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o-so-n-so
01-10-2004, 09:03 AM
I posted a few months ago about bidding a HOA. Well, I won the bid at what I call a great deal for the HOA.
I was the highest bidder but was bringing a quality of service that this HOA had not had in the past.
I worked on this price and trimmed all the fat, done alot a calculating and came to very lean price per unit per month. ( it currently has 11 homes with plans of 210 homes when complete)

Stay with me on this one..............We signed the contract in November. Since then I have been doing some detail work on the beds, redefining edges and stuff like that.

I get a call Wednesday from the person(Bob) that I delt with on the whole deal. Bob said that last night (Tuesday night) we had our first meeting of this year and I told the HMO members that the lawn service price would be increased by $10.00 a month. Bob said they did not accept it to well. They want to seek another LCO for a cheaper price. Bob then explained that he would give me a 30 day written notice of cancellation if they found a different company. ( I have this written into my contract. Either party may terminate the contract with a 30 day written notice and all monies paid up by the final day).

Now......I told Bob that I would not do one more minutes work until the HOA made a decision. Me or someone else. He agreed to that. After carefully thinking this whole process through, I think I will write him a 30 notice and gracefully step out. As far as the money goes, I am ahead. Received 2 checks (Nov and Dec) and will be getting the third check soon. I billed on the first.

How would you handle this situation? I am not dependent on this account. The money is ok but not alot of profit.

I think I will send the Jan payment back to the HOA with a fair well notice. Or should I stick with it. I honestly feel that no matter what I do for the grounds, they will never be happy with a $10.00 increase.

For the ones that told me to run away fast in the beginning, you can say anything you want. I am tough.............................



O-O

DennisF
01-10-2004, 09:33 AM
If the account is not providing your expected profit margin I would raise the bid to the level that will give the profit margin you want. If the HOA members feel it is too high..say good bye to them and move on. You can always pick up smaller accounts that pay better.

I know from experience that homeowners associations are a PITA. It always seems that each homeowner wants something special done to their yard and are not willing to pay extra for it. If you tell them that you have to charge extra for a special service they call the association and complain. I avoid them unless I can make considerably more off of them than other types of accounts. Good Luck.

SWD
01-10-2004, 09:33 AM
I wouldn't do a thing right now.
Let the point of contact for the HOA work on the dues increase.
This guy didn't time a rate increase very well - coming right after christmas and the holiday bills are coming in.
If you have received payment already for Jan 04, go ahead and do the work.

pcnservices
01-10-2004, 10:50 AM
Originally posted by o-so-n-so
I think I will send the Jan payment back to the HOA with a fair well notice.
Are you crazy?? Keep the money you've worked for it!

I agree with Dennis F - move on! Why slave yourself!? If someone else can do it for less - let them (HOA) have it. They will probably accept a lower standard of work too.

PC

greensideup
01-10-2004, 11:44 AM
We do our HOA differently. I have 6 of them, but the homes are not included in the bid. We bid the common grounds of the subdivision, which is billed to the homeowner's assoc. The each house in the subdivision is billed individually. We do not service ALL the homes in the subdivision. Some we have 4 or 5, others we have 30 or 35. If you have the ability to split this up, it works out better for you. Weed out the problem customers, and keep the good ones. Even if you only get 50 of the 210, that's 50 different accounts. One person cannot make you lose all 50. Not sure if this is an option for you. Also you may want to consider the eventual savings of having all the homes in one place. Also, how far off are you from the your target profit margin? As more homes are built, you are able to gain a better advantage on your profit thru volume. My best day is a subdivion of patio homes (35)+ the common grounds. I get $20 per yard plus $100 per cut on the commons grounds. Thats $800 gross and we do it all in 5hrs. If I had 4 more days like that, I'd me good:D SCOTT

olderthandirt
01-10-2004, 11:55 AM
Nov. to Jan. 3 months to start b!tching about price. I would counter offer with a $20 month increase that way it would be easier for them to find another co. And if by chance they could'nt your making more $$$$ until they do. Any way you look at it your done there. It just a matter of time now

Mac

brucec32
01-10-2004, 12:19 PM
HO associations. 100 homes, 100 people to complain. They're tough to please.

Fantasy Lawns
01-10-2004, 12:25 PM
I would wait n keep a good relationship with them ... if they decide to move on over price so be it ... months or even years later you may get a call back n you can still send them letters each spring asking to bid

4 years ago same thing happen to me cept we were doing the homes while a seperate had the common .... in the long run the total homes was almost 250 of em ... one section was all inclusive over 100 on the same paycheck .... we kept trying to get the common grounds but our price was more ..... than we lost all the homes due to polital bs & price (every one has a brother or cousin with a lawn mower)

2 years ago ... new leadership change .... n we had a great past relationship with the new leadership ..... we got the +100 homes & common grounds at a price 20% greater than the former .... this spring I'm in the final interview for the common grounds of the other half of HOA .... my price is on target yet they want some more work as part which I charge extra fore .... they know it ... yet the the P & VP really want me cause they are tired of going thru LCO's every 6 months

The HOA's can be a real pain or a pure delight ... the +100 home side luvs us .... due to past poor service .... I do have another one seperate of all this which can be a PITA but it is just the Common which is beatiful n right off a main road

nelbuts
01-10-2004, 04:01 PM
Maybe I am missing something here.

