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View Full Version : Do you approach other LCO's customers?


HighGrass
09-26-2010, 11:03 AM
I'm not 100% sure, but I get the feeling that a certain LCO in my town has approached a few of my customers in hopes of taking some of my clients. At this point, I have lost one customer to him but if I'm being honest, he can have her. She was, by any definition a PITA.
My feeling is that it's not that big of a town, why piss off the competition. Sure, if their customer approached me, I would be more than happy to give them a quote. Otherwise, I just doing what I do and mind my own business.
Just wondering if I should change my business ethics based on one bad apple.:cool2:

ALC-GregH
09-26-2010, 11:17 AM
I follow all of them around. I'm up to 1261 new customers from doing it. :D

HighGrass
09-26-2010, 11:22 AM
I follow all of them around. I'm up to 1261 new customers from doing it. :D
So you're the guy!:drinkup:

QualityLawnCare4u
09-26-2010, 12:57 PM
I absolutely have never approached another LCO's client and tried to get them. However, if a client calls me and is not happy with their LCO I will give them a quote depending on who the other LCO is. We have some LCO's that I know personally that are honest and do great work and if one of their clients calls me it throws up a PITA warning sign and I will pass on them.

Now I have had it done to me a LOT by the local cutthroats but I refuse to get in a pizzing match lowballing match with them. I either keep the client or I lose them. I figured these kinds of clients are not what I wanted anyways.

ShooterK2
09-26-2010, 02:17 PM
I don't approach other people's customers, because there is enough work in my small town for everyone, and because I'm not the kind of person to do that.

With that being said, I could care less if they approach my customers. If they think they can do my accounts better/cheaper than I do, have at it. I make sure my yards look nice, and if my customers want to switch to another company, so be it. I'll replace them real quick anyway. I honestly don't believe anyone could make my yards look any better than I do. Now, they could throw in some "extras" and get them, maybe, but I won't do that without charging extra. It's just the way it is. I won't work for free. If somebody else wants to run their business that way, that's up to them.

I'm in this business to MAKE money.

soloscaperman
09-26-2010, 02:51 PM
I did that the first week I started my business. I started to realize fast that it made you look desperate and also I was pissing off some local LCO'S.

I just do an excellent job on my work, let me customers know that if they have someone that needs work done refer them my way. I always have a smile on my face when neighbors drive by and wave sometimes. I now have around 30 customers all from word of mouth within 3 years.

Az Gardener
09-26-2010, 02:53 PM
I don't specifically target another companies clients but I do drive the neighborhoods we are already in and note homes that are not in great condition and they will be part of a targeted marketing campaign. They are all someones clients usually I don't know who's. But if the house looks good from the street I wont bother I figure they are happy. There is one company I have picked up several homes from and I have been very tempted to follow his crew around but I can't bring myself to do it.

If I am bidding a home and it looks good/ great I tell the client just that and ask why they want too make the change. Usually it is because either they are paying a lot or they have communication issues with the crew and they are continuously trimming something the client wants to grow or shearing off the flowers when something is in bloom.

Florida Gardener
09-26-2010, 03:15 PM
I'm with Az.

If I see a home that I know is expensive with a lot invested in the landscape and there is a good amount of weeds, overpruned plant material, palms with nutrient deficiencies, I will target that home.

In these situations it boils down to 2 possibilities.

1)The homeowner is using a poor company that doesn't know what they are doing.
2)The homeowner is cheap and does not want to pay for a quality company.

If #1, I have no problem sellling my company because I know how to keep a property in tip-top shape.
If #2, I just move along.

Keith
09-26-2010, 04:52 PM
I absolutely have never approached another LCO's client and tried to get them. However, if a client calls me and is not happy with their LCO I will give them a quote depending on who the other LCO is. We have some LCO's that I know personally that are honest and do great work and if one of their clients calls me it throws up a PITA warning sign and I will pass on them.

Now I have had it done to me a LOT by the local cutthroats but I refuse to get in a pizzing match lowballing match with them. I either keep the client or I lose them. I figured these kinds of clients are not what I wanted anyways.

