Was I overcharging?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Jay Ray, May 9, 2004.

  1. Jay Ray

    Jay Ray LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,510

    An 80 year old lady calls and says that nobody has ever edged to her satisfaction, and edging has always been a problem. The property looks like the guy that just quit did good edging to me. She wants all edging 4" deep. The job hangs on edging so I pull a walk-behind with 9" blade off trailer (I used it twice before for neglected properties) and took my best shot on a short run. Perfect she says, why don't those other guys use that (it's a Murray 3.5 hp!). So job is mow 1/3 acre, rake up and haul about 2 bushels magnolia leaves every mow, walk-behind 450 ft of edging, weedeat, weed beds, touchup trim eight shrubs every mow plus trim 50 ft hedge every mow. She says last guy charged $60. I asked why he quit and she said he is in a new business for better money. Payments, payments, payments, and I'm new. So I tell her walk edging at full depth is much, much slower than stick, and $90 is the best I can do -- and that the last guy was too low. She says come start tomorrow. I show up on-time the next day and she says four of her friends told her she was crazy for paying $90 and she changed her mind. Will pay $60, not one cent more, never paid more than that. Says I'm too high and will never get any jobs. I thank her profusely for calling me and giving me a chance, but sorry, I can't take the job at that price. She tried to pay me a little for the edging demonstration but I said no thank you, but thanks again for giving me the opportunity. I wasn't intending to overcharge the lady, but damn if I ain't wondering if I was wrong. She is not poor, but quite comfortable, not that it matters. Do you guys think I was too high? $90 is a lot of money, but there was a lot to do and it had to be just so.

    SCAG POWER LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 343

    From what i have been told down here in florida, you have to look at the job and figure out how long it will take you, and what is you time worth.

    Does she want a good quialty job or just slam it down???

    For all the work you were going to do that sounds fair to me, most people in florida would charge more, then the home owner say a neighborhood kid can do it for less.Then what i would say , well when he quites half way through , it will cost you more for me to fix his mistakes..............................

    90 was fair,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,:alien:
  3. The C Man

    The C Man LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 527

    If you did all that edging with the WB edger it'll keep for a long time, just maintain it with the stick or string trimmer. Or did she want to see you using the WB each time?
  4. Rollacosta

    Rollacosta LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 331

    am i correct in saying you was going to cut her grass ,edge the lawn, trim the shrubs and hedge + rake the leaves up for $90???
  5. Woody82986

    Woody82986 LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,128

    $90 is two hours of work for me with drive time. So if the best time I think I could do for all that work to get there, do the work, and get home was 2 hours then that would have been my estimate. Its all relative really. It seems like you have two hours worth of work there judging by what you have said.
  6. Jay Ray

    Jay Ray LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,510

    That's for a fact Rollacosta. Do all of it at every mow and walk edge it every time. If I used a stick at all that would have been the end of it. The Murray 3.5 is what convinced her to use me. She definitely did not want a slam bam but top quality SCAG POWER, even blow out ALL loose dirt from edge and haul it off. I can smile and put up with that and be respectful, but it seems like extra service should cost more. Still, she got me feeling guilty.
  7. Jay Ray

    Jay Ray LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,510

    I figured 3 to 3.5 hours with removing shrub & hedge clippings Woody82986, plus about ten minutes drive.
  8. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,677

    No need to feel guilty Jay I do not like to negotiate prices with customers and will turn down jobs like that all day long I am a landscaper this is my 16th year as one. I am not a private gardener and I have found its nearly impossible to please that type and it is the lowest price work you get. Some people feel that our trade should be poverty level wages I don't take crap from no one and I sure as hell don't accept working for free or less that I would make working for some one else.

    When I do negotiate say I wanted 90 dollars I might be willing to take a 10% hit and go to 80 dollars but never would I go from 90 to 60 thatÂ’s nuts. Typically when I negotiate I need to shave hundreds or even thousands of dollars off the job I have no problem doing it. Why you ask? Cause I do not take the price and cut that hell NOOO I take the job and shrink it to their budget they get 5 yards less top soil or the hole doesn't get filled or a few less plants or she can clean up her own damm leaves. To me lower price means less work not same work and less pay. Some times you have to let sweet jobs you want go cause you can't afford to work for that. That said I currently have 3 employees plus me and my partner all working 65-80 hours a week so I think its obvious I usually win my negotiations cause I am booked solid for the next 5-8 weeks. And this is only my second year in business for my self.

    Stick to your guns and learn to make a better case for your self and you will win arguments over price a lot more then you think.
  9. Rollacosta

    Rollacosta LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 331

    some people can never be pleased ..i think you gave her a very good price..nice to see you stuck to your first price and didn't undercut your price..you'r like me if they dont like the price i give them a smile and politely go on my way
  10. wadadlianu

    wadadlianu LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    I have to agree with you to stand your ground. Only you alone can know what your time and effort is worth. Either she wants to pay extra for the work to be done to her satisfaction or she can pay less to have it done and have the privilege of being unhappy about her investment

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