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I'm Ticked Off!

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by MOturkey, Mar 6, 2004.

  1. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    This is probably going to be a bit long, but just wanted to know what all of you think about this, and see if something similar has ever happened to you.

    Briefly, a young fellow who is a friend of mine, along with his sister, has been mowing yards in a nearby town for 9 years. This year they decided to quit. He sent out letters to all of his customers thanking them for their business and letting them know they would no longer be mowing. He included my business cards in the letters, and recommended that they contact me as first choice, and, I think (didn't read one), mentioned a couple of other local lco's if I couldn't/wouldn't service them. They had about 25 properties they mowed. Now I knew I wouldn't get nearly all of them, as they were entirely too cheap, having raised prices only $1 per yard in 9 years, but I figured I could possibly get half of them, which would make it a profitable proposition to drive the 20 plus miles over there.

    Part of the letters went out a couple of weeks ago, and the rest this last week. I had only had three people contact me, and thought this a little surprising, but figured most would wait until the last minute. I got one account for sure, one maybe, and one no, from those three. This morning, I talked to a friend of mine who has a business I service, and asked him about the mowing (he was one of their customers). He said a guy called him the other day and said he was taking over all of the Burn's accounts and would be there to mow. He said he'd call the guy back and let me mow it instead. It is a tiny job, but I'm doing the lawn right across the street. He said this guy told him he was going to mow across the street. I told him no, I know I have that account, for sure.

    I talked to Tyler, the boy who was mowing, and when I told him the name, he said he knows the guy, but he had never talked to him or his sister about any of this. Tyler gave me some phone numbers (was supposed to last week, but kept forgetting), of absentee owners I didn't know how to contact. Caught one at home this afternoon, and this same guy had called yesterday, so they went with him.

    Am I just being sensitive, or is this a chicken s. way of doing things? I don't have a problem with someone else trying to get the business, but to call people up and actually lie to them and say he has an arrangement to take over the mowing, that is something I'd never do. Thought about contacting each one of the people and asking what he is charging and tell them I'll do it for $5 less, no matter how low it is, but I realize that is an example of cutting off my nose to spite my face.

    Have any of you had anything similar to this happen?
  2. leadarrows

    leadarrows LawnSite Senior Member
    from N/A
    Messages: 925

    No but talk about unethical. Wow. I would see how this Tyler feels about being misrepresented and if it tick's him off..... and I can't imagine that it wouldn't then he should be the one to call the clients and expose the lie. I don't think it would set well with the clients ether.
  3. mowerman90

    mowerman90 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,491

    Not to be rough on you, but apparently this other guy heard about your friend going out of business and didn't sit around and wait for the customers to come to him. He must of known or found out who you friend mowed for and contacted them and asked for their business. This is what you should have done the moment you heard about him going out of business. Like I said, I'm not trying to be rough on you but when opportunity knocks you'd better answer the door from now on!
  4. leadarrows

    leadarrows LawnSite Senior Member
    from N/A
    Messages: 925

    He should start a new business relationship based on a lie? :(
  5. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    If I was you I would be out there right now trying to get all of those customers. Calling them, knocking on their doors, etc. Explain to them why you are the better choice.
  6. bastalker

    bastalker LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 965

    I will put my .02 in...

    First your buddy sent letters out telling his clients that he was not going to cut them any more. He puts your card in there, but also puts other lco's names in there if you couldn't do it.

    If he was a friend, he would have just put your card in there, an thats it.

    It is obvious he put other lco's names in there as well, since you are competing with the other guy who is taking over all the Burn's accounts....

    You stated that these accounts were being done cheap. Why would you want to put yourself in that position? Pick up your buds accounts, an do them cheap?

    This other guy sounds like he is going to do them cheap....Let him do them cheap. You dont really want to drive all that way to do all these accounts cheap anyway.

    Let him have the accounts (cheap). Tell your bud thanks, but you didn't do me any favors. Get on with your biz, and charge accordingly...
  7. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    I have to say, I agree. Easy come, - easy go. There is a REASON that it happened that way. You may not know the reason now, but you could find it out later. On the other hand, youmay NEVER know the reason. To any extent, like I say, there IS a reason... it's all part of the plan. The season is young, and there are several great opportunities out there that await you. Good luck in the future, hold your head high, and know what YOU do is always in the right...just KEEP it that way. It'll come around to you....you'll see.
  8. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    Thanks for the advice, fellows. And, Mowerman90, you are absolutely correct, and I told my wife as much yesterday. I am, by nature, a very non-assertive type individual. I've owned three small businesses in my life, but all were retail, so you basically opened the doors and waited for customers. It is really difficult for me to aggressively knock on doors, call people, etc. I don't think it is the old "fear of rejection" syndrome with me, but rather that I do not like to impose. I would likely have starved to death trying to be a door to door salesman. I've spent the past 6 weeks or so directing most of my efforts toward readying myself for business by outfitting my trailer, ordering signage, getting insurance, etc. In retrospect (something I am quite adept at), perhaps that is a classic case of putting the cart before the horse.

    Also, you are correct about my friend mentioning other lco's in his letter. I wasn't aware he was going to do this, as we had talked about this way back last fall. He basically told me he was going to refer all his accounts to me. I wouldn't have even known he did so, but one of the people who called me said I was at the "top of their referral list".

    Well, I already know I have enough business to pay my expenses and to cover the new equipment I've bought this year, with a few bucks to the good. I wanted to kind of ease into this so as to not let myself get overloaded anyhow, so perhaps it will all work out for the best.

    Thanks to all of you for all the kind words and advice.
  9. upsondown

    upsondown LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 251

    If you really want to get these accounts and you are truly good friends with this guy who went out of business - I would get with him and see if he's agreeable to drafting a letter up - (and I would do it)....and have him sign the letter and mail them - stating something along the lines of .........
    "it has come to my attention in recent days that a Mr. (name) has contacted a number of customers I had when doing lawncare - one of which is you - Mr _________, stating that he was taking over the lawncare for me. I wanted to let you know that this simply is not true and that if in fact this is what was conveyed to you - that he used deceptive means in order to gain your business. Because I have always served you with the highest ideals of honesty and integrity - I felt it necessary to send you this letter as I have grave concerns that the initial deception imposed upon you - may well lead to other complications. Given these circumstances I would encourage you to contact Mr. (your name).... for an estimate on your property. Any agreement you may have entered into with the other gentleman should be easily voided - given the deceptive practices that he used. Should you have any questions or wish to discuss this matter further I invite you to contact me at your earliest opporunity.
  10. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    upsondown, a very good idea, but at this point, I really don't think it is worth the effort. If these were high-end, $70 jobs, then I'd probably fight for them, but most are $25 or so properties. Also, I've studied on the reason for my friend including other names (although not the one that is apparently calling the customers), and I really think it is because he feels more loyalty to his old customers (he started mowing many of these when he was 13) than he does to me. I made it clear that I would have to charge substantially more, and I think he is afraid some can't, or won't, pay that much, so he gave them some alternatives. Not sure I can fault him for that either, as I've only known him a couple of years.

    I had one more contact me last night, and I'm supposed to go meet him today. His is a reasonable sized yard, so I can probably get $35 or so, which along with the other property I have confirmed would give me $80 to drive over there one afternoon a week. Not a king's ransom, but at least it wouldn't be a losing proposition, and, in all likelihood, I'll gain some more business along the way. Neill

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