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View Full Version : Saying your professional and being professional.


DeereHauler
04-03-2011, 12:52 AM
So i have been on this site for some time now, and reading posts just gives me chills sometimes. Maybe its how some people are raised, taught, learn, or just their experience that makes them not want to sound even slightly professional. I wanted to start a discussion on being professional, and get some insight from other members and see where this goes.

I was raised with both parents being self employed, and i feel i owe that to some of my views on the term professional. Don't get me wrong, i do curse, i do have a slight temper, and i wear greasy cruddy clothes whenever i can. But you will never find me cursing, throwing a temper tantrum, or dressed like a homeless person when dealing with a customer. I also decided from the start that i wanted to work for a certain type of customer. When your business, personality, and work come across professional to a client, often the future work that comes your way will become better with larger profits.

I think a person could be in this business for 1-100 years, do some of the finest work ever seen, and still not be the slightest bit professional. On the flip side, you could act so professional, and have no clue what you're doing.

Here are some points that drive me crazy:

Bad spelling AND grammar. I KNOW this site tells you if a word is spelled wrong, so fix it. Grammar = is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of sentences, phrases, and words in any given natural language. That means just because you may spell right doesn't mean you sound smart.

Text Talk. Ur not txtn UR buddies U know........it takes .0000004 seconds to type the word in full, is it that hard?

Talking about customers on this site. I read a post tonight, a guy said " i hammered her with the price because...." Does it matter why? Did you have to word it that way? So if your next possible client just happens to frequent this site, and saw you typed that do you think they will hire you? Ok, thats a one in a million chance, but still theres no reason to refer to customers like that, they pay your wages show them respect.

On the job etiquette. I don't allow torn clothes, company shirts only, no smoking, etc. Yeah, i know it sounds all too familiar but thats how i run things around here. My customer doesn't want to see some hobo looking guy chain smoking on his million dollar property, and neither do i.

Company hours. This is a strange one, but a friend called me the other night at 9pm, hes a painter and was still working on a customers bathroom! I know we all get busy, but would you want someone on your property late at night, or way too early in the morning? I have a family, as do most of my customers, we never work before 7am (unless traveling), after dark, or on sundays unless there is an extreme circumstance.

Knowledge of the work. If your going to make it sound good, make it look good. Don't promise someone the taj mahal with your fancy terms and big words, and then deliver a mediocre product. I have to learn just like everyone else, but my first patio was not 2000 sq.ft. with walls, and steps. I often push my comfort zone to the max, but i have never jumped in so deep on a job that i couldn't get out. When you promise a job that you can't deliver that will haunt your reputation, and often makes customers weary about hiring you.

Company image. I try to go as far as my budget allows me to. I have all my trailers and trucks covered in vinyl lettering, and logos. I have one look for my business, so all my shirts, website, vehicles, and stationary match. It may not be something a person wants to do, or has the means to do right now, but whatever you can afford make it look good.

I'm not preaching, and to each his own. Maybe someone will learn something, and maybe someone will think i'm just wrong. This is how i do things, and yes it works for me. I would like some others to fill in their own feeling on their professional standpoint.

lukemelo216
04-03-2011, 12:25 PM
I agree with you 110% on everything. When Im out in the field working, I am in a company uniform just like the rest of the employees. Each day its a clean uniform (we use cintas, so we get company shirts and then i dont care if they were the pants or the shorts, but everyone matches. when working out of the office its a nice pair of casual pants (no jeans) and a company polo.

I dont allow smoking or anything like that, smoke in the truck thats fine, but not on the job site. On their lunch break if they want a smoke, they have to smoke in the street, off the property. We sweep up and cleanup everynight (if on a landscape project).

We leave shop at 7am everyday and we are usually back into the shop by 6pm or so.

