Wealthy lawn care customers are unique creatures. They are more capable of paying bigger bucks for mowing their larger properties and will look to be sure they are getting high quality service in return. They will also look for confidence from their service providers. As we will see in this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, if you give wealthy customers a reason to doubt you, you probably won’t be around for long.
One new lawn care business owner wrote “so here is the deal, this new lawn care customer calls me about a month and a half ago for an estimate. It’s the first multi-million dollar house bid I have had. The property had well above the average amount of trees to maintain. So I bid the job a little high. I did this because I usually tend to underbid jobs and I especially didn’t want to lose money on this one due to the size of it. Well after submitting the bid, the owner told me I was only a little more than most of the other bids.
I really felt after talking to her that I had her sold on myself (solo for now) and my company. She said she would call after she talked the bid over with her husband. A week went by (usually I call 2 business days after I submit a bid), but I figured I may have been a little too honest with her, saying this house was the largest I ever bid on to maintain so I was concerned I might have said too much.
A week later, I finally built up the courage to call her back. During the call, she said her husband decided he was going to do the work himself but if he couldn’t follow through, they would be calling me. She sounded like she had little faith in her husband. I then took a long shot and decided to lower my price and see if that would work. I told her a new reduced price for her mowing and felt the price would be on her lower end and that she would be more comfortable with the price. But even with that, she still couldn’t give me the go ahead.
So week 3 rolls later, I get a call from her telling me to set up a time for the first mowing service.
On the day, I go do the job and ask if she can pay per cut until the beginning of month. She agrees and pays the normal price for mowing, even though the grass was over grown from at least the past 3 weeks. Anyway, I let that slide since this is a cash customer.
The second week I take care of some leaves that and do a little more clean up from the week before. She is still paying the same regular mowing price but I don’t mind as I am trying to impress them.
So then, this last week I get a call an hour before I’m due to show up and mow and she says my service is no longer required. I still show up and go talk to her. Basically she says that her yard is just too big for me to handle by myself for the quality they want. I was stunned! I’m like you didn’t give me a chance to get your yard to were it’s supposed to be. You let it sit for 3 weeks before you handed it to me. I told her I should have charged her a clean up fee initially for the overgrown grass and weeds, ie. She just gave me this look like she didn’t want to talk anymore so I told her have a nice day and walked away.
I keep telling myself it’s not my fault but in the interest of avoiding this mistake again, I do wonder if I had put myself in this spot by telling her, this was my biggest yard to mow yet. And for not charging her more to clean up her yard in the first place.
Sigh I do great work and yet this happens…. Did I just mess up in my sales presentation or what?”
If I can point out anything from your write-up, it’s that you weren’t confident enough in the first price you gave your customer. Your eagerness to drop your price is admirable. However, in this situation, it may have opened the door for your customer to take advantage of you.
Confidence in your own pricing is paramount. If your customers know you are flexible in your pricing, they will work you down on every price you give and subsequently demand more work from you.
Experience will help you build confidence. Don’t let this one customer cause you to lose confidence in your pricing and your abilities.”
A third business owner said “we now have quite a few of these multi million dollar homes/properties and private communities that we mow for.
I agree you should have gone in with one price and stuck to it. In this situation I would have advised you to hire a helper or two when you showed up, if only for show. I never tell lawn care clients this is the biggest we have done. Instead I come across as if it’s not an issue to do their work. Confidence is critical.
I am fortunate in that I have 20 years of experience dealing with the very rich. They are a class of their own. I know how to talk, dress, expectations and the list goes on. I will send a lot more staff and equipment required for a job to richer properties because I have it. They also like to show off what they own, so I play the game and do the same.
In your case chalk it up as a learning experience and move on. There are a lot of fish in the sea and more will come along. But when they do, remember what went wrong this time and move forward.
I insist my lawn care employees wear company golf shirts, no T shirts on certain pricier sites. It might sound corny but I raise the bar way higher than others in the area at all costs. Certain lawn care contracts will pay very big bucks, they pay on time so I treat them special and put on a show.”
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