This pretty much sums up my stance on it as well. I had a young woman approach me yesterday about a price on a lawn across from one that I already do. I walked the property, and my first question was, who was doing it now. When that cleared the smell test, I looked at the problem areas but did not point them out to her. I then asked her what her concerns were with the way they were handling the job. Her complaints were the problems that stuck out to me as well. I gave her a price that was probably much higher than what they are paying now, and I will probably never hear from her again :laugh:

rain man
09-26-2010, 08:05 PM
We put out flyers once per year, then target new homes as they are built, then word of mouth for the duration. If a property has someone and we know it we will bypass the flyer. With one exception...if their provider tries to lowball us we consider their property fair game and will put out a flyer.

1993lx172
09-26-2010, 08:21 PM
I have my yards and they have theirs and it more or less stays that way. In the subdivision where I live and have my yards in, the people that hire out their yards pretty much stay with that same service year after year. There are a few new guys that came in when new people moved in but that's it.

MR-G
09-26-2010, 08:30 PM
If there one thing we really like to do ..its quality work..at an affordable price...however, i think a lot of guys on here are selling themselves short... in todays market I think it pays to be flexible...by only catering to quality minded customers you are losing out on a entire market...there is good money to be made with just a plain old lawn cutting....and yes you want to be known for higher end quality...but theres going to be a lot more people willing to spend less on perfection until things get much better....we have been in biz a long 20+ yrs....3 full time crews + WE DO ALL KINDS OF PROPERTIES....million dollar homes down to a shack...:usflag:

Florida Gardener
09-26-2010, 09:33 PM
^in my opinion, the real money is in the high-end homes. I am sure you are familiar with Jupiter Island, Palm Beach, etc. There are accounts that are upwards of 2k/month just on maintenance. Add in palm trimming at least 2x/year on expensive palms like Canaries, Medjools, Reclinatas,etc. mulch, seasonal color, new installs,etc. and you are looking at a huge cash flow. Why would you want to waste your time on dust bowls that you need to have a large volume of when you can exclusively do estates of this magnitude? You have been in business way longer than I have and that definitely speaks volumes, but I want to exclusively do high-end stuff. Forget commercial and the $100/month homes that drop you over $5.

betterlawnsandlandscaping
09-26-2010, 09:48 PM
If your doing a good job at a reasonable price, then its out of your hands. When they change over because someone gave them a low ball price, they are not a loyal customer anyway. Just remember, all business ain't good business!!!Good luck

Southern Pride
09-27-2010, 01:14 AM
The companys taking my lawns are the little Timmy's that live down the street and I have NO problem with ambitious kids that want to work over playing video games and yelling at their parents. In this case, the customer is obviously just a cheap-o who wants it "knocked down". I have never and will never lose a job because another LCO does better quality. It would be impossible.

However, I never approach another company's client. It's tacky and sends up a red flag to the client immediately on what type of person you are. This is my first year and after going from 3-25 accounts I'm no longer that desperate lowball guy everyone (LCO's) hate. Being solo I am eary of taking on new accounts unless I sense they are good customers. I put out alot of flyers every spring and if someone contacts me or approaches me, I take it from there. Don't be a desperate weasel though.

mowerdude777
09-27-2010, 05:41 PM
I would never approach another Lcos clients, and I hope that they feel the same way towards me, if a client of another Lco calls me sure I will do a quote and try to get the job.

JimLewis
09-29-2010, 12:42 AM
If your marketing campaign includes following around other LCOs and trying to go after their clients, you're pretty pathetic. That's probably the single most unethical and tacky way of getting clients ever used.

First of all, if you're doing good work for a fair price, then your customer would never have any reason to switch. Any customer that would leave a company where they were getting good, reliable, quality service for a fair price gets what they deserve. Let'em go! I want the ones who are loyal and appreciate our service.

Don't worry about what the gutter rats are doing. Let them pick the bones. Just focus on building your business and attracting people to your company legitimately. Don't get distracted by the small stuff.

