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Is quality of any concern?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by nuchdig, Apr 20, 2004.

  1. nuchdig

    nuchdig LawnSite Member
    from oh
    Messages: 43

    I see far too many lawn care companies shredding turf on their 60" zero turns leaving bare spots in the lawn, driving over freshly edged beds, leaving grass clippings in the beds, not alternating mowing patterns, basic mow-n-go crap. I have gotten away from lawn care for this reason and have concentrated on fine gardening. In my area the underlying belief is that anybody can cut grass. I find it difficult to find good lawn care professionals to maintain turf. The standard has been set so low and prices dropped so much by these hillbillies with pick ups & a mower that the indusrty as a whole is suffering. I have been lurking on this forum for some time and see very little discussion concerning quality, and a lot of discussion concerning pricing. I give all my turf care to two small companies that take the time to do it right and charge accordingly. Each make a pretty penny from my referrals and is able to charge more with their existing accounts after explaining the quality of their work. If I were in lawn care I would rather do a smaller number of lawns correctly and charge more than bust my tail to churn & burn through a ton of lawns to make the same buck. Make sense to anybody else?
  2. weedboy

    weedboy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    AMEN Brother....I feel the same! That's why I went out on my own.
  3. mbricker

    mbricker LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 505

    You have to give the customer what he/she wants. Unfortunately, too much of the time, all they are capable of seeing is the bottom line--yeah, they say they want quality, but if some chop-job operator gives them service for $5 less, they will take it and say they can't see enough difference to be worth the extra money.

    Of course, that applies to any service, not just lawn/landscaping.

    Around here, the two things that particularly gripe me are new lawn sodding, and the steel strip edging put in around landscape beds.

    Sodding around here is still viewed enough as an upscale "luxury" feature, that when the prospective home buyer hears "Sodded lawn" they automatically think they are getting something great. Most of them don't have a clue that there can be good and bad sod jobs, and that seems to apply to builders, developers. and realtors as well. So the competition for sodding lawns has degenerated to a price war, with lowball outfits using crews of Mexicans who literally THROW the sod down, and don't care what they throw it over, either. Educate the customer? Ha, don't make me laugh!

    As for the steel edging, I don't have any particular problem with using it. But so many lawns here are Bermuda, which will invade any space it finds--landscaping, kids sandbox, cracks in the pavement, etc. So when someone tells me they want the steel strip edging "to keep the Bermuda out of the landscaping," I try but am rarely successful in convincing them it just won't do the job.

    The standard edging width is 4", which if you allow a couple of inches above the ground to weedeat against, is only buried a couple of inches. And that is no barrier at all to Bermuda. So I've experimented with 6" and 8" wide steel, burying it 4" and 6" respectively, and found that 8" wide steel strips, burined 5 1/2 to 6", is deep enough to stop Bermuda invasion.

    And I've had a steel supplier shear me 8" strips 10' long, which I can install unpainted or painted green, and I try to sell the customer on that. With as I said above, limited success.

    But even worse, to my mind: I talk to other landscapers about it, and they act like I'm nuts to bother with it or even give it any thought. I guess they aren't planning to maintain any landscaping they install, so why worry if what they are installing is just going to be somebody's maintenance headache?

    As for mowing: Which is my primary business these days. I operate solo, and I do take pride in doing the job well. But I don't get a premium for my work--it seems I have more than my share of the fussy old ladies who are also tight, tight, tight! And sometimes I find some humor in some situations I'm in: Today I mowed a small lawn in almost exactly the same time as a competitor mowed the next door neighbor. I charge $25 for that lawn, I happen to know the competitor charges a minimum of $35. And the guy is a grass flingin' idiot. He leaves a mess. But the irony is, I gather this neighbor never would call me for an estimate, because one of my cheapskate customers on the block (I do 7 lawns right there) told this neighbor I am "too high!"

    But I'm not going to be the lowball jerk that goes and tries to get that customer away from the other guy--I'm plenty busy. And I'm sort of making a living--I just checked my log, and that $25 job took 29 minutes from pull-up-to-curb to drive away. That's not great compared to what lco's in other areas get, but it's pretty good for around here. And sure, that $35 guy made more for the same amount of time--but I also happen to know he has some serious windshield time between jobs.

  4. meathead1134

    meathead1134 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 637

    When I do a job I make sure the customer is happy. When they come and check on me I make it a habit to point out and area that is done to make sure they are happy. I did a small yard cleanup last sunday for a older couple that was upset at the way there lawn looked before I started cleaning. I made sure that the lawn and bushes looked really clean. When I finished I had them check it out and they were extremely happy with the job I did. They even referred me to their neighbor next door that needed a church yard cut every week and I landed that job because of them. Quality is my biggest point that I try to push just my .02$

  5. nuchdig

    nuchdig LawnSite Member
    from oh
    Messages: 43

    Simply put, I won't deal with this type of person. It took me a while to build my business because I refused to do half-ass work. It has paid off tremendously. The people that will jump ship over $5 aren't worth it in the long run, believe me. As I grew my biz I weeded out the clients that nit-picked or tried to nickel-dime me. You do not have to give the customer what he/she wants. Realize that you can't make everybody happy. Then realize that you don't want to make everybody happy. These realizations will in turn make you happy. Then you can focus on becoming profitable by concentrating on your relationships with your good clients.
  6. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Messages: 4,205

    once again this year we've got a number of new customers saying "boy you guys made our lawn look great"
    It's says a lot about the people out there cutting lawns.
  7. greenworldh20

    greenworldh20 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 659

    ...is the truth.

    some lawns look, uh, bad. why? because that is what a home owner is willing to pay.

    rules to live by:

    * a home owner will not pay alot of money for something they can do (but choose not to).

    * a homeowner will pay for something they cannot do.

    some people only want a cut and blow...don't knock the competition for giving them what they want...hey, some companies just do economical lawn maint and make a lot of $$$ doing it.


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