What do I do about all these lowballers?

No matter what industry you are in, there will always be a percentage of business owners who feel the best way to grow their business is to advertise the cheapest rate. The lawn care industry is no different. As we will see in this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, there are alternatives to going the cheap route when you are getting started. A few of these suggestions might make the difference between your mowing business making it through it’s first year or not.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I am having a huge problem. Let me tell you the whole story, maybe then someone can tell me what I have done wrong.

I did all my math and even had some mowing companies come bid my own yard. I found the highest mowing bid to be $45, offering mowing, weed eating, edge, and blow off and the cheapest being $25 offering only mow and weed eat. So I went with about $35 a yard offering the same as the $45 company did, which I found to be the average price. I then went and ordered business cards, lawn signs, banners, T Shirts, website and flyers. I hit the streets passing out a couple hundred flyers a day and a couple hundred business cards a day for weeks. Next I started using Craigslist and hung up all of my yard signs on busy corners around town. In the first month in April I got 2 calls. I bid both and got 1 of them.

My first time mowing for that customer another lawn care company drove by, then came back, stopped went to the door, and offered the same service I was doing for $15. I was asked if I could beat that. I lost the job to the $15 bid. From then on I have had no calls from anything I try. I even wear my shirt everywhere I go lol.

Almost every post on craigslist is around $10-$20. How do I even begin to get jobs with that kind of low ball pricing around? It’s now June and I’ve had 2 phone calls so far this year.

However, I got a call from a property preservation company today that said they had 52 yards to bid and 11 landscape projects. Maybe that is finally my big opportunity.”

A second lawn care business owner responded “my first piece of advice is to hang in there. I have had some good luck with Craigslist but it takes multiple postings per day and be VERY specific about location (learned that one the hard way). The trick is to post it a couple of times during the day (maybe in the afternoon and then again in the early evening-maybe after 7). This way you will catch folks who are browsing at different times during the day and you don’t get lost in the shuffle. And just because someone calls you, doesn’t mean you have to take the job.

But I’ll tell you something that has worked well for me is Facebook. I have one neighborhood that has a page for the neighborhood to stay in touch on and I was able to get some folks to promote my services on there and I picked up a bunch of lawns over there. As far as price, I won’t drop my trailer gate for less than $30 and that’s a small yard with almost no obstacles.”

A third added “you have to specialize in something the average Joe can’t do. This is why I don’t advertise being cheap. If they want that, get the guy with a push mower working for beer.

I found the cheapest and worst customers come from Craigslist. Some landscapers swear by it, but I have the pictures to prove otherwise. These guys want you to cut a foot of grass for less then the price of a well kept yard.

This week, I gave 5 lawn mowing quotes in 2 days. I only got 1 of them. A customer said, me and 2 others were all within $20 and 1 more guy is coming. So homeowners are getting a lot of bids for every job. Then the lowballer gets a chance to do it for half.

You can’t do anything about lowballers. If you join them, you beat yourself. You’ll find most the lowballers are doing just lawn mowing. They can’t afford to offer snow removal or anything that involves heavy equipment.

I did a commercial bid last week that was being serviced by the cleaning guy. The property was so far gone that it would’ve taken about $1,500 just to get it looking right again. I gave the guy options on ways we could knock the price down but he didn’t bite. I drove by the place yesterday and it hasn’t been touched. I guess they went the cheap route again!”

A fourth shared “my experience has been that craigslist = scam. Property preservation managers = cut lawns for two months before you finally realize you’ve been working for free.

I used craigslist starting out and got a few really cheap customers that the only good thing that came out of it is that now I am in a neighborhood and picked up more work.

Instead try going door to door and talk to people. I get a lot of hedge trimming jobs, even if they do their own lawn or ‘love their lawn guy’ so much that they won’t even consider letting you bid their lawn then they might let you do the hedges (this has happened to me a time or two, at least)

Tell people upfront you have a minimum $35 fee to even come out to a property due to being a licensed and insured business that pays the same price for gas as everyone else. If they can’t understand that and want a $15 guy then forget them, go find more estimates elsewhere.”

Read more about Lawn Care Business Bidding Tips, Upsells, And Disasters To Avoid. Learn how to improve your bidding process with this lawn care business book and be prepared before hand by knowing what you should be looking out for before a problem occurs.ā€¯

If you need help estimating lawn care or snow plowing jobs, get these lawn care and snow plowing estimation calculators.

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Lawn Care Business Books And Software.
How To Get Lawn Care Customers Vol. 2
The landscaping and lawn care business plan startup guide
A rebellious teenagers guide to starting a landscaping & lawn care business
The GopherHaul Lawn Care Business Show Episode Guide.
Stop Lowballing! A Lawn Care Business Owner\'s Guide To Success