View Full Version : I smell something fishy

Darryl G
03-17-2003, 09:51 PM
I got a call today for a spring clean-up. Kind of a dumpy property with lots of doggie doo-doo. While inspecting the property (the owner wasn't home), I couldnít help but notice bulk deliveries of topsoil and bark mulch on the lawn (looks like theyíve been there since last year waiting to be used). Even more interesting was that this house is directly across the street from a competitor with 3 nice shiny newer trucks (2 small dumps and 1 pick-up) parked there. There were a couple of guys out by the trucks and I could tell they were talking about me. There are no signs on my new truck yet, so Iím sure they didnít know who I was, but it would have been obvious to them that I was looking at the lawn

Hereís the problem, I canít help but think that my potential customer is calling around to get prices for my competition across the street. Maybe Iím just paranoid (been accused of that many times) but I canít see why they would call me when there is an LCO directly across the road, who from what I can tell, is more capable than my one-man show. Unless, of course, they hate each other or something.

I plan to outright ask the customer why they donít use the company across the street. Does anyone think this is a bad idea? Also, since this is a job that I could do without, Iím thinking of bidding higher than usual. Oh, forgot to mention, the other company is one of about 4 others who runs ads in the same paper as me. I smell something fishy.

Your thoughts?

03-17-2003, 10:19 PM
That does sound a little fishy , i`d come back and speak with the home owner and see what the whole thing is about. or submit your bid amazingly high.? ???? u`ll have to ecide for your self. :confused:

LB Landscaping
03-17-2003, 10:22 PM
It is kind of strange. I would definatly ask him why he's not using the guy next door. He very well could be calling around for info for the guy across the street.

03-17-2003, 10:44 PM
I would not sweat it he probably has asked him and he was high as hell because he didn't want to do it or he is real busy and said he would have to wait.

I did a power rake & aeration up the street from me and this guy had a LCO that lived across from him that did the aeration for him the year before. I asked him why he didn't have his neighbor do it he told me the guy told him he could not do it in 2 weeks he wanted it done now so go figure. Did not bother me much the other LCO would always look the other way when driving by my house or would ignore me if I waved. He gave me a dirty look when he seen me doing HIS aeration. I just smiled :D

Randy Scott
03-17-2003, 10:51 PM
Just put the bid in and quit wasting time thinking about it. I do work for a lady that has two neighbors that own lawncare businesses right in her neighborhood. She just chooses not to do business with someone that close. Basically mixing business with pleasure. That's all she has said about it. I could care less how she or the businesses in her neighborhood feel about it.

If someone in this business wants to use your estimates to base their prices off, rather than their own costs and profit margin, that will eventually be their downfall.

I wouldn't pry at the customer for any information, be a pro about this and disregard any individuals attempt at a game or otherwise. Someone asked for a bid, you give them one. Although a little apprehensive when starting my business, I now welcome a scenario like that. Maybe they will learn what it's like to be a real professional who isn't afraid of some schmucks childish games.

03-17-2003, 11:44 PM
I'm fixing to be in the same situation as you are. Have to do an estimate in an upscale neighborhood where the woman's neighbor is one of the largest landscaping companies in the area. However i think the reason she called me is her neighbor doesnt want to mess with small residential jobs. Maybe thats the reasoning behind your situation.

03-18-2003, 12:43 AM
I wouldn't go by the neighbor as much as I would go by the way the property has been taken care of. I would suggest to you that if you do put in a bid and get it... that you make it a pay as you go type deal. I am wondering about this guy and his want / ability to pay for services.

03-18-2003, 12:57 AM
I'd just put in a bid that I felt good about and If I got it, then great, if not, no big deal right, who cares what the neighbors say:)

03-18-2003, 01:18 AM
Some people do not want to ruin their relationship w/ their neighbors. Others may not like looking at his trucks, etc at his site. Maybe he doesn't want to do it. I've been called to bid neighbors of LCO's that I know. I ask the prospective client if they have contacted the LCO, and if I may inquire as to why their not using them. Many times its local guys I know thru the biz. I usually give them a call to feel out the potential client too & let them know I have no intention of stepping on their toes.

Good luck


03-18-2003, 01:40 AM
Maybe they were the ones that dropped the soil and dirt off, and never finished the job.
I'd bid it as usual, maybe a little higher.

Darryl G
03-18-2003, 01:41 AM
Thanks for the input guys. I guess I'll just give a bid and not mention the other LCO. I will be bidding high anyway due to the doggie "problem".

I forgot to mention, they only want the back yard done, which is of course where the dogs go.

03-18-2003, 08:35 AM
Originally posted by Phishook
Maybe they were the ones that dropped the soil and dirt off, and never finished the job.
I'd bid it as usual, maybe a little higher.

What about the dirt??? You say it has been there for a year or so. I hope he doesn't pay the same.

03-18-2003, 08:49 AM
Not to add too your paranoia...but, from the clues you have provided, I would be concerned about getting paid from this job.

Someone had materials delivered but didn't finish with the install, right? Maybe they had trouble collectiing for the material's and did not wan't to dig themselves in deeper? The homeowner may have had this stuff delivered himself but is not willing to shell out what it is worth to install it? The original LCO (if there was one to begin with) dropped out of business?

