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View Full Version : How to deal with a "know it all customer"...


AmGreen
04-06-2008, 11:51 PM
Customer had a backyard full of weeds and some common bermuda (wire grass) which he wanted to keep, as he has sodded the front yard with tifway. Common started it's green up and was probably around 10% green (mainly beside the asphalt road and the foundation) but had a long way to go. There was an accessive amount of fescue clumps, henbit, and some type of tall gabbage looking weed with yellow flowers. At any rate, the customer wanted me to do the job as quickly and cheaply as possible. I sprayed glyphosate (round up) at a rate of 1.5 oz per 1000. I informed the customer of what I was spraying, since he asked, and told him that some of the greening bermuda may yellow but would not die. Got a call from him a week and a half later telling me that I have killed his entire lawn. I tried to explain to him that the bermuda was not dead and that everything would be ok. It took me another week to get out there and look at everything and he was still stuck on "you've killed my lawn - I did my research online", as I walked over his lawn and the bermuda was already greening back up - not to mention we had a frost 2 days after I sprayed. Anyone have any ideas on how to handle this guy. Should I do any other work for him if he calls (as I'm sure he will).

NattyLawn
04-07-2008, 12:39 AM
Unfortunately, this is a PITA customer. All you can do is try (very hard mind you) to earn his trust and try and get him on your side. He may or may not stick around until the bermuda greens up, but after it does he will most likely call you to do more work. Be prepared for constant free service calls about every little blade that might have disease or grubs in June. You can deal with the guy or get rid of him now. I have quite a few PITA customers. It took lots of time to earn their trust, but you will always have 1 or 2 that know more than you no matter what that cancel.

grassman177
04-07-2008, 02:51 AM
all y7ou can do is outsmart and out wit them. i never let a customer out smart me because if they dont have a degree in turf, then i dont think they can.lol

Ric
04-07-2008, 11:41 AM
AmGreen

After listening to their plan of attack, Agree and then explain very nicely how they have it under control and THEY DON"T NEED YOU. Move on because Know-it-all customers will always be a PITA. There are more fish in the sea.

Here in retirement city Florida, we get the Yankee Know-it-All quite regularly. He had the most beautiful yard in the North and will have it in the south also. I just keep doing their neighbors yards and wait till they approaches me for service. Then I nail them with a lot of extras to get their yard back in shape. In some cases I tell them Sorry I am booked and not taking on any new customers.

Happy Frog
04-07-2008, 12:11 PM
This should help you out:
I don't think you are dealing with a "knows it all" customer. He had some concerns about his lawn and wanted to double check on the web what you told him about the lawn, that's all.
One way to approach this in the future is to first acknowledge your customer's concern (this is very important). Something like: Yes, sir, I understand your concerns for your lawn and it may looks like it is dying. In fact, the yellowish color you can see is due to the chemical we used to kill the weeds and was accentuated by the frost we had. It is a normal side effect and your lawn will start to green in a few days. Your satisfaction is very important to us and I can come to reinspect your lawn if you feel there is a problem. Would you like us to do that?
You'll find out that most customer will answer by the negative, and will trust your judgment.

AmGreen
04-07-2008, 03:06 PM
AmGreen

After listening to their plan of attack, Agree and then explain very nicely how they have it under control and THEY DON"T NEED YOU. Move on because Know-it-all customers will always be a PITA. There are more fish in the sea.

Here in retirement city Florida, we get the Yankee Know-it-All quite regularly. He had the most beautiful yard in the North and will have it in the south also. I just keep doing their neighbors yards and wait till they approaches me for service. Then I nail them with a lot of extras to get their yard back in shape. In some cases I tell them Sorry I am booked and not taking on any new customers.

Suprisingly enough this guy is from New Jersey - Imagine that...

AmGreen
04-07-2008, 03:10 PM
This should help you out:
I don't think you are dealing with a "knows it all" customer. He had some concerns about his lawn and wanted to double check on the web what you told him about the lawn, that's all.
One way to approach this in the future is to first acknowledge your customer's concern (this is very important). Something like: Yes, sir, I understand your concerns for your lawn and it may looks like it is dying. In fact, the yellowish color you can see is due to the chemical we used to kill the weeds and was accentuated by the frost we had. It is a normal side effect and your lawn will start to green in a few days. Your satisfaction is very important to us and I can come to reinspect your lawn if you feel there is a problem. Would you like us to do that?
You'll find out that most customer will answer by the negative, and will trust your judgment.

