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View Full Version : oops, i took the neighbors account


MIDSOUTH
02-01-2001, 11:44 PM
This morning i stopped at the Citgo by my shop and was putting air in my trailer tires, I was approached by a man and he asked me if I was in the lawn biz, I looked at my trailer and wondered if I was just pulling them mowers around for my health, just kidding . I felt that was a silly question because of the 60" scag,48" john deere, 36" exmark, various trimmers and blowers sitting on the trailer. Anyway I gave him my card and we talked a while. He said his previous service had not shown up in a month and a half. He asked how much I would clean the yard up for, without seeing the yard I told him 35.00 per hour. I went and cleaned the yard up and edged everything neatly . He called me and told me how nice it looked and to be sure to put him on my schedule as a year round customer. I forgot to leave a bill for the cleanup so I went back over there to leave the bill and I passed by another guy in the lawn biz that I have talked to several times before, this guy was at the neighbors house, which happened to be his own house. when I handed the bill to the customer, he told me "It was hard to fire the neighbor" Oh well, I guess that guy with the lawn service will not talk to me anymore.
Oh well, tough, he didn't do the job to his customers expectations and I took it, if he don't like it, he can (I can't say that on here).

HOMER
02-01-2001, 11:50 PM
A man's gotta take what a man's gotta take!
One more enemy in the biz ain't gonna kill ya, or will it?

Randy Scott
02-02-2001, 12:29 AM
MIDSOUTH, You didn't take anything, the man approached you, and you provided him with a quality and professional service. The other guy is obviously not concerned with taking care of his customers so, too bad so sad. That's why it pays to do good work at fair prices and they will come to you. That obviously worked in this case for you, probably makes you feel good huh? Nobody likes confrontation but you like more business don't you. You're only doing your job.

65hoss
02-02-2001, 12:41 AM
How can the other service not show up? He only had to go next door. :eek:

kutnkru
02-02-2001, 04:39 PM
We have a pretty crude bunch when it comes to manners and politeness towards each other in the business in our area. However as a rule of thumb we TRY not to blatantly bid against our friends for obvious reasons, to a point. Rule of thumb is: We Dont Initiate Client Contact.

However, once they call us and we make sure that they are willing to pay more for us (obviously we do better work-lol) because the two are past reconciliation, we take the job. If anyone of us has hard feelings we can do nothing but get over it - and try to produce better results for our remaining clients in ther future.

Kris

Greenkeepers
02-02-2001, 04:49 PM
He lost it you didn't take it

bob
02-02-2001, 04:55 PM
Matbe he didn't like cutting the neighbors lawn, http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?threadid=4074

Twotoros
02-02-2001, 05:03 PM
Just ask the old service , what was up with that deal next door to him and explain the situation. I have weird deals like that come up and am always curious why something was dumped or ignored. Maybe the guy didn't pay on time or wanted to many freebees. Maybe he's the dreaded 'talker' type and wastes your time. I'd find out.

DMC300
02-02-2001, 06:07 PM
I'm with "Twotoros" on this one,I would get the other side of this story from the LCO that "lost the job".There is probably a reason for it.

bdemir
02-02-2001, 06:33 PM
Yup,

Twotoros is right for me too. I think there is alsways two sides to a story. I would not care really because you did nothing wrong.


Bedros

moonarrow
02-02-2001, 07:19 PM
mid south I know how ya feel, but it isn't your fault he wasn't taking care of his customer, I had that happen to me once last summer, and the guy drove up while I was doing the yard I thought there was going to be a fight. Luckily the owner of the home came out and explained to the guy the situation. Now the guy just gives me one of those go to xxxxxx looks when we pass. I believe take care of your customers and they will take care of you

zimm4
02-02-2001, 07:30 PM
The worst thing to do is go after clients from another company. When A client aproaches you there fair game.

This is called the game of business.

MJ
02-03-2001, 07:41 AM
It's called competition. You go to a particular retail or grocery store instead of another. You're not obligated to go back to the last store where you shopped. And you don't need a reason. Neither is the second store going to contact the first to find out why you switched. We're in business, the same as KMart, WalMart, Sam's etc. If KMart chased me down to find out why I went to WalMart, I'd sue. I wouldn't expect the owner of the local grocery store to give me a dirty look for shopping at a different grocery store, either. We have a Schwans truck that comes to our house, somewhat regularly. While we try to buy something each time, we don't feel particularly obligated.

Mick

KindGardener
02-03-2001, 08:26 AM
I'm puzzled by kutncru's " rule of thumb"
(e.g., "as a rule of thumb we TRY not to blatantly bid against our friends for obvious reasons, to a point. Rule of thumb is: We Dont Initiate Client Contact."

