think that your prices are high.

Or better yet when they sign a contract you do the service as stated and they say "well it didnt take you too long so how about I pay you X instead"

Do you think their boss goes to them on payday and says to them well it seems you did not produce as much paperwork this week how about I knock a little of your salary?

My price is my price, I learned quick enough not to negotiate. That type of customer is not the loyal type but the price shopping type. I am aggravated and they are not even my customer.

greendoctor
01-18-2009, 02:10 PM
They asked you what? I do not nickel and dime my customers, so being bargained down is not tolerated. My position on this is someone who knows how much everything I use costs, can go out and get it themselves and apply it themselves as well. I never had to deal with this personally, cheapskates are scared off by the monthly contract I make clients sign. Fees are calculated per month of service, not per application.

ted putnam
01-18-2009, 05:43 PM
Glad we still see eye to eye on SOMETHING. :laugh: I have no tolerance for bargain hunters.

I'm with you on the bargain hunters but I'll tell you what chaps my a$$ in a hurry. People who act like I am selling fertilizer and then delivering and applying what they have purchased from me. Apparently somewhere down the line they've confused the definition of Lawn SERVICE with Lawn DEPOT. I don't even consider people like that a pain...not even a bargain hunter or cheapskate. They are much further down on the food chain than that! JMO

greendoctor
01-18-2009, 06:00 PM
I'm with you on the bargain hunters but I'll tell you what chaps my a$$ in a hurry. People who act like I am selling fertilizer and then delivering and applying what they have purchased from me. Apparently somewhere down the line they've confused the definition of Lawn SERVICE with Lawn DEPOT. I don't even consider people like that a pain...not even a bargain hunter or cheapskate. They are much further down on the food chain than that! JMO

This is all the more reason why I do not ever give someone the impression a lawn application is a DIY operation. A client either understands they are paying for my technical knowledge and specialty equipment or they are not a client of mine at all. On the other hand, I would have trouble justifying myself to people if I were to sling granules at the rate of an acre in a few minutes and not take the time to really look at things. On average, I spend at least 2 hours per month, per property. If I am not applying, I am checking. Be it irrigation, scouting for pests or just overall appearance. I do not want 100 or more clients that I have to service fast and cheap. Then I am a participant in the race to the bottom.

azjojo99
01-18-2009, 06:08 PM
We're getting our renewal letters in now for the 2009 season. One customer said "fert prices decreased during the past 90 days", so now expects us to lower his price. What do you think?

rscvp, thanks

Depends on your price history last year, did you raise prices and say it was because of fertilizer? In any case I would try to retain the customer, maybe suggest a pre-pay option to them, or a discount on an upsell.

greendoctor
01-18-2009, 07:00 PM
I do not play money games with clients, lest I end up needing to play money games every time I need to pay for something. Either someone can afford me or not. That is where some screening takes place.

tlg
01-18-2009, 09:38 PM
So the customer wants a price reduction. I say give it to him if he agrees to a price hike next week when fuel goes back up, your electric bill doubles, your insurance goes up, or you just need the money to advertise for new customers who won't be a pita.

SpreadNSpray
01-18-2009, 09:55 PM
Spread N Spray

When ask by my customers, I told them the fact of life and world economy. Part of China and India living better is they are eating better. Fertilizer is a global product produced all over the world and subject to world economic prices. While both Gas and Fertilizer prices has come down, don't look for them to stay down. Gas in my area is back up from $ 1.55 to $ 1.85 and I don't think it will stop there.

.

That sounds like it might work... Probably puts them old timers in a total tail spin. :laugh:

ffemtmcd
01-18-2009, 10:01 PM
Explain to your client that your cost for fert & fuel skyrocketed last year and you did not pass those increases on to him.

second that - will they expect an increase in fees when the fert prices jump again??

