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Losing my Temper with a Customer

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  • Losing my Temper with a Customer

    Last year I had gained a client, she was the worst at making payments & would always ignore my calls.

    She refereed me to one of her friends, another deadbeat, someone I could live without as a customer.

    Anyway, I made it through the season with her. She than said to me that she will not be able to hire me next season, as she is selling her home.

    I have called all of my previous customers the first week of April, she did not answer her phone - but I left a message for her to call me back. I noticed that her sign was still up & the home was not sold.

    Anyway, she called me late April saying:

    "I have an open house on Sunday, can you pass by & clean up my yard - it doesn't really need to be mowed"

    I agreed & the job was done Friday, & I came back Saturday to do a few touch ups to make her yard look perfect.

    She wasn't home, & I didn't bother to bill her. I didn't want to see her again anyway. Enjoy the lawn, good luck with selling the home, that's all I was thinking.

    She called me again on May 7th & said, "I would like to hire your lawn maintenance service again"

    I said, "It's the same price as last year for you. Unfortunately you didn't call early enough, so I will have to go through the week to try & fit you in the schedule I have"

    She said, "I have another open house on Monday, are you able to mow my lawn before then?"

    I said, "We don't do lawn maintenance on the weekends, though I will see what I can do for you. If I can't mow your lawn on the weekend, I'll see if I can fit you in early on Monday"

    It rained all weekend & I wasn't able to do her lawn on Monday. I also had to buy equipment & maintain current equipment. (Prepare for the week). Pick up/deposit money, phone calls, estimates, office work, etc.

    Then she called me Today, which is Tuesday.

    My garden weeder was with me & was laughing at how many times I attempted to hang up the phone on the customer - but I resisted. My finger was actually PRESSING the "shut the f' up button", though I just wanted to see how this argument will turn out.

    The customer was SHOUTING & basically begging for me to go to her house & light her lawn on fire. I was furious with her, but I kept my cool. She had the nastiest attitude I have EVER heard from a customer.

    Argument summed up;

    Customer: I put my trust in you & you didn't show up! If your not going to do my lawn tell me now or I'll find someone else, there are thousands of other people who can do it!

    Scott: Well if you want someone else, that's alright with me, go for it! I called all of my customers from last year to confirm if they will be with me this season. You didn't answer your phone - I left you a message, TWO of them. I have everyone booked now & they have priority over you right now. I have no concern with your open houses - my concern is with YOU paying for the work you want me to do BEFORE I do it.

    Customer: You did NOT leave me a message. I know you aren't concerned with my open houses, I understand that. Though you said you'd be here on Monday & you didn't show up! My lawn looks horrible! I was ready to take my lawn mower out & do it, but I trusted you.

    Scott: We had rain all weekend. You have to understand I cannot be where you want me to be every single time you call. I have a schedule & everything has to be organized. I have people who have ALREADY paid me to do work for them, yet I haven't received a dime from you - who am I going to focus my attention on? Them! I don't work on CALL, which is what I believed you wanted - you only told me you were interested in our full season service 3 days ago. You should have called weeks earlier so I could have had you booked properly & we could have avoided this situation. I have many many many things to do, & until you pay me - I can't take you seriously!

    Customer: You could have at least called me! You didn't even bother to do that! At least tell me you wont be showing up!

    Scott: I understand, though I don't always have the time to make phone calls to people who aren't paying customers. Right now what you WANT doesn't concern me until I receive payment from you. You called me last minute & will have to wait for me to fit you into my schedule. I speak to just about every customer I have on a daily basis, dealing with their requests - try to understand that. You think you are the only customer who needed something done specifically on Monday? Trust me, you aren't!

    What I heard from you is that you wanted full season lawn maintenance, & to me SO WHAT if I missed your open house - your lawn is still going to be maintained every week for the entire season! That is what matters to me.

    Customer: You want money? Fine. What's the price?

    Scott: You have to pay for $XX for the month of may.

    Customer: I think you raised your price from last year.

    Scott: I charged you the same price last year - My price for you is $15.00 short of my MINIMUM which I should be charging you. I don't even make a profit maintaining your lawn.

    Customer: I'll leave it in the mailbox tomorrow. Tell me now, are you going to come or am I hiring someone else?

    Scott: Honestly, because of this conversation you have put me in a tight situation. If you want to hire me, the choice is yours.

