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swstout
10-22-2009, 08:57 PM
My number 1 rule is - Don't quote over the phone. I did today and paid for it. I only had one job today until I received a call early this morning. A man wanted his lawn mowed for a reunion party Saturday. He told me the size, type of grass, when last mowed. The lot was 100' x 120'.

The job was about 2 blocks from thejob I already was going to do today so I said I would do it for $60.00.

When I got there, the job was exactly as described. Except - the back yard was fenced in with a gate too small for my rider and it was a hill. There was no one home and there was an envelope on the door with my name on it. Inside was a check for the agreed $60.00.

What I thought would take an hour ended up takeing 2 and a half!

I did the lawn and put one of my referral coupons and 2 magnetic business cards back in the envolope. Maybe I can get some referrals.

The point is - When you make rules, follow them!

Steve

picframer
10-22-2009, 09:09 PM
Look at it another way bud, sometimes we all have to loose to win, I have done it and do it, however the quote over the phone or email is something I don't do however I will lowball something if I see a bigger picture. He will remmember you and something good will probably come your way for it.

Steve
10-23-2009, 03:17 AM
I'm sorry about that happening. What do you think you would have bid it if you saw the property first?


I will lowball something if I see a bigger picture. He will remmember you and something good will probably come your way for it.

Can you give us an example of how this concept can be used effectively?

picframer
10-23-2009, 04:39 AM
I'm sorry about that happening. What do you think you would have bid it if you saw the property first?




Can you give us an example of how this concept can be used effectively?

The most recent was this private community on the ocean that had the grub issue, I low balled the association presidents property, his place alone was about $8,000 in work, I quoted him $5,200, I then picked up all 6 homes plus a common area, each had their own issues and I made up for the low ball quote plus I picked up total property care for three years.

Having vehicles parket there with a lot of gear was a marketing play, I now have four private communities on this same road, all within a 2 min drive of each other.

We finished 800 feet of drain and regrading a 2,000 foot road yesterday for one, they have had 6 companies in four years fix their road, it had never been done properly, their emails to me last evening is they have never seen such quality and detailed work and they said they have the best looking road in the area.

Not only that one new owner wants his lot cleared for a retirement home, the lot if 7 acres, we will clear a road into it, build the road then clear for the house, this job will run $30,000 to $40,000, it's quite a spread in price however there are a lot of variables and the owner agreed, we will start some this winter if there is not too much snow and finish next April/May.

If we want our foot in the door sometimes there is a cost to pay, in any business.

Steve
10-23-2009, 08:00 AM
The most recent was this private community on the ocean that had the grub issue, I low balled the association presidents property, his place alone was about $8,000 in work, I quoted him $5,200, I then picked up all 6 homes plus a common area, each had their own issues and I made up for the low ball quote plus I picked up total property care for three years.

I can remember an earlier post on here where one lawn care business owner was asking if he should give a discount for fall leaf cleanup with the hopes of winning over an annual lawn mowing contract with that customer in the next season.

A lot of discussion came of it but it seemed members didn't like the idea because there was no way of knowing if that customer really was interested in lawn mowing next season or simply wanted a discount for Fall leaf clean up now.

What's your view on when is it best to give some sort for services in hopes of gaining more from that customer in the future and should you tell them you are giving them a discount or does that work against you?

musician/lawnman
10-24-2009, 04:04 PM
I think you have to really read the situation & feel out the potential for future business to make the decision on a case by case basis Steve.

When I 1st started up an investor who had 30 some residential properties called me because he had them listed with a property management company to get them rented. He didn't like the price he was paying or the quality he was getting from the lawn service vendor the management company used. He wanted someone else to do the work on just his homes (30+) whenever they were vacant, though the paper work would go through the property managemenet company. The price he was paying did seem a bit high, but he was also very concerned about the poor quality he had been getting. I gave him a site-unseen per property per cut price for month which gave me time to show him my quality & to see each property. It was a basic break even deal for 1 month but I figured it could lead to more work & it was better than driving around to estimate all those properties & possibly not getting any of them. Well my initial rate was a bit low & the management company called me to let me know that they though I was nuts & they didn't want me to think I could win over all of their business. "we've been with our lawn guy for years & we are not changing just because your a little cheaper, so please don't sell yourself short for this one investor" I said I am not & that's fine, I can respect that & that I knew what I was doing.... At the end of that 1st month I rebid each property for the investor & retained the work at a fair price, by the end of 3 months the management company started calling me for odd jobs or overgrown lawns the other guy didn't wanna touch. I stated I'll clean em up if I get to maintain them for you. I wasn't going to do the hard part so he could make the gravy.... They agreed. Inside of 6 months the companies realtors & property managers were all apparently talking about how much better the yards I maintained looked than the other guys work & my rates were better! I won over the whole account & maintain it still today. They have also reffered countless new home owners, tenants, & a couple other property management companies to me. The money I didn't make that 1st month seems laughable now doesn't it? ;)

swstout
10-24-2009, 05:55 PM
Yo make a good point for multiple property jobs. But for one time mows at the end of the season, I should have seen it first.

I have received calls from realtors to do various properties. Many foreclosures that haven't been touched until they want to try to sell. Grass 2' high. Oe job I did for $500.00 for about 1.5 acres wasn't enough. I had to mulch mow 4 times over 2 days to get it looking decent. Granted, I did it myself so dIdidn't have to pay one of my crews but it took my wekend.

Steve

turfmaster
10-24-2009, 08:01 PM
Usually in the spring I will offer a discount on a spring clean-up or a free mowing if the customer signs up for the season. That has worked well for me.
I will not quote the job without seeing it.

picframer
10-25-2009, 05:26 AM
The money I didn't make that 1st month seems laughable now doesn't it? ;)

First off congratulations!

Sounds like you nailed a good one and it seems to be really paying off for you.
My personal opinion/experience, there can be a cost to be paid to get your foot in the door, the door could be someone that we could make money off from referrals, could be an area we want into or it could be that business is slow and we want to simply show our stuff.

A one time mow, clean up or whatever can lead to a lot of possibilities, some will work out and some will not, for whatís it worth donít get hung up on the ones that donít work out and donít be afraid to do it again, we have to take certain chances, I was going to say risk but there is no risk in braking even or loosing a few bucks if you have a plan, plan in this case to prove what you can do.

I understand some readers may be living hand to mouth due to a tough year, I have been there however I always tried hard to keep my chin up and do whatever it took to get the ball rolling.

Steve, it might have been a PITA to have to mow this the way you did but grin and bear it. As for quoting over the phone, in my experience the best way to learn something is to make a mistake, whatever it is, I donít repeat that mistake and I learn from it.

As I reflect on my first year, I made many mistakes including bidding, in April I knew my costs but I was too eager, it didnít bite me too hard but now I have a very good handle how to bid what we do, make money and get the jobs. I will make mistakes in 2010, no question and yes I would like to know what they will be so I donít have to but this is how we grow.

mowcash
10-29-2009, 08:14 PM
I always try to remember to ask about fences.... big headache. I quote over the phone sometimes by using google earth & checking out their property that way. You can compare it to other properties you do already. Good luck

Steve
10-30-2009, 05:57 AM
What do you do if you find that you underbid the property? Do you ever try and change the bid?

swstout
10-30-2009, 09:40 PM
What do you do if you find that you underbid the property? Do you ever try and change the bid?

When I give a quote, I stand by it. If I underbid, I have a learning experience. I do tell the customer I will honor my bid, but, I will have to rebid for future work.

Steve