Ric
01-18-2009, 10:04 PM
That sounds like it might work... Probably puts them old timers in a total tail spin. :laugh:

Spread N Spray

Most of those old timers are professionals who are smart enough to have a niece retirement on Water Front with a boat and a swimming pool. You don't BS those people, They watch the futures market more than I do.

SpreadNSpray
01-18-2009, 10:06 PM
Spread N Spray

Most of those old timers are professionals who are smart enough to have a niece retirement on Water Front with a boat and a swimming pool. You don't BS those people, They watch the futures market more than I do.

Good, then they agree with you.

mngrassguy
01-18-2009, 10:23 PM
You could cut their price by a buck but he will drop you anyway. There is more to his story than meets the eye. How does he know what you pay for fert? How much does he say it went down?

I'm with Geendoctor and others on this one too. Walk away. He's already wasted a buck's worth of your time.:walking:

greendoctor
01-18-2009, 10:53 PM
I do not know where or who I heard this from, but people who talk about money or have to bring it up first are the ones who do not have it. I find this especially true with the ones who appear wealthy, they are maxed out and cannot afford me. On the other hand, there are many people I deal with who do not mention money, I am always the one warning them about what something is going to cost. They are also the ones who had no problems when I did hundreds worth of upgrades to their irrigation system when I started servicing their property.

DuallyVette
01-18-2009, 11:48 PM
How much have you seen fert prices drop. My supplies still have the expensive stuff in their warehouses. When the prices rose, i did add a little to their bill, but I didn't cover the total cost increase. The last 25-4-11 cost me $20...Home Depo had it for $55.

mngrassguy
01-19-2009, 12:20 AM
I haven't seen any price drops at the big box stores around here except a very few clearance items left from last year.

DuallyVette
01-19-2009, 12:42 AM
The Ag dealer I bought the fert from said they lost $5 a bag on it trying to clear out the warehouse of the high priced stock.

DLAWNS
01-19-2009, 12:46 AM
Larry---I agree that you should just explain that the price of fert is only a part of the reason that you have to raise their prices. People drive me crazy. It's amazing the gall that people have. I like Whoops idea of giving them a dollar off of the yearly price just to be a d*ck. lol

greendoctor
01-19-2009, 12:50 AM
I became self employed so I would never have to deal with people who would drive me crazy. My former employer was a magnet for all kinds of bean counters, jerks and ****heads. He catered to the cheap. Now it has come back to bite him. In this bad economy, the ones who did not have the money then, really do not have it now.

PROCUT1
01-19-2009, 04:15 AM
Thats why its best not to give a "reason" for a price increase. There is no need to. Just inform them of the new rate. What other business gives a long drawn out pity soaked explanation when they raise prices?

Same reason I dont like the "fuel surcharge" concept.

Now that fuel has come down, i looked at recent deliveries and every one of them still had the fuel surcharge on there. And you bet I called and got every one of them taken off.

Now if they had just raised their delivery rates a few bucks I would have paid.

Ric
01-19-2009, 08:14 AM
I became self employed so I would never have to deal with people who would drive me crazy. My former employer was a magnet for all kinds of bean counters, jerks and ****heads. He catered to the cheap. Now it has come back to bite him. In this bad economy, the ones who did not have the money then, really do not have it now.

Green

Those same Nut Magnets are Nuts themselves and can't stop complaining about the Nuts they attract. Doesn't matter if it is customers, friends or employees they just can't seem to deal with semi normal people. You are what you associate with and if all your customer are Nuts, then you better reevaluate yourself as to who is the Nut. We all have that one or two strange customer or friend, the key is learn to deal with them or drop them. I have a customer and the wife is as up tight and nervous as they come. But the husband is a great guy and mayor of the neighborhood so to speak. When the wife is not up tight she can be pleasant to be around. But by learning to deal with the wife, the husband has been my best salesman. Had they both been Nuts, I would have dropped them years ago. As it is they great customers.

