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Let it Grow
03-07-2004, 02:06 PM
Just got this today. Looks like I'll be telling her what is actually involved in running a business. I hate it when customers have no clue how much work you actually do that they don't notice! It's great to know my work is appreciated!

"Rec'd your statement. I'm having very strong feelings of "gouge." You mentioned that it didn't take as long as you expected, but how did that affect the amount you charged? For the amount of time you worked, your hourly wage seems exorbitant to me. I'm not against a fair wage, but triple what I make seems crazy. I work maybe 20 hours a week, and my husband is retired; and I feel taken advantage of. Unfortunately, I could never have you do any more work for me nor could I recommend you to anyone else given the rates you charge.

Any response?"

rodfather
03-07-2004, 02:19 PM
Originally posted by Let it Grow
Just got this today. Looks like I'll be telling her what is actually involved in running a business. I hate it when customers have no clue how much work you actually do that they don't notice! It's great to know my work is appreciated!

Unfortunately, I could never have you do any more work for me nor could I recommend you to anyone else given the rates you charge.

Any response?"

How does she figure that just because she can't afford you, no one else can either???

NCSULandscaper
03-07-2004, 02:21 PM
I would tell her until she starts a landscaping/lawn care company, she has no idea about rates. If you want to waste your time trying to explain how to run a business to an obvious know-it-all then go ahead, but i doubt its worth the time. Just one of those people who knows absolutly everything about absolutly nothing.

Buddy Markley
03-07-2004, 02:29 PM
Yikes!!, it is sometimes hard to even respond to those kind of statements.

I had a lady accuse me of just putting "all that money in to my pockets" for snow removal of a church parking lot. When I called her attendtion to $27K of equipment to do the job she replied "Ohh, $27,000 that is nothing"

I just had to walk away, I couldnot think of anything else nice to say.

dkeisala
03-07-2004, 02:34 PM
Common misperception in this business, and any contractor business I'd imagine. Just because you bill @ 40 bucks an hour doesn't mean that is how much you actually make. Think her employer only expects her to produce enough to cover her hourly wage? If a grocery checker rings up $1,500 an hour in groceries, should they be making that much per hour?

btbej
03-07-2004, 03:02 PM
The way to respond to women....and some men...I have proof my wife's best friend is a beautician.


"You go to the salon.....get there at 5:00....they put $6.00 worth of color in your hair....sit you under the dryer for 1/2 hour (while they are cutting someone else's hair) wash your hair...cut your hair.... and at 6:30 send you on your way till you come back in two-four weeks (keep in mind you have to tend to your hair daily the grass you don't touch we do all the work weekly). In that time your hair dresser has charged you $100 at the most 1.5 hours, $6.00 worth of product, and made another $30 while you were under the dryer. Lets see that is $86.66 per hour....oh minus the $6.00 worth of product that puts her at $82.66 per hour she just made on you. Now how does my $35 per hour sound?"

I do have these figures that I got from my wifes friend with me at all times to show that I am not making up the cost of these products.

This might be sorta blunt and tick some people off, but some people are just worth ticking off!

JUST A THOUGHT!

1stclasslawns
03-07-2004, 03:06 PM
Give us some details.

What did you do?
How long did you expect?
How long did it take?

Jim

gusbuster
03-07-2004, 03:12 PM
dkeisala
Bullseye!

L.I.G..
sounds like you didn't make your rates clear enough to your client. Need to make that clear to the client up front. Specially to people on fixed incomes...just because their social security doesn't go up as fast as inflation, doesn't mean you can charge what they think the job is worth.

In my area, many people bought their houses 20 plus years ago...I always ask them this same question, Sell me your house for 20% more than you bought it for... most of these houses are now selling more than 300% for what they paid for their houses.

