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View Full Version : Should I drop this customer?


howardsells2000
05-02-2006, 10:59 PM
Through a friend I picked up this account about a month ago. This guy own's two 7-11 stores and three houses and I acquired all of them. They are all priced low but since it is five properties I accepted the deal. This guy has complained about my prices every time he asks me to do something extra. Usually because he has the five properties I give in. Now he has really set me off. He wanted two yards of mulch delivered and spread at one of his stores. First I told him I was to busy with cutting lawns right now but again he talked me into it. I quoted him a price of $70.00 a yard. He again complained I was to expensive. We agreed on $125.00 for two yards. I go and pick up the mulch and while I'm waiting I start talking with some of the other lawn guys getting mulch and it turns out that most everyone else is getting $100.00 a yard for their jobs. So that starts to eat at me. But I don't say anything to him about this. This morning I finish spreading the mulch and he shows up with a plastic border that he wants put around one of the flower beds. I tell him that was not included in our price. He wants me to install it for free. I tell him that it will probably take me an hour to install this. I tell him it will cost an additional $50.00. He laughs and says that means I would be making $50.00 an hour. I told him that is right. I always shoot for about $50.00 an hour no matter what I'm doing. He says no way and that he will pay me $150.00 for the whole job. That means $25.00 for installing the plastic border. I'm now really pissed off but do the job. As soon as I started I realize he didn't buy the plastic stakes that you need to help anchor the plastic in place. I do my best and because there is a curb around this flower bed I dig down behind the curb about 2 inches and use it to help hold the border in place then use the mulch and dirt on the other side. When I was done it looked pretty good. I go in and tell him that he need to buy the plastic anchors. He tells me that since I know what they are for me to go to home depot and buy them and install them tomorrow for him. I think to myself, what am I your Eran boy. I feel like telling him to find someone else that he can afford. I really feel like he is taking advantage of me. I'm thinking about calling him in the morning and telling him that I will cut his grass and that is all. Don't ask me to do anything else. This is probably my own fault because I let him negotiate my prices in the beginning just to get the work. I really have enough accounts now that I don't need his but at the same time I don't like losing any income. What do you guys think? My guess is your going to say I'm being a wussy and need to stand up for myself. At least thats what I'm thinking. Maybe I just answered my own question.

PMLAWN
05-02-2006, 11:04 PM
You do not have 1 under priced job --- You have FIVE..

Brings up the saying-- I lose a little on every job but I make it up on volume. ??

JT1304
05-02-2006, 11:11 PM
Just picked up a customer who gripes constantly. Like yours , he always wants something for nothing. This is my last month working for him. I cant take his crap anymore. Good luck to ya.

topsites
05-02-2006, 11:31 PM
I'm not here to advise you on your first year to drop customers because you might need the money in the end but I will tell you that I would never tolerate such bs from any of mine, at least not anymore.

In my first couple of years (and especially in my first) I put up with quite a lot of crap but even then I had one or two that was just too much, and I did what I had to do in order to preserve my sanity and my business.

As for your question regarding if this customer is profitable, the simple answer is no, he's taking advantage of you and you're barely making it but in my first few years I had more than a few like that and they helped me make it, too... A lot of it had to do with how they treated me, not so much the profit but just if they were ok to deal with then I found them easier to tolerate as well even if I did lose some money... And lose money I did, but the ones who were ok with me, for the most part I was ok with that.

Good luck!

PMLAWN
05-02-2006, 11:49 PM
If you are new(er) to this business you are probably making less than you know. If you feel that you are low and close to making profit, I would bet that you are not making profit ( I say this because I have done it --Not because I am a smart a**) It is much better to sit on your butt and make no money than to work it off for no money. (again I say this because I have done it)

dKoester
05-02-2006, 11:55 PM
Get some better clients then leave this guy.

