Change in Philosophy (taking the easy way out)

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Tom-N-Texas, Jun 12, 2008.

  1. Tom-N-Texas

    Tom-N-Texas LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 370

    After 20-something years in the business I've experienced stark change in philosophy over the past couple years. I used to believe that the way to do business was to always give the customer 125% -- to always go above and beyond the call of duty.

    For example, I often used to pull random weeds in the lawn or beds just because...and I used to trim out-of-control shrubs that hung over walkways because they were in the way. I used to mow over peoples' yards 2 times if necessary, just to make it look pristine. I used to bend over backwards trying to please these people and make their yards look better than anyone elses on the street. I used to really care how their yard looked.

    I'm now coming to the conclusion, however, that I've most certainly been wasting my time.

    This is sure to be controversial, and it actually goes against every fiber of my own being, as I am a Christian and have an internal gut feeling that tells me to treat others as I'd like to be treated and to always do my best, whether someone's looking or not.

    But I'm learning that my best doesn't pay near as well as a half-A job never has, and here's why: When I think of my best, most profitable yards, they are almost always the semi-crummy-looking yards that I can hop on my rider and knock out in 10 minutes. They're the yards owned by people who don't care how their yard looks...all they care about is that it's been cut. Same with the shrubs. Quite simply, my best lawns are the worst looking; they're the ones I can zip right through without a care....they're usually owned by older people, widows, divorced women, various blue-collar workers and other various other Wal-Mart shoppers. Amen and God Bless those people!

    Making $40-$50 the easy way on top of a rider in a so-so neighborhood beats the pants off making $30 the hard way, which is push-mowing the manicured yards of the ultra-picky in upper-class suburbia.

    And here's the thing. Bending over backwards, I've learned, may pay in the short-run, but it almost never pays in the long-run. All it takes is one screw-up for many people to let you go -- no matter how much of a neat-freak you've been on their yard in the past..... Not to mention people moving, losing their jobs and thus dropping you, buying their own mower to save money, using the kid down the street, etc etc etc.....There is no more loyalty in this world...well, not much.

    I know we all can't pick and choose every yard, but my philosophy is now all about taking the easy way out. I know, I know -- it's shameful, it's dirty, it's probably immoral -- but why do I feel so good and why do I make money so much easier with less headache?
  2. jsaunders

    jsaunders LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,781

    You have this wrong- you are doing business, exactly what they want and for what they are willing to pay. Don't feel bad because you are not doing extras for "free"- FREE NEVER PAYS!!!
  3. steve affordable lawn

    steve affordable lawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    i have yards that r well off but can make more in the working class n hoods
  4. Tom-N-Texas

    Tom-N-Texas LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 370

    yea, I haven't been able to definitevely determine that the people living in upper class neighborhoods have any more disposable income to spend than people living in middle class neighborhoods. If anything they are usually tighter with their money, with the general exception of the ultra-rich.
  5. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,758

    "I'm now coming to the conclusion, however, that I've most certainly been wasting my time".

    Yes, it took me 10 years to learn this also. I am a perfectionist and could not leave a property unless it was prestine. But you know what? The client did not give a sh*t and will drop you in a second for someone who is five bucks cheaper. This year I have shaved 20% off of every yard and have not had one complaint. I still will do good work but the little "extras" that adds 10-15 minutes onto each yard is just a waste of my time.
  6. david shumaker

    david shumaker LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 721

    The nice yards I do are a pain. They take twice as long for the same money. Some customers want perfection at a low end price. I don't mind doing a good job at a good job price, but not perfection at the same price. I've tried to explain that in the Spring when the grass grows fast with Nitrogen applications, the grass needs cutting more often and to just cut off a little at a time. They can't understand why it does't look good if it's 8 inches tall and they want you to cut off 5 inches so they can save money. I can fly over the thin yards and they don't worry about every little piece of grass in the beds, etc. I wouldn't mine doing the really nice yards, if I could get more for a higher level of service.
  7. dcgreenspro

    dcgreenspro LawnSite Senior Member
    from PA
    Messages: 688

    I actually had this same thought today. Most of my lawns are high end and the minute I thought the clippings were bad, I would double cut. A new mower and 4.00 gas have put an end to that and ya know what, everyone is still tickled pink.
  8. meets1

    meets1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,857

    Client wants it, expects it - well then I (crew) gives it to them - but at a price. Everything is document when, what areas, how long, weeded, sprayed, whatever it is - is billable time. If the person comes out and says hey - I have a few branches - -can you haul away or may I put on your trailer - sure, why not. Key word though is a few - not a trailer load.
  9. Tom-N-Texas

    Tom-N-Texas LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 370

    yea it took me a while, as I am also a bit of a perfectionist -- but I finally caught on.... Instead of focusing on pleasing the customer all the time, I have adopted a no-holds barred, profit-grabbing mentality.
  10. jsw2008

    jsw2008 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 513

    I understand what you're talking about. I too have thought a lot about this, but I try to remind myself that because the other guy was doing a half a** job IS the reason I got the yard in the first place. I think there comes a point in the growth of a lco that quality starts to suffer. When I started out, I could afford to spend all kinds of time "going the extra mile". Now I just don't have time to do that. I don't know if the clients care or not (nobody has said anything), but I makes me feel like I'm not doing the same quality of work that I started my business with. It's probably things no one would even notice like a weed in the crack of the drive or a few sticks no blown off the walk, but I notice and if I start letting little things go soon I will start letting bigger things go. I have started to make time in the last few weeks to make sure the job is done in a way that makes feel like the quality is where it should be. There are 50 other lco that could do my job at any time and I sure don't want to go get a real job.

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