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Friendly Competitors!?!

1816 Views 16 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  sheppard
I run a fairly small business now having only 2 commercial accounts, and 15 residential!, but in the next few years I have to expand, by purchasing a nice ZTR! But I was stuck on the desicion of what to get an Exmark or a Walker???

So, today I saw a local guy that runs a very large commercial/residential operation, he has 26 accounts in my neighborhood!!!, I have seen him and his crew around, but have never talked to him before, I saw him cutting in the yard butted up to my backyard, so I stood waiting to talk to him on the border of the property, I asked him if he liked his exmark or walker better, he has 3 walkers and 2 exmarks, he said that the exmark is a beautiful built machine, and I love it!, he said "this one is the 26hp carberated model, he said don't go with the fuel injected one because the electronics for the fule injection is underneath, and can get clogged with pine cones etc. very easily, to make a long story short, he said "listen I get my mowers about an hour away from here, and when you get ready to get your mower, i'll take you up their when you go to buy it!!!!! How nice is that, hes a competitor, I couldn't believe how nice he was!!

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Yep, it's a good way to go. I'm letting a competitor run my W/B to see if he likes it and wants to get one of his own. Who knows, they can still help you out down the road.
of course.... I ran Toro until I met a competitor running Exmarks....Now I only buy Exmark, this guy helped me bid jobs when needed and we are great freinds....I get along with almost all Lco's I have come across.... only a few I don't like


You have to. Have to know what others are doing. Like we do here at "LawnSite"

I have a few protoge's that are allways calling me or stopping buy with their woes and tribulations. I have a couple guys that used to work for me, that are now on their own.

One unkown concept in this business is that we all have to in some way watch each others back. Let me explain.

I belong to trade associations. You meet people in the business, you talk and exchange ideas and business practices. Each bosting about how great they do things or you find out how stupid someone realy is.

As far as watching each others back. I have a group of peers, including those that I described above. We warn each other about problem customers. Those that are late payers or nonpayers.

Now clients change their service provider for various reasons. We are all fine with that. However. The first thing we ask when we meet the client is who did you have before. If it is someone within out group. I will give the estimate and iform the people that I will contact your prior service provider to inform them that I gave you an estimate, due to the fact that they are friends of mine.

When talking with my friend. Obviously tell them the obvious. Also if they want to try to work it out with owner. Also and most important. Did they pay you on time

If they have not been paid. Then call the owner and tell them that I cannot begin service till the prior company has been paid. Now sometimes these companies are not paid at all. The owners call me, then they call someone else and so on. Each going through the same process.

A few years ago. I had a maintenance customer that we did a landscape for and did not pay the final payment. Then they got behind on the monthly. We informed them we would suspend service till they paid. That came and went and we stopped service. Wouldn't you know it. The next day they called a friend of mine. He called them back and would not start till I was paid. These people called another friend of mine after that. Same thing happened. A couple days went by and by that time I had put the word out about them.

My customer calls me back like 5 days later. Tells me that they had called just about everyone in the area to service them since I quit the job. No, no I tell them, I did not quit. I suspended service for nonpayment. Those that you called don't want a customer that don't pay same as I wouldn't want that. 2 days later I get the check in full. We continued with service and now today we still have them as a customer.

They told me a couple times they were amazed at the whole incident.

Doing this with other companies in your area makes you all more profesional than being cut throat. It also stabilizes prices and prevents games homeowners try to get away with.
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nope, we have a mutual understanding. u drop, i prosper. is it nice? nope. is it the way it is? yup
Originally posted by bobbygedd
nope, we have a mutual understanding. u drop, i prosper. is it nice? nope. is it the way it is? yup

Is that regarding my long winded post?

If it is. We do this to protect ourselves basicaly from the habitual nonpayer. Can take people to small claims court, and still not get paid.

Ever since we started this with my group some time ago. It has worked for everones benefit. Now obviously there are those that won't say who they had before, and unless I am told about this particular customer, we take it.

