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  • Need Help resolving a client complaint.

    I recently received a payment from a client with a note telling us not to return to either of his properties next year, because we had "ruined" his front yard by "excess mowing." When we started taking care of his property there was very little grass in his front yard to begin with. We still mowed his yard weekly because: 1) There was much more grass in the back. 2) That is what he requested. This summer alot of people in our area lost turf caused by moisture and temerature conditions. There was alot of renovation work around here this past fall. I feel that his complaint/reason for firing us was unfounded. I feel like defending our company. There is still a balance on his account, that I intend to collect here soon. What do you guys think about how I should respond, or should I respond etc.
    Logan Hershberger

  • #2
    Google Earth will have a picture of his lawn a few years before you stepped foot on it.... it could help as a form of evidence if his lawn has always been crummy.


    Perhaps this customer is just saying those words, but deep down he's just being cheap and doesn't want your service. People are weird.


    I wouldn't recommend going back to these customers, though I'd hate to have them think you didn't do your best.

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    • #3
      During the summer months we typically raise our blade up a notch to prevent the heat burning out the lawn. Some weeks we skipped if it appeared to not need a cut, but always let the customer know that we felt it was OK till next week.
      http://www.lunchesruslawncare.com

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      • #4
        I think you should contact him ,ask politely about his concerns,explain your side of his complaints,ask if there is anything you can do to make him happy ,and try to get a resolution your both happy with .If you cant make him happy ,shake his hand and ask him to contact you in the future if he needs something done .You might not ever get a return call ,but its also possible your replacement might not be up to his standards either and he might start thinking better of your work .

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        • #5
          I agree. I think this is a a situation where the lines of communications either got crossed or there wasn't enough communication.

          You have a good chance at resolving this by talking it out.

          Do you feel this experience will change the way you operate at all? Have you felt there have been learning lessons from it?

          Keep us posted.
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          • #6
            Thanks for the feedback. I definitely think it was mostly a communication issue, and the fact the client is uneducated about what it takes for a healthy yard. Obviously that is partly my short coming. There was also some miscommunication with his billing, and rather than talking to me about it, I felt that he took some frustration out by taking the cheap shot of saying our company "ruined" his lawn. This was definitely a huge learning experience for our company. I should of talked to him more about his lawn etc. There were other issues with affecting his lawn such as soil, tree problems, tree roots, major tree removal needed etc. for him to truly have a good lawn, and based on the condition of his property to begin with, I couldn't forsee him spending that money. I think I will take bruces advice and include a cordial letter with his final invoice.
            Logan Hershberger

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            • #7
              Keep us posted on how this turns out. You never know! Just talking can really help resolve issues with many many things.

              I should of talked to him more about his lawn etc.
              So if a customer calls you to mow his lawn and his lawn is pretty crappy, do you feel ultimately the quality of their lawn will reflect on you and it's important to talk to a customer about why the lawn is in bad shape and what you can do about it?

              Or are you thinking something else?

              As you think of other customers you have now, do you find the lessons learned from this customer will be applied to them?
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              • #8
                Hindsight is always 20/20, turn this into a positive, meet with the client and explain what should have been done to the yard to turn the lawn around and have your estimate ready. Go on to explain that it is your general practise to offer clients solutions however in his case you made a wrong assumption they were only interested in mowing.
                Andy
                Halifax, Nova Scotia

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                • #9
                  Go on to explain that it is your general practise to offer clients solutions however in his case you made a wrong assumption they were only interested in mowing.
                  Andy,

                  You bring up a very good point. Have you ever found yourself asked to maintain a property that had some issues with the lawn before you got there and the customer only wanted lawn mowing?

                  What is your view on if these are good customers to take on or not? Do you feel that the quality of the lawn, even if you are not hired to alter the lawn quality, will ultimately reflect on your business? So in a sense, can a negative light be cast on your business if you mow a lawn that needs more attention than just mowing, but the customer does not want you to resolve that issue?
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                  • #10
                    Andy,

                    You bring up a very good point. Have you ever found yourself asked to maintain a property that had some issues with the lawn before you got there and the customer only wanted lawn mowing?

                    What is your view on if these are good customers to take on or not? Do you feel that the quality of the lawn, even if you are not hired to alter the lawn quality, will ultimately reflect on your business? So in a sense, can a negative light be cast on your business if you mow a lawn that needs more attention than just mowing, but the customer does not want you to resolve that issue?
                    Yes. most of the time.

