7th bid

Daniel

Well-Known Member
I got a call from a client to come bid on removing a silver maple that I had pruned for her a couple years back.. That was part of a larger job that involved some pruning and removal in tight quarters, taking the fence apart to grind the stumps etc.. She was very happy with the work and we had a nice interaction and connection.. Her and her husband are house painters, and are somehwat struggling financially..

When I gave her the price, she said .."well......... you're not the cheapest", then she handed me 6 other written estimates... Prices ranged from 1,400-3,400 for the tree and from 185-550 for the stump. Getting to the stump is going to require them to remove a section of fence and their deck, and then putting the grinder on the remaining section of the deck to work, after hopping a 14" retaining wall.. There is a nice sized rock visibly embedded in the side of the 4'+ silver maple stump... She wants it ground deep enough to plant another trere, which is going to be 20" or more on a tree that size... That is a tricky stump to grind.

At 1,925, I was the third cheapest out of the 7 estimates, leaving 4 others that underbid me, BUT there were very few specifications in the lower bids.. the cheapest read simply "mplae tree $1,400"

Customer apologized a couple times and said she hates it when customers get a lot of bids. I told her that I didn't mind and if something like that bothers you, you need to be in another business, and I understood that she was in a tough position financially etc...
 

Tr33Climb3r

Well-Known Member
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Sounds like she has a good strategy.... hire the most desperate contractor. She'll get what she pays for.

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Yup...same for a guy that I said we have a minimum charge to get a limb off the wires that runs to their house. All I can say is it was a big tree and the limb drooped down to touch the wire. at $75 he said he could use his ladder and get it. All the power to him.

Daniel ever do payment plans?
 

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
Administrator
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at $75 he said he could use his ladder and get it. All the power to him.



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Casey,

Are you making a dark pun?
 

Daniel

Well-Known Member
Ya .. my cash flow is generally pretty good and I'll take payments over 30, 60, or 90 days if need be.. That can be an important advantage to the customer..

I took a good look at those other proposals.. seems like there are a few companies desperate for work, as I've heard it got real slow again for a lot of guys, due primarily to concerns with the economy.. Reading that price of $3400 put a big smile on my face.. now that's what I'm talkin' 'bout..
 

mdvaden

Well-Known Member
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Customer apologized a couple times and said she hates it when customers get a lot of bids. I told her that I didn't mind and if something like that bothers you, you need to be in another business, and I understood that she was in a tough position financially etc...

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For me, it's not a matter of "bother" or not. I just don't end up working for those kind of folks. Rarely are more than 2 bids needed.

3 bids, is often people following a generic formula spoon-fed from sources like brochures, news stories, etc.. 4 bids begins to become foolish. 7 bids better mean I never knew about it before I showed up. If I even hear "3 bids" when I'm on a site, I tell them they have sufficient estimates to make a decision already and excuse myself to the next location.

The first 3 companies to show up are basically "Schmoes". The rest become "Schmucks".

If the priority is mainly getting job sites, and not a rock-solid customer base, then someone may not agree with that.
 

Daniel

Well-Known Member
That's a good perspective Mario.. I was told a long time ago... "you don't want to get a reputation for doing big trees for cheap"... That was back in the stone age though.. Then came Rick's, a guy with 2 cranes, several 75' buckets, monster chippers, his own log truck, a yard with tub grinder etc. AND a huge advertising budget, and great marketing skills..

He single handedly reduced the price of big removals by 30%+ across the market.. We all had to find a way to compete, or perish.. I found a way to compete.. On certain jobs, I've beaten his prices and still made $100/man/hr.. other jobs I see his price and walk...

So on the right job, I can be competitive, even when the client gets multiple bids.. But not on every job.. Some of it depends on how much I like the job and the customer.. If I like the customer, then I'll be as flexible as possible... In this case I like the customer and know they are struggling financially.. Husband was in a car wreck (hit head on by a chemlawn (trugreen) truck).. He hasn't worked since October.. If we can get the crane in the neighbor's driveway we can still make $, without too much trouble (otherwise it's blind picks over the house with a slate roof)...

I started a job yesterday that the customer asked me to reduce my prices on the front yard trees to match or beat a competitive bid, before I found out my prices on the backyard trees were well below the other bid, more than the difference on the front yard trees.. I agreed, but asked to see it in writing... then saw the other proposal.. When I pointed out that my prices on the backyard trees were less than the other guy's, he said flat out, with no emotion, "I can always take your bid and get a lower price". He was right, he knew it and he knew that I knew it. I took the job at $3,800... I'll make between 75-100 man/hr.. and get back into the neighborhood, get referals etc..

