PDA

View Full Version : I can tell it a buyer's market!!!


landscaper22
03-27-2009, 12:18 AM
Or you could say it's a customer's market...Yeah, this is sort of a VENT....Even with the bad economy, business is still booming for me. But, even with all the business rolling in, I have been plagued with problems and issues since the ball dropped on New Year's Day 2009...It all started with the small incident in which an object was thrown by my mower and made a nice hole in a car door. And it only got worse. I will have to go into my latest problem another time....
So, the one thing I have really noticed this year is that customers are in a pissy mood more than ever. I am talking about customers that have been with me for 3-4 years are suddenly turning into different people. Maybe it is the stress of the "hard times" or the threat of being laid off. I don't know. But, suddenly everything is the lawn guy's fault. I am getting bitched at for thinning turf in one yard. I am being bitched at because I am not doing some of the work that the other LCO from 4 years ago did (work that was never talked about and no price was given). Oh, but the other LCO used to do it and not charge extra...:confused: I talked to a customer about applying chemicals. He says do it. I buy product and when I go to do it he tells me he already took care of it. Same customer calls and wants property cut "today" even though it's not scheduled until next week.
It could be me. I really don't know. All I have to work by is my schedule. I make my schedule according the agreement when I first start servicing a property. It's like these people expect me to just come ride by their property to see if it needs servicing. It doesn't work that way with me.
I really want to clean house. But again, with the economy so tight, the customers must feel they can lay down the law. I guess many other people are standing in the unemployment lines and would be glad to come undercut my price and do the work so they can have some money. Some customers must be taking advantage of the situation.
I was thinking a couple of months ago that I should probably not raise prices this year. But I may rethink this. The customers that are acting up may get a price increase. It would be justified since they are demanding more out of me. I don't want to lose them, but if they are going to be a thorn in my side all year, then I would be better off without them.
I still love and appreciate my good customers. I have some that can barely make ends meet, and they still appreciate my services. They also respect me and they pay quickly.....
Sorry for the long rant about nothing. But is anyone else seeing the same thing, or is it just me? I will say that I am not the least bit looking forward to this season. I am suffering from burn out big time. All of these issues are building up and are not helping my situation at all.
Well, happy mowing everyone! Hope you all are off to a good start.

Flow Control
03-27-2009, 05:27 AM
Last Saturday I went on two new install estimates and followed up with another two this past Wednesday. All four estimates came in "cold" through our website. Majority if not all of my estimates in the past were referrals, we launched our website last fall and now I think I will have to start prequalifying better over the phone. That being said I am not sure if it is the economy or just because they were "cold" leads but during 3 out of the 4 estimates the homeowner bluntly made it a point to let me know that they just wanted me to know that they are getting multiple estimates and that they are going with the the cheapest price no matter what. Not sure if I have been shielded due to the fact that most of my estimates are referrals or what, but in the past I may have heard that expression once or twice a season, but 3 out of 4 estimates kinda pist me off.

Going back to what I mentioned earlier; prequalifying a customer. Anyone have polite way or phrase(s) that you say or ask to get the point accross to the potential customer that if they are just looking for cheap work then to look onto the next company?

I tell them about myself and the company and our credentials but it falls on a deaf ear sometimes and as many of you we typically deal with "educated" professionals.

I was tossing around the following phrases: :laugh: Tell me what you think or add on to them.

When the customer whats the cheapest price and does not realize the difference in services/installations offered from one company to another.

Doctor: We Dr. Smith I realize you must be in a similar situation as I am, since a doctor with 20yrs experience is no different then a 3rd year Med student. You should be charging the same price. Also since having a medical percedure is no different here as it is in a third world country from what I can tell I am not willing to pay more for that open heart surgury then $750, but I was really thinking $500 in cash (wink, wink)

Lawyer: Yes Mr. Smith, I know that you must be in a similar situation in your profession. Since a 30yr attorney with court room experience is the same as an attorney that just past the bar. Right? Experience can't matter that much can it?

IT: Yes Mr. Smith I completely understand we are in the same situation. When I have IT problems I am only willing to pay the going rate in India. Since there is no difference. IMHO

ED'S LAWNCARE
03-27-2009, 09:01 AM
Last Saturday I went on two new install estimates and followed up with another two this past Wednesday. All four estimates came in "cold" through our website. Majority if not all of my estimates in the past were referrals, we launched our website last fall and now I think I will have to start prequalifying better over the phone. That being said I am not sure if it is the economy or just because they were "cold" leads but during 3 out of the 4 estimates the homeowner bluntly made it a point to let me know that they just wanted me to know that they are getting multiple estimates and that they are going with the the cheapest price no matter what. Not sure if I have been shielded due to the fact that most of my estimates are referrals or what, but in the past I may have heard that expression once or twice a season, but 3 out of 4 estimates kinda pist me off.