Have to be decent judge of character when going on estimates. There have been some that when I first meet them I flat out ask them, did they pay the previous company in full and were they ever late.
actually, i didnt read your " long winded post". im just telling it like it is.
I pass clients off to competitors all the time...If I dont want em, I just give em a call.:D I have a few, I am helpin out.
hey keith, whatsup bud. keith is a deputy in a certain county,does lawncare here in stanly co.and a really straitup fella. to his credit ,he would still give me a ticket ,if i deserved it .
I've got a friend who is an older retired guy. Was friends with him before either of us ever started in this biz. He wants to mow a little, for exercise and a couple of bucks. He's to his limit of accounts right now. He's given us a nice weekly mowing account and 2 plowing accounts. When he decides to quit mowing, he'll give us all his accounts.

Also, a new company started this year in our area, imagine our surpirse when we found out it was an old co-worker of ours. Doubt we'll be passing work back and forth, but at least they wave and say "hi", which is more than the rest in our area do.

I don't think there's anything wrong with being friendly to other LCO's, just don't let them get too much info.
I have relationships with a few competitors. I buy mulch and sub leaf vac work to one, send new lawn installs and apps to another, and send all the cheapskates to a third. This guy's rates are about 1/2 mine and I've lost a few bids to him. So now I send all my undesirables to him...I figure I'll get him so booked with PITA cheapies that he'll be too busy to go after any of the better accounts.
Originally posted by darryl gesner
This guy's rates are about 1/2 mine and I've lost a few bids to him. So now I send all my undesirables to him...I figure I'll get him so booked with PITA cheapies that he'll be too busy to go after any of the better accounts.
Good strategy darryl.
I am close with really only one competitor in the area. We have traded ideas and thoughts back and forth to each other all the time. Heck he was the one that suggested that the doubles were a good idea to me
We were out tonite, and I saw my husband talking to this guy. So, I go over and mu husband introduces me to the owner of the biggest LCO in town. My husband knew who he was and went up and struck up a conversation. I can say he was a very nice guy. We all talked about the competition, and the green industry in general. We told him our position in the business (part-time and happy with that). Let him know we weren't interested in taking anybody else's accounts, etc. I was surprised that he even knew about us. We've been in the biz since 2000, but very little advertising. We're actually mowing one of his old accounts this year, which we didn't go after, it came to us. Don't know if he knows that, but if he does, he was cool about it.

It was very nice to have a conversation with the owner of another LCO and be taken serioulsy as professionals in the business. And honestly, if I ever ran accross an account that was just too large for us to handle, I could recommend this person's business and feel good about it.
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Originally posted by darryl gesner
So now I send all my undesirables to him...I figure I'll get him so booked with PITA cheapies that he'll be too busy to go after any of the better accounts.
LOL! I have almost exactly the same situation.

I get along with the local LCOs, as described in earlier posts. When jammed with work, we sub with each other. I've had other LCOs lend me equipment when I was in a jam, one even lent me an Exmark Lazer the week before Memorial Day a couple years ago because one of my main machines broke down.

The only "problem" I'm having now is that the local large landscaping company, who I've worked with alot over the years, has continued to expand. I've lost a couple mowing accounts to them recently (actually, they are PITAs, so it's not that big a loss), and the owner of the company didn't give me a courtesy call. Later on, when I've seen him and mentioned the accounts, he said that he didn't know about it, because he now has a lawn service manager who takes care of that. I know business is business, but it is annoying.
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I stay in contact with a few different companies. i send customers looking for irrigation to this guy, send customers looking for tree work to this guy. I've even had to pay my competitors to do a few properties when the transmission went out. Being freindly goes a long way in this business, not just to customers but to other lco's.

And don't be freindly with just the other lco's in town, get to know some other trades people too! Deck builders, irrigation guys, painters, concrete guys, and professionals too, insurance agents and realtors, especially can be a great asset to you.
Most of the LCOs in town are friendly and eager to help on most issues. Especially the solo operators like me. The very big companies might have a helpfull owner but who knows? You never see 'em. Only their hired help and they are not friendly.

Seems like some wnat to stop and talk to me but I usually point to my imaginary wrist watch and shrug my shouolders. Now in the off seasom I'll make a pest of myself and talk someone's ear off. But during the weekly cut season? I'm kinda booked!

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