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How do you filter out time wasters?


LawnSite Member
Monroe, MI
I ask if they are currently using or have used a landscaping company in the past year. If they say yes, I ask them why they are seeking to switch. If they say "too expensive, costs too much, trying to find a better price" they instantly get moved to the bottom of the low priority list.

Just today I had a woman call up saying she was looking for a better mowing price - she was paying 30 dollars for a half-acre lot. I told her she was getting a bargain and to stick with that guy until he retires.
That's a great idea. The question itself seems "innocent" enough, but it can be very revealing. I'm going to start using that one.


LawnSite Member
Monroe, MI
I've had a huge problem where people are not serious about hiring me or anyone. So far I've learned a few red flags:

"You're the only one who actually showed up!"
"I'm in no rush"
People who are in the house flipping business.

I've gotten to the point where I give them a ballpark and ask them if they still want me to come do a quote. I've managed to filter out a lot of people that way who have not the slightest clue what these things cost. But still I waste time and gas driving to places where they never had any intention of hiring me. So what more can i do?

I'm not overbidding and I'm good at my interpersonal interactions from prior experience in another business so it's not like I'm turning people off.
This is a new one for me...100% true story. I had a lead come in and it was a yard in a subdivision. I gave him a weekly price of $50, the guy told me he didn't want weekly, he only wanted me to come out every 1 1/2 months! I told him maybe another company could help him and immediately closed out the lead and went on my way. BYE!


LawnSite Member
Manitoba, Canada
in a prior career I had the good fortune to be exposed to some training that advanced the idea the more closely you can define the desired outcomes the sooner you can engage a plan for achievement.
filling your schedule with crappy folks with a mart-mart attitude to their property I suggest is not going to help you down the road to that achievement.

Raven Lawncare

LawnSite Member
Ya I was going to bring that up but didn't want to get banned. Unfortunately I can't really tell over email certain "groups" and really I just want to avoid driving there, spending 30 minutes talking, and 30 minutes coming up with a plan in my head and quote to send them. As much as I hate dealing with certain groups I always try to give everyone the same treatment. Not being woke here at all but it's just what I try to live by, always, even if the end result pisses me off.
My first initial statement to customers after initial formal greeting is “if your looking for the cheapest service around I am not your guy”


LawnSite Silver Member
South Carolina
The tire kickers and time wasters come from the practice of “free” estimates

we all know estimates aren’t actually free
Just like “it’s a free country” is being abused by the last two generations.

people feel somehow YOU owe THEM a free estimate and you have to do it because they asked.
There’s this blurred line between government and business now both by employees and customers who were never taught the difference.

I see this more in snow plowing with things like “I’m snowed in! Hurry come!” Uhhh I’m not the fire department and I don’t do driveways...
Or the city plow makes a nasty berm and they call us to complain to remove it.... uhh again I don’t do driveways .... people are simply appalled youre not there to serve them.
Imagine their surprise when they find out it’s a $250 minimum... but we don’t get that far because we don’t do their type of work.

it’s the assumption you have to do the work because they need it.

when The season (either summer or winter) gets really Busy , competitors stop answering their phones and then you do!
You’d think the customer is on a sinking ship , omg! Finally!! A person’
I need my lawn mowed today!
Well you could go down to Lowe’s and buy a mower , you know that right?
(It’s always an over grown jungle)

this is also where you get two types of customers calling you
1) the real estate agent and 2) the insurance quote

the real estate agent NEVER has an intent to do the work
They want you to do the work for them (no money mind you) to figure out how much to put in escrow or how much to negotiate on a house sale, they’re going to make 6% commission on something that is 200k or more (that’s 12 grand btw) but they want help from you for nothing.

so the first question is
Are you the decision maker?
Are you the one who is going to sign the proposal and give a deposit for the work.
Doesn’t matter what they say , if it isn’t “yes” you don’t have a hot lead.

you want a meeting with the decision maker not the proxy or the Lap dog.
If it’s a spouse and they can’t make a decision without the other one,
The next question is, when is a convenient time I can meet with both of you together?

if they don’t know, make a phone appointment for when they will both be home so they can then match their schedules to make the in person visit.

this series of questions usually finds all your tire kickers and excuse makers

there’s also , what is your budget?
And do you have a list of “hopes and dreams?”
And/or what are you wanting this to look like when it’s all done?

that will typically catch the insurance quote
Oh well you see my neighbor cut down my hedges and I need a number to sue
Or this drunk guy crashed into my yard and in a number for their insurance

they only need a number because they want the money
Same as the real estate agent

if they aren’t ready to spend money , they’re not a hot lead.

then you can tell them what they want doesn’t fall under free estimate, it’s actually a consultation and those start at $500, which can be refunded if the contract is signed and a deposit is made.

the minute you start talking about money upfront
Your time wasters go away
Most real leads will have not gotten this far in the conversation
But if they do, $500 up front that they don’t lose or costs them extra isn’t a big deal, because they were going to spend that money already AND they’re going to spend it soon.
I agree about time wasters waiting until the last minute and then expecting service because they need it. One reason I stopped doing back flow testing is I would say half the calls were people that ignored their letter, and was past the date to have theirs tested and they were about to get hit with major fines if they didn't have it tested like the next day, or the ones asking too many questions basically to get to your price only to say they will call a couple of others on the list to see about their pricing. Once they hang up the phone and call some else, as long as their price is the same they are not going to call you back.

That was a mistake to get into that part of the business. We live and we learn I guess. Then you get out there and can't find the back flow because the box is covered with mulch or all sorts of ridiculous things. Trying to explain that you only priced for the testing, not playing hide n seek or having to dig the box out that was full of dirt etc is difficult.


LawnSite Silver Member
South Carolina
My first initial statement to customers after initial formal greeting is “if your looking for the cheapest service around I am not your guy”
I have said that more than once too. I usually follow it up with I may be the cheapest of all the estimates or I may be the highest, but I don't do bidding wars. If you are required to go with the lowest bidder and that is all you are basing your decision on, then I am not interested in bidding.


LawnSite Senior Member
Owasso, Oklahoma
I have said that more than once too. I usually follow it up with I may be the cheapest of all the estimates or I may be the highest, but I don't do bidding wars. If you are required to go with the lowest bidder and that is all you are basing your decision on, then I am not interested in bidding.
Same here! A guy at my revolt stander and said his range was $4000 max ( I’m asking $5100, 198 hrs.) directed him to tractor house, comes back like “wtf, those at that price are 7 years old with 1100 hrs” yeah, that’s why they are cheap!