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View Full Version : The "RED FLAGS" customers give out


Paradise Landscapes
05-05-2006, 01:06 PM
Here, we can post warning signs a customer will give-out so we know to avoid a problem ahead of time.

> Give me a cheap price, I'll get you alot of work.

lawnsbyrj
05-05-2006, 04:37 PM
i have a few freinds that need help if you hook me up.

"come on Man the last guy was $10 bucks cheaper, you can beat that ?"

BALSECA LANDSCAPING
05-05-2006, 05:44 PM
How About "i Have Other Properties" Or "my Family Members Could Use Service If You Could Match A Price" My Last Guy Only Charged $****

topsites
05-05-2006, 05:57 PM
You are right these can't really be explained but they are all red flags. As a rule, I give one red flag to the customer for free but the very next one, I RUN !

Here are some you may find of interest:
- If the customer says they have other estimates on the way, make sure to quote high because this one tends to knock your guide off - double whatever... You were thinking of quoting low weren't you? Yeah... watch out for that!
- If the customer wants to (translation: has to) meet you for the estimate, be careful and get ready to run after 20 minutes of them bs'ing you around. All that chit-chat is them coseying up to you, want to be your friend. You're not there to make friends, no offense.
- If the customer has to be there when you do the work, RUN !
- If they want to set the price or the schedule, or even exert control over it, watch out!
- If the customer wants the best price, quote double whatever you're thinking. (same reason as other estimates)
- If the estimate is for grass-cutting and when you get there the grass does not need to be cut or has been freshly cut, watch out. It takes some practice but by looking at the turf you can see by the marks what kind of mower did it: If it's a pushmower or a rider, this means the homeowner likely has a lawnmower someplace, chances are they have some real pita work they want done and the grass-cutting thing is to sweeten up the pot and to get a better price. If the mower's tracks are commercial (Wb or Ztr), it doesn't mean as much but still keep your eyes open.
- If the yard has never been properly maintained and is a filthy POS with hardly a dozen blades of grass, dirt and crap everywhere, RUN !
- If it involves leaves in the spring, double price.
- If the grass is up to your calves, knees, or higher: double price.
- If the customer talks bad about the last Lco (one or more of them, doesn't matter), RUN !
- If the customer talks melancholic about such-and-such used to do it for x-amount (x always a ridiculous low price), RUN !
- If the customer offers to send you TONS more business, RUN !

That's all I can think of for now.

topsites
05-05-2006, 06:14 PM
Some of these are advanced red flags, a few are safe to ignore in the first year or two, others are not. If you don't see my reasoning, then you can likely ignore it safely until the day you see it.
Here are some other clues they don't think much of you:

- If you find yourself thinking of peeing in their woods, and time and again it is always in their yard you have to go, something is
wrong <-- This is NOT the case if you always have day-long jobs such as at an 8-acre property, but it still could be a sign.

- If they bring out soda and snacks, you're a lawnboy to them. Politely decline or like I do, leave it sitting there untouched... And remember the gesture. Not always, I do have one who invites me to their Xmas party but that is all they do for me... Again, just a watch out type of thing.
- If they invite you in the house, you're no stranger. Although this might make you feel good, you are not their friend: As a rule, NEVER enter a customer's house. If you do, that can give them the superior position over you (not always, but).
- If you drive around the block 3 times and you finally have to call for directions and then you still can't find it for another 30 minutes... Should've let this one go after the second drive around the block. Not for sure, for sure, but I been there.
- If they come walking up to you off the side of the street and they stand there expecting you to shut down and stop everything you're doing: Keep right on working, or you will end up doing something for nothing everytime.
- If the MOST they are willing to pay is less than the LEAST you're willing to do it for (meaning you already said 30 when it should've been 35 and now they ask if you can do it for 25), RUN !
- If they think you can do it right now just because you showed up in the rig to give the estimate, RUN !