If this was a good paying job and you see potential for more income, sometimes it's just good to show the numbers to her.
cost vs profit, that is if you know how to show the cost of running a business. Education is part of the game.
John

Let it Grow
03-07-2004, 03:37 PM
The job was for a spring cleanup that included pruning a 20ft tall weeping willow, and she also wanted me to plant about 7 plants. I had to do some work to figure out which plants would grow well in the areas she wanted planted, so it was kind of a small landscape design.
When I first gave her the estimate I told her it would be between $320 & $400. I did the job which took about 10 hours so I charged her $330 which comes out to about $33/hr. Which is less than I would like to be making (I try to get $35/hr). Which does look like a lot to a customer who doesn't know much about business.
I just responded to her e-mail and explained to her about the costs of running a business. We'll see what she says!
I also told her to feel free to call me (I don't see why she wants to do this by e-mail!)
The funny thing is that after I finished the job she said, "so how much will this cost" and I said, "well it should be around $325 +tax"...and she didn't seem to mind the price when I was standing right there!!!

tiedeman
03-07-2004, 03:49 PM
she feels more secure by doing it by email, and not having any conflict with over the phone or in person. Basically, she is scared.

jajwrigh
03-07-2004, 03:51 PM
I would just let it go...move on and forget her!

Lawn Dog2001
03-07-2004, 04:09 PM
Wow Letitgrow. At $330 for ten hours of work it sounds like you cut her a break. That was more than a fair price.

Explain things to her as best you can, and move on. You have nothing to feel guilty about. Let her call around. I find it hard to beleive she will find another company who wouldnt charge at least that much.

quiet
03-07-2004, 05:34 PM
You gave her an estimate, did the work to her satisfaction, and your final price came within the range of your estimate. How long it took is immaterial. She had the right to seek other bids, refuse your bid, or do it herself.

No reason to explain anything.

Turf Medic
03-07-2004, 06:10 PM
Did you deal with just her or was her husband in on the decision. A lot of times the wife will give the OK, agree that the price isn't out of line. That is until the husband finds out how much crawls in her ASS and explains that he could have borrowed the neighbors equipment and got it all done for 10.00 and a couple hours of his time away from the TV.

Of course he never would have got it done, but that doesn't come into to play when giving his wife hell for spending the money.

This is one you can't win, cash the check and move on.

Wouldn't use this woman for a reference though:D

protouchlawn
03-07-2004, 06:10 PM
Possibly what has happened here is that some idiot (relative,neighbor,or other busybody) has told her that she paid too much. What leads me to believe this is that she fully knew and agreed to the price range you gave her with you standing next to her!!! How about asking her to get some estimates from some other companies next year and then maybe she will understand how fair your prices really were. The bad thing about this deal is that she will probably badmouth you every chance she gets. I guess this is just one of those things
we hope not to see too often.

leadarrows
03-07-2004, 07:08 PM
You mentioned that it didn't take as long as you expected
I deal with a lot of old people and they key in on phrases like this.
It wont help you this time but I was just wondering if you have realized that saying this might have been a mistake. I have trouble not saying things like this myself. My wife is forever telling me I talk too much. I like too be friendly and believe in being honest but you have too be careful what you say. Might have happened anyway but if you can avoid statements like that I think your better off.

locutus
03-07-2004, 07:26 PM
I have found that some of my older clients think that what I get per hour for my labor is a lot, considering some of them never made more than $5.00 an hour. Also, they can remember when you could get a bag of groceries for a quarter.

Let it Grow
03-07-2004, 07:28 PM
leadarrows-yes I learned that! I'm just going to keep my mouth shut next time.

lawndog-yes I did cut her a break. Even at my $35, most guys are AT LEAST that expensive, and some even more expensive.

protouch-I told her in my e-mail to feel free to get estimates from other comparable companies...so she's probably going to ask the neighborhood kid how much he would do it for. He'll say "fifty bucks" and then she's gonna really be mad...maybe she'll actually call me then!!!

turf medic-I only dealt with her, but you may be right. Her husband may be a know-it-all and told her that she was getting ripped off, now she is trying to take it out on me!

locutus-yes I think that many people take what you charge them and divide that by the number of hours THEY see you work and think that you are ripping them off, not realizing that you do A LOT of work that they don't see, AND you have tons of business expenses.

I'll let you guys know what she writes in her next e-mail...it should give us all a good laugh!!! As soon as I get the check from her, I'm cashing it and taking her off of my customer list. People like this are a waste of my time.

Shuter
03-07-2004, 07:35 PM
You will always find customers like this. I do at least once or twice a year. I take the time to explain everything again. After the bill is paid, I kindly ask them not to call or recommend me to anyone else. A lot of people run in the same circles of friends, so why work for another customer that is just like the bad one. I find that being extra nice when explaing a bill after a job is done goes further than being rude and to the point.