Unfortunately I did try this tactic and it didn't seem to work - the guy went into a rage when I tried to inform him that his common bermuda was fine. He started kicking the dirt saying "see, it's dead, every bit of it." I think I'll take Ric's advice and simply tell him when he calls, that I'm busy. Funny thing is, I do 6 other lawns in that neighborhood - that I now intend on making sure they ALWAYS look better than his.

Frank Fescue
04-07-2008, 04:40 PM
look, some people only understand force.

mngrassguy
04-07-2008, 06:43 PM
What exactly is he asking you to do? If he isn't willing to "work with you" on a solution than you've answered your own question

Ric
04-07-2008, 06:58 PM
Suprisingly enough this guy is from New Jersey - Imagine that...

AmGreen

No Way!!!!! People from NJ are the salt of the earth. They are never Know-It-All's. BTW the pope is Jewish.

vegomatic40
04-07-2008, 07:01 PM
I hope that I'm wrong but there may be at least some validity to his arguement. About 7-8 yrs ago I had a customer that wanted to convert to all-common Bermuda since it had become the dominant turf in his previously Turf-type Fescue lawn. I had promised to do as you had done and sprayed with a mild solution of Glyphosate in late Feb. We had typical temperatures in the winter and spring. In April, the areas I had treated were either dead or damged. The upper layers of leaf tissue appeared to be dormant but not enough to prevent translocation to the stolons and rhizomes. At any rate, I admitted fault and gave him a free aeration in early June with fert. to stimulate growth. From that point on I check all the way down to the crown and stolons to see if anything looks green to determine dormancy.

AmGreen
04-08-2008, 12:54 AM
What exactly is he asking you to do? If he isn't willing to "work with you" on a solution than you've answered your own question

He isn't asking me to work with him on any type of solution - he is just heart set on thinking I've killed his common bermuda (and the fact that he hasn't paid me). I've simply asked him to give it a few weeks to a month and allow it time to green up. So I guess we'll see what happens...

Rayholio
04-08-2008, 01:05 AM
I did a seeding job in september for a PITA that was billed at $4700.00 He paid $1,200 2 months later, complained that the job was 'botched' and demanded that I provide on the 'warranty' in the mean time he had 4 of my competitors out for '2nd opinions' about once every other month..

I explained that warranties are not honored on jobs that have not been paid for. He threatoned to sue me.. This was december. in febuary, I sent him a letter telling him that he lawn is looking great (which it was) and that my photos showed a 90% improvement (I never took photos.. ). Then I made an offer.. pay 50% of the remaining balance, then I would honor the warranty. after 2 month of ho-humming, he paid up, I then set a date for warranty work, and demanded that he be there to make sure the job was 'to his standards' and that I wanted a check on the spot..

Well.. After about 10 minutes of slit seeding (on a 4 acre lawn) he wrote me the check..

And I told him to never call me again..

I've ditched about 5 customers this year.. these PITA customers eat up too much time, and drive me to drinking.. LOL So.. bu-byE!

AmGreen
04-08-2008, 01:06 AM
I hope that I'm wrong but there may be at least some validity to his arguement. About 7-8 yrs ago I had a customer that wanted to convert to all-common Bermuda since it had become the dominant turf in his previously Turf-type Fescue lawn. I had promised to do as you had done and sprayed with a mild solution of Glyphosate in late Feb. We had typical temperatures in the winter and spring. In April, the areas I had treated were either dead or damged. The upper layers of leaf tissue appeared to be dormant but not enough to prevent translocation to the stolons and rhizomes. At any rate, I admitted fault and gave him a free aeration in early June with fert. to stimulate growth. From that point on I check all the way down to the crown and stolons to see if anything looks green to determine dormancy.

I was slightly concerned when he originally called me, so I immediately called my rep at GETSCO (not lesco) to have him come out and take a look at things with me. He also assured the customer that everything would be fine and to give it a few weeks. I also had in hand with me some info from NC State Turf Files that really helped calm MY nerves and I found quite interesting. If you've got a second - take a look.

http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache:GnolCdj8R9YJ:www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/news/weeds/SemidormantBermudagrass_alert.htm+glyphosate+injured+bermuda&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us&ie=UTF-8

Rayholio
04-08-2008, 01:12 AM
Oh BTW I too have seen dormant winter kill of bermuda.. I'm not saying that you can't usually get by with round up on it.. but it's scary enough that I don't do it anymore..

