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sunriselawncare
01-27-2010, 11:21 AM
Hi everyone. This forum is a great wealth of knowledge, very helpful for us just starting out! So heres my story. Im 30 yr old Female. I live toward the west coast in Central FL. I started my lawncare / Landscape design business with a male parter mid summer last year on a whim. He had some family issues and couldnt continue, so I decided I would continue on my own.

We were able to round up 15 customers, mostly on a flat rate monthly charge. I explained that they would be receiving a discounted rate, but would be paying 12 months out of the year so that I could survive through the winter. All agreed although 5 of the customers either fell off the face of the earth owing me money or decided that they would dump me for the winter. Pretty crappy of them.. but just makes me hungrier.

Should I be trying to get customers to sign an contract? I can see the benefit from my end, but I can also see how the customer would rather not and there would be some resistance out there.

When should I start pounding the pavement in this area to recruit new customers? I am working on a very tight budget right now as I have been trying to keep afloat through the winter months, so even somthing as inexpensive as copies, Im trying to keep to a minimum if they will not be productive this time of year.

Are there any other owner/opp. women out there? Do you ever have resistance (mostly from men) who think that you are incapable of doing the physical labor that this industry demands? I know for me, this area is comprised of alot of retired 70+'s. Many of those men arnt with the times.

Thanks again for this great forum!

Chrissy

mortonslawn
01-27-2010, 02:13 PM
I can relate what you're saying. I get a lot of people try to push my prices down, even after I have already given them a discount. I am a female doing landscaping and running my own company too. I have a few customers that still owe me money from last year, but they will no longer be customers. There is a letter that you may be able to use on here from someone that had a hard time having people to pay their bill. Steve also has a video on it. Watch his videos and you'll see it and get a lot of really good information.

It is a proven fact that women are easily intimidated by men when it comes to bargaining a price. I seen it on tv before, plenty of times.

Stick to your guns, and don't let them talk you down. I learned that lesson already after I got chewed out by my partner for letting the guy slide by $50. Then, by the time I paid my helper, dumped all the stuff and got gas for the truck to fill it back up, I had no profit at all. That sucked.

I would try to start getting customers now for the grass season. Are you doing the work yourself? Some people use contracts, but I don't. Maybe they can give you some more insight on that. Sorry to hear those people dipped on you like that.

Take Care,
Morton

sunriselawncare
01-27-2010, 03:57 PM
I can relate what you're saying. I get a lot of people try to push my prices down, even after I have already given them a discount. I am a female doing landscaping and running my own company too. I have a few customers that still owe me money from last year, but they will no longer be customers. There is a letter that you may be able to use on here from someone that had a hard time having people to pay their bill. Steve also has a video on it. Watch his videos and you'll see it and get a lot of really good information.

It is a proven fact that women are easily intimidated by men when it comes to bargaining a price. I seen it on tv before, plenty of times.

Stick to your guns, and don't let them talk you down. I learned that lesson already after I got chewed out by my partner for letting the guy slide by $50. Then, by the time I paid my helper, dumped all the stuff and got gas for the truck to fill it back up, I had no profit at all. That sucked.

I would try to start getting customers now for the grass season. Are you doing the work yourself? Some people use contracts, but I don't. Maybe they can give you some more insight on that. Sorry to hear those people dipped on you like that.

Take Care,
Morton


Thanks for the info. Glad to see you are making it! I am doing the work myself. I have called on a helper a couple of times for a large mulch job, but I am trying to do all or at least most of it myself simply so I can bring as much money as possible in. 2 of my customers actually told me they were reluctant to give the job to a woman, but after seeing me work, said that they were shocked at how hard I go at it.

As far as the people who dont pay, I dont know if its just this area or what, but people seem to be cutting corners anyway they can. For them, although I explained that I was giving them a discounted rate durring the summer to offset the money they would be paying me in the winter so I could survive, they obviously didnt care. They took advantage, and unfortunately because I didnt have a contract with them, only verbal, there isnt a whole lot I can do about it. I guess I should be thankful to get rid of those types of customers and just keep plugging away and looking for the "right" customers.

