Red Flags in Business

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by MDLawnman, Sep 12, 2006.

  1. MDLawnman

    MDLawnman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 229

    I took a call from a prospective client last week. He said a few things that immediately caught my attention and made me proceed with caution.

    First Red Flag: He has "2 to 3 acres" that he needs to have mowed.
    Reason for the Flag: EVERYONE knows exactly how much land they own.

    Second Red Flag: "I've gone thru 2 lawn service companies this season."
    Reason for the Flag: 2 lawn services in one season? WHY?

    Third Red Flag: "The job will take three hours each time you mow & I'll pay you $90."
    Reason for the Flag: Besides not being enough money for the hours/job, it felt wrong to have a price dictated to me.

    (To finish this example he was not at home when I drove by to give an estimate. I called him on his cell phone and he told me that he had already hired someone else and wanted to know what I would charge for comparison. I told him that I did not want the job and thanked him for calling)

    Professional sales people (car salesmen specifically) receive training in what to look for in a potential client, what to say, how to act, etc.

    What are the Red Flags that you look for in the mowing / lawn care business that warn you of a potential problem, or indicate a potentially great client?
  2. stumper1620

    stumper1620 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,889

    I need it done today. big time red flag, be ready to mow a hay field.
    somebody let it grow too long.
  3. LLandscaping

    LLandscaping LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,016

    I need someone to cut my yard my mower is broken down. I want my yard cut once a month. I like it when a potential customers ask what I charge for an average lawn. I need my lawn cut today. These are just a few of the Red flags that I look for when talking to a prospective customer. It they call wanting an estimate I usually explain the way that we do business. It helps to weed out the people that are just wasting my time.
  4. AL Inc

    AL Inc LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,209

    You hit on a couple of good "red flags". I always ask who was doing the lawn prior and why they weren't happy. The responses usually will give you an idea of their expectations. If I know it was a hack outfit doing the lawn, I will give the potential client the benefit of the doubt. If it was a reputable company that does nice work, that is a red flag. When people say "they just stopped showing up" or "they went out of business", that means one of two things: The potential client had a hack doing the lawn, and they want to pay a low price, or they annoyed the reputable company enough that they not paying their bill, etc. I've learned just to ask questions and listen to people, not try to show them how much I know. I try to just trust my gut.
    I usually can see a PITA on the first meeting, but you never know. As far as a great client, that is even harder to predict, IMO. I've had people who I was sure would be great accounts turn out to be nightmares. I've had people I was leery of turn out to be great accounts.
  5. Rons Rightway Lawncare

    Rons Rightway Lawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,164

    I do get picky in some instances, but I can't begin to tell you how many accounts I have picked up and kept, that I thought were going to be very VERY short term accounts. One of the ones I did today I have done for going on 4 years and I was hired to do the lawn for only 1 to 2 months while the man got better after a operation he had. He got better, but figured for the little amount he can pay me to do it, his time is worth more.

    Red flags..... Hmmmm....what the guys above said all ring bells to me!
  6. Rons Rightway Lawncare

    Rons Rightway Lawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,164

    I am new to the lawn care forums.... What is a PITA?
  7. dlm17

    dlm17 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 102

    Ron, Pain In The A--
  8. procut

    procut LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,852

    Acting extremly interested in your insurances. I had a residential customer demand to see proof of my insurance and the limits of coverage when I first showed up, asked about when it expried ect. Very suspisious IMO.
  9. Uranus

    Uranus LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 1,624

    One red flag for me is when they tell you how much they paid LAST year. What are they thinking, lawn mowing prices dont go up. Maybe we should give a price for the next five years. LOL!
  10. mojob

    mojob LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 515

    The customer probably works in the insurance industry and knows how important it is for the contractor they hire to have insurance. Lets say your mower kicks out a rock and hurts the neighbor. If you don't have insurance guess who the lawyers will go after. That's just a smart customer. I wouldn't worry, unless you don't have insurance that is.

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