PDA

View Full Version : Business is Good


CHEESE2009
08-23-2011, 02:34 PM
Business isn't great, I'm at the point I'm just preparing for winter - not interested in gaining more clients because of how late in the season in it. I'm tired and wish the season would re-start.


Anyway, I dropped my most irritating client of 2 years, life has been wonderful without her. With less stress, I can finally get some of my passion back.


Now I am just dealing with the clients who had not paid as of July. I really don't like to chase clients, no matter how simple a phone call can be. Paying is their responsibility, end of story. If the client doesn't make the effort to call in order to pay me, they are off the schedule.

I don't enjoy stories of, "I was in the hospital getting back surgery" - as sad as that may be, the client should have at least informed me, and should have paid me in advance. I now have a client calling and saying;

"You hadn't shown up since the end of July, my wife was home"


I do not care if anyone is home, I care about being organized and ringing on a doorbell ONLY if I know my payment is available. 9 times out of 10, after ringing doorbells, I have to hear stories about the client being unable to pay - frig that!



How do you go about it?

Hedgemaster
08-23-2011, 10:00 PM
You know, I was somewhat concerned about "payment" when I started into this gig, but after reading some of these "late pay" posts, it makes me want to send each of my clients a dozen roses and a bottle of wine.

To date I've only had two "no pays". One was a one-time cut totaling $50 and the other was for a $45 cut for what had been a somewhat new "regular client". She had "forgotten" to leave my pay on the day I cut, and that was the last I heard from her. I stopped by, rang the bell, left a note, sent a text, tried a voice mail - nothing. I also didn't cut again. Screw that. I don't work on the off chance that I'll be paid. I don't mind doing the lawn once and being paid later, but I sure as heck am not coming back until I see payment for the cut that is due.

For my trustworthy regular clients, I don't mind if they forget - they either have it out for me the next day, or they double up the following week - sometimes they even give me MORE than they owe because they feel bad for not having it ready for me.
Seriously - I have some really great clients overall.

Like I said, most of my clients are wonderful, but a few are "repeat forgetters". I find that a lighthearted approach works well. "You suck as a client. ;) LOL!" was my text reply to one of my more laid back clients when she apologized profusely for not remembering to leave my money for me.
Obviously, that comment would not be acceptable for most clients, but she's always joking around and sees the humor in it.

I've really not had to deal with a lot of "tracking down my money". I hope it stays that way.

Steve
08-24-2011, 12:47 PM
Anyway, I dropped my most irritating client of 2 years, life has been wonderful without her. With less stress, I can finally get some of my passion back.

What did she do that was irritating and how have things been different without her?

Also, could you have some of our customers that are problem customers possibly pre pay you next year? Or maybe have them pay via credit card?

CHEESE2009
08-24-2011, 05:36 PM
What did she do that was irritating and how have things been different without her?

Also, could you have some of our customers that are problem customers possibly pre pay you next year? Or maybe have them pay via credit card?



Well basically, she has been the ringing in my ears for two years. She'd drive me miserable the old fart.

She'd call days in advance to make sure I was coming, she'd call me at 7AM on the dot every morning, and continuously throughout the day. She just wouldn't let me you know, WORK!

Speak of the devil, this morning was the first time she made an effort to call me in one full month of me abandoning her. I even celebrated with a bunch of friends who have heard me complain about her for years. I GOT TRASHED I WAS SO HAPPY!!!!

7AM: "Hi Scott, just wondering if you are still doing the lawns. My grass is growing, if you would be so kind as if to let me know I'd really appreciate it"

^- This is trickery. It sounds completely reasonable for me to call back, but trust me guys, you do NOT call this lady back whatsoever. It's a trap.

7:30AM: "Hi Scott, my grass has grown and could use a cut. Please give me a call as soon as you get this. Thank you so much".

8AM: "Hi Scott... my grass is longer now, just want to know if you are still doing the lawns. Please get back to me whenever you have the time."

-
Now, if I could put a voice on the above messages; They go from confident to borderline depressing. She sounds as though she's going to die in the last one.


