Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by kris, Sep 29, 2002.

  1. kris

    kris LawnSite Bronze Member
    from nowhere
    Messages: 1,578

    What do you look for in a contractor? Is price the main selling point? One thing that is hashed out on this board is the looks of our trucks ... what do you think when you see a beat up jalopy compared to a nice looking truck? Is having a company that "can do it all " for you important? Do you check references? Do you ever inquire about insurance and workman's compensation? Any other information would be appreciated.
  2. Mykster

    Mykster LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 668

    Way to turn the tables Kris. I'm kind of anxious to hear what they have to say. Hopefully some homeowners will reply.
  3. Rooster

    Rooster LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 460

    In my area, most people are more interested in contractors that are the best in a given area not a jack of all trades type.

    Ex: I just had my roof repaired (from the ice storm we had last winter), being I wanted a certain roofer who's references I checked, all reports were very positive. My insurance agent suggested that I have the contractor name me as an additional insured just in case any problems occured, this would make any claims easier to settle in my agents words.

    I inquired about the contractor's workman's comp. insurance he furnished a certificate of insurance for libality and worker's comp., being on the paying end of insurance and not the selling end, I had my agent check everything out for me, again less liability on my part.

    One area I was most interested in was how he cleaned up after the job. His workers did a great job checking the ground for discared nails etc. everything with regards to the job was fantastic.

    Looks of vechiles isn't as important as job performance.

  4. amrupp

    amrupp LawnSite Member
    from buffalo
    Messages: 27

    Kris - I've received solicitations from several different companies over the past few years, but still mow myself. However, many neighbors use professional services. Without a doubt, if a guy came up driving a beat up rig, it would be one strike against him and he'd have to be one hell of a salesman to get past that bad first impression. The truck and equipment doesn't have to be polished and new, just look like it's well taken care of. As for insurance or work comp, I don't know of anyone who checks. But everyone will check the other yards in the neighborhood that you might do. That is your biggest selling point. If you're breaking into a new area, some pictures of houses you do would be interesting, as long as you don't break any privacy issues with the other homeowners. I also don't think it's crucial that you can do many other services, but nice to know if something comes up down the road. And last, but far from least, PRICE. Gotta be competitive. I will surely talk to my neighbor and compare. I don't want to feel like I'm getting ripped off.

    Hope this helps.
  5. saktate

    saktate LawnSite Member
    Messages: 57

    I'm a homeowner with four well manicured acres of st. augustine grass, 200 year old oaks, azaleas, camelias, etc. I have been maintaining this property with a Yanmar diesel tractor equipped with a 48 inch finish mower, a 21 inch push mower, a trimmer and blower. It takes me just under 6 1/2 hours to complete the required turf care, provided no mechanical breakdowns

    The events of 9/11 have taken away a great deal of my time; consequently, I've been through three turf care professionals. My number one complaint is the lack of dependability with these particular individuals.

    My advice to turf care professionals is "keep your word." In my case, I must move a few pieces of equipment, open two gates, and pen up my dogs on the day grass cutting is expected. More often than not, I've returned home after work and found the cutting crew failed to show. Days will pass and I will not hear from anyone. In most cases, I track down the professional only to hear a lame excuse about why they couldn't make it. A true professinal will at least leave a note, a voice mail, an email, etc.

    This spring I will but a Scag or Exmark ZTR and continue to cut this property myself. Money is not an issue with me, the lack of time is. Although my time is limited, I'll do the yard as often as I can. At least the aggravations brought on by these three specific companies will be history.
  6. Country_Joe

    Country_Joe LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 14

    Very good and important start to a thread although it has gotten very little response. I am a "semi-retired" homeowner thinking of getting into the lawn care business myself. I have been in retail for the past 30 years and know the value of customer surveys. One learns who your customer is as well as who your customer is not. It shows your strengths as well as your weaknesses. A great deal can be learned, if one has an open mind and can take some constructive criticism, to enhance and grow your business. I understand the need to vent about the “PITA” customers and respect that this is a place to do just that as well as to share and learn from fellow LCO’s. I know, as a homeowner and prospective LCO myself, that this site is a great tool to learn and to grow. I have learned a great deal and wish to thank all of you to allow me to read the many posts.
    As for your questions. No, price is not the main selling point. Although it is important, dependability and quality of service is primary. I have to agree with saktate, if a homeowner can afford to have his lawn professionally maintained, he wants it maintained in a professional manner. That means to show up when scheduled, barring weather, and to completely finish the job to his best ability. No excuses.
    Your equipment, including your trucks. Yes, I want to see well maintained equipment. I want you to be profitable. I want to see you reinvest your profits in your equipment. That tells me that you are serious about what you do and are serious about the quality of your work. If you are not meticulous about your equipment how can I expect you to be meticulous about my lawn. Be professional, act professional and look professional.
    Although it would be advantageous for a LCO to handle all of my landscaping needs it is not totally necessary. I know that if I respect you as a person that gives 100% to what he does I also can rely on you for references for other contractors that I may need. One hand feeds the other.
    As for making sure you are legit (insurance and so forth) no I don’t personally check on those issues. One can usually tell by the vehicle in which you arrive.
    Thanks for listening and feel free to ask additional questions….Dennis
  7. kris

    kris LawnSite Bronze Member
    from nowhere
    Messages: 1,578

    Thank you for the feedback.

    I cannot imagine not showing up for a weekly cut. The only time we are not within a couple hours of our regular schedule is when there is a holiday Monday ... we then play catch up and by Friday we are back on track. We have clean, well maintained equipment, uniforms and pleasant employees.
    We are not the lowest price ..... because of that it has been a "tough go" to grow beyond a couple of crews. We are okay with that because Landscape construction is out main business.
  8. Catcher

    Catcher LawnSite Member
    Messages: 166

    I am a homeowner and never really considered to hire a 'pro' do to what I enjoy doing myself.
    I take care of 3 acres with many obstacles and couldn't image (afford) paying somebody for a years worth mowing.
    What i think is important in a contractor is dependability. Like saktate mentioned, it is frustrating to plan on somebody showing up and then they don't.
    Also, being flexible and having a definite contact would be valuable. I wouldn't want to change your schedule every week, but there are occasions where you may prefer having your lawn done on a different day (make it look pretty for a party, or - not starting to mow during the party).
    I don't think anybody likes having a rusty, oil-seeping rig parked out front, but that is not the most important issue.
    The behaviour of the personnel is equaly important. I smoke myself but I think it would look unprofessional to keep lighting up around somebodys house. then there is the issue of cigarette-butts etc.
    Take your garbage (candy wrappers, pop cans etc.) with you, if anything pick up that piece of litter by the roadside - basically, don't treat it like your own lawn, treat it better.
    I know your job is to cut grass, but remember that the little things can make big differences - and afterall, a good looking lot is the desired end-result of why you are being hired.

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