A brief argument in favor of helping out the business down the street.

Hey Clippers! Dave Tucker here with a somewhat controversial topic: fraternizing with the enemy. To be more specific, we’re talking about whether you should educate your competition.

It may seem counterintuitive to give your competitors a helping hand. But some CLIP users believe sharing your wisdom—especially with the newer folks—can benefit the entire lawn care industry.

Here’s why.

New lawn care businesses are notorious for pricing too low.

Anyone who’s been in lawn care for a few years knows the curse of the brand-new business. Lots of newbies under-charge by a pretty hefty margin—and steal your loyal customers!

Of course, those guys usually figure out pretty quick that they need to raise their prices if they want to stay in business. And lots of your customers will come back when they realize you do better work. But some CLIP users think you can avoid this entire process by teaching the new guys a thing or two. When everyone is charging a fair price, then your customers can make decisions based on proximity. And you’re not stuck in constant pricing battles!

 

You might offer to take your new competitors out for lunch and get to know each other. Talk to them about job costing, piecework, and some of those other solid principles. I’d advise against giving specific prices for specific properties—you have to keep a few secrets! But if you can prove to them that people are willing to pay a fair price, they’ll raise their rates.

You can boost the professional reputation of the entire lawn care industry.

Lawn care is not a licensed industry. There’s no formal degree or training program or standard career path for the work we do. Plus, lots of people see lawn mowing as a job for high school kids. 

This means it’s up to us to earn the respect we deserve. We’re not just kids who cut grass. We are lawn care professionals.

It’s not your duty to educate your competition. But it’s easy to make a case for the benefits of doing so. In the words of one CLIP user: “If we could get all our ‘unprofessional competitors’ to act and charge more like professionals, everyone in our industry would benefit.”

Believe it or not, Theodore Roosevelt also had something to say on this subject: “Every man owes a part of his time and money to the business or industry in which he is engaged.  No man has a moral right to withhold his support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within his sphere.”

Choose your own teaching style.

If you do feel compelled to start sharing your wisdom with your competition, there are a few routes you might take. As I mentioned above, you can keep things casual with lunch or a coffee. Or you might go a step further. One CLIP user teams up with his local landscapers association to organize a conference every year. In his words, “I am a very involved person and do all I can to help others in the business get their act together.”

Now I’m not saying you have to start teaching classes or offering seminars. Only you can decide whether this is worth your time. I’m merely sharing what other lawn care veterans have to say on the matter. There are certainly plenty of them who have no interest in educating the competition. There are others who will only do it if the competition comes to them to ask. To each their own.

What’s your approach? Do you like to help out your fellow lawn care professionals? Or do you play your cards close to the vest?