My yardman: I’ve spoken of him here on DESIGNED before.
He’s honest, dependable, thorough, does quality work, is a really great salesman, and an absolute gentleman.
One thing I’ve learned from him:
Never drop your prices.
My first article about him...
It was about how he began his landscape maintenance business, and how it was the most expensive one here in my neighborhood. When I started using him, my neighbors all paid less for their to have their yards done.
However, when you want a job done right — and here, some 8-10 years later, my yardman is still doing it right — you begin to realize that quality, sans the headaches, is worth paying a premium for. And all my neighbors? They're using him now too.
Most recently, it all started with a lemon tree.
More specifically: MY lemon tree — the one that's been sitting there in a pot on my back patio, hardly growing or producing lemons.
You see, I’m crazy about lemons. Here at my house, we all are.
I’m a firm believer in the benefits of lemon water every morning (Google it to the reasons why); and, I try to remember to take it with me everywhere I go during the day.
My lemon tree has been planted firmly in its pot for about 8 years now. Despite having almost been around for almost a decade, it’s still a tiny little tree and will continue to stay that way because of the pot that it's in. This year it looks like it will give me five lemons that might actually ripen — and I say “might ripen” for good reason...
We have squirrels. And they love my tiny little tree’s tiny little lemons. Especially when they’re just starting out.
This presents a problem.
I’ve been around fruit trees long enough to know that you can’t keep squirrels away. You just have to let them have what they want, because, otherwise, you'll wind up fighting a losing battle. The only way to secure your turf is to have your numbers outnumber theirs.
So, for obvious reasons, I wanted to move my tiny little lemon tree from its tiny little pot and plant it in the wide-open ground so I could have tons of lemons anytime, like my friend / neighbor has. Unfortunately though, only a small amount of sunlight reaches my yard. (Lots of shade kinda comes with the territory when you live in a city named "The Woodlands". ;-)
Despite all the shade, I thought that one particular spot would be a perfect place to plant my lemon tree. So, I approached my yardman about pulling out my planter bed by just a bit so my lemon tree could be planted into a space where a little bit of sunlight happens to pour in.
So we talked things over...
I mentioned my tree. As we talked, he prompted me to consider other, larger projects needing to be done. (He's a really good prompter.) Now, I don't need much prompting. I’m pretty good at imagining new projects all my myself. (it’s kinda what I do for a living). Before long I was planning to...
Tear out a leaning tree; add a new pathway; remove some invasive plant material; trim some trees; mulch all the beds; and lay pavers on the side of my driveway so I don’t sprain my ankle every time I get out of my car.
That's quite a lot of work, isn't?
So what did he quote me to take care of everything?
More than I was planning on spending.
My husband was going to be pissed if I went forward with it. (It’s not like it would be the first time I would have upset him over something like this. ;-)
You see, my husband always wants to drive quoted prices lower, no matter what. That's his job — everyday he negotiates the spending of lots of money for work to be done and products and services to be bought. Oh, and he's an engineer, too. :-/
So, of course, he wanted to negotiate with our yardman.
Instead of coming down a bit on the price, he simply began cutting away projects we planned on doing.
And you know what? This I respect.
"You want to pay less? Then let’s do less."
Makes sense to me. This is how I work. This is how my contractors work. How else would you lower a price? Discount yourself out of a profitable job? Of course not.
I’m not one for cutting back on projects — I always want to do more.
So, when my yardman began slicing projects off our to do list instead of just lowering his price to do all of them, well, that didn’t really appeal to me. Not at all.
I understood where he was coming from. If a price must be lowered, then a project's scope must be minimized. Because, after all, if you’ve taken the time to consider all the factors and ramifications of someone’s project, you should know what needs to happen in order to keep it profitable. If you go below that line you've set for yourself, where’s the motivation to follow through with a job well done?
If someone wants something for less, they should be willing to reduce a project's scope or find someone who’s cheaper and has a lower overhead. No feelings should be hurt, no one should feel slighted. It’s just business.
Oh, and my lemon tree! I almost forgot. You wanna know what happened to my lemon tree?
It's planted right in the sun in the newly expanded bed. 5 lemons this year, next year many more! ;-)
Do I regret doing all my projects for the amount of money he originally quoted? No. And now that a week or so has passed....neither does my husband. ;-)
Best thing about this business advice? I didn't have to pay $1000 or $5000 to sit through a seminar or multiple webinars or listen to a bunch of unnecessary filler info I already know to get to this little golden nugget of a concept that was driven home to me perfectly.
It was right there in my own backyard.