Everything is lettered and always kept clean. trash removed from them on a nightly basis, and then on saturdays after working everything is always washed dowm. I dont have all new fancy equipment or anything like that, but we make sure it looks nice. We just toched up all the paint on all the mowers, we degrease the engines and wash them down. Touch up the paint on the trucks and everything. The idea that you need 2011 this and 2009 that, is just crazy. My truck is a 2005 and my dump is a 97, my walk behinds are mid 2000 and i have a 2009 lazer hp and a 2005 lazer hp all still running great, but they look like 2011 each time they go out.

My spellng and grammer isnt perfect on this site, but I do my best to insure that im not looking like a fool when im typing, and make sure that what im typing is readable. I probably spend an hour proof reading each document that leaves my desk (at least the original). I will type it, proof read it, and come back to it later that day or the next day and review it all to make sure that its professional and there arent any mistakes.

I always laugh on here when I see, I tell the customer how it is, or we dont do it. Or the, i wear the gym shorts and the cutoff shirt. we smoke on the site, it doesn matter. thats just completely unprofessional in my mind. 90% of the companies out there can maintain a landscape and do a good job, but dont do it in a professional manner. I make my company in that 10% that can do a great job and is professional. I dont know how many times ive submitted bids and met with clients that are like, wow no other company does what you do. When we bid, we submit them a 10 page packet.

DeereHauler
04-03-2011, 12:49 PM
great to hear. i figured i'm not the only one who feels this way, and to be honest...the guys who aren't professional in the slightest bit have probably never even seen this section of lawnsite anyway.

Yeah, newest and most expensive doesn't always win the race. My trucks are 2004, 2006, and a 1982 international big dump truck. I always see guys showing off their $55,000 2011 diesel truck, but yet their equipment is lowes grade, and because they spent so much on that "work truck" they won't have decals put on it because they don't want to ruin the paint. Sure the customer won't care how the work got done, but i always think long term, and buying from lowes is not long term. :hammerhead:

Heres my decal philosophy: If you put decals on a truck to advertise, and it brings you work, you will MAKE money, and before you know it your business is successful and you can buy a personal truck and not have to put decals on it! I'm going to guess that my 4 door long bed with decals on both sides and the back pulling a 24 foot enclosed with 22 foot long 5 foot high decals will get seen long before the little decals in someones extended cab windows. Besides word of mouth, its out best advertising tool!

93Chevy
04-03-2011, 12:57 PM
I agree with everything so far. I always tried to be professional with my business, and now I take that attitude with me to my job every morning.

I'm not perfect and I've made a lot of mistakes (part of the reason I'm working on selling my business) but I tried the best I could.

buckhigh
04-03-2011, 02:29 PM
I agree with just about everything you're preaching regarding professionalism except for two things. When typing, "I" is always capitalized. And secondly, I am a solo owner operator. Spring and Fall are my busiest times of the year. If it will put food on the table, I will work until I can't see and that applies to working on the weekends as well. I have established a personal relationship with all my customers, and have always asked prior if working late or on the weekends is OK. NEVER once have they said no. I prefer it actually. That gives me time to not only talk to my customers upon completion, but to advertise my services to surrounding neighbors. Weekends and after 5pm are the best times to not only introduce yourself to surrounding neighbors, but to also sell yourself. I find word of mouth and in-person advertising work the best!

GunnPropertyServices
04-03-2011, 02:46 PM
You have a few good points common sense stuff but if i was gonna write out a whole page telling everyone how professional i am and telling them to check there spelling and grammar maybe i should check my own spelling and grammar?

DeereHauler
04-03-2011, 03:35 PM
I agree with just about everything you're preaching regarding professionalism except for two things. When typing, "I" is always capitalized. And secondly, I am a solo owner operator. Spring and Fall are my busiest times of the year. If it will put food on the table, I will work until I can't see and that applies to working on the weekends as well. I have established a personal relationship with all my customers, and have always asked prior if working late or on the weekends is OK. NEVER once have they said no. I prefer it actually. That gives me time to not only talk to my customers upon completion, but to advertise my services to surrounding neighbors. Weekends and after 5pm are the best times to not only introduce yourself to surrounding neighbors, but to also sell yourself. I find word of mouth and in-person advertising work the best!

my apologies, i will fix my I's from here on out. That is minor compared to some of the elementary school mistakes usually on here.