1. You have a contract so why would you raise your price when it has not been a year?

2. A 30 day written notice is fine but only for cause. Not to find someone cheaper. That is why you have a contract in the first place. Cause means that you are not doing the work right and you should have a period of time to correct any problem they tell you about in writing.

3. Tell Bob you are living up to your contract and that you expect them to likewise. Also, tell them that you are not raising prices until the contract is up.

Man I deal with HOA and COA all the time. Never a problem like this.

o-so-n-so
01-11-2004, 07:11 AM
Nelbuts,

No..No..No.....I am not raising the price that was contracted. The price contracted is 10.00 more a month than the owners were previously paying the other guy.

The stink is that Bob signed my contract on Nov. 1. He then raised the price to the owners on Jan. 1. They (2 owners of 11) did not accept the 10.00 increase and want to find another LCO at the same price as last year.

Bob told me that they want an individual owner to be over the grounds now, submit new bids for service.

This whole thing is just to much bull for me. I am giving a top notch service for a very affordable price and they can't see the writing on the wall.

I have already detailed 5 homefront beds, detailed the 2 entrance beds, cut in 6 tree rings, trimmed shrubs, top dressed the beds and mowed one time. This stuff has never been done (accept for mowing) because the last LCO's were not capable of doing this type work.

People in my area are a real PAS. I just can't handle knowing some PAS outfit is gonna come in and reap the benefits of my work.

If you could just see it , you wouldn't believe it.





thanks everyone.






P.S......I've been doing this stuff to long to take this BS.

Equipguy
01-11-2004, 07:38 AM
You need to decide if you want the contract. Is it worth what its gonna take to keep the job. Pros and cons on both sides of the issue but we are in the service industry and many times thats means dealing with difficult people. Sometimes a short term pain in the ass becomes a long term winner. Good Luck!

lbmd1
01-11-2004, 08:54 AM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by nelbuts
[


2. A 30 day written notice is fine but only for cause. Not to find someone cheaper. That is why you have a contract in the first place. Cause means that you are not doing the work right and you should have a period of time to correct any problem they tell you about in writing.


I'm with Nelbuts on this one. Your contract should read termination for just cause with a time limit like 30 days to correct the problem. As a representative of the HOA, he signed into a legal binding document authorizing work to be performed for a period of one year. To me, he's locked in if you had the just cause wording in your contract.

Mike

o-so-n-so
01-11-2004, 09:26 AM
didn't have "just cause" worded in the contract. I will reword this section of my contract.



It will all work itself out.............................thanks

The Captain
01-11-2004, 11:17 AM
If 2 out of 11 property owners can negate a contract, hoe does 'Bob" get anythinng done? In most organizatioins the majority rules. If you worked for the last check, cash it. If there is any qestion in your mind, hold the check until this is resolved. It appears 'Bob' has a management problem and isn't really managing. Good Luck!

proenterprises
01-11-2004, 11:50 AM
Bottom line is this-it sounds to me like they are jerking yoru chain now and will continue to do so throuhout the year. plus, if their griping about a 10 dollar increase now...what happens when they want those few extras for free.

hmm 210 homesX10 mins of extras each house...WOW-thats alot of $$$$ gone.

Maybe it would be best to step out and let somone else handle this..i think it will do nothing but cause you problems.

o-so-n-so
01-12-2004, 07:28 AM
proenterprises........... my thoughts as well.

Bob can't get anything done for baby sitting these folks. Thats one reason he hired me, thinking that they would calm down when they saw the quality of service they were getting for the dollar. Nope.....the ole dollar is doing the thinking on this one.


thanks.

mtdman
01-12-2004, 10:09 AM
It kills me how tight some people are. They basically get off without having to maintain their yards and save themselves all kinds of free time by not having to do it, which would add up quickly throughout the year, and yet they complain about an extra $10. :rolleyes:

Rustic Goat
01-13-2004, 03:19 AM
Too much bull?
If you expect to work for any 'group' with go betweens, meetings, budgets, and such, you're going to have learn to play the game.
Nelbuts smacked the nail on the head, you need to show the HOA/Bob that you're not a push over, hold them to the contract.

If of course the contract is properly written, and isn't worded 'for any reason at all'.

You need to sell yourself, your services, your quality to these people. If Bob is your only contact, fine, remind him that you are offering quality. Then you'd best plan on living up to those promises or they'll fire up the barbie for ya.

JimLewis
01-13-2004, 03:39 AM
(Haven't read any of the other replies)

Well, that's what you get with HOAs. Sounds like your experience is a tad better than the 3 I've had the pleasure :rolleyes: of dealing with.

