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View Full Version : How are you catering to high end residential?


johnnybravo8802
01-04-2013, 12:18 AM
I've always steered in the direction of large commercial/industrial properties but am thinking about veering towards the high end residential. The big commercial properties take big machines which takes big trucks to haul them, lots of fuel, lots of blades, lots of wear and tear on equipment, lots of labor, etc, etc.

I've always heard that high end residential is the way to go. However, my question is, "Can you necessarily make more money with that type of clientel?" In my experience, a lot of those people are the tightest people around. I've had some customers in the past that have demanded premium quality service but only wanted to pay slave wages-It doesn't work that way. I would like to offer a premium quality service but I expect premium pay. My other question is, what will set you apart from any other lawn service? I know the competition is fierce with these types of customers-most of these kinds of neighborhoods around here have about a million lawn services coming in and out each day. What is going to separate you from everyone else? What kinds of services do these people expect?

knox gsl
01-04-2013, 12:43 AM
I do well in this area. I charge for them like anyone else, my hourly rate and cost plus on materials. They can be a little harder to sell at first but I find it easy to build a good base as they are good for referrals. Most of mine get lots of extras and are willing to pay the price.

johnnybravo8802
01-04-2013, 06:50 AM
I do well in this area. I charge for them like anyone else, my hourly rate and cost plus on materials. They can be a little harder to sell at first but I find it easy to build a good base as they are good for referrals. Most of mine get lots of extras and are willing to pay the price.
Thanks for the reply. I know there are some people on here who have clients they roll out the red carpet for but these people are willing to pay for it. There's one guy in Connecticut that charges $750/month for a residential customer and they gladly pay it but he's doing everything and their brother for them. I don't mind doing that if they're willing to pay. He also claims they're loyal as Lassie, as long as you feed them.:)I get tired of the commercial property that will rebid the property whether you're doing a great job or not and the residential customer who's only price driver. I also get tired of the customer who will give you a contract but doesn't want to spend an extra $.50 on pinestraw to keep his yard looking good. You have his yard manicured perfectly but the beds are showing dirt because he's pinching pennies-that reflects on you.

ELS Landscape
01-04-2013, 06:58 AM
Welcome to the world.

LandFakers
01-04-2013, 07:51 AM
I found these customers are harder to obtain, and harder to get them to bite the hook on services so to say... But once they find your reliable I find that they will pretty much rely on your expertise and allow you to do most if not all your services. I spend half a day at one large house and it sure is good on the bottom line not having to drive around all day and just stay put and work, that's what good about em in my opinion
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buttaluv
01-04-2013, 01:07 PM
I'm not a fan of that type of customer, most of the time they are hard to get paid from, they are generally picky, as in they complain about something different every week, while being behind 2 months on paying me...now with that being said, I have also have some real good ones! You really don't know until you work for them a bit...if it turns out to be a pain, drop them!

lawnkingforever
01-04-2013, 01:57 PM
I'm not a fan of that type of customer, most of the time they are hard to get paid from, they are generally picky, as in they complain about something different every week, while being behind 2 months on paying me...now with that being said, I have also have some real good ones! You really don't know until you work for them a bit...if it turns out to be a pain, drop them!

Yep. All areas of the country differ in what price you can expect from the ultra high end residentials. I have found the sweet spot in the developments that contain 300k-400k homes. I have done a couple bids in the 1 mil. neighborhoods and was too high on my bid to get the job. These are huge houses on 1+ acre lots with fences, big playsets, pools, ect....These people want there yards serviced for $50 including bagging. No thanks. I will let my competition have all of them. Around here these are the least profitable accounts to have along with the low-end scrub yards.

The folks in the 300k homes are willing to pay for a decent looking yard without bankrupting your time to provide said results. I can line up 5 or 6 on one street and bang them out quickly. Even with a helper I would have a hard time lining up that many 1 million homes in a row. The time spent would simply not be worth it for what they were willing to pay.
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johnnybravo8802
01-04-2013, 07:46 PM
Welcome to the world.
:confused::confused::confused:

larryinalabama
01-04-2013, 08:13 PM
80% of the homes I service are 1mil plus homes. Its a real tough market to get into, and honestly it doesnt pay as good simple homes. I enjoy the work but if I was int for the max. amount of money Id just do elderly ladies that live in decient homes.

The big plus is high end homes all have irragation and you never miss a week due to drout, and generally theres alot to due in the winter months.

Being solo seperates you from many of the others, the customers expect a real nice yard. I generally put out pine straw or bark after the leaves are all gone and that keep me busy during the winter.

orangemower
01-04-2013, 10:24 PM
Thanks for the reply. I know there are some people on here who have clients they roll out the red carpet for but these people are willing to pay for it. There's one guy in Connecticut that charges $750/month for a residential customer and they gladly pay it but he's doing everything and their brother for them. I don't mind doing that if they're willing to pay. He also claims they're loyal as Lassie, as long as you feed them.:)I get tired of the commercial property that will rebid the property whether you're doing a great job or not and the residential customer who's only price driver. I also get tired of the customer who will give you a contract but doesn't want to spend an extra $.50 on pinestraw to keep his yard looking good. You have his yard manicured perfectly but the beds are showing dirt because he's pinching pennies-that reflects on you.