Southern Pride
09-30-2010, 12:28 AM
A couple weeks back I was picking up a check from a client. As I'm pulling off I see this other LCO across the street walk over to Terry (my client) and start talking to him. I get pissed. I decided to call Terry to ask him ab something and brought up the situation. Terry informed me that's the guy that used to do it and there are no worrys he's sticking with me. I've seen this LCO around before he waves but I'ma run him over next time I see him. I feel as though that LCO was trying to feel Terry out and try to get him back with no regard to me. I feel as though Terry realized the situation and called me down but let me know he is more than happy with my work. I do feel that guy was trying to take Terry. Stuff like that gets under my skin more than actually losing an account because they got a kid doing it or want to do it themselves.

h2oskier
09-30-2010, 01:07 AM
A couple weeks back I was picking up a check from a client. As I'm pulling off I see this other LCO across the street walk over to Terry (my client) and start talking to him. I get pissed. I decided to call Terry to ask him ab something and brought up the situation. Terry informed me that's the guy that used to do it and there are no worrys he's sticking with me. I've seen this LCO around before he waves but I'ma run him over next time I see him. I feel as though that LCO was trying to feel Terry out and try to get him back with no regard to me. I feel as though Terry realized the situation and called me down but let me know he is more than happy with my work. I do feel that guy was trying to take Terry. Stuff like that gets under my skin more than actually losing an account because they got a kid doing it or want to do it themselves.

Don't run him over that will only get you in trouble, just laugh at him the next time you see him because you still have the account and he doesn't.:laugh:

JimLewis
09-30-2010, 02:32 AM
You need to learn how to relax. Like I said before, if you do good quality work for a fair price, your customers aren't going to have any reason to leave. Let the scum bag LCOs try! Just laugh at them. You need to be confident enough in your work and your customers loyalty that you aren't worried about stuff like this. If this is what they have to stoop to in order to get business, they're missing the boat anyway. You shouldn't worry about what Stupid is doing. Don't concern yourself with him. Just pity him. Laugh to yourself when you see him. And forget him.

Buck_wheat
09-30-2010, 07:08 AM
I don't have a problem chit-chatting with my competitors customers and asking them if they are happy with their sevice as I casually look at, say hmmmm and point out the weeds in the planting beds and the overgrown hedges. "How long have you used him? Gee, looks like he may have mised a couple of weeds, huh? How often does he trim? If you you are happy with what you got, no need to change, but if you change your mind... here's my card." Do I knock on the door? Depends on my competition but usually NO.

I prefer to go to Management Company or HOA meetings with doughnuts and a presentation. Homeowners are a PIA but they do put gravy on the potatoes.

BTW, use a magnetic business card, paper cards & flyers go into the garbage, magnets go on the fridge. I get calls from magnetic cards I handed out years ago. Also make sure you have BIG signs on your truck or trailer in color, Those two marketing investments have produced the greatest returns.

mark123
09-30-2010, 07:27 AM
I don't approach anyone's customer but I will be friendly and talk to them and, if they ask, I'll give them an estimate.

I'm friends with just about all the other guys in town, at least the ones that are legit.

MR-G
09-30-2010, 07:53 AM
We would never directly go to one of our competitors clients and bad mouth them...when we get a call the first thing we ask is who is doing it now?....then depending on whether or not we know/like the co. they say is doing it we will proceed from there....on many occasions I have called the comp. and let them know their customer is shopping....gives them a chance to try and save it.....on the flip side of things, we had a guy follow us around and hit up a lot of our clients....I made it my mission to seek out his accts. and offered free service for 2 months to them to switch....in less than a month we took over 4k from him....he went under soon after....this is a fairly small town and word got around what happened....we have never had that problem again...lol.....true story.:usflag:funny thing was even after the free 2 month s of service all of his clients stayed with us.....

ShooterK2
09-30-2010, 08:18 AM
We would never directly go to one of our competitors clients and bad mouth them...when we get a call the first thing we ask is who is doing it now?....then depending on whether or not we know/like the co. they say is doing it we will proceed from there....on many occasions I have called the comp. and let them know their customer is shopping....gives them a chance to try and save it.....on the flip side of things, we had a guy follow us around and hit up a lot of our clients....I made it my mission to seek out his accts. and offered free service for 2 months to them to switch....in less than a month we took over 4k from him....he went under soon after....this is a fairly small town and word got around what happened....we have never had that problem again...lol.....true story.:usflag:funny thing was even after the free 2 month s of service all of his clients stayed with us.....

Of course they stayed with you.......you put the other guy out of business and they had no choice! Just kiddin'.

