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My favorite customer...NOT


General Talk

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  #1  
Old 07-27-2008, 02:25 AM
GottaMow GottaMow is offline
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Default My favorite customer...NOT

Ok so this lady has been a thorn in my foot for the last 2 months, I should have seen it coming but I did not. A little background.

I work for the Department of Transportation third shift 4 days a week (4 10 hr shifts) I try to do all my mowing on Friday, Still a small operation, Moving from a residential 22" push mower to a commercial 32" walkbehind this week.

So about 2 months ago on Friday morning about 9am I get a call from this lady that she would like an estimate for lawn care. I told her I could come by around noon and give her a quote. That wont do she says and wants me to come by at 3pm. I say ok.

So 3pm, 91 degrees, been up for 24 hours, humid as all h e l l .
She agrees to the estimate and wants me to cut it right then. I am money hungry so I go for it. (thought I was going to die). As I am finishing up she comes out and wants me to hit the weeds in her flower beds with the trimmer, ok fine. So the next week goes by without incident.

Then on week number 3 she comes out and follows me around and starts pointing out all the weeds in the flower bed that I did not "trim". As I finish the lawn this week I think to myself, next week I'm gonna talk to her about this trimming the weeds c r a p.

So the next week she calls me at 11am and wants to know if I am coming out "because my grass is really high and it needs cut". I told her that I had one more lawn before her and an estimate to give and I would be there around 12:30. So I get there and her power is out due to the previous nights storm and her sister died this week and the wake is at her house tonight and all these people are coming over and... yea OK just trim the weeds and get the heck out of there. The weed talk can wait a week.

So the next week is the 4th of July and I told her before I left that I was going to try to mow on Thursday because I was going out of town for the holiday. It poured down rained on Thursday. I called her and told her I would come over on Monday. So Monday at 10:15 she called (sounded really nasty) I need my lawn mowed and if you don't want to do it just let me know and I'll find someone else.

I'm thinking what the ??? So I get to her house around noon and shes not there. I mow and trim (even the darn weeds) and leave. I'll get paid next week.

So on Tuesday, I am in a class for work and she calls and leaves a message, I don't need you to mow my lawn anymore. When I called her back she said it was because she had to keep calling me to mow the lawn.

Now bare in mind that all her calls were before noon on the day she was scheduled to have the lawn mowed. I was baffled. So I went to pick up the final payment, now we have a contract that stipulates a 7 day notice in writing to cancel service. I mentioned this and she went ballistic. I cashed her check as soon as I left her house and I did not go back a week later.

Ben
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Old 07-27-2008, 01:47 PM
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Hi Ben,

People get fixated on certain things, like in this woman's case, the weeds in her flower bed. They have no control of anything in their life or anyone. Then they find an outlet for their lack of control. If they can hire someone to do their lawn, they can then nag them harass them and follow them around pointing out problems.

A very small percentage of your customer base will always include such people. They are not interested in getting their lawn mowed as they are in controlling you! They need to feel they can exert control.

I think it's always better to weed these people out of your customer base. Life is too short. This is your business and if you aren't enjoying it because of a few pain in the butt customers, then get rid of them and find others that won't be riding you. You will have a more enjoyable time in the long run.

My next question is do you think she gave you warning signs early on that she would be a problem?

Do you think you will be looking out for certain signs in the future and if so what would they be?
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  #3  
Old 07-27-2008, 08:38 PM
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Ben,


Your gonna run into these.... If you can afford to launch em' do so.
I usually include basic lawncare-mow, edge, trim, & blow off in my monthly & annual agreements, I have a few who demanded trimming & pruning be rolled into one monthly rate rather than billed separatly as needed....
So in each case I estimated the lenth of time to trim everything on the premisis x my hourly rate, x 4 times a year then divided it by 12 & added this figure to my monthly lawn rate. Still with me here? So where as most as needed customers hve me trim & clean up 2-3 times a year I figured I do it more often (4 times annually) & keep it looking good.

I have one guy that seems to give a **** less about the lawn, & is neurotic about the trimming & prunning? All summer last year every 2 weeks it was like "Aren't you gonna trim these damn hedges again?!" "No sir I did it 2 weeks ago", "well I'm paying to have them maintained all year long....! Theres a few sprouts sticking out there! blah blah..... yes sir I'll knock those off for you.... In the winter he kept saying stop running that hot mower (whatever the hell that means) over the lawn it doesn't need it! (grass was dormant, but the weeds get a foot tall over a 2 week period) Do some trimming while your here instead! last week I got the same speach but because "the rain makes the ground too soft to mow..... do sometrimming instead!" It's more like the guy wants 30 some odd trimming visits a year & 4 mowing visits instead of the other way around.... We hit the end of our contract last month. He called me & where I should have just dropped him, we agreed to just trim more & mow less... Stay at the same rate & contnue another year. While the whole situation aggrivated me all year long, The guy does like my work, & even sent me a tip around christmas, we just had a difference in expectations. In the end the customer is your boss (so to speak) so what the hell..... we'll try it his way! Hopefully this year wil be better with him.

Sorry to run on so long...
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