That's Life

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by HOMER, Aug 3, 2001.

  1. HOMER

    HOMER LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,183

    Taking the good advice of many on this great forum I have embarked on a mission to raise prices on some of my accounts. I have also realized that my "focus" is changing and handling fewer accounts but being more full service is the direction I want to go. Having said that I will share my story.

    I have been maintaining a commercial account now for the last couple of years. This year it was recognized by the beautification committe and won the award, the sign is still up. When you come into town it is one of the first office buildings you see. The other day I had a conversation with the owner and told her that there was a lot of work that needed to be done. She had been letting someone else do the shrub work and weeding and it really wasn't being handled well. I proposed to her that I would start maintaining the entire grounds less weed control (shut up Stone). I also made her aware of the fact that I had been doing just the mowing too cheap for the size of the property and needed to refigure my bid. She seemed happy and willing to go down this road with me.

    The other Saturday my better half and I spent a good 5 hrs at the site making improvements to every square inch of the place. We trimmed and pruned and sawed and mowed and blowed get the picture. As I have said before my other goal is to achieve the beautification award at as many commercial properties as I can. If this place got it before it should dang sure get it again now that we widdled away at the overgrown crap Saturday.

    Armed with my new knowledge of how much time we would spend doing the other work at the site I set out to refigure my bid. Here is how I did it:

    30 mowings at 2.5 hrs each for a total of 75hrs a year
    3 full blown shrub, tree, and crape prunings a 5.0 hrs each/15 hrs year.
    30 weed pulls at .5 each for another 15 hrs for the year.
    105 hrs total hrs spent there for the year maintaining everything that grows. I broke down the dollars for the different functions and came up with a total of $4650.00 for the year. This place consumes an entire corner and is far from being flat and easy I might add.

    The owner had been out of town so I called her Tuesday to see if they had returned. My first question was had she been to the office................she had not. I then proceeded to enter into the INCREASE phase of the discussion. I reminded her of our discussion and told her that I had done some re-figuring.............then I laid it on her...............she really didn't like what she heard:eek:
    I let her soak it up and then reminded her that we're talking about the entire place here. She needed to run it by the office manager, she at least understood that they wouldn't be paying the other guy to do the shrubs now so including that into the price was understandable. The increase was $212.50 a month. I believe she thinks all that is from the added shrubs, it was also the adjustment made from doing the place dirt cheap for the last 2 years!

    Guess what they want to do now? Yep, shop around and compare prices!:blob2: She even asked me who I would recommend! Of course I had nobody that I would recommend so I told her she would have to handle that the best way she could.

    I guess the reason I'm pissed is because of the way the place used to look. It was a dump before I took it over and now it has at least got the attention of some people in town. When you really get into something and work you a$$ off to make it the best you can it's a little hard to swallow this "WE'RE GONNA GET A COUPLE MORE PRICES" craP! I guess the long and short of it is I won't be coming down on my price more than 10% regardless of the outcome. I factored in some fluff and know the amount of time it takes me since I've been doing it for a while.

    I'm almost convinced that the majority of the people don't even realize when something looks good or how much effort goes into making it that way. Let the grass grow a little too long and they notice the heck out of that though. I haven't heard back from her yet so the outcome is still up up in the air. If I'm succesful with this increase it will be the 5th one this year. Maybe things will work out...................just goes to show you how the rich keep getting richer and the rest of us keep on struggling!

    Sorry for rambling...............needed to vent.
  2. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,411

    I had given a long-term customer a really good price (for her) on a landscape install. (She is handicapped and living off of SSI disability checks, and I had routinely done extras for her thru the years to help make life a bit more tolerable, i.e. cleaned her car after snow, removed hazardous limbs, etc gratis).

    She calls the other day and says she plans to "shop around" before committing. Whoa! I immediately told her to release me from my bid. What do I mean she asks. I tell her that if she finds Im well below other quotes that I do not want to be bound to a contract where I may have screwed up the pricing but if she signs the contract now Ill hold to the price.

    She signed :D
  3. If you had a pest license you would be in a much better position.

    Pest apps are easy and provide the highest margin and the dumb scrubs are out of the picture and you are bidding against only qualified licensed companies.

    If you can't perform all the needed functions of a full service lawn care and landscape maint. business what good are you?
  4. kutnkru

    kutnkru LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,662

    Wegman’s used to have their property maintained by a friend of mine before he sold his business. The property was virtually a river berm that had to be mowed and it was striped perfectly every cutting. The flower beds were dead headed weekly, trees were pruned and shaped regularly in an effort to keep the property looking like a mini Taj Mahal(sp). Now its cut with toro grounds masters and the overall appearance has declined dramatically.

    We did a lawn installation for a friend at a Commercial Site, and now that the grass is in and still green (something the hydro seeder’s couldn’t do the first time correctly) the GM wants to talk with us about a price for maintaining the premises. What he fails to remember is that when his property was a mess and needed to be cut, and weeds knocked down, and a lot of little extras to keep it from being in code violation, that my friend whom had referred us for the seeding was the one who was always there for him. WHERES THE LOYALTY IN THIS!!!!:angry:

    Isn’t that just the way it is in our business that clients seem to be the most ungrateful and sooo forgetful of everything we do for them at these times! I guess it’s the 1 OH ****! wipes out 100 ATTA BOYS! :confused:

    I empathize with your aggravation and frustration Homey!
  5. gusbuster

    gusbuster LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,932

    Been through your sanitation all to often. Slap it into shape, and then let go because of price increase.

    I do get even though when and IF I'm called back. Has happened a couple times. I tell them that since they discontinued my service, work needs to be done to the place, need to charge more for my services. It happens. If your doing AWSOME WORK, you will get the account back. This is what's nice about commercial jobs.
  6. cantoo

    cantoo LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,910

    Homer, time to remember your saleman skills. Customers are more likely to say yes when they are in a happy mood or are impressed with your work. The best time to have given the increase was when she first seen your improvement to the property. She didn't have a chance to see the good work that you had done and you gave her the increase over the phone. There is no easier way to say No than over the phone, it's harder for the customer to say No to your face, especially when they are looking at the quality of your work. Also before and after pictures are lifesavers.
    I have found that the easiest way to loose a job is to try to do the whole thing over the phone, face to face is the way to go.
    One other thing, you should always have someone to recommend when a customer asks you no matter what it is they want. An expensive company and a real cheap company,, you will be the the medium they are looking for.
  7. awm

    awm LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,354

    homer im betting this goes around a couple of times and she ends up calling you and asking you if you will still take it.
  8. gorrell

    gorrell LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 536

    Homer, I hope this mess resolves itself in your favor. In the future when you begin at a property like this(unmaintained)take plenty of before pictures. These can be extremely beneficial if this problem rears it's ugly head again................Lynn
  9. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,360

    Homer, stay in contact with them. Make sure your name stays on the front of their mind at all times when dealing with other bids. Hang in there!
  10. crazygator

    crazygator LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,048

    As others have stated, do your best imitation of a salesman. Even dress up, well ok dress up some. Make an appointment with all the people needed there and walk them through everything you did and do. Then they will see just what it is like, and by the way schedule it for the hottest time of the day so they will get the full emphasis, if you know what I mean. Good luck and it will work out for you! Also remind them of the award you spoke of and that might add some kick too!

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