AmGreen
04-08-2008, 01:15 AM
I did a seeding job in september for a PITA that was billed at $4700.00 He paid $1,200 2 months later, complained that the job was 'botched' and demanded that I provide on the 'warranty' in the mean time he had 4 of my competitors out for '2nd opinions' about once every other month..

I explained that warranties are not honored on jobs that have not been paid for. He threatoned to sue me.. This was december. in febuary, I sent him a letter telling him that he lawn is looking great (which it was) and that my photos showed a 90% improvement (I never took photos.. ). Then I made an offer.. pay 50% of the remaining balance, then I would honor the warranty. after 2 month of ho-humming, he paid up, I then set a date for warranty work, and demanded that he be there to make sure the job was 'to his standards' and that I wanted a check on the spot..

Well.. After about 10 minutes of slit seeding (on a 4 acre lawn) he wrote me the check..

And I told him to never call me again..

I've ditched about 5 customers this year.. these PITA customers eat up too much time, and drive me to drinking.. LOL So.. bu-byE!

I'm getting to the point where I'm going to start telling customers, "Listen, I'm more than happy to answer any questions you may have and will always admit to being wrong - and fix anything I am wrong about. But if you will never be happy with anything that is done for you, please tell me now and I won't waste your time or mine!":laugh: jk

garydale
04-09-2008, 11:18 AM
Refer him to your competitor, they deserve each other.

outsideimage1
04-09-2008, 03:56 PM
Seems awfully late in the year to be spraying round-up to kill weeds in bermuda, that should have been done about 2 or three months ago at the latest. You probably have killed the bermuda as it was already starting to green. NEVER spray bermuda if you see even the slightest little sprig of green bermuda, it will look like a male dog got a hold of your turf.

quiet
04-09-2008, 10:15 PM
There is a rule about Mr. Know-It-All's: Regardless of what you do, the know-it-all customer retains the right to 2nd guess, argue, and offer any type of myth or b.s. as fact.

If they're from a different area, they always had the nicest yard in (insert state here). That's especially true with Northerners who move to the South. We're obviously ignorant.

"When are you gonna put lime down?"
"You're not gonna fertilize until March??? It's January! You should have fertilized my lawn a month ago!"
"They water the golf courses just a little bit every day, so that's how I water mine."


Do what you have to do to get your check, then get out. Let them be someone else's headache.

ted putnam
04-10-2008, 01:25 AM
There is a rule about Mr. Know-It-All's: Regardless of what you do, the know-it-all customer retains the right to 2nd guess, argue, and offer any type of myth or b.s. as fact.

If they're from a different area, they always had the nicest yard in (insert state here). That's especially true with Northerners who move to the South. We're obviously ignorant.

"When are you gonna put lime down?"
"You're not gonna fertilize until March??? It's January! You should have fertilized my lawn a month ago!"
"They water the golf courses just a little bit every day, so that's how I water mine."


Do what you have to do to get your check, then get out. Let them be someone else's headache.

OMG, I'm LMAO! You hit the nail on the head! I can hear it already "Jeez,when's my lawn gunna green up for Christ's sake? My neighbors lawn is already green. I think you need to put some freakin fertilizer on it!" I hear all this then go out to look at the lawn and it's 4 inch tall bermuda that hasn't been scalped and their neighbors yard that's green was scalped a month ago. and then I hear "I had the best looking lawn in my neighborhood back in Wisconsin, and I never scalped". My response to that is. This isn't Wisconsin. You hired me for my expertise. You're paying for my knowledge and expert opinion. I will continue to do what I know is right and what you do with the information and advice I give you is your business.

AmGreen
04-10-2008, 09:02 AM
Seems awfully late in the year to be spraying round-up to kill weeds in bermuda, that should have been done about 2 or three months ago at the latest. You probably have killed the bermuda as it was already starting to green. NEVER spray bermuda if you see even the slightest little sprig of green bermuda, it will look like a male dog got a hold of your turf.

NC State did a test in '99 that showed what spraying glyphosate at different rates would do to 25% green bermuda. Test was done on March 29 and at the highest sprayed amount 32oz/Acre it was 85% green by May 7. The same as the unsprayed bermuda...