PDA

View Full Version : Competition take away?


Sea Lancer
01-05-2012, 10:12 AM
Hi gang,Im one of the newbies here and i was pondering a new business question.Would it be a good or bad idea to go knock on the doors of people that you know hire other mowing co.? In other words is taking your competitions customers away from them not good?I think business is business and they probably would do it to me but doing that could get you a bad reputation and other troubles that would hurt your business.Also has any one ever talked to a competitor and worked out any business deals such as trading customers or give referrals to each other? I have 4-5 mowing co. in my community and i was pondering whether or not to try and work with them or fly under the radar and do my own thing.....

CHEESE2009
01-05-2012, 11:03 AM
Everyone here will tell you, "there is enough work for everyone"...

Trying to convert homeowners who already do the dirty work themselves is pretty difficult. In a way, it's smart to focus all of your advertising on those who already hire lawn maintenance services, the odds of them hiring you start at 50/50.

The only thing to lookout for is competitor retaliation. If you aren't legal, the worst they can do is report you. It's best to make it seem as though you weren't intentionally going after their clients. With that said, don't tell their client your plans, they could be loyal to the company they hired and warn them.

Just keep sending advertisements to them until they bite. If your price is lower, they will most likely nag their current service provider by saying, "other companies want to charge me less, why can't you lower your price?"... etc.. hehe.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Xt0gmt8V2-Y/TcGIYQiELPI/AAAAAAAADio/t_1gOFdJVnM/s1600/checkmate.jpg

JeffK26
01-05-2012, 11:23 AM
I wouldn't specifically target them. If you go to their door to talk to them, talk to everyone that answers the door in that neighborhood, if you flyer their home flyer all the homes in the area, but i wouldn't drive to a home i know has another company and ONLY talk to them.

Whether or not another company would do that to me is not my problem, it's theirs. I won't lower my morals and standards because someone else does. I raise my standards so others either fall by the wayside or have to raise theirs along with me.

Actually, I just started a flyer campaign and walked by a couple homes that had lawn care signs from another company on their lawn. Karma is a b*tch i ain't gettin on her bad side.

SECTLANDSCAPING
01-05-2012, 12:17 PM
Not completely related but I had a spotlight in a bank with flyers, cards, all set up looking pretty. I was busy with my mower and missed 10 calls from someone. I called them back and it was another lawn care company complaining that someone stole his lawn signs. I told him I dont know what the hell your talking about and if I ever see you face to face we're going to have a problem. So I go by the bank the next day. I had five card holders with business cards missing. He probably got me for $60 in material. This was over something I had nothing to do with. Not even sure how he connected my business display to his missing signs.

So say your targeting one of these homeowners and the other companies sign goes missing. Since you were the other company fishing around you might get held responsible. Someone else might lowball the account and steal it away then they think you did because one of your postcards was seen.

mark123
01-05-2012, 12:38 PM
As long as you don't mind if someone else knocks on your customer's doors then I guess it's ok. Just saying don't be a hypocrite.

Steve
01-05-2012, 03:30 PM
Would it be a good or bad idea to go knock on the doors of people that you know hire other mowing co.? In other words is taking your competitions customers away from them not good?

This is a very interesting questions and I am wondering what was your thought process leading up to this question?

Did something spark this idea?

Ducke
01-05-2012, 05:12 PM
All fair in love and war as long as you do not


LOWBALL:mad:

TiedemanLLC
01-05-2012, 06:25 PM
Where I live it we kind of have a mutual understanding with each other that we don't go around stealing each others clients. Each of us may specialize in certain field areas, while all of us doing the same general services in other areas. For example, I specialize in pesticide applications, but still can do maintenance work, while the other company may specialize in maintenance work, while perhaps doing some fertilizing here and there. We help each other out by refering clients to their specialized area, while also not taking any additional work from their clients.

For example, I had a lady that I do snow removal for contact me about doing her shrub pruning, when in fact I knew the other company did it. This is basically the conversation

Lady: Would you mind pruning my shrubs next year, the other company never got to them this year?

Me: I know they have been very busy lately. So this is what I suggest you do. Give them a call up. Find out what is wrong, and if you are still not happy afterwards with their reasons then I will take care of it for, but you need to first call them.