Turfdoctor1
01-19-2009, 09:25 AM
Dear customer,

I hope our history has proven that American Lawns cares about you, your lawn, and your economic welfare. An example of this took place last year. The world urea fertilizer markets tripled in price. We worked to obtain product at a reasonable price so you did not have to see a similar increase. We cut into normal margins to do so. Fertilizer prices may have dropped within the last three months but not to the point they were at before they skyrocketed.

Please understand that we are still concerned about you and your economic position, especially in an economy like this. Maintaining your current price by cutting into our margins is just one example. We appreciate your business and hope to continue serving you. Our goal is to always provide you with value and professionalism.

Sincerely,
Larry (owner)
American Lawn

Just an idea...


JD nailed it. could not have said it better.

tlg
01-19-2009, 11:30 AM
Thats why its best not to give a "reason" for a price increase. There is no need to. Just inform them of the new rate. What other business gives a long drawn out pity soaked explanation when they raise prices?

Same reason I dont like the "fuel surcharge" concept.

Now that fuel has come down, i looked at recent deliveries and every one of them still had the fuel surcharge on there. And you bet I called and got every one of them taken off.

Now if they had just raised their delivery rates a few bucks I would have paid.

Great advice. I agree 100%.:clapping::clapping::clapping:

greendoctor
01-19-2009, 02:45 PM
Green

Those same Nut Magnets are Nuts themselves and can't stop complaining about the Nuts they attract. Doesn't matter if it is customers, friends or employees they just can't seem to deal with semi normal people. You are what you associate with and if all your customer are Nuts, then you better reevaluate yourself as to who is the Nut. We all have that one or two strange customer or friend, the key is learn to deal with them or drop them. I have a customer and the wife is as up tight and nervous as they come. But the husband is a great guy and mayor of the neighborhood so to speak. When the wife is not up tight she can be pleasant to be around. But by learning to deal with the wife, the husband has been my best salesman. Had they both been Nuts, I would have dropped them years ago. As it is they great customers.

This all makes sense now. I attract perfectionists who are willing to pay for what they are getting. "its good enough" or "that's how everyone else does it" are two phrases that do not pass my lips. I scare away "good enough" and cheap.

americanlawn
01-19-2009, 04:16 PM
Thanks all. Figured this would generate interest. I raised the customer's price $2.00 per application. It's a 5000 sq ft lawn & very easy to treat. We raised his price $1.00 per app the year before. We got hit hard in 2008 not only from fert costs but also from unexpected fuel costs. We have never charge a fuel surcharge or raise prices duing the season. Until now, we never explained to customers why we raise prices....now I'm wondering if it was a wise choice. Thanks again.

PROCUT1
01-19-2009, 04:24 PM
One simple answer.

Costs are going up.

No specifics, nothing.

You dont see an explanation when you go to a store and the price of socks went up.
The price just goes up.

Complain to hanes if they dont lower their sock price when cotton goes down a bit.

JDUtah
01-19-2009, 04:29 PM
I have a friend that wears a new pair of socks every day. He donates the "worn" ones to good will. Blame sock price increases on him! :laugh:

whoopassonthebluegrass
01-19-2009, 04:33 PM
...I raised the customer's price $2.00 per application. It's a 5000 sq ft lawn & very easy to treat. We raised his price $1.00 per app the year before.

Larry: try this one on for size:

"All I'm asking for is an extra $12 to keep your lawn looking good this year! I tell you what: if, at the end of the year, you don't feel satisfied - I'll give you your $12 back."

PROCUT1
01-19-2009, 05:00 PM
I have a friend that wears a new pair of socks every day. He donates the "worn" ones to good will. Blame sock price increases on him! :laugh:

Dang...And my wife complains that I use a fresh towel everytime I shower.

All it has to do is go through the laundry.

ted putnam
01-19-2009, 08:56 PM
I have a friend that wears a new pair of socks every day. He donates the "worn" ones to good will. Blame sock price increases on him! :laugh:

Uh.....That's just WEIRD...

