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How To Explain Customer's Project Is Too Small Without Rubbing The Wrong Way.

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by mcw615, May 5, 2010.

  1. mcw615

    mcw615 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 473

    Just curious as to how you handle these situations. I have in the past explained we operate crews of 3-5 employees, and we focus on a lot of the makeover projects Monday through Friday that usually take up most to all if not more than a week, and the time we would have to incur on paying our employees to load up, gather everything then have something done in 1-3 hours max.

    I just try and avoid the rake the leaves out of the gardens, pull the weeds, maybe prune the bushes real quick and put mulch down. It's not worthwhile, or even sometimes someone has a project but it's not particularly a project because it's planting 8 bushes, and mulch, but again I want to try and leave on a good note.
  2. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    The only thing I can tell you is that when you skip over jobs like those you are going to lose out either in sales or advertising. Every year when I look at my records I am amazed at how the small jobs add up. For the 2 and 3rd year of my biz, the small stuff accounted for half my revenue when I thought it was going to be a way smaller percentage.

    Most of my clients have been skipped over by larger companies. What those companies didn't realize that those small jobs landed me some of the biggest installs I've done. One lady has me do 3k of yearly maintenance on her property that led to a 25k sidewalk job. Now she wants a patio and more beds installed around the house.

    I would get one guy and a small truck to run around and do the small stuff for you to keep it profitable without sending a massive crew to do 2 hours of work.

    Something to ponder.........
  3. shepoutside

    shepoutside LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,208

    Find someone that is good, but runs a smaller operation, and sub out the work to them. Keeps everyone happy.
  4. mcw615

    mcw615 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 473

    That's true. I know my labor/labor burden is $20.00 per man hour, four guys 10 min to load up then 20 to get to the job that is 40.00, say its even a half days work, now you won't be able to start something new when it is already 2 o'clock but have another 3.5 hours to get your guys hours in. Or heck the smallest thing goes wrong and now everyone is sitting around while billy runs to lowes. I have taken on small prjects, but I leave them only for saturdays and have 2 guys, but it has to be a minimum 12 total per man hours, and I always charge what it costs to show up and leave, so for 2 guys is between 25 and 40 bucks I factor into the estimate. This way I don't turn away all the small stuff, but I do pay the two guys I mostly use cash for when the small jobs come because the overtime will each up 80% of profits, they want to work as many hours a week as possible
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  5. Caterkillar

    Caterkillar LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 995

    The point of working is to make a profit.

    If it is for an existing maintenance client, I always take care of them. I want to keep that residual income.

    However, if it is a one time deal that I cannot make a profit on I will pass. One time prunings, cuts, small mulch jobs... I either pass on them or give them a price usually over the phone that will "screen" them to see if they are really serious.
  6. AzLawnMan

    AzLawnMan LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 409

    I get calls from small HOA's or small industrial properties all the time. I will never turn them down or say I am not interested. When I am looking over the property for a bid, I will always try and sell them rock, plants, tree trimming etc. The best advertising is the type where you are already on the property. I service the largest trucking company in the nation here in Phoenix, I do the corporate office as well as many of the top executives' homes. I will tell you they only pay $575 a month, but for April I billed them $6,800 and in feburary I billed them $4,500 and they never question any invoices. Mind you, all work is approved before we do it so the invoices are no surprise when they get it. For this month I will be doing all there tree's, 220 total. So just because it is a low income monthly job, it doesnt mean you wont make more money or that you wont be able to sell them more services. I got a call from a guy who wants 230 sqft of pavers, 5 tons of rock and repair on his sprinkler system. I almost blew him off for a couple of weeks until he told me he will pay CASH, up front. Like I said, small job, but who cant use an extra $3k?
  7. FLCthes4:11-12

    FLCthes4:11-12 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 283

    to many times a little clean-up or one or two trees has turned into a good size job. I think some customers are giving a working interview to see how you operate before they spends thousands of dollars. I focus too on remodels and enhancement work. And when we are busy it is tough to schedule something that isnt atleast three days worth. So about every other friday I do a catch up day where we knock out a bunch of little jobs. What was said earlier makes sense get one dependable detail oriented guy and a 150 truck. I wouldn't turn them away if you can get you price
  8. mcw615

    mcw615 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 473

    True. It's just a fine line you have to walk with what's b.s. and what you can upsell to them. Just some customers have told me when they have called the big shot for a quote on something she felt they were basically implying they were too good a company for her because they said they don't do small jobs like that. It may have just been the way she interpreted it but that can happen and thats what I try and avoid happening.
  9. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    sending a three man crew out on a job that is 4 man hours is well.....stupid..... unless you have a good scheduling and can line up 3 of those in a day. line up three small bed clean ups, shrub pruning ect. send you crew out there should be no running to lowes or anything like that since its all labor...when I ran enhancements for TG it was not uncommon to have a three man enhancement crew visit 2-3 jobs a day. It made for tight scheduling and loading up in the morning for all the jobs...but it can be done...just more work for the manager....

    The customer doesn't care that you have 3 or 20 employees they just need some work done..and while it may be small, if you can do the job and be profitable then why turn it down? yeah making 40% on 1000 bucks isn't as glamorous as 60 % on a 10K install...but its still money...
  10. forestfireguy

    forestfireguy LawnSite Senior Member
    from nj
    Messages: 601

    I agree, turning down the little ones can be a lose in the long run, you csan explain your backlog, and that for you normal jobs are larger, but you can schedule it as a filler or when you have a day where someone calls in or has a scheduled day off.

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