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What the ????

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by JimLewis, May 10, 2008.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Man, this just pisses me off !!! You know, I don't have a racist bone in my body. But it's getting difficult not to be prejudice. I am about to tell my office manager not to sign me up to give any bids to Asians any more. It's just getting ridiculous.

    I go to give a bid today to this Asian guy who speaks very broken english - new irrigation system installation. I walk around the property with the guy, take a pressure and flow test, figure out where the water line is, size up the property, etc. Then I always have this little 10 minutes presentation I do where I show them samples of the components we use, go over literature, give them and go over a list of over 100 references from the last year or two, etc. It's a pretty impressive presentation. I have the Rain Bird corporate guys asking me to show other contractors how I do it....

    Anyway, I don't barely even get past the first point, which is where I tell them the price. I prefer to get that out of the way first. The guy just freaks out on the price. It was a small property, easy 6 small zones. So we would have been there 2.5 days and the price was $4250.00. That's a little higher than average price around here. But it's in the ball park. For that property in my market a customer could get bids anywhere from $3000 - $6000, depending on the company. Well, he freaks and says that's way too much. Before I can even explain the system, the components, the warranty, the upgrades we use, the brand, etc. he just freaks. He starts by saying, "Wow! That is much higher than the other bids we've gotten.." I hear that every once in a while and I am not surprised by that comment. So I say what I always say, "Well, I am not surprised to hear that. We sometimes are the highest bid. But we're also installing a much better system with a much stronger warranty and components. We take our time and do it right." He responds, "The guy 2 days ago quoted me $1600.00!" I just about fell over laughing. I sad, "$1600.00? Hmmm. Well, you know....you get what you pay for. How much did you pay for this house? (New construction, pretty nice $500,000 custom home). How much did you pay for that car? Were there other houses and cars on the market that were cheaper? Do you believe you get what you pay for?"

    All this stuff that usually makes most people stop and think wasn't even phasing him. He was just concerned about price. I said, "Well, that other guy probably only offers a 1 year warranty. We have a 5-year warranty. He probably isn't using name brand components. Did he even mention what brand he installed???? Heck, just the materials and permits and stuff on this job is going to cost me $1000.00, forget the labor. If he's doing it for $1600.00, you're not going to get quality, I assure you that."

    Then he starts insulting me, as if I don't know what I am doing. This is what really got under my skin. I show up in a nice newer truck, full uniform, the best literature and presentation in my market and he starts asking me, "How long have you been in business? This other guy was a big company. At those prices do you even install very many systems in a year?" First of all, I know for sure there are only 2 or 3 guys in my area who are THAT cheap, and they are NOT big companies. You couldn't be. You'd never survive at those prices. But I replied to him, "Um. We do over $1mil a year in revenue, a lot of that is irrigation. We probably install 50-75 systems a year. See here where it says were a Rain Bird Select contractor? That means if you call Rain Bird and ask them, 'Can you refer me to a good contractor in this area?' WE'RE the ones they send you to - we do that much work. Did you even bother to look at this reference list. There are a good 120 people on that list just from the last year or so. How many references did that other guy give you?"

    I tried a few other things like this but he just kept going on about the price. The other guy was going to do only 2 zones for the entire property. Who knows what warranty he was giving. Probably using generic brand heads and home depot timer. No permit. Sloppy work. You name it.

    That guy is going to get what he deserves. But it just pissed me off. It's like this 90% of the time with Asians. They just go for the cheapest freakin' price and don't care about anything else. It's really starting to make me not even want to give them bids. I hate to say it, but it's like this 80% of the time with Indians too. It must have something to do with where they are raised and how things are done in those countries. Cheap cheap cheap!

    On the other hand, I landed a job 2 days ago where the customer told us we were the highest bid she got out of 4 bids. She said we were still in the ball park but higher still than all the others. But she loved how I took my time and explained what she would be getting, loved our references, loved the literature I left her and she just felt a lot more confident in us than any of the other guys who came. That's my kind of customer! That's why I keep doing this. Screw the people who don't want to pay for quality! I will stay plenty busy with those who do. And much more profitable than the guys who will take those other cheap jobs. Haha! Let that guy have that job for $1600.00! I'll be out landing jobs for 4x that price while he's buried up to his butt in dirt that week.
  2. mjlcare

    mjlcare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 177

    im not racist either but your speaking the truth.

    nickle and dime you and then youl be nice and then theyll nickle and dime you again, i totally agree, i have told myself from now on i give them my price and if they dont like it oh well.
  3. Dirty Water

    Dirty Water LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,794

    Don't try to sell yourself too hard if they flip out at the price. You have better things to do than fight a losing battle.