CutInEdge Lawn Care
05-03-2006, 12:23 AM
Do you have a contract stating exactly what you are charging for? Does your contract have a clause that states any additional services will be done per $..... Tell customers upfront I dont go to home depot even for my wife (although I do). More times than not you will spend hrs going to and from HD + looking for and standing inline. If he is wanting all these additional things tell him it's time to renegotiate the contract so you are both on the same page. It's can be a win win for both of you... Just hold your own on the second go around. Just remember this type of owner talks to many people throughout the course of a day.

Freddy_Kruger
05-03-2006, 12:38 AM
When I don't like a customer or a job I raise the price and usually that's the end of the conversation (and the job) in the end though I actually like most of my regular customers and they like me. I'm talking window cleaning but most of my new lawn customers are my window or snow customers. The problem I have is raising prices, even when I know I should, when I like a customer.

As far as letting customers that are ignorant go, I might put up with more bs if I really needed the money. If a new customers PO's me, I remember it even next year and I won't go down that slippery slope again with him. I would dump that customer if I were you. I would get what money he owes, bump up the price and if he says he wont pay it, I would say I'm sorry to hear that. end of conversation (I wouldn't bother to argue with him though).

cessnasovereign
05-03-2006, 01:01 AM
I would have never let him do that to me in the first place. I mean that sounds like a regular boss and escaping that kind of behavior is why I'm in the business in the first place. But I just dropped my first customer last week. The yard was total crap, weeds all in the grass, overgrown beds and rotten wood, tree stumps, piles of junk, wood piles, scaffolding, etc. So it wasn't the White house, yet almost everytime I'd cut, she'd come out and point out the mistakes, and it'd be stuff like "there's still grass growing out of the firewood pile" or "here's a blade you missed" and literally single blades of grass I skipped over when weedeating or impossible to get grass in a firewood stack or a slight unevenness on a steep slope when they don't even use to back yard for all the trash. I couldn't stand it anymore so I told her I felt it would be best if she went with another company.

Runner
05-03-2006, 01:39 AM
:laugh: Your second sentence of the post says it all!!! "This guy own's two 7-11 stores and three houses...":rolleyes:
Think about it a moment. What...this guy doesn't own a motel or two? Or how about a gas station?
Don't take any CRAP from these people! They think they can come into this country and be so much over everyone else because they ALWAYS find a sucker in the crowd. As soon as they are done with you, they'll move on to the next...al the while laughing at you not only behind your back, but right in front of you while speaking their native language. Tell them to screw off. Do the right thing!:usflag:

QualityLawnCare4u
05-03-2006, 03:07 AM
:laugh: Your second sentence of the post says it all!!! "This guy own's two 7-11 stores and three houses...":rolleyes:
Think about it a moment. What...this guy doesn't own a motel or two? Or how about a gas station?
Don't take any CRAP from these people! They think they can come into this country and be so much over everyone else because they ALWAYS find a sucker in the crowd. As soon as they are done with you, they'll move on to the next...al the while laughing at you not only behind your back, but right in front of you while speaking their native language. Tell them to screw off. Do the right thing!:usflag:

Runner, you beat me to it on this one! I was fixing to ask the same question. These folks will cause you nothing but constant problems. Make him go away right now, not next week, not tomorow, but right now! I had enough of this crap my first few years in biz and I put up with it and it aint worth it. These kind of clients will dump you anyway first time they find someone a buck cheaper.

Tn Lawn Man
05-03-2006, 08:28 AM
Remember this: This is not some little old lady living on social security who barely has enough to pay the kid down the block $5 to butcher her lawn every third week of the month.

This is a business man who owns businesses and homes.

Treat him like a business.

Calculate your price and that is it. I guarantee if you walk into one of his stores and ask him to give you a big gulp at 20% off because you are buying 5 of them for you and your family he would laugh you out the door.

Quit taking this so personal. Do not simply tell him that you only want to do grass cutting. Instead, set a price that will be worth your time and stick to it.

P.S. You are not a wuss. We all have to choose between putting food on the table and eating crap from people from time to time.

