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View Full Version : What to do with problem customers?


b52
04-15-2009, 09:20 AM
Hey, guys, not many of you know me, because I don't post much. I have a Landscape business and have had to deal with some pain in the *** people, but this one guy today is just really pissing me off.

I did his yard in the fall, and now he wants me to mulch, edge, and give him a spring clean-up.

I have all the measurements, for the beds and it came out to be that he would need 8 yards.

The price for mulch came out to $240 for black, without the delivery charge added in yet. I charge $55 per yard installed which comes out to $440.

The edging I charge .25 cents per foot. a little low, but i make my money up with other duties. this came out to $43

And the clean-up I estimated would take 3 hours which comes out to $225.

So a total of $948

He told me he didn't want to spend that much and asked just for the front yard to be mulched, and revise the quote i gave him.

For this he would need 5 yards. this comes out to $150

installation came out to $275

and the clean-up was still $160

and the edging was $43

So the total came to be $628


the labor comes out to $478 and I told him i would do it for $400. This was for the 5 yards installed. He called me back and now wants me to do the 8 yards installed for a total of $550 for the job with the materials included. So that would leave $310 for labor, of edging, 8 yards installed and his yard cleaned up. I argued with him for about ten minutes and he said i kept changing my price, which I wasn't I kept going back and forth between the 5yard and the 8 yard price. I explained the installation per yard charge, and that others in my area charge $65 per yd installed.

He proceeded to tell me that was with the mulch included. I told him it wasn't and he continued to say i just told him that it was numerous times and said it in a manner like i was an idiot.

So I am pretty much not going to deal with him, other than the fact, he wanted me to mow his lawn, and he had commercial property that he was going to give me the account for. Now I'm trying to decide to just do it to get the accounts, or just say forget it cuz the guy is a real pain in the ***. I think I might be better off just moving on, but what do you guys think, or what would you do in this situation?

And he has money, his house is really nice, he owns commercial property, and he is cheap as hell. Let me know what you'd do. sorry for the novel

CHEESE2009
04-15-2009, 10:02 AM
What I suggest is to find another company who does what your doing, that charges more.

Have this assclown call the company & make it seem as if your actually offering him cheaper service. If it works, he'll reconsider his attitude towards you.

It's usually a last resort to compare myself with other companies, but that's entirely what the customer wants to know.

It's silly that he argues about you "changing your price", especially when you slashed off quite a bit of the cost for him originally.

b52
04-15-2009, 11:46 AM
yea, i knocked a good amount off, and i figured i'd get it. I have other jobs lined up, so it wouldn't of killed me to do it for what i quoted, but i have bills to pay, and people to pay, so i'm thinking the hell with the two accounts and this job. He keeps calling me and tries to negotiate the price. It's not negotiable in the first place but he keeps trying to swindle me down. I told him if he wants me to do it, great, if not, then that's fine too. I said that to him but he keeps negotiating, and keeps calling me. I really don't like comparing my company to others, in a sense where i would be badmouthing someone, but i'm going to tell him to call someone else.

Totally Green
04-15-2009, 11:55 AM
Why waste time with him. You can be nice and still get your point across that he can take it or leave it. Last time I checked, lawn care was not a non profit business. Chances are you'll never please the guy anyway.

Steve
04-15-2009, 02:38 PM
This is a very fascinating discussion. I think you were kind when you said

the labor comes out to $478 and I told him i would do it for $400.

It makes you wonder if you should ever even budge on the price. If this is the price you have calculated you need to cover your expenses and make a profit, maybe in the future just stick with it and if the customer doesn't like it, they can go and get another quote while you focus on other services where you can make your profit, like in your mowing services.

It seems all too often giving discounts is a slippery slope. If you show you will give a discount, the customer feels like they can extract more and more from you.

What's your thought on this?

majoe7
04-15-2009, 11:32 PM
You need to stick to your guns with this guy. You set the price and it was fair. From your very detailed breakdown of the charges, you know what you need to make for your company to make a profit. Don't budge.

He will haggle you all the time if you take on his accounts. Been there, done that. I had to drop clients who tried to take advantage of me or my company. It just isnít worth it. Every month they had an issue or wanted something else done at no extra charge.

If you were to do the job, make sure you have a job order or contract made up and he agreed to it and signed it. Just for your protection. Maybe it wouldn't hurt if you received half up front and the rest when you are done with the job. IMO :D

b52
04-16-2009, 09:06 AM
I tend to agree with you. I told him what I could do it for and he continued to try to get me to budge. He keeps saying another guy used to do it for $200, which had to be an idiot. Anyway, I told him the price, but he keeps calling me. I'm not answering, cuz I'm just going to get in another argument with him over the price, but should i answer the phone with this guy? I usually call everybody back, even if I can't do a job, because that's just good business, but this guy is not really along those lines. I can't to the job for the price he wants, i told him what I could do it for, he proceeded to get in a big argument with me, what else needs to be said?