I never said working after hours was forbidden, we've all been there. My jobs involve a lot of saws and running machinery, so although my customer may not mind, his neighbors might. I just don't work after hours for my own personal reasons, and for consideration of others. No problem.

DeereHauler
04-03-2011, 03:41 PM
You have a few good points common sense stuff but if i was gonna write out a whole page telling everyone how professional i am and telling them to check there spelling and grammar maybe i should check my own spelling and grammar?

I didn't capitalize my I's, and i forgot a few apostrophes, my deepest apologies. Let me assure YOU that my customer's don't receive such misspelled filth when i submit a bid.

buckhigh
04-03-2011, 03:50 PM
my apologies, i will fix my I's from here on out. That is minor compared to some of the elementary school mistakes usually on here.

I never said working after hours was forbidden, we've all been there. My jobs involve a lot of saws and running machinery, so although my customer may not mind, his neighbors might. I just don't work after hours for my own personal reasons, and for consideration of others. No problem.

All good. No apology necessary. Was just pulling your chain.

Will P.C.
04-03-2011, 05:08 PM
Being professional and having a professional attitude rubs off on your employees and sets boundaries on your expectations. You can't be there to babysit your crew all of the time.

One of the things that I find many big money making companies and mid level golf courses doing is using beat up and unsafe equipment. This includes everything from the truck to the shovel.

I worked at a mid level golf course where 3 of the Toro Utility Vehicles did not even have brakes. Trimmers with no guards on them so every rock you hit gets thrown back in your face. Mowers that are ni***er rigged to start.
The Supers truck had both side mirrors knocked off, back bumper was missing, and constant break downs.

Another very large landscaping company that had divisions all over Metro Atlanta was even worse. Every truck looked like it had been used for bumper cars. Decals were peeling and barely showed. Our division had 6 trucks and it was embarrassing even driving them. Spraypainted logos on trucks. Just pure craziness.

lukemelo216
04-03-2011, 06:30 PM
and that isnt professional. The past few weeks I have been having my foreman working in the shop, going over the equipment top to bottom. Well he was sharpening the hedge trimmer blades and wasnt wearing any saftey glasses. Well right at that time, I was meeting with a perspective client and we were walking to my meeting room. You have to walk through the shop to get to it. And i stopped and came down on my foreman for not wearing saftey glasses. The client was so impressed. She said, I commend you so much for that, I see people doing stupid stuff all the time like that, but you actually make it a point to not let it happen. I did end up with the job.

Like I said before, my equipment gets washed down at the end of every week (mainly just spraying it down to get the dust and mud off on the mowers), but the truck actually gets washed. Every night when we pull back into the shop, the equipment is unloaded by the air hose, and blown off (works better than the blowers). Trailers get cleaned out, and all the trucks cleaned out and wiped out too.

All of our guards are on, breaks working properly. You have to remember too, that warranty work, and insurance claims can become voided if you modify equipment like that.

PerfectEarth
04-03-2011, 06:49 PM
I'm on board with all of this.

Let's call a spade a spade- there are 20 complete hacks in this industry for every professionally run outfit. The thing that makes my head spin is that most guys don't seem to get the simple fact that language, appearance, safety, and professionalism SELLS jobs.

Uniforms, clean job sites, efficient equipment/material use, nice clean invoices and estimates, decent trucks and presentable employees- these are just a few examples of things that people want!! They are just as important on the job as the trees, shrubs and grass you are working on.... it's a package deal. You will get more high-end clients and people who are willing to pay your price if you have a handle on running a smooth operation.

JFGauvreau
04-03-2011, 07:27 PM
I also agree with everything you said.

