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Price vs quality vs who cares attitude

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by meets1, Jun 11, 2008.

  1. meets1

    meets1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,855

    I have been thinking of this theroy this spring/summer. I have switched some of my large open area mowing from Z's and straight lines to the 455-d and being done in 20 minutes.

    Ex: Open 3 acre lot that we mow. Run the Z which is a 52 deck takes a while but looks nice, suddenly it is costing me money to make the lot look good. Now looking good to me means alot. I am sure you guys can relate. But the client doesn't care or seem to care. The pay is the same. So now I have 3 - 455-d machines - one machine mows that in 1/2 hour and my money is better. Sure machine is bigger, cost more but does the ends justify the means?

    I lost a condo this year to a low low lowballer. We had that place poppen. Always looked awesome - now, there is no rythm or reason to the mowing. Grass on the street, some on the walks etc but one told me well he is $5 less / unit and the grass is getting cut.

    So where does one draw the line. Where is the ceiling in this business? I think I am there from what I have witnessed thus far this year.

    Now you may wonder why a 52 deck vs a 455-d. Well most lawns are 5-2 acres. Commercial are 20K to 40 acres. So the 52's work well for me as an all around general use machine.
  2. meets1

    meets1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,855

    Point - the 5-2 acres should be mean 5K to 2 acre home lawns that are mowed.
  3. jkilov

    jkilov LawnSite Bronze Member
    from MS
    Messages: 1,415

    This was probably discussed here before...

    Some customers appreciate quality more than others. You'll just need to adapt to their expectations to keep efficient. Takes awhile to know what they want.

    Take your time on lawns with $500k houses. Don't overdo it on low end lawns, condos, schools, etc.

    However like you said, there's a limit to how low one could go. Leaving grass clippings anywhere is crossing the line.
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    The reason I do things the way I do them spell out why I even bother.

    As for the customers, some I am guessing love it, and the rest?
    They don't have to like it.
    They don't have to agree with me.
    They can call me names for all I care.
    They can fire me, they can hire someone else.
    All that and more they can do,
    because that is their choice.

    But I will run my business the way I do,
    because that is my choice.
  5. Lawn-Sharks

    Lawn-Sharks LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 912

    Those are Good points and i have wasted my time thinking about it and still have not come up with the answer that best suits my business, so for now I'm on auto pilot with quality.
  6. capnsac

    capnsac LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 702

    There was an interesting point that a guy I sub work from said to me today. He said 'it isn't the customers job to care about why something goes wrong, it's our job to make sure it goes right.'

    Now I'm dealing with 6-inches above average precipitation for this spring. The grass is all-the-time wet, and turning a 1200lb ztr on this stuff without tearing the grass is another task altogether. I didn't go fast, I used the k-turn method, and even when I was on straights I would only be going half speed. It is like I can't do anything right. Does the customer know or care about those reasons? No. That is the bottom line.

    So, you can ask yourself the question of 'why do I put the effort in when it seems like it isn't even noticed?' I know I have asked myself that same question 100's of times, but my answer to that is, 'it doesn't matter if they care or not, I must hold myself to that higher level. I must always bring my A game whether or not it is noticed.'

    Now there are times when I can't even get on a property for 5-6 days because of this fricking rain. When I do finally get on there I am already 5-6 days behind, and the grass is consistent with a hayfield. Quadruple cutting the stuff doesn't do the trick, so I have to bag 3-4 acres worth of grass. Do I want to? No. It costs me a lot extra, and my profit margin goes down, down, down. Now, I know you are all going to say how stupid it is for me to do this, but I look at the guy I am subbing this work from and he has had this same account for 9 years. It is a huge housing association 164 units to be exact, with large commons areas. He hasn't been able to keep this account by sheer luck, it's all the extra time and payroll dollars he has spent is what has allowed him to keep this account. You know what that housing association is worth to him gross-yearly? $100,000.

    So, in closing, even if it doesn't seem worth it right now, in the grand scheme of things if you let a little bit of your quality go right now, and a little bit more down the road. Pretty soon you are going to think it is acceptable to leave a little grass clippings here, and maybe not trim one side of that unit. So, always hold yourself to the highest caliber possible (without actually losing money) because it will pay off. Quality is noticed, and hard-work never goes unrewarded.
  7. DoetschOutdoor

    DoetschOutdoor LawnSite Bronze Member
    from S. IL
    Messages: 1,818

    It sounds like you are doing okay on the account part of your biz so Ill bet you can judge which lawns need more time spent vs which yards you can do the minimum and get by.

    Sorry but what is a 455 -d ? In areas where you were happy with how long it took you with the 52, why not go up to a bigger mower and still get good cut quality?
  8. J&R Landscaping

    J&R Landscaping LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,095

    Toro makes it. I'm not sure how wide it cuts but I'm pretty sure it has wing decks. 1 under the machine and 1 on each side.
  9. meets1

    meets1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,855

    455-D toro is a 50 hp diesel mower with two wing decks and one in front. Cut width is around 10.5 ft for a full cut but we never mow at the cut - usually around 9ft.

    I am running 3 of these machines this year. Not all at once but there is a day or so that they all run together.

    "A" game is must always. I just find it hard to beleive that people do not notice the quality - as in trimming, edging, blowing, this time of year for me bagging all the grass, and then to go to the low end of the playing field.
  10. jrush

    jrush LawnSite Member
    Messages: 215

    It's funny, because I know the accounts I have that I do an awsome job at, (which ya for the most part goes unnoticed) and I know the cust that could care less, and I blow through them like hurrican Katrina, string trim every other week, don't care about stripes or clippings. I take pride in my work, and I want every lco that drives by to notice even if the homeowner does'nt. But, after spending time on accounts that could care less, I learned to adjust, in the long run, if their happy and pay for a half a$$ job, so be it, I never get much more than mowing from them anyways. I know where my bread gets buttered and I take care of them.

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