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mwgtrade
04-03-2010, 08:55 PM
My brother and I are into our second year of full time mowing.We have seperate businesses but share the same marketing strategies and help each other from time to time and get together on large projects.We live in a rural/suburban area outside of ft.bragg nc.The majority of our clients are residential subdivision type homes that for the most part basic yards around the same size with little landscape.We both advertize for $45 mow,weedeat,edge, and blow package and for the most part this is what we charge for just about any lawn that is a neighborhood size yard.It saves us from doing estimates because we can just ask if it is a anormal neighborhood size lawn over the phone a tell the customer it is going to be $45.Now we have alot of customers that we cut on biweekly schedules.We do not have contracts with anyone and alot of the time we just verbally agree to be back every two weeks but alot of the time it ends up that the customer only calls when the grass is knee high.Along with being very very busy we both feel very unorganized with both of our businesses.Well I recently found this website and getgopher.com and it anwesered alot of my questions but has raised more.My brother and got into the arguement this morning about changing from our standard $45 gimmick to giving estimates and ultimately charging more.He thinks that having lots of customers to upsale to is worth keeping the low price well what I think is a low price.I think we should be charging $1 per man minute and still upsaleing.Should we be putting people on contracts?Are we crazy for charging only $45 for yards that take one man a hour and a half to complete?We do great work I just think there is alot more money out there and we are cutting ourselves short.Any advice would be apprieciated.mwgtrade@yahoo.com if you have questions or advice for me.

CHEESE2009
04-03-2010, 09:41 PM
$45.00, what exactly does that cover?

One mowing? One month? Please explain, for I cannot read tonight. :p

You should have more customers willing to hire you for the entire season, it's better for your equipment & your wallets!

I think you guys should start making some "tracker" sheets.

Keep track of everything, your overhead costs, where your money is coming from & going... Only until you know what your business is doing, will you then know what it is capable of.

Never give out estimates over the phone like that.

Imagine you agree to do a lawn, & sure it's "average size", but imagine the mess or obstacles you will encounter.

For example;

Arnold Schwarzenegger weighs 220lbs while another man who eats KFC every night weighs 220lbs.

It's the same weight, but different in quality.

You would check out a girl if she was 120lbs & 5'6, BUT YOU WOULDN'T CHECK OUT A GIRL IF SHE WAS 120LBS & 4"5!:p

Your package is great, (mowing, edging, & blowing of debris) it is better than most companies who only offer mowing. I would expect them to charge less than others, because they don't have anything to really offer. They mind as well work for the city.

Anyway, stop doing jobs that the grass is knee high. That's equipment suicide. It is risky in more ways than one.

Long grass could mean water mains, toys, dog crap, dead animals, etc.. stuff you don't wanna bump into with your equipment.

Even then, sure you can cut the grass... but because it was so long, you can't really "perfect" it's appearance as you could a weekly maintained lawn. Neighbors of these customers wont be impressed.

mwgtrade
04-03-2010, 10:02 PM
$45 covers one mow package.Alot of the time my customers are military who do not plan on spending many years in their home and dont really care about the quality of their lawn just that it stays cut down.Do most lawn care business owners have their customers sign contracts?

CHEESE2009
04-03-2010, 11:03 PM
Do most lawn care business owners have their customers sign contracts?

Not usually for residential. Maybe 50/50. It's all up to you :)!

As for $45.00 for a single mow package, it's better than a service fee per month - though there is still a problem.

You should give out proper estimates.

Visit each potential customers lawn & evaluate them.

obstacles, hills, junk, do you have to move lawn furniture around? Square footage, etc.

Basically, you have to figure out what you charge per square foot of lawn, then add in the extras.

Then you will be able to give out proper bids.

The idea is to make the business work for you, not the other way around.

You do not want to be stuck scrounging up several one job customers every year. You want to build stability with consistent customer retention.

You also don't want to have to work like a dog every time you get a job. You want to maintain lawns, not the amazon.

Make your business work for you. Really focus on getting people on a weekly lawn maintenance schedule. Promote it!

The quality of their lawn effects their neighbors. If one person gets grubs due to the low maintenance of their lawn, chances are their entire street will be infested, etc.

Not only that, customers who let their grass grow that long should be willing to cough up money for a fine.

If you don't cut their grass, around here for the "average" home, you'll get a $60.00/$100.00 fine.

Why have them risk paying a fine, when they can be paying you :P

Steve
04-04-2010, 06:05 AM
Welcome to our forum mwgtrade.

