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  • Insatiable Customer

    I have just started a lawn care business and am excited to say I have 6 clients within 2 weeks (only 44+ to go!). Well, one of those customers is giving me a hard time.

    Seemingly everything I do is wrong and overpriced (and I'm WELL under the $60/minute rate). I believe they are trying to dupe me into more work for free by complaining about how much I charge (which we both agreed upon prior to work commencing). Today marks the 2nd time in the same week that they've called to try and have me come back and do more work for no charge. So I'm now going to take down banana trees for free because my hedge trim job was not to their standard.

    They lost their last lawn care guy (he wouldn't return their calls). Now I know why. Nothing is ever good enough for them, and they are constantly complaining about being overcharged.

    What have you done with customers like this? I really think I should do this last job and forget it, because I can see that they'll be more trouble than it is worth. At the same time, I want positive word-of-mouth - I don't want them to run to their friends and say that my company is incompitent and expensive.
    "A business that makes nothing but money is a poor kind of business." - Henry Ford

    Touchton's Complete Lawn Care

  • #2
    There are a few people like this out there, and are bound to pick one up every now and then, but if it were me, I would drop them and replace them with someone who appreciates your hard work and lower prices.
    Northern California

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    • #3
      Word of mouth

      I have just started a lawn care business and am excited to say I have 6 clients within 2 weeks (only 44+ to go!). Well, one of those customers is giving me a hard time.

      Seemingly everything I do is wrong and overpriced (and I'm WELL under the $60/minute rate). I believe they are trying to dupe me into more work for free by complaining about how much I charge (which we both agreed upon prior to work commencing). Today marks the 2nd time in the same week that they've called to try and have me come back and do more work for no charge. So I'm now going to take down banana trees for free because my hedge trim job was not to their standard.

      They lost their last lawn care guy (he wouldn't return their calls). Now I know why. Nothing is ever good enough for them, and they are constantly complaining about being overcharged.


      What have you done with customers like this? I really think I should do this last job and forget it, because I can see that they'll be more trouble than it is worth. At the same time, I want positive word-of-mouth - I don't want them to run to their friends and say that my company is incompitent and expensive.
      Don't worry about bad word of mouth from him. He is a "user" and everyone he knows knows it. He is the type that is always trying to get someone to do something for him and never return the favor. He is the one that is always borrowing something that doesn't seem to find its way home. His neighbors are probably wondering why you lasted so long?

      Trying to satisfy him (who can't be satisfied) only takes time away from other customers. Drop him. He is not worth the aggravation.

      Steve


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      • #4
        Well if you can honestly say the job was done right & the price was prearranged, IF they continue then drop em & move on.

        Did you mean $1/minute being $60/hr? Cause Either way.... $60/man hour does seem a bit high & $60/minute is absolutely insane.

        Most Tradesmen (plumbers, carpenters, electricians) are in in around $30-$40/per man hour. Most people still see landscapers as relatively unskilled labor. You need to be the cream of the crop to be hitting even $40/hr & land many jobs.

        Just my take on it.

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        • #5
          Well if you can honestly say the job was done right & the price was prearranged, IF they continue then drop em & move on.

          Did you mean $1/minute being $60/hr? Cause Either way.... $60/man hour does seem a bit high & $60/minute is absolutely insane.

          Most Tradesmen (plumbers, carpenters, electricians) are in in around $30-$40/per man hour. Most people still see landscapers as relatively unskilled labor. You need to be the cream of the crop to be hitting even $40/hr & land many jobs.

          Just my take on it.
          Not $60/min. My bad. It's really per job depending on how long it will take to do whatever it is I need to do. My lawns are $35 - $45. The hedge job was 1.5 hours and $50. The first service to their lawn was $45, included pulling weeds in rear of property, mow, edge, trim fence lines & exterior property, blow-off property, and herbicide application. I don't think $45 for all of that was too much. AND I am giving them the $25 per visit rate on regular lawn maintenance (mow, edge, trim, blow-off).

          So back to the hourly rate - I've heard many people say they won't even unload their equipment for less than $35 a visit, because the overhead to haul it, etc., isn't worth it. Is that reasonable?
          Last edited by TouchtonsCLC; 03-25-2009, 07:50 PM. Reason: Add something
          "A business that makes nothing but money is a poor kind of business." - Henry Ford

          Touchton's Complete Lawn Care

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          • #6
            I have 2 customers like this and they drive me insane. One just told me last week, when they received thier bill, that I had not serviced thier property all month! I had to kindly remind them that I was there as i had to pick up Februarys payment 2 weeks late.

