Dealing with new potential lawn care customers that are cheapskates..

There will always be a certain percentage of your new callers that will give off warning signs they are going to become problem customers if you take them on. Being able to read and properly handle these potential customers when you go on your initial estimate can make a big difference. You can choose to work for next to nothing or maybe even lose money on a job, or you can read the warning signs and decide it is best to move on from them. Here is a great discussion on this topic from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum that gives you a few real world examples of this problem.

One lawn care business owner wrote “recently I had two instances where I got calls for one time cuts. The first lady, we went to the house and told her it would be $30 to mow the lawn. She hemmed and hawed and came back with ‘I usually only pay $25 to get it cut…’ Prior to the day of the mowing, she told me her normal lawn guy stopped coming. I would guess she owes him money, so I already had a bad feeling about her. I said no, $30 was the cost to mow it. Then she said, ‘well you need to move all the stuff on the lawn then put it back after its done, and you have to weed whack all the beds too.’ I went to my truck and just left. She wanted $75 worth of work for $30. No Thank You.

Another lady we did a one time mow for $40, it was pretty high so we charged extra. The next week she had us trim her bushes. Then the next week we did her beds in the front of the house. I told her if she wanted us to mow it again it would be $30. She comes back with $20 to cut it. I said no, so she said she will make her son cut it then. So we drove off and left it at that. That was three weeks ago and the lawn still has not been mowed since we did it 5 weeks ago. She will need to pay $40 is she calls us to mow it again.

Anyone else have lawn care customers that try to get you to lower your price? How would you have handled these two situations?”

A second lawn care business owner said “man that happens to me all the time. The other day I got a call from a guy asking if we could give him an lawn care estimate. I came to see the property and told him I would mow it biweekly, which would include weeding, edging, trimming, and debris clearing and a fertilizing program was included in the price. We would trim as needed. He had the right side of his property full of bushes. The fertilizing would be done twice a year. I told him it would be $120 a month and he told me it was fine so I started to work.

The previous gardener did a horrible job so I had to trim, weed, and edge more than usual but I had already told him a price so I stuck to it and I left it at that. On Tuesday I went back, dropped off the bill, and started to work on the property. I finished weeding when he came out and said what I had charged was too expensive… I told him we had already talked about it. He said his other gardener charged him $75 a month, but obviously he did not weed, edge, or even trim the bushes.

I explained that to him and he asked me if we would drop the price. I told him I would drop one of his services, either trimming or weeding for $10-$20 off the price. He has lots of weeds in all his flower beds and lots of bushes. He said he would pay me every time he needed the trimming service but I told him it would cost $30 unless he did it monthly and he agreed to it. I just hope he doesn’t come out of his house next week complaining about something else.

I also had another call me for an estimate. When I got to the property they said their previous gardeners charged them $20 per service and wanted to know if I could do the same. To which I replied ‘here is my bid let me know if you are interested.’ Gave them my card and left.”

A third business owner said “it sounds like you did the right thing. There will always be lawn care customers who constantly attempt to get you to lower your prices. I’ve always found it best to walk away and let them become someone else’s headache.”

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