Customer Strong-arming

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by BRIAN GALLO, Mar 15, 2001.

  1. BRIAN GALLO

    BRIAN GALLO LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 282

    Have any of you guys encountered a problem like this? I call it customer strong-arming. I have a lot of senior citizen customers who are always complaining about money. I have their lawn maintenance business, and I give them a fair price and a top quality job. I manage to make good money on their lawn service because they know up-front what it will cost and I'm not lowering it beyond that. Here's the problem - usually throughout the season these customers will have other landscaping needs, and want to pay next to nothing for that work. Some examples are mulching, pruning, hedge & shrub work and fall leaves. Here is where they strong-arm me. They say that they will only pay $x for the job when I'm asking for $y, and if I don't do it for $x then I won't get their lawn business anymore! Whats worse is that in my area there are usually several other guys just waiting to jump in and do the job for less than $x and give a discount on the grass cutting as well! Sure those guys might not do as good of a job as I do, but these customers don't seem to care as long as the price is right. Even if you try to explain that you have business expenses they seem to still view you on the same level as "the kid down the street with a Lawn-Boy". As a result I usually end up doing the landscape job for their $x price, just so I can keep their lawn business and ward off those other guys. Any feedback???
     
  2. lawnboy11

    lawnboy11 Banned
    Posts: 181

    I hate all those crusty old bastards.
    Just fire them! It's fun, I swear. Stand your ground and charge what you want. If they don't want to pay it tell them to get somenone else to bid on it or do it. Then see what they do. If they piss you off enough just say good bye. I give annoying clients like that the boot, but normally do it very professionally with a letter I send. I also will do their lawn for two weeks if they do not call and say not to so that they can find someone else. Once I walked off in the middle of mowing though and she was yelling "what am I supposed to do?" I said "look in the yellow pages" and took off.
     
  3. AVRECON

    AVRECON LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 290

    I've had them too. Welcome to the wonderful world of lawn care! Its the same ole story, They live on SEC but drive a new cadilac and are always headed on a trip some place. If I were you I'd tell them what the price is going to be, and if they don't like it then so be it.
     
  4. bob

    bob LawnSite Platinum Member
    from DE
    Posts: 4,254

    Unless their name is the Sopranos I'd tell them thats your rock bottom price. Don't sell your self short. For every customer that you loose there are 10 wanting your services.

    [Edited by bob on 03-15-2001 at 06:08 PM]
     
  5. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Posts: 7,952

    I agree with lawnboy11. The day I start to succumbing to black mail is the day I get out of the lawn biz all together. YOu have to keep your bids inline with the profit margin your business requires. You also have to be willing to walk away after you make a bid and let the loser lowballer have it. And when the loser lowballer rob and kill the old people. Maybe then they will have learned a valuable lesson. Well maybe the next old customers will learn from it.
     
  6. jeffyr

    jeffyr LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 876

    Trying to head the problem off at the start could be the solution. Discuss all the services they want throughout the season before the season and then you may have a better idea what prices you can give them knowing how much work they will give you.

    For example, If I have a customer that gets lawncare only he will most likely pay a little more for that service than someone who gets all the maintenance, chem, and shrub trimming. I feel small discounts can be offered for quantity of work since the more time you spend(or more work you do) on one property, the less travel time & expenses and less billing, etc.

    jeffyr
     
  7. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,360

    I have one of those customers try this on me this morning. Do you mulch? How much? $65 per yard? Oh my, 2 years ago the boys did it for $20. Maybe they got there mulch cheaper than you? I doubt it! I can't pay that much. I have to watch my expenses.

    Oh please!! The old woman lives in a new 3500 sq ft house by herself on a golf course. After all this, she tells me she is about to leave for a casino.
     
  8. SummitFarmer

    SummitFarmer LawnSite Member
    Posts: 76

    I think alot of times we forget that these people weren't able to afford Cadi's (don't see why you would want one) and nice big houses by paying top dollar for everything. So many people just try to get the best for less and they have to ask. I agree you shouldn't be strong-armed and should stick with your price, but just realize what they are doing and go on. Everything is negotiable, and while I don't think you should be cheap, you should always try to get the best price you can.
     
  9. Currier

    Currier LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 564

    I sent out a final notice to 5 customers that had not reknewed. One of them called to say "We are on a fixed income and will have to go with someone cheaper..." He was acting like it was some huge price jump. Actually it was a rather minor adjustment and he was getting a great price plus a guarranteed freeze on price raises for the next three years! (a special deal for current customers)
    If he calls back now I will rebid it. But at the new customer price...with sure and steady price increases every year.

     
  10. cleancut

    cleancut LawnSite Member
    Posts: 222

    Sounds like you're stuck in a vicious cycle..If you don't stand your ground and stick to your prices, they're always going to look at you as their "little lawn boy down the street"...Just explain that you're a professional, you're licensed, insured and have to make a certain amount to cover your costs...If they don't agree with the price, just drop them like a bad habit and go after more desirable accounts....Everyone in the lawn biz have these type of customers...As a matter of fact, I have a few right now...Little old lady calls me this morning, says that she needs pruning done immediately...I tell her I'm booked up for a week..This makes her mad...I tell her I have to have more notice that a couple of hours..Told her she was more than welcome to call someone else...She decided to wait and let me do it...It really didn't matter to me one way or another...Stick to your Guns...Derrick
     

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