Then last night I looked at another job. I really liked the client a lot.. Young guy, getting into property management, right in the heart of my turf.. seems like a good contact for a great working relationship. Priced the job at 2,025.. He seemed like he was OK wit the price, but didn't close the deal.. I asked if he had other prices and he pulled out 3 other bids.. 1,800, 2,550, and Bartlett at 4,600.. I'll do the job for 1,750 and still make close to $100/man/hr, becasue the job is perfect for my skills and equipment..

On the other hand I just walked from a job for one of my best friends.. I've been close to this guy for 30 years. Eaten Christmeas dinner with him etc.. He used to own a gas station.. I had 24/7 accesss to the shop with air/inventory etc.. Since he retired I did a lot of his work n/c.. Now he wants to get rid of a monster pin oak, backyard, all kinds of obstacles, limited access.. NASTY removal.. I figured 2,800 was takin care of him.. He got a price through someone he knows through church of 1,800.. I walked.. didn't want to do the job in the first place... its a beautiful tree..

Its not easy to walk in this economy.. Last year was rockin' and rollin' but this year, people got tight again.. Price of gas, fears about the economy.. Lot of guys are hurtin' right now.. Saw my neighbor (landscaper) out walking his dog mid-day yesterday.. Said he had nothing to do... never had nothing to do this time of year before..

In a good economy its easy to walk from a job... not now though..
 

Jeff_Cochran

Well-Known Member
was one of 16 bids for a $1000 tree. shakes head and walks off........ i love the "several people are giving me bids on this tree just leave yours in the mail box.....", me "maam, we only do business with clients we meet with in person to go over the estimate", them "thats fine just leave your estimate in the mailbox for me", me "no maam, you'll have to find another tree care provider"
 

mdvaden

Well-Known Member
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That's a good perspective Mario.. I was told a long time ago... "you don't want to get a reputation for doing big trees for cheap"... That was back in the stone age though.. Then came Rick's, a guy with 2 cranes, several 75' buckets, monster chippers, his own log truck, a yard with tub grinder etc. AND a huge advertising budget, and great marketing skills..

He single handedly reduced the price of big removals by 30%+ across the market..

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Somehow, I don't think "Rick's" single-handed though, would have got the average homeowner to move from 1, 2 or 3 bids, up to 5, 6 or 7 bids.

So "Rick's" is not exactly the facet I was writing about.

We've seen plenty of the Rick-Factor in this area, but never to the extent of causing sharp increases in numbers of estimates sought.

If folks like Rick don't compromise on quality, sometimes that's one of those transitions in the industry that may not be a bad one. At least not for the community.

Reminds me a little bit of Home Depot and Lowe's moving into this area, with some small hardware stores going out of business or moving. A lot of people like the transition. But most didn't shop at 3 times more stores for price comparison. The either went to Home Depot, or Ace Hardware, or both.

 

Riggs

Well-Known Member
Re: 7th bid

boo f=ing hoo , get wit it or get out of it . sun don't rise at ten ---------------> C YA .
 

Axman

New Member
The theme in this thread seems to be having the customer or potential client pull out a stack of written estimates and reveal who is bidding and at what price and see if they can get one contractor to play against another contractor based on price and see who can cut each others throat the deepest.

No one is going to win the race to the bottom if this practice continues by either matching prices based on someone elses overhead or by simply going $ 50 bucks lower just to get a job. I may be old school in this economy but the customer shouldn't be revealing what the "other " guy is bidding. The bids should stand or fall on their own merit and the customer should pick the one they feel they feel most comfortable with and how their short term business relationship will work out.

We have always had the high guy and the low cheap guy in this or any other business regardless of the economy. Both the high and the low guy will get their fair share of the market place. I think we need to sharpen our presentor skills when doing these estimates and become better marketors in this economy instead of seeing who is going to work the hardest for the least amount of money.
 

theXman

Well-Known Member
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Last year was rockin' and rollin' but this year, people got tight again..

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Daniel, I read your estimate stories and I think you giving in, dropping your prices and trying to beat other prices is why you think people don't have money.

It's because your client base you created, does not have money.

If you do work for cheap people, they will referr you to all of their cheap no good friends and you will be stuck always working for irritating cheap people.

I've been really trying to trim away any cheap, irritating or needy customers these past few years. I've got a lot more to go, but already, it's a little less stress and less time wasted.

