can you go cheaper than free?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Brianslawn, Oct 28, 2005.

  1. Brianslawn

    Brianslawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,004

    say youre asked to bid on a 20k+ install and price mowing and maintenance each year. you tell customer if they choose you, you will give them free mowing and landscape maintenance for the first year. will this guarantee the install job or can they find someone who is willing to do it for even less than free???
  2. SodKing

    SodKing LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,641

    Where to begin...First of all $20,000 isn't enough for me to offer anyone free anything. You could factor in the costs and margin for servicing their property into the install price, But then you would be thousands higher than your next competatively priced bid for the install.
  3. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    I agree with Sod King. Why would you offer free maint. for an entire year (arguably, a $1500 or more value) for a $20,000 job. That's like saying that if you gave a bid for $20,000 and someone said, "Ok. I'll give you the job....for $18,500." You'd do that??? I sure as heck wouldn't.

    I dunno. Maybe your profit margins are WAY higher than mine and most other contractors. But I can't see knocking off $1500.00 just to get an install.

    Secondly, I don't think it's necessary. We get plenty of big jobs like that each year and I don't offer ANYTHING for free. I just give them the bid. Some say yes, some say no. It's fairly simple. No need for gimmicks, really.
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Your idea would fall under the rule of:
    NEVER lower your price in the hopes you'll make it up in the big picture.

    And if you're giving them mowing and maintenance for a year, you're fast headed in that direction.

    Far as giving stuff for free, I do it when I feel like it, it is my choice so from time to time I may not charge someone for something or maybe something small needs doing while I'm there and I just throw it in... It is an un-advertised thing, I don't tell them about it, I don't offer it.

    You need the attitude where you can quote a price, take it or leave it.
    I LOVE THAT !!!
  5. befnme

    befnme LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,413

    i have given free cuts before with a promotion but it was only 1 free cut per current customer that led me to 2 new clients for me to sign on . and then they only got the cut after both new customers had signed a contract.
  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Here's a tip on how I helped myself out of the YES-man syndrome. I call it this because in my early days I always thought I really wanted all of them to say YES! I did it for a long time, got jobs via the price... I got pretty good at it but over time I also got really tired of it all. First I was doing a LOT of work dirt-cheap and MOST expected the SAME quality as if they were paying DOUBLE my rates. The bs wouldn't stop, they expected me to run out to their house on their beck and call for mickey mouse things all the time, they STILL always wanted CHEAPER than I was already doing, but what really got me in the end is no matter how cheap I went, SOME *STILL* said NO!
    What clued me in were some of the requests I would get:
    Can you haul this here pile of JUNK? (thou they never called it that, it was always 'can you USE this stuff? {you know - hint, hint}) Translation: Not only do we think you must be so poor that you can USE this GARBAGE but we also think because of this, you'll haul it away for FREE!!!
    (sanford and son, lol)

    Also what clued me in is over time I realized when I did maintenance it wasn't just because as an owner you have to do it to save money, but in my case it was as much because I had NO CHOICE!

    In the end, even with some of my LOWEST prices I'd still from time to time get that dirty look, you know the one, where they look at you as if you'd just brought home their attractive but 14-year old daughter, drunk!
    So I said the heck with it, if I'm going to get that look no matter what I do, then I ought to at least give them the REASON for the look! Also, since some are always going to say NO regardless even AFTER I offer to bend over triple-backwards somersault bend over they STILL say no? Why, the default answer became NO in my mind, and now I am the NO-man!
    Today, I quote standard industry rates: $45/hour MINIMUM for regular customers, and up to $60/hour for anyone else. The first thing I noticed is several customers left and my phone quieted WAY down. Today when it rings, it's USUALLY not bs! But the best part of it all was, by the time a year or so went by (I had to do it consistently, time after time, without fail or exception), I have MORE money in the bank than ever before and business is STILL booming, this has been one of my BUSIEST years yet and it still ain't over!
    So, f*k that low-balling high-quality stuff. Be a low-quality high-baller, it works much better. By the way, once the phone quieted down it slowly dawned on me that 9 out of 10 people out there ALL want something for nothing, THAT is how much quieter my phone is today.
    And why does it work like that?
    Word of mouth.

    2 more things: I finally got a new lawn-mower this year, my FIRST brand-new Wb! Also, I was able to replace my 1974 F-250 with a 1986 D-250 (may not sound like much but the mere sight of the two trucks side by side would convince you there is a BIG difference).
  7. kootoomootoo

    kootoomootoo LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,369

    Screw the $1500 ... just give them an expensive toaster. Works great for General Motors. :dizzy:
  8. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    This might work in some situations. You could put down some PGR and actually not lose that much money on the maintenance, yet still get the work for the installation. But the real question is, how much would you lose by doing that for free? You really need to break down your prices and figure out. I look it this way, if you are only going to lose $1,000 for a $20,000, then go for it. It actually might pay off in the long run, because they like the work that you do, they will have you come back after that free year
  9. jameson

    jameson LawnSite Fanatic
    from PNW
    Messages: 7,419

    Eh, we just wrapped up a $12,000.00 landscape install/landscape renovation. The maintenance on this property will run around $5520.00 per year. I suppose that you have already crunched your numbers for the maintenance of landscape and lawn, so I imagine it may be worth YOUR time. Unfortunately we all know that nothing is free in this world, somebody gets paid something.

  10. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    {Quote topsites}
    " Be a low-quality high-baller, it works much better."

    Your word-of mouth
    bit won't work with low quality
    I for one give my customers there moneys worth if it's a dollars worth or 20,000 worth,it's got to be high quality or you just will not make it in this biz.
    As far as offering a free year maint?That could lead to your work being quick- as- you- can low quality work because in the front of your mind all year long you know your doing it for free .You will also be kicking yourself in the azzz every time you go there to do free work.Not neccesary to win a bid.

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