I am FREE now, without her. If she was never home, fine. I could get the lawn done in 5 minutes flat. When she's home, it takes me a good hour. I stop my mower 3-4 times, trimmer 3 times, blower twice. I can't get crap all done. She wants to be the first person I do on her day, yet I have to do her last because of all the time she sucks out of the friggen day. Not only that, why would I ever want to start my day off moving like a sloth, or to become discouraged??? FRIG THAT!

She talks and talks, and freaks out over grass clippings. I'm not talking about clumps either. You know when you get a hair cut and you run your hand through your hair and you have itty bitty pieces of hair stuck on your hand? YEAH, that's a great example.

She demands that I cut her lawn at 1 inch, and bag it every time. She came out with a roll of tape and taped up every little scratch on my lawn mower bag to make sure no grass gets out... HOLY CRAPOLI!!!!

She'll run around her lawn and point to every damn piece of "uncut" grass. To be honest, most the time I have no idea what the hell I'm cutting - I've never had to pretend to cut imaginary grass before. So I'd pretend to cut wherever she points until she gives me "thumbs up". My guy will run the trimmer on idle and walk through the lawn and she'll say "Good, you got it!"... friggen insane.


Out of all 3 people who have worked for me have said she is the devil. I kid you not she looks like this http://tytempletonart.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/satan.jpg






In truth, I probably saved myself from having a stroke. She is a nice lady, but with faults that stop me from being able to do my job. I could never tell her off, because I didn't want her to .."die".. so basically instead of giving her a piece of my mind, I had to come up with lie after lie, in order to protect HER.

She posed as a very "sweet" old lady, but I truly know how demanding she is. It's like every friggen dollar she spends, we have to stay an hour.. LOL



_________


I can finally rest easy at night, knowing I can go through an entire day without getting 100 phone calls and 100 voice messages to go with them. Every time she'd call, I'd feel guilty - and it wasn't fair to me. I literally would feel like crap.

She can't expect me to hold her hand you know? That's why I had to let her go, I can't put up with the guilt she tried to throw on me, it made my job so much more difficult. I had to come up with things to say to her every single time I arrived. "Sorry I'm late, I had to drive my girlfriend to school, get a spare tire, get my trimmer fixed, go to the bank, etc" - I had to come up with thousands of reasons so that I didn't have to flat out say, "I'm avoiding you, you crazy *swear*".

CHEESE2009
08-24-2011, 05:38 PM
As for my other customers, they will be receiving something similar to this. I just have to figure out how I should re-word it.

**uploaded a file**

mark123
08-24-2011, 06:20 PM
As for my other customers, they will be receiving something similar to this. I just have to figure out how I should re-word it.

**uploaded a file**
Never end a sentence with a preposition. :p

CHEESE2009
08-24-2011, 09:19 PM
Never end a sentence with a preposition. :p

Give me an example because I haven't brain in a long time.

Me no understand!!!!:confused:


Thanks comrade!

mark123
08-24-2011, 09:49 PM
Payments are due prior to the month(s) in which the client will be hiring our service for. Remove "for".

Steve
08-25-2011, 10:37 AM
Here is the rtf file if you couldn't open it.

Breeze Lawn Service


Thank you for your interest in our lawn maintenance service, we will be doing our absolute best to keep your duration with us as comfortable as possible.


Being a client of Breeze Lawn Service is simple

Our lawn maintenance service begins the first week of May till October 16th.
Our lawn maintenance service includes mowing, trimming, and blowing of debris.
Clients must hire our lawn maintenance service for a minimum of one (1) month.
Payments are due prior to the month(s) in which the client will be hiring our service for.
Bi-Weekly visits are available at the same cost as weekly service.

We currently accept Cash, Checks, Interac Email Money Transfers, and PayPal.
We recommend for our clients to utilize post-dated checks for the simplicity it provides.


Being a client of Breeze Lawn Service is rewarding

If you are a client who has hired our service for a minimum of two consecutive months and have made all of your payments on time, you are entitled to one (1) free fall cleanup. This is our way of saying thank you, and that we are proud to have you as a client!


If your payment is late

Service may be postponed and your property will be removed from our schedule without notice. To resume service, you must make your payment(s) available to us. Discounts for postponed visits are unavailable. Offering our clients additional time in order to make their payment(s) is forbidden.


