Don't Like It? No Charge.

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Chris J, Feb 2, 2008.

  1. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,843

    I know most of you will argue this concept, but I like idea so here go's:

    I recently closed a deal with a skeptical customer who has just moved here from California. She was a hard sell because she was not aware of my reputation, and had no idea of how to interpret the concept I was trying to interpret to her with my presentation (I don't do demos as most of you know). As the conversation progressed, it occurred to me that she simply needed the assurance that she was not going to get "screwed" if I turned out to be some kind of salesman with a whole lot of "pitch" but lack-luster results.
    To satisfy her hesitation, I told her that I would install the job as planned; if she didn't like it, I would take it out and not charge her a penny.
    We arrived on site as planned and she informed me that she would not be home till late. I agreed to meet her at 9PM that night for final adjustments. On my way to her residence that evening I received a call from her. She had come home early, and told me that she could not wait to call me. Her exact words were "it looks exquisite!"
    Having said all of this, the thought has occurred to me that I might extend this offer to every potential client that may be hesitant to sign on right away. In my eight years of doing lighting, I have never had a dis-satisfied customer; therefore, I don't see how this would be a risky move on my part. I know a lot of you require a deposit before doing any work, but I have never really cared about the deposit (even though 50% is written into my contract). Honestly, I actually ask for a deposit on about 5% of my installs, but I have never not been paid on time for any job (except one subdivision entrance involving a HOA board). In my opinion, this is a good way to put the customers mind at ease and release them from any obligation. If you're good at what you do, there will be no problem for them to write the check. I know it's a cocky way to do business, but I'm thinking it's a WIN-WIN for both the skeptical customer and myself. Any thoughts?
  2. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    Chris, I can see the benefits of it.... just wondering, how will you write it into your contracts?

    I know somebody like Pete will come along and throw cold water on your idea, but I could see it getting you additional referral work and the kind of customers you want.
  3. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,843

    As I mentioned, it is written in my contract that a 50% deposit is required but I hardly ever ask for it. I don't see any reason to rewrite a contract to propose what I am offering. It's a pretty simple concept really: If you like it, I get paid. If you don't like it, I take it out and it doesn't cost you anything.
    I realize that this way of doing business goes against the grain of the modern era. But I like the kind of business relationships that my father taught me about back in the day: If I look you in the eye and shake your hand, the deal is sealed. Contracts are for crooks.
  4. pete scalia

    pete scalia LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 960

    Unconditional money back guarantee. It is proven that it will pay off big dividends to offer this. You will close far more on the fence prospects than those who could potentially take advantage of you. If you historically do not have trouble getting paid then it's a sound tactic.
  5. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,843

    Imagine that! Another kudo by the great Pete Scalia! I knew I was on to something. :dancing:
  6. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    If I have someone on the bubble I have offered this. No one has ever said get it out of here. Another approach but I dont know how this fits you since you use crews is the above ground installation. This is especially handy when you have that certain client who wants to be overly involved in the design and placement.

    Do the install leaving it unburied...Let them fall in love with it that night and return to bury it tmrw.

    In your case a demo would of sealed the deal. More often than not now when I demo it closes the deal and I only need to demo a small portion of the job.

    Deposits are just good business no matter if you need the funds or not. The only times I have not asked for a deposit were expansions for existing clients.
  7. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    The laws here in Californiia say I need written contracts with specific language in them.. the idea is to prevent crooks...

    That aside, I have lots of repeat customers where contracts aren't necessary...

    I know what you mean though...

    My grandfather was in the wholesale produce business, and later a business that sold boxes, pallets and other supplies to fruit and vegetable growers. Most of his business deals, even some real estate, were sealed with a promise and a handshake. It helped that he was a man of his word. When someone was ever slow in paying, one phone call or a "Please!" written on a statement would do it.
  8. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    I use contracts, 100% of the time. We are contractors right? My clients like the professionalism and assurances that the contract provides. I run like the wind away from T&M proposals.

    I always ask for and collect 50% up front from all new clients. No excepetions. Cash flow is king. I have never had a client balk or have a problem with this. It is not an obstacle to good relations at all.

    I will sometimes make a rather unique guarantee to my clients... It is a Dark Sky Gaurantee and quite remarkable. I will assure the client that if they come outside with the lighting system on, on a clear night, and they cannot see the Milky Way, they will get 100% of their money back and can keep the system. I have never paid.

  9. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    That wouldn't work here.
    The only time we see the Milky Way is when the power goes out. :(
  10. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    works where i live but in town not so much. Most the high end areas got these AWFUL metal halide glare bombs everywhere

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