                    Every request for service I get, when I look at the property I look at everything and write a proposal for each thing we suggest, why and the charge. Even if you call us for pressure washing and I notice to have a tree that needs to be cut, brush that could be chipped, maybe you need a spraying on your lawn etc.

                    Two keys here, you cover your butt, if you want your lawn mowed and I notice it has an insect or maybe is compacted and will not turn itself around, I give you a quote, that way down the road you can't come back and say why didn't you tell me.

                    The other thing is we want to cut travel, let you be aware of issues, be aware of things we can do. You never know and it does happen that you call me to cut a tree and I give you a quote but also a quote for pressure washing, maybe someone asks you down the road, do you know a company that offers pressure washing, even if you do not hire us to do your place, you might mention us.

                    It's all about expanding your network every way you can.
                    Andy
                    Halifax, Nova Scotia

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                    • #11
                      picframer is right

                      having given estimates for many different things that looked like they need being done has not only gotten me the 'upsale', but calls from friends of thiers about upsale items. Have made a lot of money wit out selling becasue of this. also my cusotmers have expressed thanks for pointing out little problems that they could take care of before they got big. Also by letting them know about small problems, and how they can take care of those problems, thereby savingthem money, they will approach you for some of the expensive upsale items. I hope that this makes sense.

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                      • #12
                        Two keys here, you cover your butt, if you want your lawn mowed and I notice it has an insect or maybe is compacted and will not turn itself around, I give you a quote, that way down the road you can't come back and say why didn't you tell me.
                        So would you suggest when creating the bid, create the bid for what the customer asks for but also include somehow on the bid, additional services they could use and may elect to hire you to perform? Or should the bid only show services you have gotten the customer's ok to put on the bid?


                        Also by letting them know about small problems, and how they can take care of those problems, thereby savingthem money, they will approach you for some of the expensive upsale items. I hope that this makes sense.
                        This is a very interesting point too. As part of your sales presentation, if you point out small issues to the customer you have found, by explaining to them how to do the small projects, you actually build a better bond with the customer? Once you explain the process to resolve the issue, the customer may or may not choose to do it themselves?

                        Maybe by knowing what is involved, they can make a better educated decision and where they might initially have thought the job would be easy for them to do, after you explained it, it might seem more difficult and they therefor would choose you to perform it?
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                        • #13
                          So would you suggest when creating the bid, create the bid for what the customer asks for but also include somehow on the bid, additional services they could use and may elect to hire you to perform? Or should the bid only show services you have gotten the customer's ok to put on the bid?




                          This is a very interesting point too. As part of your sales presentation, if you point out small issues to the customer you have found, by explaining to them how to do the small projects, you actually build a better bond with the customer? Once you explain the process to resolve the issue, the customer may or may not choose to do it themselves?

                          Maybe by knowing what is involved, they can make a better educated decision and where they might initially have thought the job would be easy for them to do, after you explained it, it might seem more difficult and they therefor would choose you to perform it?
                          Your bid should contain a thank you for meeting with me today and allowing my company to provide an estimate for each of the following services you contacted us for...... then a We also noticed you would benefit from the following....

                          I personally brake each service down, what I noticed, what we can do, why and the cost, I quite often mention this when meeting the prospect.

                          Your second point sends a message in several ways, we noticed, we can provide etc. As a homeowner I may not notice everything when I call a service fellow, same as taking your vehicle in, if they suggest something should be fixed, why and here is the cost, it is a tremendous way to build the relationship.

                          In some cases maybe the client will do it, there are many ways to explain in a very suttle way, why hiring one of us would be in their best interest, not always but quite often, pressure washing comes to mind, the client is not going to get the desired results with a $99.00 big box store washer, I have a suttle line for this that generally works, more often than not if they try, they call us to do it right for them.
                          Andy
                          Halifax, Nova Scotia

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                          • #14
                            Great stuff! I've actually been doing that as I meet with the customers, but when I send them the estimate just to have it in writing I haven't been adding my prices for everything else.

                            Thanks for the info.

                            Matt

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                            • #15
                              Your bid should contain a thank you for meeting with me today and allowing my company to provide an estimate for each of the following services you contacted us for...... then a We also noticed you would benefit from the following....
                              Andy,

                              Do you recommend this be giving on the spot while you are there with the customer?

                              Also, should the thank you and estimate be separate or on the same paper?
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