Then I get on the phone and call the other company up "hey, Mrs. Smith is not happy you missed her shrubs, you need to contact her ASAP"

We basically stratch each others backs.

Sea Lancer
01-05-2012, 07:07 PM
Several reasons why i asked the questions are; i was thinking i could gain knowledge from a customers perspective such as what they pay what they expect and are they satisfied.If they are not happy with last seasons mowing co. there's a good chance they are looking to replace them any way so why not me.Also some guys drop smaller jobs or ones that require dealing with a fussy customer and i just may get the job that some one else may of gotten.I also happen to know of a hand full of customers that hire the biggest two mowing co. in town and they are paying top dollar for mediocre work and maybe they are looking to save a dollar and get better service.Having said all that and reading the post on this site i think i will attempt to get my own and just drop a flier off to those folks and see what happens..Thanks for all the advice..Brian

Hedgemaster
01-05-2012, 07:52 PM
One of my very first clients contacted me via my ad on Craigslist. I went to give him an estimate and he liked what I had to say and I got the job. The next day his next door neighbor contacted me and asked if I'd like to do their lawn as well. (Awesome!) Two weeks later the person next to THAT asked if I was interested in mowing HIS lawn.

About one month later, a lady across the street said she had been watching me work and liked how I did things - "how much would you charge to cut my lawn too?" she asked. I quoted a price and that made four clients on that street. The following day, she called and said that her next door neighbor wanted me to stop and give HER an estimate as well. Apparently the regular crew she was paying had jacked up her price by $10 and on top of that, they were often rude, and when she overheard them complaining and using vulgar language while they were working, it was the last straw - I got HER as a client as well. THEN, another lady next to her asked for a quote for her TWO homes.

As it turns out, ALL but ONE of these clients had been using the same service as the lady I mentioned above and without me even knowing it, I "stole" all their clients on that particular street.
All I did was work hard and act like a professional should act. Apparently I am charging less as well, but overall, I didn't have to go out of my way to take any of their clients - they pushed them to me without even knowing it.

;)

Liberty Landscaping LLC
01-05-2012, 11:11 PM
I am with hedge. If you go in and knock or leave material on every house and then one customer starts a bandwagon effect like he had that is not at all you fault. They like your quality and your attitude towards your work and them thats what sells. Sometimes your less, even, and sometimes I am more but in the end people sometimes like the way I address them, sir maam, yada yada. I look a lot younger then I am and a lot are shocked when I tell them my age (after they muster up the courage to ask) but I use it to my advantage and work my butt of to make people happy giving me more referals.

I say don't target these people but attack a street if I get multiple people on a block I knock a few bucks off of everyone for the less travel time/fuel to get to the next job. It makes it easier on me all around.

In the end like Ducky said all is fair in love and war. I do recomend friends in the business for things I don't do but if one of their customers isnt happy and they call me I will take the work. I had one go well Johnny's does it for 10 dollars less a cut....do you know johnny? I say nope but there must be a reason why you called me if you would rather pay 10 dollars less and deal with him not showing up, poor work ethic, not making you happy or whatever prompted you to call me then go ahead and call Johnny back and have a good day. He said when can you start.

Sea Lancer
01-06-2012, 07:41 AM
Thats exactly what im thinking.I know that some customers of other mowing co.are not 100% satisfied and i may get lucky and land a few of those clients but i wont know unless i let them know i exist and can do the job.My conscience tells me dont tread on your fellow mowing brothers but heck if they are going to be replaced any way.....why not find out

Steve
01-06-2012, 02:15 PM
Oh I just remembered there is a flyer in the lawn care flyer template (http://www.gopherforum.com/showthread.php?t=7200) section that is designed for this.

http://www.gopherforum.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=179&d=1214390847

lxarth
02-02-2012, 09:29 PM
This topic really makes me cringe. The idea of "how can I steal customers" is very...icky.

I've had people ask me to take a look at their property (neighbors of clients), and ask about certain areas, namely moss. They somewhat complain to me that the company doing the work hasn't taken care of the moss.