As for working late, I always work late, till the sun goes down, weekends also, even Sundays. I don't work in the rain. I work the most I can during the summer, because I have no business in the winter. Some of my customers ask me: "You didn't had to come on a Sunday to do X service" But they always understand that I'm running my business 6/12 months.

As for the company image, you are absolutely right, but it takes a lot of money for company logos on trucks/trailers, t-shirts, hats etc.

DeereHauler
04-03-2011, 09:30 PM
The last 4 posts are all excellent, and they really go with what i'm trying to say here.

The comment by perfect earth, yes it does sell jobs.

Will, I'm glad you mentioned how a good attitude rubs off, i had some issues last year with a foreman who was miserable. His bad attitude ruined it for himself and another employee, its a bad domino effect.

And i can really see the working extra hours, my phrase usually is "if the sun is shining, we're working". But my wife and i had a daughter last year, and my business is really well established, so i had a big change in the way i look at working late nights and Sundays. I also have work in the winter time, so i don't feel the crunch during our growing season. If i was new, and trying to really get my foot in the door, i think i would work all those extra hours. And i have also been asked not to work on a property past a certain time, some customers enjoy the privacy.

snomaha
04-03-2011, 09:57 PM
I'm on board with all of this.

Let's call a spade a spade- there are 20 complete hacks in this industry for every professionally run outfit. The thing that makes my head spin is that most guys don't seem to get the simple fact that language, appearance, safety, and professionalism SELLS jobs.

Uniforms, clean job sites, efficient equipment/material use, nice clean invoices and estimates, decent trucks and presentable employees- these are just a few examples of things that people want!! They are just as important on the job as the trees, shrubs and grass you are working on.... it's a package deal. You will get more high-end clients and people who are willing to pay your price if you have a handle on running a smooth operation.

Agree 100% - Differentiators are what make any business kinda of successful vs. - killing it. At some point uniforms , clean trucks etc.. become the norm and you need to find your next differentiator.
Someone much smarter than me introduced the what, how and why concept. We all know what we do - most of us know how we do it - but how many of us can say why we do it? Hint - it cant be because of profit. Why we do things is why customers buy from us - not because we mow, landscape, irrigate better then the next guy but rather that we get the customers pain and can present a solution to make the pain go away. Its up to all of us to recognize customers pain and to solve that problem.

Just my two cents!

DeereHauler
04-03-2011, 10:45 PM
Agree 100% - Differentiators are what make any business kinda of successful vs. - killing it. At some point uniforms , clean trucks etc.. become the norm and you need to find your next differentiator.
Someone much smarter than me introduced the what, how and why concept. We all know what we do - most of us know how we do it - but how many of us can say why we do it? Hint - it cant be because of profit. Why we do things is why customers buy from us - not because we mow, landscape, irrigate better then the next guy but rather that we get the customers pain and can present a solution to make the pain go away. Its up to all of us to recognize customers pain and to solve that problem.

Just my two cents!

Great point.

shade tree landscaping
04-04-2011, 03:03 PM
half of selling a job, if not more, is image in my opinion. Look sloppy and people assume that you do sloppy low cost work. Look sharp and professioonal (logo polo, clean pants etc) when doing estimates and people will remember.

DeereHauler
04-04-2011, 08:19 PM
half of selling a job, if not more, is image in my opinion. Look sloppy and people assume that you do sloppy low cost work. Look sharp and professioonal (logo polo, clean pants etc) when doing estimates and people will remember.

A very good friend of mine has been in the remodeling business for 30 years now. He is extremely professional, and has led me to a few of my best customers, since he has such an incredible client base. He knows when to joke, and curse, and when to flip that switch and talk like a pro, and impress customers. He told me a story the other day about a friend who wanted a new roof, so he called a roofer. This "roofer" showed up to give an estimate with a shirt that read 'I may not be Mr. Right, but I'll F@#$ you until he gets here.' (less the symbols of course)

I about died when he told me that! The person getting the roof estimate said they couldn't wait for this guy to leave!