Being Played?????

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by MOturkey, Jun 24, 2013.

  1. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    Just wondering what others take on this situation would be. As briefly as possible, I'll explain what happened.

    Have known a guy about 15 years, same age as our oldest daughter. He went into the mowing business on the side a couple of years ago. Called and asked my advice before doing so. I've thrown a little business his way, sold him a couple of accounts I had bought that I didn't want to service, (for what I paid for them), loaned him a trimmer for a few days when his broke down, etc. Plus, I'm planning on downsizing more in the future, and figured he would be the one I either sell, or possibly, give the accounts to.

    He's called and checked with me a couple of times when accounts I had serviced in the past came up for bid, and I always told him what I had been charging, and to go for it, because I wasn't interested in trying to get them back. I mow a vacant lot for "Mrs. C". It is a once a month mow, as per her instructions. Previous guy mowed it every 3 weeks. I raised it $5 when she did so. Last winter, I decided if I was only going to mow it once a month, I was going to raise the price another $10. Sent her a letter, half expecting her to cancel, but she didn't.

    A couple of weeks ago, my friend called and asked if I mowed the lot. I told him I did. He said he mows several yards in Mrs. C's neighborhood, and she had him do her sister-in-laws since she was out of town, and was going to have him do some cleanup work for her. When she was talking to him, she asked him to give her a bid on the vacant lot she owns, and he guessed from what she said, that I was mowing it. I told him what I was charging, and about the raising of the price, and that I had half expected her to cancel service because she is known to be a bit on the tight side, but she hadn't. Figured that would be the end of it.

    Well, a couple of nights ago, he calls and asks if I had heard from Mrs. C. I told him that I hadn't. He then told me he had "goofed up", and gave her a bid that was $5 less than what I was charging, and she told him to start doing it next month. He told me what he thought I said I was charging, which wasn't even close, and wasn't even the price the previous LCO had charged her 3 years ago for service every 3 weeks. I really didn't know what to say, but told him not to worry about it. He apologized profusely, but after I hung up the phone, I just couldn't get it out of my mind.

    Losing the account is no big deal. I'm planning on dropping more before next year, and being monthly, it just doesn't amount to much revenue, hence my raising the price enough to make it worthwhile. I also don't know why he would have intentionally underbid, because it won't make him much either, plus his mower is not a commercial model, so he's going to have a devil of a time mowing it only monthly when it is raining regularly. The only possible scenario I can come up with is that he thinks he's going to get more business from Mrs. C, and that mowing the lot cheaper earns some brownie points.

    However, I know what I told him, and found out later that he had also talked to my wife, and she gave him the current price as well. He stopped by and talked to me Saturday, telling me he had "really screwed up", etc, but I'm just getting this bad vibe. Again, it is not the money, but the principle of the thing. I would not have given her any type of bid, higher or lower, if the situation were reversed. I would have simply declined, probably telling her that I was friends with her current provider, and I would not try to undercut him, or, for that matter, anyone else. I've actually done this a few times in the past.

    At the best, I think he lacks character for going ahead and taking the account, even if it was a mistake. At the worst, I feel I can't trust him now, and hesitate to do him any favors in the future. Just wondering what someone else would make of this, if it were them.
  2. pseudosun

    pseudosun LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,739

    He thinks he's being slick. I think your suspicions are correct. He wouldn't forget a figure that you told him; that's the first thing you remember. I'm curious to see how he'll handle that lot once a month. Just keep your radar on. That little sucker is scheming.
  3. Jaybrown

    Jaybrown LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,160

    You are right if he screwed up he can decline to do the job
  4. tonygreek

    tonygreek LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,909

    Yes, it sounds like he worked you over on this one, especially since he also verified the price with your wife. That's two people telling him the same information, which he then conveniently forgot as he "accidentally" stole his "friend's" business. If you'd like to maintain the friendship, or some semblance of it, I would keep him at arm's length via future business-related responses that are as vague as can be. Or inflate future pricing questions by 40%. lol
  5. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    Trust your gut it is never wrong. Time to end this relationship.
  6. pseudosun

    pseudosun LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,739

    I'd have fun with it. When someone younger thinks they're getting over on me, i see it as an opportunity to play with 'em and yank the rug out:nono:
  7. TriCountyLawn

    TriCountyLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,517

    Hmm, Id cut him off from any further help and see how he does. I wish I would have/had someone to help me like that. Forget him
  8. Tunica

    Tunica LawnSite Member
    Messages: 124

    its business and some will do what ever and justify it as "its not personal its business". He's been getting your thoughts using your equipment and NOW knows your pricing plans probably alot more than you think. I'd be watching out for this person. Next year you may not have to quit some accounts because He will probably do that for you. He'll use the excuse that you said you were downsizing/dropping less profitable accounts and underbid you on every property that falls into the same price point.

    I feel your pain the guy down the road from Me under bid every house within walking distance of us. So I know how you feel, he used Me to get started.
  9. Snyder's Lawn Inc

    Snyder's Lawn Inc LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,530

    I have a guy was that way
    I help in out selling him mower parts at dealer price
    We agreed, We wouldn't bid on each other stuff.
    Until one year I lost 5 bids to him. The funny part is He is paying retail rate for his blades and other stuff now and not from me either. I ended up getting 3 of the 5 back he keep the other 2 they suck.
    Then I had 2 kids getting in mowing business and they told me face to face they wasn't going target my stuff but they told other LCO that they going knock me out of business.
  10. Tylerr83

    Tylerr83 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 107

    sounds to me that he figured based on what you had told him about the accoun if he undercut you and you lost it that you wouldn't really be bothered by it. I wouldnt' give him any useful information in the future. Bottom line here is if he is really a friend, he would have refused to give her a price on the mowing from the start. no gray area there.

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