Jason Pallas
03-08-2004, 12:15 AM
my reply to customers like this - try to get anyone to come to your house to do anything these days - a plumber is $75 just to walk in the door, an electrician is $100, ..... she's ridiculous. At $33/hour, she got a bargin. Older people often think that you should get $8-10 /hour - they live in the past. Henry Ford doesn't pay a dollar a day at the factory anymore and gas is $2 a gallon. You actually came in on the low side of your estimate. She shoulda been happy. Take the the money, forget even replying - it's just a waste of your time. She'll never be happy until you work for free - there are better customers out there.

Harry0
03-08-2004, 06:44 AM
If someone does not complain about your prices once in a while you are not charging enough-Harry

Hawkeye5
03-08-2004, 09:49 AM
People that have never been in business for themselves have no idea what costs are incurred and risks taken. All their life they went to a job and were paid, took no risk, placed none of their personal money in a venture, or tried to understand how the marketplace works. It's too late and a waste of your time to try to explain small business to people like this because they don't want to understand and nothing in their background gives them insight.

JimLewis
03-08-2004, 12:03 PM
I'd be interested in where she works.....and what hourly rate HER company charges for her work. Or what their total labor burden is per employee per hour.

Still, she's obviously clueless, move on. I just say to myself, "NEXT!!!"

proenterprises
03-08-2004, 12:07 PM
let it grow-i had a carbon copy experience last year. same work too-it was over a spriung cleanup. the lady wanted her yard "hand raked" Ok-fine no problem. Didnt want an estimate, just do the work.

Did the work while she was not home-mistake #1
Had three helpers on the job. Billed her approx 50-/hour
Took four hours. Billed her and got a very angry response.

All this crap about I could have done this in a wekeend for free, your ripping me off, how do I know you were actually here working.

All of the unthinkable, put he threw a MAJOR guilt trip just to get me paid. I got my money in the end but learned many things.

Dont work for new customers when their not home
Dont do a cleanup without an estimate FIRST
When you enter a job that is out of the blue (hand raking) and potentially very time comsuming, warn them UP FRONT.

JimLewis
03-08-2004, 01:02 PM
Dont work for new customers when their not home

Dont do a cleanup without an estimate FIRST

When you enter a job that is out of the blue (hand raking) and potentially very time comsuming, warn them UP FRONT.

Don't do work for a customer when they are not home? You're kidding, right? 80% of the work we do is when the customer isn't home. What are we to do? Only do work for customers who don't have day jobs or just do our work on Weekends? That's rediculous.

Look, out of the 3 "things" you learned. Only the second one you mentioned is important - giving an estimate first before you ever do any work. #1 and #3 don't matter at all as long as you give a firm bid first. Then, there are no surprises and everyone understands what's expected of them before hand.

If your bid is a by-the-hour type of bid (which I don't recommend), then at least give the customer an idea of how many man hours you expect it will take you. Again, no surprises.

But this stuff about never doing work when a customer isn't home is rediculous.

proenterprises
03-08-2004, 02:19 PM
Jim-I said dont do work for a NEW customer when they are not home:alien:

Obviously its different if your just cutting the grass but other work, especially if you sense the people are skiddish, uncertain or cheap. I would wait for them to see me working before I do a 200 dollar job and then get the bill protested.

you can wait, but id rather see my money

JimLewis
03-08-2004, 06:52 PM
New customer or old - it really doesn't matter. It's impractical and totally inconvenient for most LCO's on this board to just "wait" until the customer is home to do work on their yard.

Maybe where you live you're working for old ladies who have nothing better to do than sit around the house and watch you work. But where I live, Dad's at work all day making business deals, selling mortgages or performing surgery. And 50% of the time, Mom is working too. The other 50% of the time, Mom is gone to Soccer practice, Mom's club, golf, shopping, etc. 80% of the time or more, our clients are gone on weekdays.

There's just no point in waiting until they are home. Our company has done over a THOUSAND one-time jobs for new customers when they weren't home and I can honestly say I've NEVER had a problem like you describe. I give them a firm bid, we do the work like we said we would, when I said we would, and for the same amount I said we would. When we're done, I go get a check. It's that simple!

dvmcmrhp52
03-08-2004, 07:06 PM
My response would go something like this............

Dear Mrs. Pita,
In responding to your recent E-mail concerning rates there are some things I must consider.

1) Your work week consists of aprox. 1/3 -1/4 of L.C.O.'s hours.

