How to deal with low ballers.

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by kajunlawncare, Mar 12, 2014.

  1. PenningsLandscaping

    PenningsLandscaping LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,855

    So so true. Nail on the head.

    Trying to chase off competition is a fruitless effort. Every year there's new guys in the area, doing whatever they're doing. I actually enjoy it, because I was taught by the absolute best, and there's nothing more gratifying than doing work that's on a whole other level than your direct competition.

    If my direct competition did better work than me I wouldn't have their customers calling me for install jobs. Who cares.
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  2. CreativeLawncareSolutions

    CreativeLawncareSolutions LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,025

    All that being said...there's so many customers out there just waiting to be had. Commercial or residential. There's no excuse at all to not be making exactly what you want to make in just a few years time. I love it. It makes you feel good about yourself not having to work for someone else.
  3. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,670


    right here.

    I call it the wet finger estimation method… lick your finger hold it out the window….. uh huh….$50! that's my bid.

    Some of these guys try and site 'experience' and skill with 'eyeballing' but it truth they just make stuff up as they go along.

    It's more than 50% of the industry.

    And when someone comes along that underbids them they get their panties in a twist.

    I saw a bid last year for 50 municipal properties.
    My number was 57,000.
    The winning bid was 50,000

    There WERE bids for 44,000 and 48,000 but they were both deemed to be 'irresponsible'

    Several of the other bids were 60k-64k
    and ONE guy was 116k….Woah what? What did I miss????

    That was 11 months ago.

    I juuuuuust got to talk to that guy last week. "Hey man, what was up with your number?"

    His answer?

    I knew I wasn't going to get it, so I didn't spend any time on the bid, I threw a high number out there to make sure I didn't get in trouble, incase for some reason I DID get the bid…BUT what I REALLY wanted was the bid abstract, so I could see where EVERYONE ELSE's prices were at .

    Sharp cookie this one.

    Just because someone has a higher number, doesn't make it "the right number"

    Just because someone has a lower number doesn't make them a lowballer.
    If you are licking your finger out the window as you drive by a property at 20 mph and don't put a lot of thought into your price and don't know your numbers.
    Someone with a sharp pencil deserves that work more than you.

    If you know your numbers, and you put your bet number you could out there, and you STILL got beat… the dude could be operating his business out of grandmas garage.
    Doesn;t make his operation "ILLEGAL"
    he just has lower overhead than you.

    I met this guy once who ran his whole lawn care business off his house boat.

    75% of his customers were on an 11 mile long lake.
    He could literally take his office and dock it at a customers house.

    He kept trucks and equipment in employees driveways.

    Dude had stupid low overhead.

    nothing he was doing was illegal.
    I'm not saying it was the right way to run a business, but it was also not the wrong way either.
  4. CreativeLawncareSolutions

    CreativeLawncareSolutions LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,025

    Well I want to mow from a boat.

    When my kid gets older I'm moving to a coastal area.
  5. PenningsLandscaping

    PenningsLandscaping LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,855

    I can't believe two bids were deemed irresponsible. Maybe they didn't have the right insurance? Or is it that the municipality just said there's no way they can do it for that little?

    Here in nj from what I understand it's low bid wins no matter what, but they can simply choose to accept no bids, and afterward not accept bids from the lowest bidding company.

    This happened when the district I work for wanted to outsource the buses and drivers. Two bids came in over current cost, one came in 400k under current cost.

    They thankfully realized that this company's objective was to get them in contract, wait until the district had long let go of the drivers and sold off all it's assets before jacking up the prices to where the other companies were at.
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  6. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,112

    Every year theres a new village idiot that tries his hand in state work. This guy litereally bid $7.25 an hour for both worker and manager. It said right on bid sheet.

    My family lost their main source of income to a lowballer. And they forever screwed that contract up. Allowed my father to retire before he was 40 with no issues. He was happy

    We had 15-30 people there. The guy shows up with 4 people. :laugh:

  7. Armsden&Son

    Armsden&Son LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,358


    Thank you for the example about the fellow on the boat... Perfect example... That is exactly what I was trying to convey myself...

    And the whole "illegal" argument came from another fellow....

    He was trying to say that no insurance and no license equals lowballer.

    This is ridiculous... no insurance and no license equals illegal.

    There are plenty of non-legit companies out there making great money.

    You may never know that they are not legit (especially if they manage to hide it)
  8. Snyder's Lawn Inc

    Snyder's Lawn Inc LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,541

    Am I a Lowballer
    Last year I bid a job
    I was 200 cheaper per visit then anybody else
    But I done this job for 15 years in the 90s to 05. Then I was knock out. Then later that company closed its doors .
    So the job opened back up I'm the only one knows how long it takes.
    Every body else is just guessing
    So am I a low baller
    People around here think I am
    Funny part if I knew I was going be 200 lower per visit I would raised mine up 175. I m happy with my price
  9. gdavidson

    gdavidson LawnSite Member
    Male, from Cincinnati, OH
    Posts: 11

    That is a tough one. I've had situations where a potential customer tells me that they received a quote for mowing much less than what I charge. Thankfully most of my customers are from word of mouth and contact me for the quality of work rather than price. Sometimes it's best to not get a job from a from someone who is solely basing their decision on price as they often tend to be the most high maintenance customers. Depending on how badly they are "low balling" they may not be in business too long. Focus on what you're providing the customer as a professional landscaper and the quality of work. It's frustrating to lose customers and disappointing when you don't sell a job but the cost of doing business is not cheap. I have been upfront with customers and told them that if they want a quality job from a professional company at a fair price to contact me but if they were simply looking to get their lawn cut for the cheapest price possible to call someone else.
  10. olajoe808

    olajoe808 LawnSite Member
    from Zone 5b
    Posts: 221


    Your price is indicative your service level. Low overhead, expenses, manpower, quality of equipment/ service, etc.. If you're half as good as you think you are, raise your prices that'll tell you where you stand. X service providers attract X clients. You want Z clients, be a Z provider.

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