Help! Lost a big one today

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Jimbo, Jul 23, 2002.

  1. Jimbo

    Jimbo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,093

    Some of you know I am part-time this year. I do pretty good for the hours I put in but I have a few bread and butter commercial accounts which I use to finance my operation. Or should I say use to...
    Today I got a call from my largest account stating that they had sold half the property and my services would not be needed any longer. This put me in a bind because I was doing real well here. Unless I can get some new jobs soon I worry that this could make or break the company. 1.5 years ago when I didn't have any overhead this would have been no big deal but now I have Insurance, Accountant fees, equipment loans etc.

    Earlier this year I quoted a commercial account, but I quoted high because I didn't really need the business. I would like to re-submit the quote, but I am unsure if it would be inappropriate to just mail the quote? Would it be proper to send flyers and, or cold call first? I know exactly what services they want and how to proceed with the quote but I am unsure if it is proper business etiquette.

  2. Lawn-Scapes

    Lawn-Scapes LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,810

    Sorry to hear that Jimbo :(

    I would call and see if they are happy with their current service and ask if they would like another bid. Do you think they will drop who they have at this point in the year?

    Where you located?
  3. Jimbo

    Jimbo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,093


    I am located in Frederick County (1 hour west of Baltimore, and Washington).

    It is possible that they would drop the current Landscape company Mid year, because there have been some Management changes etc. These people are also real price sensitive, and for $5.00 less a month the would switch.

    Put me on record as saying that I have no idea what the current LCO charges, nor do I care. I plan to offer a bid based soley on my time and overhead. Even if I am on a sinking ship I wont stoop to Scrub levels.

    I am sure I can make it until next spring even without gaining a replacement account, but things might be tight. So even if they hire me for next year I would be happy.

  4. wolfpacklawn

    wolfpacklawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 120

    One of many reasons why I don't like commercial accounts. Losing one account can really screw you if your business isn't large enough to absorb it. Good luck Jimbo, I hope you can make it up. Yes on submitting bids to other places and cold calling. Do whatever you can do to get the business you need.
  5. SLS

    SLS LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mars
    Messages: 1,540

    Sorry to hear about your loss, Jimbo.

    This has been my biggest fear about taking on a large commercial account. Being that I'm solo I cannot afford to take the risk of tying up a large percentage of my business on one or two accounts. I've been approached several times about bidding on these types but have always shied away from them. I've heard several people here say that loyalty is a rare commodity in you said "for $5 less a month they would switch".

    It is easy to replace the residentials that sell and move, die, ect but if I was lowballed out of a job that cost me more than 30% of my income in one pop I would freak!

    Maybe the approach to take would be like a good investment portfolio...diversify! Some residentials AND some commercials??? Just a thought.

    Good luck making up the deficit, Jimbo! :)
  6. Jimbo

    Jimbo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,093


    I think you hit the nail on the head "Diversify". I prefer working the Commercials because I can fit them in on Saturdays. Most residential customers I know want to be out enjoying their yards on weekends and would not appreciate me cutting.

    Of course I got into this situation by focusing to high a percentage of business on one large Commercial account. I think I will mail a bid to the Commercial account I am after, and the bid will include a cover sheet which states that I am re-submitting a bid becuase I never heard from them regarding the bid I submitted in the spring. Think this would be acceptable?

    I know I leave myself open to other LCO's when taking on this account, but this is a chain and I already cut one of their locations. In time I can probably score all of them.

    Thanks for the input guys
  7. Turf Ranger

    Turf Ranger LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37

    get out and do some more advertising. you can make up for that loss. If you get more commercial or residential, i always say to myself, do the best of job i can do out there... any1 can come along and cut the grass, but it has to be what u do that makes them stay with u. ;)
  8. Bluegrass Lawn Service

    Bluegrass Lawn Service LawnSite Member
    Messages: 98

    Two weeks ago I hired a new employee that had his own mowing business. However he had it all tied up into 3 large accounts. Money was good for a while but like you said 5 or 10 dollars can take any account. especially if he is doing sub standard work. You can't put all your trust into these large accounts. I like the 30%, 70% rule. 30% commerical and 70% residental.
    In your case it wasn't your fault the company divided. Today I picked up McDonnals and the Manager's home account. This because the mowing company didn't show up regularly or didn't show up at all in the week. I just don't understand this pratice.
  9. HBFOXJr

    HBFOXJr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,712

    I never like one big client to be more than 10-15% of my business. And I've never dealt with more than one like that per year.
  10. Turfdude

    Turfdude LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,899

    I agree w/ most others - don't put all your eggs in one basket. Meanwhile, upsell your current clientele - w/out becoming a TGCL PITA - in otherwords give them each a call or letter listing additional services - pruning, grub pre-M, lawn renovation and aeration, overseeding - you'll have plenty of work thru early fall. Also if you're thinking of advertising, maybe wait until mid-late August. I say this because a lot of high school and college part-timers are'nt able to continue past August. We always are able to pick up good accounts this time of year. I always suggest getting a client on a basic contract spring & fall clean-ups and mowings. Then if licnesed, go for the fert package. Finally, add a cover page of all additional services you offer (gutter cleaning, mulching, pruning, planting, annual flower program, perennials, etc...) you'll always have more work than you can imagine.

    Good luck


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