JDUtah
01-19-2009, 09:46 PM
Uh.....That's just WEIRD...

Lol, that's what I told him. He said it is all about the feel. Then he reasoned that people spend more than a dollar a day on a soft drink. He just spends his dollar to feel good and give to charity... To each his own I guess. :)

Ric
01-20-2009, 09:58 AM
This all makes sense now. I attract perfectionists who are willing to pay for what they are getting. "its good enough" or "that's how everyone else does it" are two phrases that do not pass my lips. I scare away "good enough" and cheap.

Green

There actually is a class of customers that are willing to pay and at the same time not micromanage. However you must not only produce, but sell your self and your service. I believe the real keys is in selling. Keeping customers expectations in line is the real key. Today I can only think about our new President who will take office today as an example. He has promised Ice Cream and someone has to pay for that Ice Cream. Seems like the majority want Ice Cream so Now let us see if we get Ice Cream. I on the other hand only promise desert and the hope of Ice Cream some time in the future. My game is to keep expectations in line with what can be produced in a reasonable time frame.

The Bottom line is, Your customers are what you make them. If your customers are always unhappy or complaining about price, You made them that way. If your customer is happy with your work they Know things cost money and are willing pay. Yes we all run into that one (in my case not for long) that is a real PITA. But if this is a pattern, Then look at yourself and not your customer as the hemroid.

SpreadNSpray
01-20-2009, 11:06 PM
Green

There actually is a class of customers that are willing to pay and at the same time not micromanage. However you must not only produce, but sell your self and your service. I believe the real keys is in selling. Keeping customers expectations in line is the real key. Today I can only think about our new President who will take office today as an example. He has promised Ice Cream and someone has to pay for that Ice Cream. Seems like the majority want Ice Cream so Now let us see if we get Ice Cream. I on the other hand only promise desert and the hope of Ice Cream some time in the future. My game is to keep expectations in line with what can be produced in a reasonable time frame.

The Bottom line is, Your customers are what you make them. If your customers are always unhappy or complaining about price, You made them that way. If your customer is happy with your work they Know things cost money and are willing pay. Yes we all run into that one (in my case not for long) that is a real PITA. But if this is a pattern, Then look at yourself and not your customer as the hemroid.

Also, your market needs to jive with your company goals. We are fortunate around here, there are some good areas to sell solid programs. But then again if that wasn't the case I would be out of here.:laugh:

greendoctor
01-21-2009, 03:18 AM
Green

There actually is a class of customers that are willing to pay and at the same time not micromanage. However you must not only produce, but sell your self and your service. I believe the real keys is in selling. Keeping customers expectations in line is the real key. Today I can only think about our new President who will take office today as an example. He has promised Ice Cream and someone has to pay for that Ice Cream. Seems like the majority want Ice Cream so Now let us see if we get Ice Cream. I on the other hand only promise desert and the hope of Ice Cream some time in the future. My game is to keep expectations in line with what can be produced in a reasonable time frame.

The Bottom line is, Your customers are what you make them. If your customers are always unhappy or complaining about price, You made them that way. If your customer is happy with your work they Know things cost money and are willing pay. Yes we all run into that one (in my case not for long) that is a real PITA. But if this is a pattern, Then look at yourself and not your customer as the hemroid.

I am brutally honest with people the moment they meet me. That is why I start each day looking forward to it, I do not dread phone calls from existing clients and I sleep well each night. The other thing that is impressed on most of the people I do business with is many of their issues were caused by incorrect practices, including a bad landscape and irrigation install. I can make it look good in the end, but it will take some time and correcting certain irrigation and install issues will require money above and beyond what monthly landscape management agreement they signed with
me.

Also, your market needs to jive with your company goals. We are fortunate around here, there are some good areas to sell solid programs. But then again if that wasn't the case I would be out of here.

