Ok. I decided to post this because I see a lot of people here posting about how it's difficult to compete with lowballers and how they're basically having to lowball themselves in order to survive. And I wanted to share a few points with you all about how to avoid having to do business that way - How to demand higher prices and get them. It all has to do with your company image and how much respect people have for you. First of all, you need to realize that there are people everywhere, in every community who WILL pay higher prices, if they perceive a higher value. I don't care what your economy is like and what the competition is like. I live in Oregon, where we have the highest unemployment rate in the nation! And where I pass dozens upon dozens of LCOs every day. It's been like that for years. Every single day I see another LCO I never saw before. There are 3 in just my little sub-division. And that's just the ones I know of. Scrubs as well as pros all over the place. Competition is fierce here and our economy is in the dumps. Yet, I can still show up to a client's house, give them an estimate that is in the high end of the spectrum, and still land 75% of my bids, despite the fact that we charge quite a bit more than other companies do. Here is why...... First, for years and years I've tried very hard to develop a strong company image. Our trucks stand out from a block away. And we've always got several of them driving around town - all looking identical. You can't miss us when we drive by. And over time, people get our image impressed in their brain. Our employees have nice uniforms, hats, etc. So everyone around here now knows who we are. And that's half of the game right there. And what's great is MOST LCOs DON'T GET THIS! Marketing and creating brand imaging is generally most LCOs biggest weakness. Well, it's my strength. So we've just blasted past most companies because we've created a recognizable brand image in people's minds. This is key. Second, it's not just the trucks and uniforms; it's the whole picture. I try to make everything we do stand out from the competition. Our web site is top notch, our estimate forms are very professional, I try to go out of my way to be very sociable with clients, our business cards are the best around, we strive to do excellent work, we try to leave every customer satisfied, we try to always look as neat and clean as possible, and on and on. It's a business philosophy that says we're going to try to be better at everything than the other LCOs are. Whatever is standard, I try to take it a step further. It's a whole image - an entire package. So that when a client looks at all of these things they get a feeling like you one a seriously professional outfit. Third, I charge more than many LCOs do but I also try to INCLUDE more. Just a few extras that most don't include do the trick. A typical LCO might mow, blow and edge for $20 per week. Well, we'll mow, blow, edge, control weeds in the lawn, fertilize, control moss, etc. all for or $30-$35 per week. Not a big difference per week but that's $40-$60 more per month for us for each account. For $40-$60 more, I am happy to throw in a few extras. People get the impression that YES, we're a little higher, but look at what it covers! Fourth - referrals are very important. As we've grown, and have had hundreds, even thousands, of satisfied customers, we've created a huge group of people to give us leads. A great deal of our new business comes from referrals. (something that took years to happen.) And when you get a person who just raves about your company, it doesn't matter what Joe Blow charges. THEY WANT YOU! I guess what I am trying to say is that a lot of this business has to do with image and reputation. But if you're still out there driving around in only one truck and it isn't lettered, or poorly lettered, and you aren't doing much else to stand out from the competition, you're just going to be one of the herd! You gotta do MORE than the others if you expect to get better results. I have friends, other LCOs, right here in my own city bitching about the same things you all are bitching about....."Man, too many lowballers around here." "My customers want me to do all this extra stuff for free." "I can't seem to land many jobs." "I am not getting very good results from my flyers." and on and on and on. And I am always thinking to myself, "Hmmm. That's odd. I very rarely experience those problems." But when I sit back and think about it - there's a reason why. These other LCOs are "nobodys" to the general population around here. They don't know these guys. They've never heard of them. Their trucks don't stand out as anything they've ever seen before. They don't seem to be very professional. They don't appear to have anything special at all. So to the potential client, their just another LCO with a truck and a mower. And when that's all you are - you have only one way to compete - and that's to be the lowest price. But when you've taken time to establish a well respected business, you can charge what you need to charge, demand more for your work, and get it! And what's more - you will find that the people you deal with are easy to deal and and anxious to have to working for them. The clientele who you are all looking for isn't calling you or choosing your bids because they haven't any reason to! And many of them don't trust flyers nearly as much as they do a referral from a trusted friend. I am not knocking flyers here. We all know that with enough flyers, you'll eventually get calls. But I am saying that if the person reading the flyers is thinking, "Oh yah! I've seen those guys around! I think they do work for John and Linda down the street! Maybe I should call them." THEN - you're flyers are going to be TWICE AS EFFECTIVE! A referral is far and away the best kind of advertising and lead you could ever get. But even if you don't have that, brand name recognition is the SECOND best thing you can have going for you. And if you don't have either of these things going for you then all you have is your price. And THAT'S why you keep having problems. There is a certain group of people out there who are willing to pay more money as long as they perceive they're getting more for their money. And you're whole image will make or break that perception. I don't know how else to explain it. Hopefully this helps some of you.