Going back to what I mentioned earlier; prequalifying a customer. Anyone have polite way or phrase(s) that you say or ask to get the point accross to the potential customer that if they are just looking for cheap work then to look onto the next company?

I tell them about myself and the company and our credentials but it falls on a deaf ear sometimes and as many of you we typically deal with "educated" professionals.

I was tossing around the following phrases: :laugh: Tell me what you think or add on to them.

When the customer whats the cheapest price and does not realize the difference in services/installations offered from one company to another.

Doctor: We Dr. Smith I realize you must be in a similar situation as I am, since a doctor with 20yrs experience is no different then a 3rd year Med student. You should be charging the same price. Also since having a medical percedure is no different here as it is in a third world country from what I can tell I am not willing to pay more for that open heart surgury then $750, but I was really thinking $500 in cash (wink, wink)

Lawyer: Yes Mr. Smith, I know that you must be in a similar situation in your profession. Since a 30yr attorney with court room experience is the same as an attorney that just past the bar. Right? Experience can't matter that much can it?

IT: Yes Mr. Smith I completely understand we are in the same situation. When I have IT problems I am only willing to pay the going rate in India. Since there is no difference. IMHO

Outside of chem apps. They can get a kid down the road to mow the yard. Just because you may have more yrs of exp don't mean someone is going to pay for it. That is crazy remember anyone can mow a lawn. Please don't compare this industry to doctors and lawyers.

coolluv
03-27-2009, 09:17 AM
Last Saturday I went on two new install estimates Quote

Landscape installation is different, experience matters.

Dave...

Flow Control
03-27-2009, 10:03 AM
Outside of chem apps. They can get a kid down the road to mow the yard. Just because you may have more yrs of exp don't mean someone is going to pay for it. That is crazy remember anyone can mow a lawn. Please don't compare this industry to doctors and lawyers.

Sorry I guess I left a bit of info out.

Clarification: I am not a LCO

I am strictly irrigation and experience does matter IMHO

wbw
03-27-2009, 11:01 AM
I would let anyone mow my lawn.

I would let practically anyone install my irrigation system.

I would be VERY particular about my surgeon or attorney.

landscaper22
03-27-2009, 01:33 PM
There is not much you can do to say it in a nice way. If you don't feel good about it just ask the customer if they are looking for the lowest bidder. Tell them you don't mean to be disrespectful, but being the lowest bidder in not your priority or focus.

Actually, most everything I say to customers seems to fall on deaf ears. They hear what they want to hear, and that is it. Like I said, it's a buyer's market. They want eveything done on their terms or they will find someone else to do it. It just boils down to how much B.S. you, or I, am willing to take before I just drop them. Our expertise doesn't matter because they always think they know more than we do.

ED'S LAWNCARE
03-27-2009, 05:38 PM
Sorry I guess I left a bit of info out.

Clarification: I am not a LCO

I am strictly irrigation and experience does matter IMHO


Yea you are in a different mkt. I would try it on my personal prop but I surly would not give an estimate with my exp.

DanaMac
03-27-2009, 07:45 PM
Going back to what I mentioned earlier; prequalifying a customer. Anyone have polite way or phrase(s) that you say or ask to get the point accross to the potential customer that if they are just looking for cheap work then to look onto the next company?

I tell them about myself and the company and our credentials but it falls on a deaf ear sometimes and as many of you we typically deal with "educated" professionals.

I posted a thread about this in the irrigation forum Prequalifying (http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=265163) I've thought about going back to some installs, instead of service only. And I want to weed out the tire kickers.

Come on back, post in there once in a while. I know we get off topic, but we have SOME insightful conversations.

Flow Control
03-28-2009, 10:11 AM
I would let anyone mow my lawn.

I would let practically anyone install my irrigation system.

I would be VERY particular about my surgeon or attorney.

I guess I took trying to make a point to the extreme. I was trying to magnify my thoughts on what I see in the Green Industry as many clients viewing LCO's, Irrigators and Illuminators as beneath themselves when they are professionals or white collar, I tried to give everyone a hint by placing a :laugh: before the hypothetical statements were made.