ALWAYS look up their property via their address and zip code on http://www.zillow.com/ - Now you know their acreage and the value of their home, but keep in mind the lot acreage is not all turf (for one, the house) but it helps your guide.

Peace out

BALSECA LANDSCAPING
05-05-2006, 06:39 PM
Hey Topsites Do You Have Any Other Websites Like That? That Is Very Cool

topsites
05-05-2006, 08:57 PM
Hey Topsites Do You Have Any Other Websites Like That? That Is Very Cool

Thanks ! :) Continue in a second

//////////////back to thread //////////////

Here's another one to watch out for:
- When a customer calls and gives you the impression they have several jobs for you (more than one thing) and by the time you get out there it becomes clear the ONLY thing they really need done is the leaves? RUN !!!
- When a customer flaunts the money, you might as well turn around and walk right then and there because when they do this it affects your ability to think clearly. Many ways to do this, they might mention they own other homes or in some cases they start throwing around all this work that needs doing (at least several hundred for starters and later a few thousand worth), and what this does is it makes greed get the best of you. Greed is one of the seven deadly sins and the reasons it is such is because greed clouds your judgement - Once your judgement is gone, you can no longer estimate the job correctly.
You could try and use the old 'double whatever price' but it's hard to fight this one and win.

///////////// OFF-thread ////////////
Yes that's actually my second web site, the first one I still work on as a hobby, I started it back in 2001 and it's considerably bigger than the business site. You can see some similarities in the design (such as the back button and the front-page logo).

Before I give you the link, it's not a porn or hacks and cracks site per se but it does have that stuff in there so it's not safe for children and I thought you should know that but:
http://atopqualitysite.com/

topsites
05-05-2006, 09:02 PM
Here's more stuff lol:

- When they call and talk about needing someone to cut grass on a regular basis and then you get out there and OH we got this one little PITA job... Yes I already mentioned this but here's a save move:

Be aware that I have done this many times and NEVER got the job so if you do this you will likely not get the job either! Matter of fact, I usually catch a dirty look but then again they really only wanted you to do the pita work for cheap and they'll let you cut the grass once or twice and then drop you.
Anyway, here's the solution:
Quote +50 dollars on the pita part and -5 on the grass-cut.
So if the pita job should be 200 and the grass-cut 35, tell them 250 on the pita and 30 on the cut.

Well it does work out, if they were true to their word (which they're not but that is not my problem), then 10 grass-cuts in they would come out even and you would start losing money - By end of year they would likely be 25-50 dollars ahead but since that wasn't the plan, they can call and get over on someone else because what they're hoping for is -50 on the pita and standard price on the grass-cut which is how their trick works because a lot of Lco's think they can make it up on the grass-cutting.

Rule: NEVER give a low price in order to gain future work.

Evergreenpros
05-06-2006, 02:21 PM
These have happened to me:
1. For sale sign on their home and they want a yearly contract
2. Notice of nonpayment from the last LCO on their door
3. Noticable contoversy between husband and wife
4. Lawn is nothing but weeds in a neighborhood of nice lawns and they only want mowing because they want a nice yard.
5. They don't look at the estimate nor read policies on the form, they just say "when can you start?"
6. Refuse to pay a deposit, no matter how small, yet they have no problem signing a contract
7. They have the worst yard on the block and they start telling you how to do your job down to every detail. YOU will be blamed for the yard not improving because they are convinced they are experts.
8. Foot tall grass and they want it bagged on the first cut yet are unwilling to pay an upcharge.

Tn Lawn Man
05-06-2006, 04:48 PM
1. They call the 1st of May (Southern region of US) and want to START service.

2. They immediately take control of the conversation and try to tell you when you will mow their yard.

3. Talking bad about the previous LCO.

4. Try to negotiate price like it is a flee market.

5. Immediately want to order every service that you offer.

Just getting started.....:)

topsites
05-06-2006, 05:27 PM
5. Immediately want to order every service that you offer.

