Trying to determine what potential customer is going to be a problem when you are new to business is tough to do. You may think you know all the warning signs and you may even act on them, but as we will see from this discussion on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, your preconceptions may be deceiving you. In fact, you might be off by a long shot.
One lawn care business owner wrote “this is basically how my first season started and worked out. I began the season by working for my lawn care mentor on Mon, Wed, Fri and mowing my lawns on Tues and Thurs.
I handed out my business cards to as many people as I could. Some were in stores, some to people that stopped while I was mowing a customer, which reminds me I need to get a card business card holder for my truck soon, some to neighbors of current customers, and some to people that complained their lawn guy hadn’t shown up the day they scheduled for weeks in a row. One customer I signed told me his arthritis was worse this year and he was giving up mowing his own lawn, so he called me from a flyer I handed out in my neighborhood. He told me his neighbor was going to see how I did and if he approved of the job I did, then he’d hire me as well. I got that job too.
I’ve lost a few bids to other companies, won a few…I’ve even won 2 bids when I bid higher, because I felt like I was just too busy to fit in any more work. At the end of the year I established 15 mowing accounts. I started the season with 5 quick customers I had from snow removal services over the winter.
Working for another company taught me how much negative customers could effect my desire to mow lawns. Because of previous experiences, I’ve kept my eyes out for future problem customers and I turned down a bunch of potential pain in the ass customers before they could get started. One that stood out never gave me the go ahead for mowing earlier in the season. I did snow removal for her and she said she’d let me know about mowing. I called repeatedly, but without a yes, I didn’t mow. The 5th time I called her, I left a message telling her I have clients saying yes and I can no longer fit her in my schedule on a ‘maybe.’ Another customer wanted me to cut lawn, but only when she called me. She said she would do so when she didn’t feel like it or got too busy. I politely said I’m not an on call service, I had a schedule that I needed to adhere to and said no. I don’t have time for nonsense.”
A second lawn care business owner said “I had taken on a few ‘as needed’ clients last season. One was cool because they were near another client that really wasn’t close to any of my other jobs, so I was happy to grab a few extra dollars here and there. He moved and asked about having me mow his new place. I knew that he wasn’t interested in keeping a pristine lawn, so I asked if he’d like to be put on a biweekly mowing schedule. At first, he didn’t want to commit - he ‘wanted to see how fast the grass grew’. I explained that I can’t stretch cuts out past 2 weeks as I need to keep on a schedule. He then relented and agreed to biweekly.
Over the past couple of years I have learned to try and make the sale before I just dump the potential customer from the start. You never know until you try. Whether it is making upsells to existing customers or trying to sell weekly service to initial bi-weekly clients. It just never hurts to try and upgrade them.
From my experiences, you will surprise yourself time and time again when it comes to who is going to be a good customer and who is going to be a problem. That one customer who’s yard is a rat hole and drives a piece of crap car, may pay you a nice weekly price for mowing and not miss a payment. Where you may have a family in a big expensive looking house with fancy cars that are always late on payments or becomes delinquent quickly.
As you move further ahead in your business growth, you may get to the point where you simply avoid all payment issues by billing in advance. No pre-pay? No lawn mowing. Period, simple. Even with that though, you still need to sell first.”
Read more about Lawn Care Business Bidding Tips, Upsells, And Disasters To Avoid. Learn how to improve your bidding process with this book and be prepared before hand by knowing what you should be looking out for before a problem occurs.