    Customer: It's your decision, so are you coming or not?

    *30 seconds pass*

    Scott: I'll pass by tomorrow morning.


    I missed out a lot of detail, though this lady had the most aggressive tone in her voice. She owes me money from last year, though I didn't chase her for it because I promised myself I wouldn't take her this year & it was only a few bucks here & there that she owed.

    She bashed my service continuously & now I am having second thoughts.

    2009 Facts:

    Never pays on time

    Avoids phone calls

    Hungers for sympathy (single mother, busy busy busy)

    Always asks if I can lower the price

    Always asks if she can pay NEXT time

    Expects me to be on call

    Also what she said during the conversation:

    Customer: If I were to run a business & never return phone calls to my customers, I would lost business!

    Scott: You aren't a customer until you PAY ME! I return phone calls when I can, when it matters to me. I have more important things to worry about & arguing with someone who hasn't even paid me can wait a little longer! I can't keep offering you my services like this, you have to pay sometime you know?

    - ANYWAY!


    If I do her lawn tomorrow & take the money in the mailbox, I am her guy.

    I don't want to be her guy, after the argument we just had. The price she has to pay isn't worth a word out of her damn mouth.

    Should I just mow her lawn & leave the money there with a note?

    I'd like to mow the lawn, as I'm not a complete a-hole.

    The fact is, once she said that she'd hire someone else. That just makes me want her to. I'd like to see it happen! I'd like to see someone else deal with her, & charge her double!

    When a customer says that, that basically draws the line for me. I felt so much rage & disrespect when she said those words. She knows the deal she HAS with me, but I want her to know the deal she HAD with me.

    What would you do? I don't have time for her crap, she can't hurt my business or even help it. The guy she had to hire me, is just as bad as her. When it's time to pay, the guy drives away from his house as I get my blower out to finish off the job.

    If you would do the same as I, what would you write/add in the note? I don't want to leave her any reason to call me back.

  • #2 are a very courageous man
    i would of told her to f off
    the ignorance in some people baffles me

    Yesterday i had a customer call me asking why i didnt show up
    let me be clear with you it was POURING

    Honestly..i walked outside to get someting our of my car...i was out for maybe 15-20 seconds at best..and i looked like i got thrown in a pool

    I replied to her that the weather delay set us back and i will service her lawn as soon as theres a break in the weather

    her response

    Well since you werent here to mow it do i get a discount?

    me- No mam we only give discounts to delays that occur on my part

    her- regardless my lawn wasnt done on the day it was scheduled

    it went on like this..and she told me to come do it was almost completely dark..and i GUARANTEE her yard is flooded..shes on the bottom of a hill..its always moist..

    finally i convinced her to shutup and deal with the fact it rained and id get her lawn mowed the soonest i could..i had to tell her id bag it for free if it needed to be but..whatever..
    Just Kut Lawn and Landscape
    "Where Service is Always in Season"
    Reach for the stars so if you fall you land on a cloud.


    • #3
      This is what I would do... mow her lawn and take that share of the money leaving a note saying you are unable to continue servicing her lawn. Simple as that.

      I had a customer last year who I couldn't get to pay on time. I finally had to stop his service. he kept on saying the check is going out tomorrow and I'd wait all week and nothing. so I sent him a certified letter telling him to pay or we would take further action to collect. Nothing happend. so I sent him to collections. Finally in February I got my $900 he owed me.


      • #4
        wow... I haven't had picky customers like that YET. I think I just have too much pride to take any crap like that. I would just say: mam/sir based on the current unsatisfactory situation we will be stopping services to your property. This is my 15 day verbal warning. I will be emailing you a written cancelation tonight.

        If they B**** about it. I would walk away.


        • #5
          first thing when you arrive is hit the mailbox ,if its empty leave her a note telling her your not interested in her work .I wouldnt work for her ,and might refer her to the most expensive lousey contracter you know of as a parting gift .


          • #6
            Go up on the price force her to fire you making you both happy people.
            She sound like she will not pay the higher rate any way tell her you will have to charge her the min you are too booked to do her yard for what you did last year and let her fire you. Win Win.
            WestBank Lawn Care LLC



            • #7
              It's going to be a 50/50 tomorrow.

              I can either mow the yard. The front will take 2 minutes, the back is pretty damn long & will be a hassle. Then I could accept her money & continue service.

