View Full Version : Stingy Bickering Customers

Albemarle Lawn
10-20-2001, 12:38 PM
Shady Brook's psycho customer story reminded me of this...

This is not a full-blown psycho, but one with a CHRONIC case of the STINGIES!!!

Last week on a residential landscape project we delivered 3 loads of mulch and 2 loads of pea gravel.

We charged $20 per load on the delivery, total $100. No mark-up on the stone and mulch was marked up 20% from wholesale to retail.

Anyway, the lady calls this am to complain about the $100 in delivery costs. Each run was over 36 miles round trip. A tandem dump could have moved these materials in 3 loads (1 hardwood mulch, one pine bark, and one stone).

I tried to explain to her that I was trying to save $ because the tandem would cost $60 per load X (3) loads = $180.00. She just wanted to bicker so I said fine we'll just charge for 3 loads at $20 and call it $60.00 for delivery. Ate the $40.00.


She is a nice enough customer, and the project total was about $1800.00 so I ate the $40.00. But every time I send her an itemized bill she finds something like this to call me on.

I think from now on I will give her a fixed up-front price in writing and then whether delivery is 3 loads or 5 will be my problem.


Randy Scott
10-20-2001, 02:36 PM
You state that "she is a nice enough customer". It doesn't sound like it to me. If she complains on every bill about something, I would either get rid of her or start figuring in an extra $50 for everything you do for her. If she expects money off every time she doesn't like the total of the bill, then start adding it in ahead of time. My business is new to me but the ways of life aren't. If people are going to complain or argue prices I shut them down instantly. The price is the price. I will do nothing, before I start giving my work away. I know my overhead and margins and if they don't want to pay the price I need and want, I will move on and let the next guy take it in the a$$.

10-20-2001, 02:42 PM
Some people will do this all the time, If you know this in advance it's simple- charge more. And let her have her way. She will be very happy and proud of herself, you may even make more money.

10-20-2001, 06:37 PM
Its hard to get rid of those customers that pay alot to us, but check this out. This little old lady I had last year wanted the lawn cut. A very small one one block from my house, so, I did her a favor (since she was a friend of my mothers) and did it for $15.00.
But sometimes she would only give me $10 because she "did not have it" si I obliged. Then later she insisted the price was $10.00. Then she wanted me to edge and pick up leaves for-you guessed it-$10.00! Well, that was that. She's gone. So guess who I saw out there cutting? 4 guys in orange shirts being guarded by a police officer!!! NOW THAT IS STINGY!:alien:

Sean Adams
10-20-2001, 06:53 PM
I agree with Randy sort of...Customer satisfaction should be the number one priority. It is the person's duty presenting the estimate to explain the charges if questioned. Hard to argue if you let go of $40 to make her happy. You just have to know that fine line...Make sure when you do these kinds of gestures that they will not be often. Kindly explain you can refer her to someone else if she doesn't agree with your prices. Although landscape services should alwas be mapped out and agreed upon first. I have heard of hundreds of people who are asked to do something, they do it, present the invoice and never paid. Don't let this happen to you.

10-20-2001, 09:09 PM
My two cents:
Our policy has always been that,
1. We don't apologize for our prices. (we don't over carge and we don't under charge)
2. We spell everything out from the beginning.
3. If they want to dicker or "bicker", they can do it with someone else.
4. We always try our best to be very perfessional.(folks tend to understand that it cost more for excellence)

Works for us...

Randy Scott
10-20-2001, 09:17 PM
I should add to my previous statement that I really don't condone giving money off of a discussed price after the work has been done (I think that's part of the problem in this industry) but there are a limited few customers that only function that way in life, they think everything is negotiable. It's really only going to give you a name that people can bargain with you always. I charge fairly, on the upper end of the price scale, but my work reflects that and that is the work I want to do.

10-21-2001, 04:46 AM
First of all, I don't continue to do business with people who are regularly picky like that. I guess I am fortunate to be 1) in a very hot market and 2) very good at marketing. So for me there are plenty of potential clients. And I can choose to work with the people who DON'T treat me like this and still do very well. I don't waste my time pleasing overly picky people.

Second - quit itemizing for this person. Give her a written bid up front for the total cost of the job. Don't itemize the written bid either. And give yourself wiggle room. If you think it's gonna be 3 loads of some product, plan for 4 or 5. Then at the end give her an invoice that just describes what work was done and says one total price. Now you have taken away her ability to nitpick your prices. And there's nothing she can do. She got a written estimate and you provided the work for the said price. There's nothing to argue about.

As an aside to my first point; This business is most enjoyable when you are constantly growing. Always be marketing. Always be looking for new clients. Meanwhile, hold on tight to the good clients and ditch the ones who are a pain in the neck. What you end up with over the years is a large group of clients who are always a pleasure to work with, pay you on time, and are loyal to you. And THAT'S when owning a business gets to be fun!

10-21-2001, 05:03 AM
I agree with JimLewis. No more itemizing anything. Also, too many good customers, who cares about if she's nice enough. If she's constantly complaining about prices, she not what I would consider a good customer.

10-27-2001, 10:23 AM
i think you answered your on question

10-27-2001, 05:49 PM
Originally posted by GrazerZ

4. We always try our best to be very perfessional
Works for us...

Yes, nothing works like good old perfessionalizm! :D
Sorry, I just had to.

10-27-2001, 06:46 PM
4. We always try our best to be very perfessional
Works for us...
You sure do got that right, I ain't gonna cut a yard not perty.

Hehehe...I can't resist either.


10-27-2001, 07:37 PM
Everyone here should meet and speak with Jim for at least one hour. I know I would like to speak with him.
Mark M

Shady Brook
10-28-2001, 09:25 AM
I think Jim is on th money!

I don't itemize, and I am now going to have things in writing before begining jobs, and even with my best customers on big jobs. Like Jim said, plan for more then you expect cost wise. If you do not need to make as many trips as you planned, you could send her the bill, and show a $40 deduction from the price. This would be a great suprise to the customer. I bet they would be inclined to tell others that you did not even charge as much as you bid. It would be a testimony to your character if you did reduce the bill, if you were inclined.

I don't like to lower my prices on anything anymore, lawn or landscape prices. It makes it look to arbritary, and unperfessional. In a sense you are teaching the customer that you over price, and if they want a fair price, they must haggle! Or it makes it look like you do not know what you need to charge to make a reasonable profit, and you just charge off the top of your head. In both cases the result is negative.

It is a fun learning process, and having this site sure is a blessing to me!


10-29-2001, 12:49 AM
they try to get u anyway they can. there are some customers who, no matter what u do, need to feel like they are getting something for free. i recently told one customer that his weekly service will increase by $15 each week starting last week, till around thanksgiving. he said dont do anything till i get back to u and say ok. so, fri was his day, it came and went, and no call. willing to bet he calls this week and says ok do it, figuring hes saving last weeks fee by not calling in time. the increase was for the leaves(massive oaks everywhere) . im gonna tell him he need to pay for the week i missed. always stick to your price