Getting calls but turning them down?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Liendeni, May 19, 2008.

  1. Liendeni

    Liendeni LawnSite Member
    Messages: 218

    I did two estimates today but I more or less turned them down rather than they turning me down. The first one....the lady was just looking to fire her present lawn guy for a cheaper price. And the truth is....the guy was doing a hell of a good job for next to nothing. I passed. Second one, present lawn guy was skipping the endless chore of excessive hedging...and rightfully so for what she was paying.

    My question is this: I am just starting out and only have 10 accounts. Aside from lowballing, do you think it is better to take less than "high paying" jobs when you first start out to get the business...and therefore more business through word of mouth....or is this really the way to dig yourself into the ground....working for next to nothing....and in the end...not being successful?

    If you were first starting out....would you rather have the work...even if the money wasn't great....say only $25 an hour...or would you rather wait for the right jobs.
  2. lawnwizards

    lawnwizards LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,439

    you dont wanna be the guy doing a great job but working for next to nothing. its hard to raise rates significantly when you find out you underbid.
  3. NC Greenscaper

    NC Greenscaper LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 446

    ditto, what he said
  4. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,008

    Your not doing anything wrong. Its much better to hold your ground. Besides it your first year and you really wont know what your true expenses are until the year ends, and even then it will take a few years to get to some steady numbers. Dont work for cheap cause doing it for $25 is bad when you find out next January it cost you $35.
  5. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,266

    You are wise in what you have done. Hold your line. You hold power when you tell customers 'Thanks, but no thanks'. They probably wonder 'It's just a stinky old lawn guy...and he turned me down?!?!?' Feels great when you turn them down and you know you did the right thing.
  6. j05h22

    j05h22 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 70

    That's a tough one. Its right that you don't wanna be the guy doing a good job for cheap but what's worse? Working for cheap or sitting around and working for nothing? It's toughest getting started for sure.
  7. j05h22

    j05h22 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 70

    I should of said sitting around doing nothing vs. working for nothing but you guys get the point lol
  8. HBLandscaping

    HBLandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 268

    I agree with those above, Stand your ground. You want to grow your business (we all do) but you don't want to lower your price just to pick up a job. Those who are looking for the low bid lawn guy are the same one's who will be looking the rest of this season and every season there after for the next low bid. They maybe your customer this season but 99.9 % of them won't be next season because they'll find a lower price next year. You don't want these customers, trust me we've all had then at one time or another and they weren't worth the hassel. Its just your first year and it will take sometime before you know your true expenses, so don't market yourself as the guy that does great work for next to nothing price because you'll never break out of that title. With gas going up along with everything else somewhere down the road you'll have to go up on price and you'll have a fight on your hand getting customers to understand your reason for the price increase becuase you'll have that "lowbid" title .
  9. Liendeni

    Liendeni LawnSite Member
    Messages: 218

    Let me ask you all a question than - I know this is a general question and is dependent on your area and needs...but what you, or would most you in my position, consider a "reasonable" hourly rate considering the following:

    Your a one man show...but legal. I have 1 mil. in insurance...not licensed because my county does not give out licenses for this field of work - I tried.

    I do not have any loans. I paid for all my equipment in cash and I think I have about 99% of what I need for the jobs I am picking up.

    I have heard the old "One dollar per minute" but in this area (Florida) it honestly seems like at those rates....just about everybody else would be coming in under you. I've been charging $45.00 per hour for anything that makes me get off my ZTR.

    I don't want to low ball by any means but I don't want to start off asking what may be an unreasonable price for both this location and my experince.

    Any ball park figures? Not maybe what "you would do" in "your" situation...but perhaps what "I" should do in "mine" at this stage of the game.

  10. coolluv

    coolluv LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 4,512

    This is my third season and I work it part time so I can pick and choose my jobs. I try to get $35 to $40 an hour. When I look at a job I take into account many factors. What type of neighborhood is it, middle class, upper middle class,filthy rich. Most middle class neighborhoods are a waste of time because you will get some accounts but most will be price shoppers. Upper middle class are better neighborhoods but most LCOs will be there too giving you lots of competition.

    When you have competition you have to find the low and the High and come somewhere in between. You answered your own question really. When you asked what you should be charging for your location and experience. Experience should not really be a factor, if you do good work experience will bring speed and better estimates not really factor price. Your price should be your price, as you gain experience and speed that will be in your favor with higher production rates in less time.

    Find out what others are charging and set your price. I turned down 2 mow jobs in one day just last week. One wanted me to do the cut for $30, I wanted $40. The other wanted me to do the cut for $35 I wanted $40. They were both in the same neighborhood that I charge $40 a cut. The one that wanted it for $30 was an indian lady right next to one of my customers. The other was an indian man 10 houses down from one of my customers. I was tempted to do the $35 cut but I knew I would be thinking about it every time I cut it. I know its only $5 but with gas prices rising I would be losing money.

    I have the luxury of turning down work because of my situation, but I would still turn down work if I was full time. Maybe not over $5 if I needed the work. You get the point. You don't want to work just to work. You don't want to pay someone to cut their lawn, if you know what I mean. It is far better to build a good customer base, which will take time. Then to just get a bunch of customers just to make a full schedule.

    Every year LCOs come and go, the business men are here every year, the schedule fillers are gone. I would rather do 10 $40 cuts for $400 than 13 $30 cuts for $390. Less work more profits, less wear on you and your equipment.
    Sometimes its hard but you can't second guess your prices. I some times do too, but you have to think long term and let the schedule fillers have that customer. Even if your equipment is paid for and you don't owe a dime on anything you will someday have to replace it.

    Don't let the customers set your price or you won't be around long. I'm not an expert and I learned so much and have much more to learn. This site has helped me tremendously and I have a friend in the business that I can ask for help. Try to hook up with someone in the business that you can ask questions and pick their brain. Every ones area is different and neighborhoods are different. Hope this helps. HB Landscaping hit the nail on the head.


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