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Perception can be a double-edged Sword

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Southpaw, Nov 25, 2003.

  1. Southpaw

    Southpaw LawnSite Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 88

    Many years ago (1981), my mother and I took a trip to visit my sister in Tucson, AZ. My uncle and his family also came out in their Winnabago and we had a great time traveling across the country. We stopped in New Mexico and visited some awesome caverns. We went on a guided tour with a large group and came upon a large room that had awesome acoustics. There was dead silence until a lady turned to me and began speaking loudly about what she encountered the night before.

    She told me, "I was laying in bed last night almost asleep and Teddy pushed the door open and snuck into my room. He jumped on top of me and began licking my face. He scratched me really hard too. He had his paws all over me and was insisting that I give him some attention. I kept trying to ignore him, but he just wouldn't leave me alone. So I grabbed him and told him that he could stay if we could just cuddle and go to sleep. But Teddy wanted to play. He sure was the blackest and meanest boy I ever met, but I was able to throw him out and lock my bedroom door."

    The crowd was stunned and just stared at this lady. The park ranger told that lady to be quiet since her comments were deemed inappropriate. The rest of the tour was kind of uncomfortable for me. Like Paul Harvey always says, And now for the rest of the story.

    This "lady" was my mother. She was talking about my sister's cat. His name was Teddy. He was a big black tomcat. That whole event made me realize how perception from others can be so wrong sometimes.

    So here we are in the green industry and perceptions are often wrong as well. There are more than a handfull of people that only think of us as lawn monkeys. They compare us to their 12 year old son that mows the neighbor's lawn as well as their own. I also know of several people that call themselves an LCO, but they have no insurance and no knowledge of the complexity of this very fine industry. They tend to drag down our pricing and put a stain on what we are trying to accomplish. They will always be around, but it is up to all of us to change these perceptions.

    I have found myself struggling to change some of these misconceptions and it is frustrating sometimes. I'm not 12 yrs. old and I don't live in my momma's basement and use her lawnmower to get beer money either.

    I would love to hear how some of you old pros have been able to change the perception that many people have about our chosen career.
  2. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Sometimes, I kind of like the fact that there are so many of these scrubs out there making themselves look bad. Because when I show up to give a bid in a nice clean lettered vehicle with my license number and sticker on it (as required by law in our state), with professional uniforms, professional bid sheets, clean-cut, educated, well spoken, and well versed about our industry - it just sets me appart from the competion so much that they want to hire me.

    I guess I change their perception by being professional. I think those other guys help me. At least where I live, a lot of people are willing to pay more for professionalism.
  3. HOMER

    HOMER LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,183

    I have to agree with Jim................you have to change their perception about YOU..................Your not trying to sell to the entire population but only to those that you come face to face with. When you get that opportunity then it's your chance to help yourself and the industry.
  4. bayfish

    bayfish LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 641

    Jim Lewis is right,
    If you are serious about what you do and are prepared, people recognize that and will react accordingly. If they want a scrub, you'll be able to tell in a minute. When their first questions are "How much to do this and how much to do that?" you know they don't want the best, they want the cheapest.
  5. Navig8r

    Navig8r LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 477

    Good thread.... I'm a part timer, and new to the Biz.. (1 1/2 yrs). I do not have lettering on my vehicle, as it is my personal vehicle, and lettering would not allow me to keep it registered as a "passenger" vehicle.... (Would need to be "commercial" and would restrict me from a major highway here, on that basis alone.)

    HOWEVER, I keep my overall appearance neat (clothing, equipment, truck, trailer, jobsites, billing, estimates, business cards, etc....) and I show a lot of respect to my customers. I give honest pricing, for quality work, and I only leave a job done RIGHT!

    What my customers get is QUALITY, RELIABLE service, at a fair price....... I treat them like customers, not like "beer money" because I want to have a good, long standing professional relationship with these people........ All my customers comment on the top quality of my work, and I almost never get a debate on pricing.... (with the few exceptions that we all see)

    As far as perception goes.... think about this: Perception IS reality

    What do my customers perceive me as?
    I believe they see me as someone who works hard to meet their needs. Someone honest and reliable.

    I always remind myself of a sig. line that another LS member used to use:
    Look like a professional, act like a professional, and work like a professional, and you'll get treated and paid like a professional.
  6. dgram8

    dgram8 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    Navig8r have you thought about putting a sign on your trailer that is how mine are I don't letter my trucks because I don't want them commercial here you can get aticket if you use it for personal use ( pulling golf cart ,boat)
  7. pinnacle

    pinnacle LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 791

    Yes......What Jim said.

    I read somwhere "Treat your Buisness no different to any fortune 500 company" And I agree with that statment 100%. I think that would be the first step to changing potencial customers perceptions of you and your operation, along with contantly striving with the relentless battle for buisness perfection.(Ya know.............always trying to be the best in the industrie)

    Also Priding your self on your work. If I can't leave a job and look at the finish and think to myself "F#ck I'm good!" I may as well stay in bed.

    I think if there were more government regulations Ie licensing schem this would help alot too.

    Mate, I really know what your saying and it's just a dam shame the minority ruin this perception for alot of us.

    Also I think If REAL lCOs stand tall and united this would help aswell...........Sorta like an "Master LCO association" or " Gold licence Lawn contractors association.
  8. lawnman_scott

    lawnman_scott LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,547

    Well, I will bet we are the only trade begging for more government regulations. Isnt it bad enough that some states can actually give you a ticket for using a commercial vehicle to pull a boat on a saturday like dgram said? Maybe we should just worry about our own business, and try to make it professional.
  9. pinnacle

    pinnacle LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 791

    I don't have that issue where I live. I wouldn't have said " I think there should be more regulations" if I didn't think there should be and thats just my opinion.
    Are you scared your operation wouldn't comply??

    What would make you think I'm not worring about my own biz mate.:dizzy:
    Thats not a very well thought out statment.
  10. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    /\ Typical Socialist views from Australia. They seem to want the government to regulate everything. "More government regulation is the answer!!!" :rolleyes:

    By the way, how's that gun-ban working? Australia Gun Ban Article :gunsfirin

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