Lawn Janitors and Low-ballers.

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by mdvaden, Dec 30, 2006.

  1. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    Its good that Elite Lawncare started about Lowballers. Its a subject that should not be revisited. Instead, the subject should be present on every day of the year.

    I believe that lowballing can flourish for the same reason that people can make a living by standing at intersections with cardboard signs. The people with signs only stay at intersection if people are giving them money. Likewise with lawn mowing lowballers.

    Not every, but almost all lowballer, is like a yard janitor. Actually, like the lower grade of janitors, because a few janitorial services do treat their trade like a piece of craftsmanship.

    Think about the janitorial trades for a moment. Most janitorial workers are employed to keep bathrooms, hallways and drinking fountains sterile and clean looking. The employers or companies that hire them, frequently don't question the janitors about their knowledge of building materials.

    Does the janitor know what products extend the polish on brass?
    Does the janitor know what products preserve wood for the longest period of time?

    In many cases, janitorial work focuses more on a sanitary APPEARANCE, and much less on the effects that may be undetectable. Likewise, many lowballer lawn mowing services launch business within this window of opportunity: that many homeowners focus on the sanitary appearance, which requires very little time to learn about, rather than the effects and science, where preparation would be more substantial.

    I find that a lot of people just care about the price. They just want the cheapest. But I think that a lot of people just don't take enough time to think about who they are hiring, what they are getting and what the optional services are really worth.

    More homeowners need to spend more time thinking before they do their deciding. Too many think that deciding = thinking.
  2. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    I certainly agree with that.
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    From a customer's point of view, the real problem with the cheapest price is that it costs more in the long run.

    Here is a fine example concerning spark plugs:
    While a standard plug costs 99 cents, a double platinum costs close to $3.
    Oh gee, well hey I want the dollar plug, right?
    Why not?

    The Autolite┬« Double Platinum spark plug, which features platinum on both tips of the electrode is designed to withstand the requirements of an ignition system. So when the ignition system fires, the platinum on both tips of the electrode ensures the plug tip does not wear down AND maintains the gap thereby extending the life of the plug. With the extended life of the Autolite┬« Double Platinum spark plug, vehicle owners won’t have to incur the labor costs of changing their spark plugs as often since these plugs last 2 to 3 times longer.
    By Autolite

    So, it's not cheaper if I have to replace 8 (like on a v-8) $1 spark plugs 2-3 times more often than the ones that cost 3x more, due to labor, even if I DIY.

    The same holds true in lawn care:

    Say, for example, someone wants their lawn refurbished and I quote $275.
    They ask, can you do it for $200?
    Why, sure... I can even do it for free!

    Here is how it works:
    If I do it for $275, I recommend a $70 follow-up treatment twice a year (in spring, and fall) for however long they wish to continue the upkeep.

    If I do it for $200, they're looking at spending another $200 in 6 months.
    Beyond that, only time will tell but likely we can then go to $70 twice / year.

    If I do it for free, I'm leaving now and thank you for your time.
  4. NC Big Daddy

    NC Big Daddy LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 267

    With out a doubt one of the best, well thought out post I've ever seen on this site. This is what so many folks do not understand....We are SERVICE PROVIDERS. That's it. We are paid to provide the scope of work we bid and are contractually obligated to provide. Each contract is different even ones with the same scope of work. That is where your relationship with the customer plays a roll. Those "good" customers will find out what you know and what you don't know about your trade.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    Lowballers capitalize all too often on our not following through on the sale...

    Consider someone that calls for and gets 3 mowing estimates. They are not home during any of them, and all the estimates are just your basic sheet of paper with the price on it. With little else to go on, why wouldn't they choose the cheapest service?? I mean that's what I would do if I didn't know any better. I read where guys don't do follow up calls and so on, the "if they don't want me, I don't want them" mentality.

    If you actually sell your company and services, you'll be surprised how much of an edge it gives you, and you'll learn price is not the whole ballgame.
  6. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,988

    I think that's a good point. Too often do we give the estimate, and then never follow up?

    Doing the extra by contacting the potential customer after the estimate could differentiate you from the lowballer as someone who actually gives a rat's behind.
  7. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    Have any of you seen a lowballer get their foot in the door by offering a free week or month?

    I was wondering if some customers might be teetering between a qualified service and a lowballer, and the people just give the lowballer a try FREE for a week or two. Then just get comfortable and flow with it.

    It might be slightly comparable to how some landscapers offer a free landscape design if they are chosen, but the design, plant list, designer and project cost are not specified when the decision and commitment is made. I've heard about this dozens of times near Portland.

    Maybe there is a similar Free hook or set of lures on the lawn service end that lowballers are using.
  8. P&C Lawn Care

    P&C Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 373

    If lowballers and people who did crappy work didn't exist how would the customer know what is good service and price. How can we know what good is without having evil?

    If price is the only thing the customer is concerned with then let the lowballers do that work. There are plenty of other customers who will pay.
  9. newbomb

    newbomb LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 391

    I don't believe in giving anything away free. I don't want someone to do something for me free of charge and I don't want the same asked of me. We allknow nothing is free. If your work or skills have value you should be paid a fair price. Some of the most expensive things in life start out as a freebie.
  10. dwc

    dwc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 645

    I think many people are caught up in what I call the Wal-Mart mentality, they think cheaper is better...low prices everyday. They do not understand that in the retail buisiness, WM and the store down the road may have the same product on the shelf, WM may be cheaper and if you buy it, you are getting the same product that is priced higher at the other place.

    In the service industry however, most professionals know what they are worth and charge accordingly. But when the customer calls to get estimates, they are automatically programmed (mostly thanks to WM) that you choose the cheapest. We sell a are different than products. The products on the shelves at the 2 stores may be identical.......2 different lawn companies may be worlds apart.

    I am not saying all customers are this way, otherwise I would not have any, but this mentality has been put into many people's head.

    Another sad thing is many lowballers think they will be the Wal-Mart of lawncare. Little do they understand that services are very different than products.

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