Jobs are likely more fun and better money.
 

theXman

Well-Known Member
If someone tells me they have other estimates and acts like they want to show me. I ALWAYS say, I don't want to see it. You can show me after I write the estimate, I'm curious, but I don't want it to influence my price and I don't want you to think it influenced my price.
 

Jamin_Mayer

Well-Known Member
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at $75 he said he could use his ladder and get it. All the power to him.



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Casey,

Are you making a dark pun?


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LOL. I missed that.
 

Jamin_Mayer

Well-Known Member
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If someone tells me they have other estimates and acts like they want to show me. I ALWAYS say, I don't want to see it. You can show me after I write the estimate, I'm curious, but I don't want it to influence my price and I don't want you to think it influenced my price.

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I usually say the same... But haven't phrased it like that specifically.

I like how you said, you didn't want it to influence your price and you don't want them thinking it influenced your price. You hit the nail on the head David.

A tip I learned from my dad: He was in the seal-coating business for a while. Which, can be a cut-throat industry as well. He said his most valuable technique was to follow-up with bids.

I've seen the value in following up many ways; it can clarify a question the customer has, but never got back to ask. It can open discussion for matching a price or offering a winter discount. (Let's admit it, we need to sell work and if both of those are a way to sell work, then don't look down on it). Some people simply forget to call to book a job. The follow-up call can be a reminder. Follow-ups can also show that we are serious. It can also build customer "interface." --It means they hear your voice once again.

What I don't like is throwning out tons of bids, scheduling jobs, but not following up because I'm too busy and I'm scheduling jobs. This means that I'm loosing out on potential jobs and I'm not finding out the "why" of not landing jobs.

I'm sure y'all get the point...
 

Noel

Active Member
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If someone tells me they have other estimates and acts like they want to show me. I ALWAYS say, I don't want to see it. You can show me after I write the estimate, I'm curious, but I don't want it to influence my price and I don't want you to think it influenced my price.

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Agreed 100% David. I NEVER haggle on price. I just ask people why in the world would you trust me if I didn't give you my very best price right from the start. I don't do Senior discounts, Military discounts, etc. It costs me the same to do your work no matter how old you are or what your job is or was.
 

Daniel

Well-Known Member
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It's because your client base you created, does not have money.


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I did a lot of yellow pages advertising in the past, and had the # go through to voice mail... Talk about a way to attract price shoppers... Those days are over now, but the clientele still lingers.. That said, it worked to my favor in a way, as I had to find a way to be faster and more efficient, and I did..
 

Daniel

Well-Known Member
Re: 7th bid

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boo f=ing hoo , get wit it or get out of it . .

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wasn't complaining shorty.. I was braggin'
 

Daniel

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
If someone tells me they have other estimates and acts like they want to show me. I ALWAYS say, I don't want to see it. You can show me after I write the estimate, I'm curious, but I don't want it to influence my price and I don't want you to think it influenced my price.

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Was looking at a big ash in a tight LZ, in a high end neighborhood.. I asked if he had other estimates.. how many... "3".. Hold that and give me a minute here.. Now before I give you this price, I AM gonna tell you.. the price I AM gonna give will be higher than 2 and lower than 1.. Sure enough that's the way it went down.. I asked who gave him the low price and told him I thought the guy would do a good job, and he should take the bid.. If I know the company that underbid me has a bad reputation for doing hack pruning or bustin' up property, I'll let the customer know.. Otherwise I move on with out worry.

So it all depends. usually after advising a potential client about their trees, they want me to do the job.. If I want the job and can match or beat the price, and still do well, I will.

One of my first videos showed Pat Epps taking down 3 big tulips.. I brought that bid down to get the job, primarily because I thought it would make a nice video, showing what can be done with a good climber and ground crew working together...

Lot of guys hate Rick.. Owner of the chainsaw shop told me he had received death threats... I don't.. Its a free country, if you can do it cheaper.. then more power to you... That said, I'll tell potential customers not to let him prune trees.. All that money and resources and he's still making flush cuts, removing all the lower limbs on nice trees etc.. I've got pictures..
 

Jeff_Cochran

Well-Known Member
this past storm one of my ex customers had me and another tree service on the phone together for a bidding war wtf?! the job was nasty and the bid was high, but what are we selling t shirts, come on; really, a bidding war. i don't know what goes through some of these peoples minds i really don't. i'd like to bundle them up in the same stadium and ask them all the same question: what the f__k is wrong with you people?
 
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