My Horror Stories | Low Balled On A Driveway

When I was first starting, I got a call from a woman who asked me to clean her driveway that wrapped around in a U-shape. It was a large aggregate driveway and would take some time to clean as I had not gotten the top quality gear and I was still very inexperienced. Still, I was able to confidently provide her with a $400 quote over the phone. She agreed and we set a date.

I arrived on site and met with the customer. I unloaded my pressure washer, hoses, and other equipment from my vehicle. Once I was completely hooked up and ready to work, she wanted to discuss the price once more. "How much was the quote again?" she asked.

"$400 plus tax." I replied.

"Oh no. That's to much. How long will it take you to finish?" she asked.

"About 3-4 hours, ma'am" I said.

"I'm not going to pay you $100 an hour. I'll pay you $200. That's $50 an hour."

Stunned at the deceptive negotiating tactic, I recall being full of rage. Rage at the fact that she allowed me to get set up completely, take my time, and my gas to drive out, and THEN decided to talk about price. I had two options. Tell her where she could put that $200 and leave with nothing, or accept half of what I considered my value to be. I knew if I did the later I would begrudgingly complete the work, go home upset and stew in my defeat. That was not an option because when you accept too many defeats, it is easy to get burnt out. But was there a third option? I called my emotions with a deep breath, looked up to her and said, "Who usually takes care of your driveway?" 

"My husband or I usually do but we are getting too old." She replied.

I asked, "And when you or your husband do it, about how long does it usually take you?"

She contemplated, then said, "Usually a day or two to get it all done."

There it was. My value. I said, "I see. You are not paying me $400 for the 4 hours it would take me, but the 8-16 hours it is going to save you. I invest in time and money into training and equipment in order to make a 16 hour job turn into a 4 hour job. This way I can do more jobs. I shouldn’t be penalized for that investment."

She was taken aback by my words. Realizing the alternative to paying my $400 price would be a weekend of cleaning or an arduous bidding process with another contraction, she conceded to my price and allowed me to complete the work.

The moral of this story is don't let someone negotiate you our of what you need to provide the quality of life you want for you and your family. Don’t let someone talk you out of what you need to grow your business. Know your worth...then demand it.

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