I just dont want a repeat of last year to happen again this year.

FloridaBoy
01-27-2010, 07:16 PM
Hello Chrissy, welcome to the forum.

I am not sure exactly where you are in central Florida, i am in dead center, Git-R-Done Polk County, LOL.

Over here we got hit hard with the frost, so cutting is minimal. But people coming out of wooodwork wanting extra 's done, Full landscaping, mulching, irrigation work.

I don't know what you offer in other services but now is the time for that type of work.

and yes pound the pavement for just standard lawncare, weather warming up, it will be on peoples minds, snow birds are prepairing for there departure in march and april to head back up north, if they are going to hire or switch lawn services it will be now.

Contract is tough with residentials, you have to read the potential client, I have no contracts with any residentials. I try to ride that fence line of business and friendship with those customers.

I know that was alot of info, hope it was understandable, i tend to ramble on. Here i go again.

So, good luck and let us know how it goes.

FloridaBoy
01-27-2010, 07:20 PM
Ok, i am going to step out on a very weak limb here, forgive me if this offends you, but, have you thought about the option of exploiting the fact that you are a women providing lawn service.

I know steve had a podcast or one of his videos on Bikini lawn care.:D

Just a thought, don't have me kicked of. LOL:o

CHEESE2009
01-27-2010, 07:29 PM
Ok, i am going to step out on a very weak limb here, forgive me if this offends you, but, have you thought about the option of exploiting the fact that you are a women providing lawn service.

I know steve had a podcast or one of his videos on Bikini lawn care.:D

Just a thought, don't have me kicked of. LOL:o

hahahaha!

It works, it's one of the benefits of being female.

THOUGH many woman that I know seem to have more drive then most guys I know while doing work, especially labor.

If a woman proposed lawn maintenance for my yard, hmmm.

I would automatically picture some sort of sea captain appear & say, "Arggg, you be makin' a desperate choice there matiee!"

But then I'd try it out, after all it's not the end of the world.

Steve
01-27-2010, 08:49 PM
Welcome to our forum Chrissy.

I got a bunch of questions here.

As far as the people who dont pay, I dont know if its just this area or what, but people seem to be cutting corners anyway they can. For them, although I explained that I was giving them a discounted rate durring the summer to offset the money they would be paying me in the winter so I could survive, they obviously didnt care. They took advantage, and unfortunately because I didnt have a contract with them, only verbal, there isnt a whole lot I can do about it. I guess I should be thankful to get rid of those types of customers and just keep plugging away and looking for the "right" customers.

This is a great learning experience and you can see why so many lawn care business owners on here try and get to the point where they get paid in advance each month so they don't have to deal with this.

My view is this, if you are going to offer a budget plan where they pay you the same amount across the entire year, you need a contract or they will do what they did. It's just human nature.

If you want to offer this budget plan in the future, consider looking through the free contract section and finding one you are comfortable with using.

As you know it may be tough to get some to sign it, so if that's the case, you may not want to offer the discount. But you could use the discount as an inducement to get them to sign the contract.

It is a proven fact that women are easily intimidated by men when it comes to bargaining a price. I seen it on tv before, plenty of times.

Stick to your guns, and don't let them talk you down. I learned that lesson already after I got chewed out by my partner for letting the guy slide by $50. Then, by the time I paid my helper, dumped all the stuff and got gas for the truck to fill it back up, I had no profit at all. That sucked.

What do you feel is the best way to handle this? Are there ways to best handle it when others try to talk you down on price?

Ok, i am going to step out on a very weak limb here, forgive me if this offends you, but, have you thought about the option of exploiting the fact that you are a women providing lawn service.

You know, there was a member on here a year or so back who started her lawn care business and we had this great discussion about playing up the fact that the business was owned by a woman. We had pictures up of her painting her mowers pink and her truck pink. It really stood out. I can't find the pictures at the moment though.

sunriselawncare
01-27-2010, 08:54 PM
Hello Chrissy, welcome to the forum.