CutInEdge Lawn Care
05-03-2006, 08:39 AM
Real business renogotiate contracts everyday. Boeing, Time Warner, etc...

PMLAWN
05-03-2006, 08:40 AM
:laugh: Your second sentence of the post says it all!!! "This guy own's two 7-11 stores and three houses...":rolleyes:
Think about it a moment. What...this guy doesn't own a motel or two? Or how about a gas station?
Don't take any CRAP from these people! They think they can come into this country and be so much over everyone else because they ALWAYS find a sucker in the crowd. As soon as they are done with you, they'll move on to the next...al the while laughing at you not only behind your back, but right in front of you while speaking their native language. Tell them to screw off. Do the right thing!:usflag:

I thought that too, but than the part about mulch and even more, the boarders? Fixing up a place is very inconsistent with the norm.

PMG
05-03-2006, 09:01 AM
I assume you are a professional company and not a guy in a beat up truck with a push mower in the back, not that there is anything wrong with it.

The bottom line is customer education, we have all given into the customer we think may be able to give us more or maybe we will make more money off of him in the future and we have all lost money on these customers.

For the most part we are all professional companies and I refuse to be treated any other way by a customer who thinks I can't find a real job so I maintain lawns. I will not let them dictate the way I bill or the amount I bill. If you go to a car dealer to have work done, they have a flat rate, there is no negotiation, you pay what they charge....why is that. It is because they are seen as professionals in their respective field.

I am a professional, I charge what I charge because I am professional. I will negotiate with a customer on certain occasions, but for the most part, I don't. If they have been my customer or even if they are a new customer, all my relationships begin with customer education. They are not getting a fly by night guy, they are getting a professional with many years of experience, this comes with a cost and I don't negotiate my professionalism or my experience.

I guess I should answer your question....If you are making money on the maintenance, then I would continue to provide the service. For all other services, provide a written quote and stick to your price, you are the professional. Do you go into his 7-11 and tell him you only want to pay 25 cents for the soda or tell him how to run his business....I am guessing no although, maybe you should try it and see how it goes....

Customer Education.....To be honest, I would tell him just that, if you feel he is taking advantage of you, let him know you are a professional in your field much like he is a professional at running his business and since you would never tell him how to do his job, you would expect the same respect.


Peter.

SWD
05-03-2006, 09:37 AM
You have already lost - once you begin to lower/negotiate down your prices you have set a dangerous precedent. Provided you speak with this individual and assert yourself, your out the door.
Take a very, very close look at your costs, actually figure out your economic thresholds - don't guess, and incorporate this knowledge in to future business dealings with new customers.
I would advise never, ever, discussing or debating hourly rates with a customer. Simply state what the charge is, the service you will provide for that charge, and leave it at that.
As an addendum to this - there are certain clients of mine, whom I have provided services for in excess of four years, who routinely spend $10K or more per year with me - even these people I refuse to alter prices just a bit on ancillary tasks around their home.
With the next customer, stick to your known numbers - that is what a profit margin is written for. If you really, really, really want or need the job, mess with your profit margin - not your actual overhead.

garth1967
05-03-2006, 10:12 AM
mate you are at cross road here .the reason why you are feeling angry here is because there is something deep in side you that knows something wrong with this situation.sure ,he has many properties and your thinking that is alot to loose.im in my second year now and i have had many of these conundrums ,i have tossed and turned and gone crazy.when i finally approach these people and acted in my best interests and not theres i find myself,not only relieved,but ifind i have time to fit in jobs that are of better quality and more profitable.i am confident enough to tell these types that they better off getting a part timmer or somebody who doesnt have the overheads you do do i.e insurance etc .good luck with what your are doing and let us know how you go with all this.cheers

ArkansasLawns
05-03-2006, 10:37 AM
You have to ask.