Today, I RUN, not walk from HOAs. I probably received 4-5 calls this year from HOAs wanting our company to submit a bid. Each time, I kindly explained that we don't work for HOAs at all. Some were a little surprised. They expected me to leap for joy or something because they called me. But that's my policy now adays. Every experience I've ever had with an HOA has been bad.

Actually, I think any time where you're working for a "committee" of people - you're always going to run into big problems. You can't ever please everyone.

I prefer to work for residentials only. They are loyal and appreciate our work and I only have to please 1 or 2 people per job - that's it! :) If I were to ever go back into commercial work (which I don't like for other reasons), I'd only take jobs where I had only one person to please. No appartments, no strip malls, etc. It just doesn't work trying to please that many people.

You got two choices; Take this as a learning lesson and don't do it again - OR - try a few other HOAs out, get kicked in the teeth a few more times, and THEN decide you'll never do it again.

CSRA Landscaping
01-13-2004, 08:39 AM
For what it's worth, if you can hang in there, these folks could become some of your best customers. After all ... who else that has responded wants to service a HOA? Think maybe it's that way with your competition? ;)

65hoss
01-13-2004, 09:14 AM
Originally posted by jimlewis
(Haven't read any of the other replies)

Well, that's what you get with HOAs. Sounds like your experience is a tad better than the 3 I've had the pleasure :rolleyes: of dealing with.

Today, I RUN, not walk from HOAs. I probably received 4-5 calls this year from HOAs wanting our company to submit a bid. Each time, I kindly explained that we don't work for HOAs at all. Some were a little surprised. They expected me to leap for joy or something because they called me. But that's my policy now adays. Every experience I've ever had with an HOA has been bad.

Actually, I think any time where you're working for a "committee" of people - you're always going to run into big problems. You can't ever please everyone.

I prefer to work for residentials only. They are loyal and appreciate our work and I only have to please 1 or 2 people per job - that's it! :) If I were to ever go back into commercial work (which I don't like for other reasons), I'd only take jobs where I had only one person to please. No appartments, no strip malls, etc. It just doesn't work trying to please that many people.

You got two choices; Take this as a learning lesson and don't do it again - OR - try a few other HOAs out, get kicked in the teeth a few more times, and THEN decide you'll never do it again.

I agree with Jim. To many egos, knowitalls, and wanttobe's in HOA's. You will never please them all. You will constantly be in the middle of their personal struggle with each other.

I think I would send him a "just cause" letter first. Something like this..."Just cause you people can't see eye to eye and you apparently were happy with the job done before, please go find them to do your work again."

o-so-n-so
01-14-2004, 06:21 PM
If Bob is your only contact, fine, remind him that you are offering quality.

Quality is the reason I was hired in the beginning. As I said, I was the highest bid out of 3 LCO's. But I also offered more service for that dollar. This service is what the owners wanted until it got into their pocket book a little.

I honestly was up to the challenge of satisfying these people. But not for FREE............................


Thanks to all that offers the opinions...your a big help.

I would like to work this out if I thought it would lock me in. I think it will never end and I don't want to turn people down at season start and then the HOA decide to hire someone else mid season and leave me hanging. Hard to fill that schedule in July.

CSRA Landscaping
01-14-2004, 11:12 PM
Not really. Not if you're hustling year-round. Why not try to salvage it? Come to an agreement that works for both of you. You may just find that if you're able to make a presentation to the board, they will see the light. Yes, HOA's are very political. However, because they are that way, IF you are willing to work with them and show them a little TLC they become valuable customers. After all, aren't you in business to provide a service that they want, on their terms? If you're not, I hope that you want to stay small. My way or the highway won't get it all the time ... in fact, very seldom will it. You are in a SERVICE business to SERVICE the customer and NOT vice versa.

Listen to me on just this one point:

There are a lot of egos strutting around here that say they wouldn't stand for that and if that so and so said that to me, I'd tell 'em to hit the road right off. Now, when I first started out, I was pretty naive and I may still be to a point. However, I do know that listening to that will make you go broke in a hurry. -You run your business the way that you want your business to be perceived.- Personally, I think this is an opportunity.

Rustic Goat
01-15-2004, 02:13 AM
Very good points Jeff, well said too.

Often wonder about many of the attitudes shown in the posts here, as if the homeowner has to stand in line and except what they get for an LCO, and if the homeowner misbehaves, we'll punish them by not doing their lawn.

Last I checked, we are still considered a 'service' business.
Too many posts advise dropping the customer at the slightest hint of a problem. These guys must have long waiting lists of wanna be customers begging for lawn service, yeah right.

JimLewis
01-15-2004, 02:36 AM
Too many posts advise dropping the customer at the slightest hint of a problem. These guys must have long waiting lists of wanna be customers begging for lawn service, yeah right. No, It's called experience. After a while you just learn the tell-tell signs of a bad customer. In the beginning, I used to try everything to please everyone. I'd bend over backwards to do things - even the wrong way, because THAT'S the way THEY wanted it done - only to realize I wasn't ever going to please them and just lose them eventually anyway. Now, after having worked for hundreds of people over the years, it's just easy to tell which ones are going to work out and which ones aren't.

