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tiedeman
06-05-2007, 08:50 PM
I really liked the new gopherhaul. That is cool that you put my situations in there. I appreciate it!

Steve
06-05-2007, 09:52 PM
I am glad you liked it! I think your business insights are fantastic and many viewers will benefit from your knowledge and experience.

StartALawnCareBusiness
06-06-2007, 01:48 PM
I like the vid too. *I always enjoy your positive presentations.

Can I put my contrarian hat on for a moment?

I am a huge believer in getting the "RIGHT" kind of customers. *I totally agree that you don't want price shoppers and you pretty much want to stay away from a 1 time job unless you can really price it to make it worth your while.

However, I think you are being too restrictive with the contracts and with the non bi-weekly rules.

Here in the South, the grass is dried up so far this summer. *No one is having weekly grass service. *Many summers are similar to this one and a company that limits itself to only taking on weekly customers will have a shortage of clients.

Contracts are good. *They are especially valuable to guard against customers who want you to do major renovation work on their lawn and then drop you in mid summer. *There are also other specific situations where a contract is needed for both you and the customer. * However, once again, I've found that the majority of residential customers really don't want to sign a contract. *Instead, they just want no-hassle dependable lawn care as needed and they're willing to pay for the service when it takes place.

If it ever came down to having a dispute with a residential customer, would you really want to spend the resources to uphold the contract instead of just simply dropping that customer and finding another?

Sell quality and price your work accordingly. *Never underprice your work but also be flexible to the needs of the customer.

Don't take this as an argument...just as a counterpoint.

Your vids rock. http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif*

Keith

Steve
06-06-2007, 03:01 PM
Keith,

Good points.

Have you had much of a problem with customers dropping your service mid-season? How do you deal with low bidders and customers who are offered lower prices from non-legit companies? Does this pose much of a problem?

Do you have other suggestions on how to pre-qualify a potential customer when they call you?

StartALawnCareBusiness
06-06-2007, 08:19 PM
There will be circumstances where people will have to drop out midseason. *One year, a well paid (and well paying) customer called me in July to drop because he had lost his job. *Even if I had an ironclad contract with that customer, the time spent pursuing enforcement of the contract would have been better spent picking up a new customer instead of dealing with someone who couldn't pay anyway.

I think a good relationship with a customer is a better hedge against lowballers than a contract. *Be familiar with your customers and make sure they know how important their business is to you. *Do a great job and most people won't drop you for someone offering to do their lawn for $5 less / week. *If a customer is going to drop you for a $5 or $10 *undercut, you probably don't need them as a customer anyway.

There are definitely situations where a contract is a good idea. *Clients that hire you for application services or bed maintenance require you to purchase your supplies in advance for the expected work. *Large yards that take hours of your time and would leave a big hole in your schedule if they dropped also warrant a contract. *Also, large work that requires additional equipment or extra employees is a prime candidate for having a written contract.

Prescreening customers. *In my business package, I speak heavily about prescreening customers. *Prescreening should actually begin as you work on your business plan...very early days of your business. *Know who your customer is going to be. *Do you want to do large yards because those are the primary yards in your area of service? *Then you have to buy large equipment to handle the large mowing areas. *After that, you prescreen customers with your advertisements. *"Professional Lawn Services - Large Yards are our Specialty" *This, effectively, screens out small yards before they even call. *That's just one example. *There are many other examples of prescreening even before the customer calls.

I do have a couple of questions that I recommend asking once you get a call:

1) "Are you getting quite a few estimates?" * This gives you an idea if the customer is only going for price and calling everyone in town that does lawns or if your ad was specifically appealing. *Answer: *"No, I called you because your ad said that you have new equipment and I want someone dependable." *That's a great answer. *Go give that estimate immediately.

2) "Who was doing your yard in the past and why are they not doing it any longer." *In my experience, this is the most important question you can ask. *I remember one potential customer said "Oh, I've had a bunch of people but none of them were any good." *That was an immediate red flag. *You can gain great information with this question and you can often tell if this is a sincerely good client by their answer.

My initial critique of your questions was simply because I think we all have to be flexible to the needs of the customers. *If a customer does not want to sign a contract but they will be a great customer otherwise, why not bend your rules instead of just hanging up on them.

OH, BTW, I loved the computer generated "customer's" voice in the vid...cracked me up.

Keith

tiedeman
06-07-2007, 02:01 PM
Quote[/b] (StartALawnCareBusiness @ June 06 2007,2:48)]I like the vid too. *I always enjoy your positive presentations.

Can I put my contrarian hat on for a moment?

I am a huge believer in getting the "RIGHT" kind of customers. *I totally agree that you don't want price shoppers and you pretty much want to stay away from a 1 time job unless you can really price it to make it worth your while.

However, I think you are being too restrictive with the contracts and with the non bi-weekly rules.

Here in the South, the grass is dried up so far this summer. *No one is having weekly grass service. *Many summers are similar to this one and a company that limits itself to only taking on weekly customers will have a shortage of clients.

Contracts are good. *They are especially valuable to guard against customers who want you to do major renovation work on their lawn and then drop you in mid summer. *There are also other specific situations where a contract is needed for both you and the customer. * However, once again, I've found that the majority of residential customers really don't want to sign a contract. *Instead, they just want no-hassle dependable lawn care as needed and they're willing to pay for the service when it takes place.

If it ever came down to having a dispute with a residential customer, would you really want to spend the resources to uphold the contract instead of just simply dropping that customer and finding another?

Sell quality and price your work accordingly. *Never underprice your work but also be flexible to the needs of the customer.

Don't take this as an argument...just as a counterpoint.

Your vids rock. http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif*

Keith
I have been in business now going on 11 years, and have been in the green industry going on 15 years and have lots of experience trying out different things with the business. * I tried out the whole no contract thing and bi-weekly customers before and it was nothing but a hassle. *Sure, if I show up at a customers property and its dry as heck, I am not going to mow it.

Once you find the right type of customers that you want, with YOUR requirements, then you will start to love your work and love your customers more. *Too many times in the past I was burnt on taking on everybody. *You need to figure out what works best. *Nothing is worse then having to send a customer to a collections agency, or trying to get paid on a past due account.

By having a contract in place it not only spells out payment policies, but what your specific services are as well. *Nothing would be worse than a customer withholding money from you because you didn't perform the services like you said you would. *Instead, you can pull out the contract and show them what the details of each service is. *It also covers yourself from possible lawsuits from property damage or personal injuiry.

The weekly mowing customers are customers that you WANT to have. *Nothing is worse then showing up to a bi-weekly customers property that has a foot of growth. *If not only makes your customers property look bad, but you as well. *Someone driving by might not know that they are on a bi-weekly schedule, but when they see you maintaining it they will think to themselves "What a horrible lawn service company, they can't even keep up with the lawn. *Forget about hiring them"

Like said though, after some years of experience and feeling out the customers and your business, you will know exactly what type of customers that you want and you need based on your specifications.

Steve
06-07-2007, 06:02 PM
Quote[/b] ]My initial critique of your questions was simply because I think we all have to be flexible to the needs of the customers. If a customer does not want to sign a contract but they will be a great customer otherwise, why not bend your rules instead of just hanging up on them.

OH, BTW, I loved the computer generated "customer's" voice in the vid...cracked me up.

What works for some businesses won't work for others. There are many factors to consider and I am glad you did bring them up for our forum members to read.

Yea the computer voice was funny too I thought.