The Cost of “Free”

Your time is worth $0 – and other myths I heard at GIE 2015.

Well it’s been almost a week since we left this year’s GIE+EXPO, and we’re still buzzing from the show. It’s great to talk face to face with our customers, and we always love the chance to give a green industry pro their first look at Go iLawn.

We took away a lot of great insight from GIE 2015 and even made some news ourselves with the release of our new software. Check out our new parcel map overlay and the new map rotation feature when you get a chance!

The best thing about GIE… The People

We talked to lots of people who love our product and use it every day, and we talked to others who had never heard of us until they walked up to our booth. And we talked to several people from one group that still surprises me: people who know about Go iLawn and still don’t use it.

When I asked these people what they use now, they are all over the board. Some said they physically walk each property, while some said they use free satellite imagery or lot map sites. And the most common reason they give for not using us: … cost.

The Value of Cost

I get it that many of our customers are very cost conscious, but the fact is that for most customers, Go iLawn would actually save them money on site visits alone. We wrote a story about this recently, and one customer I met at GIE told me site visits cost his company $100 each. A $3 Go iLawn lookup seems like a bargain in comparison.

But the big challenge for us and our customers is visibility of cost. The “Cost” of getting Go iLawn is something a business can see on their credit card statement. And I’ve met customers who seem to measure each property lookup by the pain of what it cost rather than by the opportunity for winning new business.

I don’t know what it costs me, so it must be Free

Yes, it’s easy to see what you pay to use us, and it can be more difficult to measure what we save you. Frankly, many businesses, especially small ones, don’t have enough insight into the real costs of doing business to accurately calculate what we save them. They don’t know what it’s worth when we save them one production hour or one trip to a customer site. So there’s no way they can calculate what they gain through greater productivity, reduced indirect labor costs or increased operational efficiency.

Sometimes, I think the cost objection is just a convenient way to disguise their resistance to change or discomfort with technology, I’ve worked in big business, where every cost is measured and every job is optimized for productivity, so I’m amazed by some of the basic visibility problems small business operators have about their costs.

The Bottom Line

But I’ll tell everyone this with complete confidence… if a Go iLawn lookup saves your company a trip to a customer site or saves you even 10 minutes of measuring, estimating, selling, or execution time, you made money by using it.

As our CEO Mike Rorie always tells me… “This is EASY. It’s a no-brainer for the people who get it”. But I’m amazed by how many people still don’t get it.

An Example

One GIE conversation went like this:

  • Me: Do you use Go iLawn?
  • Lawncare Pro – No, Go iLawn is too expensive.
  • Me: Really? So how do you estimate now?
  • Lawncare Pro – I go onsite and walk the perimeter of the lawn with my Garmin, then it gives me a size.
  • Me: So it gives you the whole lot size?
  • Lawncare Pro – No, I walk the outside edge, then the edges of the house and the driveway.
  • Me: OK, so how long does that take you?
  • Lawncare Pro – Oh only a few minutes, and it’s free.


Sure using a GPS unit to calculate areas is probably better than using a wheel and a calculator. But does this guy’s extra time onsite cost nothing? How about his travel time between sites? What about the costs in fuel, wear & tear, and depreciation on his vehicle? And I bet that GPS unit and its updates aren’t free.

So when someone tells me they do all their estimating by walking a property, I want to tell them they’re missing out on a chance to save themselves time, effort, and, ultimately, money. There are companies out there that may never ‘get it’, but the ones that do can reduce their costs with Go iLawn and Go iPave.

You can measure a property by walking it, just like  you can load a dumptruck with a shovel. But that doesn’t make it a good idea.

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