2)Your willingness to work for minimum wage.

3)Your inability to recognize reality.

After due consideration of these related factors I can only come to the conclusion that your alzhiemer ward is missing you.

Have a wonderful day,
The lawnboy.

:cool2:

proenterprises
03-08-2004, 07:19 PM
Originally posted by dvmcmrhp52
My response would go something like this............

Dear Mrs. Pita,
In responding to your recent E-mail concerning rates there are some things I must consider.

1) Your work week consists of aprox. 1/3 -1/4 of L.C.O.'s hours.

2)Your willingness to work for minimum wage.

3)Your inability to recognize reality.

After due consideration of these related factors I can only come to the conclusion that your alzhiemer ward is missing you.

Have a wonderful day,
The lawnboy.

:cool2:


if i had only had this letter last spring:D

MOturkey
03-08-2004, 07:24 PM
I went and bid a couple of yards yesterday afternoon. The first I got, at more than they were paying previously. The guy told me that was not a problem, as long as the quality of work was high. I told him that it would be. The second was a little old lady, with a small yard, maybe 15 minutes of mowing, 5 to 10 minutes of trimming. I knew she had been paying $17. I had originally started with a $25 minimum, but figured I was going to miss out on some of these smaller accounts, and since I was going to be just two blocks up the street, I thought what the hell. I'll do it for $20.

Before I got a chance to tell her my price, she said she had been paying $17, but she realized gasoline was going up, so she figured she would be willing to pay $18. I told her I had an absolute minimum of $20, that had actually started at $25 but thought I'd give some of the seniors a little break if they had an easy yard to mow. She hummed, hawed, and stammered. She said she just didn't know, but wasn't sure she could find anyone cheaper. I told her the best bet might be to see if one of the neighbor kids would do it for her, as I just couldn't do it for less than $20. She said she would try that, but would it be alright to call me if she couldn't find anyone else. I assured her it would, and just to let me know. I couldn't believe that $2 could possibly make that much difference, but I don't know her situation. Kind of reminds me of a fellow I knew that didn't buy a new truck over $50 difference between what he wanted to pay and the dealer's lowest price. At that time trucks were going in the $12,000 range, and I asked him what the heck difference does $50 make when you are spending $12,000?:confused:

Let it Grow
03-08-2004, 08:45 PM
Just received an e-mail back from her. I won't post the whole thing but here is a good chunk of it:

"I apologize to you for my terse note and jumping to conclusions regarding your rates.
The quality of your work was excellent and done in a timely manner. I have not spoken negatively to any neighbors regarding your work or rates.
What is your pleasure in this matter? I promise not to fly off the handle."


I guess my e-mail explanation of my business expenses actually did some good. I think she must have even read the whole thing. I guess this is proof that it's always good to speak to customers in a respectful manner (which I always try to do, but this just proves it works!). I know that there are some customers out there who don't care what you say, I'm just glad she's not one of them.
I don't know whether I'll be working with her any more, but at least I know she won't be badmouthing my company!

dvmcmrhp52
03-08-2004, 09:06 PM
Good for you.
It usually does pay off.

mtdman
03-08-2004, 09:28 PM
Originally posted by jajwrigh
I would just let it go...move on and forget her!

Ditto that.

Lawn Dog2001
03-08-2004, 09:45 PM
Im glad she saw the light Letitgrow. You may have just saved the next guy who performs a service for her from getting a similiar email. Thanks for teaching her economics 101.

Shuter
03-08-2004, 09:48 PM
Nice reply from the customer. My move would be to make sure all bills are up to date and kindly advise her to find another landscape firm. I find that if customers act like that once, they will rtespond like that again. To me the hassle is not worth the business.

gogetter
03-09-2004, 05:57 AM
I had a customer make the same comment to me before about my rates being much more then her hourly wage at her job.

That's APPLES and ORANGES!! It would be more apples to apples if she compared what she makes as an EMPLOYEE to what I would pay an employee.

As Jim Lewis said, you can bet HER boss is taking in much more then what she makes!!

How can people NOT see that difference???

I just explained to her that I don't get to put all that in my pocket. Then I gave her the laundry list of places it goes. Insurance, taxes, shop rent, advertising, equipment, etc, etc, etc,....

After listing about 10-12 things, she starts raising her eyebrows and says "oh yeah, I didn't think of that".

We got the job by the way.