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The Bank of England

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by 1MajorTom, Sep 27, 2007.

  1. 1MajorTom

    1MajorTom Senior Moderator
    Posts: 6,074

    So I come home today and there is a message on the machine.
    A man says, "hello, I am calling for my aunt, I would like you to come out to her house and give her an estimate. I don't want you to take advantage of her though, because she is elderly. This is the address, blah, blah, blah, etc... We had some yo yo here who thought she was the bank of England, so that's why I mention about her being taken advantage of. I want you to come here and do good work for a good price. Here is our phone number."

    Now I ask you, after hearing this message, do you judge this book by the cover and think that they will be cheap? Or do you drive all the way out there and give an estimate to someone you feel that may be a timewaster?

    Just starting conversation to see how others handle things. I've already called him back and apologized and said we were booked, Matt's not interested in this one.
    How quick are you to judge potential clients?
  2. grandview (2006)

    grandview (2006) LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,466

    Sounds like they're prepping the house to get rid of her and sell it and keep the money. Or they do care about her . If it's not to far go, that our job.
  3. F Haney

    F Haney LawnSite Member
    Posts: 26

    I would have called and asked a general size/description of the property and what he wanted done, then gave a rough ESTIMATE over the phone. That would give him a ballpark figure and you would know how interested he was. Beats wasting fuel and time. Of course you would have to see it to give a concrete figure.
  4. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    I try never to judge too much on the initial phone conversation unless something really scares me off.

    That wouldn't have scared me off. He may be telling the truth. Some young swindler probably figured out that the old lady was an easy mark and started nickel and diming her with additional work that "urgently" needed done - or something like that.

    I would have come out and explained, "Nope. You won't get that from us. Everything you mentioned is already included with our full service package. All you'll see from us is a bill for $XXX.xx each month unless you request us to do something extra like new barkmulch." And I'd probably leave with a new customer and have them for years.

    On the other hand, I may get there and they say, "Bloody cripes! $165 per month? You Americans are freakin' theives!"

    But I would have taken the chance.
  5. Sweet Tater

    Sweet Tater LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,123

    I am bad in need of more customers, so I would have gone and gave an estimate anyway.
    I've seen the wife pissed, so nothing scares me now lol
  6. Albery's Lawn & Tractor

    Albery's Lawn & Tractor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,674

    Same here. I know a lot of fly by night LCO's that charge (or atleast try) $75 for a simple 1/4 acre lot, that I will do for $35-40. Never know, they could have liked you & your price and that could have turned into some more work.
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Part of my job as company owner is to determine the customer's potential financial ability, which is to say I like to know first if they can afford it, second if they're willing to pay for it. Little frustrates me worse than a non-payment or other related issue due to finances, however, since these issues can usually be foreseen or predicted, I also feel that when such a situation arises then I have failed myself, the company, and the customer.

    I am sure some would argue, but the simple fact is I don't enjoy putting someone's problem on their credit record. That to me is a last resort statement indicating failure, while some might see it as the customer's ultimate failure to pay, I also review the situation carefully to see where it is I went wrong. Because I feel that had I done my job properly, then perhaps all of it could have been prevented. In the end it is of no benefit to myself or the customer, I am certain they are not pleased with the effect a negative credit report has, meanwhile I would also be far better off had I got paid.

    It is looking out for myself as well as them, some may not appreciate it, but that is my job, whether I need the money or not.

    What I have done in these cases if I need the work is first look it up (to get size and infos), then go on out there and take a real quick look (as in, before someone comes outside to start the chatting), get back in the car and leave. IF the yard is something I would like to service AND I need the work bad, then it is possible I will call with an estimate. More than likely this estimate will be slightly above normal, and chances are good to excellent I will require payment upfront.

    It's yin and yang, running sounds about as effective in this case, I'd be torn between which to do, but running would be the far easier solution. Either way, I do not feel it incorrect to determine that this customer is likely to be financial trouble in the making.
    There are no guarantees, I am certain you and I make mistakes, but 9 out of 10 times when I can see it coming, sure enough.
    So then there is that 1 out of 10, I am sorry about this but the slight risk of such a mistake I find acceptable.

    I personally find your answer to the dilemma a simple 'job well done.'
  8. capetan

    capetan LawnSite Member
    Posts: 226

    it really boils down to asking the right quesitons, i never judge people i just ask the right questions.....i know most of the people on here have little or no sales background but are really really good landscapers and provide phenomenal service, but by judging people without asking questions just shoots yourself in the foot for growing your business, just remember you have to sell yourself then sell your service......... i am not saying by any means i am a perfect sales person, i am just speaking from over 10 years of sales experience ......
  9. justanotherlawnguy

    justanotherlawnguy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,251

    I wouldnt have gone. I pass on more crap because of how the phone call SOUNDS. Call me crazy, but after years of fielding calls, I have learned to "PROFILE" people.

    Its nice when you are busy enough to pass on shady sounding individuals....
  10. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    See I had a similar situation come up, there were several advance warning signs, first on the phone something about the last Lco and a death in the family... Likely story, it's always that or the truck broke or they moved to texas (yes texas, around here it's always texas they move to, no kidding). Then time of year, almost nobody calls for regular service this late in the season unless... But I bidded it and went ahead and took care of it. The lot wasn't too exciting, a film of dirt covered me by the time I was finished. Come time to get paid, since the owner was home, he even came outside, I figured I'd get my check... But no, he opts instead for me to write out the bill, send you check in the mail.

    Yup, yup. And I'm not sure if anything else was said or what, but as I was driving away I got that sinking feeling and I got mad... I figured 90% sure this fellow wasn't going to pay, just another who calls one Lco after the next and stiffs them all, and it was MY fault for being stupid (and desperate lol). The fact a good 3-4 county mounties passed by while I was working didn't help matters, thou this was most likely coincidence, still...

    I waited right about 10 days, I was so frustrated I had already devised a new 'instant collect' system, this customer was the final straw for me to go to payment upfront and the $15 per day late fee, I had even already printed that first letter to send off, when the check arrived WHEW! I would have to guess what did it was he had doted on me, or some kind of way he had just made it clear that HE was in charge, see I can't have that but that's the gist of it.

    Then, 2 days before the next scheduled cut the customer calls talk about 'you can come out the grass looks like it could use it' (come hither little lawn boy - not quite in that tone of voice but close enough) and that was it. It just gets to a point, I won't stick my neck out but so far, it's just not worth it... Now I don't foresee my truck making that stop, I just don't.

    I tell you my dirty little secret, it's nice when you got money in the bank put away too, then you can do it even when things are slow. :)

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