I tell them that I'm not in the business of stealing customers, and that I would hope other companies do that same for me, and that they should talk to their current company about when they had planned to treat it. I mention that they might have a certain day or week they are plan to put chemicals down.

I don't really know what else to say...

mark123
02-02-2012, 10:12 PM
This topic really makes me cringe. The idea of "how can I steal customers" is very...icky. ...

What makes you think the customers belong to you? It's the same failed philosophy of selling a customer list along with equipment as if they somehow belong to the new business owner.

If the customer calls you, I say give them an estimate. If one of my customers call you and you offer better quality, better reliability or a better price then they have every right to hire you.

I do have 3 friends that I try not to compete against and if it happens I give them a courtesy call to explain the issue and ask them to try to correct it before I make a bid on the job. Otherwise capitalism works for the betterment of all involved.

I personally don't go around starting wars by purposely targeting other companies customers but if they call me I'll take the job. I'm not a hypocrite about it though, if they take all my work and shut me down, I'll put in an application with them the next day.

JeffK26
02-02-2012, 11:37 PM
What makes you think the customers belong to you? It's the same failed philosophy of selling a customer list along with equipment as if they somehow belong to the new business owner.

If the customer calls you, I say give them an estimate. If one of my customers call you and you offer better quality, better reliability or a better price then they have every right to hire you.

I do have 3 friends that I try not to compete against and if it happens I give them a courtesy call to explain the issue and ask them to try to correct it before I make a bid on the job. Otherwise capitalism works for the betterment of all involved.

I personally don't go around starting wars by purposely targeting other companies customers but if they call me I'll take the job. I'm not a hypocrite about it though, if they take all my work and shut me down, I'll put in an application with them the next day.

You said it better than I did.

JamesB
02-03-2012, 12:05 AM
I would personally Not go knocking on the doors of competitors customers, unless you know the customer personally. Yes, go talk with the other guys and pick their brain. Find out what works and doesn't work to get customers. Ask if they have any customers they would like to give you to get started. Yes, it is competitive out here, but we do have an image that we need to adhere to and if someone wants to go to one of my customers and try to under bid me, I tell that customer of their intentions and remind them of my work ethics and that I have been and always will be there for them. If you price yourself and 'our' business low, then one day everyone will be low and no one can make a decent living doing what we do. That is to make someones yard look better than they can and act like we can't.

lxarth
02-03-2012, 01:36 AM
The OP posted the question on what we thought about stealing customers by going directly to the known customers houses in an attempt to steal the business away.

If he wanted to go throughout a neighborhood and promote his business, good for him, but that's just not how I read it.

The customers belong to me, just as I belong to them. I don't say "This is Mr. Anderson, a customer to a lawn care business"...no. I say: "This is Mr. Anderson, my customer". Just as the customer doesn't refer to me as "that guy who mows the lawns in the neighborhood"...they are more apt to say: "That's my landscaper". I've heard a customer say to a neighbor who wanted to speak with me "hey, don't steal him, he's mine".

We put possession to a lot of things. It's not weird to put possession on our customers.

Anyways, I digress.

CHEESE2009
02-03-2012, 03:30 AM
http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERhitler2.JPG

Take all the lawns.

Ducke
02-03-2012, 07:03 AM
I have no problem going to a customer that is not happy with the service they are getting, I had a guy call me last year as he saw me drive by. He was not happy with the guy doing his lawn . I gave him a quote and he hired me there on the lawn. He is now a regular customer for 2012 I had no problem taking that customer away from the other guy. He is lazy and inconsistent dose poor work and has no respect for his customers. He had split gas on this guys lawn while working on his broke lawn mower. But I will not go and knock on doors and shoot someone's work down. not even this guys work but I will canvases a neighborhood that I know is serviced by someone that is giving poor service, That's just business. I get 10 or so fliers in my door every spring and I am a lawn care operator.

I tell them that I'm not in the business of stealing customers, and that I would hope other companies do that same for me, and that they should talk to their current company about when they had planned to treat it. I mention that they might have a certain day or week they are plan to put chemicals down.

I don't really know what else to say...

I would have taken this customer in a flash, if the customer is not happy with ABC lawn Care I will take care of him better. Its money in your pocket if you keep giving out free advice and walking away you won't be in business very long.