Just getting started.....:)

Yeah these are real good, I'd forgotten some of those especially that 5) and they ONLY order every service you offer almost like they are reading your ad verbatim (to be honest, I think they are). <- Serious scammer, watch out!

ECS
05-06-2006, 06:02 PM
Here is one that a new home owner told us the end of last summer.

"I'll tell you right now, we are demanding, very demaniding and expect a lot. I think our ranch manager looks forward to us coming here so he doesn't have to deal with us for awhile."

PROCUT1
05-06-2006, 06:44 PM
You say a lot of things I agree with but some of these are pretty far out there. We accomodate many reasonable requests and make a ton of money doing so. These are spoken as a true solo operator. They wont work if you ever plan on being more than a one man show. Not knocking you at all.



You are right these can't really be explained but they are all red flags. As a rule, I give one red flag to the customer for free but the very next one, I RUN !

Here are some you may find of interest:
- If the customer says they have other estimates on the way, make sure to quote high because this one tends to knock your guide off - double whatever... You were thinking of quoting low weren't you? Yeah... watch out for that!

The quote is the quote. Why wouldent a customer that knows nothing about the the service get more than one quote?

- If the customer wants to (translation: has to) meet you for the estimate, be careful and get ready to run after 20 minutes of them bs'ing you around. All that chit-chat is them coseying up to you, want to be your friend. You're not there to make friends, no offense.

How the hell is it unreasonable for the customer wanting to meet the contractor thats going to be working on their property? Plus people do business with people they like.

- If the customer has to be there when you do the work, RUN !

We're professionals. I welcome people to watch our crews in action. As a matter of fact I like to join them with a couple of lawn chairs. Mowing maybe not but anything else, I like the customer to watch us in action.


- If they want to set the price or the schedule, or even exert control over it, watch out!

I agree with you here mostly, but if the customer wants mowing every Friday, thats what they want and if you dont do it someone else will

- If the customer wants the best price, quote double whatever you're thinking. (same reason as other estimates)

Again the price is the price, I'll make suggestions to work within their budget but only by substituting services.


- If the estimate is for grass-cutting and when you get there the grass does not need to be cut or has been freshly cut, watch out. It takes some practice but by looking at the turf you can see by the marks what kind of mower did it: If it's a pushmower or a rider, this means the homeowner likely has a lawnmower someplace, chances are they have some real pita work they want done and the grass-cutting thing is to sweeten up the pot and to get a better price. If the mower's tracks are commercial (Wb or Ztr), it doesn't mean as much but still keep your eyes open.

You read too much into things. I have a propane torch and a wrench in my house, should the plumber be leery of me? So youre saying that the customer that doesn't want to mow his lawn anymore should sell his mower before he calls you? In that case I hope my truck mechanic doesn't find out that I own a toolbox


- If the yard has never been properly maintained and is a filthy POS with hardly a dozen blades of grass, dirt and crap everywhere, RUN !

We're landscapers, if it werent for crappy yards, what would we have to improve?

- If it involves leaves in the spring, double price.

I agree
- If the grass is up to your calves, knees, or higher: double price.

Agree again

- If the customer talks bad about the last Lco (one or more of them, doesn't matter), RUN !

If they were happy with their last guy, why are they calling you. I always ask what they didnt like about their previous service

- If the customer talks melancholic about such-and-such used to do it for x-amount (x always a ridiculous low price), RUN !

The price is the price, is the price, is the price

- If the customer offers to send you TONS more business, RUN !

Thats why credits are offered AFTER we get the new business. Many times in our sealcoating business we have one person who ends up getting us a whole line of houses, then yes they are taken care of well

That's all I can think of for now.

PROCUT1
05-06-2006, 06:48 PM
Thanks ! :) Continue in a second

//////////////back to thread //////////////

Here's another one to watch out for:
- When a customer calls and gives you the impression they have several jobs for you (more than one thing) and by the time you get out there it becomes clear the ONLY thing they really need done is the leaves? RUN !!!