In addition, there are certain kinds of customers where I've ALWAYS had bad experiences. And HOAs are one of those kinds of situations. Not that they're all bad. But out of the 3 or 4 I've worked with, every freakin' one turned out bad. All for the same reasons. That's pretty bad odds.

Rustic Goat
01-15-2004, 03:51 AM
Jim, the experience factor is not exactly what I was referring to.
Many times, here, if a thread is started with an 'I'm having difficulties with a customer situation' question, too many replies abruptly say 'drop customer'. This is often without possibly knowing all the facts/reasons/circumstances. And, almost always the problem is presented here is a one sided story.

Generally, most questions asking how to handle a customer situation are from inexperienced operators (or at least newer to the biz).
I believe not all 'problems' are grounds for terminating a client, many 'problems' are obstacles to be overcome or learned from.

How the problem is handled is a mark of how good the biz operator is, (as an operator and as an individual) and often tells the greater story of how long they will be in this biz.

There's just too many, too often, that advise bailing out too quickly.

Yes, some problems send up genuine red flags that say run don't walk from this customer. Many 'problems' though are really situations that should at least be given a chance of resolution before dismissing the customer as 'bad'.

Jim, not trying to say either of us are right or wrong, I think we're both right on this one. ;)

GarPA
01-15-2004, 05:00 AM
just my perspective:
1. the homeowners are not the problem..I dont blame them for not wanting a higher fee...people today are extremely cost concious and they may think Bob did not shop the job enough
2. BOB is the problem....he did not handle this change properly
He should have had you at the meeting when this was approved/discussed. Then and there you would have gotten a sense of the issues.

I only ever bid on one of these and it was a nightmare just going thru the bidding process. I didn't get it because a lowballer was at half my price. They then proceeded to fire him mid season and called me. "sorry, but our schedule is already full for this year"

I'd bid on another but becuase they are so price sensitive I doubt I'll ever land one....and frankly I;m not sure I want to. Too many issues imho

David Haggerty
01-15-2004, 05:47 AM
So, Bob hired you without the approval of the HOA. The HOA met, and fired Bob. They're still obligated.
You could pursue this if you wanted too.

Personally, I wouldn't pursue HOA's for just that reason. They're too political. $10 ain't much extra to have their beds cared for. Next year instead of price, they'll be griping about quality again.
It's like you're fighting a monster with no head.

Before I'd return their check, I'd use it as a retainer for an attorney.

Dave

olderthandirt
01-15-2004, 08:38 AM
Originally posted by CSRA Landscaping
Not really. Not if you're hustling year-round. Why not try to salvage it? Come to an agreement that works for both of you. You may just find that if you're able to make a presentation to the board, they will see the light. Yes, HOA's are very political. However, because they are that way, IF you are willing to work with them and show them a little TLC they become valuable customers. After all, aren't you in business to provide a service that they want, on their terms? If you're not, I hope that you want to stay small. My way or the highway won't get it all the time ... in fact, very seldom will it. You are in a SERVICE business to SERVICE the customer and NOT vice versa.

Listen to me on just this one point:

There are a lot of egos strutting around here that say they wouldn't stand for that and if that so and so said that to me, I'd tell 'em to hit the road right off. Now, when I first started out, I was pretty naive and I may still be to a point. However, I do know that listening to that will make you go broke in a hurry. -You run your business the way that you want your business to be perceived.- Personally, I think this is an opportunity.

Its been 3 months and there already b!tching about $10 increase for better service and you think a little TLC will turn them in to better customers? Yes we are in the service industry NOT THE AZZ KISSING business. So you think that telling a customer that you have a contract do XX amount of work for a set price and you do it but if there not happy you will do what ever it takes to keep them happy is the way to stay in business. I know if thats the attitude you use your not going to be in business for long, those customers that don't care about your tlc will eat you alive.


Mac

Randy Scott
01-15-2004, 11:25 AM
Originally posted by GarPA
I only ever bid on one of these and it was a nightmare just going thru the bidding process. I didn't get it because a lowballer was at half my price. They then proceeded to fire him mid season and called me. "sorry, but our schedule is already full for this year"

This has been my experience as well. I've bid a half dozen or so HOA's and the bids they've chosen are so ridiculously low, I never get the opportunity to get into the details with them. I just can't see how these guys getting the work can survive. I guess they don't, that's why these associations look for new companies every year. I even bid these at rock bottom dollar because I know how others bid, and I still get beat. Whatever, I'll probably still bid some in the future, but I certainly don't get my panties in a bunch when they call. They really do have the attitude like their job would be gold to us. One on one residential work is gold for us. When you can deal face to face with each customer and stress upon them what you have to offer, and deliver what THEY want, that's where my money comes from. Our company isn't into volume work at low cost and mediocre quality, everybody offers that. We're different.

