The Right Questions / The Wrong Questions

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by JimLewis, Aug 4, 2007.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Well, I've been giving landscaping bids now 3-5 per day, 6 days per week, for many years now. In my experience, when I am giving a bid there are the "right" kinds of questions and the "wrong" kinds of questions I get from customers. The right questions are questions indicating they are interested in doing business....interested in your company. The wrong questions are indicators they are pikers. That is, they are just looking for someone who is cheap. They don't care about anything other than price. They don't care about you, quality, loyalty, service, warranty, etc. They are only concerned about what you can do for them right now and for how cheap.

    So I wanted to open up the discussion. Feel free to add your own. Here are some of the ones I've obvserved;

    The Right Questions:

    "So if we were want to hire you, when could you start?"

    "So you guys are licensed, bonded and insured, right?"

    "What are your payment terms?"

    "Great. So do you do other landscaping work too? We are also looking at getting an irrigation system and maybe a concrete patio. Do you do that kind of work?"

    "Do we have to be home when you are here doing the work?"

    "So how long would the job take from start to finish?"

    All these questions indicate that they are already thinking of hiring you. They are just trying to work out the logistics in their head. You have a fish on! Pay attention.

    The Wrong Questions:

    "Hmmmm.... How do you arrive at this figure for labor? What's your hourly rate? "

    "That much for just a 50' retaining wall???"

    "Wow. Hmmmm... Do you take credit cards?"

    "How do you compare in price to the others in this area?"

    "Is that your best price?"

    "Could you do it for $XXXX.xx ?" (Instead of the price you quoted)

    "What if we did most of the work ourselves?"

    These are all indications they can't afford you or just have no concept of how much a professional landscape contractor charges.

    I am sure there are dozens more I could come up with. I just thought of these off the top of my head. But the point is, I can usually tell whether I have a good chance of landing a job or not just from the questions they ask. And if they don't ask any questions at all and just say, "Thanks. We'll get back to you." that's never a good sign either.
  2. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    "How much would it be if I paid your guy cash to come do it on Sunday?"
  3. grandview (2006)

    grandview (2006) LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,465

    Good observation on the questions.

    Papercutter my guys only work on Sat. for cash!:laugh:
  4. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    I guess my point is; when I start hearing too many of the "wrong" questions, I try to get out of there are quickly as possible. It's obvious I'm probably not going to get that job. So better to move on.

    On the other hand, if I start hearing a lot of the right kinds of questions, then I will stick around as long as necessary to take care of any questions or just chat for a little bit.
  5. 1MajorTom

    1MajorTom Former Moderator
    Messages: 6,073

    Wrong question:
    If we buy the plants, will you plant them?
  6. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,776

    If you want my business you're going to have to ....

    We've done our homework and ...

    Sharpen your pencil.

    I'm building 6,432 other houses that you'll be able to hit it big with if you "sharpen your pencil" for this job.

    Joe Hacker says he can do it for half that, but we like you more and would like to do you a favor and let you do it for half the price instead of him.
  7. paponte

    paponte LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,366

    I've got a ton of other work for you if your price is right.

    Well what if we don't do this...

    Hmmmm, sounds a little on the high side.

    I agree Jim, once I know someone is wasting my time they usually get the, "well you have my card, thanks."
  8. GreenT

    GreenT LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 42,962

    Some of my favorites:

    "I'm going to have to talk it over with my wife/husband...."

    "Or, YOU need to talk to my wife/husband. You see, I've been trying to convince her/him..."

    "Wow! Really?"

    "Let me call you back on this..."

    "Well, we are not ready to make a decision yet..."

    "Do you think this is a good time to do this?"

    "We are planning on getting other quotes"

    "I had no idea!"

    "Well, we were just trying to get an idea of how much it would be"

  9. mrusk

    mrusk LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,260

    I got some good ones this week.

    "What do you think of these other landscape companies?"

    "Isn't it a risk starting a landscape company with so much competition?"
  10. Woodland

    Woodland LawnSite Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 207

    Seriously? When giving an estimate/proposal for a project? I've gotten this question from new clients who were unhappy with their old company and were trying to goad me into bashing my competitors but never by prospective clients. I can't even imagine what my reaction would be, but I'm pretty sure I'd be speechless!

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