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I Stuck To My Guns....

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by mckell68, May 7, 2003.

  1. mckell68

    mckell68 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 46

    A current customer today told me that the neighbor wanted to talk to me about doing his lawn. I meet the man and proceeds to tell me this HORROR story about this man and his wife LCO who have only serviced his lawn twice in 5 weeks(the owner, who is in poor health has cut the lawn the times that the LCO did not show). He states that he only wants the front yard cut(3200 sq. ft.) I told him that I have a $20 mininum, but said since I have that Lawn next door, I would do it for $15. He says "I only pay $10 for the other LCO. I said $15 is as low as I could go, and promptly got the DOOR in my face!!

    Sometimes you just have to shake your head!!---Mike
  2. LawnSmith

    LawnSmith LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 389

    good job on standing your ground. i cant believe he was going to complain over 5 bucks. thats only another 20-25 bucks per month extra.

    he probably wouldve had a heart attack if i told him my minimum was $35. i don care if its only 3 blades of grass to mow, $35 bucks is where the prices start.

    in my situation, its not even worth me(or employees) to get out of the truck for less than that.

    to many expenses to cover....

    EDIT: i think you will find some minimums in the 50-60 dollar range too.
  3. Gravely_Man

    Gravely_Man LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,076

    Mckell68, that was nice of you to offer him a discount of your minimum as you had the neighbor. It is too bad that this person didn't realize he was paying 10 and they didn't show up and you offer 15 and do show up. Sometimes you just have to smile.

  4. Good job, he showed you exactly what kind of customer he'd have been right off. You're better off without him and didn't have to waste any time or effort finding that out.

    Not saying it would have turned out differently, but I’ve learned not to compromise on the price until the customer makes a counter offer. In this situation, I would have told him $20 and waited (Mentioning a "$20 minimum" doesn't mean anything if you offer $15 in the next breath (other than you don't really mean what you say)). He smirks, looks me in the eye, and counters with $10. I’ll hem and haw, all but walk away, and then come down to $15. People like that probably would have slammed the door anyway.

    My experience has been that when an offer is worded as you described, prospects forget all about the $20, and negotiate from the $15 figure. If you wait for the counter offer, it helps stingy people feel like they won something. But PLAY it for all its worth, kick the dirt, act like you’re getting screwed yet again, etc. HOLD BACK THE SMILE until you’re a block away.

    I understand your reason for offering him $15, but its tricky. Say he did take you up on the deal. If I was your existing customer, I’d want a part of that price break as well. So be careful about telling customers and prospects your reasoning behind a price.

    I’ve made deals on duplex’s and neighbor houses like that. Only if the lawns are so close that I can park in one spot and mow both (all) at the same time, every time. But it’s pretty rare to find that circumstance.
  5. mowerman90

    mowerman90 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,491

    I had an old man stop his car in the street and motion for me to come over while I was mowing a customers front yard. I stopped the mower and walked on over as he rolled down his window. He asked if I had a business card and I promptly retrieved one for him from my truck. He then stated that his house was at the end of the street and wanted to know how much I charged per cut. I told him $15 per cut (which is the "high" normal for my area). He said I'll call you when I want you to start. I quickly replied that I'm on this street only on Tuesdays so it would have to be done on Tuesdays. He said OK and then procceded to tell me he only wanted it cut every other week. I told him that I'd go home and wait by the phone for his call. NOT!!! Just out of curiousity I went down to look at his property after I'd finished mowing. It was as I expected. Mowed extreamely low (Floratam should be at 4") and looked as if it had not been edged for about a year. I mean, runners were 6in onto the pavement! The grass around his trees and against the house was about a foot tall meaning that he hadn't trimmed it all winter. Yes sir, I can't wait for him to call.
  6. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,501

    You did the right thing, Mike...congrats on standing your ground.
  7. Green Pastures

    Green Pastures LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,457

    $45 is my minimum. I've found it weeds out alot of the problem customers right off the bat.

    Good job sticking to your guns. You'll make it up.
  8. SWD

    SWD LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 989

    Nice job in not totalling capitulating to a prospective customer.
    I agree with and echo a previous poster comments that if you lower the price on an adjacent property, the current property owner wouldn't be happy.
    I have minimum charges that is substantially based upon the area of operations, not the size of the turf area.
    The one aspect that has been beaten into my head has been, Never, Ever, lower prices in an attempt to attract new clients.
    Doing this cheapens you and sends the wrong message to them.
    What I have done is to acknowledge an existing customer by altering prices based upon payment history, etc.
    When questioned by a prospective client I freely admit that my current pricing is designed to weed out PITA's.
    If they object, then fine by them, I know they were problematic to begin with. If they don't, and a suprising number don't, then were off to a happy relationship.
    The biggest, most important lesson I learned was patience - the customers will come to you.
  9. Gr grass n Hi tides

    Gr grass n Hi tides LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,020

    I had one similar to this recently too. Right up front the gentleman told me he had another lawn service coming the next day to bid also. I still bid the job where I thoght it should be - $35.00. I called him back two days later (the day after the other LCO was to bid) & he told me "he went with the other guy because he was less expensive." I thanked him for the opportunity to visit his property and talk with him and his wife, and let it go. Didn't ask what "the other guy" bid. We ended on a polite, professional note.

    It's hard for me wave goodbye to an account because I am in need of clients; however, I'm not going to cut my own throat. Sure, I could have landed it for $25, but then I'd be hating it every time I went to take care of the property knowing I under-bid myself.
  10. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,403

    You probably learned why your $20 minimum is a good idea. Weeds out the cheapskates . I also think it'd be hard to build up a manageable customer base with lots of $15 lawns, no matter how many you can line up side by side. I live where it's more spread out and not everyone has a lawn service, so it's the exception rather than the rule to get side-by-side customers. I do 4 on one stop at a few places, and two at a stop in several, but not whole streets like some do. But even then, I think you should try to put the time saved on driving in YOUR pocket, not the customers'. My minimum was $20, but I am raising it to $25 and canning the one customer I have at $20. She whines about money, but always has money to buy flowers she plants in pots and in the beds. I checked and she's 3 weeks late on her first invoice of the year, AGAIN, so she gets canned tomorrow.

    My advice, which I have sometimes declined to listen to myself, usually with bad results, is to stick to your guns and let the losers mow their own lawns. I would also advise dropping any slow payers. They often eventually turn into non-payers. And anyone who is so much as a day late on their first invoice should be viewed with suspicion and probably dropped. Better to lose some short term business and build your company's foundation on rock, not sand.

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