Lowballer Strikes Again

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Spence, Feb 27, 2002.

  1. Spence

    Spence LawnSite Member
    Messages: 62

    You can sure tell that the economy is in bad condition. Several guys I know in the area have lost accounts by people coming in and offering to do the same service for almost half the price. Today, I got a taste of it myself. I called up one of my customers that just pays me per cut to make sure that everything was still on go to start back up in about a month. She told me that she had decided to go with someone else this year because they would do it cheaper. This yard is 3/4 of an acre and I was cutting it for $40 a cut, which is a good price. The other guy said he would do it for $25 a cut. Give me a break. She said that I could still do it if I would match his price. Yeah, right. I told her no thanks. I don't think people realize that it hurts everybody when they lowball jobs like that. How do they expect for them, or anybody else, to be able to make a living with prices like that? It drives me crazy.
  2. George777

    George777 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Alabama
    Messages: 305

    I had it happen to me last week. Lady calls and said," did you mail me my invoice?" Yes mam it is in the mail. " I got an estimate the other day for 45.oo and I think I'm going to go with them". My rate was 65.00 per cut. I told her no problem just make sure he is lisenced so that he don't sue ya if he cuts his foot off. I know he will not make a profit at 45.00 but oh well. She'll call back and the price will be 70.00 per cut if she wants me to do it.
  3. parkwest

    parkwest LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 678

    Beat this:

    Lost a $9800.00/season contract to a college kid who bid $2300.

    I bid using 60" lazer, 48" lazer hp and 36" metro for berms. You guessed it. The kid had a 21" trim mower.

    Property manager said he told doctor it wasn't a legit bid but the doctor said to hire the kid because the doc thought it would be nice to help the kid thru school. Yea right.

    Funny part is my crews reported every time they went by the kid was out there mowing. No matter what day of the week. Evidently this was his only mowing job.
  4. Lot of guys around here are doing 40 dollar jobs for 15 bucks with 21in mowers and a lot people hire them because they like the small mowers on the lawn i have no idea why but they do.Most of these guys are part timers but their ranks are growing.
    I seen a lot of people with lawn mowers stuffed in the back end of cars this past season stop near job sites pick the mower up out of the car and start mowing several lawns.
    And these homes were in an exclusive neighborhood have no idea what they got but these homes were in an elite neighborhood .
    The head honcho at the ford plant here in chicago hts lives there and some more corporate big wigs.Lost a good account of gas stations to some of these guys and it was of nice account.Have no idea if they were insured but these stations were a big company.They required it with us so i guess they were. They counldnt have made much money at the price they got.
    Of couse it's a free country they want to work their ass of for the price of a couple cases of beer more power to em they useally dont last to long anyway.But damm it seems that when one quits one's there to take his place.
  5. MuskTurfKing

    MuskTurfKing LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 338

    The way I see it, if a customer is such a tight wad that they'll cut you off just to save a few bucks and get crappier service, let em have it, they'll come crawling back and then charge them more. What goes around comes around.

  6. RB

    RB LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 316

    I'm afraid this is the future of our business. There will always be a guy with a 21" mower out there making extra $. The only thing we can do is educate of customers and remind them how professional companies benefit them. And more importantly, be there when that scrub that took your lawn screws up.

    A little off the subject -- be we also have to honestly ask ourselves how much lawn maintenance is really worth. I think that somehow we have gotten to a point where we think we are more important than we really are in this business. Don't get me wrong what we do is hard work and not everyone can do it. Does that consitute making $100/hr.? I don't think so.

    Personally, I have no problem undercutting a contractor that is overcharging a customer. If a contractor is charging a customer $50 for 20 minutes work he is overcharging his customer. I believe the contractor who overcharges their customers does more harm than the scrub.
  7. JML

    JML LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 415

    i went from charging a very fair price this year to being a low baller myself, I can admit it.. In my area there is no educating customers and they don't care if you have insurance, workmans comp, pay taxes, etc.. Believe it or not I am making more money and less aggravation since my prices have come down.. People are happier with the lower prices and don't complain anymore about the littlest thing which helps a lot because we don't get anymore phone calls about leaving a grass clipping on my porch. Our crews are doing more volume now and making more money than when were charging a premium dollar. I added it up and by cutting prices I am only losing anywhere from $50 to $100 per day per crew from what I was charging before.. But by being cheaper on some lawns, we don't have to pay as much details as to others so we can get to the next lawn faster, and cut more lawns a day.. It all balanced each other out.. I know some of you guys probably aren't liking what I am saying but I got tired of losing work, dealing with customers on the littlest things, and everything else.....
  8. parkwest

    parkwest LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 678

    The reason I mentioned mower sizes was for you to note the difference in mower production rates. ie. 60" lazer vs. 21" MTD To show how ridiculous the kid's price was.

    I agree partner i didnt mention 21in mowers on a account of your post i was just bringing up my delimma these guys aint even towing a trailor around
    We carry a 60 in dixie on one trailor and lazer48 hp on the other and a couple walkbehinds and no way we can do it at these guys prices and then divide the profits between the 4 of us.
  10. mowerguys

    mowerguys LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    I agree with RB. I will undercut companies charging $50 for a half hour. Maybe because it is just me and my brother we can aford to do this. we try to make between 35 and 45 dollars a man hour. We feel this is fair and we do a very high end job. we have 30 customers and our repeat business is over 90%. we get yards next to our clients because of the quality we put into our work. which is great because that eliminates transportation time between yard. We only have 30 clients because that is all we have time to handle working around our school schedules.

    I would also like to say that not all college students are hurting the industry. I'm 20 and my brother is 14. This year will be my sixth year in business and we buy all of our equipment from the capital we make. Our parents have nothing to do with our business. We carry insurace too. this is not directed at anyone but just i jsut wanted to put an fyi out there on my behaf

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