now this is customer loyalty!!

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by EZTarget, May 6, 2004.

  1. EZTarget

    EZTarget LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 295

    so i am trying to ease into this business and on my first attempt at a commercial account i was amazed at what happened. i approached the manager of a gas station in my area that i give a LOT of business to and just inquire about who does their lawn work. he gives me some guys name and so i drop the hint of my new venture. he jumps right on it. "oh you can make some good money doing that". i said yea but it is competitive. turns out he doesnt like the current guy cause he is inconsistent. we talked a bit about his property and he said he would give my card to the owner monday and talk to him. said he would'nt just give my name but push me. (he has it on for my wife!) so monday comes and i get a call from the owner as promised. guy tells me to check out the other property and his home and he pays his current guy 225/month. this is a bit less than i expected it to be but since i am just starting i know this is a good opportunity because of the connections he has and the high visibility of his commercial properties. i think it works out to about 4cents a sq ft. All 3 are close together, one is by far bigger than the rest. second property would take almost as long to load/unload as it would to do it. i call him back and tell him i am good with it and he confirms a weekly cut (this guy AINT doin a weekly cut). i said ok, and do you want to talk about the hedges because they look like they need some work. i really wanted to get that cleaned up because i sure didnt want my name being on that place in the state they were in. so much so that had he said no, i would have worked a little in each time out so he could see what it should look like. they were a mess. he tells me that his guy is doing them and that they only require occasional work. i agreed but also mentioned that they hadnt been touched in some time. in the interest of getting the job i told him yes and then he offers up an extra 25/visit anyways. i said ok, how about i start next saturday since it has just been cut (if you call it that). then he starts talkin about how he always pays on time and that he feels bad about letting his guy go since he has been using him for a few years. he then tells me that he wants to call his guy and talk to him and he will call me back. well you know where it goes from there. two calls later i get back in touch with him. he tells me he decided to give the guy one more chance! so i asked him in the interest of my estimation on his property was the back grass area his stations or the company next to him. he told me it was his. i said "oh i was just wondering because it hasnt been cut" (close to a foot high) - silence. i told him that if he ever changed his mind to give me a call and hung up. is this customer loyalty at its finest? i am telling you (i meant to take a pic to post but was busy passin out flyers today - ugh) that both properties and his house had hedges that were so overgrown it was ridiculus. all the landscaping was in disarray and the main property is in a very high traffic area where all the other companies take very good care of their landscape and lawns. and it isnt that he doesnt see it because he is there every week. i guess when i get older i sure hope to have a customer this loyal!

    maybe he just didnt like my new ride...
  2. EZTarget

    EZTarget LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 295

    i know this didnt draw much interest but guess who called back sunday. of course he was wantin to know how soon i could get to him. told him i would have to look at my schedule and get back to him.
  3. LynyrdSkynyrd

    LynyrdSkynyrd LawnSite Member
    Messages: 179

    When you do get to work him into your schedule. Make sure that you have enough time to do the job right. I almost always expect to lose money on a new job the first time that I do it. For takeing the time to clean up a property can save you time.

    Like remove old tires or a few bricks, boards, etc instead of mowing around them every week. Pick up the plastic and paper trash instead of mowing over it.

    For it can make doing the next scheduled mowing much easier on you and your equipment.

    I walk over every inch of a new property if the grass is high. For I want to know if ther are any hazards and how the terrain lays before I start to work on it.
  4. GrassFearsMe

    GrassFearsMe LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 340

    You wrote a book of a post man.
  5. EZTarget

    EZTarget LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 295

    yea i know. i couldnt stop! i knew most would blow it off once they see the length. i do the same.
  6. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,028

    I read it twice.

    First off post a pic of your wife:D Just kiddin. But I'd say that is an interesting new way of advertising and getting work.

    The loyalty part is more of convenience and price for that customer in my opinion. It sounds like the customer really doesn't mind the half done just mow the high spots when it needs it kind of LCO. He is getting his lawn done and is not paying a lot for it. He really doesn't seem to care that it looks like krap.

    I see many properties like that also and just stay away from them. Its like the guy that pays for fertilizer and cuts his unirrigated lawn to 1 inch every week. You know that you can make the properties look good but the owner doesn't really care to.
    As I got to the bottom of your post I read about the foot tall grass and saw nightmare written in it. If you didn't include that extra mowing in your bid, you are setting yourself up for a big loss. Mowing that jungle is very hard on the equipment unless you have a brush hog. The potential for debris in that nest is something you might have found out the hard way. After you cut that down (assuming your equipment still worked) you will have an ugly mess. Then you would have to bag and remove all the cuttings. Lots of time effort and headache for not a lot of money.

    I would say that the guy actually did you a favor by not going with you. I haven't seen the exact property that you are talking about but have seen similar. If he calls you back I would caution you to renegotiate the terms to your favor. You would do better work as well as MORE work than the current cutter and you have to get more money for it. You do have to know your cost of doing business but you did say that the initial price you were given was low. Don't take the job just to get a job if you aren't getting what you need to do business.

    These jobs can be big losers that you will be sorry you got unless you do it on your terms. That owner is used to paying low dollar for just getting by type of work. It takes a good businessman to sell him on paying more for quality work.

    You may also have the thought that you will get in on the job and then raise rates next year. If thats the case you are going to work a whole season at a loss with no guarantee that you will be his LCO after you raise prices. It does not work that way.

    So now that you have read my book all I can say is bid for yourself, not what others are doing. You should know what it takes for your business, not the business of the scrub you are bidding against. Be able to justify your rates and explain your work. You won't get every job but then again that is not the point.
    I could go on for a long time but thats enough for now. Good Luck.
  7. EZTarget

    EZTarget LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 295

    Thanks Ed,

    Very good info. I do agree. I did agree to do the lawn but since I am starting out I felt like a little bit of loss may help in the long run. As I said it is a very highly visible area. I hope I don't regret it too much. I will heed your information and if this doesnt work out well, I will pull the plug quickly. Maybe I would be better off concentrating my efforts getting more new clients than trying to make this one look good?

    I have gone back and forth on this one since I first talked to the guy. I do know that now I will not hesitate to let him know that the place looks the way it does because he pays what he does. If that is what he chooses to continue then I will cut my losses quickly and move on calling it a learning experience. I would rather learn now on this while I have the time rather than when I don't.

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