Do you have pet peeves about the different things new customers do when they call you? What about when they call and ask for an estimate but don’t tell you their address? Such callers can set into motion a chain of events that involves multiple phone calls back and forth until an address can be secured to get an estimate performed. If you have run into this situation in the past, here are some tips from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, on how to improve your voice mail setup to improve work flow.
One lawn care business owner wrote “pick an email, any email, or a voice mail for that matter…
Listen to the potential client ramble and tell you that it’s a ’small’ lot, or ‘I need help!’, and blah, blah, blah… ‘Oh, and I live in West Podunk, how much to cut my lawn?’
Can ANYONE give a STREET ADDRESS when they are ASKING for an ESTIMATE???!!!
SERIOUSLY. Would it be TOO MUCH to ask?
No. I gotta play phone tag and call them back and get an answering machine, which means that when THEY call ME back I’ll be running a mower and can’t HEAR the call. Then when I DO finally get the ADDRESS, I find out that I was just TWO FRICKIN BLOCKS away from it when they called the FIRST time and didn’t give a house number, OR street.
Of course I’m now TEN MILES away from them.
EVERY. FRICKIN. TIME.
People don’t realize that they are wasting valuable time by requiring additional calls/emails just to get the process started. Even yesterday morning I received a voicemail asking for an estimate in a specific part of town - but no street address given. Sigh.
I called back and (voicemail) indicated that if he could provide an address, I’d be happy to stop and take a look. I added that he could text me the address if that would be easier.
This EVENING, at around 7:30pm, I was out picking up annuals with my wife when he called and left another message. ‘Hi, I guess we’re playing phone tag - just wanted to talk to you to see if you can get my lawn cut. I have family coming on Saturday and it hasn’t been cut since last fall. I’m hoping you have some time in the next day or two to get it done before they arrive, give me a call.’
It’s WEDNESDAY NIGHT and you need it cut by SATURDAY, and you STILL don’t leave your address as is requested in my outgoing message (twice) AND the voicemail I left?
I was IN HIS AREA TODAY and could have stopped to look - IF he had provided an address!
Thursday and Friday are booked solid and we’re supposed to get rain. I have a wedding to go to on Saturday.
People make this harder than it needs to be.
You play phone tag and find out that if the people would have given an address the first time they called, you could have given them the quote while you were on the next street. NO! They call you with the info after you’ve driven 20 miles away.
I really have stopped MOST of it with a very pleasant, and clear, outgoing message on my voicemail, but a few still find their way through.”
A second lawn care business owner added “I have my voicemail set up that says leave a number, address and service required. They never listen! They also like to have some kind of weird out of state number so I cant even recognize where there calling from. I figure it’s spam and don’t answer but it’s a job lead. If I do answer its spam. Then when I do figure out where there calling from its 20 miles away from where I’m at but just was a hour ago.”
A third shared “I got a call today….
- Customer: How much do you charge for an average sized lawn.
- Me: The average price. ( seriously, i remembered this thread and responded with that.)
- Customer: Are you being a smartass?
- Me: No ma’am, I really have to look at the lawn.
- Customer: I won’t hold you to a price, just a ballpark figure.
- Me: $32 to $40 depending on various obstacles fencing.
- Customer: The last guy said $20.
- Me: Ask for insurance, and ask if he’s licensed as a business in the State.
- Customer: Oh I’m not stupid, I asked and he showed me insurance.
- Me: Ok ma’am, I can’t help you then. But I do give you the phone number to my insurance company and policy number so you can check any time you want to make sure my insurance is current so you know I didn’t just pay one payment and canceled so I have paper that says I’m insured. I also give you the number of the state licensing office with my license number. Please ask him for these things, and if he can give you these and he’s legit, call me next season when he’s out of business. Thank you for considering me, have a great weekend and a wonderful Mother’s Day.”
A fourth said “Ha! I’ve never had that much trouble getting an address, but I do completely understand. Maybe it’s the area I live in, but I get a lot less phone calls and more e-mails and texts. I guess people around here are more comfortable with their new technology and don’t want to talk on the phone, so I cater to that. Even in e-mails, some people just don’t want to give up on the address.
What really gets me is the people who won’t give you their address for ‘privacy reasons.’ Like they think someone wants to pretend to be a landscaper so they can rob you or something.
Sometimes they say ‘well here’s my zipcode and a intersection nearby, I don’t want to give my address out to too many people because I’m shopping for quotes.’ Again…nobody gives a **** if they know where you live.
Here’s a trick though, you guys can thank me later.
I don’t even go out for a physical estimate anymore (unless it’s REALLY local. Like within a mile or two of my current location). I do it all without seeing the property. Now, before you say ‘but what if!!!, I give them a price range. I say ‘I can come out an give you a firm estimate, or can I give you a price range over the phone if you’re shopping around.’ Of course they always choose that because it’s convenient.
I ask for lot size (which they never know), how often they want it cut, if it’s currently overgrown, if it’s a corner house. I tell them that I need their address to look up the lot size. So I take their address and put it into Google Maps and see where it is. ‘Oh, that’s close to where I have other lawns’ or ‘ew..that’s far away.’ I also take a look at the street view picture if it’s available.
Then, I type in Google their address and I get several websites telling me all about the house. Usually Zillow.com comes up. It is very useful. It tells me the lot size, price the house last sold for (so you can tell the richy-riches), when it last sold, mortgage estimate, etc etc. If it’s some house in a rich area, and they are paying like $3k/month mortgage, then I’m sure as hell going to charge them $40/cut when it would usually be a $35 lawn.
So I take the lot size and compare it. If the lot size is .17 acres, using other properties I already mow, I can estimate that it would take me 30-35 minutes to service a .17 acre lot. So I say ‘my price would be $35-45.’ That gives me a cushion if I go to mow it, and it’s got 2x as much trimming as I expected it.
ALSO, people LOVE it when you come in under estimate. When you say ‘$35-45′, they’re really expecting it to be $40-45, and if you say $35, they will think they just saved a ton of money.
This might be different for you guys in less populated areas. Zillow.com might have less info if you don’t live in a super-populated city like me.”
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.ā€¯