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When to drop a customer?


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  #1  
Old 05-20-2008, 10:20 PM
tomcat172002
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Hi,

I started my business late last year I got 2 customers 1 moved and the other one decided to contract with me this year. I got an additional 13 customers all of which are happy with my mowing. My first customer however is unhappy with me using my Scag and would like me to use my self propelled mower instead( as I did last year). I know this kills my productivity because I have to cut his lawn with a 21 inch mower. He thinks the larger mower is pressing down his lawn and he won't let me use it. I really need the customer but other grasscutters have told me they wouldn't do a lawn for someone under these condtions. I am hoping to get more customers on his street and in the area but I didn't get any so far this year. Should I cut his lawn by hand until I get big enough that I won't need him or do I keep him hoping to grow the area?
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  #2  
Old 05-20-2008, 10:39 PM
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I have run into this problem more than once and I have handled it a few different ways.

1) *Explain to the customer that your scag has turf-tread tires designed specifically for residential types lawns.

2) *Tell your customer that you will be more than happy to mow his lawn in a different pattern each week to reduce damage to the grass and avoid soil compaction in specific areas.

3) *Cost/Benefit Analysis: *What is your effective per minute rate when doing this customer with your 21" self-propelled lawn mower? *Are you willing to work for this rate or is it out of the question?

4) *If you are not willing to work for that rate, ask the cutomer to pay more to make it worth your time.

If none of these methods work, you may have to drop him.

It sounds like your lawn care business is expanding nicely.

Good luck:

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Old 05-20-2008, 10:43 PM
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Hi Tom,

This is a very good question and I do look forwards to hearing others view point on this.

I think when you get started doing anything, you tend to do more than you might do later in business. When you start getting an idea of how much you need to do to get the job done without going overboard. Yet you don't want to under do things and let your service slack.

As we have seen in certain discussions on this site, some lawn care business owners get rid of a certain % of their customers each year that are a pain in order to make way for better customers that take less time to care for.

What's my view on this? Well, if you can still use this customer as a beachhead to gain more traction in the area, then do it as long as it is helpful in that regard and then let them go.

If they are annoying you now and holding you back, then get rid of them and find others to replace them with.

This is your business and you should be feeling good about running it and the working with the customers you care for. Certain customers will be right for you and certain customers won't. As you grow, you will find the ideal customer type for you and search out more of them.

What's your view on this?
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  #4  
Old 05-20-2008, 11:15 PM
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....if I asked you to mow my front lawn with a push mower, and you refused, I'd find someone who would do it my way not the "mow-blow-and-go" way. Does his house look like mine or is it a trailer?

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Old 05-21-2008, 11:14 AM
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Hi Eric,

That is a very nice house!

Do you think he should charge more for using a push mower if it takes more time or how should he go about handling this situation?
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Old 05-21-2008, 12:02 PM
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In some other posts in the past I've mentioned I keep contemplating buying a walk behindto service customer with smaller gates.... I went back & forth over this & ultimately decided not too. the little walk behinds take too much time & energy to use and aren't worth it for me financially.
I figured if it takes twice as long, than I could do 2 other accounts in that time, then the fact that I will be more tired after walking a lawn so I'll move slower for the rest of the day thus costing me even more time. Customers aren't willing to pay more that twice the amount just because you need a small less efficent machine. But that's what it would take to get me to do it and break even to what I could do otherwise.

I turned down a customer this week for the same reason. I told her to find a new company that was starving for work & was only using small mowers because they are just starting out so they won't increase the charge for it. I advised her to try to find a service that is licensed & insured though. She asked if I knew of any? and I told her no I did not due to the fact that most established, Licensed, & insured operators have been in the business a while & figured out that it is much more efficeint to run a larger machine. I said I'm sure they're out there but I don' know of any off hand.

It's just not worth it to me. I figured better to just turn it down & move on to the next estimate.
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Old 05-21-2008, 07:57 PM
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...times have sure changed. What do you charge per hour to do a lawn? Does it matter to the top line which mower you use? I'll bet it matters to the bottom line since the ROI on a push mower can be counted in months rather than years.
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Old 05-21-2008, 11:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] ]I figured if it takes twice as long, than I could do 2 other accounts in that time, then the fact that I will be more tired after walking a lawn so I'll move slower for the rest of the day thus costing me even more time. Customers aren't willing to pay more that twice the amount just because you need a small less efficent machine. But that's what it would take to get me to do it and break even to what I could do otherwise.
Chuck,

Did you quote her a higher price and then did she turn it down or did you just tell her flat out, you wouldn't do it?

I am wondering if the customer would pay more for a 'manicured job', if I can use that expression like that.


Eric,

When you were running your lawn care business, would you turn down such jobs? Would you change your estimate price if you were using a push mower when you could use a faster mower?

Maybe this is a bad direction to go?
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Old 05-22-2008, 01:31 AM
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I was doing high end houses with small front yards. I had two Toro 21" two cycle mowers that were not self propelled and one 44" walk behind on the residential mowing trailer. The owners specifically asked that the fronts be cut with push mowers. OK, no problem. I used a three man crew, the foreman used the 44" walk behind in the back while the pushers did the front. Those were my best and highest paying customers. All it took was a couple part timer students willing to learn, hustle and push.

The guys set a record on one lawn in 19 minutes 21 seconds including weedeating and blowing from the time the truck was put in park till drive. The largest yard was about an hour. Three of them were neighbors so the truck didn't move on those yards.

Almost every customer always asked me NOT to use riding mowers on their lawns. They had various excuses, but I think the unmentioned reason was they didn't want to pay someone to park his butt in a seat and race around the lawn. Most of my customers had their own riding mowers from 38" up to 48" decks. My pushers & walk behind could smoke 'em in speed and quality.
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Old 05-22-2008, 11:46 AM
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Eric,

Did you ever have a policy of reviewing your customer base each year and weeding out customers that you found weren't as profitable or that caused you too many problems?
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