By "blatantly bid"... obviously, I don't endorse following a competitor around his route & putting flyers in the mailboxes.

Forgive me for my youthful enthusiasm, and my inexperience here, but I am completely LOST by this logic. You see, I initiate client contact whenever & wherever the opportunity presents itself. I leave it up to the prospective client to make the determination as to the relative value of engaging my services vs retaining their current service.

People see the sign on the side of my truck and will walk up or call... I might stop at a neighbors home (that looks like they need my service)while my crew is working and say hello & leave a card... Yesterday I stopped at a "broker open house" (the realtors have a Friday open house so their realtor-buddies can all come over & see the new listings at one time) - met a nice lady who might refer me business.

What about marketing or advertising? Asking for referrals? I just can't see passively waiting for the phone because I "did a good job".

captdevo
02-03-2001, 08:51 AM
he approached you, he's fair game.....I have to wonder why he did though. Hope he's not the problem. I'd have to inquire.

HOMER
02-03-2001, 09:55 AM
Kind G,

I think what Kutnkru was saying is they don't actively pursue accounts that are being serviced by another company. I don't either, if I know and like the other guy. To date the only accounts I have taken from the "other guy" have been accounts that called me up because they were not happy. THESE ARE FAIR GAME! If I didn't get them somebody else would. If you start backtracking your competitors and try to snatch business then all your going to wind up with are some very angry competitors and very low prices. If you do it to them they will surely do it to you. I just call it professional courtesy. Leave mine alone and I'll leave yours alone. So far after being in business since '96 I have only lost one account due to a new guy that was friends with the customer. He was trying to get established and I really didn't want the account anyway, he was cheap. It woks well for us around here, the backstabbing must have went on while I worked full time. I'm sure the fellow I took some biz from was mad but he never confronted me about it. he lost it. It was already gone. No, I will not go in behind a guy and leave my card to try and steal his account. That is the lowest of low to me.

Randy Scott
02-03-2001, 12:02 PM
Something that I'm thinking of is that now it's getting to be time for me to start advertising, I'm going to be doing doorhangers, fliers, and in the local papers. I'm new to the business and I honestly don't know who services what areas, and I don't think I care. How is someone supposed to start a business or expand his present one without stepping on someones toes at sometime. I'm going to target areas I think I should and I'm sure they may already have a lawncare provider, so realisticly, I'm trying to take their accounts. Am I just supposed to wait for the people that never had a LCO do their yard. I gathered about 500 addresses from all the industrial parks in my area and they get letters about my business and my services. I'm trying to go out and GET work, not wait for it to come to me. I'm not going to lowball anybody to get work, the only bad thing is I'm brand new to this business and I'm sure it's going to happen, unfortunately, and that will be from inexperience, there's nothing I can do about that. So naturally someone will get pissed at me thinking I'm a scab. I don't want to piss anyone off by any means, but you know it will happen.
I'm entering this business to make it work, and make customers happy, and make my self some money, not to make friends with other LCO's. I by no means want to make enemies, I think it would be great to co-exist with the other LCO's and have good relationships to work back and forth with. You definately would benefit from that type of environment. But if you think I'm going to lay down because of another competitor, your frickin' crazy. This world we live in is a free enterprise, and that's what it's all about. Opportunity! If you don't take it, someone else will. There are businesses out there that get along great with each other, there is no doubt about that, in any industry, but I can guarantee you that the majority don't. I know that and so do you. It's our nature, your trying to survive and so are they. There is going to be a little animosity between you no matter what. People have different goals and levels they want to reach, someone will eventually get stepped on, or step on you. You make the choice!

HOMER
02-03-2001, 12:25 PM
Well Randyyyyyyyy,

What your doing is fine! Your going to send a letter out and leave it up to the recipient to call you or not, great. If he calls you then he must be in the search mode, if not he is happy with who he has. Nobody ever said you had to lay down and wait, that's what hunters do. Advertising is the most effective way to let people know your out there, if you happen to advertise to someone who has a service and you get it I'm sure the guy will be upset that you got it. He will feel like you stole his business. I guess no matter what approach you take there will be some problems. The way I have handled that in the past after I "took" an account was to make sure the customer called the service they had and cancelled with them before I started. If they explain the reason why they changed services then the monkey was off my back. I live and work in a town of 20,000. This ain't Metropolis here! Every one of us here have about the same # of accounts give or take a few, the rest is made up of, for lack of a better word, SCRUBS!!!!!!!!! The only ones I try to jeehaw with are the ones that have put their heart and soul into it like I have, the others that are out there doing lowball work and never showing improvements I could care less about. They don't act professional, appear professional, do professional work so they are not a threat to me.