Who really knows why...but I wouldn't press my luck. I know you have been doing this for a while now, darryl, so your gut instinct is probably correct...something is fishy about this deal.

I would be afraid that if the homeowner accepted a sky-high bid...them the intention to pay may be in question.

Good luck!

03-18-2003, 08:58 AM
My sister has had material delivered and the LCO guy never showed up. She also agreed to the new price for lawn cutting last year and he never posted! She would even leave the check under the mat for him! She is not hard to deal with. I just take her money and smile!

I am doing a basement finish for a couple. Her cousin is in the business vs. me doing it on the side. She refused to even tell him what they are doing. She made it very clear that even though she has family in the business, she would not deal with him.

Could be the same deal for this place. Maybe the guy across the street burned them.


Darryl G
03-18-2003, 11:45 AM
Here's an update. I had my wife call back with what I consider to be a really high estimate of $325. The lot is only about 8000 ft2 and there isn't really that much to clean up except for the beds. Shouldn't take more than 4 hours tops working solo.

They said do it!

Makes me wonder if SLS is right about them not intending to pay. I'm going to write up a contract and get 1/2 up front for sure and require the balance at completion. That way I'll still be getting about $40/hour even if they stiff me on the final payment.

I'll let you guys know what happens. It will be at least a couple of weeks before I do the work.

LB Landscaping
03-18-2003, 11:53 AM
Good luck Darryl, hope it works out.

03-19-2003, 11:14 PM
I agree about getting 50% up front or a deposit of some sort...

Sounds like maybe they did get raw materials, didn't want to pay for it to get installed, and then the quick fall weather came and wham, there it sat.. Maybe it was a good December project that due to the snow, it never happened.

I have the feeling that if the guy across the street has 3 trucks, including a dump, he's not too concerned about what a 1-man solo operation is doing (I'm one too, that's not a dis)..

I'm sure he already has his pricing, has his profit margin and employees and all that jazz..

If anything, I'd be checking up on the "3 truck" guy, trying to get his pricing cause he's a "big boy" and obviously SEEMS to have a decent cash flow.. Who knows..

Knowing what you mentioned already, it DOES seem FISHY, I'd keep my ears and eyes wide open and don't jump into the quicksand too quick.... But until they tell you why they don't use the guy across the street, it seems ok to do..

Let us know how it comes out. Thanks

Darryl G
03-20-2003, 11:49 AM
Doogiegh - Where you been, haven't seen your posts lately?

Well, I'm waiting for the customer to sign and return the contract with the 1st half of payment. I added a whole bunch of language that I don't usually...it very well may scare them off, because it's definitely way to my advantage. If I were them, I wouldn't sign it, but most customers don't even bother to read them.

You're probalbly right about the "3 truck guy" not caring what I'm doing, and I'm always trying to gather intelligence on the successful outfits around here. He seems to really know how to run a business, because all of his trucks are Chevy's!:D

03-20-2003, 03:53 PM

Great news. Hope it works out for ya.

Ok, now what is the deal with your CRAZY web site??? Colored lawns? Lotsa vacations? Too drunk to work. Phone may be off, call back in a week or 2?? Do you have alot of spare time on your hands or what?? LOL

Darryl G
03-20-2003, 06:14 PM
GraZZmaZter - You forgot to mention the dinosaur by the pond, LOL.

Yes, the website was meant as a spoof for entertainment puposes only. Only took me a couple of hours to adapt it from a real I had but never found a host for. I really do mow those dyed lawns, but they're green. The photo of my wife really is her, just distorted. The kids are mine, but the black Dodge isn't.

I started a thread about it months back asking people what they thought of my new site, and one senior member here actually thought it was for real. The site has been revised since then.


03-21-2003, 09:55 PM
I figure the guy will go out of business because his trucks ARE Chevy's. ;)

Anyway, good luck with it. I've been around but been very busy at my full time job. I just got back to lawnsite and read all 27 PAGES worth of new messages since last visit. Woo-wee! Kinda all caught up now on what I wanted to read and looking forward a little bit to getting back out to the cutting.


03-21-2003, 10:04 PM
Maybe the guy next door doesn't service neighbors like so many here have admitted to. Surprisingly, I have a few lawn customers that I have been servicing for a couple years that have small mowing operations in their neighborhood either 1 or 2 doors down.:confused:

03-21-2003, 10:07 PM
It's always weird to mix friends and neighbors with business.

I try not to do it myself.

Only cheap cut I do is my mom's place, which I do for free only cause she can't and it takes me very little time to do overall.

But I can see where if you do a neighbors place, and things go weird, it can strain the whole relationship, all cause of business.. meanwhile everything was fine if the business problem didn't come into effect.


03-22-2003, 06:16 PM
Just turn in your profitable bid and wait to see what happens.
Deposit upfront would be a good idea but if they are going to rip you off they will do it somehow ...even if you get a deosit upfront.

Now about the LCO upfront.....maybe he is going to be shown your bid and asked to beat it. That is something that you cannot help. Just bid your normal way and let it be.

My other business is a construction company and that is very common. They ask for bids just to double check the guy that they usually use. Kind of $h1tty but that is how the whole industry works.