GarPA
01-15-2004, 11:59 AM
Amen to that..

Right now I'm in a situation where a commercial account is getting pressure from the "home office" to lower his expenses for next year. This is a 15k account that I would would prefer not to lose....but...how many of us have seen how easy it is to get on the slippery slope which drags you right down into the gutter with the lowballers...and that is...first you lower what you believe is a fair price in order to keep the account....then every week when you are done, you chew yourself out as you drive away to the next, more profitable account. Guess what happens next...you start to cut corners here and there to "justify" the lower revenue and you tell yourself "well screw them/him...I'll give him what he's paying for"...and before we know it, we have joined the ranks of the low price/low quality service providers....and then the death spiral gets even steeper....its hard to walk away from an account that has been good to us....real hard....
I'll never forget the quote that one of the veterans gave me a couple years ago here on LS....it went something like " I can lose money in 2 ways: doing an account for less than its worth, or not doing it all and instead, make the effort to replace it". I try to live by that motto...but its painful sometimes

Rod or Eric...wasn't that one of your tidbits of wisdom a while back?

65hoss
01-15-2004, 03:40 PM
Originally posted by GarPA
I'll never forget the quote that one of the veterans gave me a couple years ago here on LS....it went something like " I can lose money in 2 ways: doing an account for less than its worth, or not doing it all and instead, make the effort to replace it". I try to live by that motto...but its painful sometimes

Rod or Eric...wasn't that one of your tidbits of wisdom a while back?

That may have been Rod, mine is "I can go broke sitting at home."

It is a fact though. If you do something at break even or less than its worth you are just giving yourself busy work. Makes you feel good to be working, but it may very well be costing you money instead of breaking even or making a profit. Instead of crying over a lost account or trying to keep unprofitable ones, the time is best spent working on new business. Whatever market niche you fill the customers can be found. It takes longer to find the high-end detail oriented customers, the better comm'l accounts and the upper landscaping jobs. But it can be done.

I've made decisions at times that made me worry a lot. Can I afford to turn away this good $$ account because it doesn't fit with this company? I knew what was best but it can still worry you. In the long run it always paid off to make those hard decisions. Its about profit. Working to keep busy is worse than just quiting. Because the cash flow is just enough to get you in very deep with expenses, equipment, labor and materials.

A person must know their strenghts and weakenesses. Build on them. Make decisions and then stick to them. Why not get paid well for what you do? How many of us show up to a job with $25,000 to $100,000 worth of investment? If your investment is worth anything its worth making a profit off of.

Bottom line...its sometimes best to let customers go, even big dollar ones, if its going to cost you in the long run. Cost you doesn't mean just loss of some income on that job alone. There is a such thing as OPPORTUNITY COST. You may waste so much time and effort on that one that you missed the really great one.

GarPA
01-15-2004, 03:53 PM
eric your point about the kind of investment we have in this business needs to ALSO bring in profit, is a good one...not sure I've thought about it quite that way. While I make sure to financially plan to replace it as it wears out, too often I forget about the investment when someone says "you want how much to aerate my turf?"...but the comment somehwere recently about us having to be careful to not be to hard nosed about our fees, is also a good one. One of the recent articles in Turf mentioned that we must always be finding ways to best the best, AND offer the most value to the customer....a constant challenge thats for sure

Actually Eric your comment about sitting at home and going broke has always stuck with me..from the day you said it...especially when I;m sitting across the table from some knowitall prop mgr and hes says he can get it done for half of my proposal...great line eric....and soooo ez to remember when we want to cave in to price pressure

as always, I appreciate your words of real world, words of wisdom

CSRA Landscaping
01-16-2004, 02:41 PM
I'll say this and then I'm done as far as clarifying. I'm speaking from experience. We service several HOA's. Mac, the TLC that I was referring to was being a communicator, not doing anything unethical or immoral, such as being a brown-noser. There's nothing wrong with meeting with the HOA and clarifying why you're charging what you're charging. Perhaps a trial period would sweeten them up, while giving you time to cover your bases in case they still want the sloppy job. You guys take this kind of thing way too personal.

Realize this: People are different and the various aspects that make up their individual personalities are different from yours. If you hear something that doesn't strike you right, it's possible (I know it's not very likely since every one here has seen it all), just possible that you don't understand what they're trying to say and they just MAY not understand what you're saying.

The HOA in question just MAY think they'll be getting the same old service at a higher price. There MAY be older folks there who are on a very fixed income and HAVE to watch every penny.

There are far too many variables involved to be able to pass judgement from reading a one-paragraph post in the comfort of your own home or office.

I'm done.

workaholic
01-16-2004, 07:57 PM
I went thourgh this bull **** last year. they called me to bid 16 condos the reason for bidding it out was they had college kids doing it and they were so damn cheap. So i met the president of assc. we walked the properties he went over everything that was to be done knowing that they were going to bid it out every year i was skeptacal but went ahead and turned it in any way. So after all the bids were reveiwed i found out they went with the same college kids again did i fail to tell you that the president told me over and over how these kids didnt do a good job and there were alot of complaints. I will not waste my time with people looking for price only...

