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  #1  
Old 03-09-2000, 06:43 AM
Nilsson Associates Nilsson Associates is offline
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Continued discussion ... got anything to say?<br>what do think about my last post in Painful Lesson? How do you solve lowballing, price problems, no standards? Can it be solved? <br>What do you think about mega mergers of the &quot;small guys&quot;? Is it possible for the small companies to form a merger of independents, create and enforce standards in the industry?<br>Same as what other idustries have done? <p>Phil Nilsson<p>Phil Nilsson
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  #2  
Old 03-09-2000, 07:26 AM
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Charles Charles is online now
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I think we have a unique opportunity with the internet and this forum Phil. To set a standard of pricing and quality of service for everyone to shoot for. The problem is getting as many lawn service companies to find this site and use it as a reference. We need to make a reference post. Pricing, ethics, quality of work are a few things that can be covered. A post like the rate book mechanics use. A posts on ethics like realtors use.
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  #3  
Old 03-09-2000, 08:22 AM
thelawnguy thelawnguy is offline
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See my post under &quot;painful lesson&quot; 8:10 am 3/9/00<p>Bill
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  #4  
Old 03-09-2000, 09:42 AM
JasonPC JasonPC is offline
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We definitely need to set a standard. Hopefully more and more landscapers will find this site and see what a standard price is and a standard way to price out a job is. My problem is not the little companies, it's the big ones! There's a huge landscaping company in my town, also owned by a husband and wife team, they do **** work and charge only $52.50 an hour for two guys. We're smaller and charge $70 for two guys. This guy is constantly undercutting us. We clearly do MUCH better work and take our time to make things look great. He's got his guys out there hacking things up.<p>As for Phil's suggestion to merge all the &quot;little&quot; companies: that's just bullshit. Our business might be small, but our sales have been doubling every year. Give us &quot;small companies&quot; the chance to come up. Maybe some of us can do it on our own.<p>-Nicole
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  #5  
Old 03-09-2000, 10:14 AM
crew crew is offline
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I think Nicole missed the point.If you are tired of being undercut,all of us &quot;little guys&quot; need to set some standards on price and quality.Most people who pay me want good work and know what that is.The ones who make decisions based solely on a price thats lower than mine will probably get what they pay for.All the other people i work for dont object to. paying a fair price for good work.All Phil and others are saying is lets help each other figure out what a fair price for good work is.I'm not sure about the market you are in but mine has lots of room for lots of people to make a decent living but there is also good competition to keep us honest.That in my opinion is the value of competition.If that battle for the customer is between you and me(assuming you do quality work above poverty level pay) may the best man win.If the battle is between me and some schmuk with crappy equipment,cut rate prices,whos not paying taxes or insurance and may or may not be around next year,its not fair.Hes not operating up to the STANDARDS you and i operate under.Whats great about this forum is the spirit of cooperation that exists here.That is what Phil and others are calling for and i think its a great idea.Cooperation and competition are not mutually exclusive!!
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  #6  
Old 03-09-2000, 10:14 AM
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Stonehenge Stonehenge is offline
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It would be great if everyone could get together and all decide to charge the same prices for services. That way, everyone would be able to make a killing doing what they want. Problem is, it's illegal. It's price fixing. Do some research on the not-so-distant history of gas stations and you'll find out quite a bit. So, if you want jail time, price fixing is certainly a way to go.<p>While I don't offer turf mgt/lawn maint services, I understand your situation. In my part of Wisconsin, many people see landscapers (which is what I do) as guys with a pickup truck, a shovel, and too much time on their hands. This is likely the same in your industry. The barriers to entry (for all except the very biggest contracts) are little if not non-existent, so any guy with a pickup and a mower can be a competitor, whether legal or not.<p>In reading many of the posts in many discussions here, I continue to read that the customers don't understand the value of the service you provide, and opt for a lowballer. Whose fault is that? Yours. And only you can fix it. <p>Your answer is in your complaint. They don't understand. You need to teach them. You need to differentiate yourselves from the guy with p/u and mower (let's call him Moe). What are the things you do for your customers that Moe can't offer? If it rains, can you catch up while Moe can't? Do you have a reliability record you can tout to customers (Put together a 30-second survey for customers to fill out at year's end to measure satisfaction. The next year, shout your satisfaction rating from the rooftops)? Do you have knowledge that Moe doesn't? Classes, training? Do you offer services Moe can't? Like fertilizing, pesticide apps (and the licenses that go with it)? Do your employees have uniforms? Do they look professional? Well marked trucks? Are you insured? If you don't tell them, how will they know? <p>They need to be taught that Moe's service and yours are like apples and oranges - like completely different services. Moe is who you call when you don't have time to mow. You are the guy/gal to call when you want turf management.<p>For my business, when I get a call from someone requesting a bid, before I meet with them I mail them a little information packet. In it I include a letter about the history of the company, and why it's important to hire my company over others (the reasons listed above, plus a few regarding membership in trade orgs). I include a copy of our insurance, an article the newspaper ran about my company a couple years ago (let me know if you want ideas about how to get the paper to do an article about you - I've even had a TV crew on a jobsite), and a list of 20 references with thumbnail photos. I've found that this does all the educating I need. Now my contracts are different than yours, and that might be more info than you'd need to send. But if I'm a potential customer, and your price is $100 more than Moe's, and as far as I can see, you and Moe offer the same service and benefits, I'd be stupid NOT to choose Moe.
