New lawn care business owners tend to enter the market by bidding their jobs lower than others. This may work at times but as you grow, you will see problems with this lawn care marketing attack plan. The first problem is that you may be losing money on the work you are doing or just barely breaking even. The second problem is that you are most likely attracting cheap lawn care customers who only want cheap service. Cheap customers tend to not want any upsells and they are usually your biggest complainers.
As you try to apply this concept to commercial property maintenance there is a tendency to exacerbate the problem. Larger properties will bring larger estimate amounts. However, you may find yourself so fixated on the dollar value of the bid that you fail to calculate your actual costs. You may also find yourself buying larger commercial equipment and then having to hire a staff. This has brought on the ruin of many a lawn care business.
Some commercial property managers know this is a problem and they hate signing up a lawn care maintenance company at the beginning of the year only to have them go out of business half way through the year. They also won’t go simply with the lowest bid, because they want quality work.
Marcus wrote us on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum. “My name is Marcus and I’m new at this so I didn’t think it would be this hard to get my lawn care business started. I get lots of calls for estimates but I never get any.”
Steve: “What kinds of jobs are you getting called for?”
Keith: “It’s good that you are getting lots of calls. Your advertising must be working.
What are your customer’s reactions when you give estimates? Is your price too high or do they say they will think about it and just never call you back?
There are many steps in professional and effective lawn care estimating.
I will list two ideas.
1) Sell quality. Don’t let potential customers pick someone else simply because your bid is a few dollars higher. Let them know that you do quality work and that you are dependable. Take your potential customers for tours of their lawns as you give estimates. Point out areas that you will pay attention too and show them how you can make a dramatic improvement in their yard.
2) Be ready to work immediately. I have found when doing estimates if I have my equipment with me and I can work immediately they often say “go ahead” right away. Once they see a quality job they almost always sign on as regular customers.
Knowing and following all the steps will greatly increase your acceptance ratio.”
Marcus: “The jobs are luxury condos the normal price is $80 to $85 dollars a month on each unit. I bid $70 a month.
The condo property maintenance is handled by a condo association and they range from 24 units to 36 units. The way I found out it was $80 to $85 a unit is by asking some guys that have been maintaining the property for years. They condo association has told me they received cheaper estimates but then they said (we go for the best service not the best price.) That’s what they say and then end up not giving me work.”
So remember, start small, scale up step by step. Build profits and gain an understanding of what you need to charge to make a profit. Only make the jump to commercial properties once you have a firm understanding of how to run your business based on servicing residential properties.