I would personally Not go knocking on the doors of competitors customers, unless you know the customer personally.

When canvasing a neighborhood how am I to know who gets service and don't I go to every door and talk to who ever will talk to me, A sale is a sale.
As I said above I would not bad mouth any competitor I leave that to the customer.

mark123
02-03-2012, 09:34 AM
... The customers belong to me, just as I belong to them. ... We put possession to a lot of things. It's not weird to put possession on our customers.
If they somehow belong to you, can you sue someone for taking them from you? Who will listen to your complaint and what judgment do you deserve?

My personal philosophy, and I hope that of many others, is that you call them "my customer" because they've given you a job. They've not given you themselves. They call you "my landscaper" because you give them work in exchange for money. You don't give them yourself. The only right you have is to fair exchange of their money for your effort. To me it feels more like an alignment than an ownership.

shadrach
02-03-2012, 11:24 AM
Do not badmouth other people/companies to get work - anything else is fair game. Marketing to a neighborhood because you think a lot of people there hire lawn companies is a smart move. People switch providers for many different reasons - day, time, price, frequency, quality of service, services you offer, customer service, billing practices. Don't feel bad when we get a customer that used to have another provider - don't feel bad when we lose one either. Its a business - some people forget that and take things personally that they shouldn't.

CHEESE2009
02-03-2012, 11:48 AM
We are all so very alike, yet we are competition.

Sad stuff. Good thing we are all separated from each other.

mark123
02-03-2012, 12:46 PM
I've changed my thinking over the past few years. I've become more tolerant of competition and less tolerant to slavery. In the process I've become more fair. To myself and others.

CHEESE2009
02-03-2012, 01:55 PM
http://i100.photobucket.com/albums/m25/mad_insane/shovellll.jpg

^ My way of life.

dpld
02-03-2012, 04:03 PM
i certainly would not be purposely knocking on peoples doors looking to steal anyones customers because i believe in the karma thing and what goes around comes around, but at the same time i would not be knocking on anyones door looking for work to begin with because you only come off as a unprofessional hack with nothing better to do.

i would however advertise the hell out of my business in any way shape or form possible and if someone called me up for a price on their own free will, i could care less who was serviceing the property.
thats life and all of your customers came from somewhere, you did not invent them and if they did not cut their lawn before you they don't intend on cutting it themselves after you.

if someone comes along and offers a better job at a better price and they believe them and they come through on their promise you will be thrown out to pasture quicker then the jews left christ 99 out of 100 times.

if they called or asked about a price or problem that would be a clear indicator that they are not 100% happy with who they have regardless if it were your mom.

there are unwritten rules and ethics we follow as competitors and for the most part all is fair in love and war but two things you don't do is knock on other contractors customers doors and low ball them on purpose to steal the job.

i would not want to be on the recieving end of that bad mojo especially when we are in a business in which our successes are determined by a whole lot of hard work and a whole lot of luck.

dpld
02-03-2012, 04:47 PM
We are all so very alike, yet we are competition.

Sad stuff. Good thing we are all separated from each other.


i find that funny, sad and true.

thats the difference between us common everyman types in comparison to say doctors.

my wife is in the medical field and when they have confrences with all the vendors of the medical supply companies like we have in trade shows most of the conversations in the educational portions of the shows are about the doctors working in harmony with each other keeping prices and costs within a certain percentage of each other, so in order to not create too much parody in their prices to force patients to shop around.
sure they go over new products and go into how they can cut costs and be more efficient but as a industry they work together.

our trade shows mostly pertain to if you buy this new 10,000 peice of equipment it will pay for itself in two years and all it is is product pushing.
most of the seminars are for CEU's on certain licenses but they usually revolve around a particular product and if you started selling it today you could make more money.
they never go into ethics and working together mantras because there is nothing for them to sell and make off of you and they want you to believe it's that new lawn mower you really need to turn a profit

we could make more money and benifit far more from each other then we can taking each others lunches.

we have a little cooperative with myself and 20 other local landscapers, we formed a group and we pay dues and have meetings and have guys come in to give lectures for pesticide credits and we hooked up with vendors and we buy our equipment from the same people so we get a group discount and we all charge within a specific price range.
we don't have a set singular price, it is more of a high and low.

