Do people expect Solos to be more flexible?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by roscioli, Aug 30, 2001.

  1. roscioli

    roscioli LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 749

    I am solo, only do this part time, with no full time job other than college. It seems to me that all of my customers want me to be VERY flexible with them, and I wonder if they would do the same to the bigger LCOs in the area.
    For example: Only cut when its getting very shaggy, not when it needs it.
    Call and cuts.
    Pay bills whenever they please, not at the end of the month when I BILL.
    Sit and talk all day like I actually care, or have the time.
    etc, etc, etc....
    You guys that started out solo and went big- did they do this to you then? Do they do it to you now?
    What got this all going was that I just called one of my customers to see if they got my flier on aeration and overseeding. The husband gets on the phone and says "No, I talked to Calvin (the first name of the biggest LCO in town (like they are best friends (they arent))), and he suggested some other things, and I am going to try those first." UM, HELLO, I haven't even told you a damn price yet, and i KNOW you aren't ever going to step foot in your lawn, you dip****. ANYWAY- It got me thinking, most of my customers respect my decisions and pay the bills, but some question everything like I dont have a clue. It just got me thinking that if I had 10 fancy trucks with my name on them, maybe people would take me more seriously, and I wonder if that is really the case.... Is it?
     
  2. Evan528

    Evan528 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,144

    From the begining I put my foot down and make it clear that this is my business. Either Things are done my way or they can find somebody else. For example..... A late fee on bills worked exellent for me and let them know im not messing around. I have customers hand delivering payment on the 15th of the month so they dont get a late fee. Second....Make it very clear that you have many other accounts to service. Insist that they either let you cut it on a weekly basis or find someone else.... tell them that in order to insure the best service you need a consistent weekly schedule. I know its hard to set these rules in to existing customers who arent used to it but Its the best way to go. The more professional you present your self the more respect they will have for you and your busniness.
     
  3. Roscioli, lets say you go out and get a loan for 1/2 a million dollars. Go and buy the new trucks, put the lettering on them. You go to a house, they have some disease that is some form of pythium blight, and you tell them its brown spot or whatever. The lawn dies within the week because you didnt know what the disease is. Now lets say that you drive a beaten up old truck, you go to that same house. See pythium blight immediatley, tell the homeowner and give them a few options for treatment. Problem is solved before there is too much damage done. Granted the person with the new trucks may be looked at as more of a professional, but if they can't solve the problem what good are they? Age is another thing in itself though. Age and I hope I dont get in trouble for this, but "testicular fortitude" when you can go to a customer and say "I want my money now!" and they actually pay you. Age plays a big part in any business, because with age you gain respect, not all the time, but with age people take you more seriously than they will take a kid. Note: kids don't have to pay for their own houses, they don't have families to feed, etc. All things to think about.
     
  4. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,555

    Lawn boy,pythium blight is a nasty disease,by the time the LCo shows up,and diagnoses it,the turf is usually wiped out,it can move that fast on a muggy 70 something degree night.We treat on a preventative shedule to avoid losing 1/2 our greens in 4-6 hours.I got some in my step cots around the greens when we had that hot,juicey weather a few weeks ago.You could see the exact spot where the turf was,and wasnt treated,right on that line the pythium started.
     
  5. roscioli

    roscioli LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 749

    Evan- Thank you for the advice, that is what I have been trying to do. I wonder though if the people that started out solo experienced the same thing, and got rid of it when then expanded, thus seeming more professional, or something along those lines.
     
  6. Sorry John, I knew that pythium blight knocks out the turf within 24 hrs. However I was just trying to use a severe disease in order to say that if you dont know what you are talking about, you are in trouble. Maybe that doesn't make any sense, but I am not sure how to say it.
     
  7. Evan528

    Evan528 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,144

    In my apinion it is you that can make the change....not the size of the company. Like I said, If run your Business like a professional operation reguardless of the size people will respect you. You must be willing to toughen up and set down the rules though.....this may mean loosing a few customers but in the long run you will have a more successful bussiness.....and dont worry, do good work you have more bussiness than you can handle!
     
  8. SLS

    SLS LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mars
    Posts: 1,540

    I have to agree with Evan528.

    Put your foot down EARLY.

    I'm a solo operator with 30 1 acre residentals and I turn down more than I accept. I only have a couple of lawns left that I sorta dread...the rest of my early 'mistakes' are history.....

    The first thing I ask is "How frequently do you want my service?"

    If they want to 'call when their ready' or do it every two weeks I tell them the benefits of weekly (or at the very least 10 days if I want the account).

    If they won't agree to my schedule then I won't even bid on that lawn.

    I learned my first year that a schedule MUST be maintained and that it takes a lot more time to cut overgrown turf (especially if you want it to look good).

    If the potential client wants to "save a dime" by waiting for the lawn to get sky-high between cuts then they can do it on someone elses time.

    I am in the business to provide a service and turn a decent profit...not fatten up some strangers wallet.

    I really like the way our fellow member, Homer, says it:
    "If you dread it...shed it!"

    Just remember...this is YOUR business...You are the boss...You make the rules.

    Run your business..don't let it run you!
     
  9. geogunn

    geogunn LawnSite Gold Member
    from TN
    Posts: 3,010

    roscoli--I think you might need to compromise. be a little more flexible and accomodating in some areas and hold your ground on the others.

    if you have customers on a "call when they need it bad" schedule, and you have the time in the work day to handle them, AND the money is good for the effort, I say think about doing the work. if you are too busy to fool with them or if the money sucks, then you answer is clear...cut them loose.

    at risk of being called the S-WORD, when I started I picked up work every where I turned. why? glad you asked. it was because I was accomodating and people that had used the services hated them. they weren't dependable and everyone said the same thing, "they started out gangbusters but by the time school started back in august I couldn't get my lawn cut!"

    now, I am accomodating as I please. and so too can you. give it time. good luck.

    GEO
     
  10. EJK2352

    EJK2352 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,150

    I went solo this spring. I made things clear with customers concerning payment, frequency of cuts, mulch & shrub prices etc. etc. Everyones paying on time and trusting me to handle things, after they have seen the quality of my work. Stick to your guns and if a customer doesn't like it fire them!!!:) ED
     

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