This is a very fascinating discussion. I think you were kind when you said


It makes you wonder if you should ever even budge on the price. If this is the price you have calculated you need to cover your expenses and make a profit, maybe in the future just stick with it and if the customer doesn't like it, they can go and get another quote while you focus on other services where you can make your profit, like in your mowing services.

It seems all too often giving discounts is a slippery slope. If you show you will give a discount, the customer feels like they can extract more and more from you.

What's your thought on this?

Steve
04-16-2009, 03:01 PM
Well the beauty of this is you can do what you want, it's your own business. I am kind of on the fence with this one. If there is no way to work with him, I might not call him back either and just move on to other new customers.

This is your business and you should enjoy it. Don't let some bad apple customers take that away from you.

It's kind of interesting that we are talking about this because the other night on the show Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmare's he was working at this restaurant during their 're-launch.' Most people were really enjoying the food but there was this one table with these older gals who all were complaining. Oh the steak is too tough, oh I could make a better meal at home.

So they are causing a small scene and the younger restaurant owner/chef walks up front to talk to them and they take this as a chance to feel him out and press the issue. Then they sense he is a bit weak and he tries to slide back towards the kitchen without being committal either way. At a certain point he says 'I gotta get back to the kitchen and kinda shrugs his shoulders.'

Then these women take that as a sign where they can pounce and they moved their upsetness to the front of the restaurant where they start getting a little bit louder so other new patrons can hear them.

Gordon, hears of this from a staff member and walks up to the woman and says what's wrong. And she goes on 'oh I didnt like the food, it tastes like Ragu. I could make it better. And he says 'you are talking out of your rear.' That totally shocked her and she knew at that point she was going to get no more satisfaction with her verbal barbs so she up and left.

I know this is a long post but it's worthwhile. Another story for you is Herb Kelleher, who created Southwest Airlines. Once a woman sent him a letter complaining about something on the flight that Herb felt was ridiculous and he wrote her back something to the effect "We will miss you as a customer."

Here is a section on that I found on another website.

While Southwest Airlines CEO Herb Kelleher (http://www.pbs.org/kcet/chasingthesun/innovators/hkelleher.html) gives customers a terrific deal on an airplane seat, he makes it clear that his employees come first dash; even if it means dismissing customers. But aren't customers always right? "No, they are not," Kelleher snaps. "And I think that's one of the biggest betrayals of employees a boss can possibly commit. The customer is sometimes wrong. We don't carry those sorts of customers. We write to them and say, 'Fly somebody else. Don't abuse our people.'

An example of Kelleher's putting his philosophy into action is found in Nuts!, a 1996 volume chronicling the success of Southwest Airlines:

Jim Ruppel, director of customer relations, and Sherry Phelps, director of corporate employment, tell the story of a woman who frequently flew on Southwest, but was disappointed with every aspect of the company's operation. In fact, she became known as the "Pen Pal" because after every flight she wrote in with a complaint. She didn't like the fact that the company didn't assign seats; she didn't like the absence of a first-class section; she didn't like not having a meal in flight; she didn't like Southwest's boarding procedure; she didn't like the flight attendants' sporty uniforms and the casual atmosphere. And she hated peanuts! Her last letter, reciting a litany of complaints, momentarily stumped Southwest's customer relations people. Phelps explains: "Southwest prides itself on answering every letter that comes to the company and several employees tried to respond to this customer, patiently explaining why we do things the way we do them. [Our response] was quickly becoming a [large] volume until they bumped it up to Herb's desk, with a note: 'This one's yours.' In sixty seconds, Kelleher wrote back and said, 'Dear Mrs. Crabapple, We will miss you. Love, Herb.'

I hope this helps :)

b52
04-16-2009, 10:11 PM
Kind of gives me a new way of thinking after reading that. You're right. I love doing what I do. So why should i let this guy get me flustered when I can just say goodbye. Thanks for all the help guys, much appreciated. I'm kinda checking out the site now too and it's pretty cool. There's alot to offer here. I was missing out last year.

Well the beauty of this is you can do what you want, it's your own business. I am kind of on the fence with this one. If there is no way to work with him, I might not call him back either and just move on to other new customers.

This is your business and you should enjoy it. Don't let some bad apple customers take that away from you.

It's kind of interesting that we are talking about this because the other night on the show Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmare's he was working at this restaurant during their 're-launch.' Most people were really enjoying the food but there was this one table with these older gals who all were complaining. Oh the steak is too tough, oh I could make a better meal at home.

