Every day we are tempted with performing a substandard job for sub standard money. Lawn care customers love to play your price off of competitors in hopes of getting the cheapest job possible. Selling them on quality though and not price should be the path to take. As we will see in this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, you can never go wrong with performing a quality job. But you stand to lose a lot when you try to compete on price.
A lawn care customer of mine has eight fruit trees she wants pruned. I quoted her at $35.00 per tree. She said she got quotes for as low as $20.00 per tree. I do a good job and think $35 dollars to prune each tree is not bad. They are not huge and not too over grown but will need work done.
Normally I would price them at about $1 per minute per tree. I figured each tree would take me about an hour. On top of that, I was giving her a deal because she told me, she would hire me for this job if I could give her a good deal on the trees as I already cut her lawn.
$35 for an hour was cheap but she wasn’t having it, so I explained to her that I was planning on properly trimming her fruit trees and not just shaping them. I was going to remove all the crossed, crowded, dead, and diseased branches on the fruit trees and if she just wanted them shaped like bushes I could see why others would have a lower price. I doubt the other companies can do a great fruit tree prune for $20 a tree. I told her I understood her wanting the best price. Then I told her to please consider me for any future projects. I didn’t even add dump fees to the cost of the pruning job as I was going to chip them and use them for mulch at my house.
A lot of times if I have nothing going on, I will work for a bit cheaper. I find it can help get you more work in the future. However, if I am slammed with work then I don’t have to negotiate on price. It’s nice to help out once in a while especially with a nice older lady. You want to think she’s probably not looking to rip you off, she is most likely on a fixed income.
Then I take a step back and look at her property. I can’t go along with the fixed income defense for her. She has a custom home that was built to mimic a french mansion in the country side. It has a spectacular English hedge along the front and so on. I guess there is a reason why she lives in such a nice house. She knows how to spend the absolute bare minimum when she doesn’t care about quality.
On such jobs, I like to take my time and really do a quality job. I tried to point out to her the difference between a quality pruning job and a quick shaping job. If she isn’t concerned about quality for such a job she will not be interested in paying more. I also know if I do it on the cheap, I will be setting myself up for ‘on the cheap’ always with her.
You can’t win every job but you can do your best to sell quality. It is very possible in the near future, she finds the tree work the competitor has done, not to her liking and sees I was in fact trying to steer her in the proper direction. If I would have taken the tree pruning work and done a hack job at it, I stood to lose her not only as a tree pruning customer but as a lawn care customer as well and I am certain, everyone she knew would hear about how I mangled her prized fruit trees.
I might have lost a small tree job because of my price, but I did uphold the level of quality I perform on each and every job. I still have her as a lawn care customer because she can appreciate a quality lawn mowing and there always is a chance to get future work from her. The moment I lower my quality standards is the moment my business begins to lose it’s competitive advantage and I become just like everyone else.”