    Its a cultural thing, 1st generation Asians are notoriously thrifty.
  4. BrandonV

    BrandonV LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,617

    Not to help you generalize a whole segment of the population, but as you might not know my wife is asian. Pieng is of chinese decent (Hong Kong) and when we were getting married a lot of people (both family and freinds) had real issue that I wasn't an engineer/doctor or other "skilled" trade. This is a cultural thing there where people who "work" in agricultural style fields are looked down upon. In my case Pieng's late father, had to explain to some of his family that I was doing ok, you know 76 years in business, 450 acres of nursery, ~30 employees... he told them I was a "big deal." But for someone comming from the "developing world" it's mind blowing that a college graduated person would be working outside as we do. That's all there is too it. My nursery manager is from india as well, and I'm sure he'd agree.
  5. Mike Leary

    Mike Leary LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 23,155

    I think the above is what you meant to say. :rolleyes:
  6. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    When you say "Asian" it could mean very different people from very different countries, from Afghanistan to Singapore.

    I happen to live in an area where there are a lot of Asians and Asian-Americans, from places like India, Pakistan, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, the Phillipines, Cambodia, etc.

    Sometimes, when I'm in parts of Cupertino or Santa Clara it even feels like I'm in a foreign country, with a lot of store signs in Chinese or Korean with no translation (or awkward "Engrish").

    But I think what it comes down to is different cultural traditions and values, as Brandon suggests. There are cultural nuances that the average American probably wouldn't get at first.

    I've run into prospective customers from India who want to dicker on my hourly repair rate (one after I'd already begun), and one recently from Taiwan who wanted to know if I would discount the price if he bought some of the materials himself.

    I am open minded when it comes to prospects and going out there for that initial walk-through/ bid. I do reserve the right not to do business with someone, not based on their race, culture, or ethnicity, but on their attitude towards me, and my perception of their ability or willingness to pay...

    I'm not going to tell you how to run your business Jim, but maybe there was an opportunity before he got to insulting you that for you to just say "No thanks, I'm not interested."

    I've done that on a couple of walk-throughs. It wasn't a matter of them being immigrants, or from any particular ethnic group. It was based more practical things, like how they talked about what a previous contractor did or didn't do, or if they appeared to have unrealistic expectations, or just seemed too doggone demanding.
  7. Mike Leary

    Mike Leary LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 23,155

    Pros know when to put the cone markers back in the truck,
    and bail the hell out.
  8. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 50,573

    I knew a good unprejudiced lawyer, who, when defending a client on a drunk-driving charge, would still want a few O'Citizen's on the jury.
  9. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,219

    Very true. They usually have it set in their mind what they will pay. But they would never tell you that to begin with. No point in wasting a lot of time on that small of a job. if you are trying to sell a 50k-100k job I can see spend a lot of time trying to explain yourself and warranty and what not. But for one 6 zone system at $4200 you're spinning your wheels if they are fighting you the whole way.

    I apologize for generalizing, but this group you talk about is always trashing us for service rates as well. I either say goodbye and hang up, or walk away if on the job. There are always more people waiting on the list to appreciate what we do.

    Now Jim, take a deep breath, let it out, slam down a few good beers, and fire up the grill! It's Saturday night!

    I know we don't need to give you any advice on this, we're just trying to talk you down from the ledge :) You know what the hells going on, and do it better than most. Don't let it eat you up (says the man that stresses like hell this time of year)
  10. AI Inc

    AI Inc LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 26,991

    I work in what is basicaly the scilicone vally of the east coast. Cisco , hp netscout ect all within 15 min of my shop.We have a real lot of Chinease and Indian customers. You have to be patiant with them and not let it bother you.Dont give an inch or they will want to haggle for every service call.

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