Do you decline to do estimates for low end homes or "ugly" properties?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by GarPA, Jan 22, 2003.

  1. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Posts: 2,585

    This may seem like a strange ? but its something I always wrestle with. Lately I've had a number of requests to do estimates for cleanup/re-landscape/ rennovate etc on very small ranch/bungalow type homes. A couple of them frankly look like crap . Obviously these people are not necessarily in the income bracket that many of us like to target. My tendency on these is to walk away because I dont see customers like this as being long term clients.....and to be honest I worry about getting paid. On the other hand I dont like blowing somebody off just because they dont live in a nicer home. THis year I am trying to build a larger residential base since I am too heavy in commercial...so with that effort will come calls from homes like these .

    From you guys who have been around for awhile I'd like your perspective on whether...in general....it is best to walk away from smaller properties that obviously have been neglected. Of course if its a person who just bought the place that is a little different ...but...its still the type of property from which allot of revenue will likley not be generated long term...thanks for your 2 cents.
     
  2. SIG

    SIG LawnSite Member
    Posts: 188

    Most of my quickest paying customers and cash customers are the ones in the ugly houses. They live within their means and plan for such projects. If it's a Landscape project collect a deposit. I think judging someone's ability to pay, by what you think they make is not a good idea. If they are trying to beat you up on price, that's a different story, run like the wind!! I mow for a couple that lived in a 500,000 house. They were both in high-tech jobs and both got layed off, guess what, I had to wait for my money. I did get it though.
    Sig
     
  3. Gravely_Man

    Gravely_Man LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,075

    I would say if they are contacting you for an estimate then they must be at least entertaining the thought of fixing the place up. You never know the local homeowners association might be making them fix the place up. Just because they live in a not so nice location doesn't mean that they will not pay you. I have had wealth people that I had to fight with to get paid as well. Just get a deposit on all "big" jobs if that would make you feel better and use a contract.


    Gravely_Man
     
  4. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Posts: 8,745

    I agree with what SIG said.

    Usually the ones with less money pay quicker compared to the ones that have the money.

    If you do feel like they could be a problem with payment maybe ask for half of the payment up front.
     
  5. jlewis

    jlewis LawnSite Member
    Posts: 140

    I have two residential customers (remember, I am part, part time!) One lives in a 400k house. If she does not pay cash at time of service, she is slow on paying the invoice. The other lives a couple doors off of a 4 lane road in a very small house. Her only complaint last season was I waited until after the 4th of July to invoice for June! The gal in the 400k house - is my SISTER!

    I will try to make this brief. Do not judge a book by the cover. I sold Infiniti's for two years back in the early 90's. A guy walked in in a Domino Pizza uniform. The salesman next to me laughed, said he is yours and walked away. I sold the guy a 1990 Q45 w/ dealer add ons. He was 34 at the time and co owned the Domino Pizza franchise for Baltimore!

    That will stay with me for the rest of my life when it comes to judging people on looks.

    Joe
     
  6. JeffY

    JeffY LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 324

    I too have had similiar situation. We arrived at a small house that looked pretty neglected, grass knee high, bushes unkept. We were to trim the bushes down as far as possible and give them some kind of shape and re-mulch their yard. After a while, the homeowner came out and I talked to her while my two crew members kept working. At first glance, the homeowner looked white-trashy and I was thinking good luck trying to get money from these guys. The more I talked, I found out they had just moved in a couple of months ago and were in the process of remodeling. I asked about the situation with the yard, why it was so lawn and it turns out the neighborhood boy just didn't want to mow at the end of the season when grass was growing abnormally fast. Long story short, she ended up paying all her payments for maintainence and landscaping right on time.
     
  7. Randy Scott

    Randy Scott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,915

    Treat everyone equal. You know nothing about them.

    I would get a little more selective based on location, more so on the terms of dangerous, violent areas, than actual wealth.
    My best paying customers are middle class at best. The people with the big homes, big jobs, and big attitudes are the tightest and the most unstable in this world of corporate scandal and CEO turnover numbers. :)
     
  8. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Posts: 2,585

    good points guys....my concern primarily was not the size of the home ...rather the condition of some of the properties....middle class folks are the backbone of our country....but when I see a place that looks like a sofa should be on the front porch....I get a little skeptical . I'll continue to treat eveyone fairly unless I get burnd once too many...thanks guys
     
  9. Mykster

    Mykster LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 668

    Use to get to me also. My first year was nothing but those properties that noone else would touch. None of the houses were highend by any means. At first I was worried about getting paid. All of them paid in full and on time.

    I do have one customer(locally famous and, worth mil's) that still owes me 600$ for the last three months of the season. Just because they have money doesn't mean jack.
     
  10. Turfdude

    Turfdude LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,900

    Gnerally speaking, if its a bid for maintenace and the place looks like crap,and the homeowners have been there for years, then I'll pass it by. Reason being, more than likely they will not want to spend the dought to clean it up and keep it maintained under contract.
    However, if its someone who inherited the place in that condition and they want it cleaned up, maintained, landscaped, etc... then I'd be willing to give it a whirl.
    Remember, prospective clients see what type of accounts you service, how you work, and the neighborhoods in which you work. You want all of the above to reflect favorably on your image.

    Bob
     

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