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Competition Folds


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  #1  
Old 12-19-2009, 05:08 PM
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Default Competition Folds

A few months back we were having a discussion about competition, I had posted my neighbour at the end of the street is in the landscaping business and his excavators and other equipment hadn't moved most of the summer, we ran into each other at the mail box a few times, then he had his son ask my son if he thought I would buy him out, then this discussion came up again at a demonstration I was doing for Deere, he had shown up to see the line up.

Anyhow he has been in the business a long time, his machines are very capable but man they look tired, his trailers look like they went through the war, beautiful truck but no lettering.

So at about 3 this afternoon I started getting calls for snow removal, I found it strange they were all from the area I live (same subdivision), had 6 calls in two hours, I was outside putting the plows on the tractors as we have a storm coming tomorrow, I sub all plowing out unless it's within a mile of my house then I send one of the tractors, not interested in putting plows on the trucks as I don't think they are built for it so I let others beat their trucks to death and worry about the maintenance costs.

I don't advertise in the area where I live as there are four guys in the mini excavation business so I stick to the area where we do 90% of our work, about a 30 min drive from my house, next to no competition.

The 7th call was a lady, said she had been speaking to xxxx and he informed her he was getting out of the business and suggested she give me a call, gosh she lives one street over, I said yes we will match your current price for the first plow and inform you if there is going to be a change, well holy smokes I am at call number 19 and it's only 7:00 and the storm isn't until later tomorrow.

I do feel bad for xxxx competition is good but we have to keep the gear looking eye pleasing and we have to market ourselves and do good work to grow.

Anyhow looks like tomorrow evening we will be busy, I had thought we were kicking back for the year and spending some time in the shop but if this keeps up I along with three staff will be hard at it.
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  #2  
Old 12-20-2009, 02:52 AM
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I said yes we will match your current price for the first plow and inform you if there is going to be a change,
Andy, this is very interesting because as we saw in another post, Scott was dealing with a similar issue. Where a local snow plow company was going out of business. Then we were talking about how he should go about attracting the customers from them.

Here you are dealing with this now and when you tell the customer you will match your current price for the first snow plow, can you tell us the logic behind this and why it's a good idea to do this?

When the customer says, the previous company was snow plowing my driveway for $x amount of dollars. Do you follow up with her and ask how long her driveway is? Do you go and visit it first before you agree upon a quote or do you just figure, yea I will do it for that price for the first time, just to get your foot in the door. Then once you are there and plow it for the first time, you can then figure out what you need to charge to offer them the service in the future?
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Old 12-20-2009, 03:43 AM
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Andy, this is very interesting because as we saw in another post, Scott was dealing with a similar issue. Where a local snow plow company was going out of business. Then we were talking about how he should go about attracting the customers from them.

Here you are dealing with this now and when you tell the customer you will match your current price for the first snow plow, can you tell us the logic behind this and why it's a good idea to do this?

When the customer says, the previous company was snow plowing my driveway for $x amount of dollars. Do you follow up with her and ask how long her driveway is? Do you go and visit it first before you agree upon a quote or do you just figure, yea I will do it for that price for the first time, just to get your foot in the door. Then once you are there and plow it for the first time, you can then figure out what you need to charge to offer them the service in the future?
I ask four questions 1) Gravel or paved (we have 6 foot blowers on the back of the tractors, 7 foot plows on the front) we blow paved and plow gravel 2) How long is your driveway (I know how long it takes us to clear the typical driveway in our area) 3) What is your address I know my area very well, is the prospect en route to another we already do? If so it's gravy money and so far they are all within 10 min of my house 4) What was the previous company charging.

It's late for these people as the storm that you folks are experiencing, braking records back to 1922, watched the USA news last night, Washington was a mess with 15", so since it's so late to be shopping by offering the service at the current rate for the first plow, is a marketing ploy for me, it shows I care and I do, however at the same time when I say for the first plow, it lets them know or sets the expectation their might be an increase, we will do good work even if it was a low ball but it will cost to have us come back.

After the first plow we ask the client if the job we did met their expectations, same with mowing, some people will not say anything unless asked and if there is a tree you forgot to trim around, that could be the difference between a referral and loosing an account, walk the property with them, I understand it takes time but this is your day in court, it starts the relationship, up sell at the same time, those mulch beds could use some additional mulch, I have a team coming by here next week, for $xx.xx we can beef them up, show you care and I think we all do.

I am going to visit all 21 this morning, already have a route schedule added split between two of the tractors and all are on route to two private lanes we do, kind of a nice Christmas present, 5 hours work tops, around $680.00, operational cost $16.90, staff $ 75.00, my time zip, I will be working in the shop, staff arrive at 5 a.m. to ensure people can get out, we will see how the day goes but I might send them out at 10, I will either SMS or Email all clients (as we charge every time we go out) earlier this afternoon asking if they want to be cleared before midnight and again in the morning. I will know when I leave what they should be charged and wrote a form letter that will be sent via email to those that have to have an increase BUT if I see Lawncare work we can do next year I will send a second letter, your plowing rate should be $35.00 rather than $25.00 however we know you probably had a budget for this season and our company will honor the rate you were paying as we see a number of services we could offer you in the spring and our company is in the business of building relationships, I trust you will seee this as a step in the right direction.