My best-friend is one that is 33yrs old and still in a Cardio Fellowship (3rd one) my wife is a IP Attorney that passed the Federal Bar exam. Am I trying to take anything away from them. NO, I am trying to vent about how our Industry is just viewed in a unskilled & uneducated way.

So anyone that took my post as slamming a Doc, Attorney or anything else that was not my point or intention, my point is that the professional companies out there that are trying to better the industry could use a letter respect for their dedication to trying to do things right, follow code and continuing to educate themselves and their employees within their field.

Flow Control
03-28-2009, 04:55 PM
There is not much you can do to say it in a nice way. If you don't feel good about it just ask the customer if they are looking for the lowest bidder. Tell them you don't mean to be disrespectful, but being the lowest bidder in not your priority or focus.

Actually, most everything I say to customers seems to fall on deaf ears. They hear what they want to hear, and that is it. Like I said, it's a buyer's market. They want eveything done on their terms or they will find someone else to do it. It just boils down to how much B.S. you, or I, am willing to take before I just drop them. Our expertise doesn't matter because they always think they know more than we do.

well said..

Paradise Landscapes
03-29-2009, 01:08 PM
ICS,
Read post #10. I understood where your thinking was from the get go. Our industry is always under attack like that. There are just too many one-toothed wonders out there that gives this industry a bad rep.

ED'S LAWNCARE
03-29-2009, 03:43 PM
The question is what education is really needed to mow grass? There are other avenues that would require some education. Chem apps, irrigation, but that is about it. Fertilizing heck you can take a sample send it to your ext office and they will send a detail anaylsis. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure what you need to adjust the soil. Even if you had no clue you could take the anaylsis to a nursery and they will hook you up.

As far as sod, sowing grass, again a book at home depot could give the basics and you are on your way with no education needed. Now don't get me wrong I'm not saying that someone starting out using these methods are going to produce the same results, but it will be a starting point with no real education needed.

As much as I love money I also know that this business is not going to make me rich. Nor should it. As far as I'm concerned after your expenses you shouldn't be making more than 30/hr pre tax in this business.The skill set is just not there, it's just mowing grass. Anyone with half a brain and some work ethic can do it.

Thats the labor part now as far as running the business that comes in all shapes and sizes some may have a business degree and I have seen some business owners not even complete the 6th grade and still be a prifitable business after 20 yrs.

O.k. let the bashing begin.

Tommy Boy
03-29-2009, 04:07 PM
I think that we get treated like we want to be treated... Show up on a job site in old jeans and a t-shirt with holes and stains, you can expect the us vs. them. I purchase polo shirts and they can wear kakhis or green work pants. Boots must be clean and neat. If my sales staff goes out to visit a client or make a sales call they are in pressed shirts and cabella's dress kakhis. We look the part, we are professional and we have a professional image. You will see that you are looked at in a different light.

Longtime ago when I was a single owner opperator, I always had a clean shirt and pants in the truck for the calls I made during my work day. Bottom line its all how you carry yourself and the image you project. Not snobby or arrogant, just think it helps promote our industry as a profession rathen than a bunch of guys cutting grass.

Tommy Boy
03-29-2009, 04:13 PM
The question is what education is really needed to mow grass? There are other avenues that would require some education. Chem apps, irrigation, but that is about it. Fertilizing heck you can take a sample send it to your ext office and they will send a detail anaylsis. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure what you need to adjust the soil. Even if you had no clue you could take the anaylsis to a nursery and they will hook you up.

As far as sod, sowing grass, again a book at home depot could give the basics and you are on your way with no education needed. Now don't get me wrong I'm not saying that someone starting out using these methods are going to produce the same results, but it will be a starting point with no real education needed.

As much as I love money I also know that this business is not going to make me rich. Nor should it. As far as I'm concerned after your expenses you shouldn't be making more than 30/hr pre tax in this business.The skill set is just not there, it's just mowing grass. Anyone with half a brain and some work ethic can do it.

Thats the labor part now as far as running the business that comes in all shapes and sizes some may have a business degree and I have seen some business owners not even complete the 6th grade and still be a prifitable business after 20 yrs.

O.k. let the bashing begin.

Ed again, education is only a small part of this industry. Take a guy without a high school degree and yes in many cases he can become profitable in a very short time, but with some common sense and bulinding on industry education and business classes, he can stay profitable and compete evenly across the board. I have a BS and a Masters, but i still read this site and attend training classes and aks lots of questions.

This is what seperates the wheat from the chaff. I have a guy working for me, started cutting lawns in high school, I purchased his accounts, brought him on board and he makes about 50k a year without a degree. He's got drive, common sense, and for 30 years old, great decession making skills. Not a bad living with weekends off and 4 weeks paid vacation a year.

