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Email and phone vs Face to face.


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Old 05-22-2006, 03:16 PM
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Have you found yourself talking to clients more and more without meeting them in person? In this article Chuck DiCicco talks about how things tend to get messed up if he doesn't get the chance to talk to a client face to face before working on a project with them.

In an electronic world, the personal touch goes a long way - Chuck DiCicco, who runs a landscaping business in Wilmington and Delaware County, Pa., said he tries to avoid using cell phones and e-mail. He finds it more effective to talk to his customers face to face ** and that way "things don't get crossed up."

He said trust is a big part of his business, and if there is something serious to discuss he always does it in person.
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Old 05-22-2006, 05:28 PM
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I have mixed feelings about this. When it comes to landscaping, of course your going to meet face to face with the client. But for maintenance, I'm starting to wonder (especially with fuel costs) if it would be better to do away with face to face interactions.

I've read of a few companies that are trying to do away completely with estimates. They have it set up where a potential client either has a measurement of their yard and count of tree's, or a picture and they email it or they won't take them as a customer. That might discourage some potential clients, but would save alot in fuel/time.
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Old 05-22-2006, 06:01 PM
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Quote:
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Quote[/b] ]I've read of a few companies that are trying to do away completely with estimates. They have it set up where a potential client either has a measurement of their yard and count of tree's, or a picture and they email it or they won't take them as a customer. That might discourage some potential clients, but would save alot in fuel/time.
What I like about this is that it is different. You never know when something is going to work. This is creative thinking. Would you consider trying this? Do you think it would be helpful in streamlining your business further?
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Old 05-22-2006, 06:02 PM
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I also wonder if a satellite image could be helpful as well. By using something like maps.google.com
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Old 05-22-2006, 06:21 PM
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I personally would love to do without meeting "some" people, and just do the estimate over the phone or by satelite images. I can not count the number of times over the years that I have wasted gas money, and my time doing worthless estimates.

Perfect example is yesterday. Lady calls me up for a lawn maintenance estimate. I go over there and the lawn is a foot tall. I gave her a price and she was expecting something $25 cheaper. I told her sorry, I couldn't go any lower. I wasted an hour of my time, and probably about $5 in gas.
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Old 05-22-2006, 07:11 PM
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Maybe we should come up with some type of policy everyone could use or add to.

Then maybe include it on a website where a potential customer could enter information and the lco could get back to them with a price based on their inputed specifics.
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Old 05-22-2006, 09:54 PM
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I've thought about using like google earth or whatever that is where it shows exactly, or the maps thing like you posted.

In this area though, I'm just not sure. I hear of LCO's that charge for estimates and that would never fly here. Next one is contracts, it's hard to have people sign non binding contracts even around here.

I did however try this approach today (before even reading this), a guy called up from a historic part of town for a one time cut, I asked roughly how large the lawn was and how tall it was, I quoted him a high price and said it would be done tomorrow and he loved it. I was in that area this evening so I went by, the grass is about 5" tall only and maybe 9,000 sq ft (on the high side) and he claimed it was 1/2 acre and a foot tall. If everyone was like that, I'd be all for estimates over the phone, but I'm sure I'd get people who stretch the truth.
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Old 05-22-2006, 10:04 PM
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I just had a thought on this and wanted to share for people who are thinking about doing this style of estimating.

I was talking with an LCO from Texas, he does only email/phone estimates. He keeps costs down everywhere so he can be competitive and still make good profits and it works for him. His pricing is very basic but he's very stict on his policies. He quotes a price based on the customers description or picture and after the first cut he'll raise the price if he has to, his take on this is he shows the quality of work and then the customer is willing to pay the extra. And it works, I've even done that before. That's another possible way to get around underpricing due to not actually seeing the property.

The only way I'd see pricing over the phone/web is if it were set up like his system, where you have alot of policies to keep yourself safe. He is also in a market where probably 85-90% of the lawns are identical size so it's easier for him.
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Old 05-22-2006, 10:22 PM
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I do like that idea.

Also once you cut a customers lawn, they may be impartial to having you do it again in the future even if you have to raise your price after the first cut.

My next question is how do you implement such an idea and test it out.

Also is this something you want to do?
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Old 05-22-2006, 10:37 PM
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With the cost of fuel I'd love to not have to go out and give estimates, it's just one of those things that I need all the business I can get still so I don't want to risk losing business from it.

I could see it working in certain areas, the larger homes where the owners are mostly younger and in with new technology, but if it's an elderly person, I don't think it would work as much. Elderly people like old fashion business, they want to see you and talk to you face to face. Where as like lately I've been going and checking on the property while I'm out mowing and I'll just call the person and give them the price and details on the service, this seems to work well.

Food for thought. All of my current customers that are in their 30's-early 40's in upper scale neighborhoods, I didn't meet until after the second or third cut. All my elderly customers I met when I checked on the property because they came out and greeted me. Middle class neighborhoods with homeowners in their 40's-50's I met after the estimate on the first cut.

I mark all this down, just my little concensus on what the market is like around here. So after knowing this, should I try to implement the tactic of phone estimates only on people I think it will work with (guessing their type by where they are located)?
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