Low Ballers, Part Timers, And Self Employed Landscapers.

When it comes to the lawn care industry, what makes a low baller? What is so bad about part timers? What about solo operators? Why does there seem to be so much said by the larger mowing companies about the smaller ones? That was the topic, from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, that we focused on in this discussion. Here are some of the opinions expressed on this topic.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I just wanted to get this off my chest. I have been hearing a lot, and I mean a lot, of complaining about all three of these types of people.

First, why are the bigger lawn care operations whining about part timers? Why is it such a crime to do this business part time? While I do agree that being legal is the right way to do it, I don’t understand how a part timer is less of a lawn care operator than anyone else.

Second what is with all the complaints about the low ballers? I can understand anger against those that are not running legal businesses, but aren’t these type of people useful to the economy? They keep us striving for excellence and push us to keep competitive prices. Without them to keep things in check, customers would not be able to differentiate our services because we would all be the same.

And third, to the people saying that if you are a solo operation, you do not own a business, you are just self employed. I call BS on this as well. As a solo operator myself, there may be services I might not be able to offer, but there are many that require a business license, have expenses associated with them, and require me to invest and potentially lose just as much as the big guys. So how is this not owning a business? I’m sure most bigger operations started out solo and grew later. But it seems this point is forgotten once they get larger.”

A second lawn care business owner agreed. “I had a similar discussion with a local competitor the other day and he has been running his company for a long time so.

When it comes to low balling, I do wonder if it is really low balling. You come to a new customer’s house with your commercial mower that costs you $12,000 with your $2,500 trailer. Let’s say the lawn is worth $65 to mow and you go ahead and start cutting the lawn. If I am down the street and I am mowing the neighbors house and the person’s lawn   you are mowing for $65 asks me what I would charge and I say since I’m in the neighborhood, I can price it at $55. Am I now considered a lowballer? Because that’s what happens.

There’s always somebody willing to do it for less. Are they lowballers because they don’t have all the toys? Overhead? Employees? I do this part time as I work a full time job. To establish yourself in this business, you can’t just quit your job and say I’m mowing lawns with zero clients. I have to build it up.”

A third added “when the economy is in a rough spot, more people are out of work and find themselves doing whatever they can to make a buck. Sometimes that includes taking care of properties.

In my area, the lowballing is getting out of hand. My area has so many landscapers that it is not unheard of to see at least 5 different mowing companies drive past you within a ten minute time frame. It’s insane! It seems anyone out of work says hey I will mow lawns for money.

I did an estimate the other day. The property owner asked me how much? I did the calculations and said $30 a week or $35 biweekly. He said I just got rid of my last guy who I was paying $20 a week but I didn’t like his work. I said well you have two options, you can hire  us for $30 a week or $35 for bi-weekly mowing and be happy with your lawn service. You’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing we are licensed and fully insured. Or you can go back inside and call up your previous company and pay him $20 a week to cut the lawn whenever he shows up.

He went with me.

Being professional, reliable, insured, and licensed has allowed me to get other customers as well. I have many commercial properties and any of the large ones make me more money than all my residential lawn care accounts combined. I spend less time at these larger commercial sites, make more profit, and don’t have to worry about getting into a price war with an 18 yr old running a start up. The start ups just can’t bid these bigger jobs.

It goes to show you there is a place for everyone. Your ultimate goal should be to make the most profit you can and to play the game by the rules. Get insurance to protect your assets. Get the proper licenses. Perform each job to the best of your abilities and your company will grow.”

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The GopherHaul Lawn Care Business Show Episode Guide.
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