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Trials & Tribulations - The drama of running a business and of life. It's not as easy as it looks. Running a business is full of drama. Customers, employees, money, family, time. You name it, it's a problem. Share with us your drama and how you handled it.

Final price upset customer


Trials & Tribulations - The drama of running a business and of life.

It's not as easy as it looks. Running a business is full of drama. Customers, employees, money, family, time. You name it, it's a problem. Share with us your drama and how you handled it.
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Old 04-28-2010, 09:23 PM
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Default Final price upset customer

So I go to my jobs today thinking how bad the day was going to be because of the rain (yea, it was a bad day after all).

To make a long story short, I bid this job at $40 to the wife. I mow the yard, takes me about 45 minutes (so a decent bid, didn't require trimming).

When I knock on the front door the husband answers and looks a little annoyed. I greet him (he is the person I've been talking to over the phone) and he says "So, it's forty, huh?".

I tell him yea, and he then asked me: "How long did that take you". I tell him, "Oh, about 45 min". And then tell him that I can mow it for $20 on a regular basis, but before I can get that out, he tells me he doesn't need me to do that.

I ask him if he has a mower, and he mumbles something and says that $40 for 45 min of work is too much.

I try explaining that I have gas fees, maintenance, and other expenses as well. But he doesn't hear it, and just closes his door. He was civil, just rude about it.

Why didn't the wife just say no? Why is it that it's ok for any other profession to make money? Carpenters, painters, plumbers, electricians, etc?
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Old 04-29-2010, 05:00 AM
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I hear this a bit on our excavation and wood clearing sites but I have invested thousands in equipment to make the job quick, our chippers alone run $21,000. I simply reply I gave you a quote, time is money and we operate the best gear available at a significant cost to us. Where we really hear it is drains, we are 40% less that our competition based on customer feedback, but my operators are super fast and the work top drawer, I get $1,500 for an average 150 foot drain, the guys are in and finished includeing cleanup in an average of 6 hours unless they run into issues at which time we call the client, an issue is generally and almost always bedrock.

Haven't had this happen on lawn mowing but we are not that big, we have just under 100 lawns ranging from 2,500 square feet to 2 acres.
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Old 04-29-2010, 06:57 AM
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A friend of mine has a great analogy......

"You can dig a hole with a shovel or you can use a backhoe. Either way the price is the same and I use the backhoe."

They either pay for labor or equipment so the price is the same.

Andy that analogy should work great for you.
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Old 04-29-2010, 08:41 AM
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Last year I had customers like this, I carried them till the end of the season.

I didn't bother to call them this season. Next year I should be able to pick & choose my customers & avoid the ones that are just plain irritating.
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Old 04-29-2010, 06:39 PM
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This is a great post. In such a situation, how can you win over the husband when he is bent out of shape like that?

Is it even possible? Or when they bring that up is it always a sign that this is gonna be a no win situation?

Ideally, he would like to explain to the husband and get him to understand, then sign up for future lawn care. But the way it ended, it didn't look like that would be the case.

Does anyone ever make the sale when this comes up?
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Old 04-30-2010, 12:43 AM
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I think I could have closed the deal if I wanted too. I don't much care to haggle, and they where 10 miles further then my furthest job anyways, so it's no loss to me.

If he were to take his car to the shop, and they repaired it in an hour, would he complain about the $100 fee?

But on the other side of the spectrum, there are those customers who are nice, understanding, and willing to work with someone starting out. He was probably just a crotchety old man who thought I was taking advantage of his wife's pocketbook.
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Old 04-30-2010, 11:09 AM
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Quote:
I think I could have closed the deal if I wanted too. I don't much care to haggle
This is a great learning lesson !

If they lived closer to your service area and you wanted to close the deal, what do you think you could have done to do that?
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Old 05-01-2010, 01:10 AM
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Maybe the guy was honestly having a bad day, I mean yeah at first It would bug me to no end. I would sit down at night after completing all the daily end stuff when it comes to running a business, and give them a call. Explain to them that you have costs to cover and where you live, and they would most likely understand that you are barley making any profit going all out of your way to mow their lawn. In this business you have to be fair to you clients but also be fair and true to yourself. If they don't understand, I don't think I would even bother with them any more. It sounds like to me that they would be a nightmare to deal with through the rest of the season, and god forbid if you put them on monthly billing, you would more than less likely to never see a check in the mail.
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Old 05-01-2010, 10:15 AM
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I think I could have asked him why he is so upset. Allowed him to tell me why he thinks the price is to high, then I could have explained to him that it takes twice as long to mow longer grass, which it basically like mowing a second yard.

I put quality over quantity, which is why I bagged the clippings and didn't side-shoot them all. He may have still be upset, but I don't really care, it was so far away.

Quote:
...and god forbid if you put them on monthly billing, you would more than less likely to never see a check in the mail.
This happened to me last year. Someone wanted me to spray moss-out and then rake up the dead moss. I put 5-6 man hours into raking, and billed him $55 for it. He sent a short check with the quote "$55 to rake is too much".

I immediately stopped going to his lawn. Now I bid for everything, and try to make $25-$50 per hour. Speaking of, I just did a spring clean-up, I bid for $200 and she didn't even flinch, my brother helped me, and it took us 3 hours total. I split it with him, and so we made $33/hr each.

I just had another lady wanting some work done. Her yard is just gravel, so she needs it blown clean. She told me to think about it and give her a price later, and if after I do it I realize it's not enough, to tell her, because she doesn't want me to loose money.

I love it when people understand you are trying to make a business and are willing to help you achieve that.
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Old 05-01-2010, 11:44 PM
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Default Went through that this last week

I guess it's fare to say that you just can't please everyone.
I had a customer that we mowed for last year on a semi regular basis. He would call me from time to time to mow either his front yard, his back yard or the whole thing. He has an acre yard. It was my fault really because I allowed him to set the price. His front yard was real nice and it took about 25 min. to mow, blow and trim. His back yard was a nightmare though. It took over an hour. He'd wait until it was a foot high and then call us and say 'just go ahead and scalp it Jay'. He paid 20 for the front and 30 for the back. The problem is that we have a minimum of $35 to stop and unload our equipment. Anyway, I did this for him last year because he was a friend and we had a little more time.
Well, the other day he called and wanted us to mow the whole yard and again he said 'scalp the back'. I went and looked at his yard and again it was a foot high in back. I called him back and explained to him that, first of all, we have a minimum to stop and that on an acre yard we get $75 usually. I then told him that it's really not good for our mowers to go over excessively tall grass and that we would have to charge him extra the first time because we would have to go over it two or three times to get it down to where he wants it. I was very nice and professional in explaining this to him and guess what??? He hung up on me while saying a few choice words. Guess he wasn't that good of a friend after all.
I guess the moral of the story is this...stick with your guns and do the right thing for both you and the customer. Even though he got mad and I lost him as a customer, I feel good about what I did and how I explained it. There are hundreds of other customers out there. After this incident I picked up two $50 yards that are already well maintained and will take 25-30 min to do total. Sometimes you have to 'weed out' the bad yards to make room for the good ones!!

Take care,

Jay
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