Why not just do the leaves?

- When a customer flaunts the money, you might as well turn around and walk right then and there because when they do this it affects your ability to think clearly. Many ways to do this, they might mention they own other homes or in some cases they start throwing around all this work that needs doing (at least several hundred for starters and later a few thousand worth), and what this does is it makes greed get the best of you. Greed is one of the seven deadly sins and the reasons it is such is because greed clouds your judgement - Once your judgement is gone, you can no longer estimate the job correctly.
You could try and use the old 'double whatever price' but it's hard to fight this one and win.

Ill take the customer that wants thousands of dollars in work.
///////////// OFF-thread ////////////
Yes that's actually my second web site, the first one I still work on as a hobby, I started it back in 2001 and it's considerably bigger than the business site. You can see some similarities in the design (such as the back button and the front-page logo).

Before I give you the link, it's not a porn or hacks and cracks site per se but it does have that stuff in there so it's not safe for children and I thought you should know that but:
http://atopqualitysite.com/
............................................

dKoester
05-06-2006, 10:09 PM
I have one lady who said she had friends that would use my company. It turned out she had 3 people who hired us because my crew does such a good job. Not all people who say they have friends and offer to give you business are bad. Use wisdom.

topsites
05-06-2006, 11:03 PM
You say a lot of things I agree with but some of these are pretty far out there. We accomodate many reasonable requests and make a ton of money doing so. These are spoken as a true solo operator. They wont work if you ever plan on being more than a one man show. Not knocking you at all.

I understand your point, well said. Again you guys have to decide for yourselves, there was a customer today invited me inside the house and then gave me some water... Was it a red flag? Plain and simple, no.
Why not?
Because she didn't mean it the wrong way, but these things are hard to explain, it's not so much what happens but how they do it that gives it away.

And yes, I did say some of these are advanced red flags and some likely pertain only to me... Another way to say it is, what works for one of us may or may not work for someone else. Some of them you may never run into or like you said, it's just so far out there but they are the kind of little clues I watch for, and it is still hard to explain.

A lot of it really has to do with 'are they trying to drive my boat?' Are they trying to see how many buttons they can push before I say HEY !!! But at this point, if they're pushing my buttons just to see what happens, it is best to leave because saying HEY won't do a bit of good.

I compare a business to a big boat a lot. In a lot of ways it is just like that, and if you are the owner then you are the captain.

Someone walking into my captain's cabin isn't bad per se, even if they sit down in my chair. But when they grab the rudder and start fooling with the throttle and other controls, that nonsense stops before they hit an iceberg and I end up below bailing water to keep from sinking... Because after all is said and done, a LOT of people like to test-drive someone else's business but WHEN things get nitty-gritty, it is always the owner fixing the mistakes and bailing water... That in and of itself is frustrating enough, but what really irks me is the thought that Mr. test-drive over there is thinking how cool that just was.

Tn Lawn Man
05-06-2006, 11:21 PM
"Red Flags" are simply indicators of a possible problem.

It does not mean that there will BE a problem....just an a possible indicator.

Don't be so generalizing everyone.

Paradise Landscapes
05-07-2006, 10:41 AM
If a customer wants a job done and they mention if the family helps. OR metions anything about family doing any work at all, RUN!

If the customer invites you for supper, RUN!

Freddy_Kruger
05-07-2006, 12:38 PM
Hows this for a red flag.

You phone a customer to politely ask if they forgot to mail their check for power raking (happens all the time, I can understand that) it's 3 weeks late. When they find out who you are they hang up the phone... I thought maybe they had phone problems a loose jack or something.. so I phone back and they keep hanging up until untill they phone me and start arguing which i'm into at this point.

Short story, they left the check in the mail box but will file a complaint with the better business bereau, lol.

Evergreenpros
05-07-2006, 01:44 PM
Hows this for a red flag.