Get happy! Drop him.

howardsells2000
05-03-2006, 10:43 PM
I thought all night about what I was going to say to this customer today and before I could he calls me and say's I've got three more accounts for you. Two gas stations and a waterfront house. So I kept my mouth shut and will probably take on his three more accounts. I will hold my breath and see what happens in the future.

Freddy_Kruger
05-03-2006, 11:15 PM
I thought all night about what I was going to say to this customer today and before I could he calls me and say's I've got three more accounts for you. Two gas stations and a waterfront house. So I kept my mouth shut and will probably take on his three more accounts. I will hold my breath and see what happens in the future.
That sneaky bastad lol.

chriscraft
05-03-2006, 11:19 PM
Through a friend I picked up this account about a month ago. This guy own's two 7-11 stores and three houses and I acquired all of them. They are all priced low but since it is five properties I accepted the deal. This guy has complained about my prices every time he asks me to do something extra. Usually because he has the five properties I give in. Now he has really set me off. He wanted two yards of mulch delivered and spread at one of his stores. First I told him I was to busy with cutting lawns right now but again he talked me into it. I quoted him a price of $70.00 a yard. He again complained I was to expensive. We agreed on $125.00 for two yards. I go and pick up the mulch and while I'm waiting I start talking with some of the other lawn guys getting mulch and it turns out that most everyone else is getting $100.00 a yard for their jobs. So that starts to eat at me. But I don't say anything to him about this. This morning I finish spreading the mulch and he shows up with a plastic border that he wants put around one of the flower beds. I tell him that was not included in our price. He wants me to install it for free. I tell him that it will probably take me an hour to install this. I tell him it will cost an additional $50.00. He laughs and says that means I would be making $50.00 an hour. I told him that is right. I always shoot for about $50.00 an hour no matter what I'm doing. He says no way and that he will pay me $150.00 for the whole job. That means $25.00 for installing the plastic border. I'm now really pissed off but do the job. As soon as I started I realize he didn't buy the plastic stakes that you need to help anchor the plastic in place. I do my best and because there is a curb around this flower bed I dig down behind the curb about 2 inches and use it to help hold the border in place then use the mulch and dirt on the other side. When I was done it looked pretty good. I go in and tell him that he need to buy the plastic anchors. He tells me that since I know what they are for me to go to home depot and buy them and install them tomorrow for him. I think to myself, what am I your Eran boy. I feel like telling him to find someone else that he can afford. I really feel like he is taking advantage of me. I'm thinking about calling him in the morning and telling him that I will cut his grass and that is all. Don't ask me to do anything else. This is probably my own fault because I let him negotiate my prices in the beginning just to get the work. I really have enough accounts now that I don't need his but at the same time I don't like losing any income. What do you guys think? My guess is your going to say I'm being a wussy and need to stand up for myself. At least thats what I'm thinking. Maybe I just answered my own question.
I would have dropped him yesterday. I have major issues with gas stations party store owners and slumlords, they all want something for nothing, well 95% do anyway , the other 5% i can live with. It"s not worth the headache. $100 a yard is kind of high for this area and remember waht people say they make and actually make are usually 2 different things. $75.00 a yard is pretty standard around here. If i was putting 2 yards here and 1 at another store , i wouldnt budge. But id he wanted 6 yards at one store i might budge a bit. but for 5-10 yards at 5 diff locations i wouldnt drop .

topsites
05-03-2006, 11:25 PM
I thought all night about what I was going to say to this customer today and before I could he calls me and say's I've got three more accounts for you. Two gas stations and a waterfront house. So I kept my mouth shut and will probably take on his three more accounts. I will hold my breath and see what happens in the future.

