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Baytownlawncare
01-29-2011, 05:39 PM
Well I just posted a thread about dressing up. One more question. I have been using different websites and programs to give me a heads up on estimating. I have looking at zillow.com and using google earth to determine the sq footage of a property. Then I will determine a rough estimate and give it to the customer (a minimum charge per say) If they don't disagree to the price then I drive out to give them a firm estimate. I am trying to eliminate the, "Well, I am just calling around and getting prices. I will call you back if I want service." I have been wasting my time and fuel last year jumping the gun and running to an estimate. Another thing is telling the potential customer that I have a minimum price no matter what. I am not going to let folks dictate pricing to me or wiggle me down on price this year. So do you guys give a "rough estimate" over the phone to weed out cheap folks or just go and do them physically all the time?

ALC-GregH
01-30-2011, 09:56 AM
I don't get phone calls from price shoppers. When I get a call, I usually get the job. Not because I'm cheap but because they were referred by another person that knows me. It's that simple. When they tell me who recommended me and find out what they want done, I drive over and meet with them and discuss what needs to be done.

ShooterK2
01-30-2011, 10:20 AM
I don't get phone calls from price shoppers. When I get a call, I usually get the job. Not because I'm cheap but because they were referred by another person that knows me. It's that simple. When they tell me who recommended me and find out what they want done, I drive over and meet with them and discuss what needs to be done.

Me too. I hear people on here saying that if you land more than such-and-such percent of your estimates, you are lowballing. Not true. Maybe that theory works in some parts of the country, but not here. I mean, how can a fella from Michigan tell me that I am under-charging here in the middle-of-nowhere Oklahoma?

I live in a small town of about 12,000 people. There are only two lawn companies that I know of that have employees here. And then there are a few solos. I was solo all last year, and plan to hire some help this year. But my point is this: I know what the other guys charge, and I charge the same. In fact, we ALL charge almost exactly the same. So, like Greg said, if they call me, it means they want me to do it. They've seen my work, or someone referred them. It's not because I am cheaper, because I am not. I ran an ad in the local paper for the first couple of months last year, then pulled it, and had to turn down business in the latter part of the season because I just couldn't get to it. The fact is, everyone that is in this business in my area is as busy as they want to be. This is an oilfield town, and most of the guys are off working on a rig somewhere, making plenty of coin, and don't want to mess with the yard on their precious little amount of time off. It's totally understandable, and it sure works out good for those of us in the lawn business.

I don't know what it's like for you, where you live. I can tell you this: I would not give an estimate without going out and looking at the property. You are right-on in telling them your minimum charge over the phone. I also will tell them what I charge for most yards in their neighborhood (provided I have yards in their neighborhood, of course). If they are still interested, I go look at it when I can. I've never used any online service to show me the property, because it is only a two dimensional image, and is incapable of showing the true lay of the land (hills, holes, etc.). It's your call on that one, but I would be careful if you choose to do it.

But, take it from me, just because you read on here (or anywhere else) that "if you land more than 5% (or whatever it is) of your estimates, you aren't bidding enough" doesn't mean it's true. Charge what you need to make money. Good money. And if you do good work, and land 80% of your jobs, then you will be in my shoes: needing to hire more help.