You phone a customer to politely ask if they forgot to mail their check for power raking (happens all the time, I can understand that) it's 3 weeks late. When they find out who you are they hang up the phone... I thought maybe they had phone problems a loose jack or something.. so I phone back and they keep hanging up until untill they phone me and start arguing which i'm into at this point.

Short story, they left the check in the mail box but will file a complaint with the better business bereau, lol.

Yet another customer using the BBB as an agent of extortion. We need a Better Customer Bureau where nonpayers, pita customers, and the like can be reported. Would save us billions a year in lost revenue and stress of dealing with these people. We can also have a Better Employee Bureau where we can report bad employees, just like a credit report. But of course since we live in a reduex of nazism which is socialistic corporatism the credit report system only protects large businesses and the government.

PROCUT1
05-07-2006, 05:10 PM
I cant beleive how many people actually think the BBB is a government entity and that they will actually take action on a complaint. I thought the same thing until they called and asked me to pay some rediculious amount of money to join

sheshovel
05-07-2006, 06:26 PM
If you find yourself thinking of peeing in their woods, and time and again it is always in their yard you have to go, something is
wrong 0.{Quote Topsites}

If they bring out soda and snacks, you're a lawnboy to them. Politely decline or like I do, leave it sitting there untouched... And remember the gesture
{Quote Topsites}

Gimmie a break here..do you realize just how ridiculous this crap sounds...Geeze!
Oh common Topsites..you have no Idea how to handle customers nor control your bladder apparently!:hammerhead: :hammerhead: :hammerhead:

cwlawley
05-07-2006, 06:31 PM
People get really serious on this site, don't they?

Freddy_Kruger
05-07-2006, 08:07 PM
Yet another customer using the BBB as an agent of extortion. We need a Better Customer Bureau where nonpayers, pita customers, and the like can be reported. Would save us billions a year in lost revenue and stress of dealing with these people. We can also have a Better Employee Bureau where we can report bad employees, just like a credit report. But of course since we live in a reduex of nazism which is socialistic corporatism the credit report system only protects large businesses and the government.
Some good Ideas and if you want to talk socialism, move to canada, lol.:canadaflag:

I'm not worried about the BBB. I pay them money on a monthly basis I will simply ask them if I can with hold my payment until I can argue for 10 minutes with someone, lol. No they're good ppl and I give them money, I do 500 customers and I get one complaint because I had the audacity to ask for payment.:laugh:

JT1304
05-07-2006, 10:59 PM
You're like the 5th or 6th guy I've had to use this year. Customer is now seeking his 6th or 7th. ONE WEEK and couldn't take it.He would call everyday from NYC to gripe or want something for nothing.:confused:

topsites
05-07-2006, 11:05 PM
If you find yourself thinking of peeing in their woods, and time and again it is always in their yard you have to go, something is
wrong 0.{Quote Topsites}

If they bring out soda and snacks, you're a lawnboy to them. Politely decline or like I do, leave it sitting there untouched... And remember the gesture
{Quote Topsites}

Gimmie a break here..do you realize just how ridiculous this crap sounds...Geeze!
Oh common Topsites..you have no Idea how to handle customers nor control your bladder apparently!:hammerhead: :hammerhead: :hammerhead:

There are only so many times a day I have to go. Usually, I sweat so hard that I can drink a gallon of water and still never have to go pee but it did come to my attention over the years that some lawns do it to me more than others, and maybe it's just me and maybe it's a guy-only thing but it did dawn on me there was a connection between the pita factor or maybe it was underpriced, and the fact I would feel the need to relieve myself in that one particular yard more than others, if at all.

Red flags are more than 'if this happens it is for sure,' and what is a red flag to me may or may not be one to you, it is but a guideline, some things surely clue you in as well. If some of my stuff sounds ridiculous, maybe it's because I am a little bit ridiculous myself, who knows?

