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Online Lawn Care Estimator - Help me bid this job
If you need help coming up with a bid for a lawn care, landscaping, tree cutting or irrigation job, post the specifics here and pictures of the job site. If you are looking to learn about bidding, review the jobs posted here.

Dealing with lowball bids

Online Lawn Care Estimator - Help me bid this job

If you need help coming up with a bid for a lawn care, landscaping, tree cutting or irrigation job, post the specifics here and pictures of the job site. If you are looking to learn about bidding, review the jobs posted here.
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:56 AM
cmacsauto cmacsauto is offline
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Default Dealing with lowball bids

Hey ya'll. I just started up a few months ago, and was wondering how anyone else deals with competition bidders lowballing the job. I went to do an estimate for a lady to install sod, and when I got there, she also wanted a few trees limbed up, some bushes removed, and tilling of the ground. I made her an estimate, I think it came out to about $2400 with three pallets of zoysia sod and 15 yards of mulch ( it was a rather large portion of the property she wanted mulch on, and i couldn't talk her into pinestraw to make it any cheaper). Well, she called me back about a month later to come mow the grass ( currently fescue in real bad shape ) and complained that it was mowed too high and said something about figuring out what to do with the yard. When I asked if she had gotten the estimate, she said "yeah, it was way over price" like I was stupid for even giving it to her. I asked how much others had told her, and she said she had been quoted $950. It seems every time I go to do an estimate, something like this happens, and only a couple of people will actually go with the higher price because they think they are getting a deal from the other guy.

Also, I have this guy that called about lawncare, and said he was paying 32.50 biweekly for mowing, edging weedeating, bush trimming, trimming Ivy, picking up sticks, and I don't even remember what else. but they were not reliable. I told him $30 if he signed a contract. I have done some work at his other home for witch I charged him $40 but he still hasn't paid, and I have sent him the contract 2 or three times through email, and talked to him about it last week before that because I had to update it when he decided to start a week later. He still has not responded back to the contracts or the bill for the work completed, and every time I try to tell him how I do payment, he wants to make it sound like paypal would be really complicated and says he thinks he wants to leave a check somewhere. The yard looks really bad, lots of dead patches of grass, and the bushes are in terrible shape as well. any Ideas? Should I go back to his other property and start at his main property?
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Old 05-29-2012, 11:55 AM
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I wouldn't step back in his yard, he's playing you.

As for low ballers, they can only do so much before they figure out they need to raise their prices to make a living or they get overwhelmed and burn out on such hard cheap labor.

Keep doing quality work and you'll gain quality loyal customers over time. That pay on time for the most part too. Lol
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Old 05-29-2012, 07:12 PM
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Ok, I will keep on with my rates, I guess I am just having a hard time accepting it because the calls come in slowly and it seems like the same thing on about half of them. The other half say they are worried about picking someone that quotes that low and pick me somewher I am thinking the high middle range of whatever else they have been told. It is so hard to know who is serious and who is just wasting my fuel and time going to their home to do an estimate, but I learned after my first job this year not to bid too low because it always takes more than you think and you'll never be happy in the end. It's good to find a place where everyone else seems to be on the same page.

As for the guy that wanted the lawn care, he called me today saying he didn't get my email, but he said he was happy with the work that had been completed. I sent him the bill & contracts again & will see if they get paid. I'm still trying to figure out the whole billing & invoicing thing because many people seem to get kind of standoffish when you start asking for prepayment or pay with a card ( they always want to pay with cash or check, but seem to be confused by the Idea of sending it to me ) I have one guy that puts cash in certain place when he is going to be gone, but I didn't do a contract with him since he was happy with the initial price I told him, calls me reliably to mow, and pays every time when I get there. I always start to get gunshy when they start to haggle because I seem to have to beat a ridiculously low price in the end. Any Ideas on how to get more upscale business that understands better the true costs of service they are recieving because I know they are out there.
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Old 05-29-2012, 07:37 PM
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The lady is lying about the $950.. If she got such a low price a month ago. Then why is it not done? I have a feeling no one wanted to do it for what she thought the job was worth.

On the other hand if someone did bid it that low. They miscalculated the mulch and are going to show up with 5 yards.

I dont lower my price for anyone. When you do its profit that is cut. You cant exactly cut out the materials. So you end up not making **** and tearing up your body/equipment.
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Old 05-29-2012, 07:41 PM
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sounds like my first haggling potential CX,

i wouldn't even take the phone when he calls anymore, if he calls that is.

calls will come slowly, so far i still don't get calls, but i keep going out flying and talking to people. i have 4 clients now from direct contact/conversation with them. flying alone hasn't done the trick, and i offer free grass seed packets & custom audio CD's with information about us & what we do with every flyer/coupon. i always take 2 people with me flying and even bought walkie talkies so we can stay in contact on where we hit in the neighborhood, etc. we fly on foot, i feel that drive by flyers are too impersonal. anyone can drive by, it takes a little more nerve to stick a flyer in a screen door. if someone stops you, then you start selling what you are offering. like a jehovah's witness! "can i talk to you about your lawn this summer?"

