A couple of weeks ago, after a very quiet summer, my phone started to receive a few enquiries. It appeared that the end of that long hot spell and the gardens springing back to life was making people go in search of new gardeners. It looked like the time to activate my plan of getting better paid jobs to replace those clients who had made it clear that a price rise was out of the question, had arrived at last.
Three of the enquiries were exactly what I was looking for-big gardens that required about a morning’s work a fortnight, all year. The first quote was easy. A site meeting and then I hand delivered the quote three days later. It looked very promising especially as they had hinted at a ballpark figure for the quote. Quote number two was similar, both going through directors of management committees and in both cases the current contractors had become complacent. Piece of cake, or so I thought.
The third enquiry was slightly different. A private house where the garden had become overwhelming after having moved in last year. Two days before the scheduled site meeting and a text arrived announcing that rather than using a professional a new and much more agreeable solution had been found. A family relative had offered to do their garden.
The second garden returned a “the directors have decided to stay with their current contractor” and the first quote is still out but looking increasingly unlikely as time goes on.
So what went wrong? My prices haven’t gone up that much and one of them backed out before even getting a price! I would have guessed undercut on the other two if I hadn’t been told on both of them that I was the only contractor asked to quote. Quality doubts then? Nope, all three were on recommendation.
All very baffling, or is it? Every day the headlines are talking about the economy and price rises in the future. People are nervous about the financial unknown. Change is a risk that prospective clients are not willing to take unless it represents a massive cost saving. Being close to the the current gardener’s price, even though you offer much better quality, is not enough to get them to pull the trigger on a change of contractor. Unfortunately, like a lot of gardeners, I’m not in a position to hand out big discounts to wealthy home owners just to calm their nerves. I fear that unless consumer confidence is restored it looks like it’s going to be a position of ‘no change’ for a lot of businesses for the foreseeable future.