If you’re a small business, it’s often hard to avoid competing on price. Perhaps you’re afraid to lose a prospect or worse a client to a lower-priced competitor. Or you’re looking to get established in a new market. Or you want to make sure you keep your guys working all season long. Whatever the reason, competing on price is a loser’s game.
So how do you avoid competing on price? Develop a compelling story around why you are providing a unique landscaping service at the investment level you’ve established and sell that story. There are actually several benefits to this approach – you get the chance to build a unique brand that sets you apart from the competition and that uniqueness enables you to establish a fair price without having to engage in price wars with the generic, me-too landscaping services. If you’re having a little trouble coming up with your unique selling points, think back to why you got into the landscaping business in the first place. Everyone has a “point of entry” – a unique set of circumstances, opportunities, dreams, or goals -- that finally convinced them to take the plunge and start a landscaping company. Whatever that was for you, reconnect with it, turn it into a marketing message about what makes you different and start spreading the word.
For me, it was all about reconnecting with nature. There have been all kinds of studies about how exposure to nature recharges people’s inner batteries, boosts creativity, and reduces stress. Personally, I found that working in a natural environment was like plugging in an electrical extension cord – nature was, and still is, an energy source for me. I found I was able to convey that feeling and awaken that same sense of excitement in clients. As a result, I was able to build my business on producing exciting results, not on low price.
That doesn’t mean that money never enters into the discussion. Of course it does. It has to in order to get a contract in play. But the conversation does not have to start with price. In fact, you should strike the word “PRICE” from your vocabulary all together. Talking price is a sure-fire losing proposition because then you’ve put yourself in a league with all the other landscape services. You never want to put yourself in the position of feeling the need to say, “Yes, I can provide that service for less.”
Instead, create a completely different scenario in which you’re painting an entirely different picture of the services you offer and the value to the client. This enables you to communicate in such a way that when the client is talking with you, that conversation is uniquely yours and one you wouldn’t hear with any other landscaping contractor. And, when the time comes to talk about money, you will discuss the “INVESTMENT” not the price.
Now that you’ve established your unique selling proposition, and set the investment level, you can seal the deal by demonstrating to the client that you understand their specific landscaping “pain” (for example, they’re trying to create a particular hardscape in a difficult area, or they’re having trouble establishing a sustainable lawn) and that you have the perfect “cure” for their pain. By communicating your understanding of the problem they face and conveying your expertise and experience with it, you’re predisposing them to work with you and setting the value of that relationship far above the price which often becomes secondary.
If, at that point, however, the investment level to work with you becomes an issue for the prospect and you find yourself left with no option but to compete on price, often the better decision is to walk away and not establish a low bar for yourself. Once you go down the low-price road, it’s hard to come back. Better to pass on it than accept the work at a lower price and resent it.