Paradise Landscapes
03-29-2009, 04:21 PM
I fully believe in education and seminars and the whole deal. Puting in landscaping is actually alot more than just the digging of a whole and throw it in. Perc. testing, Location, Soil and Light Conditions, Mature hieght and width etc. For much more indepth, Take Arboriculture, Pest and Disease Mgt., Soils, Environmental Geology and Landscape Design. I am being taught things that I have never heard of.
Too many people treat with out a diagnosis and that's not only negligent, but asking for a malpractice suit.

I am sorry if I sound like I am bashing here, rest assured, I'm not trying to attack anyone. It's the last thing I would ever do.

ED'S LAWNCARE
03-29-2009, 05:26 PM
I fully believe in education and seminars and the whole deal. Puting in landscaping is actually alot more than just the digging of a whole and throw it in. Perc. testing, Location, Soil and Light Conditions, Mature hieght and width etc. For much more indepth, Take Arboriculture, Pest and Disease Mgt., Soils, Environmental Geology and Landscape Design. I am being taught things that I have never heard of.
Too many people treat with out a diagnosis and that's not only negligent, but asking for a malpractice suit.

I am sorry if I sound like I am bashing here, rest assured, I'm not trying to attack anyone. It's the last thing I would ever do.

I wholeheartly agree. There are more avenues to get into and learn. I was only commenting on the basic mow, blow and go. I myself thought it best to enroll in the turfgrass magmt program at the local tech school. Very basic knowledge but I did learn a few things I did not know before.

The thing I notice is some lco's who do have extensive knowledge in soils, and turf, chem apps are the ones who complain more about the "lowballer" than others. The so called lowballer usually is just a mow and go guy so he will present a smaller price which may get him the customer. Now I do agree that he should not be applying any chems without the proper lic. I don't do any chem apps, (only straight fert) I looked into the testing and such and right now having to have the extra ins I don't think it would be worth it.

Bottom line is we all have different # for a break even point that I believe is what should set somone's price higher than someone else. That is being competitive. I try to present myself in a professional manner, work hard, and give my clients honest advice at an affordable price. So far it has worked in my favor. I'm not the cheapest but I'm by far not the most expensive.

Paradise Landscapes
03-29-2009, 06:12 PM
[QUOTE=ED'S LAWNCARE;2891712]

The thing I notice is some lco's who do have extensive knowledge in soils, and turf, chem apps are the ones who complain more about the "lowballer" than others. The so called lowballer usually is just a mow and go guy so he will present a smaller price which may get him the customer. Now I do agree that he should not be applying any chems without the proper lic. I don't do any chem apps, (only straight fert) I looked into the testing and such and right now having to have the extra ins I don't think it would be worth it.
QUOTE]

There is a mindset that takes place. Sure enough a degreed person will charge more and should. Why? The customers are paying them for thier knowledge and expertise. A degreed and well credentialed individual carries alot more with them than what a one-toothed wonder would.

Chems? I outsource my apps. I use a very reputable company in my area. I only add 20% more on top of his price, or 30.00, which ever is lower. I try to pass along business and I sometimes get business in return.

ED'S LAWNCARE
03-29-2009, 08:08 PM
[QUOTE=ED'S LAWNCARE;2891712]

The thing I notice is some lco's who do have extensive knowledge in soils, and turf, chem apps are the ones who complain more about the "lowballer" than others. The so called lowballer usually is just a mow and go guy so he will present a smaller price which may get him the customer. Now I do agree that he should not be applying any chems without the proper lic. I don't do any chem apps, (only straight fert) I looked into the testing and such and right now having to have the extra ins I don't think it would be worth it.
QUOTE]

There is a mindset that takes place. Sure enough a degreed person will charge more and should. Why? The customers are paying them for thier knowledge and expertise. A degreed and well credentialed individual carries alot more with them than what a one-toothed wonder would.

Chems? I outsource my apps. I use a very reputable company in my area. I only add 20% more on top of his price, or 30.00, which ever is lower. I try to pass along business and I sometimes get business in return.

Same here I have refered and passed along work several times. As far as the degreed individual you are correct in paying them for their service, but if the customer only wants a mow and go and they choose a lco who is cheaper they shouldn't call them a lowballer. Just different markets.

Paradise Landscapes
03-29-2009, 09:56 PM
I am marketing my services for managing the whole landscape, not just a mow, blow and go. If the customer wants me just for that, it's automatic 15.00 more to cut, price of my gate-drop fee goes up too.