We do not get into hand shoveling, depending on the layout the guys might offer to blow the walkway, this is an additional $15.00 flat fee, it is totally up to them to offer and get the clients ok before proceeding and the walkway has to have either patio stone or brick, no gravel walkways will be blown or plowed, just to much risk.
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Old 12-20-2009, 04:15 AM
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I was just outside with my dog having a smoke when something came to me that I did last week.

Went to the doc for my annual check up, he lives 5 min from my house, we generally have a quick conversation, I said who is keeping you plowed out this season, he said he was doing it with an old snow blower, I said what if I gave you free service for this year? He said sure, went on to say we were taking accounts in the area, back of head not really but lets go fishing and see what happens, this is a local community medical centre so guess what, that doctor is now part of my network and yes he has already sent referrals and I dropped our snow removal card off to him.

Padron the pun but it's a snowball effect and I would like to think we all have a doctor, dentist etc. these people are the root connection in your community because like us, they build relationships.
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Old 12-21-2009, 04:44 AM
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I said what if I gave you free service for this year? He said sure, went on to say we were taking accounts in the area, back of head not really but lets go fishing and see what happens, this is a local community medical centre so guess what, that doctor is now part of my network and yes he has already sent referrals and I dropped our snow removal card off to him.
So much great stuff here to talk about! So in this situation, you offer him free service for the year to kind of like pull him into your network and with him knowing it's free, he might feel more compelled to send you other customers vs not? Why do you feel he was chosen over others to give the free service too? Was there something about him or his situation in the community that made him stand out most? Does it just come down to he has a lot of customers himself that are all local and he is a good beacon to promote your services?

Did he look like he had any lawn care issues too?
Quote:
We do not get into hand shoveling, depending on the layout the guys might offer to blow the walkway, this is an additional $15.00 flat fee, it is totally up to them to offer and get the clients ok before proceeding and the walkway has to have either patio stone or brick, no gravel walkways will be blown or plowed, just to much risk.
Too much risk in that you might damage property or more of liability risk that you might not get all the snow and ice off?
Quote:
I ask four questions 1) Gravel or paved
Which takes longer to plow?

Quote:
those mulch beds could use some additional mulch, I have a team coming by here next week, for $xx.xx we can beef them up, show you care and I think we all do.
How late into the season will you be able to re-install mulch beds?
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Old 12-21-2009, 07:31 AM
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So much great stuff here to talk about! So in this situation, you offer him free service for the year to kind of like pull him into your network and with him knowing it's free, he might feel more compelled to send you other customers vs not? Why do you feel he was chosen over others to give the free service too? Was there something about him or his situation in the community that made him stand out most? Does it just come down to he has a lot of customers himself that are all local and he is a good beacon to promote your services?

Did he look like he had any lawn care issues too?


Too much risk in that you might damage property or more of liability risk that you might not get all the snow and ice off?


Which takes longer to plow?



How late into the season will you be able to re-install mulch beds?
We offered free service to get his attention, then do an outstanding job and the rest falls into place.

I would be willing to bet no other patient has done something like this and added if you know of anyone looking for plowing or excavation service, we would really appreciate the referral. If it works out we will continue to do little free things for him, like lawn care or whatever.

Doctors, Dentists, Lawyers, Accounting companies, Tax return companies, they know the people in our area, tap into it and see what happens.

I am not sure if he looked at our Lawn Care, he was interested in the Organic products, I suspect he will at some type look at the website.

We can plow a 100 foot driveway in about 10 min tops, the thing is or key, get a bunch of driveways door to door, that is what the guys are reporting back to me this morning and just going almost door to door, this is ideal, now some of these will be one time deals, that is fine, just get their credit card number, give them a card and tell them to contact us for future service, if they want to be added, send me an sms and I will have Holly get them in the system.
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Old 12-22-2009, 05:00 AM
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How late into the season can you redo mulch beds? Can it be done in Winter or is it better to wait until Spring?



I think it is fantastic to experiment with this. Keep us posted on how all this turns out!
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Old 12-22-2009, 08:57 AM
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How late into the season can you redo mulch beds? Can it be done in Winter or is it better to wait until Spring?



I think it is fantastic to experiment with this. Keep us posted on how all this turns out!
Everything worked perfect, we can probably take on another 30 and divide between the tractors, a condition with me on snow clearing is we need a credit card number and you will be emailed an invoice followed by a receipt when the credit card is processed, no exceptions, not one person complained.

The guys picked up 9 addional driveways on their route, some are on call most are when we receive more than 2"

Mulching is out bud, don't forget we have the New England climate.
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Old 12-23-2009, 06:47 AM
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Everything worked perfect, we can probably take on another 30 and divide between the tractors, a condition with me on snow clearing is we need a credit card number and you will be emailed an invoice followed by a receipt when the credit card is processed, no exceptions, not one person complained.
This points out a good way to keep your accounts receivable to an absolute minimum. You already were out there doing all this hard snow plowing work. Why then make the job tougher by having to later go and track customers down for payment.
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Old 12-23-2009, 12:52 PM
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This points out a good way to keep your accounts receivable to an absolute minimum. You already were out there doing all this hard snow plowing work. Why then make the job tougher by having to later go and track customers down for payment.
In order to stay in business we have to, all of us. My accounts receivable has been zero all year, you hire me you will pay me when I am finished, deposits on excavation work only.
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