Sounds like it's time for a new profession? Or a long vacation.....

FastMan
01-04-2013, 11:09 PM
:confused::confused::confused:

That was my initial reaction too.

johnnybravo8802
01-04-2013, 11:27 PM
Sounds like it's time for a new profession? Or a long vacation.....
Name me one person who doesn't have a problem with the pitfalls of this profession. Nobody wants to work their tail off for 2 yrs only to lose a big money contract to someone who's a little cheaper-that's the way a lot of commercial goes. It's based on crunching numbers and saving a dollar. However, when you lose that money, it's tough to replace it sometimes. I've listened to some on here who have a customer base who's very loyal as long as you're doing what they want. They also don't expect you to work for free. That's the direction I'm going towards.

orangemower
01-05-2013, 08:06 AM
Name me one person who doesn't have a problem with the pitfalls of this profession. Nobody wants to work their tail off for 2 yrs only to lose a big money contract to someone who's a little cheaper-that's the way a lot of commercial goes. It's based on crunching numbers and saving a dollar. However, when you lose that money, it's tough to replace it sometimes. I've listened to some on here who have a customer base who's very loyal as long as you're doing what they want. They also don't expect you to work for free. That's the direction I'm going towards.

I have been pushing for what you want since I opened 5 years ago. I'm up to 18 total customers BUT, all but 3 or so are full service. I do EVERYthing on their property. I even will stop by to change a light bulb!
Right now I'm getting ready to head over to a customers home to start plumbing in utilities for a half bath we're building in the basement. It's framed in and ready for utilities. I have friends in about every profession so I can do about anything for income. They come in and use their contractors license and we split the profit. I do any type of work at, around or in a home for money. I have 2 commercial properties I maintain. Both are great payers. I actually get paid monthly from both of them and it's a month in advance. If they had said they would not pay in advance, I would have told them to keep looking.
For anyone thinking 18 customers is small, I manage to support a family, and live good all while only working 3-4 days a week on average. When it's busy, I'll work day after day if that's what it takes. Last year I worked 48 days straight without a break then turned around and did another 20 or so.

ELS Landscape
01-05-2013, 08:40 AM
:confused::confused::confused:

Like others said, sounds like you need a vacation.
There are no perfect clients

I have had some very good clients - Some move, lose jobs so on and so forth. Yes, it is going to hurt when you lose a client or worse yet when they take the service then do not pay, case in point shopping center, good client but one of their anchor tenants went bad and by the time they collected rent the owner started missing mortgage payments...

Or, I have another client that was completely ripped off by the asset management company. The asset management company got to be slow pay then no pay then wiped out the owners bank accounts and skipped the country. I have met the once faceless owner and he swears he will get everyone paid but as far as i know all the vendors are due a couple of months.

There is safety in numbers and you have to keep the sales pipe flowing.

I have a mix of client bases.

Like I said, welcome to the world.

johnnybravo8802
01-05-2013, 01:45 PM
Like others said, sounds like you need a vacation.
There are no perfect clients

I have had some very good clients - Some move, lose jobs so on and so forth. Yes, it is going to hurt when you lose a client or worse yet when they take the service then do not pay, case in point shopping center, good client but one of their anchor tenants went bad and by the time they collected rent the owner started missing mortgage payments...

Or, I have another client that was completely ripped off by the asset management company. The asset management company got to be slow pay then no pay then wiped out the owners bank accounts and skipped the country. I have met the once faceless owner and he swears he will get everyone paid but as far as i know all the vendors are due a couple of months.

There is safety in numbers and you have to keep the sales pipe flowing.

I have a mix of client bases.

Like I said, welcome to the world.
Well, just to shed a little light on the topic, I've been "in the world", that is, the world of lawn maintenance since 78' and I've seen it all when it comes to customers and different contracts. I don't "need a vacation", I'm simply trying to go a different and more money making route than I've gone in the past. That was sort of the point of this thread-people who cater to high end residential and the services they offer to warrant higher paying jobs.

weeze
01-05-2013, 02:03 PM
to me i steer away from commercial. i never wanna do a job where i can get underbid from year to year or dropped in a second because someone offered a cheaper price. that's why residential is my main focus. they are loyal no matter what if you do a good job. heck even if you do a bad job they are loyal in some cases. i see it all the time. they keep so and so because they've been doing it for 10 years already even though they do a terrible job.

as far as high end residential it varies. alot more competition comes into play because all the large companies go for them. they come in charging $35 a cut on a $45 yard. the best in my experience is middle class. less fuss and basically no competition.

johnnybravo8802
01-05-2013, 02:06 PM
to me i steer away from commercial. i never wanna do a job where i can get underbid from year to year or dropped in a second because someone offered a cheaper price. that's why residential is my main focus. they are loyal no matter what if you do a good job. heck even if you do a bad job they are loyal in some cases. i see it all the time. they keep so and so because they've been doing it for 10 years already even though they do a terrible job.

as far as high end residential it varies. alot more competition comes into play because all the large companies go for them. they come in charging $35 a cut on a $45 yard. the best in my experience is middle class. less fuss and basically no competition.
I appreciate it!!! That's the kind of responses I'm looking for.