I see what you're saying, and there is some logic behind it, but I NEVER ask a customer or potential customer who is doing the work for them now/previously. If they offer that info, fine. But, as far as I'm concerned, it's between them and the LCO, and has nothing to do with me whatsoever. I try to keep my nose out of places it doesn't belong. If someone ever got mad at me for stealing an account, I'd tell him the story: "They called me and asked for a bid. I gave them a bid, and they accepted." You didn't STEAL anything as long as you didn't follow them around and knock on doors after they left, nitpicking their work to the customer. The customer called you out of the blue, so obviously they were not happy with SOMETHING about the previous LCO.

With all that being said, if someone calls me for a bid, and it's a KNOWN customer of a friend in the business, I'd give a bid, but then call my friend and let him know that his customer is price shopping. But I'd never ask a potential customer who is currently doing their lawn work.

Just my 2 pennies.

Sammy
09-30-2010, 08:21 AM
A couple weeks back I was picking up a check from a client. As I'm pulling off I see this other LCO across the street walk over to Terry (my client) and start talking to him. I get pissed. I decided to call Terry to ask him ab something and brought up the situation. Terry informed me that's the guy that used to do it and there are no worrys he's sticking with me. I've seen this LCO around before he waves but I'ma run him over next time I see him. I feel as though that LCO was trying to feel Terry out and try to get him back with no regard to me. I feel as though Terry realized the situation and called me down but let me know he is more than happy with my work. I do feel that guy was trying to take Terry. Stuff like that gets under my skin more than actually losing an account because they got a kid doing it or want to do it themselves.

He could have been telling Terry about a bass boat that he knew was for sale and from his dealings with him in the past, knew that Terry bought and sold bass boats. Chill Out !

h2oskier
09-30-2010, 09:51 AM
He could have been telling Terry about a bass boat that he knew was for sale and from his dealings with him in the past, knew that Terry bought and sold bass boats. Chill Out !

Or he could of been telling terry about what a nice wife he had, i highly doubt it, but like you i believe if i still had the account no harm no foul.:laugh:

gdguth
09-30-2010, 12:48 PM
I have never tried to steal customers neighbors lawns, but I did talk with a lot of neighbors in neigborhoods that I mow and I have had about 4 or 5 switch to me after talking with them. All i did was telll them about my servcies and actually a current customer I beleive did most of the work as they said he really talked highly about me. I also think it helps that I am a real people person. I think they most switch because is was due to me doing more quality work. For example, there former lawn guy wouldn't do other work such as trim bushes, or they won't trim around the side walks, where I will edge it. Also, some just plain scapled the yard, or left clipping in the street.
So, I do kinda feel sometimes as if I stole yards, but all I was trying to do was target yards in neighborhoods that I already mowed and give the new customer a quality job. Do you think I was in the wrong?

MR-G
09-30-2010, 07:53 PM
Of course they stayed with you.......you put the other guy out of business and they had no choice! Just kiddin'.

I see what you're saying, and there is some logic behind it, but I NEVER ask a customer or potential customer who is doing the work for them now/previously. If they offer that info, fine. But, as far as I'm concerned, it's between them and the LCO, and has nothing to do with me whatsoever. I try to keep my nose out of places it doesn't belong. If someone ever got mad at me for stealing an account, I'd tell him the story: "They called me and asked for a bid. I gave them a bid, and they accepted." You didn't STEAL anything as long as you didn't follow them around and knock on doors after they left, nitpicking their work to the customer. The customer called you out of the blue, so obviously they were not happy with SOMETHING about the previous LCO.

With all that being said, if someone calls me for a bid, and it's a KNOWN customer of a friend in the business, I'd give a bid, but then call my friend and let him know that his customer is price shopping. But I'd never ask a potential customer who is currently doing their lawn work.

Just my 2 pennies.I see your point..and from a biz sense it may seem a little unprf/ intrusive but it helps with pricing as well....we pretty much know who the lowballers are as well as what they charge....work we dont want anyway...but the good lco out there are our real competition and knowing helps because they all have their own set of rates...we have our minimum...but I like to charge the highest possible over my minimum...

