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Freshcut Lawn Care
10-14-2004, 10:01 PM
Whoops...Have this post in the wrong section! In any case, here goes....

I am getting a little concerned...I am buying more equipment all the time and there are guys out there Low Balling all over town and I am not sure who is going to be left standing after all said and done!

My buddy is scaling way back due to this and taking on a new job to make some decent money, along with benefits! This pisses me off because this guy is Awesome! :cool:

I have only known him for about a year and a half but already consider him a Great Friend to me and my 2 sons!

We have shared lots of info (beers and laughs) and I encouraged him to get the prices up and not lower them. From what I gather, he did this, but still felt he couldn't stick with it full time!

Some guys are running around working...just for the sake of working I guess. He told me some of the winning bids (by the Low Ballers) on some commercial jobs and it would just make you sick!

Any ideas on how to deal with these guys. I guess everyone has a right to work for their own price, but this is getting ridiculous.

I am certainly not a violent man, so I need some good advice.

P.S. I will maintain my prices as long as feasible, as I believe there is enough work for everyone, but there seems to be more and more guys running around undercutting!

Andyinchville2
10-14-2004, 10:25 PM
Same stuff happening here....Lots of lowballers out.....Bad thing is, if your aren't competitively priced and offer good quality somebody else can/will get the business....I thought our prices were low but then we were undercut!....
Andrew

cantoo
10-14-2004, 10:34 PM
Freshcut, I don't know of anyone anywhere near me who does this fulltime. Everyone has a "real" job or they have other jobs they do. I buy used and build most of my stuff to keep overhead down. Plus I'm a drug dealer on the side so that helps.
PS this means I sell grass.

crawdad
10-14-2004, 10:36 PM
Freshcut, I don't know of anyone anywhere near me who does this fulltime. Everyone has a "real" job or they have other jobs they do. I buy used and build most of my stuff to keep overhead down. Plus I'm a drug dealer on the side so that helps.
PS this means I sell grass.
Cool. They let you do that up there?

cantoo
10-14-2004, 10:46 PM
They'll let us do anything as long as we pay taxes.

out4now
10-14-2004, 10:52 PM
Low barriers to entry so anyone really can get in. How to beat'em? Good question. The problem is really in how expensive all the equipment is IMO. Used will get your overhead down some but then what will the life of the equipment be? Guys get in an get out all the time so there is an endless supply o people. Once you train a guy he can become competition in no time so get any employees to sign non-compete agreements. It's come down to the point where there almost might as well be a lawn service broker for the customer. Guy calls up, I'll pay x amount. OK then broker calls around to meet or beat that price and pockets difference. So an LCO goes out of business. Broker finds another. Unfortunately consumers have no concept of what the cost of doing business for you is so they think you should be doing it for almost if not free. I'd like to see some of the ideas guys come up with on this one as well. People will pay for an arborist but often won't pay for a professional on their lawn.

Evergreenpros
10-14-2004, 11:06 PM
Advertise more, find the good customers willing to pay for what they want. Separate yourself. Many people understand the concept of "you get what you pay for" They understand that the lowest bid does NOT necessarily mean the cheapest. Their time is money, they don't want to have to find a new landscaper every 4 months because their current low bid is in jail, or quit because he didn't make any money.

There will always be somebody "cheaper" than you. It only takes a second to write down a low bid, but it takes much much more to provide a consistent, reliable, high quality, value based service.

You can put together a property portfolio, print out copies and submit with bids. Show you're proud of your work. Be available for phone calls, don't try and run a business by playing phone tag. At the very least, have on your message when you will be available to answer calls.

DennisF
10-14-2004, 11:36 PM
If you think you have a low baller problem...come to Florida. It's getting ridiculous trying to compete with some of these idiots. I saw one guy yesterday with a sign on his Craftsman lawn tractor for $8 cuts. The sign was duct taped to the back of the mower. But, the low baller will always be around and there is not much you can do about it. I ignore them for the most part. Most of them don't last more than a month or so. When they throw in the towel I usually pick up a few new accounts that they screwed up. I can usually make some quick $ cleaning up the mess they made.

Albemarle Lawn
10-14-2004, 11:54 PM
I would rather plant flowers around my trucks than ***** myself out for cheap.

We don't have a problem with low ballers because of the obstuctionist local zoning ordinances which prevent a company from getting too big unless they are located in an Industrial or Manufacturing area. You can't even be in a commercial general business district or retail area.

SO, the lowballers can't afford the proper real estate, and they remain at the bottom of the barrel, or in the case of the worst lowballers, at the top of the lake (pondscum).