Kelly's Landscaping
01-16-2004, 10:52 PM
Totally agree with that workaholic you want to make me play a bidding game then cut me a check and pay me for my time because I donít have time to waste on some one bargain basement shopping lowballers. I was asked to bid on 3 group homes this year the owner didnít have the courtesy to walk the properties with me instead sent some lackey who didnít know what the owner wanted. And left me to make up my own bid of what I thought the place needed so I did. 2 weeks later I'm told that they couldnít compare my bid with their other bid could I please re bid using a form they were to send me. I should of said go f your self but was foolish and said fine they sent me a bid with the other guys name and prices cut out all but one line that they forgot it turned out to be trugreen I cut my prices to the bone and I was very disgusted at the new prices. And you know what I still didnít win so I learned a lot off that 1 trugreen works for free and 2 I will not get into a bidding war again and 3 if the party that is to contract me can bother to meet with me and do the walk Iím walking right then. When I talk to customers I close with ease I have np selling myself so why go in with a disadvantage where price and price alone is the only factor.

mtdman
01-17-2004, 04:35 AM
I kinda liked what CSRA Landscaping said. I think that this Bob guy that signed the contract obviously doesn't have the balls to stand up to the HOA, or do his job. I would ask to meet with the HOA, explain what your service is going to be, how it is different than the previous guy. Who knows what Bob has told them? He may not be a great communicator and just told them "This new guy is more expensive" for all you know. Meet, explain, and tell them no more work will be done until a decision is made. Explain to them your situation with keeping the space open on your schedule for them, and how a loss of the job would affect you. And keep all the money they gave you. If they stick with you and end up making late payments, make sure you get your late fees.
For all you know, it might be a communication problem.

But it does sound like the whole thing is a hassel.

David Haggerty
01-17-2004, 08:00 AM
Originally posted by GarPA
Amen to that..

Right now I'm in a situation where a commercial account is getting pressure from the "home office" to lower his expenses for next year.

HOLY COW!
That's the biggest Lie since "Your check is in the mail"!

The worse off a company is financially, the better the landscaping program. They're trying to put the "best face" they possibly can on a struggling company.
Nothing spruces up a company's appearance like a good landscaping program. And it's a lot cheaper than painting the building or sealing the parking lot.

You've goofed up somewhere. They believe you now have the flexibility to lower your price.
You should have done like the schools when a tax levy fails..."Which programs would you like to cut?" And if you notice, the schools never cut some unpopular program. It's always sports or band! One year the local schools even dropped busing! So every parent had to drive their kids to school.

So if you're going to help them "control costs" make it dramatic, and make it obvious!

I agree 110% with your philosophy about the futility of "spiraling down" quality of service to match the cost.

The LCO looses for sure. But so does the customer! They really do not want their place to look like crap. Or wind up with a crew straight out of rehab mowing their lawns.

If you fail to lead a customer along a path of acceptable lawn care, you failed them as surely as if you didn't show up to cut the grass.

I know sometimes it's about as easy as pushing a rope, to get some customers to agree to even basic services for their lawn. But it's part of the job to convince them.

Dave

GarPA
01-17-2004, 08:20 AM
Actually Dave I have not responded yet to him. I am really chewing on this one and right now about the only crumb I'm going to throw him, is that I will cap the fuel surcharge.

He gets many compliments every year about how his property looks, and he admits we do excellent work...particulary with the planting beds.

I have no intention of reducing my margins on this account...but...sometimes in the corporate world, the person we work for, might be under the gun to demonstrate that he is aggressive with ALL of his service providers in getting the best possible price for a quality of service. Sometimes, all they want is to be able to go back to their management say " I was able to negotiate this or that for us in 2004...". This gets him off the hook with HIS boss. I've been in his chair in a past life and I know how the game works. In this way, he keeps his job, I dont significantly impact my margins, and, he continues to get compliments on his property management from the same mgt team that wanted him to negotiate a better deal.

We sometimes need to be aware of how a particular company works behind the scenes. Puffing my chest out and saying take it or leave it should not be my first reaction in this case.

65hoss
01-17-2004, 12:08 PM
I disagree David. Companies all the time try to cut costs from the corporate level down. One of the easiest ways is in landscaping. New management comes in they want to prove their worth. They want to show how they can save the business money. Easiest place to look is the lawn company. I've had this happen and I spent time in corporate America dealing with heads of companies. They do think this way. It is their mentality.

David Haggerty
01-17-2004, 12:15 PM
Originally posted by GarPA
We sometimes need to be aware of how a particular company works behind the scenes. Puffing my chest out and saying take it or leave it should not be my first reaction in this case.

I sounds like you're better aware of how these things work than I am. I've only ever seen it from the supply side.