MR-G
09-30-2010, 08:05 PM
^in my opinion, the real money is in the high-end homes. I am sure you are familiar with Jupiter Island, Palm Beach, etc. There are accounts that are upwards of 2k/month just on maintenance. Add in palm trimming at least 2x/year on expensive palms like Canaries, Medjools, Reclinatas,etc. mulch, seasonal color, new installs,etc. and you are looking at a huge cash flow. Why would you want to waste your time on dust bowls that you need to have a large volume of when you can exclusively do estates of this magnitude? You have been in business way longer than I have and that definitely speaks volumes, but I want to exclusively do high-end stuff. Forget commercial and the $100/month homes that drop you over $5.you are absolutly right about the area and the high dollar accts...and we have plenty of it..even on jup isle...im saying there is a market as well that is less apt to slow during this economy....believe me...we would never get rid of the higher end clients...and our basic mow and blow service is under a completly separate co. kinda the best of both worlds i would say...:usflag:

Southern Pride
09-30-2010, 11:07 PM
Okay guys I'm not going to run the guy over, duh but bet I won't be waving OR maybe I should be the first one to wave and mess with his head. He has to know I saw him approach Terry. Either way, I keep the lawn so I'm happy. It really caught me off guard. In my 11 years I have never had someone approach my customer. It's so ridiculous to me that I never even though about it being a possibility, but I guess so!

hackitdown
10-01-2010, 06:29 AM
I don't knock on doors to steal business. But I do give a friendly wave to neighbors when I am out working, and they do sometimes respond.

However, if a potential customer calls me because they saw an ad, or asked a friend, I give them my price every time. I don't care which LCO had them before. Bottom line, they are shopping around for a reason, and they are going to switch. It is business.

ShooterK2
10-01-2010, 08:49 AM
Okay guys I'm not going to run the guy over, duh but bet I won't be waving OR maybe I should be the first one to wave and mess with his head. He has to know I saw him approach Terry. Either way, I keep the lawn so I'm happy. It really caught me off guard. In my 11 years I have never had someone approach my customer. It's so ridiculous to me that I never even though about it being a possibility, but I guess so!

NOW you're thinking correctly!! I love messing with people's mind when I know they have done something they are already ashamed of. Give them the biggest smile ever, and do it EVERY TIME you see them! What do you think he'll be thinking about as he's trying to go to sleep at night.......??

As far as calling the customer, I would never have done that. It shows weakness, as if you're not confident enough in your work to believe that your customers will stick with you.

Just smile and wave real big when you see this guy. It'll make you feel good.

Kennedy Landscaping
10-01-2010, 10:22 AM
I have never done it, I've got plenty of lawns from people that weren't happy with the last guy. There is a guy that does two lawns up the road from me. Scalps both of them, leaves grass all over, mows the same direction for the last three years. I don't know why they've kept him but they have. I've thought about bidding them but I haven't done it.

Kennedy Landscaping
10-01-2010, 10:24 AM
One thing that was new to me, I had an LCO come up to a customer while I was on the property working! I was right out in the front yard and this guy came up and tried to get his business and gave him a card. My customer stayed loyal though. It really ticked me off that he would have the nerve to do that while I was right there.

BestImpressions99
10-01-2010, 11:47 AM
Well, I'll throw in my 1/2 a cents worth too. I would never KNOWINGLY approach another LCO's client. I only know of one LCO in the three areas we cover.

If I get a client kind of out of the way from my others, I'll even approach a neighbor or two even if the lawn looks decently taken care of (make it worth my while)

A couple of other posts have said it correctly too (and DON'T take this the wrong way). The way you work will keep your clients happy and staying with you. I've had a certain client that we've had for 10 years or more (she was with the company previously before I bought it) and for the past two years she's had LCO's approach her (not with us there at least) and offer her services at HALF the price we charge her. She told us about it at the beginning of this last season and said she wouldn't get rid of us even for that much of a cut.

Also on the flip side of that. If you do a good job with your client (which I will assume you are doing) and they leave you for another LCO, they are just looking for the cheapest service, not necessarily the best quality.

Texas Lawn
10-01-2010, 12:20 PM
Residential I would just let them come to me. Commercial is fair game in my book

Glenn Lawn Care
10-01-2010, 02:19 PM
You will get shot around here for doing that!

HighGrass
10-01-2010, 04:23 PM
Thanks for all of the feedback. It's been a big help and has pretty much reinforced what I've already been doing and thinking. I do have a very loyal following it's just sometimes it really pisses me off when I see this guy. Like I said, I know he's taken one of my customers, which was fine because she was PITA.
Someone gave me some great advice once, "Don't sweat the small S&%$."