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  #7  
Old 03-09-2000, 10:18 AM
crew crew is offline
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I think Nicole missed the point.If you are tired of being undercut,all of us &quot;little guys&quot; need to set some standards on price and quality.Most people who pay me want good work and know what that is.The ones who make decisions based solely on a price thats lower than mine will probably get what they pay for.All the other people i work for dont object to. paying a fair price for good work.All Phil and others are saying is lets help each other figure out what a fair price for good work is.I'm not sure about the market you are in but mine has lots of room for lots of people to make a decent living but there is also good competition to keep us honest.That in my opinion is the value of competition.If that battle for the customer is between you and me(assuming you do quality work above poverty level pay) may the best man win.If the battle is between me and some schmuk with crappy equipment,cut rate prices,whos not paying taxes or insurance and may or may not be around next year,its not fair.Hes not operating up to the STANDARDS you and i operate under.Whats great about this forum is the spirit of cooperation that exists here.That is what Phil and others are calling for and i think its a great idea.Cooperation and competition are not mutually exclusive!!<br>
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  #8  
Old 03-09-2000, 10:33 AM
scottlawns scottlawns is offline
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like i said before..im kinda new to all this lawncare suff....but to set a price is a great idea...but i think the price is going to be alot differnt in every state... i read these guys mowing in florida for 12bucks a yard...i wont let the gate down for that,in Minnesota the cost of living is much higher.but i sure think this site helps us all know kinda what we should charge,so thanks again for a great site.
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  #9  
Old 03-09-2000, 11:22 AM
Finecut Finecut is offline
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Nicole,<p>You say that we can't unite? Yes, Nicole you are right, take for example, the farmers. How many years have the farmers been losing money or just breaking even? Another example is the real estate companies, how many companies cut commissions to contract an idealistic house sale? There is always going to be someone to cross the proverbial line. <p>There are 550 people who use this and 10 other common sites, divide that out equally and say you have 55 people at each site. How many lawn care advertisements in your yellow pages? If you belong to any organization you already know the differing opinions you run across. It won't work because WE ALL try to under bid each other - will we try to make it non competitive business? What we all need to do is learn how to do our jobs without making a wasted movement and become as proficient as possible. Then we become competitive! Merge all small companies? It's a pipe dream, partnerships don't work, how can you put all these differing opinions into one workable solution, simply put IMPOSSIBLE.<p>Think about what happened to Dave, someone came in and under bid him by 6% and got the work, nothing improper or immoral. Was this a friend trying to help a friend? Would you ask a friend for the opportunity to bid on their companies work? Would you ask what they are presently paying for their services?<p> When looking at the big picture 6% is diddly? Not really, if each job paid only 50.00 dollars per week and 58 sites times however many cuts per year, your talking a major savings for the management company. Because these people under bid by 6% doesn't mean that they are incompetent or won't do a good job. The proficency of their crew may or may not be better than Dave's crew, but for now they have the job.<p> How do you spend your money? We all try to get the most for our dollar, and sometimes come out ahead and other times end up behind the eight ball - it's human nature. If Dave could have done the job for 6% less and made enough money at that price he probably would have, but for whatever reason he is unable to do so, or choose not to. Now unfortunately, he has to move on and find new accounts to replace what he lost. That is why you need to balance your commercial and residential accounts, don't put to many eggs in one basket. I don't know if Dave charged fairly for his work or if he was over charging, as no one else does, but there is a saying that goes like this, &quot;Pigs get fat and hogs get butchered.&quot; So if you can make a reasonable profit at 6% less that is what you need to charge. Being a self employed person is not easy and the temptation to cut prices is always there, to much one way or the other and you have put YOURSELF out of business.<p>We all have to determine how much we charge per hour and how much it takes to keep our doors open, so to speak. Think carefully before giving out prices, it will determine how long you remain in business. <br>
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  #10  
Old 03-09-2000, 11:37 AM
Nilsson Associates Nilsson Associates is offline
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Join Date: Dec 1999
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I'm not suggesting &quot;price fixing&quot; ... or contractors confiding in one another about contract bids ... but I have given some thought, toying around with the merger concept for quite some time ... looking for answers ... maybe a &quot;way&quot; that it could be done. Is there a legal form of &quot;merging&quot; companies together under one &quot;banner&quot; yet have each one under the &quot;banner&quot; remain independent as to their ownership of their own businesses? Franchises are something like that ... cooperatives are something like that ... but looking for the perfect solution if there is one so that in various individual local markets, 10, 20 who knows how many, come together under one unbrella so that the 10 or 20 are using the same pricing agendas. Possible? Impossible .. not sure. Can it be done? Is it done through an association, union, collaborative?<br>Can it be done, or forget it .. it will never happen?<p>Phil Nilsson
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