KB :realmad:

Green Quality
10-15-2004, 12:31 AM
low baller,what a subject,this is my frist yr in the bizz,I see them all the time.working right along with them.but i have insurance,and every other hoop I have jumped threw just too start up!I think I would like to get rid of them all.IT like the old saying **** or get of the pot.I'm thinking about going to some of the township meeting ,and see if I can get something done.to protect my investment.what gives you go buy the books,put most or all your money in to your company,just to have some low baller wipe you out!it's unfair,so called trade practice,in which they are not a so called business.If we pulled togetherwe can put a end to the so called low baller!If I opened a store from the back of my truck,the cops would come and have a big fine for me to pay! I'm going to start writting down plate no# :angry:

ScCo
10-15-2004, 12:52 AM
there will always be customers that you will lose to low ballers. No way around it. Those aren't the customers you want anyway. Those customers want everything done as cheap as possible and want it to look like they paid you $1000 bucks per trip. They aren't worth dealing with.

I've lost out on many customers in a certain "upscale" neighborhood here in my hometown because there are people cutting 5/8 acre lots for $30.00. That's what they are charging to back those yards. In the estate side of this neighborhood people are cutting full one acre lots (bagged) for $40.00. I have 7 full time customers in that neighborhood all of which are bid a good deal higher than the numbers I mentioned some of the competition bidding properties at, and these customers pay what I feel my time is worth to have their properties kept the way I keep them. These customers pay on time, are always quite curteous, and appreciate my work.

If it comes down to not getting a contract because some tightwad prick is only picking his LCO by the lowest price, then I don't mind doing without that contract. Most of the low ballers will put themselves out of business fast enough anyway.

j&c
10-15-2004, 02:06 AM
"there will always be customers that you will lose to low ballers. No way around it". " Most of the low ballers will put themselves out of business fast enough anyway".

last year I lost 10 accounts in a sub to a low baller with a new craftsman(not knocking his equipment heck I own a couple for 10+years)but when his mower started giving trouble and he didn't have the resources to get it fixed in the proper way PEOPLE STARTED COMPLAINING ABOUT THE CUT AND THE OVERALL SERVICE THEY WERE GETTING Allot of the low ballers are not in it to provide a good and rep. service they are in it for the dollar(as some around here call them crack heads ) and when it starts to show the people will turn back to where they know they will get the service they desire even if it is at a higher cost. and yes it does hit you in the wallet for awhile but I'am here to tell you today I have the 10 plus a few more back and I do not think that they will leave anytime soon. just keep doing quality work and it will reflect back to you in more ways than you think.

HOOLIE
10-15-2004, 02:35 AM
j&c,

That's great that those 10 customers came to their senses. Fortunately I've only lost a couple to lowballers (that I know of). I think a lot of people view mowing as such a simple task, anybody can do it. At some point probably everybody's mowed a lawn before. Heck, even my sister cut my parents lawn once or twice (well, maybe just once. And I probably had to finish it for her).
So they don't realize the difference in service between some scrub and a professional LCO. And in general, retailers have people so programmed to get the "lowest price" on everything, its just natural for them to save a buck.

Soupy
10-15-2004, 02:43 AM
Target high end residential areas. Stay away from commercial work. Pretend the low ballers don't exist. Create an image for your business. This means make your company look like a real business, with professionally designed trucks, contracts, door hangers, uniforms etc. Your contracts, invoices etc should all look similar. Put together a system that projects professionalism. You don't want to look like the 1000 other LCO's in the area with a truck and trailer.

This will set you apart from the lowballers.

j&c
10-15-2004, 02:59 AM
This means make your company look like a real business, with professionally designed trucks, contracts, door hangers, uniforms etc. Your contracts, invoices etc should all look similar. Put together a system that projects professionalism.


that is a double AMEN!!!!
If people like what they see and it looks,acts and is professional they tend to go with that
(t-shirts with your logo front and back will pay for themselves in no time I got some on order now and the old ones paid for themselves and these)

Soupy
10-15-2004, 03:17 AM
that is a double AMEN!!!!
If people like what they see and it looks,acts and is professional they tend to go with that
(t-shirts with your logo front and back will pay for themselves in no time I got some on order now and the old ones paid for themselves and these)

Yes, I have shirts, nice pull over and Hats (the style Nike uses) all with my logo.

Pulling up to a lawn in a truck that looks like something a national company would drive. getting out with clipboard, colored carbon copy proposal/contracts and measuring wheel will get you noticed more then a guy pulling up in a regular looking truck jumping out and saying, "I can cut your lawn for $25"

This is a new system for me and I have noticed a positive impact this year. I have not grown a million dollar company with it, but people notice me now and I think the real test will be next spring. People have seen me around for a year now and I should see a big boost in customers. This is my 14th year in business, but I went unnoticed 12 of those years.