So they are causing a small scene and the younger restaurant owner/chef walks up front to talk to them and they take this as a chance to feel him out and press the issue. Then they sense he is a bit weak and he tries to slide back towards the kitchen without being committal either way. At a certain point he says 'I gotta get back to the kitchen and kinda shrugs his shoulders.'

Then these women take that as a sign where they can pounce and they moved their upsetness to the front of the restaurant where they start getting a little bit louder so other new patrons can hear them.

Gordon, hears of this from a staff member and walks up to the woman and says what's wrong. And she goes on 'oh I didnt like the food, it tastes like Ragu. I could make it better. And he says 'you are talking out of your rear.' That totally shocked her and she knew at that point she was going to get no more satisfaction with her verbal barbs so she up and left.

I know this is a long post but it's worthwhile. Another story for you is Herb Kelleher, who created Southwest Airlines. Once a woman sent him a letter complaining about something on the flight that Herb felt was ridiculous and he wrote her back something to the effect "We will miss you as a customer."

Here is a section on that I found on another website.

While Southwest Airlines CEO Herb Kelleher (http://www.pbs.org/kcet/chasingthesun/innovators/hkelleher.html) gives customers a terrific deal on an airplane seat, he makes it clear that his employees come first dash; even if it means dismissing customers. But aren't customers always right? "No, they are not," Kelleher snaps. "And I think that's one of the biggest betrayals of employees a boss can possibly commit. The customer is sometimes wrong. We don't carry those sorts of customers. We write to them and say, 'Fly somebody else. Don't abuse our people.'

An example of Kelleher's putting his philosophy into action is found in Nuts!, a 1996 volume chronicling the success of Southwest Airlines:

Jim Ruppel, director of customer relations, and Sherry Phelps, director of corporate employment, tell the story of a woman who frequently flew on Southwest, but was disappointed with every aspect of the company's operation. In fact, she became known as the "Pen Pal" because after every flight she wrote in with a complaint. She didn't like the fact that the company didn't assign seats; she didn't like the absence of a first-class section; she didn't like not having a meal in flight; she didn't like Southwest's boarding procedure; she didn't like the flight attendants' sporty uniforms and the casual atmosphere. And she hated peanuts! Her last letter, reciting a litany of complaints, momentarily stumped Southwest's customer relations people. Phelps explains: "Southwest prides itself on answering every letter that comes to the company and several employees tried to respond to this customer, patiently explaining why we do things the way we do them. [Our response] was quickly becoming a [large] volume until they bumped it up to Herb's desk, with a note: 'This one's yours.' In sixty seconds, Kelleher wrote back and said, 'Dear Mrs. Crabapple, We will miss you. Love, Herb.'

I hope this helps :)

VPS Lawn Care
04-17-2009, 10:26 AM
Been there done that!
2 weeks ago i had a client that i have been cutting for a year and a half, always pays on time a fair price for the annual agreement. So listen to this, a few weeks ago she came to me and asked if i would give her a price on painting her living room, kitchen & dinning room for her that she had to get it done she had friends coming in and her painter friend could not schedule her in. Reluctant to do so, i told her we are not painters, and i was not sure i could work it into my schedule. She said please over and over needing it bad, i said ok but remember we are not painters and i could not guarentee the work. So me and one other guy go over there on a friday, i rescheduled everything for this so i had all day to complete it. I get there now she wants 5 diffrent colors on 6 walls errrrrrr.... ok i say, good lawn account, getting 350 for painting she bought all the paint, really cheap just to help her out , i even talk to a couple of painters that said it should pay 600 to 700 for the job, anyway, we worked all day painting from 8am till 7:45 at night to meet her dead line, she was so pleased when we where done, could not say enough how much she loved the job, and paid us. Well the weekend came and went, her guest did too, and i get a call from her on the next monday, screaming at me how bad it was all people did was tell her what an \awful job we done and that we were idiot. She demanded we give her money back and fired us from doing the lawn also. People can be crazy i think she is bi-polar i dont know, she said over and over how much she loved it then this on monday after the visiters. She was being so rude, and screaming, and when she called me and idiot i could not hold back anymore, i told her she was a class a bitch, and hung up, then she called back saying she was going to take me to court. I am like what ever.

Sorry for running on very sore subject for me. But the moral to the story is, life is way to short to put up with jerks, thats why most of us work for ourselves anyway, so i say drop him fast.

Steve
04-17-2009, 03:05 PM
I am glad you shared that story with us. It helps us all get through our own difficult experiences with customers to know that we are not alone.

Thank you