Getting competitors customers...

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by GravyTrain, Apr 27, 2008.

  1. GravyTrain

    GravyTrain LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 375

    So, I'm in a bit of a ethical quandary. My wife and I moved at the end of last summer, and due to gas prices, I was unable to keep my customer base. This means I had to start all over. I've been able to get a healthy number of customers at this point, but recently came across some information.

    There is a company that drives around with a sign on his trailer "$69 any yard, call for info" or something along those lines. I saw him at a house on my street a while back and stopped and asked him "as a customer" what he was charging for the neighborhood. He said he had a minimum of $55, and he offered to prune my bushes for an extra $70. We live in a very nice neighborhood, but other houses in the area I charge $45 on average. Having viewed the satellite images and driven by the house several times, I would quote $45 without a 2nd guess.

    Here's my problem. I really want these customers. I know my price is lower, without intentionally low-balling. What would you do, out of these three options

    1) Knock on the front door and offer my services at $45.
    2) Call and offer to purchase the customer outright at basically half what he would make all year.
    3) Call and offer to mow the lawn for him, where I would pay him $10 every time I cut the grass, with the understanding that next year, I would keep the customer.

    The first option, very shady, I know that, but if I had not stopped and talked to the guy, I might have done it anyways, not knowing his price. The other two are risky for me because the guy doesn't seem real "straight" meaning I don't know if he would be interested in selling the customer, and if he did, I don't know if he would then turn around next year and try to get them back.

    ALL OPINIONS are greatly appreciated.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    I would just do some advertising in the neighborhood. They are not 'his' customers....the customer hires whoever they please.
  3. DillonsLawnCare

    DillonsLawnCare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,100

    if the lawns are clearly worth $45 and not $55, then your not lowballing. lowballing would be charging $25 for a $45 dollar yard. just take the yards. Just offer your services. there's nothing he can do. except gripe. when you get into lawn-care, expect competition!
  4. Paulup

    Paulup LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 270

    either buy a mailing list for your neighborhood(or drive around and write addresses) and mail out a flier, or just go door knocking and pass something out and advertise your price. I did this in a 150 home neighborhood last weekend where i know at least 2 other LCOs are working and don't consider it lowballing.
  5. P.Services

    P.Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,322

    just take them!!! thats biz. option 2 and 3 are CRAZY.
  6. GravyTrain

    GravyTrain LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 375

    thanks for the thoughts. I had a friend pass out door hangers a bit back and so didn't put quotes or prices on those. My biggest concern was being "one of those" guys who just lowballed for the sake of getting as many customers as possible. I think probably next weekend, when it's about time for their grass to be cut, I'll make contact in some form.

    Any more thoughts are still appreciated.
  7. whoopassonthebluegrass

    whoopassonthebluegrass LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,214

    Dude: that's not unethical - that's capitalism and competition!!!

    If I were in your shoes, I'd make some shweeeeet door flyer telling all about how you just moved in, and are offering a special deal to those near you in proximity...

    That way they are dealing with a new neighbor!! And they feel like they're getting something special.

    AND when they refer you, they will realize that your price may be higher for others...

    By using flyers, you're allowing the home owner to make the decision to switch - without any pressure from you that might evoke guilt.

    Just my two cents...

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