Beware of the Client Who Promises You Future Work to get a Deal Today.
For those of you who are too young to remember this quote, it is from the cartoon “Popeye the Sailor Man”. One particular character, “Wimpy”, would often utter this phrase. You see “Wimpy” (actually Wimpy J. Wellington for you nostalgia buffs) consumed an extraordinary amount of hamburgers daily, but somehow never had the money to pay for them. In each episode he would find some poor sucker to help him out and cover his costs. His strategy was simple yet highly effective. He would say to the unknowing victim, – “I’ll gladly repay you Tuesday, for a hamburger today”. Tuesday is never that far away and he seemed like a nice enough guy, so the other characters typically fell for it (usually Popeye). Somehow, Tuesday never came and repayment was never made.
So why am I writing about this? Because if you’ve been in business long enough you have certainly had your share of “Wimpy’s”. He looks different every time so you need to be alert. Your Wimpy could be a builder, a subcontractor or a homeowner. He can even be a “she” and quite often is. Although they aren’t discussing hamburgers their motives are still the same – to take advantage of you and get “something for nothing”.
Landscape design/build Wimpy’s will typically say things like, “Hey give me a good deal on phase 1 and I will give you a lot more work”. Or, “I’ll see how you do on my house and then get you the other houses that I am building”. Or my all time favorite, “Everybody in this development uses the contractors I recommend so you better give me a good price”.
So the next time you meet Wimpy, and you will, I want you to be prepared. Go ahead and offer him some sort of deal, but only after the he has provided you with referral work, not before. Either you’ll call his bluff and save yourself months of aggravation or take advantage of the situation and secure future install work. No matter what happens, at least you’re not worrying about getting paid on Tuesday for a hamburger today.
If only Popeye would have learned his lesson, he could have dined on something better than just spinach.
Jody Shilan is a former landscape contractor and award winning designer. He has sold tens of millions of dollars of installation work throughout his career and now uses his 30+ years of experience to teach other landscape design/build contractors how to dramatically increase their sales and standardize their landscape design/build/sales process. He does this through private consulting, public speaking, group workshops and his “exclusive” members only website www.FromDesign2Build.com.
Jody Shilan appears as a guest blogger for LMN Blog, Landscape Management Network’s resource hub for all things related to building a better landscape business. For more on the Landscape Management Network, check out the website at www.landscapemanagementnetwork.com.