how to retain customers

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by smarino21, Nov 8, 2006.

  1. smarino21

    smarino21 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 345

    residential customers will take a company with a walkbehind any day of the week before a riding company ?

    I cant find a way to retain customers i gota feeling my riders the prob most of my lots that i loose are 1/4 acre lots.

    A good christmas gift maybe helps to retain customers
  2. Branchland

    Branchland LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 354

    If the bigger mower is messing up the yard then yes they will go with somebody with a smaller mower. I carry differant sized mowers with me just for that.
    If that's not what is happening then ..........
    How many customers a year are you losing?
    Have you asked them what their reasons are?
    Might want to check out a questionair I saw on here the other day. Somebody posted a copy of their 'exit' interview. That might give you some ideas.
    I don't know about a gift. I do it but it's just a gesture to say thank you for your business. There was a thread in here the other day about that too.
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Hmmm, could it be because the Z costs 3x the price of the Wb and eats twice the fuel while it still doesn't get done in half the time, thus making the Z-based Lco overprice the lot?

    That would be my suspicion on most lots under an acre in size, the Wb is by far the more cost-efficient machine, while the time factor affects it less, as illustrated in this example:

    An acre takes me 30 minutes with the Z, 45 with the Wb (then add trim etc), lets say for the sake of argument it takes 15 minutes to do the rest.
    Now lets say the price of a one acre lot is $60.
    Ok, so IF I charge $60, there is a 15-minute difference which adds out to the following labor rates:
    Wb = $60 / 60 minutes = $1 / min = $60 pmh.
    Z = $60 / 45 minutes = $1.33 / min = $80 pmh.
    Technically, we come out ahead with the Z, as it should run $75 pmh for a Z.

    I think around 3/4 acres we break even, but once we get down to the 1/4 acre lot, the Z is no longer the faster machine.
    Due to its weight and size and power, it can not cut small lots faster than a Wb. It takes as long if not longer to use the Z, but even if it didn't (which it does), it still doesn't work... A 1/4 acre takes 10-15 minutes to cut with the Wb OR the Z, say +10 for the rest of the stuff, charge is $30.
    Even IF you could cut it faster with the Z, you have a time difference of only 5 minutes at the most! We're at half the rate of half the job here, but the time difference isn't 15 / 2 = 7.5 minutes anymore, but 5 !!!
    But honestly there is no difference at all, the Wb usually runs circles around Z's in lots under 3/4 acres, while it costs less in operation / running cost.
    Add to this the fact that a Wb is far more agile and maneuverable, plan on doing extra trim work if you run a Z.
    Nevermind the weight difference which affects truck fuel mileage and durability as well.

    So, more often than not, the Z-based Lco charges $35 for the 1/4 acre lot, guy with the Wb charges $30... Add to this the trick of trying not to tear up the turf (the Z is always harder to deal with in this aspect), and the customer's decision is a foregone conclusion.

    Thus, you really NEED acre+ lots to justify the Z, which are few and far in between.
    So it takes time (years), which is why I didn't buy a Z until the end of my 5th year, and I really could've waited another year or two.
  4. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,501

    You retain customers through unwavering standards of Quality Control.

    That means you provide the high quality work week after week with no exceptions per se. After time, the customer takes advantage of what you provide and has no reason to change unless something drastic happens, ie, someone comes along and cuts your price in half or you start getting complacent and sloppy.
  5. smarino21

    smarino21 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 345

    thank you guys greatly those were some excellent replies. I dont get a lot of complaints from the walk but i think its one of those things like the husband says to the wife ya no what find someone who dosnt use that big thing. Hey now heres my question how much money can i get for a scag tiger cut with new tires new seat and 1100 hours? bran new its out the door witha catcher for $7,000 with tax and that. So whats fair to sell it for? They get into a 52 exmark walk/?

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