Ever ask what you paid in the past?

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by Landscapes-r-us, May 19, 2006.

  1. Landscapes-r-us

    Landscapes-r-us LawnSite Member
    Messages: 35

    Do you other guys who have been in the business for a little while ever ask what customers have paid in the past, mainly commercial customers?

    Sometimes I get calls for big business parks and to save time I just ask "what had you been paying in the past?" and they'll tell me and I go and check it out and then base my quote partially on previous payments..

    Anyone else do this? I of course wouldn't use this for residentials though..
  2. SWD

    SWD LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 988

    Nope, not applicable - my costs and bid estimate are based upon my costs, not someone else's.
  3. Jpocket

    Jpocket LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,281

    They might think you don't know what you are doing or can't handle the proprty if you ask that
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    As for cost, I usually don't ask especially if it wasn't me who did it but when it comes to mulch, there are times I ask how many cubes they got the last time (such as when there already exists a foundation). I still go around one time and figure it up just to make sure, but it does save me time calculating plus I have a 2nd opinion, and all that helps. With mulch it's no big deal because if someone tries to trick me, we all lose out.

    With regular customers, sometimes there comes a job I've done before so I ask if they remember how much it cost the last time. Yeah because likely I'll do it for the same amount, and I can check my files but I don't have those there with me and I'm usually not in the mood to go looking a year back, either.

    Only time I confer with grass-cutting is when the lot is really big (to me, acre + is hard to figure, just so much grass lol)... I also look up large props on zillow.com because... Someone could tell me it's 4 acres when it's really 6, I have no way of knowing the difference on that big a spread. But I have found that asking them is an excellent honesty check, such as when I later check the prop and it comes out a ways off (thou I'd have to feel it when I'm looking, too, some props have woods, etc)...

    But anyway, yeah I ask sometimes.
  5. AAELI

    AAELI LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 360

    Like SWD posted: My costs are mine. How do you know the last guy did the job at a profit. Why is he no longer doing it? I usually ask the property manager what his budget is for landscape maintenance after doing a site review. I offer a menu of work items priced out for him to make a decision. Many times we perform basic service within their budget with "extra's" prepriced for add on work. We have year round lawn mowing as our temps average 85 daily.
  6. JJLandscapes

    JJLandscapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 682

    Everyone breathe and chill

    No sense in thinking you cant ask what they use to pay... If its to low be like well this is my rate and remember there is a reason you fired your old company. If you want the job done right i would be more than glad to work on your property

    Many times there are a lot of companies who overcharge and do a terrible job
  7. bladeheart

    bladeheart LawnSite Member
    Messages: 78

    I must agree!
  8. bullethead

    bullethead LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 273

    I always ask. Sure, I have my cost structure - BUT lots of times I can simply look at the property, the general shape it is in - relative to the price they are paying and cut to the chase. For example, you can look at the property and if it looks like hell coupled with the low price they are paying - you can ask them if it is what they want to continue to receive or do they want to pay more money and get a better product.
  9. SWD

    SWD LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 988

    I really could not disagree more. What possible interest does a previous contractor's price have on yours?
    Price the work according to your costs/profit margin in order to achieve the level of work desired.
    I have customers call for estimates, which I will not do over the telephone. Once I meet with the customers, review the site, determine the level of work desired is when I estimate the cost.
    I have had customers offer what they were paying in the past and I do not see the relevance towards my business. My costs are my costs, what someone else quoted isn't applicable.
    I have found it to be a communication nightmare with the customer regarding what they have paid in the past and what I am estimating.
    When the customer offers the previous quote, I simply reply that it is not germane.
    My experience continues to be a policy of seperation. The continued expansion of my business is a good point of my policy. I'm backed up for over eight weeks as of now with additional customers waiting.
    Regarding a established customer and additional work, my costs fluctuate according to market stresses, and my customers understand this very well.
    What a job was performed for even as recent as last quarter is not what my costs are now. At times the price differential is minimal yet when you add up the scope of work my business experiences, it adds up to a great deal overall.
  10. JJLandscapes

    JJLandscapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 682

    The best way to beat the competitors is to know how there business is being run and whatthey are charging is a key aspect

    If you see the lawn is in just as good as you can do it and they show you a bill showing they are doing it for less and you notice this company is in there 15th year then you can try to figure out how are they succeeding with such low prices

    Thats just one thing you can learn form your competition

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