Fake calling your competition

years ago when i first started out I was unsure of what pricing was standard for window/power washing in my region.
So I decided to call my local competition and fake being a potential customer so that I could get their pricing.

The first company I called was a secretary at a desk and she was polite, she asked about what services I needed and the general layout of my property to be cleaned, she gave me all the info I needed and I dont think she suspected anything. She gave me ball park prices but ultimately one of the techs needed to confirm the pricing on-site.

Called a second company which seemed like a small one and the owner answered, he was polite at first but after a few seconds he could tell that something was fishy so he slowly got defensive and slowly ended the call.

Called a third company, this owner had a deep voice and I could tell he was sort of a alpha male personality, he cut straight to the chase and asked direct questions that could weed out a fake or real customer, I was caught off guard and started to cover one lie with another.

not proud of what I did but it was necessary to get me started in some direction. lots of other contractors do the same thing so I dont feel bad at all. Now that Im a seasoned contractor I will get one or two of those calls a year.

Last week a gentleman called me to give him a quote of power washing his house, I asked if he was the owner he said “no im renting” (red flag) based on the questions I continued to ask him I easily screened him out to be fishing for prices and not a serious potential client. After getting his full name and hanging up I googled his phone number and found his company on the internet he was a masonry contractor and I can only guess he was going to power wash one of his clients house and wanted to know how much to charge and what chemicals us professional power washers use. lol

its all part of the game, lol. gotta respect the hustle

anyone got stories like this?

I did the same thing when I started my company 10 years ago. I called 2 local window cleaning companies to get an estimate. Neither company called me back. So I had to make up prices and see how people responded. LOL
I decided to start off charging $8 per double hung. Turned out to be a good starting price

Ive always had the best luck just tell em who you are and ask em, if they want to know why say ur just checking as to not mess up the market for everyone

No. I’ve never done it.
Wasting peoples time is a shitbag thing to do.

Or maybe I just don’t have the “liar gene” in my DNA.

Any contractor can just google their market market price & it will get you in the the ball park of where you need to be.

Phone calls are one thing, but people with the balls to actually have you go out and do an estimate in person is even worse.

Nope. No way. Never have. I know others have done it to me. I would not insult someone else like that.

Its been done to me a few times, one in particular is someone I know.

I wouldnt do it. Luckily, when I got into resi I had a good idea of what to charge because of this forum right here.

I use to have someone call me often for info and I would tell him I need to see it. So I stored his number in my phone under “info hotline” and that’s how I’d answer. He stopped calling after that.

not really

I agree with everyone. I would be highly upset if someone was calling to just get a price. And then go out and start a window cleaning company. All I wanted was a ball park price in the beginning. I left messages at 2 companies and neither called me back

I don’t believe in wasting people’s time either. Our time is very valuable!

Its a move done by people who are really really clueless about the market and the trade, as I was when I first started out. I never picked up a squeegie or power washer when i decided to advertise myself as a window cleaner, all I knew is that I needed money and the learning curb would be fast to be a window cleaner. Boy was I wrong, im still learning stuff about this trade, but the startup was simple enough.

Chris were you working for someone before deciding to go out on your own? in that case and for most of you guys in here you already have a sense of pricing because of previous experience.

Indeed I did. In 99 I worked for my buddy’s company on Nantucket, then in 2005 i worked for Fish. I lasted a few weeks there before I started my own little Bucket Bob outfit (charging similar prices to Fish). It wasnt til i start Triple C that I really dug into the pricing aspect here and pushed the envelope.

The last employer was so hung up on one of his competitors that they called another company and hired them to clean their office managers carpets so they could learn as much about them as possible.

ha, that’s pretty hung up

maybe im one of the only guys in this forum that thinks awkwardly or maybe im just the only one talking but this is a good idea and i wouldnt be surprised if bigger corporations do the same thing when studying their own markets.

keep your friends close, but keep your enemys closer.

i usually shoot out random stuff if i get wind its a fellow windie calling me . such as the doors are a £££££ price but the windows are free if its wednesday . shame youre calling thursday

big corporations in other industries do indeed do stuff like this, even going so far as to do market research to find out why consumers like that particular product. many corporations also do reverse engineering in an attempt to gain some type of competitive edge.
when it comes to market share, many corporations will stop at nothing to gain some insight on the competition.

sun Tzu said it best: “It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.”

My beginning month - guilty as charged… Called probably 3 companies - including Fish… Then I realized all I needed was right here on WCR.

Now, I don’t really care if someone wants to know my prices, in fact I advertise them in the hopes that my super lowball competitors will think that they could raise their prices by 20% and still able to undercut me by 25%. Shoot I’ll tell anyone who wants to hear - competitor or not…

If I can get a competitor to raise prices just X%… That means that the publics minimum expectation is X% closer to my price - which makes it easier to sell them on the difference.

Now… My goal is to end up with one of the best quality / top service companys in my area - and having just about the highest price the market will bear… So while I am growing my main concern is to be about a buck or two behind the big dogs here until I feel my quality and service can justify charging the absolute top $.

Jolly Roger Window Cleaning / Pricing