I can tell it a buyer's market!!!

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by landscaper22, Mar 26, 2009.

  1. landscaper22

    landscaper22 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 847

    Or you could say it's a customer's market...Yeah, this is sort of a VENT....Even with the bad economy, business is still booming for me. But, even with all the business rolling in, I have been plagued with problems and issues since the ball dropped on New Year's Day 2009...It all started with the small incident in which an object was thrown by my mower and made a nice hole in a car door. And it only got worse. I will have to go into my latest problem another time....
    So, the one thing I have really noticed this year is that customers are in a pissy mood more than ever. I am talking about customers that have been with me for 3-4 years are suddenly turning into different people. Maybe it is the stress of the "hard times" or the threat of being laid off. I don't know. But, suddenly everything is the lawn guy's fault. I am getting bitched at for thinning turf in one yard. I am being bitched at because I am not doing some of the work that the other LCO from 4 years ago did (work that was never talked about and no price was given). Oh, but the other LCO used to do it and not charge extra...:confused: I talked to a customer about applying chemicals. He says do it. I buy product and when I go to do it he tells me he already took care of it. Same customer calls and wants property cut "today" even though it's not scheduled until next week.
    It could be me. I really don't know. All I have to work by is my schedule. I make my schedule according the agreement when I first start servicing a property. It's like these people expect me to just come ride by their property to see if it needs servicing. It doesn't work that way with me.
    I really want to clean house. But again, with the economy so tight, the customers must feel they can lay down the law. I guess many other people are standing in the unemployment lines and would be glad to come undercut my price and do the work so they can have some money. Some customers must be taking advantage of the situation.
    I was thinking a couple of months ago that I should probably not raise prices this year. But I may rethink this. The customers that are acting up may get a price increase. It would be justified since they are demanding more out of me. I don't want to lose them, but if they are going to be a thorn in my side all year, then I would be better off without them.
    I still love and appreciate my good customers. I have some that can barely make ends meet, and they still appreciate my services. They also respect me and they pay quickly.....
    Sorry for the long rant about nothing. But is anyone else seeing the same thing, or is it just me? I will say that I am not the least bit looking forward to this season. I am suffering from burn out big time. All of these issues are building up and are not helping my situation at all.
    Well, happy mowing everyone! Hope you all are off to a good start.
  2. Flow Control

    Flow Control LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,267

    Last Saturday I went on two new install estimates and followed up with another two this past Wednesday. All four estimates came in "cold" through our website. Majority if not all of my estimates in the past were referrals, we launched our website last fall and now I think I will have to start prequalifying better over the phone. That being said I am not sure if it is the economy or just because they were "cold" leads but during 3 out of the 4 estimates the homeowner bluntly made it a point to let me know that they just wanted me to know that they are getting multiple estimates and that they are going with the the cheapest price no matter what. Not sure if I have been shielded due to the fact that most of my estimates are referrals or what, but in the past I may have heard that expression once or twice a season, but 3 out of 4 estimates kinda pist me off.

    Going back to what I mentioned earlier; prequalifying a customer. Anyone have polite way or phrase(s) that you say or ask to get the point accross to the potential customer that if they are just looking for cheap work then to look onto the next company?

    I tell them about myself and the company and our credentials but it falls on a deaf ear sometimes and as many of you we typically deal with "educated" professionals.

    I was tossing around the following phrases: :laugh: Tell me what you think or add on to them.

    When the customer whats the cheapest price and does not realize the difference in services/installations offered from one company to another.

    Doctor: We Dr. Smith I realize you must be in a similar situation as I am, since a doctor with 20yrs experience is no different then a 3rd year Med student. You should be charging the same price. Also since having a medical percedure is no different here as it is in a third world country from what I can tell I am not willing to pay more for that open heart surgury then $750, but I was really thinking $500 in cash (wink, wink)

    Lawyer: Yes Mr. Smith, I know that you must be in a similar situation in your profession. Since a 30yr attorney with court room experience is the same as an attorney that just past the bar. Right? Experience can't matter that much can it?

    IT: Yes Mr. Smith I completely understand we are in the same situation. When I have IT problems I am only willing to pay the going rate in India. Since there is no difference. IMHO

    ED'S LAWNCARE LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 361

    Outside of chem apps. They can get a kid down the road to mow the yard. Just because you may have more yrs of exp don't mean someone is going to pay for it. That is crazy remember anyone can mow a lawn. Please don't compare this industry to doctors and lawyers.
  4. coolluv

    coolluv LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 4,511

    Last Saturday I went on two new install estimates Quote

    Landscape installation is different, experience matters.

  5. Flow Control

    Flow Control LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,267

    Sorry I guess I left a bit of info out.

    Clarification: I am not a LCO

    I am strictly irrigation and experience does matter IMHO
  6. wbw

    wbw LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,079

    I would let anyone mow my lawn.

    I would let practically anyone install my irrigation system.

    I would be VERY particular about my surgeon or attorney.
  7. landscaper22

    landscaper22 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 847

    There is not much you can do to say it in a nice way. If you don't feel good about it just ask the customer if they are looking for the lowest bidder. Tell them you don't mean to be disrespectful, but being the lowest bidder in not your priority or focus.

    Actually, most everything I say to customers seems to fall on deaf ears. They hear what they want to hear, and that is it. Like I said, it's a buyer's market. They want eveything done on their terms or they will find someone else to do it. It just boils down to how much B.S. you, or I, am willing to take before I just drop them. Our expertise doesn't matter because they always think they know more than we do.

    ED'S LAWNCARE LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 361

    Yea you are in a different mkt. I would try it on my personal prop but I surly would not give an estimate with my exp.
  9. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,209

    I posted a thread about this in the irrigation forum Prequalifying I've thought about going back to some installs, instead of service only. And I want to weed out the tire kickers.

    Come on back, post in there once in a while. I know we get off topic, but we have SOME insightful conversations.
  10. Flow Control

    Flow Control LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,267

    I guess I took trying to make a point to the extreme. I was trying to magnify my thoughts on what I see in the Green Industry as many clients viewing LCO's, Irrigators and Illuminators as beneath themselves when they are professionals or white collar, I tried to give everyone a hint by placing a :laugh: before the hypothetical statements were made.

    My best-friend is one that is 33yrs old and still in a Cardio Fellowship (3rd one) my wife is a IP Attorney that passed the Federal Bar exam. Am I trying to take anything away from them. NO, I am trying to vent about how our Industry is just viewed in a unskilled & uneducated way.

    So anyone that took my post as slamming a Doc, Attorney or anything else that was not my point or intention, my point is that the professional companies out there that are trying to better the industry could use a letter respect for their dedication to trying to do things right, follow code and continuing to educate themselves and their employees within their field.

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