Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Compete on Price to Survive

I ran my landscape business during the boom of the 90's and I competed in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country: Chevy Chase Maryland and Upper Northwest DC, in and around the embassies.

When I did, I was a little guy with a beat up old 79 Ford F150, a 10 foot trailer, and one 36" ransom. A little guy could get work because the big guys were always "booked".

I competed based on the fact that I was available immediately. I quickly learned if you attempt to compete based on price, you're likely to get customers who want a low price even if you loose money.

If you solicit someone who already has a lawn service, why would she change from who they have to you? If the current contractor provided bad service you had a chance of getting your price. If you lowballed the price and they went for it, well they tended to turn out to be customers you didn't really want in the first place.

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So what I learned is to show up on someone's doorstep the week they moved in to a home they just bought. I searched the newspapers (this was before there was an internet) to find "homes bought in X". I wanted to be there right after they'd unpacked and before they'ed hired a contractor.

Well economic times have changed, wealthy people aren't as wealthy as they used to be. If you came across as a competent contractor that could do exactly what is currently being done and did for less... those wealthy people just might be looking to cut their expenses, you might have a shot.