Lost more customers than ever because they "cut it themselves from now on"

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by smallstripesnc, Oct 11, 2013.

  1. Eric's Lawnservice

    Eric's Lawnservice LawnSite Member
    Posts: 166

    Yep! Craigslist is full of people who know that you can be replaced quickly by another guy and a mower for 15.00. In my situation my business ran much smoother when I stopped using Craigslist.
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  2. ReddensLawnCare

    ReddensLawnCare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,652

    Target full service accounts and convince your customers they need you to make their property look its best
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  3. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,830

    First, you stated this:
    Then you apparently contradict yourself here:
    So which is it? Is your pricing fair/under what it should be? Or are they not?

    My first inclination is to agree with the others who have said it is probably the level of clientele you are working for - which you've attracted because of your "fair or even under what it should be" pricing. LCOs who price their services at or below going market rates tend to attract customers who can just barely afford lawn care services. Think about it; if you're pricing AT the average going rate, that means you're pricing about the same as most other LCOs out there. Well, I got a hot tip for you - most LCOs out there ain't doing so great financially! The majority of LCOs are out of business in 10 years time or less. In the 17 years I've been in business, you know how many LCOs and Landscape companies are still around since the year I started? Only a couple. The vast majority of my competitors are companies who have started up in the last 10 years. Most LCOs aren't pricing right. And if you're following that lead - to try to stay "competitive" you're not going to fare well. If you're pricing accounts "under what they should be" as you said in your initial thread, then you're making an even BIGGER mistake.

    I used to work for a lot of those kind of customers too, back in the beginning. They'd cancel on us for the winter. Cancel on us for no reason. Cancel because they found a cheaper company, etc. After a few years of learning that lesson the hard way I started to realize that this phenomenon rarely happened with my more high-end customers. So I began to focus all my marketing toward the upper class neighborhoods and upper-middle-class neighborhoods. People who had plenty of expendable money. Those are the kind of people who don't even WANT to mow their own lawn. Neighborhoods where 90% of the people in that neighborhood have a lawn service. Like it's a status symbol.

    I also realized I had to start pricing our services much higher than I had been. Which meant three things; One, I was going to be landing a lower percentage of my bids (because of my new, higher prices). Two, I was going to have to start giving a lot more bids, to counter-balance. And three, I was going to have to give those clients a REASON why they should be paying more for our company. For, when they asked me, "Wow! You guys are XX more per month/week than my last service.", I needed to be able to justify - with a whole host of reasons - why were were more expensive and why we're worth it. I'd have to be offering a better service than the rest. A more comprehensive service than the rest. A more reliable, more professional, and more reputable service than the rest. So that became my focus. At that time, we had about 75 regular weekly clients. Today we have about 315. We've kept that our focus all along. Today, we rarely have clients cancel except for the usual stuff like death, divorce, moving away, losing their job, etc.

    And by the way, I've never signed a contract with a customer. Every one of our accounts has always been free to leave at any time if they didn't feel we were doing a great job. It's been my experience that if you do great work for the right kind of clientele, you won't need to trap them with a contract that they are bound to. They will want to stick with you.

    So those are my thoughts. Take it for what it's worth.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2013
  4. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 16,284

    Jim Lewis, another great post, good to see ya chime in.
     
  5. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,144

    I was thinking about this today when I realized I do know one tactic that will result in what you speak of...

    That's offering a really good price starting out, knowing full well you intend to raise it within the year.
    Common new landscaper mistake, price it cheap to "get" the customer, then raise them as soon as possible.
    Nothing will get your customers to "do it themselves" faster than that.

    Even super cheap lowballed customers don't usually run for the hills until the price goes up.

    You want your customers to stick around then you have to learn how to price so it sticks for at least 5-8 years.
    Not saying you can't raise any, but some will run away when you do.
    And pricing it right from the start hurts some, too.
    Which is why it ain't as easy as it looks.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2013
  6. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,916

    Having a contract, or not having a contract, makes no difference. If the homeowner chooses to do their own work, your services are no longer needed. A contract will change nothing in this regard. If you show up to work, the lawn has been mowed by the owner, what are your choices? It is their property (could be their largest asset), and they are free to do what they choose.

    As others have said, those who can take a different path are not the best clients.
     
  7. Woody82986

    Woody82986 LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,128

    Most of my clients don't even own mowers themselves, but I have seen an oddly high number of new clients wanting to sell me their mowers so they don't even have the urge to get out and do it themselves. I haven't really had to deal with clients wanting to go back to mowing it themselves in a few years. When it did happen though, there really isn't anything I could have done. If that's the way they are, that's the way they are. I now have a majority of clients on a 12 month agreement with flat monthly invoicing so I guess that helps keep the number of ship jumpers down.
     
  8. WayneJessie

    WayneJessie LawnSite Member
    Posts: 203

    The economy definitely isn't getting better. Anyone who thinks that has drank the koolaid coming out of Washington. Folks have less disposable income because of soaring gas/food prices. That's why you are seeing a flood of part-time lowballers needing extra income as well as middle-class accounts drying up. Might as well cultivate millionare customers cause there won't be a middle class unless the country makes a major policy shift SOON.
     
  9. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,847

    Food is cheap, honestly. Don't buy all that processed food, eat out less, and food gets even cheaper. Gas is a rip.....but it is down some now from highs.
     
  10. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,830

    I don't know if the economy - as a whole - is getting better or not. Seems like it's slightly improving - in terms of key indicators. But not much.

    Some local economies are doing very well though. In Washington County, Oregon - where we work - the economy is VERY strong right now. Tons of new commercial construction. Thousands of new high paying jobs being created. Real Estate market is gangbusters right now. People are getting 4-5 offers on their homes in the first week and $20k over asking price, regularly. I know things all over Texas are doing well too. I think there are plenty of pockets around the country where the economy is doing pretty well. We've seen more people willing to sign on for big landscape jobs this year than any year since 2008. So I'd say it's picking up a little.
     

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