It really irritates me when we bend over backwards to make some little lower level manager look like a star. And all they want to give you in return is a stab in the back.
It's really hard to garner any loyalty when the decision making process disappears into "internal company politics".

Sometimes it seems like good service and a fair price isn't enough. Gotta play some game but they won't tell me the rules.

I have a situation where I must have showed up somebody's son-in-law. (dumb as he is it's the only way he could keep that position).
It makes me want to tell them "I'm sorry I made Duane look like an idiot". But He was already that dumb when I started here. It wasn't anything I did!

Dave

65hoss
01-17-2004, 12:20 PM
All most are concerned with is their next raise and impressing the boss. If they can sucker you into making them look good for a while then great. Once they can make you help them look good again, then they will go for it. I mean make them look good as far as saving money. You were expendable to help them look good.

GarPA
01-17-2004, 12:23 PM
yes its a game sometimes....but I've found its sometimes allot easier to play their game, throw them a few crumbs, and in the end, we all win. I dont mind if they "think" I'm grovelling to keep their account...in fact that can be good if they think they beat me up a little....if eating a little humble pie keeps a good account, and it remains profitable, I'll swallow a little pride....and no sometimes it doesn't taste good....but in this world today, every business and every consumer, wants the best for less...we're not under any more pressure than every other industry out there..I'll work smarter and harder, but I won't work cheaper however

PrecisionLandService
01-17-2004, 01:35 PM
Don't return a check.... Do whatever work u have to and call it quits... Wait and see if you can get your increase, might get lucky

o-so-n-so
01-17-2004, 05:32 PM
Just to give a detailed account of how I came to be discussted with this flim flam HOA.

In the beginning...1 1/2 years ago I bid this same HOA and wasn't even close on the numbers. The other guy was dirt cheap, but he was "only mowing". I didn't even get close to winning the bid.

I get the call last sept from bob to submit another bid. The owners were having a fit, wanting another LCO to take over the mowing. The owners were driving bob crazy about the "other guy". (taking 3 days to get the job done..mowing half naked...mad at the world kinda stuff)

1. I go and walk the property with bob and get the scope of work to be performed. I ask alot of questions and bob told me everything to expect from a couple of owners. Real PITA folks.
I was up to the challenge.

2.I drew up my proposal based on the "scope of work" that bob and I had discussed.

3.Meet with bob and went over everything in the proposal.

4.Got a call 1 month later and bob agreed to accept the proposal as written.

5.I then went and put the proposal to a contract form, met with bob and the treasure of the HOA. Explained the contract in detail. Billing, late pays, scope of work, what they could expect from me as their LCO. Each signed the contract. Start date was Nov. 1.

6.I then sent a welcome letter to each owner and told them that I would be meeting with every owner to talk about the upcoming rear and to hear their concerns about lawn care.

7. I went to work on the property. Before the end of Nov. I had personally contacted each owner one on one and was welcomed with open arms. During the meeting I gave them a copy of my turf care program for bermudagrass. (one owner from the north had never experienced bermudagrass. I had to basically educate them on why the grass was dying(dormant) in Nov. They were throwing the fert to it, trying to save it..... .kind of stuff.

8.Everything is great...their happy..talking...laughing...and praising the work...I mean the beds were a nightmare. (photos on the way of the very obvious changes I'm making)

9.Now...bob said he was going to have to raise the owners price to offset my price( only 10.00 scoops a month increase) and he would do it the first of the year. Thats when the S**t hit the fan.
Bob called me the next day and thats when I posted this thread.

Since my last post....
Talked with bob again..He said that the owners were having other LCO's calling wanting to submit bids. One LCO came by, looked, and scribled $45.00 on a piece of paper and said he would do it for that. Bob dropped the name of another LCO (just happened to be a friend of mine) that had called. So I call my friend (the LCO) and fill him in. He said that a owner called him and ask him to bid their properties and to set up an appointment with bob.


I know you can't get a true understanding of my situation but seems ALL of you have had experiences dealing with this type of headache.

I'll have some photos soon......you ain't gonna believe it.

sorry about the grammer...i ain't to smart....later

BOTURF
01-17-2004, 10:50 PM
All i can say is i am aware of 2 HOA that we have family living in( to Far away from me to go do the work ) and they switch lco every single year always price shopping then bitching later about quality, you would think they would catch on sooner or later.Maybe one of these days they will run out of people who want to bid on them .Most HOA i have seen around here have to many old people who have nothing better to do than sit around and think up things to ***** about . They have to much time on there hands.... my fartherinlaw was on the board at one of theses and i tryed to be nice and politly tell him he was being a pita to these poor lco but it was like it was there way or the highway , glad i aint working for him or i might be divorced lol

GarPA
01-18-2004, 06:01 AM
you make a good point about older men who have too much time on their hands. Of all the stereotypes we have about certain kinds of customers, I find that old men, are the biggest p's-ita to work for. I really believe its because their male egos are hurting because they can't get out there and do the work we do. So all they have left to do is puff their bony chests out and make our lives miserable.

