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curious about pricing <LONG>

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by yrdandgardenhandyman, Aug 14, 2004.

  1. yrdandgardenhandyman

    yrdandgardenhandyman LawnSite Senior Member
    from midwest
    Posts: 953

    I'm not writing to whine or even complain. I am curious about customer behaviour. This is my first year doing this on the, shall we say, "up and up". You know, insurance, tax liscense and the like.
    I have a customer that I picked up last year and she has always been a bit fickle. She'd call saying that she wanted something done so I show up and it was, "You know what, I decided to do something different. She'd still hire me but instead of cleaning out a flower bed, I'd end up hauling stone and spreading it down the edge of her 450 foot drive. Always charged her $27.00/hr/man and billed it as such. Always myself and a 2 man crew. No complaints.
    Last week we had a bad windstorm. She called to have me clean up a couple of trees that blew down. I have a 2 man crew to work with me on such jobs. We did the cleanup. It took 3 men 3 hours a piece for a total of 9 manhours and 3 truckloads of wood. The city is allowing free dumping of storm debris so I didn't even charge for the hauling.
    Left the bill. Today, 3 days later, I get a call. She wants me to justify the bill. I told her it took 3 men 3hours a piece for a total of 9 manhours and 3 truckloads of wood.
    I told her $27.00/hr. All of a sudden she took offense to the price. Remember, I've always charged this. She said that she never agreed to pay for more than one man. Tried to explain that it was more than a one man job.
    She said she'd pay it this time but that she would be looking for someone else.
    She said that $25.00 was uncalled for. I tried to explain about taxes, gas, insurance, work comp and the like but her only comment was, "cost of doing business. The customer should not be charged for these things." Well, I say, where's this money to cover costs to come from?
    Have any of you had a similar experience and how did you handle it?
    Most customers have had no problem with price including this lady, until today.
    I had one customer earlier in the year tell me I was a bit pricy but $27.00 doesn't seem too far out of line given the quality and speed of work.
  2. MLL

    MLL LawnSite Member
    from Houston
    Posts: 10

    Don't ever sell yourself short. If she only wanted one person then it was still 9 hours. If there is a next time with her, tell her that your prices have gone up. You don't need to be jacking around with someone like that. Especially someone you have taken care of over the years. Time is money and now that you are legit, the clock is ticking.
  3. TLP

    TLP LawnSite Member
    Posts: 2

    One possible way to avoid this type of behavior in a client is to have a written agreement prior to starting any job that is not a repetitive job (projects) spelling out the perimeters of the job as well as the fees expected. (repetitive jobs would only require one initial agreement as compared to a new agreement each time)
  4. yrdandgardenhandyman

    yrdandgardenhandyman LawnSite Senior Member
    from midwest
    Posts: 953

    I don't think anybody around here is interested in signing contracts.
    Most of the time I only meet the client once. They simply tell me what they want done and to what specs and I do it and send a bill. These are typically under $1000.00 jobs.
    We are barely trusted now because of the influx of illegals and con-artists.
  5. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Posts: 2,585

    Frist of all your hourly billing rate is nowhere near too high.
    We NEVER quote an hourly rater for any job. For those jobs where a hard number is almost impossible to quote upfront, like a cleanup job, we quote them a low to high range of cost.

    Unfortunately there are too many people out there who think we should work for some ridiculously low wage . She sounds like the kind of customer I would work for only once...
  6. DiscoveryLawn

    DiscoveryLawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 408

    Im with Garpar. I never tell my customers what I charge per hour. I quote a dedicated price based on what my experience has told me it takes to perform the work. I have occassionaly had to give a low end and high end price range for a job that I just could not commit to and strived to come in at the low end.
    As a side note... I quoted a lady $420.00 to do some work and she said how many days will that take you 2 or 3? When I told her I would get it done in one day she said wow, how many men will it take? When I told her I was going to do it by myself because it was such a small job she did not believe that I could get it done in one day. (I was done in 6.5 hour)
    In the same neighborhood I quoted a guy $720.00 for some work that I was going to get done (again by myself) in one day and he could not believe my price was so low!!! Go figure!

  7. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,353

    I think your price was if anything Low you still had to get there you had to pay for loading and unloading your trucks plus everything you said plus lunch breaks at sometime in the day.

    Don't let her get your down I have many {that for lack of a better term plus this is what they were} try to jew me down on every price we would say its a fair price and get crap like well I think its a little high whelp thatÂ’s cool trim the bush your self then and have a nice day. I do not haggle the price is the price. When I sell a job and they want it lower np I can do that and how do I lower their price easy I cut the work and the product. Instead of 30 yards of topsoil we will now try to do it with 20 instead of 10 shrubs lets try 6 what I do not do is cut my hourly rate for them.
  8. Team Gopher

    Team Gopher LawnSite Platinum Member
    from -
    Posts: 4,041

    Hi yrdandgardenhandyman,

    Something to consider is that having a contract should help the level of trust between you and the customer. It might be something to worth trying.
  9. James Cormier

    James Cormier LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Ma
    Posts: 1,218

    I think you created this problem yourself, You say this is your first year on the " up & up " this leads me to believe you have been doing this on the " down & down " in the past.

    Well her's a great example of how you hurt yourself in the long run by not doing things the right way and charging what you should be charging,

    I m sure the customer is just use to fly by nighters or part time hacks doing things for cheap money. Cant blame her. Because behind you theres 10 guys willing to do it for $22.00 per hour. There will always be people like this, you just gotta move on and find people willing to pay your rates.

    BTW, I think $27 per man hour is way too low, I would hope your paying them less than $10.00 or your not making any money
  10. Talstar

    Talstar LawnSite Member
    Posts: 20

    I would charge her $30/ hour for the arguement! If your quality of work and your communication skills are sharp, you will realize there is a market for this within this industry. Seems like you did her a favor, and if a customer can't see this.... I suggest they exercise their option to shop. Go for quality, not quantity. This way you can make the same $$$ with 50 clients, not 150. Keeps overhead low, job quality high and equipment in good order.

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