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Made a change in giving estimates that has saved a lot of time and gas.

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by QualityLawnCare4u, Oct 5, 2005.

  1. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,758

    I can not count the time I have gone to look at a shrub job and it was a waste of time and gas, I was lucky to get 5% of them. After an incident last month( offered 100 bucks for 8 hours of trimming) and with soaring gas prices I knew that had to stop. Shrub trimming was my biggest time waster. When someone calls now on a trimming I let them know right up front my minimum charge starts at 65 dollars (Gasp, choke, wheeze,) on other end of phone line. "But I don't have that much" they say, translated, we have acres of shrubs that have never been trimmed and you need a bucket truck to do them. Yards I tell them my minimum is 37.50 (sputter, choke, cough) "but my yard is not real big or bad" Translated, my yard is the size of the ponderosa and has not been mowed in 2 years! :) This past month I have gotten 90% of shrub or yards I have given estimates on. This has eliminated a bunch of cheapskapes and bottomfeeding price shoppers. Cant keep absorbing the 3.29 a gallon gas for free.
     
  2. Drew Gemma

    Drew Gemma LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,511

    I hear you I am picky on what I take on or do. Profit is profit!
     
  3. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Posts: 4,900

    Have them e-mail pics of the work they want done and you can give them a real esimate on what you looking at. The key word is estimate.
     
  4. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,758

    Thats a good idea Mac, but believe it or not, I only have 2 clients that own or know how to use a computer! This is south Georgia! :) That would be a real time saver though.
     
  5. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Posts: 4,900

    Well theres your selling point. For all new full sevice customers that sign a 1 yr contract, they will get a new [not sure what its called] internet connection that hooks to the TV so they can stay in touch with distance relatives or always catch the latest news etc. and just add it into the yearly cost of the contract. I think they cost around $150 but not sure
     
  6. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    High gas prices are making a sharp business man out of you.

    Congrats!

    I use the same tactic to screen out the worst.
     
  7. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,112

    I e-mail Landscape plans and estimates all the time,I also am able to communicate better and make changes and have xtra work approved faster and easier by e-mail.Luckly
    most of my customers have a computer!
     
  8. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,654

    Good, one Lco who 'sees it coming' when they hear the keywords. I keep trying to tell guys to watch out for these key phrases, there's more than a few of them but they are, over time, always the same (yeah, I have a 'small' yard, lol)...

    I have found over time, at least 90% of the time when I hear the keywords or key phrase(s), it's always the same old song and dance. They don't want to pay a lot, my own CHEAPEST price is STILL way more than the MOST they were willing to pay... You quote them a LOW price and it's still too much, now they want to haggle and beg, cry and whine, oh please, and it never ends.

    Even more unfortunate is I find these folk are a dime a dozen out there... 9 out of 10 of my 'new' customer (someone I've never dealt with before) is one of those wheezers. The trick is to weed them out, carefully find the one out of ten folk who is NOT like that and yes you will make mistakes but you're better off, only work for those who are not like that (bonus: The wheezers now go on to newer, less experienced Lco's so that natural selection may continue its wonderful work).

    Whenever I see it coming over the phone, I usually don't even return the call. If I answer and it starts, I just tell them to call someone else (yes see, I don't want to turn them OFF, there's always someone out there bragging how they can do it cheaper, so let them do it). If I don't see it coming AND I go out there and by the time I get there I figure it out, it all depends. If they're not too bad with the hint-throwing (maybe they throw a hint once or twice), I give them a regular price knowing I won't get the job and just do my best to estimate quickly (time is money, too). If they can't stop themselves from throwing hint after hint (man I get tired of it), they can expect a price of roughly time-and-a-half to double the price... Here's why: Give them a really HIGH price and no more gasp, choke, wheeze, cough - It shuts them up fast, it stops the bs cold (no because I don't care for the theatrics either, to me all that isn't necessary, a simple no will do the trick, you don't have to fake a heart attack).

    By the way, have any of you noticed how folks who approach you on the side of the road tend to be time-wasters like the above? I have...
     
  9. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,654

    There is one more thing... Over time, I've learned to detect 'price range.' Without them saying it (and obviously without me asking), I can usually tell you before the estimate is over, how MUCH they're willing to pay, and that's their 'price range.' IF this price range is somewhere near my own, we're in business. If their HIGHEST is still way below my LOWEST, it's time to quote an even HIGHER than standard price. Here's an example:

    I had a bid to move (yup, dig out and re-plant) 12 Leyland Cypress trees (smaller ones, about 7-10 foot tall each), all in a row, an underground power line MAY have presented some issues, either way, you need an excavator because you do NOT want to dig out established trees with a shovel (I have done it, is how I know). Anyway, as I'm talking, I detected customer's price-range was around 200-300 dollars, while my price range was 600-750.

    By the way, I had already told the person it would be cheapest (yeah see, I'm not stupid) to simply cut the old ones off and haul away the debris, and plant new ones. Because you can buy new ones (small, foot-tall models) at Home Depot for around 12 bucks each... But no, no, didn't want to 'kill' a living thing... Ok, so 7-10 foot tall Leylands now are at least 50 dollars each new, more like 80-100... see, here goes: You need 12 trees moved, each is worth 75 bucks or so, gee, you're looking at 1,000 dollars worth of plant.

    This means:
    1) I COULD've done it for as little as 400... That would've been my lowest price, down to the wire and if I am desperate, make one mistake and lose money. Quote them this price and NOW they start to haggle or better yet, give me the dirty look. Besides, customer had already stated they did not want this. <- This can pizz me off on a bad day too, all the whining about the price but oh NO we don't want cheap work!
    2) Quote 600-750 and the bs begins with the cough, choke, wheeze, gasp.

    So, I quoted 975 and the bs was over right then and there. It shocks them, their brain freezes and they can't even THINK of wheezing, and I was on my way out of there. Also, now anyone comes along and quotes the old 400 (yeah because back in the old days I WOULD've made that mistake), and gee, they go for it readily and now someone else gets to learn what I've been through so many times.
    Meanwhile, they are SO shocked by my price, they will NEVER call me again (that was another one used to frustrate me, some call you time and again just for you to go through the bs again and again).

    I love it.


    p.s.: I give estimates in my car - Cheaper on gas, especially since at least half the time, I don't get the job.
     
  10. dcplace2004

    dcplace2004 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 423

    400 to 480 dollars plus a dump fee...if you charge 100 dollars for trimming 8 hours, you are a lowballer and should get out of people's yards...you make it difficult for all other LCOs!!! If you want to work in the hot sun trimming bushes for 9 dollars an hour--which it would be cause you probably don't charge a dump fee--then you are an idiot...
     

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