you might want to not run a contract game while first starting out. i would plop signage in the yards of completed CX's more than anything, and always fly (distribute fliers) in the neighborhood right after a job. you will get more clients who stay if they feel comfortable knowing that they can tell you not to come out. my clients and i all have verbal contracts: i know i am coming back next week, i get paid at then end of the job. i follow up call a few days after the job to make sure they were happy with it. people don't like contracts. during your first year i'd stay out of the contract aspect of it all. keep a notepad handy, wear a uniform, keep a tablet or netbook on you - basically look the part, and if you have a crew, match them to your uniform as best you can. if you have black shorts, make them wear black shorts. if you wear shades, make them wear shades. people like to see an image out there, especially neighbors who are alll your potential next clients. if they dont call from flyers, they might after they see you work.

if you have more than one gig for the day, bring a team to fly while you work. encourage your people to door knock. practice a routine with them like salesmen do, because thats who you are and who you need working for you: salesmen. worst that can happen is one of 2 things: they don't answer the door (leave flyer anyway) or they say no.

best outcome: you're hired.

as for getting better upscale clients... first year, take what you can get, but don't take a bunch of crap from them. if they get needy and want more for less than you are willing to do, try to upsell them or drop them. if you're hurting for money & clients, then make do with them. you'll get better customer service response next year thru word of mouth. swallow your pride out there. always keep a sign on their yard, and make it stand out. one of mine says, "when you're done with the rest, call the best" on one side with our logo on the other side, phone number & facebook address on both sides; these are for clients who have switched to us. remember that all business fail within the first 3 years, so it will take a lot of work, money, blood sweat and tears to get to the "good life" of it all. you have crews who have been in the game for years, both commercial and small frys like yourself. make your mark hard. if you have a community access TV channel that lets you run non-profit ads, run an ad to do FREE service for the elderly or disabled veterans just to get a sign out on a lawn. keep a running ad in your newspapers, etc.

business is alllll about marketing. marketing is spending money and making up ideas. the making up ideas part is very fun and will fuel your fire to survive in the lawn service industry. if you feel lousy, get a new idea in your head and run with it. be a marketing machine.

if you dont have a facebook yet, why not? and if you want some likes quick, drop five bucks at for one of the guys who add likes and firends to FB accounts. people will take notice and follow suit with liking your business. keep it fresh with pictures rotating on the wall, pictures of your jobs before and after, monthly specials, contests, whatever you can do to get noticed.
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Old 05-29-2012, 08:34 PM
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Default Low Ballers

One thing I like to do when it comes to putting in bids is remind the potential customer that I am licensed and insured. I will not even pull the mower out of the trailer for less than $30 per cut and if it's not contract then they must pay at time of service or they get no service. I learned that being trusting in this business can make you a sucker. Keep your prices where you know you can make a living doing this kind of work. Good luck.
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:26 AM
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It seems like when you are new at anything, including lawn care, people can read it. They can tell by the way you bid or the way you advertise or the way you show up or even by the level of confidence you project.

Don't sweat these bad customers too much. They are simply the keepers of the gate. They frustrate most and keep many new business owners from continuing further while a smaller group will realize their early customers will more often than not, be problematic.

So just learn from these early interactions with these tire kicking customers. Grow from these experiences. Keep marketing and advertising. As you go, you will see all of these elements come together. You will perform better work, have more confidence, pre-qualify customers when they call and word your ads in a manner that attracts the type of customer you are looking for.

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Old 05-30-2012, 02:57 PM
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I cheated when I started out. My father in law has been in business for himself for 30 years, and he told me how to bid jobs
I will pass that along to you.
1 NEVER give an estimate over the phone.
2 ALWAYS go look at the property
3 Walk around with the potential customer, ask about everything, gardens, trees that need trimming, shrubs, point out areas that you will need to trim with a string trimmer, point out the concrete edges and tell then you will edge those with a steel blade edger etc. Show him you know your business, and ask him questions. Make sure you know what he expects, he will tell you one thing but the way he dresses, the kind of car, the general look of his yard etc will tell what he really wants.
4 estimate you costs, your taxes, you insurance, how much money you want to put in your pocket, and your companies profit. give him the price and SHUT THE **** UP. The rule is after you give the price the next person who speaks LOSES. LET IT BE HIM. If he says that it's too high give him your card and say thank you. And WALK AWAY. If he really has a lower estimate that meets his needs great, if he is just trying to get you to come down (More than likely) he will call you back.
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Old 05-30-2012, 07:20 PM
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when someone tells me i am sooo high and another guy gave them "this $ price" I tell them with a serious face "Call him quick! his family is starving or he needs to pay his rent cause at that rate there is no money left for taxes, the insurance or anything." they usually look offended at being called bs on but some cave in and just go at my price. Alot of times i meet them half way between the real price and their bs price but that usually end up as a crappy deal on my part.
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Old 05-31-2012, 10:35 AM
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cmacsauto do you feel this discussion has helped you at all? Will this help you in the way you run your lawn care business?
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