              After the first cut, it's basically the easiest lawn to maintain that I have. I'd like to say it's "quick cash", but because of her, it's "quick job, slow cash"

              I could do it, & accept her money. Doing her yard doesn't take a lot of time, & will take on average about 15 minutes to bang out, seriously.

              I could ignore the fact she pays slowly, & everything will come together. Though it's the fact I feel as if I'm being treated like crap.

              The job is simple, & it's basically stopping the truck to gain a few bucks every time. It buys me a few luxuries (cigarettes) but that's it.

              In a way it's worth keeping, as it's so simple. Though the treatment she gave me over the phone just makes me want to throw fertilizer and seed on her lawn & watch the forest grow - without ever cutting it.

              So the choices;

              a) Spend 60 minutes (an hour) a month on her property & collect money, don't get bothered by her slow paying ways/ her attitude.

              b) Leave a note saying, "Sorry, I am unable to fit you into my schedule. My business does not profit at the rate I have charged you ($XX.XX). The business has doubled this year, 2010 - We are currently only interested in properties that help our business continue to achieve. The minimum we are able to charge which best suits your property is ($XX.XX), a price lower than that is a loss to to the business. Your money is still in your mailbox. Thank you for your patience."

              with a business card of my worst competitor.

              The only problem is, she is leaving money in her mailbox...

              What is she claims that I had taken it, when I hadn't?


              • #8
                i had to tell her id bag it for free if it needed to be .
                Not to get off topic, but do you guys charge extra for bagging? I don't, but was wondering if i should start to with new customers.


                • #9
                  I would cancel. I dont got time for it. If I did keep doing it then she would need to pay nefore I work and the first time she missed I would be done


                  • #10
                    Not to get off topic, but do you guys charge extra for bagging? I don't, but was wondering if i should start to with new customers.
                    i do charge for bagging because its more time for me to do so..
                    if its a nice old lady or someone who has treated me nice i typically dont (unless the grass towers over my mower)

                    but to some customers i do charge cause its a hassle for me to empty the bag and haul it off..

                    its a very minor fee makes me feel better about doing it..its just another way to earn some quick cash i guess..i typically never have to do it unless its a new customer
                    Just Kut Lawn and Landscape
                    "Where Service is Always in Season"
                    Reach for the stars so if you fall you land on a cloud.


                    • #11
                      Scott you need to have your own reality show. You could be the next Mike Holmes of lawn care. I have to laugh when I see the posts that have more drama than a high school cheer leading squad. You do take it all in stride and your analytical way of finding the solution is great.

                      Keeping emotion out of it, what would you do as a business person? Me, I would cut the lawn and subtract what she owed me, including last year, and leave her a check for the balance and be on my way. Problem is not the lawn the problem is that she is wasting your time and then not paying for that time.

                      Leave her a note stating thank you for your patronage, at this time there is no room in the schedule to accommodate your lawn care. I would recommend that you contact xxxxxxxxx. Attached you will find a check for the unused balance of your payment on xx/xx/xxxx I have subtracted the balance from last year which is 6 MONTHS PAST DUE!


                      • #12
                        Part of me wants to tell you that business is business. But I'm more leaning towards everyone elses "drop the bitch" attitude. Can I say bitch?

                        If you decide to keep her, make her pay in advance. If you bill a month in advance, tell her she owes $XX.xx for the month of May. And $XX.xx from 2009.

                        If she pays it, continue service, and stop in June until you get paid again. Because the way it sounds, April will roll around without payment, and she will call to bitch again, and you can tell her that you will resume services when you recieve payment.

                        You don't have to hang up on her, but you can say "I understand your frustration, and when we receive payment, service will continue, until then I cannot help you, have a good day". Then hang up the phone. Be curt, be professional, and end the call. You don't have to hang up, just say good-bye, and end the call.

                        Also, there is no reason you have to show up hoping for a check in the box. Tell her she can mail payment to your office, and then, and only then, continue service.


                        • #13
                          Wow cheese

                          I give you credit too. I would of been sending her letters all winter if she owed me more then say $100. (not sure what she owed) But I certainly wouldnt of touched the cleanup on a late payer with money owed from 09. The truth here as Im sure you know. Those who are the hardest to collect from are the hardest to deal with. If I error on my part I have no problem eating 4 hrs labor. But if they just want free work. I say goodbye.


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