CSRA Landscaping
01-18-2004, 08:42 AM
Well, now, that's true, Gary. I've had some experiences in the past with that ...

So-n-so ... you've convinced me. This sounds like one HOA here in the area that called me for a bid. The sheet that they gave me had stuff in it like "the price for this service IS reasonabble, has ALWAYS BEEN reasonable and WILL ALWAYS BE reasonable." Gee, whattaya think they were saying? So they refused the estimate we gave them and then called me back about 6 months later and wanted me to bid again. Said they were basically paying their guy to do nothing (in the dead of Winter). So I typed one up (way up) and mailed it to them. Haven't heard from them since.

o-so-n-so
01-18-2004, 05:53 PM
Update! Update!

Just got off the phone with my friend (Doug) LCO that was called to submit a bid. Doug met with Bob and would you believe that Bob gave Doug a copy of my proposal (without the prices) to go by in preparing a proposal. Bob also told Doug that I was out of the picture for sure, that the owners formed their own association and left Bob out also. I gave Doug my exact numbers and told him in detail what to expect and to "go for it".

Now, I'm gonna sit back, let the property alone for now. The owners will meet the first Tuesday in Feb. which will be the 3rd. A 30 day written notice will give me a check thru March.

I will now focus on filling this opening.

I value all of the views and opinions that each one gave in this situation. I will use this as a learning experience as most of you have already done.

I am done with this........photos will be meaningless at this point.

O-O

mtdman
01-18-2004, 06:18 PM
All these problems go a long way to convince me to stay away from HOAs.

GarPA
01-19-2004, 05:39 AM
O O...good attitude you have about this. I rarely get too ticked off in a situation like this. Every one of these situations are indeed a lesson learned. Every time we low ball ourselves or make an error or get strung along like you did on this one, we are just that much more confident in our approach to things going forward...you;ve got the right attitude to succeed

BOTURF
01-19-2004, 07:12 AM
Maybe iam missing something .... but why did doug meet bob if bobs out of picture also ? If i would doug i would bid it higher than you did and if hes your friend he shouldnt even bid it. A friend of mine and myself have a gentlemans agreement that we wont bid on each others properties not matter what.

GarPA
01-19-2004, 07:39 AM
Frankly, my couple of friends would bid it HIGHER than my bid....just to aggravate the morons..... then if I got it, I'd probably split the work with him if he wanted part of it.

KerryB
01-19-2004, 08:17 AM
I would ask to attend the meeting. Let them tell me face to face why they wanted to change after they all seemed happy. It may be that Bob arbitrarily raised the amount they were paying just to make himself more money.
If not it will at least give you a chance to state your case and get their response face to face.

crawdad
01-19-2004, 08:21 AM
If I was Doug, I'd bid it higher. Because I'd know, from you, what a pita they are.
Crawdad

o-so-n-so
01-19-2004, 08:50 AM
Dang........had 2 pages of gibberish typed out and hit the wrong key and it vanished. Oh well.......................

I actually give Doug the green light. He needs the account. I can live fine without it.

Got one Benjamin that says I get a call from the owners before year end.

Tscape
01-19-2004, 02:49 PM
Ego is the main word here. The challenge, as always, is not to have one. As a business man it gets in the way. Never say "Hmph!" or "screw you, then." This multiple bid submission stuff is playing into their hands too. They just want you to come in lower than last time, and if you fall for it they are positively reinforced and will continue this type of thing as a standard practice. Keep records and resubmit the same bid like your a friggin' data base, but draw the line at 2 (anyone can lose a bid package I suppose). When you sense the games are beginning turn on your "BS filter" and you will hear a lot of "blah, blah, blah". Bottom line is: Here is your bid. Want another one? I have it on file, here you go. Also, having a contract with some kind of teeth is good. You may never have to bite with them, but hopefully they will take note that the language is there.

Don't let ego get in your way. You are in business to make money, not to make yourself feel powerful for "firing" a client. In the end if you lose the client, fine. Just limit your efforts with efficient dealings in the first place so in the end you move on with minimal losses.

CSRA Landscaping
01-20-2004, 08:42 AM
Bravo, Turfscape!

o-so-n-so
01-20-2004, 10:25 AM
thanks

David Haggerty
01-21-2004, 03:05 AM
Originally posted by o-so-n-so
Got one Benjamin that says I get a call from the owners before year end.

I'd almost take that bet, and I'll tell you why.

Look at what they've gotten from you already. You've studied their landscape, made recommendations, established a program for maintenance. All for free. They're already handing out your bid as the standard to other LCO's. (It may just look like common sense to you, but they couldn't have done it.) They'll figure they've wrung you for all they can get out of you and give the job to anyone else.

I really resent the "secret bid" system. All it really guarantees is the worst possible lawn care for the customer and the worst possible price for the LCO.

How can they really compare identical bids? I personally, using the exact same equipment can produce radically different quality results. Just depends on what they're willing to pay. Give them their money's worth, but not a heck of a lot more.

Dave