*******www.gopherforum**** “Back in the days when you were starting your lawn care business, did you encounter the ‘Why would I hire you if you’re so new?’ dilemma?
I’d like to have some way of spinning that question into a positive if and when that should arise.”
That’s the question asked to us by Scott, a new lawn care business owner on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum.
Without a doubt some lawn care customers, if they sense you are new, will try and screw with you. They will try and push you around on a lot of things such as price and how much work they want you to do. Just be wary of this.
How do you spin it? Well I would say two things off the top of my head. Reliability and affordability. You would be amazed at how many start up lawn care businesses are just not reliable. Show them you are reliable and you will win their trust.
Believe in yourself. You can do this.
Andy shared that he “never had a lawn care customer ask. The key to starting out is to look and act big. If you do this, you will actually believe you are big and everything will fall into place. It does take some cash to get there however it pays off big time to have professional looking shirts & pants as well as lettered vehicles and trailers. If something needs a little paint to look great then personally we do it. All the equipment is washed at the end of the day, no exception, even the mowers, they always look new and clients like that.”
Keith added ” I think everyone’s been in that situation. Many newbie lawn care business owners fall into the trap of lowering their prices to attract customers. In my opinion, lowering your price is a big mistake. Your customers will expect your prices to remain low and will resist when you try to raise them. Besides that, you’re simply selling yourself short when you should be making good money.
Instead, arm yourself with knowledge. Obtain the ability to discuss problems with their yards.
Now, you’re new and you don’t have the experience and knowledge to diagnose a wide range of problems. Instead, pick one or two problem areas that are common to all your prospects. If everyone in your area has shrubbery beds, become a source of information on proper pruning. Learn all you can about proper mulch application. If everyone has clover in their yards, learn proper mowing techniques which will reduce clover production and discuss those solutions with your prospects.
Never seek customers from a position of desperation (i.e. - “I’m new, please let me cut your lawn”). Do the opposite by making them need you more than you need them. If you know more than just how to run a lawn mower over their grass, and you can demonstrate that knowledge to your customers, you will quickly build a roster of profitable customers.”
Joe shared “if you have ever cut the lawns for family and friends, I would suggest you should take pictures of the jobs you have done and made a small photo album, you could show potential lawn care customers the work you have already done and that can take away the tag that you have been a “Professional Lawn Care Specialist” for a short time. Use it to your advantage when this question comes up. Take some before and after shots. Be BIG and believe in Yourself. Walk the Walk.”
Stick to your landscaping bid or pass?
When you are out and about giving new landscaping estimates to customers, when should you stick with your bid price and when should you pass the job on to someone else? This is a great topic and it was brought up on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum by our friend Tom. He wrote “I have a question regarding a mulch quote. I went to home of someone getting several quotes on a mulch job yesterday. I was told the industry standard for quoting is about $100.00 per yard. The mulch job was for 9 yards of mulch (he also wants all his beds edged). Given my costs of $24 per yard plus delivery plus an extra worker. $290.20 mulch plus delivery then the extra worker $135. Total cost $425.20.
I told him $900 he said no way, I was way to high he had gotton a quote for $600. I said well I would go with that person. I cannot afford to make $175.00 for a day of working. I didn’t give him my costs. Then he said how about $700 I told him I would get back to him. I don’t know if he really has some quotes for a lower price or he is just B.S.ing me. I guess my question is do you stick to your guns and pass on this job or try to negoiate the price?”
I think first off, you are way ahead of the game because you know your costs. Most business owners don’t and they just shoot from the hip when it comes to creating a bid. There are going to be jobs that you will be on within a range of what YOU need to make. Some of the jobs you will get because of your ‘economies of scale’, you can do something faster, better, stronger, cheaper than a competitor.
There will be other jobs that you just won’t be able to compete on because the competitor will have the advantage. On top of all that, there are plenty of people who will do jobs at break even or even at a loss and not know it until much later.
This is how I would weigh it. Can you make the job profitable? If you are saying “you cannot afford to make $175.00 for a day of working” then don’t do the job, it’s not going to work out for your benefit.
If however you are free that day and can get him to a price where you can get the profit you need to operate, then do it. Not every job will be a good fit for you and for the customer.
When you say “I think $100 per yard is the industry standard,” knowing this is helpful information to compare your costs but there will be times when you can’t operate at the industry standard. Your expenses may be too high or you are not set up to profit on certain specific services.
Say for instance you ask me to make you a bottle of Coke. And you tell me the industry standard is $1.00 and you won’t pay more than that.
Well, I am going to have to spend time trying to come up with a formula that tastes like coke. Then I am going to have to figure out how to form a bottle that looks like Coke’s. Then I am going to have to figure out how to put the label on it to look like Coke’s and when it’s all said and done I will probably spend $50,000 to $100,000 grand on trying to make one bottle of Coke to sell to you. I just don’t have an infrastructure set up to compete.
The same can hold true with mulch. There are companies out there that show up in a big truck and have a long hose and can just blow mulch right where it needs to be and can charge a fraction of what a lawn care business owner would need to charge to manually do the job.
Is this customer bs’ing? Who knows. I think you need to stick with the price that covers your expenses and brings you the profit % you need to operate or there is no point in doing it. You could be doing another job that gets you what you need.
Tom replied “thanks a lot that really helps. The down side to me in this business is doing mulch. The guy I used to work for said use $100.00 as a rule of thumb when you calculate the job. At the end of the day when your dead beat, the $600.00 dollars you made makes it all worth while. I don’t want to be the guy that’s priced so high I am screwing my customers. But I am not about to make minimum wage on a job either. I pay my part time help very well $15 and they really are great to work with. This guy just made it out like I was price gouging the hell out of him. I said look go with the other guys if your looking for a cheap price. I’m not the cheapest but I’m not the most expensive either. I am getting about 30% of the mulch quotes that I give out. The ones I get are from people who don’t get other quotes. So I want to be fair but I also need to make a living as well.”
Another forum member suggested a way to play around with the bid. He said “Do the take away sales pitch on him. Say with out edging your beds we can do it for X amount, don’t back down on a sale, he wants the work done, you have him in the position to raise the price since he said will you do it for $700, tell him $800 or where ever you think you need to be to be profitable. A little negotiation never hurt anyone!”
Consider these suggestions the next time you are on a job site and find yourself negotiating a bid price.
If you are in need of free lawn care marketing material for your lawn care business, please visit our site at *******www.gophersoftware****. We have hundreds of free lawn care logo, flyer, door hanger and web templates you can download and use for your lawn care business. We also have free lawn care business contracts, estimate and proposal forms. Download our trial version of Gopher Lawn Care Business Software. Gopher will help your lawn care business schedule and invoice more customers in less time, allowing you more time to grow or enjoy your life. Check out my lawn care business blog at *******www.lawnchat**** and my lawn care business forum at *******www.gopherforum****