            I plan on finishing the month out for them and givin' em the boot.

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            • #7
              When you first get a business started, you just don't understand the language of the business. You may know how to do a specific job, but understanding the language means understanding the business as a whole.

              It means understanding how to feel out customers before you bid on a project. As you go, if you are lucky enough to survive your initial trial by fire, you will start to notice warning signs. When these signs arise, you will do whatever it takes to get rid of them or avoid them.

              There are customers/people who would love nothing better than to tear you apart. Use you as much as they can and then try and destroy your business because they are miserable with their lives. They will trap you. Take and take and take and take.

              It's one thing to need to get the business started and take on whoever you can. But as soon as you can, we all have to stop being desperate and focus on the customers we are going to get the most bang for our time spent.

              10% of your customers will take up 90% of your time. Try and cull that 10% as often as possible so you can make room for more profitable customers.

              We only have so much time, energy and resources to spend each day. Spend it with profitable and happy customers.

              Thats my view at least.
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              • #8
                My instinct from the beginning told me that the lady was a little nutty. But I'm willing to give the people the benefit of the doubt and keep them as a customer. I suppose I'll go and try to make them happy. But if that doesn't work I'll tell them to pack sand.
                "A business that makes nothing but money is a poor kind of business." - Henry Ford

                Touchton's Complete Lawn Care

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                • #9
                  It's all a learning experience and no matter what, you will grow from it. I look forwards to your updates on the matter.
                  - Subscribe to my Lawn Care Marketing Blog Feed and get daily tips sent to you. Free!
                  Download your Free trial of Gopher Lawn Care Software.

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                  • #10
                    Insatiable Customer

                    All I can say, is drop them. PERIOD. Don't worry about the bad press from them. There are so many more client's out there. If a customer gives me a hard time and I did the job right and felt good about it, then strike 1. Next complaint, strike 2. The last issue , I tell them, they're Fired, not letting them fire me. I stand by my work 100%, and have customer tell me that all the time. BTW, Charge $60.00 per hour, and nothing less. If your work is that good, then walk the walk. Also, here in Florida, NO-ONE will work for under $60.00 and hour. IE: Auto-75, Air - cond. 75, Elect. 75, Computer work the lowest 60 an hour.

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                    • #11

                      Most Tradesmen (plumbers, carpenters, electricians) are in in around $30-$40/per man hour. Most people still see landscapers as relatively unskilled labor. You need to be the cream of the crop to be hitting even $40/hr & land many jobs.

                      Just my take on it.
                      Hey Chuck,
                      This would totally depend on where you live. There hasnt been any tradesmen that work at 30-40 per hour here since the 80's. Most are $65+. My stepdad does portable welding at $80 per hour and is swamped 11 months out of the year. I charge around $60, and dont get any complaints.
                      Just my 2 cents.
                      Northern California

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                      • #12
                        After sleeping on it, I've decided to refund their money for the job and walk. I'm not going to fix it to their specs, it was done right in the first place. Too bad for them.
                        "A business that makes nothing but money is a poor kind of business." - Henry Ford

                        Touchton's Complete Lawn Care

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                        • #13
                          Have you refunded their money to them yet? If so, what was their reaction? I suppose refunding them the cost of mowing one time is cheap insurance against a summer long of headache and stress.

                          Good luck,
                          Eli

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                          • #14
                            I got a cashier's check from the bank (for insurance) and went to deliver it. Wife said she didn't want to handle it, and would have husband call when he got home. He never called. I'm sending it certified mail tomorrow, along with a letter terminating any verbal agreements we may have had (no contract signed with them).
                            "A business that makes nothing but money is a poor kind of business." - Henry Ford

                            Touchton's Complete Lawn Care

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                            • #15
                              Of course she does not want to handle it. She just realized they no longer have a "sucker". This one got wise to their antics and struck back before the could do a lot of damage.

                              And yes, I think that was a great idea to get a cashiers check and to mail it certified is another great idea. Let us know how things go when they receive the letter and check.

                              Eli

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