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The "RED FLAGS" customers give out

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Paradise Landscapes, May 5, 2006.

  1. Paradise Landscapes

    Paradise Landscapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 959

    Here, we can post warning signs a customer will give-out so we know to avoid a problem ahead of time.

    > Give me a cheap price, I'll get you alot of work.
  2. lawnsbyrj

    lawnsbyrj LawnSite Member
    Messages: 147

    i have a few freinds that need help if you hook me up.

    "come on Man the last guy was $10 bucks cheaper, you can beat that ?"

    Messages: 36

    How About "i Have Other Properties" Or "my Family Members Could Use Service If You Could Match A Price" My Last Guy Only Charged $****
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    You are right these can't really be explained but they are all red flags. As a rule, I give one red flag to the customer for free but the very next one, I RUN !

    Here are some you may find of interest:
    - If the customer says they have other estimates on the way, make sure to quote high because this one tends to knock your guide off - double whatever... You were thinking of quoting low weren't you? Yeah... watch out for that!
    - If the customer wants to (translation: has to) meet you for the estimate, be careful and get ready to run after 20 minutes of them bs'ing you around. All that chit-chat is them coseying up to you, want to be your friend. You're not there to make friends, no offense.
    - If the customer has to be there when you do the work, RUN !
    - If they want to set the price or the schedule, or even exert control over it, watch out!
    - If the customer wants the best price, quote double whatever you're thinking. (same reason as other estimates)
    - If the estimate is for grass-cutting and when you get there the grass does not need to be cut or has been freshly cut, watch out. It takes some practice but by looking at the turf you can see by the marks what kind of mower did it: If it's a pushmower or a rider, this means the homeowner likely has a lawnmower someplace, chances are they have some real pita work they want done and the grass-cutting thing is to sweeten up the pot and to get a better price. If the mower's tracks are commercial (Wb or Ztr), it doesn't mean as much but still keep your eyes open.
    - If the yard has never been properly maintained and is a filthy POS with hardly a dozen blades of grass, dirt and crap everywhere, RUN !
    - If it involves leaves in the spring, double price.
    - If the grass is up to your calves, knees, or higher: double price.
    - If the customer talks bad about the last Lco (one or more of them, doesn't matter), RUN !
    - If the customer talks melancholic about such-and-such used to do it for x-amount (x always a ridiculous low price), RUN !
    - If the customer offers to send you TONS more business, RUN !

    That's all I can think of for now.
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Some of these are advanced red flags, a few are safe to ignore in the first year or two, others are not. If you don't see my reasoning, then you can likely ignore it safely until the day you see it.
    Here are some other clues they don't think much of you:

    - If you find yourself thinking of peeing in their woods, and time and again it is always in their yard you have to go, something is
    wrong <-- This is NOT the case if you always have day-long jobs such as at an 8-acre property, but it still could be a sign.

    - If they bring out soda and snacks, you're a lawnboy to them. Politely decline or like I do, leave it sitting there untouched... And remember the gesture. Not always, I do have one who invites me to their Xmas party but that is all they do for me... Again, just a watch out type of thing.
    - If they invite you in the house, you're no stranger. Although this might make you feel good, you are not their friend: As a rule, NEVER enter a customer's house. If you do, that can give them the superior position over you (not always, but).
    - If you drive around the block 3 times and you finally have to call for directions and then you still can't find it for another 30 minutes... Should've let this one go after the second drive around the block. Not for sure, for sure, but I been there.
    - If they come walking up to you off the side of the street and they stand there expecting you to shut down and stop everything you're doing: Keep right on working, or you will end up doing something for nothing everytime.
    - If the MOST they are willing to pay is less than the LEAST you're willing to do it for (meaning you already said 30 when it should've been 35 and now they ask if you can do it for 25), RUN !
    - If they think you can do it right now just because you showed up in the rig to give the estimate, RUN !

    ALWAYS look up their property via their address and zip code on http://www.zillow.com/ - Now you know their acreage and the value of their home, but keep in mind the lot acreage is not all turf (for one, the house) but it helps your guide.

    Peace out

    Messages: 36

    Hey Topsites Do You Have Any Other Websites Like That? That Is Very Cool
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Thanks ! :) Continue in a second

    //////////////back to thread //////////////

    Here's another one to watch out for:
    - When a customer calls and gives you the impression they have several jobs for you (more than one thing) and by the time you get out there it becomes clear the ONLY thing they really need done is the leaves? RUN !!!
    - When a customer flaunts the money, you might as well turn around and walk right then and there because when they do this it affects your ability to think clearly. Many ways to do this, they might mention they own other homes or in some cases they start throwing around all this work that needs doing (at least several hundred for starters and later a few thousand worth), and what this does is it makes greed get the best of you. Greed is one of the seven deadly sins and the reasons it is such is because greed clouds your judgement - Once your judgement is gone, you can no longer estimate the job correctly.
    You could try and use the old 'double whatever price' but it's hard to fight this one and win.

    ///////////// OFF-thread ////////////
    Yes that's actually my second web site, the first one I still work on as a hobby, I started it back in 2001 and it's considerably bigger than the business site. You can see some similarities in the design (such as the back button and the front-page logo).

    Before I give you the link, it's not a porn or hacks and cracks site per se but it does have that stuff in there so it's not safe for children and I thought you should know that but:
  8. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Here's more stuff lol:

    - When they call and talk about needing someone to cut grass on a regular basis and then you get out there and OH we got this one little PITA job... Yes I already mentioned this but here's a save move:

    Be aware that I have done this many times and NEVER got the job so if you do this you will likely not get the job either! Matter of fact, I usually catch a dirty look but then again they really only wanted you to do the pita work for cheap and they'll let you cut the grass once or twice and then drop you.
    Anyway, here's the solution:
    Quote +50 dollars on the pita part and -5 on the grass-cut.
    So if the pita job should be 200 and the grass-cut 35, tell them 250 on the pita and 30 on the cut.

    Well it does work out, if they were true to their word (which they're not but that is not my problem), then 10 grass-cuts in they would come out even and you would start losing money - By end of year they would likely be 25-50 dollars ahead but since that wasn't the plan, they can call and get over on someone else because what they're hoping for is -50 on the pita and standard price on the grass-cut which is how their trick works because a lot of Lco's think they can make it up on the grass-cutting.

    Rule: NEVER give a low price in order to gain future work.
  9. Evergreenpros

    Evergreenpros LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,154

    These have happened to me:
    1. For sale sign on their home and they want a yearly contract
    2. Notice of nonpayment from the last LCO on their door
    3. Noticable contoversy between husband and wife
    4. Lawn is nothing but weeds in a neighborhood of nice lawns and they only want mowing because they want a nice yard.
    5. They don't look at the estimate nor read policies on the form, they just say "when can you start?"
    6. Refuse to pay a deposit, no matter how small, yet they have no problem signing a contract
    7. They have the worst yard on the block and they start telling you how to do your job down to every detail. YOU will be blamed for the yard not improving because they are convinced they are experts.
    8. Foot tall grass and they want it bagged on the first cut yet are unwilling to pay an upcharge.
  10. Tn Lawn Man

    Tn Lawn Man LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 479

    1. They call the 1st of May (Southern region of US) and want to START service.

    2. They immediately take control of the conversation and try to tell you when you will mow their yard.

    3. Talking bad about the previous LCO.

    4. Try to negotiate price like it is a flee market.

    5. Immediately want to order every service that you offer.

    Just getting started.....:)

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