In any business there has to be an element of courtesy. You either show it or develop a reputation as the black sheep. Believe me, your name will get tossed around a lot if you are the black sheep, if you have earned the respect of your equals out there, and they are as equally professional, they shouldn't have any bad things to say about you! I make it a point to recommend others when I have too much work, YES, your friends in the business will do that for you, if you show your a$$ I'm sure you can hang that up. Word of mouth works from the inside out too. I like mine both ways, and get it that way too.

I have made it a point to try and get along and play fair. I have made friends in this business by doing that and haven't lost the business it took me a long time to aquire. I helped a guy last season by referring overflow to him and have started helping another guy recently by doing the same. If you were here I would do it for you. In return I expect to be treated with a little respect and the same courtesy when they get on their feet. One day down the road who knows, we might work on larger projects together.

Run YOUR business however you want, it's yours. My advice, if anybody cares, is to develop a good relationship with as many business owners as you can, all it will do is help you in the long run.

Randy Scott
02-03-2001, 01:05 PM
Homer,
I think were on the same page here, I probably just voice my thoughts in a different manner. Everything you said is pretty much what I would like to achieve. I'm going to try and work with everyone I can and I think you're right that the majority of any problems will come from scrubs, (not scabs), I knew that didn't sound right when I typed it, I'm just saying that it's going to be hard not to step on toes, at one point or another, don't you think so. One example, my buddy works in a office complex and they have one of the larger, more professoinal, looking LCO's in the area do their facility. Big trucks, alot of them, very nice operation, hopefully someday I reach that status. My buddy told his boss about me and he said when the bidding comes up he'll let me know so I can come and bid also. Not that I'll get it but if I do they may be upset. Sure, maybe they won't care, maybe it's not a good account, maybe I won't want it, who knows. But should I not bid because they have someone. I guess though, they did open up for bids and I can give one, but they were one on my list before I even talked to my buddy, so they would've got a letter anyways. I like the point you had about the customer making sure they call the other company back and let them know they changed LCO's and why. That is a good suggestion and will use it in the future, that's what I like about talking on this site, I always learn something new and creative. I put out my thoughts and ideas and like getting responses, trust me, I take them into consideration and adjust my ideas accordingly. I know I'm starting on the bottom of the food chain here and I definately want to work my way up, I know it won't be easy but do look forward to the experiences and challenges. I guess I may sometimes be too aggressive. Thanks for all the input.

HOMER
02-03-2001, 02:00 PM
Anything that goes up for bid is fair game. I quit bidding on apt. complexes because the prop. managers give out the prices just to achieve the results they want--------------LOW PRICES! Bidding is seperate from work you have aquired through letters and good communication skills, salesmanship, etc.......... Thats the name of the game, you have to expect to get beat out, possibly after only your first year. I have some of the same commercial accounts I had when I started. If somebody goes in this year and takes them from me they either 1. offered a lower price and that's all that matters, or 2. somebody wasn't happy with Homer!:mad: Rest assured I will find out what the problem is from the customer before I go attacking my competition.

Let me change gears and get back to the prop. managers.

The guy I was talking about earlier that just started this year. He knows one of the property managers at a real estate company. She asked him to bid on a specific apt. complex------told him to bid $775.00 because she knew the other guy's bid was $800.00. I asked him recently if he got it and he said yes. That's good for him, or is it? He just got a huge complex with hilly terrain, thousands of feet of edgeing, trimming, sidewalks galore to blow off and a lot of mowing. He feels lucky and proud that he now will have at least one year round property. Thats $800.00 a month, not a cut! The guy that got the shaft: he was promised a large bid on several gas stations scattered all over, he has had them now since I started. Somebody went in and lowballed him out of those too. The stations brought in $4,000.00 a month, the apt. complex brought in $800.00. There went $4800.00 in less than 2 months. I know business is business but that would hurt most everybody on this forum. It would kill me. He probably shouldn't have had all them eggs in 2 baskets, one really, but here he is with the same overhead that he had, minus the helpers he had to lay off, who now are unemployed, and a big chunk of change to try and make up because of shady practices. I feel for the guy, he never went after anybody's business, he was minding his own, and doing a good job. Life ain't fair. I haven't talked to him lately, I hope he's hanging tough. He doesn't know that I know how he got the shaft either, should I tell him????????? Probably not.

I don't know if we're off track now or not, just thought I would show you how things really work. If you go after a lot of bid work this will happen sooner or later and you'll have to rebuild every year. I'd rather go after a little less and be confident that if I lost some it wouldn't shut me down

65hoss
02-04-2001, 04:24 PM
If you stop doing your neighbors lawn there is probably a problem. No drive time so easy money, right? Yes, this one is fair game, but you may learn real quick why the other guy doesn't do it. Watch for the warning signs from day 1. Get payment often until you become comfortable with this guy.