I can't compete any more...

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Loosestrife, Oct 18, 2002.

  1. Loosestrife

    Loosestrife LawnSite Member
    from PA
    Posts: 80

    RANDOM THOUGHTS>>>


    This industry MUST get it's pricing in line. I have lawn services quoting prices that are half of what I was charging in the early 90's! This is not a business like the cell phone business, where once the infrastructure is in place, money can be made on volume.

    How can someone pull up to a residential home with $70,000 worth of equipment, 3 or 4 persons, and walk away with $35 or $40?

    I have been in this industry a long time, longer than some posters have been alive. I cannot even begin to remember the shiny new trucks, trailers and mowers with some young energetic workers. I recall seeing their advertisements poushing low prices. What I notice most is that nearly all of these rigs do not appear after the rookie season.

    In our local paper, there usually are 60-70 ads for lawn service in the spring. I kept track, and 80% of the ads mentioned low price, best price, reasonable...

    Speciality services and commercial work used to be a safe haven, the new contractors couldn't get into these areas. Now, it seems as if the new contractors are going after these once safe havens.

    I have been around this discussion forum since the first Lawnicure days. I also don't see many posters from years past. What happened???

    I am working on a business plan to create revenue from new lawn services. It gets more and more difficult to compete.
     
  2. cantoo

    cantoo LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,910

    I'vebeen around since the Lawnicure days too. Two years ago I gave notice that I was quitting my day job, with 1 week left I took a serious look at my business and decided it wasn't going to replace my wages soon enough. I took a different job with the same company and my wife actually runs the business now. I only work on weekends and holidays and it seems to be working good. We can buy the equipment we want and not worry about paying for it. We don't have to take every job or give low prices either.
     
  3. Currier

    Currier LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 564

    An ad from my newspaper service directory:

    Under Sprinklers:

    Bob's sprinklers
    Winter blowouts $20.00

    And the best one,
    Sprinkler System installation
    Irrigation $2499.99
    Domestic $1499.99
    Winterization $25-35
    Mowing $10-25
    Fall clean up and leaf removal

    Can you say IDIOT?
     
  4. Piedmont Lawn

    Piedmont Lawn LawnSite Member
    Posts: 178

    Not that this will help but a friend of mine bid on a state contact for grounds keeping at an 11 acre site and janitorial service that his wife runs, he has lost on a bid twice and asked me if I would help if he got it when I could. He figured the grounds keeping at under 00.30 cents a minute . I said no....!

    Kelly
     
  5. Brickman

    Brickman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,249



    Idiot no kidding.
    Here the average residential sprinkler blow out -- winterization is $50. A lot of the contractors charge that. Some are lower, but I can't think they will be around long.


    As most of you guys know I used to be LCO and sold this summer. Now I transport used autos. Trust me guys there are scrubs in this biz too. For example, there is one car hauler that hauls for $45 where myself and most of the other MEN charge $70. This is price per vehicle for a certain distance. How he pays for insurance, truck and trailer payments is totally beyond me. I did hear yesterday that his pickup is on the repo list for the finance company that holds his truck title. All the legit guys are hoping they catch him soon. I am certain that there are scrubs in any biz no matter what you do. After a while they didn't bother me in LC, I hope the day comes when I will have too much car hauling to do that they won't bother me here as well.
     
  6. Columbia Turf

    Columbia Turf LawnSite Member
    Posts: 99

    Loosestrife, couldn't agree more. It seems some of these newer companies will come in and ruin things for everybody. Then leave when they can't replace equipment or survive a dry August. I have had "arguments" with residential customers over $5.00 before. At the beginning of a mowing season, I told a lady her price was $5.00 more than the previous year. She told me she would not pay that, but wanted us to do the job. She got somone else to do it for less. 2 weeks later she called and said she fired them and wanted us but would still only pay the old price. She actually was very beligerant with me at the end of the conversation

    One good thing, sometimes this is the best time of year to purchase some good used equipment.
     
  7. 1MajorTom

    1MajorTom Senior Moderator
    Posts: 6,074

    It's always going to be like this. Someone is always going to be cheaper because maybe this is their second income and they're doing this for "some spare change", maybe they aren't reporting any of their income to uncle sam, or maybe they just have an extremely low overhead. And you need not worry about the guy pulling up with the $70,000 worth of equipment because he probably won't be around for too long if he plans on targeting the $35.00 market with his overhead. It doesn't take much brains to take out a loan, but I think most of these "brainers" forgot their business plan. I understand what you are saying though. (They are driving the market down.)

    So how can you stand out and get the prices you want?
    Well with you being in business for so long, you ought to be getting the jobs just from name recognition. I would think you would be able use your long term business success as a key point when placing your bids. Clients should know they are paying for your dependability. You need to point that fact out to potential customers that you are not some fly by night operation, you are here to stay and reliability comes with a price.

    It's always funny to hear the other side. Where you are located, we perceived it to be an area where money flows easy. Lots of development where you are. Do you install new landscapes?
    Seems there should be some good money there. Is that what you meant by "new lawn services"?

    Quote: I have been around this discussion forum since the first Lawnicure days. I also don't see many posters from years past. What happened???

    Well Jac, maybe they changed their name and signed up again under a new name. ;)
     
  8. SLS

    SLS LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mars
    Posts: 1,540

    1MajorTom sez:

    "I would think you would be able use your long term business success as a key point when placing your bids. Clients should know they are paying for your dependability. You need to point that fact out to potential customers that you are not some fly by night operation, you are here to stay and reliability comes with a price."

    This is absolutely the truth! The longer people see me in my selected area of operation...the more they approach me to do their lawns. "Our lawn guy just shows up whenever he feels like it...I'm always having to call him...blah, blah, blah. Now, I've noticed you around the neighborhood for quite a while now and your lawns always look so nice........". It happens quite frequently. Thankfully. Easy sells too...and easier to convince them to go with weekly service. They open the door, and in I walk! :)


    Yeah, it can be tough sometimes with the flood of cheapo-priced upstarts that come in the spring. But, either they make it...or we take over when they screw up or burn out.

    Yesterday, while mowing a client's lawn, the UPS man stopped by with a delivery. Then he stopped me and started asking questions about the biz..."how much money do you make"..."is that big machine (my Lazer Z) really necessary?"..."I just want to pick up some spare CASH...and not worry about Uncle Sam"..."how much do you charge for this lawn?"... ect, ect. :dizzy:

    Jodi is right...SELL YOUR "DEPENDABILITY"! It really does work...particularly with folks who are tired of dealing with undependability. :)
     
  9. KLMlawn

    KLMlawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 443

    How about advertising (for those who need the extra accounts) " If you want a reliable service and quality work, Not Some Uninsured SCRUB ... CALL US NOW!!!" ... ???
     
  10. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Posts: 2,585

    Yes the lowballers are out there....but I'm also in PA and I have more work then I can handle and my prices are in no way lowball. My biz is only a year old. Almost all of my work is from referral.....and as stated above....people want reliability more than anything else. I also do everything from mowing to landscaping to fert to Xmas decs....if you can do all these services you need fewer customers and most of those clowns only know how to sit on a mower.....I chuckle at them everyday...but they concern me not a bit
     

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