//////////////////////////// BBB stuff ///////////

As for the BBB, the better business bureau is registered as an LLC, guess what? My company is also registered as an LLC so really the BBB is no bigger or higher or better than me, and it's really just a business in the business of record-keeping. Fact is, your record with them is clean to begin with but should someone complain, you can then get their gold or premium membership and this helps smooth some things out, so money talks with the BBB. The BBB is NOT government affiliated, they have absolutely no power over you and are simply a record-keeping company which oddly enough is based out of Reston (or maybe it's Herndon) VA, which coincidentally happens to be the same town where the Time-Warner corporation is headquartered (Aol, Time-Life books, Warner movie studios) and although the connection isn't for sure, at least in my mind it would not surprise me if the BBB was actually a part of that as well.

What I didn't like is the BBB would call me every single year from the number that was on the ad I PAID FOR! As far as I'm concerned, my paid ad is for customers and telemarketers have no right to use that information, they need to pay for their own advertising and not bother me with the ad I paid for. But time and again, every year I told them to stop calling me and they swore up and down that they would honor my request... And next year, they'd call me again sure as the sun comes up in the mornings. The last time they called I told them if they called again they would be reported to the Do-not-call-registry and they again solemnly pledged to never bother me again. One more year passed and of course they called one more time, after which I filed a complaint with the Registry and ever since that day I have never heard from them again.

Green Pastures
05-08-2006, 09:35 PM
My prices are not negotiable.

M RASCOE&SONS
05-08-2006, 09:51 PM
1) im on a fixed income 2) the other guy did it for $29 3) how much for just mowing no trimming 4) anyone can mow...i have heard them all:hammerhead:

mike lane lawn care
05-08-2006, 10:43 PM
1)I think you're a little high, maybee $5 lower-this was at a guys second home on a lake.
2) while you are puting down 4 cubic yards of mulch, can you mow the front yard also.
3) when construction starts on my new deck and there are rocks all over the lawn, could you lower the price because we are loosing about 500 square feet of lawn.

Freddy_Kruger
05-08-2006, 11:46 PM
1)I think you're a little high, maybee $5 lower-this was at a guys second home on a lake.

Some people just HAVE to negotiate, in some cultures its actually expected by both parties.

topsites
05-09-2006, 01:06 AM
Some people just HAVE to negotiate, in some cultures its actually expected by both parties.

That is fine but this is America and if they're from another country then they need to adjust to us and not the other way around, much in the same way if I moved to their country I would have to adjust to their ways.

Here's couple more:
"I would do it myself but I don't have the time."
"Is it cheaper to hire you or if I do it myself?"

^^^^ LOL on that last one it didn't take me long to come up with an answer, anytime they asked me who could do it cheaper, I always came back with "Oh it is absolutely cheaper if you do it yourself" and that was the end of it.

A LOT of these are not so much red flags but low-balling tactics. Sayings like these will throw off whatever price I had in my head, so if I was thinking 40 dollars and a comment like this flies my way, suddenly the 40 has been replaced by a 25 or a 30 dollar figure, guess what? They just gave themselves away, that happens to be the price they are willing to pay but it doesn't mean you should fall for this because the price of the work is still 40 dollars and if you meet their price, you are done.
The reason I don't like these comments is sometimes I can not remember where I was before they said whatever, and now I am stuck with this low figure and I know I am off-path... Unfortunately, at least half the time when this happens, I simply double the price in my head and every comment they throw, I double it again. In the end, they get a quote around 60-80 for the original 40-dollar job but as soon as the quote comes out of my mouth, it's over and I can finally leave.

Freddy_Kruger
05-09-2006, 01:20 AM
I have always had the policy of negotiating prices in window cleaning, eaves, snow and now lawns. I did advertise a price for specific lot sizes but I still have to negotiate to avoid alienating potential customers.
Just yesterday I was doing a power rake job and the neighbour wanted a quote for just the front yard. I had a lot on my mind and told him $45, he said thats a little high how about $35. Because I wasn't in a good mood to talk I just said NO! and walked back to my job. Lost a sale, I probably could have done it for $40 bucks if I was more talkative.