RICHIE K
10-15-2004, 07:37 AM
LOW BALLERS DON'T LAST THEY JUST WANT TO MAKE A FAST BUCK. WHAT REALLY GETS ME MAD IS THAT THEY DON'T PAY SALES TAX, WORKERS COMP, ETC... ETC.... :angry:



RICHIE K


www.kulakandcompany.com :blob3:

Mdirrigation
10-15-2004, 09:40 AM
Lower pricing has been going on in all businesses since the beginning of time. The best
defense against losing a customer is a contract. Try to cancel your cell phone after 3 months, you still owe the entire amount. A good contract is worth its weight in gold .
As long as you live up to the terms of the contract , the customer can not cancel unilaterally .
Historically prices for lawn mowing in my area have dropped , the prices are the same or less than they were 20 years ago , taking inflation into account they are at least 50 % less. Reasons for this are , the low cost of starting a LCO , cheap immigrant labor , uneducated "business owners" , faster mowing equipment , and customer mind set. Just to name a few. Now in the same 20 years , housing prices have gone up 4 times, health insurance way more than that, fuel has trippled, trucks have more than doubled , liability insurance has increased , and taxes have risen.

I predict that the competition will increase and prices will stay stagnated ,even drop , as the immigrants searching for the american dream , learn the business , and save enough capitol to enter the business themselves . It is already starting in the Maryland area , I have talked to some LCos who are complaining about the cheap guys out there , the funny thing is that the complainers started their business the same way. Simple supply side economics , when the supply of goods and or services
increases while the demand for those goods or services remains the same or increases at a slower rate prices will fall.

Salesmanship is always the key , you are not selling grass cutting , you are selling the customer time with their family , time to golf, 1 less chore for them to worry about , you are selling them reliability . Hire us to maintain your property and you dont have to purchace a 1200.00 rider, a 150.00 weedeater and a 75.00 spreader , and a 2000.00 shed to hold it all , you now have saved 30 hours of your valuable time this summer by not mowing your lawn , no repairs or gas in the equipment , 10 hours of leaf raking and bagging. Never sell the steak , sell the sizzle . When you are competing against the lower priced competitor sell the customer how you can make his life less stressful , dont sell him grass cutting.

barnard
10-15-2004, 09:56 AM
Whoops...Have this post in the wrong section! In any case, here goes....

I am getting a little concerned...I am buying more equipment all the time and there are guys out there Low Balling all over town and I am not sure who is going to be left standing after all said and done!

My buddy is scaling way back due to this and taking on a new job to make some decent money, along with benefits! This pisses me off because this guy is Awesome! :cool:

I have only known him for about a year and a half but already consider him a Great Friend to me and my 2 sons!

We have shared lots of info (beers and laughs) and I encouraged him to get the prices up and not lower them. From what I gather, he did this, but still felt he couldn't stick with it full time!

Some guys are running around working...just for the sake of working I guess. He told me some of the winning bids (by the Low Ballers) on some commercial jobs and it would just make you sick!

Any ideas on how to deal with these guys. I guess everyone has a right to work for their own price, but this is getting ridiculous.

I am certainly not a violent man, so I need some good advice.

P.S. I will maintain my prices as long as feasible, as I believe there is enough work for everyone, but there seems to be more and more guys running around undercutting! Two Questions for you. (1) why are you buying more equipment when you don't know"who will be left standing". (2) why didn't or don't you get some business from your friend who is "scaling way back".

Freshcut Lawn Care
10-15-2004, 10:02 AM
Some great insight and tips guys!

We try to promote a Professional Image....i.e. Business Shirts & Logo's, Clean and Up-to-Date Maintained Equipment, Good Customer Relations, Show Up When We Say We Will, Return Calls Promptly, etc.

You guys are right on when you say that some folks just want the lowest price and they are not worth going after anyways!

The higher end market is the place to focus. We haven't lost too many customers yet, as we always try to over deliver on our promise.

It's losing out on the newer work I was more afraid of.

Thanks to everyone for participating in this thread...Some real good thoughts from you guys!

:)

Freshcut Lawn Care
10-15-2004, 10:09 AM
The 2 Questions I was asked

(1) why are you buying more equipment when you don't know"who will be left standing".

(2) why didn't or don't you get some business from your friend who is "scaling way back".


Answers

1) We are purchasing newer equipment to expand the business and to make the current jobs easier to do. I am actually purchasing some equipment from my buddy.

2) We have taken on some work from him as well. I hope to be able to throw some work his way, when he feels he can take more on!

Thanks for asking! :waving:

Keep your thoughts coming!