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Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by turf hokie, Jul 13, 2013.
9, 10 today. both from referrals. both in neighborhoods we are already in. love those.
Ok. Couple things. Figured I would put then here.
3 new residential and 2 new commercial so far. Just picked up an 8000 install in a neighborhood that we already have 8 houses in. No advertising yet. Just trucks and websites. Ads start to go in 2 weeks. Trying something different and not advertising early to see if it makes a difference.
That's the good. Now for the bad.....
Everyone one of my estimates has been competitive. I'm winning most just because the other guys are traveling further and my prices are comparable so they are using the local guy.
One of my biggest competitors just started using the rental model. Mind you he had been selling for about 15 years. That's not good. I always felt I had an edge over them with my rental model. Time to change the sales pitch.
For those of you that do not have a lot of competition. Keep in mind how much it may come back to bite you by posting all of your vendors etc on a public forum. The internet is far reaching and you can't erase once you put things out there.
I am up to 6 different decorating companies that service similar territories as I do. And that does not include the big boys in the city. You know the ones that have 40,000 sq ft warehouses and make their own stuff. I know most of you won't have to deal with that extreme, but keep mind the more you post publicly the easier you make it for the next guy to start.
Bidding against 2,3 and sometimes 4 guys for a 2000 dollar install is not as fun as it sounds.
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HD kind of dropped the ball on my mid October advertising so I'm going to find out not by choice how starting later works. Mine went out the last few days of October using my preferred source Cactusmailing.com with some appreciated help from Mike.
I guess the hard part is knowing your competition has a jump on you baiting the waters. Even if the direct mail goes largely in the trash the name or at least the image on that direct mail is hiding in peoples subconscious. When round two from your competition comes out along with yours on some level people may unknowingly identify with it more and put you at a disadvantage.
Marketing is definitely a mysterious beast to tame and understand. I think it's best to send out the exact same post card during the season and not three different ones. Especially if your in a big market where you just a drop in the bucket. I know the marketing numbers show you should expect your first round of mail to have a much lower batting average then round two. I'd be interested to get everyone's twist on this.
I also think it would be a cool idea to take the handful of us regulars on here and compile a private group mass email. You could think of it as a private forum where you could hit reply all and everyone could BS back and forth on things you would like to say outside of a public forum. I mentioned this a year or two back but it never gained traction. If your game PM me your info and I'd be glad to get the ball rolling.
I have trained so many competitors it is not even funny. I had a guy call me this year and do a bid. I called him back for directions and it was a voicemail for a roofing company. flag number one. did a bid for him, and he asked a lot of questions about where I get my stuff. flag 2. and then he asked about my pricing model for commercial work, did I give breaks at certain points, because "he knew a guy that had a strip mall..."
so at that point I just asked him point blank why I was there. and I told him I am also a consultant that trains folks to do this for a living, and he is asking questions that only someone that is in the business or getting into the business asks. and I told him it was ok, but I am available for hire to show him how to run a Christmas light business.
and we talked some. but the weird thing is this. even though this has happened to me many times over the last 15 years, the result is always the same, no matter what I do.
1. they find out what I charge and what I buy, and ususally they can buy the same thing for around the same price , even though I do pretty good volume.
2. they charge less or a lot less than me for the same thing, or they buy cheaper stuff that breaks and charge less or a lot less than me.
3. they get some customers, but they have no clue how to dress, sell, market, or manage a Christmas light business.
4. they go out of business or burn customers enough that the customers leave the market.
the only thing that helps me is if I try to teach these folks to buy good stuff and charge a premium. that way instead of undercutting me by 50%, they undercut me by 10-20%. those customers I can pick up when the new competitor goes out of business. but the really stupid ones, the ones that I don't help or won't listen to me, that charge 40-70% less than me, I can't pick up those customers when they quit. they have permanently reset their pricing structure in their head, and will never step up.
I really don't have a problem talking about the quality of product or posting photos about what we sell and even where we get it, although I do sell that same info on my consulting side. we do need to be able to talk about product, how it looks and lasts, and somehow we have to figure out how to talk vaguely about pricing on the wholesale and retail side to just make ourselves aware and better.
If my competitor buys the same as me and prices the same or similar as me, then I still can close many of those jobs. because nobody sells as well as me, nobody markets or manages the company like I do. sounds like bragging, but I love this business and it shows in my sales presentation. but when folks are way cheaper, none of that matters. they will put up with an idiot and have a miserable experience to save money.
I had a guy call last year wanting lots of stuff for his house from a HomeAdvisor lead. When I Google Street viewed the place it was a modest $120K house and it seemed fishy. After I talked to the guy it turned out it was a customers house of his he wanted help with and it seemed like a total waste of time. The guy was going to get me the address and in the meantime I went to go look at another HomeAdvisor lead.
A few days later the guy emailed me the address and it turned out to be the same house from my other HomeAdvisor lead but it came from the actual home owner who I did the bid for.
I am game for it as well, I agree with David completely. I have gotten where I have with much expert advice from him and turfhokie, and needless to say Mike. I got burned pretty good by HD couple years ago, the guy seems to have fizzled out, but I was also one that paid a few grand and needless to say, not pleased with the current situation there, but understand why things are the way they are
Getting some positive feedback about starting a group email where we can just hit "Reply All" and BS back and forth in private and not have to bite out tongues and be all candid. PM me you email and I will get the list started. The goal is just to have the half dozen or so regulars on the list and not the "Johnny Come Lately" who could really be a management person from one of our suppliers.
I have seen a few guys come and go pretty quickly also.
My headache right now is the guys that I am bidding against have all been doing this as long or longer than I have. They are not going anywhere.....At least with all but one of them they use quality product and charge accordingly. One guy uses quality product but doesnt really know how to install it to give the look it should have. Another one is just a lowballer keeping his guys busy but he uses mini lights on everything including the roof so his target customer really isnt mine. But he still does cause problems with his pricing and trying to get a customer to understand it apples and oranges.....
BTW....I got a 20,000 budget for a commercial project today and I dont think I am going to be able to compete for it. They want a ton of stuff and I am up against an electrician using junk.....add another one to the list of competitors, this is a new guy to me..wonderful...
I am going to have to take a deep breath and just roll with it this year. I am not used to having to fight for every single job like this!!!
Have sold a few ads ons but have my first estimate on Friday morning. New construction home so cant find any info out on size and whatnot. I know its in a $500K+ neighborhood that im not in yet so that's a plus. Have only sent out about 1200 postcards to a couple areas I don't currently service. The rest go out on the
15th so we will see how that goes. We start hanging tomorrow.
Well my small round of postcards I sent out as a feeler in a new area is doing well. Off of one route of 650 cards I have 4 estimates set up for Friday. Still have 9,000 cards to get out on the 15th so a good start for us.