Reasons we may have skipped your property

You have missed a payment
Your lawn is or will become too dry/damaged or is wet
Recent lawn applications and/or sod
Scattered debris, furniture, toys or pet droppings of large size or in large quantities
Your lawn is occupied by person(s) other than yourself or your family
An animal or pet is unattended
Construction or renovation work
Any risk of damaging our equipment or injuring our staff

If your property has been skipped for any reason deemed unnecessary we may add the visit(s) for that exact property during the following lawn maintenance season.


Upon contacting Breeze Lawn Service by phone

We may not respond to requests which may include rescheduling or status updates. If we did not provide service for you on the day your property had been scheduled for, please review the above for any possible explanations before contacting us.

We ask for our clients to leave a detailed voice-message and to be patient, calling our phone more than once does not guarantee an immediate response.
If a client has not left a detailed voice-message, or if the clients concern is out of our control we may not respond. E.g. if service is spoiled due to the rain.
Clients are able to notify us of any payment(s) available for pick-up.

IMPORTANT!!!
It is the clients responsibility to contact our staff in order to make their payment(s) available for pick-up, we do not offer reminders.




If you have any questions regarding the above,
please give us a call


Now will all your other customers be getting this or just the late payers?

CHEESE2009
08-25-2011, 11:22 AM
Now will all your other customers be getting this or just the late payers?


If there is a loophole, a client will do his/her best to expose it and take advantage of it. People are cheap. I have to be as strict as possible in order to avoid this, I figure it's very straightforward and simple to understand.

Everyone will receive that sheet, once it's been edited.

Hedgemaster
08-25-2011, 09:22 PM
Are you going to edit it to sound less "dicklike"? LOL!

Seriously. I understand where you're coming from, but if I read that as a potential client, I'd throw it in the trash and call someone else. Too much focus on the "negative" in that.

I wish I had the time to sort through it and change the wording to say the same things, but in a less "hostile" manner.

CHEESE2009
08-25-2011, 11:01 PM
Are you going to edit it to sound less "dicklike"? LOL!

Seriously. I understand where you're coming from, but if I read that as a potential client, I'd throw it in the trash and call someone else. Too much focus on the "negative" in that.

I wish I had the time to sort through it and change the wording to say the same things, but in a less "hostile" manner.

I have no idea how. Frig.

Steve
08-26-2011, 02:36 PM
Seriously. I understand where you're coming from, but if I read that as a potential client, I'd throw it in the trash and call someone else. Too much focus on the "negative" in that.

Do you think the concept is flawed or is it just the wording of the letter?

Would there be a better way to handle this?

CHEESE2009
08-29-2011, 12:51 PM
Do you think the concept is flawed or is it just the wording of the letter?

Would there be a better way to handle this?


Every person who knows me, says I have the face of an A-Hole. Having a letter that makes me look like so isn't too good.


I'm clueless to what I should add, and I would love some assistance!

Steve
08-30-2011, 12:28 PM
I am wondering if it is the customers more than it is you. Maybe there is just a larger percentage of late payers/ no payers in your group than there is in other lawn care company customer rosters.

If that is the case, maybe the problem customers need to be replaced and that would solve it.

CHEESE2009
08-31-2011, 10:18 PM
I am wondering if it is the customers more than it is you. Maybe there is just a larger percentage of late payers/ no payers in your group than there is in other lawn care company customer rosters.

If that is the case, maybe the problem customers need to be replaced and that would solve it.


Yeah, some of it is my fault too. Well, I mean I don't make it any better.

For one, I finally spoke to a person who just admitted to being like I am. If you know what the person wants, why answer the phone?

Sure there is a difference, as I am running a business, but, I have this HUGE problem with answering my phone, it's always some sort of favor I have to do.

100% of my calls are for me to go out of my way for a client, "Can you come earlier" bla bla.... After awhile, you end up looking bad... It's really not fair!


I hate answering the phone, because I personally do not want to go out of my way to make my life harder for a client who doesn't pay on time. When I answer a call, I end up feeling guilty and trying to explain my views will offend them... I can't win!