for example, hourly labor rate low would be say 55.00 per hour and high would be 65.00 per hour which is fair because we are all legit but at the same time our businesses vary in size.

from there the big difference is how many hours you or the others would charge and we let that determine who's price is better.
it might take one guy 10 hours and the other might take 6 hours.

we got wet backs that are as bogus as you could be lowballing at like 25.00 per hour but the people in our area is conditioned to know the price ranges of all the guys that are fully insured so when pepe lopez comes along with a price of half of what the next lowest guy is the red flag goes up, pepe gets shot down and he can go try that crap in another town because it aint happening here.

mark123
02-03-2012, 05:33 PM
Doctors do that because nearly all of their invoices go to insurance companies or welfare.

dpld
02-03-2012, 09:22 PM
Doctors do that because nearly all of their invoices go to insurance companies or welfare.

no that is not true, if you don't have insurance and if you don't qualify you get stuck with it as well as doctors get paid a set rate for each procedure from insurance co's.

but needless to say i really dont want to get into a debate about the american healthcare system and my reference to the medical profession was one example of many professions that practice solidarity. lawyers, accountants, electricians, plumbers and the list goes on.
they all have a standard price range they work in and it has nothing to do with what profession makes more.
it varies from region to region in what the rate actually is due to differences in cost of living.

when it comes to landscapers and tree guys, they can tell you all they want about what they want to make per hour but when a customer calls up 5 different companies they get 5 totally different prices, it leads them to believe we just pull the numbers out of our azzes and start to think we are all crooks.
this will be my 23rd year in business and my 28th doing it and i can say that between what i have witnessed first hand and heard from customers over the years about the other guys out there i really start to wonder if we are our worst enemy.

druda22
02-03-2012, 10:22 PM
You can go door to door, or post a sign on a bulletin board, either way if you get the attention of someone that already uses another company, then your advertising to the competitions customers.

I send postcards to all of the higher value neighborhoods numerous times a year, knowing that my competition does work in that neighborhood. Why?
Because you want to market to the people that need and use your services.

You will always be advertising to your competitions customers, no matter how you do it. Its part of the business.

gardenbarber
02-05-2012, 02:40 AM
Advertising for business is standard practice for all businesses - including the gardening business. Even targeting a particular customer is acceptable practice - do you think an ad agency doesn't go for a big account. Targeting a particular home owner might not make much sense because the account is by nature quite small. But if he was a property administrator and controlled the gardening account for several developments I would target his business without any hesitation.

Remember that in the end the buyer makes the buying decision - we as contractors simply put ourselves up for choice. Do I rubbish the opposition or competition - never - it's simply bad business and demeans everyone including myself. I make an offer and the customer chooses to accept or reject it.

And if I get the business I make sure I deliver on my offer.

52BeltDrive
03-18-2012, 01:23 PM
But...

To me, "competition take-away" would basically amount to under-bidding for numbers. If someone is displeased with the service they've hired they'll probably be looking for you (or someone else). Another service. Solely targeting folks who are obviously hiring work out just seems low to me. Target the whole neighborhood and increase your odds without looking like a jerk. I've dealt with a few "stripe chasers" since 1990. One guy was bold enough to follow me and time my cuts. My opinion of him? Guess...

Satisfied customers aren't an easy sell. They'll be the first to point you out to the guys they're happy with too. You have to look at it from the client's perspective as well, they're either going to think you're a "real go-getter" or a common scavenger.

I'm starting fresh in a new zip code this year. I've scouted areas I want to market to but not individual clients. If I were to target only those who paid I'd have to posess one incredible line of BS or a ridiculously low price. First impressions are everything.

I've targeted neighbors of clients who clearly had good services and for the same reason their services targeted mine. Logistics. 1 stop two houses is good, 1 stop three houses is better. Never did score but it's give and take and understood. I've had offers from guys to buy out accounts for that very reason and when I moved last year I made a little money on what I had to leave behind.

