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Getting the good accounts

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by MartinsMowing, Dec 28, 2006.

  1. MartinsMowing

    MartinsMowing LawnSite Member
    Messages: 134

    Everyone complains about the late payers, constant complainers, and the ones that ask you do a lot of things that you dont charge for. Over time you can weed these ones off of your route and end up with a great customer base. Well i was thinking of how to make this happen quickly. This might be a big headache at the first glance but it is worth it when you end up with great customers. say you normaly cut a lawn for 25, and most of the estimates you give out will be close to 25. With the economy as it is here in michigan, people are on the cheap side..."WHAT! 25 bucks your kidding!" So why dont you charge them 20, you may get way more work than you can handle but you will get the accounts. then raise your rates once every month or 2 untill they are up to the average of your existing accounts. Many of your new accounts will drop but the ones you want...and want you...will stay with you.

    1) raising your rates like this will get the cheapo ones out immediatly
    2) This way you will be able to add a couple great accounts to your list(ex. you might get 30 accounts but by the end of the season have 5 good ones)

    I havent made up my mind yet if this would also detur the good ones by raising your rates that quickly.

    Any Thoughts!!

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    I find pretty much any good customer has a sense of what the price should be already. Problem is you will piss off ALL your clients by continually raising prices. Not too mention killing yourself servicing all those cheap accounts. $25 a cut is sort of low in most areas...maybe average in some. If they balk at $25 I wouldn't worry about it. You can always upsell other profitable services to your good clients and spend the time making money vs. mowing for peanuts.
  3. justanotherlawnguy

    justanotherlawnguy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,282

    Good luck. In reality it will probably take a season or 2 to get to the point where you have weeded out all the PITA's.

    One problem with your plan. If they are too cheap to take your original price in the first place, what makes you think they are going to pay it in a few months?

    The price is the price no matter what. Thats how you get the good customers, If you have a pricing goal that you want to meet then stick with it...
  4. dcondon

    dcondon LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,246

    We raised ours 5% last year because of the price of gas. Never had one complaint.
  5. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    Most people only see things from their side of the fence. The great clients are looking for the great LCO's as much as we are looking for them. All you need to do to get them is stand out with superior service.

    This is more than great stripes and being there the same time and the same day every week. They wont see that until you are hired. Do what others are not doing.

    You get this opportunity when you get a call to bid. The old saying you never get a second chance to make a first impression still holds true. Even if you are small, even a solo, you need to present yourself as a professional.

    This means more than a clean truck, business cards and a shirt with a company logo. Thats what everyone else is doing what can you do to set yourself apart from the mob?

    Newsletter, Introduction letter, Company policy, Hiring policies, Company story. Any of these items will set you apart. Give them a reason to buy into you.

    Put something in their hand a soon as you can after the first call even if you can't get there to bid it. Have new client packets ready to drop in the mail. Give them something to look foreword to.

    You can't be the most professional and be the low bidder too, it just is not congruent. If everyone else is at 25 you need to be 30 or 35. If 40 bucks a month extra is going to kill the deal I would not call them a good client

    It wont work for all clients but the purpose of the thread was not to get all clients just the good ones.

    If you do it right they will be hoping you can fit them into your schedule. Rather than the other way around.
  6. lawnpro724

    lawnpro724 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,201

    Why is it when a future customer calls up for an estimate they think you should do it for nothing? I hear it all the time ( I can do it myself in about 20 min. ) My answer to that is then why don't you. When they call a plumber out to fix that water heater and they charge $65 hr do they complain the answer is No. How about that mechanic who charges $55 hr do they complain, No. The reason is most people at one time or another have had to do lawn work most have never done plumbing or repaired a head gasket so there willing to pay top dollar for the service. The difference is a plumber brings in what he needs and fixes the problem and sends you the bill a mechanic will use his tools and knowlege to fix the car but when you show up to do the lawn they think since they used to do it when the were younger that they know how long it should take and how much you should charge. Forget about that $4000 walkbind or that $10,000 dollar ztr or the trucks, trailers and of course gas.
  7. MartinsMowing

    MartinsMowing LawnSite Member
    Messages: 134

    well there is a WAY bigger rate difference between say the lawn care providers and the kid down the street. They expect to pay the least that is out there. Also mechanics/plumbers are about the same...most of the time. Most people cannot work on their car or fix their plumbing, they dont have the knowledge and tools. In their heads anyone can cut a lawn, and they have done it before so they think that its is relatively easy. But what they may not do is cut it right, they dont have any of the knowledge that we do except that you cut the lawn shorter when its gets too long. In their heads its "Well i can do that, why should i pay $__, thats where our knowledge comes in.
  8. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    This is one thing, much like with experience, the only thing I know that really works is time.
    And unfortunately, I think time is best measured in years :cry:

    Because I'll admit, I didn't know what I was doing my 1st year.
    But by my 2nd year, I thought I 'had' it... You know, the perfect solution.
    But I was wrong, and in my 3rd year I thought I had it also, but I was wrong again and paid for it.
    Having learned from my mistakes, my 4th year turned out great with a solution similar to yours, but my 5th year proved that I was still mistaken :laugh:
    Because in my 5th year I did noticeably less work than in my 4th, but I deposited considerably more money. :confused:

    So, by now I THINK I got it, but why do I suspect my 6th year will again prove that in my 5th year I still didn't know squat :laugh:

    And yes, it is likely this trend could go on for many more years.

    The good news is, it is always good to have a plan :)
    Peace out
  9. prizeprop

    prizeprop LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 822

    It takes time to build a solid route,because you must build a relationship with clients so that they trust you and know your worth the money,then they dont seem to nit pick the dollars as much.Its almost like they dont want to take a chance on loosing you because your good.At that point your in control.My high point of lawn accounts was about 120 in 2001, now were at 93 but make more money because we lost the customers that wanted only the quick cuts at rock bottom prices. Were pretty much at full maintenance for all our clients and consequently we stayed busy all year even though my newspaper ad didnt produce much in sales this year. And when your not up to your ears serviceing hundreds of lawns at mediocer prices,you have time to do great work at great prices with less stress.Thats my experience and theres many ways to run your business.The bottom line for me is take home pay and quality of life.Dont get me wrong nothings perfect,but it gets better every year and good employees help.
  10. prizeprop

    prizeprop LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 822

    Another way to look at it is ,if you have some bad accounts and some good dont keep hiring more employees to go do cheap work and get more cheap work to keep them busy. Maintain the level of your force or lower it by a guy and weed out the non profitable work.Build slow,steady and profitable.Youll do better work, be more dependable and the good accounts will happen.

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