I don't want to upset the client, but it's a lose lose. No solution other than spending money I don't have on a receptionist.


I hate answering calls where the customer just wants to know my whereabouts, it's like they are obsessed! I come when I come, and that's usually on the day I'm hired to come on! COME ON!!!! LOL

Steve
09-01-2011, 12:14 PM
Is there something you can do about not liking to answer the phone? Is there anyone else that could help you with this?

Ducke
09-02-2011, 06:51 AM
Yeah, some of it is my fault too. Well, I mean I don't make it any better.

For one, I finally spoke to a person who just admitted to being like I am. If you know what the person wants, why answer the phone?

Sure there is a difference, as I am running a business, but, I have this HUGE problem with answering my phone, it's always some sort of favor I have to do.

100% of my calls are for me to go out of my way for a client, "Can you come earlier" bla bla.... After awhile, you end up looking bad... It's really not fair!


I hate answering the phone, because I personally do not want to go out of my way to make my life harder for a client who doesn't pay on time. When I answer a call, I end up feeling guilty and trying to explain my views will offend them... I can't win!

I don't want to upset the client, but it's a lose lose. No solution other than spending money I don't have on a receptionist.


I hate answering calls where the customer just wants to know my whereabouts, it's like they are obsessed! I come when I come, and that's usually on the day I'm hired to come on! COME ON!!!! LOL

Do like I do
Caller ID and Voice Mail.
Both are well worth the extra monthly charge.
and my police on Private #s is if you don't want me to know who's calling then I don't want to find out who is calling and I let it go it voice mail.

CHEESE2009
09-02-2011, 07:46 PM
Do like I do
Caller ID and Voice Mail.
Both are well worth the extra monthly charge.
and my police on Private #s is if you don't want me to know who's calling then I don't want to find out who is calling and I let it go it voice mail.


I agree!

Also, a good tip of mine;

Get all of your clients phone numbers (cell, work, home).

If they call from anywhere but their home, 100% of the time it's because they want you to do a favor.

If they call from home, there is a chance they have your money... From experience, every call is never about my money. LOL. Just an idea that might work for others, but not me.


_____

Oh crap I forgot to take a pic of this street... I couldn't do two lawns because I in NO way can get my truck and trailer through, if I could, there is no way I could get out of this street.... The construction is so bad down here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

TLC131
09-03-2011, 01:19 PM
I also had a bi-polar picky lady that I no longer service and life has been so much better. Too many stories of me trying to be polite and she takes it wrong?

Last year I ran over a drain cover when I was mowing, and these people you dont really want to tell them u broke something. So I replaced it for free without telling her. 2 weeks later she complained that the cover wasnt exactly the same style and she couldnt get it off. The funny part is that I put tape around the base so it would fit more snug and I wouldnt have to keep putting it back on. LOL

Then, over the winter I plowed her driveway and sometimes she is nice but still irritating. During the huge blizzard (2 feet), I went back to customers drives a couple times to clear the entrances. She called a couple times which I guess is fine, but one time she got all emotional on me and was kinda like "Why did you come by so fast(hard, cause there was a lot of snow) and clear my entrance, you dont have a reason to be mad with me, I dont appreciate that."? I had been plowing for 25hrs at that point but I called her back and resolved it. SHOOT ME! :)

Bottom line is shes gone now so life is seriously so much better. I don't know why we put up with these people when they are such small customers $$.

CHEESE2009
09-04-2011, 11:55 AM
I also had a bi-polar picky lady that I no longer service and life has been so much better.


This post made me happy. I'm not the only one with these kinds of clients, WOOO!!!


Now if we can avoid these kinds of clients from the start, that would be great!

I dropped a client this year with memory problems. Every time I went to cut the grass I had to listen to his life story... it got to the point I was getting so impatient so I just finished all of his sentences.

I know the life story of his entire family, because he has told me about 30 times. Sure I feel bad for not accepting him this year, but I'm not going through hell again.


I wish I was smart enough to do that with the lady I accepted this year, should have used my brain and not my heart. lol... Glad she's gone though, it's just that I can't drive on certain streets now... gotta keep avoiding her.... 2 years of misery!