The karma thing mentioned...A couple of years ago I was finishing up a big rural account late day friday. 4 miserable acres with my walk-behind and ready for a cold one. Notice the guy across the road with a broken down ZTR and about an acre from finished. Instead of loading up I Velkied on over to see if he could use a hand. Let him finsish up with my walk-behind while I trimmed my account. No biggie. The next week I was late again and his place was done. I pulled up to park and found a new Playmate cooler full of Budweiser with a new pair of Echo glasses on top and a simple note that just said "Thanks!".

Cashin H&P
03-19-2012, 07:32 PM
But...

To me, "competition take-away" would basically amount to under-bidding for numbers. If someone is displeased with the service they've hired they'll probably be looking for you (or someone else). Another service. Solely targeting folks who are obviously hiring work out just seems low to me. Target the whole neighborhood and increase your odds without looking like a jerk. I've dealt with a few "stripe chasers" since 1990. One guy was bold enough to follow me and time my cuts. My opinion of him? Guess...

Satisfied customers aren't an easy sell. They'll be the first to point you out to the guys they're happy with too. You have to look at it from the client's perspective as well, they're either going to think you're a "real go-getter" or a common scavenger.

I'm starting fresh in a new zip code this year. I've scouted areas I want to market to but not individual clients. If I were to target only those who paid I'd have to posess one incredible line of BS or a ridiculously low price. First impressions are everything.

I've targeted neighbors of clients who clearly had good services and for the same reason their services targeted mine. Logistics. 1 stop two houses is good, 1 stop three houses is better. Never did score but it's give and take and understood. I've had offers from guys to buy out accounts for that very reason and when I moved last year I made a little money on what I had to leave behind.

The karma thing mentioned...A couple of years ago I was finishing up a big rural account late day friday. 4 miserable acres with my walk-behind and ready for a cold one. Notice the guy across the road with a broken down ZTR and about an acre from finished. Instead of loading up I Velkied on over to see if he could use a hand. Let him finsish up with my walk-behind while I trimmed my account. No biggie. The next week I was late again and his place was done. I pulled up to park and found a new Playmate cooler full of Budweiser with a new pair of Echo glasses on top and a simple note that just said "Thanks!".

Now that is net working. I worked for a company for 4 years before I went out on my own. I will not even bid on there customers propertys. It is out of respect and friend ship that I do that. However if some one who has another lawn care company take care of there property I will bid it. I wont bid low to get the account. I simply tell the customer that I can provide a hire quality of work. Some times I get the job other times I dont.

Going door to door is how I started out. I went to every house in a neighborhood. I knew some people had a company already doing there property if that person wants to hire me for what ever reason great if not oh well I didnt get it. Other companys in my area will take work from me in a heart beat. Its a tough world out there I just tell my self that I can provide a better service and that the customers want that not a cheap price.

IVPropertyMaintenance
03-22-2012, 11:19 AM
Also has any one ever talked to a competitor and worked out any business deals such as trading customers or give referrals to each other? I have 4-5 mowing co. in my community and i was pondering whether or not to try and work with them or fly under the radar and do my own thing.....

I'm still new myself (this being my 2nd year in business) and am a one man crew. I live in a small town so there are not A LOT of competitors. One is a guy who has been around for about 8 years now. He is a one man deal also, but has his regulars that he uses for jobs where he could use an extra set of hands or two.

I ran in to him at the local nursery and we started talking. He ended up letting me in on a few jobs. He was very impressed with the work that I provided but I almost felt like I was working for him. They were his jobs, and I needed to get my own. It was nice to have the extra jobs that I normally wouldn't, but once I made the decision to focus more on my own customers, that is when i gained the confidence needed to run a lawn care business.

Since then I have picked up a lot of customers and have seen that same guy plenty of times... I could tell that he no longer wants to throw charity work my way. He now sees me as a threat instead of an ally. All in all, there really is no working with others. You either have a business partner or you are the boss. To many chiefs is not a good thing and ultimately you will appreciate not having to cater to anyone else but yourself.

If you work on a job with someone, you are liable for their mistakes as well. I even noticed that I was doing a better job than he was and he has been doing it for years. However, at the end of the day, when half of the job looks good (your half) and half of the job looks sloppy (his half) you still have to put your name on the WHOLE job.

Do your own thing but don't look at them as competition. Each customer is different and interact with people differently. If they are not happy they will come find you.