I am not sure exactly where you are in central Florida, i am in dead center, Git-R-Done Polk County, LOL.

Over here we got hit hard with the frost, so cutting is minimal. But people coming out of wooodwork wanting extra 's done, Full landscaping, mulching, irrigation work.

I don't know what you offer in other services but now is the time for that type of work.

and yes pound the pavement for just standard lawncare, weather warming up, it will be on peoples minds, snow birds are prepairing for there departure in march and april to head back up north, if they are going to hire or switch lawn services it will be now.

Contract is tough with residentials, you have to read the potential client, I have no contracts with any residentials. I try to ride that fence line of business and friendship with those customers.

I know that was alot of info, hope it was understandable, i tend to ramble on. Here i go again.

So, good luck and let us know how it goes.


All this info was great! The more the better... Ramble away, I love it ;). I am in Citrus County, so you know I feel your Polk County pain..lol. As for the whole bikini lawncare, thats just not my style. I hear what you are saying... but im not sure you have been to Citrus County. I swear that over 75% of the residents here are over 70 and 20% are broke as broke as broke..haha. So that type of thing would maybe work for very limited amount of customer here. So I guess I will get out there and "flyer up" my county next week. Now to make one that I actually like.. I will post it up on the forum once Im done with it for you guys to review.

Thanks again for all the info and feedback. Awsome forum.. Im hooked.

Steve
01-27-2010, 09:22 PM
I don't know the demographics of your area but if you are living in a economically challenged area, are there any other areas nearby that are better off?

We have seen in many discussions on here that it tends to pay to market to the richer areas even if you don't live in them. There is no rule that says you have to service your immediate area only.

The Cleaning Doctor
01-27-2010, 09:27 PM
Yea the bikini thing might not work. Your customers can't pay if they are dying of heart attacks.... :p

With the discount here is my opinion on that....

Charge your normal charge for the lawn care then offer to spread that out over 12 months so it will be cheaper on a monthly basis but they have to sign a contract to get this. This does not mean that they can not discontinue service but you also need to put in there that you have the right to collect on the deferred funds for every month you did the cutting.

So 9 months at $100 would be $100 per month but spread out over 12 months that would be reduced to $75 per month with the right to collect $25 for every month of service if it is canceled. This way you don't lose out on the money you are rightfully owed. If they go 4 months they would owe you a $100 cancellation charge so that you can recover your lawn care fees for the months of service you provided. Basically you are financing it for them.

Don't offer up or call it a discount especially right away. Give them the price and then hit them with the contract that will spread the costs over 12 months instead of 9 making the monthly cost cheaper. You want to use the wording deferred payment instead of discount as this seems like the price for the service is the payment after discount not including the deferred amount.

You may have to go to court to collect one day so you need the word deferred and not discount.

mortonslawn
01-30-2010, 12:01 PM
If you didn't find the video of the customers that didn't pay you, here is the video, Very helpful. Check it out.

http://www.gopherforum.com/index.php?pageid=GopherHaul-Lawn-Care-Business-Marketing-Videos

If the link doesn't work, sorry, I copied and pasted, just do the same in the browser.

Steve
01-30-2010, 09:26 PM
That was from GopherHaul episode 34.

Also read more about this and get the letter that the lawn care business owner sent to collect here. How to collect from deadbeat customers (http://gopherforum.com/showthread.php?t=7627).

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FloridaBoy
01-31-2010, 01:09 AM
MY BAD, this thread just about stoped in its tracks because of my bikini comment.

If i offended , i am sorry.

Guirrelle Marketing!................ read the book

Not what you offer, but what your customer needs.

Just a thought.

Steve
01-31-2010, 09:48 PM
Actually from what we have seen on here, the bikini marketing campaign seemed to only work once for a short time. After that, the others that experimented with it, didn't get the media interest and it was dead in the water.

For the one who did get a lot of attention, it died down after a while and then so did all the business, so I don't think its a good way to go for stable growth.