Steve
09-04-2011, 11:57 AM
Bottom line is shes gone now so life is seriously so much better. I don't know why we put up with these people when they are such small customers $$.

That is really a great question.

Is it because we feel if we lose them then we are going backwards? Or maybe that others will leave too so we have to stem the flow as soon as possible or is it something else?

CHEESE2009
09-04-2011, 12:21 PM
That is really a great question.

Is it because we feel if we lose them then we are going backwards? Or maybe that others will leave too so we have to stem the flow as soon as possible or is it something else?


From watching the show "Kitchen Nightmares" with Gordon Ramsay, a show about helping failing restaurants succeed;

Basically, I watch this show to see if I am able to relate to similar issues.

One thing I notice, is a lot of restaurants are too scared to change because they fear of losing their current clients, even if they are about to go out of business.

It's the "risk" of not knowing if you can replace them. We'd rather keep the clients that make us miserable instead of dropping them and being one client short. The question is, do we really need clients like this if our business is failing because of it?

Like you said Steve, it feels as if we are going backwards. Dropping a client in our minds is hard to see as a positive thing, but from experience it has to be done.



Another restaurant offered a "bring a friend and their meal is free" deal. The place was packed every day, for the restaurant owner, he had a hard time realizing that just because he had everyone in town eating at his place, he was still going out of business because of the deal he offered.

"If I don't offer the deal, no one will come"

, I can see how upsetting that can be, but if your not making a profit out of those customers, it's time to change!

Steve
09-07-2011, 03:55 PM
Those are all excellent points. I watch that show a lot too.

One lesson that stands out to me from that show and from the Gopher Forum is that a business does go through different stages as it grows.

In the first stage where you are trying to just see if your business idea will work at all, you look to get as many customers as you can, regardless of any other issues.

At this stage you tend not to care if you are making a profit or if you are getting beaten to death by the continuous requests and complaints your customers make. It is in this stage that most businesses fail. I think it is because they are not watching the bottom line and they are running around like chickens with their heads cut off, as they try to make everyone happy. At the end of the day, week, month, they are exhausted and the work is never done.

Then for those that survive the first stage, the business owner tends to get tired of certain b.s. and looks to make money at what he is doing. He starts to prune the customers who are low payers and also those that are the complainers. The business owner starts to realize there is only a finite amount of time he can work during the day and he starts to look to maximize his profits each and every day. He does this by finding higher end customers who complain the least.

As your business starts to grow profitable in this stage, you look to take on employees and expand out your business. Stage three begins to take place as you add employees and then look to expand again, taking on more customers. You then train your staff to make the customer happy, regardless of their requests.

Customers know they can screw with you if you are an owner. They will ask you to do bizarre things at no additional cost, but the funny thing is, with employees, they know the employee may say they can't perform that extra freebie, so they won't even bother asking. Having employees as intermediaries tends to filter out a lot of the customer b.s.

Stage 4 then occurs when you find what your optimal company size is and you repeat what you did in step 2. You focus on your ideal customers who will pay you the most and bother you the least. You also try to maximize your profits with the resources you have available at hand.

How does this sound? How does this compare/contrast with your operation and what would you add to this?

CHEESE2009
09-07-2011, 04:05 PM
Customers know they can screw with you if you are an owner. They will ask you to do bizarre things at no additional cost, but the funny thing is, with employees, they know the employee may say they can't perform that extra freebie, so they won't even bother asking. Having employees as intermediaries tends to filter out a lot of the customer b.s.



I think that's everything in a nutshell, what spoke to me the most was what I had quoted from you. As an employee, I wouldn't be able to make deals with the clients. Unfortunately I am the owner, and I'm out doing the work.


One idea I just thought of was, why not make a "fake" owner... A ghost who never shows his face, haha!


This way I can say, "My boss would fire me"... but I am still the one who prices the jobs etc... would be tricky but I'm going to look into it!!! Almost sounds fun to create a fake person, LOL

CHEESE2009
09-07-2011, 04:24 PM
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/images/display/61155.jpg
I da new ohnah of da briz lon suhviss.