ELS Landscape
01-05-2013, 07:28 PM
Well, just to shed a little light on the topic, I've been "in the world", that is, the world of lawn maintenance since 78' and I've seen it all when it comes to customers and different contracts. I don't "need a vacation", I'm simply trying to go a different and more money making route than I've gone in the past. That was sort of the point of this thread-people who cater to high end residential and the services they offer to warrant higher paying jobs.

I was not trying to be an A-Hole at all but I myself find that I am introspective this time of year. You will find similar problems as your described in all classes of clients.

I do not know your or your circumstances. I find that setting some level of standards will set you apart from others. Frankly commercial work on many Class A properties are hard to get because they do not want a failure. Curb Appeal is is important to them but so it price.

I know many top managers in commercial property management yet at the same I am not rolling in invites to bid. Go figure.

You and you alone have to figure out your strenghts, your standards and how you want to deal with the PITA clients.

yardguy28
01-05-2013, 08:56 PM
I've always steered in the direction of large commercial/industrial properties but am thinking about veering towards the high end residential. The big commercial properties take big machines which takes big trucks to haul them, lots of fuel, lots of blades, lots of wear and tear on equipment, lots of labor, etc, etc.

I've always heard that high end residential is the way to go. However, my question is, "Can you necessarily make more money with that type of clientel?" In my experience, a lot of those people are the tightest people around. I've had some customers in the past that have demanded premium quality service but only wanted to pay slave wages-It doesn't work that way. I would like to offer a premium quality service but I expect premium pay. My other question is, what will set you apart from any other lawn service? I know the competition is fierce with these types of customers-most of these kinds of neighborhoods around here have about a million lawn services coming in and out each day. What is going to separate you from everyone else? What kinds of services do these people expect?

personally I don't cater to any one type of client.

everyone pays the same rates and everyone receives the same quality service. I don't care if your a garbage collector or work at mcdonalds and just want your grass cut weekly or your a doctor or lawyer who wants me to do full service.

DA Quality Lawn & YS
01-06-2013, 02:29 PM
I use a WB on high end residentials instead of a Z. Takes the 'lazy' look perception away from the customer.
I also communicate often with them to give them exactly what they want. I bend over backward for my high end irrigated resi mows.

matt spinniken
01-06-2013, 04:27 PM
I think great communication is very important for all customers but I find it is most appreciated by my high end resi's.

Exact Rototilling
01-09-2013, 11:05 AM
I use a WB on high end residentials instead of a Z. Takes the 'lazy' look perception away from the customer.
I also communicate often with them to give them exactly what they want. I bend over backward for my high end irrigated resi mows.
Been looking for a marketing phrase and approach to convey this. I'm not full service and I never be. I'm ALL about the lawn. I only prune for regular mowing clients.

My quality of cut and attention to detail is clearly hands down better. The lawns I'm in control of on applications and water cycles are clearly the best looking and healthiest lawns on block.

I'd much rather pick and choose my clients to fit what I offer vs chasing a specific demographic.

I will probably never own a sit down rider mower of kind. It does look lazy IMO and the mowers are much heavier than what I run now. The lightest sitdown mower I know of is a Walker but my quaility of cut is still better than that with no center trailing wheel marks.
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Mahoney3223
01-09-2013, 11:55 PM
I don't know your business size but the problem I've found with the high end is the demand. Many of my high end people are so demanding. They want you there 24 7 and don't dare send your crew or you'll get screamed at for not personally showing up. I have little bit of everything with about 60% coming from commercial work. I have the elderly, the people I started with when I was 18, the big commercials, the sub work, the high end , the mid end. I find you have to have a system figure out what works for you and your bottom line and adjust accordingly. I have some clients that we just take care of the landscaping, no mowing, no ferting. One of the ones I have is more money a year than some of my mid end clients. About 80% of my weekly cuts, we do mulch, clean ups and fert. That's the only way to go. But weekly, weeding? Oh, that's the worst.

Crimson Lawn
01-10-2013, 08:29 AM
I would go as far to say everyone is right. One of the things I have learned is there niche I fit in. I service the EOWs to a few small commercials to a few high middle to the retired, widowed about to go to the rest home and just cut it people. I like to bring, present and perform a quality service to everyone but if all they want is a mow, blow and go, ok and that is still on the same rate. I do think all your work is refelctive on you but in some neighborhoods thats noticed in some its not. I do prefer to get some higher ends but I do like my well rounded customer base.

Landscraper1
01-11-2013, 09:23 AM
My company is pretty much commercial also. I do have a couple of high end residential I fell into a couple of years ago. I find these customers want thier property looking prestine, no matter what the cost. They rarely bother me. These properties average 12k a year. As long as you do good work and are responsive to thier requests, the money will follow.