Should we take on this one?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by J Haugner, Aug 31, 2004.

  1. J Haugner

    J Haugner LawnSite Member
    Messages: 51

    Should we take on this one?

    I got a referral today from a landscape designer I work well with.
    It is for a self made man who started and runs probably the largest mason company in the state. He has over 130 guys working and they did the all the brick work for the baseball stadium here in Seattle.

    He wants us to maintain his commercial building and his home weekly year round both within a few miles of each other and in our territory. I was told he pays well but is a hell of a perfectionist. Sounds great no?. Well here’s where I need some advice.

    Both places are loaded with hedges, ornamental trees, shrubs and topiaries they are all perfectly trimmed and tight. Not a weed in either place and without any mulch in the beds. Wants us to use his ‘California Trim Mower’. His home is loaded with fir trees for lots of raking this fall. He wants perfect grass in completely shady wet areas. Doesn’t like plugs from aerators. He wants his home done on Fridays and the office on Saturdays (Working every Sat.?). I think it would take an average of 3 hours at his home and 2 at the office. He wants everything, sprinklers, monitoring/startups/winterizing, fertilizing even rose pruning, ect.
    He has been through 2 companies this year. He has already fired his most recent LCO and needs someone now.

    I have a great crew working for me now and we do an excellent job with our mow, blow and Goes plus project installs. We are also all excellent pruners. Right now we have 35 maintenance accounts. I don’t have much of a chance to work with the crews so I feel I will be stressing over this mans accounts (the need for perfection).

    Do you see red flags or is there any opportunity here.

    I was thinking $840 a month for his home and $625 for the office is this enough? This is all year round money mind you but we will probably be hating May, June, July, Oct., Nov.

    Is this the place to really turn my guys into true professional landscaper/gardeners?

  2. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,758

    MJw, let me ask you this. Do you know the other lco that was doing it and what kind of work he does? I have had potential clients to call and tell me they were unhappy with their curent lco and if I knew who it was and they did good work I pass on it. Now the biggy, what does your "gut feeling" tell you about this job. Do you have a good feeling about it? From reading your post I sorta got the impression that you got the same feeling I did, to approach with "extreme caution" and need some new jobs badly but I have no problem walking away from something I dont feel good about. Im sure you will get a lot of different opinions on this but you do what you feel is best for you, and remember that "GUT FEELING" is always right.

    Quality Lawn Care
  3. J Haugner

    J Haugner LawnSite Member
    Messages: 51

    Danny, right about the 'gut feeling'. That is why I am posting this. His former LCO was an Asian guy and a worker. The client said there was a huge problem with communication but spoke English well when it came to the bill. I think the former LCO did a great job for the most part.
    Yeah, we do need a few more accounts but I don't want to get too bogged down that I can't do projects/installs. Right now all my maintenance customers are low stress and we still get the industry standard pricing.

  4. Remsen1

    Remsen1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,020

    If he has already fired the other LCO, I would try to talk to the other LCO. By talking to both sides you can get a feel for whether this was a case of

    a.) unreasonable owner expectations, competent and quality LCO.


    b.) reasonable owner expectations, incompetent LCO.

    I wouldn't try talking to the other LCO if he is still working there LOL! However if he is still working there you can ask the owner for specific reasons for firing, then you can inspect the property after it has been serviced and see whether "a" or "b" above is true.
  5. Lawn-Scapes

    Lawn-Scapes LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,810

    Nothing like a good challenge. Don't know whether your prices are enough... but top dollar should be considered.. the price for perfection.

    If you can satisfy this man... no telling what other work may come in down the road.

    I would do it! Good luck either way.
  6. dkeisala

    dkeisala LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 911

    I took on an account a few years ago. These people are very wealthy and high standing members of the community. They saw my truck at a local nursery and gave me a call. Their home is on a double lot in one of our oldest, nicest neighborhoods. It was an enormous undertaking for me at the time.

    Before I came online, they had placed their house up for sale because they couldn't find anyone to take care of the landscape the way Anne liked. She's very particular and had gone through several lco's but things weren't being taken care of. We started maintaining it and a couple months later they took the house off the market.

    The secret to my success with Anne was I listened to her and did what she wanted done. Communication and follow through always seem to be the problem with picky, high-end customers. Their account averaged around $500 per month with maintenance and constantly tweaking/changing things around. By being the landscaper she wanted me to be I not only gained a profitable, trouble free account but we became friends as well.

    If you take these two accounts on, be prepared to be around when the maintenance is taking place. Supervise, pitch in and help at least until you have your crew taking care of the place the way it should be taken care of. The owner will see your presence and appreciate it. It will also give him a point person to go directly to should he have questions/requests/problems. When people spend that kind of money they want things to look the way THEY want them to look, not the way WE want them to look. Find out how he is viewing things and look at his landscape from his perspective.

    When bidding the job, take all the detail work into account. This stuff takes time and time is money. Bid it right, bid it on the high side.

    No mulch in the beds? They call it the Emerald City for a reason, it's ALWAYS green, stuff grows year round (especially weeds) and you're right next door to it. Unless you plan on crawling around on your hands and knees pulling out the bazillions of weeds that are going to pop up, plan on using lots of chemicals and especially pre-emergents. Don't forget to factor this into the bid.

    You don't have to be intimidated by an intense landscape and a picky high-end customer. Break it down into simple elements and keep an open line of communication and respect with the client. Remember that these kinds of landscapes are the most difficult the first year. After that you know exactly what to do, your times improve and they are just like any other place on your route.
  7. economiclawncare

    economiclawncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 143

    I have a full maint yard and charge $860 for it and they arent perfectionist but always want me out there doing something i think they want to see me atleast twice a week well i hate this job and if i could change the price i would up it to $1200 a month so i say price it high so that you wouldnt care how picky they are and if you dont get it then forget about it but dont sell yourself short seems to me that you have enough work.

Share This Page