I would have a minimum of 30.00 to cut, gate drop fee told not to cut is 25.00. For the customer whole landscape maint.
For the mow, blow and go, 45.00min. Gated drop fee is 40.00

S.I.
04-11-2009, 01:47 AM
Going back to what I mentioned earlier; prequalifying a customer. Anyone have polite way or phrase(s) that you say or ask to get the point accross to the potential customer that if they are just looking for cheap work then to look onto the next company?

I tell them about myself and the company and our credentials but it falls on a deaf ear sometimes and as many of you we typically deal with "educated" professionals.

I was tossing around the following phrases: :laugh: Tell me what you think or add on to them.

When the customer whats the cheapest price and does not realize the difference in services/installations offered from one company to another.

Doctor: We Dr. Smith I realize you must be in a similar situation as I am, since a doctor with 20yrs experience is no different then a 3rd year Med student. You should be charging the same price. Also since having a medical percedure is no different here as it is in a third world country from what I can tell I am not willing to pay more for that open heart surgury then $750, but I was really thinking $500 in cash (wink, wink)

Lawyer: Yes Mr. Smith, I know that you must be in a similar situation in your profession. Since a 30yr attorney with court room experience is the same as an attorney that just past the bar. Right? Experience can't matter that much can it?

IT: Yes Mr. Smith I completely understand we are in the same situation. When I have IT problems I am only willing to pay the going rate in India. Since there is no difference. IMHO

I tell customers straight out that if they are looking for the lowest price they should call somewhere else. I don't play around with "the other guy will do it for $xx.xx" I don't care what they will do it for, this is my price and that is what it will cost for me to do the work.

There may be some disagreement, but I've used similar lines to yours when dealing with customers. I don't care if anyone disagrees with me here, but it puts things into perspective for the customer. If you are like me and work hard to educate yourself continuously then you will agree that there is more to taking care of a lawn then "just cutting the grass". Recognizing issues before they become problems, and being able to properly cure and prevent future issues is not something that "the kid down the street" can do. It takes education and experience.

I do the same with irrigation customers. If they say something about someone with a lower price, I ask them if they would hire the a plumber based on price. The answer is usually no, I then explain that the difference between the plumbing in the irrigation and the plumbing in the house is: 1.There are more moving parts 2.There is more pipe in the yard than in the home 3.There are electrical components in the irrigation. Then I ask if they know what a plumbers rates are. Most no longer have a problem with the price after that.

monpri
04-11-2009, 02:58 AM
Doctor: We Dr. Smith I realize you must be in a similar situation as I am, since a doctor with 20yrs experience is no different then a 3rd year Med student. You should be charging the same price. Also since having a medical percedure is no different here as it is in a third world country from what I can tell I am not willing to pay more for that open heart surgury then $750, but I was really thinking $500 in cash (wink, wink)

Lawyer: Yes Mr. Smith, I know that you must be in a similar situation in your profession. Since a 30yr attorney with court room experience is the same as an attorney that just past the bar. Right? Experience can't matter that much can it?

IT: Yes Mr. Smith I completely understand we are in the same situation. When I have IT problems I am only willing to pay the going rate in India. Since there is no difference. IMHO

Outside of chem apps. They can get a kid down the road to mow the yard. Just because you may have more yrs of exp don't mean someone is going to pay for it. That is crazy remember anyone can mow a lawn. Please don't compare this industry to doctors and lawyers.

My doctor and lawyer clients usually don't bat an eye at my prices. Maybe that means I'm charging too little... doubt it. Anyway, the clients that want to fuss about it are the skilled labor and blue collar workers. I have a client, great guy, who complained about my price for aeration over-seeding and fall fertilization. I simply asked him how much the phone company would charge me to have him come out and fix my phone service. He said "if I come inside its $25 per 1/4 hour, basically $100 per hour plus (+) any material I have to use." I sincerely replied, "that sounds reasonable, [the phone company] has the overhead of the truck you drive, the fuel, your training, their offices, and they have to pay you. I have similar expenses, do you think my work is worth the [$0.00] (much less than $100 per hour including material) that I charge?" He quickly said, "that price is fine, go ahead and do whatever it needs."

Bru75
04-12-2009, 01:51 AM
I have been hearing for months that it is a "buyers market" on the news and from people I know. My problem with that is the fact that my expenses haven't gotten lower, so why would my prices?
the "buyers market" people are only looking for cheap, so let them have it....from somebody else. We all have better things to do than doing the same or more work for less money.