Pricing lawn services
The worst feeling in the world, when your are in the lawn care industry, are the minutes just before a bid package is opened. You spend hours of time and effort measuring, talking, gathering data and product prices for a prospect to put a price together. As you wait for bids to be read aloud you anxiously look on at competitors bid envelopes, wondering what number they arrived at and how they go about pricing lawn services. Will their bids be so low it wasn’t even worth the time you spent on this project or so high you could have comfortably added another fifteen percent to your number? In lawncare price point is everything and only rare customers, especially commercial clients, care more about quality than pricing. How can you be sure you are on the same level as the competition.
The fishing method
Every spring I go through the same process of fishing a few competitors for their pricing model. While I believe in openness and helping competition when I can ( because we are all in the same boat and can teach each other many things), most competitors won’t simply provide you with their pricing structure. Some covert operations are required. Start by choosing your alias and the alias of your faux rental property company. You will also need a few houses of family members or close friends where you know the square footage and quirks of the property. With this information in hand call a competitor and explain that you own a few rental properties and would like some prices, because the lawns are looking shabby or whatever story you want to concoct, be creative. Explain that you need the prices asap but that you are only in the shopping phase and are not ready to commit. If you can avoid providing a phone number and ask to communicate through email, I usually say “until I am ready to buy I would rather not provide a phone number because years ago I made the same mistake with a contractor and their sales department harassed me for years”.
Once the quotes are provided you can call back and spend some time getting all of the details of their service, so that you are comparing apples to apples with your pricing, but take what they say or promise that is included in a program with a grain of salt, because some sales people exaggerate. Using the numbers provided you can reverse engineer the pricing model they are using. Occasionally you will get back a sporadic shotgun set of prices, disregard these prices they probably came from the dartboard method.
That’s it in a nutshell. Choose a few competitors and a few properties that you know very well, then call for quotes and see what shakes out. Implement this strategy annually to keep your quotes on par or use the newly acquired Intel to avoid wasting time competing with a competitor that is too low. Don’t become discouraged by a super low priced competitor, they’re usually never around for long, performing a terrible service or bleeding money. Also as a good practice always keep a record of any prices acquired from this method or from public bid openings to create a reference database for the future. Pay attention to the overall health of your competition and how it relates to their prices.
If you have any comments on how you price lawn services or questions, as always, you can comment below. Thanks for reading!