Lesson of the day

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by George777, Apr 19, 2001.

  1. George777

    George777 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Alabama
    Messages: 305

    Got a call yesterday for an estimate. My partner and I roll over and figure about 35.00 per week. The problem was that the customer was not at home and she told me to call her cell phone with my price. (1st mistake) I called her back and she agreed on the price.

    We scheduled her for today and so we roll in about 0900. She started telling me what she wanted done. (2nd mistake) We did the job and it took 3 hours for 35.00

    My lesson learned is this:
    1. I will never give a price over the phone without meeting the customer. So that they will know exactly what they will get, also I can sense their attitude. If I feel I’ve got a knit picker my price has just jumped up.
    2. I will never allow a customer tell me what I will do, after all who’s business is it. We hedged for over 1 hour. I realize that ya got to use common sense, but knit picking forget it.
    3. I should have told her that what she is talking about is an add on service and that this service will cost her 100.00.
    Well we live and learn and I think I will remember this one. Now that her property is squared away, next visit will only take about 25 minutes. She will produce about 140.00 a month. I can use every customer I can get at this stage in my business.

    Maybe when I get a large customer base I can replace those who display a knit picking attitude. What are some of your feelings about this?

  2. Skippy

    Skippy LawnSite Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 31

    Jeez George, Hard way to learn a lesson, but thanx for putting it on. It's a lesson learned for me too, but at a cheaper cost. Better luck next time.
  3. TJLC

    TJLC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,308

    I'm sure we have all been there at one time or another. I wouldn't beat yourself up over this. Move on, and better luck next time.
  4. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,360

    Been there done that too many times.
  5. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,555

    You guys took it bad-that job cost you lot of money.I dont know why you accepted only 35 for 2 men and 3 hrs-that waa another mistake.I notice a lot of people dont call you until there lawn/yard is out of control-then they gulp when you tell them it will be 4x the mowing charge to get it in shape.On my commercial sites,there is no trash pickup all winter,and a fence all around to contain the trash/leaves.I spend 2 days,2 men sucking trash,and leaves from fence lines with my trac-vac.The first time I did this,I didnt have the vac-and I learned the hard way.
  6. NateinAtl

    NateinAtl LawnSite Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 121

    That's too bad. But join the crowd. I have done a few jobs where I didn;'t make any money. renting equipment and paying labor, and dumping fees. If it is possible, try to put in place a spring cleanup for your first visit. If you don't, there will be customers that have you do everything under the sun and then drop you after two visits. I promis this happens a lot. A new customer will call, you agree on a weekly price thinking they will stay with you for a while. They ask that you get the pruning, weeds out of the beds, etc. on the first or second visit. Everything looks good and you think it will be a breeze from there on out and BAM,,, they call and cancel. There are peolple like this out there. It's good of you to share that story here so that all the new guys can learn from it. Sorry.
  7. jasonp

    jasonp LawnSite Member
    from Alabama
    Messages: 147

    Live and learn thats all you can do. You will remember it the next time to tell the customer the price you gave was for this and this rather than this,this,this, and this. We all have done it, I know I did when I was in a great need of customers.
  8. George777

    George777 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Alabama
    Messages: 305

    John DiMartino, you are right. I think these lessons help prepare you for what to do in the future. I bet everyone in this business has at one time or another done the same thing.
  9. Currier

    Currier LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 564

    It's kind of one of those deals. You want the customer($$) You give what you think is a fair price then lo and behold the lawn turns and bites you on the rear! You figure you'll learn from that one so the next time you raise your price and don't get the customer...another lesson learned! next time you lower your price and ...3 hours later... BUT somewhere in there, after a while, you will get it right. Eventually you get it right more often than you get it wrong and that is a happy day!
  10. jason2

    jason2 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 243

    I am in my second year and still building my customer base. I've had a lot of this happen to me. I tend to get overly optimistic and excited about new customers. I think to myself, "Great! New customer, I gotta sign 'em." So I bid a fair price and forget about the details it takes to get a new yard in shape. It always ends up biting me in the *ss.

    I am slowly learning. But when you are the new fish in a pond full of competition, the customer can be tough to land.
    Once I plant the measuring wheel on the new yard, I hand the customer a couple of referral letters and get to estimating.

    If I land the job, either one of two things happen. One: I estimated properly and everything works out according to plan. Or two: I miscalculated time or forgot to figure in something which leads to working at a loss.

    Tuesday I spent 8 hours at a new commercial cleaning a winter's worth of trash. I hadn't figured that into the bill. I ended up going out and buying a hand held vac/blower, otherwise it would have taken a lot longer. At least I have a new toy, and the lesson learned is valuable.
    Hoping that my brain will start working a bit better in the future.

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