It's all good, I'm in my 5th year and I feel like I'm losing my tail on one deal of mine and it's just like yourself I got involved with some property, too... So don't feel too bad, don't be afraid to raise your prices some and set a few rules and limits, play it by ear and play it best you can and best of luck to you!

p.s.: don't hold your breath too long lol

MowForLess
05-11-2006, 03:33 PM
Howardsells2000. This guy did not get to where he is by paying top dollar for everything. Now you may need this customer, you may not. Right now he has you by the balls. Are you the "neighbor kid" trying to make money for a pack of baseball cards or the Professional LCO who sets his prices the same way your customer sets his prices on the items you buy in his store. And last I looked you pay CONVENIENCE store prices at a 7-11. He will tell you his candy bar costs more because he ain't Wal-Mart. Well, you sure as hell, are not doing this conveniently are you????? Just a thought. Be professional. Good Luck

MarcSmith
05-11-2006, 03:42 PM
FWIW if it a seven eleven, and if I am not mistake, TGLC got the corporate contract for the 7-11's last year he may be trying to get a bunch of crap outta ya before tglc takes the contract over and at a higher price.

HOOLIE
05-11-2006, 08:28 PM
We do all residentials but some of them are business owners themselves....seems like there's no inbetween with them, either they are very understanding and pay promptly and value your work, or they are cheap bastards always nickle and diming you. I think we know which category your customer falls under :laugh:

Ocean Side
05-11-2006, 10:33 PM
Who sets the prices you or him, sounds like you are going to be working in his store soon, you are in business, you set the prices, you t ell him what it is going to cost him. If he doesnt like it and you are lower than the others, he will be back!

topsites
05-11-2006, 10:40 PM
We do all residentials but some of them are business owners themselves....seems like there's no inbetween with them, either they are very understanding and pay promptly and value your work, or they are cheap bastards always nickle and diming you. I think we know which category your customer falls under :laugh:

Although I have dealt and do deal with a few business owners worth my time, it has been my experience that at least half don't think twice about getting over on someone else... It's sick, it is the reason I used to think running a business was all about scamming people, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Let those guys fend for themselves, I always say.

Freddy_Kruger
05-12-2006, 12:42 AM
The thing about Volume work is that if you have to do it yourself it sucks and its not worth it. Volume work is only good if you can get yer guys to do it then it helps your company out both in keeping guys working AND you make some money. But if its just you then your better off with full priced jobs or at least thats the way I've thought for a long time. If I get lots of work its because I'm good not because I'm extra cheap. If you come across some sweet jobs and you happen to have difficulty getting them done becuase your time is obligated to volume work...

I don't know if thats good advice actually but I'm a guy that avoids commercial completely. I'm strictly residential.

MarcSmith
05-12-2006, 07:38 AM
I am not trying to be rascist.....But is this person of middle eastern descent? That culture thrives on price haggling. I had a pakistani Dr. who I did full service maintenence for. He tried to haggle over a $5 (per month) increase after 2 years of no increases. Only when I asked him if I could haggle on my hospital bill if I ever needed medical assistance did he shut up....

Maybe you can work out a deal on getting cheap gas from him? That might be worth him being a PITA.....

Freddy_Kruger
05-12-2006, 12:05 PM
I am not trying to be rascist.....But is this person of middle eastern descent? That culture thrives on price haggling. I had a pakistani Dr. who I did full service maintenence for. He tried to haggle over a $5 (per month) increase after 2 years of no increases. Only when I asked him if I could haggle on my hospital bill if I ever needed medical assistance did he shut up....

Maybe you can work out a deal on getting cheap gas from him? That might be worth him being a PITA.....
You can find ppl like that in all races. It has nothing to do with race in fact, its a people thing.

HOOLIE
05-13-2006, 01:19 AM
You can find ppl like that in all races. It has nothing to do with race in fact, its a people thing.

It really is a racial/cultural thing...in America (or Canada I suppose) we're used to fixed prices, but in a lot of other countries haggling/negotiating is the norm and expected.

Reliable Lawns
05-13-2006, 12:26 PM
With any due respect, I knew the answer at " 7 - 11 " Good Luck

goodgreen
05-14-2006, 09:50 AM
You will find in time that when you drop one like this....another one better pops up to replace it! There's a whole world of clients out there...go find them! Send out some post cards or put some flyers on door handles.