How to Identify a Customer

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by TPendagast, Aug 19, 2014.

  1. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,080

    I thought I might start a thread on: How to Identify a customer or "Pre qualifying a Lead"

    It seems a lot of posters here don't know this, and think a customer is "someone who said yes to my price"

    The Truth is a lot of people will say yes.
    a lot of people don't know what they are asking for in the first place.
    Don't know what to expect for the service, and for fear of seeming stupid and asking, the insert their own definitions.
    People like this are NOT customers, they are prospects/leads, and they are not typically qualified to be a customer.

    With the saturation of the industry due to a flood of people wanting to be their own boss and chase a rainbow to find a pot of gold, many of these rainbow chasers are simply trying to "collect" as many 'yes's" as they can to feel successful', then blaming their customers for being stupid or unreasonable when they aren't getting paid.
    The truth is they don't HAVE a "collection" of customers, they have collected unqualified leads. People who should never have been given a price at all.

    If more LCOs realized what actually constitutes a customer, or even THAT such a thing exists, then I believe there would be less LCOs popping up, because there would be a realization of the actual rainbow.

    EVERY person who has grass is NOT a potential customer.

    The property has to have certain criteria:
    1) the obvious means to afford the service.
    2) the willingness/ability to understand paying for the service.
    3) a clear understanding of the scope of work they are hiring a contractor for
    4) Located in the demographic the contractor is servicing
    5) has and understands a budget and is willing to share the budget constraints openly.
    6) doesn't have an abundant # of warning signs.

    What are those warnings signs, every LCO and area and level/size of business seems to be different.

    What are some of yours?
  2. caseysmowing

    caseysmowing LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,137

    People that want to haggle on price. Couldn't agree more with your post.
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  3. caseysmowing

    caseysmowing LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,137

    The ones that call but don't leave a message are not worth calling back much less working for.
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  4. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    no message, as far as I'm concerned you never called me.

    Sounds like a lot of your issues could be addressed pretty simply with a contract, TP. Or am I jumping ahead?
  5. caseysmowing

    caseysmowing LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,137

    First year when I was hungry I called back.
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  6. Blue Jay Irrigation

    Blue Jay Irrigation LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    A lead is simply an opportunity for BOTH parties to see if there's a good fit. Sometimes having additional business that costs you your sanity is not worth it. It's great to have paying customers, but if you have to fight tooth and nail and constantly try to please their ever changing demands then why go through that headache?

    Sure it's your job to make the customer satisfied, but it has to be reciprocated to some degree. Having customers that appreciate your sacrifice, organizational skills, and communication with them is important too. Customers who do not shy away from giving compliments will make you work that much harder.

    Good business is achieved when both parties are satisfied before the work starts and after it's finished.
  7. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,080

    Well the largest percentage of posters here don't even have contracts.
    so that is kinda jumping ahead.

    But many many prospective customers don't READ contracts, they might sign them, but haven't read them.
    So you can't pre-qualify a customer with a contract.

    This is what happens BEFORE you even hand them a contract.

    Pre qualifying a customer, when done properly, can be done almost always over the phone in 5-10 minutes.
  8. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,080

    very true.

    This post is about how to decide which lead is worth going forward with at all, in the first place.

    Vs. just giving prices to people and calling the ones who say "yes" , customers
  9. Ditta&Sons

    Ditta&Sons LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,491

    warning sign......I had a guy, but he stopped showing up a few weeks ago
  10. Dr. Cornwallis

    Dr. Cornwallis LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 854

    Since getting out of the military and while I was in school I've worked in firearms sales for three years at one of the largest FFL's in the nation. I think it's really helped me in my ability to read people and to sell my product. I can tell about 90% of the time what kind of gun someone is going to buy after simply giving them a quick once over and exchanging a few sentences with them. It's the same thing when I get a call and roll up to someone's yard. There are obviously exceptions, however, I generally know as soon as I drive up weather I'm going to get the bid or not.

    Obvious warning signs for me are:

    1) The yard looks like death.
    - this tells me they don't care about their yard but the home owners association is likely on their ass, they need someone to "knock dat der grass over" and do it cheap.

    2) Crummy car in the driveway.
    - This applies particularly to middle and slightly above middle income neighborhoods. Generally this means they bought a house a few years ago when anyone could get a mortgage. They can't really afford the mortgage but they got the loan and now their super strapped for cash so they can't afford to fix or maintain their car. They think they have money for a lawn service because they shopped craigslist and saw craigslist ads for fifteen dollar cuts. Their first thought was most likely "gee Cletus, we can afford that, we can just buy a few less packs of cigarettes and miller lite." When I say crummy car I'm not talking about a well maintained older car, I'm talking about a rusty geo metro sitting in front of a $200,000 house.

    3) The house is in a cookie cutter neighborhood.
    - I never just ignore a call or e mail as that's bad business, but when I get a call from one of these people I politely decline and tell them I'm not taking on any more homes in that area.

    4) Price hagglers.
    - My price is my price. If you were so happy with "the other guy" then why in the hell are we talking?

    5) "I'm looking for a better deal"
    - I recommend checking craigslist or contacting the kid down the street. I offer high quality services at an affordable price, however, I'm not the Walmart of lawncare. Think of me as Fresh Market. The highest quality food with a nice atmosphere and lots of hot chicks running around in leggings. I'm a little bit more but I'm way better. Where would you rather shop? Most choose walmart but some chose Fresh Market. Those customers that are willing to pay a premium for a quality service are keepers. Yes their few and far between but they're out there and you just have to find them.
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