Do you have neighborhoods in your area where people care about how their property looks?

It seems if customers just want the lawn hacked down, they are probably not going to want to pay much and there won't be much profit from them.

Also, what kind of upsells do you feel you can make from a customer who wants their lawn mowed just enough to not get fined?

Is there a chance you can scale up the clientele? Do you feel that would help put you on a better track?

mwgtrade
04-04-2010, 08:41 PM
Today I talked to another landscaper that I know through the family that lives a couple hours away and asked some of the same questions that we talked about last night. They are in a coastal area and have a larger business than mine serving more expensive homes several walmarts.To my suprise their rate was lower than mine in that they charge $35 per hour for residential.They also said that they have about 50/50 people on contracts.I am thinking that the way I will go from now on is to give estimates and pitch a contract with the incentive of a free cut or discount or something like that.Then what about customers who do not like the idea of a contract?Maybe explain that I need them on a shedule of some sort or their price will be higher if they call me too late or irregularly? I get alot of customers who just want to call me when they need me but that has become such a pain and really has gotten to were it accounts for a large percentage of my business .I know that it is nuts and it makes me nuts but I always go cut them because I know they will call again I just don't know when. As you could imagine that makes for a very unpredictable schedule and makes me very unorganized.Do you have customers like this and how do you deal with them?p.s. thanks for taking the time to give me advice.

JP Landscaping
04-04-2010, 10:11 PM
1. the landscaper may be able to charge less than you because of economies of scale. that means he gets so much business that he can afford to charge less and still make the money they desire. Kind of like a
wal-mart. Also, your hourly rate depends on your costs. Take all your costs for the season. divide them by the number of hours you predict to work this season (example 40hrs/week X 30 weeks =1200 hrs per season). Now you have your break even point. To this add how much you want to make per hour. (example: you want to make $25 per hour and your hourly break even rate is $20. Then your hourly rate is $45 per hour)

2. I had a lady call me about every 3 weeks to go mow her lawn because sometimes she mowed it herself and sometimes she didn't have the time. I told her the day I was around that area and that was the day I could schedule her in...like a Thursday... so she would need to call me at the latest that wednesday in order to get her scheduled in. If not, she would need to wait another week unless I could do it on the weekend on my day off. But all these other factors meant I charged more money.

You could do the same with your customers. Let them know when you are in that area so they can give you a heads up when the need mowing and you can schedule them in instead of having to go back in forth around town every different day.

mwgtrade
04-04-2010, 10:40 PM
You brought up some intresting questions for me.There are a few neighborhoods in my area that do care and I do have a few that care and are egar to spend money to make their yard look better.Also the competion is stronger in these neighborhoods.It's just that the military yards are in such abundance .The majority of the neighborhood's are fairly new and they could really use a profesional's help establishing and maintaining a real lawn instead of weeds and dirt. They all could stand to have more landscaping done as the landscape that comes with the home is usually the basic cheap boring landscape that you see in most new subdivisions.Alot of them have this attitude that comes with the military lifestyle that the home is temporary and they could be deployed at any time and have to sell their home so they are not really interested in planting a tree or the benifits of keeping the actual turf in good condition. So when it comes down to it my bread and butter is the wham bam thank you mam approach of my $45 package. Now back to upscaling my clientele. There is an area that it is not in my immediate area but not out of my range about 30 mins away that is a whole other ball park.It is a wealthy area with lots of golf couses and large homeas with lots of old landscape.This is a little intimidating for me because we are talking about an area that hosts the pga golf tour and has multi million dollar homes.I have been thinking about expanding my advertizement to this area for a while but have felt like I just wasn"t ready for that scene yet because of my older truck and smaller operation.Last night I watched your video about getting over newbie syndrome and I think maybe the advice about sprucing up and getting some shirts made and better advertizing materials maybe my way to break into this area.I apprieciate the help hope to hear back and have told others of your web pages and videos I wish I knew about this last year.p.s I also own and operate 2 flower,pumpkin,and christmas tree lots if any one would like some advice on doing this or starting your own I would be happy to help.It is a great way to make money in the fall and is fun and great for your lawncare business.

Steve
04-05-2010, 06:25 AM
.p.s I also own and operate 2 flower,pumpkin,and christmas tree lots if any one would like some advice on doing this or starting your own I would be happy to help.It is a great way to make money in the fall and is fun and great for your lawncare business.

Oh that is very interesting! Could you make a separate post on that topic and tell us a little about how you got interested in that? I'd love to hear more!