I have been in business for 15 years now. I have been in the industry for 25 years. I am feeling pretty beat up mentally after the last couple years, I have to admit, I love what I do but I hate most of the people that do it for me and most of the people I do it for. Plain and simple, I, like the rest of the country am having serious employee issues. Also, we were probably a bit on the low side for several years but, starting in about 2014, I raised prices gradually to be more fair, not only to me but to the industry. I cost track intensely, we are operating at a 62% Gross Margin overall divisions. How did we do 62%?? Well, as it pains me to say, we didn't complete all of our work. We do Commercial and HOA only on 12 month contracts. So we track what we do vs. what we are supposed to do, I can say, we missed a bunch. Our QC system grades 1-100 and our average was mid 80's for last year. We think anything under 85% and our client might be looking. Properties looked good over all though. In September I increased our contract revenue by 24% (in new contracts). Between January 1st and now, I have lost 22% of total contracts. I regained about 7% so far. There were a few reasons given; 1. too much irrigation billing 2. found someone cheaper 3. lack of attention to detail. The two jobs we lost due to lack of attention to detail were actually two of our best looking communities scoring on average in the low 90's. Furthermore, they were properties that we put a LOT of work in to in order to get them looking the way they did, they scored low 70's when we picked them up. The properties we lost due to too much irrigation repair really irritates me. You see, we sell ourselves on being proactive. I had over staffed irrigation techs last year so that we could be sure to go through systems every two weeks. In the past, I had lost jobs because we didn't do enough system checks, we were always "reactive". I have built this entire company, our systems and values on being proactive. In fact, our motto is "Your Proactive Solution". People loved it and when they saw the result they loved it even more. Some just got pickier however. Most of this resulted in the #2 category, found someone cheaper. This makes me sick!! I bust my ass for these people and get let go because they want to save money? What's even worse, I am being under cut on a few of these jobs by almost half!!! How in the hell do these people stay in business?? Well, over the last few months I have really analyzed the companies beating us out on price. I have visited the jobs they took from us. Two of them look like total hell. The other 6 actually look pretty good. In fact, the ones that look pretty good are the ones that left us for better pricing. The companies that took over are not small by any means, two of them are nationwide. After doing some digging, I find out that some of these big companies will have a fire lit under their asses to get more work so the business developer will go out and slash throats to meet some kind of quota. I am not surprised by this since I have been an account manager for a huge corporation at one time and remember very well the tactics we used. The reason they can afford it is volume! We did 750k in sales last year. Our goal is to hit 1m by the end of 2020. Knowing all that, I am starting to see that around here, customers want cheap. I can't afford cheap! I feel like we are being squashed like a bug. We pay our people competitively (for this town anyway) and most other companies think we pay too much, especially for what we get out of these guys. If I didn't know any better, I would think we were in a recession based on the way customers are seeing us right now. I am becoming of the mind that purposely low balling is the way to go here. I would feel like a total loser doing it but the truth is, these bigger companies are crushing me and I think my only option is to fight fire with fire. What would you do?