Does the image your company projects have a direct link to quality?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Busa_bill, Jan 20, 2008.

  1. Busa_bill

    Busa_bill LawnSite Member
    Posts: 179

    I got stuck behind a landscape trailer yesterday when I was in a hurry to get somewhere. While I'm following this guy through no passing zones and a series of traffic lights, I get a chance to look over the equipment in his trailer through the mesh gate. I see what looks to be a fairly old Lesco 36" and some yellow machine from years gone by. The yellow unit has about 40% of the paint gone, and the Lesco looks slightly better. There is a rack over the top of the blower cage that has about 5 or 6 gas cans of various sizes and colors. They are all different. The trailer looks rough with bent angle iron, ripped expanded metal and in dire need of a paint job. The guy finally takes a left and he's driving a fairly new white extended cab truck. Nice graphics and text painted down the side advertising his company. The truck is very dirty. Its obvious it has been awhile since it was cleaned. The wheels (whatever they were) looked as if they had never been cleaned.

    Now that I've set the stage, I'll ask the question. Does the way this person maintains his setup give him a poor image? Do you think there are customers who would draw a conclusion of poor quality because of the way he keeps his equipment? I see a ton of LCO's on the road here in Houston, and the vast majority do not look to have what would be considered professional looking equipment. I'll stop here for the time being and allow folks to respond.
     
  2. GravelyGuy

    GravelyGuy LawnSite Silver Member
    from Indiana
    Posts: 2,518

    It's kind of a given IMO. If I was looking at him as the customer I would choose the other guy.
     
  3. echeandia

    echeandia LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,131

    Who would you pick if everything else was the same?
     
  4. jiggz

    jiggz LawnSite Senior Member
    from jerz
    Posts: 646

    first off a customer isn't gonna know the difference between an old lesco and a machine with 40% of its paint missing
    versus 2 brand new toros especially looking threw a trailer soo thats out.. nore would ever take notice to the
    dudes gas cans not matching, HAHA your nit pickin (no offense) and i think 99% of humanity would let a beat up trailer
    slide unless it was rusting threw with **** dragging on the street..

    so basically what your asking is if the guy has a fairly new nicely lettered truck thats dirty would people relate that
    to poor quality service, ehh i don't know, I think a very small percentage might..

    honestly though it takes like 3 minutes and a dollar fifty in a self serve, to power wash ya truck..its well worth it
     
  5. Wells

    Wells LawnSite Member
    from SLC UT
    Posts: 0

    The majority of clients only have one concern "did the grass get cut this week". Most could care less what type of machine or the condition of the machine did the work as long as the work was completed.

    We as competing LCO's take more of an interest in what type of equipment are competitors are using then do our clients.

    It wouldn't matter to me if an electrician came to my house with a shiney set of new tools or one with a old set of tools scattered around his truck as long as each could do the required job. One may project a better image then the other but they can both get the job done.
     
  6. barefeetny

    barefeetny LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 533

    Value: noun a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged

    your typical residential customer for the most part does not care what your overhead is,if you have insurance, what kind of mower you use, truck you drive ect

    it does not add any value to the finished project.

    they want quality work done in a timely matter for a resonable price. they wouldn't care if you cut it with an old rusty craftsman rider if it was done right.

    however when bidding jobs it does pay to look professional, uniforms, cut trimmed hair, and no leaky junk in front of their house.

    once you get a reputation for being dependable, quaility oriented and honest you could cut their grass with sissors if you had a steady hand.

    Seems to be alot of emphasis on these sites about what you are using vs what you are doing

    1986 toro midsize proline 44"
    1990 gmc vandura box 3500 box
    1991 48" scag
    assorted piles of 2 cycle machinery that run fine but are so old i can't tell you what the model numbers are.


    just my .02


    Nate
     
  7. IMAGE

    IMAGE LawnSite Bronze Member
    from midwest
    Posts: 1,134

    It depends on the customer your going after.

    Your not gonna loose many(if any) small jobs because the equip looks too nice, but you may not renew, or get, that big job because the equipment was junk looking. Having nice looing equipment may be just what you need to set yourself apart from the compitition, and it can be a great selling point.

    I think keeping the equipment quiet is the most important though.

    I actually figure truck washing into my planned expenses, because Image is important to us, and it is to some customers.
     
  8. Busa_bill

    Busa_bill LawnSite Member
    Posts: 179

    Now that a few people have replied, I’ll give my take. We all talk about finding a niche or developing ideas that separate us from our competition. Like one poster said, if everything else is equal, the customer would probably go with the person sporting the better looking rig. Professional image IE: clean cut, standardized clothing, clean and new looking equipment, logo, brochures… these are things that tell about who we are as a company. Let’s face it; anyone can cut a lawn from a 10 year old boy to a 65 year old woman. What makes you different? How do you add an additional sense of value to your service?

    In the minds of many, the image you project is a reflection of your business structure as a whole. Whether or not this perception is actually true to form, it needs to be addressed if you want to give yourself the best possible opportunity to advance. As I see it, structure is a key limiting factor in growth for most any business; e.g. recognizing the need and planning allowances to add key personnel, implementing and maintaining measuring devices for different aspects of the operation, standardized management and employee procedures, and yes, preventative maintenance for all equipment including cosmetic refurbishing.

    After working Quality Assurance for many years and helping to maintain a world class facility, I see how the quality of the operation helps the product to sell itself.
    Draw a parallel to your personal finances. Does your money serve you better when you have a planned household budget? Sure it does. What is your business budget? What is your plan or structure? Where do you want to be in 5 years and what tools will be needed to get there? Everything you do, say, buy or sell should be pointed towards this goal.
    It may sound like I’m trying to sell something, but I’m not. My only interest is to help the industry as a whole.

    This started out as a post about a dirty rig, but the issue is deeper. For those who may be offended, please don’t. I didn’t go to this trouble to bash anyone. Please accept part of my business experience in the spirit in which it is given. Hopefully this will help one person to think a little deeper about the direction that they want to head in and the tools they will need to succeed.

    Thanks,
    Bill
     
  9. HOOLIE

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    What I've found over the years is, a lot of people see a 'professional' guy and think that means 'too expensive' At least for mowing. If I was to hire somebody to do a $50000 install, I'd probably be more discriminating, but for regular maintenance I've never seen a big advantage to being 'cleaner' looking.

    Most people like to do business with people they like. If you present yourself well to the potential customer, how your rig looks is not really important. People expect your mowers to be dirty.
     
  10. IndyChad

    IndyChad LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Posts: 216

    A first impression is developed within the first 10-seconds of meeting someone. Would you go to a job interview in cut-off shorts? Hopefully not! I think that dirt and some scrapes on paint are one thing, but equipment that looks as if it fell of the trailer on the way is another thing. It always helps the sell if you put your best foot forward.
     

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