I have the good fortune of diversity. Not everyone is dirt poor and barely making it. It is often a matter of educating a prospective client why it is in their best interest to be on a regular program like the kind I offer. Then I produce rapid and sustained results.

Ric
01-21-2009, 11:11 AM
Green


Playing pool is my favorite past time, My favorite saying is "I will beat you but I won't cheat you." I am afraid I am too candid for my own benefit. Some how as we get older, we get more honest because we have learned from experience honesty is the best policy. Yes I believe any one who has followed my posts knows how brutal my honesty can be. I am even more brutal when telling customer my opinion of why their yard is not responding the way it should. The big problem I see is every idiot thinks they can design landscape. The second problem is retraining dumb Yankees they are living in a different climate.

Diversity of market is in every town just not always as pronounce. In the past my ego has cause me to only chase the upscale fine yard market. However I have always recognized that there were other markets. In the past I have only offered upscale fine yard service. I am now adding the low end high margin straight insect control market. But I am keeping them totally separate in the fact I won't offer any fert or weed control to my straight insect control program. It is one or the other. Now there may be some false thinking on my part in not offering a mid market service. But at the same time I don't want my upscale fine yards to feel they can down size there service to a lesser level now that times are bad. Therefore I only offer one or the other and not a halfassed in between program. BTW IMHO most guys are doing just that, Halfassed work.

whoopassonthebluegrass
01-21-2009, 11:18 AM
I am afraid I am too candid for my own benefit...Yes I believe any one who has followed my posts knows how brutal my honesty can be... BTW IMHO most guys are doing just that, Halfassed work.

Really? I hadn't noticed...











:laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:

Ric
01-21-2009, 11:48 AM
Really? I hadn't noticed...











:laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:


Thank you Whoopedass

While you posted that as a slam I take as a Great complement. I believe just about everyone knows where they stand with me. I make no secrets of who I do or don't respect or like. And I am sure you know exactly where you lay in my book.

whoopassonthebluegrass
01-21-2009, 12:10 PM
Thank you Whoopedass

While you posted that as a slam I take as a Great complement. I believe just about everyone knows where they stand with me. I make no secrets of who I do or don't respect or like. And I am sure you know exactly where you lay in my book.

Nah, it wasn't a slam. More like some jocular ribbing. I still like and respect you, in spite of your best attempts to make it otherwise. :laugh:

And yes, I know my place. I'm your favorite. Your guilty man-crush.

Ric
01-21-2009, 12:59 PM
Nah, it wasn't a slam. More like some jocular ribbing. I still like and respect you, in spite of your best attempts to make it otherwise. :laugh:

And yes, I know my place. I'm your favorite. Your guilty man-crush.

Yes, and may you be blessed with a swarm of Mormon Crickets.

DUSTYCEDAR
01-21-2009, 03:18 PM
Yeah right

whoopassonthebluegrass
01-21-2009, 03:21 PM
Yes, and may you be blessed with a swarm of Mormon Crickets.

I wish... you know how much I'd make on the pest control?? :laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:

KACYDS
01-21-2009, 05:03 PM
I wish... you know how much I'd make on the pest control?? :laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:

How many of those could you do in a day? :laugh::laugh::laugh:

whoopassonthebluegrass
01-21-2009, 05:15 PM
How many of those could you do in a day? :laugh::laugh::laugh:

Only one way to find out. :weightlifter:

DLAWNS
01-21-2009, 07:30 PM
Only one way to find out. :weightlifter:

Oh damn:eek: I see a whole new thread that could be made out of this! Ha Ha

whoopassonthebluegrass
01-21-2009, 08:17 PM
Ric has to send the plague first.

DLAWNS
01-21-2009, 08:43 PM
Ric has to send the plague first.

That's hilarious!

KACYDS
01-22-2009, 09:20 AM
Ric has to send the plague first.

As we all know, if anyone could do it, Ric can..............:laugh::laugh::laugh: