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View Full Version : Went on a PITA dumping spree today.


WHIPPLE5.7
05-26-2008, 10:39 PM
Earlier in the season I took on customers that were less than desirable because I was looking for all the work I could get. I had about 20 accounts but after today I'm down to about 13. These people didn't accept my original estimates and jewed me lower, always asked for extra favor like moving things around, getting rid things since I had a truck, etc. They never offered to pay or tip for these extras and they complained about almost everything. Last week one of them asked me to move an item since I was there. I agreed being the nice guy that I am. I ended up pulling something in my back and now I can hardly run damn trimmer or pick things up because of this. Today I decided it was all coming to a stop because I was in so much pain I kept locking up so badly I couldn't even walk. As I painfully made my way from PITA to PITA they as usual complained about this and that and after I let them finish I said I hope you remember everything you just said because you are going to have explain it all over again to someone who cares and then I told them I would not be coming back anymore. Now I'm soaking my back and wondering if its real bad or not. I don't have health ins. because I barely make enough to keep the regular bills paid for.

jrush
05-26-2008, 11:05 PM
I swear up and down that the cheap ones and the ones who try and beat you up on price are the ones who want everything done "cause your there" My good clients who usually don't even ask a price normally don't ask for any extras... but the cheap pitas I don't even want to do (and have dropped most of them) think I have a black hole in my backyard that I can dispose of everything for free, and that extra time somehow does'nt mean more $$? Cheap customers are just that...cheap

flakebortch
05-26-2008, 11:49 PM
Youíve done what everyone whoís ever had a boss dreams of doing. Firing with both barrels at the a$$ that makes your life hell. The problem is that YOU are the one who is making your life hell. Now, I donít know the exact nature of your situation, but I am similar, so even though Iím lighting you up, Iím directing these comments toward myself as well. First, know that you are charging a fair price for all of the work that you do. Second, recognize a job in all of the subtext of what the customer is saying. Someone may mention that part of the grass you are paid to tend to is underneath the scrap lumber from their new addition. ďYouíre right,Ē you say, ďand Iíve got another client nearby who needs a dump run, so I can give you a good price on that!Ē Leave that day without committing to the job or a price so that the good (******ed) guy doesnít give away the farm. Get back to the client after you have figured out a price that makes practical sense.

I guess it boils down to detailing expectations as plainly as possible and then keeping a professional distance from the client afterward.

desert rose gardening
05-26-2008, 11:56 PM
Good for you! Now you will never have to deal with those Bozos again!

Lawnut101
05-26-2008, 11:57 PM
You'll be better off. I give people a price and if they don't accept, well I will turn them down. My prices are fair, so It's not like I'm trying to rip them off. Sometimes it's hard to turn people down, but it's just part of this business.

gorknoids
05-27-2008, 12:01 AM
Exactly right, Rosie! Now he can sift through a new, fresh batch of Bozos!

Hey, we all do it. After a few years you'll have your schedule filled with good-paying, rewarding contracts with nice people. One of my 43 mottos is "The squeaky wheel gets the grease, but if grease doesn't work, change the damned wheel."

Liquidfast
05-27-2008, 12:14 AM
http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=187402&page=7


I was just discussing this today with one of or a thousand of the other members. One member even stated they would settle cuz they didn't want to nickle and dime their customers.

I agree and encourage the charging for EACH and EVERY request a customer makes. Now, I don't mean the "Hey, can u pick up that cigarette pack in the gutter" type requests....but the can you remove this, plant that, squirt this, fert that type of request.

Good for you! Dump em all. But keep the jewed comment to yourself...not fair and may offend.

lawnboy dan
05-27-2008, 09:28 AM
when we sold my moms house a few yrs back-i went on a anti pita spree-it felt good!

MarcSmith
05-27-2008, 09:33 AM
the 1/3 rule. If you keep getting rid of your lowest 1/3, whether it be customer or employee's, you will continue to raise the bar.

Like cleaning out the deadwood, its something that has to be done

topsites
05-27-2008, 10:08 AM
Been there, done that, even this year.
But I lost far less, this time around.
So it gets better in time, by the way your back should be fine just get some rest and take it easy for a while. Oh and you were nice to them lol you should've seen me the last few years how I told them.

I guess it boils down to detailing expectations as plainly as possible and then keeping a professional distance from the client afterward.

That's what helps me, too.
Anytime a customer asks for extras, if it's not something insignificant...
If it's something that's going to take more than a few minutes, or more than a little bit of work, in other words it's more than pulling just this one weed...

Get back to them on that.
Nobody said you had to do it then and there.
But, once we bend over backwards, they expect it.
Kinda hard to explain...

larryinalabama
05-27-2008, 10:14 AM
Yall fellers have never seen the TV show All in the Family

ALC-GregH
05-27-2008, 10:31 AM
I have this one lady I take care of. She's getting up there in age so I try to respect her and be polite. Each week I go there she wants me to cut out some small maple trees that grow in the shrubs around the house. I originally told her a price to clean them all up and I was more then fare with the price. She asked if I would NOT mow the entire yard one week and use the time to remove the small trees sprouting in the shrubs!! I told her I can't NOT mow everything or it will be more work cutting what I didn' cut prior. I also have small branches that need to be picked up each week fom large trees on the property. I'm getting just the right money to mow and trim everything but not any extra. The lot is 1 1/4 acres and I charge $65 weekly. It was taking me about 1 1/2-2 hrs to do with a smaller mower. I now have a Tiger Cub with a 61" deck that I can mow it in alittle less then a hr. I told her I'll do alittle each week for her and still mow everything. She doesn't have alot of money and can't afford more. The good thing is, she's not more then 2 minutes from home. :)

My point, some customers are worth doing the small things for, some you need to break out the trimmer and "weed" eat the bad. :)

illday
05-27-2008, 10:35 AM
I've only done it once, but it felt good telling the pita to "find another landscaper"

MarcSmith
05-27-2008, 10:44 AM
Yall fellers have never seen the TV show All in the Family
seen it, but maybe there's a reason it hasn't been on in about 30 years....
This series starred veteran character actor Carroll O'Connor as Archie Bunker, a working-class, very outspoken bigot, prejudiced against everyone and everything not in agreement with his view of the world.


Please also remember that when they "jewed" you down, as you so eloquently put it, It was your choice to accept the work at the lower price...So right off the bat, you set up the ability for the customer negotiate more work, lower prices, and such....

When one starts a business and is hungry for customers, sometimes we must do things that we later regret. As you are finding out. Another thing you have found, starting a landscape bis is easy....getting customers, especially well after the spring thaw, its quite difficult.

WHIPPLE5.7
05-27-2008, 11:23 AM
I wasn't looking to offend anyone with my terminology. I was merely explaining the situation. For those who analized and sifted thru every detail of my post congradulations for being so wonderful at the internet and lets just hope that you are just as good at lawn care as you are getting down on people over the internet. In my findings most people who spend so much time pointing out the corrections others should be making normally have some pretty serious skeletons in their own closet. These people were well worth dumping and you never know how bad they are until you actually start working. They will stand there and watch you load your trailer back up to leave and after you have gotten everything loaded they will say "could grab your blower and blow off my back steps because it would save me from having to swep it. I already did it once and there is nothing on the steps when I get back there anyway and then they make me wait 15 minutes to get my check while they fumble around like they can't find their checkbook even though this should have all taken place well before I was even done. For those who said the problem is within me and you haven't even met me or seen my work I'm guessing you guys are the real cutthroats who tell people what ever it takes to make yourself look better than others just to cover up your issues.

tip184
05-27-2008, 11:34 AM
No intent to "get down on" you - I don't know you and wasn't judging you as a person. I just wanted to point out language that is offensive.

larryinalabama
05-27-2008, 11:44 AM
Well if you cant laugh at archie bunker your probably uptite

Whipples I hope you decison leads to better opportunities.
Also try an inversion table for your back.

tip184
05-27-2008, 11:55 AM
I remember watching the very first episode of All in the Family, and finding it both funny and enlightening. I watched the series for its entire run. However, I think most of us were laughing at ourselves - Archie made it clear how short-sighted and ignorant prejudice can be, at a time when this issue couldn't be addressed on TV.

If I were looking for a professional to do work for me and that person sounded like Archie I would not hire him/her - I would look elsewhere. I'm not saying that everyone should do this, but if even a small percentage of potential clients feels this way then that professional would lose business. If you don't see the need to watch offensive language for other reasons, at least recognize that doing so might be a good business move.

I have no complaints about Whipple dropping PITA customers - seems like a good thing to do, and the 1/3 rule suggested above is a good one.

larryinalabama
05-27-2008, 12:09 PM
I have alaways advertised AMERICAN OWNED AND OPERATED, I wonder who finds that offensive?

topsites
05-27-2008, 12:37 PM
Oh hell no, it may not be right to tell a customer off but I know I've done it and more than a few times over... There comes a time you get fed up with it, and I'm not saying there aren't more professional ways of dealing with it, but the simple fact is it takes time to get to that and even then they STILL getcha every once in a bit. And they DO take advantage of us, especially the new Lco, and not trying to put anyone down either but the REASON more experienced Lco's don't have these problems is we don't even get the call and IF we do it's usually over before it even starts.
But, not always :p

Then all that professional spew is all dandy in a neat little home Internet atmosphere, but wait until you run into one of these contemptuous little scammers who tells you one thing to your face and it is super believable yet then they turn right around and do the exact opposite... Granted a thick skin and experience does help, but even in my 7th year I still get one here, one there, just not near as bad as it used to be.

The fact he told them off, well he shouldn't have done that, whoop deedoo what choice did he really have? Yeah, come on around here I'll send you a customer or two you will NOT see it coming and these "jews" don't just jew you down real smooth but on top of that they never pay to boot, now THAT will test you or at least it tests me pretty hard.

Oh there's more than a few out there that got our 'lingo' down, know what I mean?
Yes sir, they know exactly what to say, when, and how.
But, they don't mean a word of it.
Try one of them on, then come talk to me about how to 'professionally' handle this.
lol

sorry just had to let it out too
he did all right by my book, totally right it isn't but I wouldn't worry about it a whole lot either.

MarcSmith
05-27-2008, 12:52 PM
Well if you cant laugh at archie bunker your probably uptite

Whipples I hope you decison leads to better opportunities.
Also try an inversion table for your back.

not that I can't laugh at/with him, it was a TV show and it was entertaining, but he did/still does represent a significant portion of American society. Which is pretty upsetting, IMO...

Whip...I have a ruptured disc and a pinched nerve....really fun...when my back feels iffy, I either roll up a towel and lay it Perpendicular to my spine and lay down face up with the towel creating upward pressure.

Another option is to lie face down with one or two pillows under you shoulders just beneath your chin, this also help "force" some alignment into your back.

I have heard great things about the inversion tables as well, but...so far haven't had to go that far.

the only thing you can do with PITA is dump em or charge em enough money to make the hassle worth the trouble.

topsites
05-27-2008, 12:53 PM
Here's a nifty one I've ran into lately (twice):

Customer 1 calls and asks for some quote, blablabla.
Accepts the estimate and I do the work, usually something easy.
Customer is quite pleased and pays me right then, and is so pleased in fact customer refers me to a friend.
Friend calls me right away, can I estimate some work please?
I do, and it is a bit more than customer 1's load, but they accept.
And I go out and do the work, guess who never pays?
Yup, two-for-one deal.
No, not really, customer 2 got more work done...

Explain to me how to 'professionally' handle that,
or how I might weed this out lol
I don't care how I do that one, it's going to take time before I see this &%^ coming.

But I will tell you I've let it go thus far so they're going to keep pulling this crap on me until one day I'm going to let it out on one of them and I don't foresee myself being nowhere NEAR as nice about it as the thread starter was either lol.
That will be when I'm about to that point of dealing out a ass whoopin lol
Like, professional karate kick to the butt.

Now I ain't never actually done that, but I have gone so far that there was little to NO doubt left in their mind that I would.
And that's the REAL reason they leave me alone, for the most part, I think.

Dean of Green
05-27-2008, 01:06 PM
Earlier in the season I took on customers that were less than desirable because I was looking for all the work I could get. I had about 20 accounts but after today I'm down to about 13. These people didn't accept my original estimates and jewed me lower, always asked for extra favor like moving things around, getting rid things since I had a truck, etc. They never offered to pay or tip for these extras and they complained about almost everything. Last week one of them asked me to move an item since I was there. I agreed being the nice guy that I am. I ended up pulling something in my back and now I can hardly run damn trimmer or pick things up because of this. Today I decided it was all coming to a stop because I was in so much pain I kept locking up so badly I couldn't even walk. As I painfully made my way from PITA to PITA they as usual complained about this and that and after I let them finish I said I hope you remember everything you just said because you are going to have explain it all over again to someone who cares and then I told them I would not be coming back anymore. Now I'm soaking my back and wondering if its real bad or not. I don't have health ins. because I barely make enough to keep the regular bills paid for.

I hope you take this constructively. You had 20 customers and you got rid of your PITAs and now you have 13. If 35% of ones customer base would be considered PITAs then one should take a serious look at all aspects of customer relations..........estimating properly, estimate presentation(make sure the customer knows what services they are paying for), communication with the customer(sure Mrs. Smith, I would be glad to dig up that dead plant. I can do that and dispose of it for $xx.xx).
IMO, the only thing more important than time management is customer management. Manage a good relationship with your customers or you will not have to worry about time management.
As one said in a previous post, this is not to slam on you. I have had issues with everything I stated above and will continue to have them if I don't stay on top of customer relations.

Tvov
05-27-2008, 01:13 PM
One way to keep in perspective what it is costing you to do those "little" jobs "since you are here"...

Using round numbers, if you are planning on mowing 10 lawns that day. At each lawn, you only spend an extra 6 minutes with "little" jobs, to "keep up good relations". Well, 10 lawns x 6 minutes = 1 HOUR. So at the end of the day, you did an extra HOUR of work for no charge. If you are planning on mowing 20 lawns, double that!! So, if you mow 9 lawns with no "extra" work, then the 10th customer wants you to spend an hour weeding for NO pay, would you do it??

With a tight mowing schedule, every minute counts.

Good job getting rid of the PITAs. Of course, try to do it gently... "My schedule is too full" or something like that. Also, for anything extra, add the cost of doing it to their bill.

In my way too many years of doing this, I have found that the only thing that comes of doing work for customers for free, is that the customers get work done for free. And when the customer tells their neighbor "Joe did this extra work for free", then it just piles up.

WHIPPLE5.7
05-27-2008, 01:45 PM
I hope you take this constructively. You had 20 customers and you got rid of your PITAs and now you have 13. If 35% of ones customer base would be considered PITAs then one should take a serious look at all aspects of customer relations..........estimating properly, estimate presentation(make sure the customer knows what services they are paying for), communication with the customer(sure Mrs. Smith, I would be glad to dig up that dead plant. I can do that and dispose of it for $xx.xx).
IMO, the only thing more important than time management is customer management. Manage a good relationship with your customers or you will not have to worry about time management.
As one said in a previous post, this is not to slam on you. I have had issues with everything I stated above and will continue to have them if I don't stay on top of customer relations.

The 7 that I dropped are customers that I shouldn't have taken anyway but sometimes you feel desperate and sometimes you don't know what your getting into. Most of my big money is made with the one power raking, aerating, and cleanups and you are working for people you don't know. I get burned about 2 times a year on the one timers but it is still worth it because I make $1,500-$2,000 a week solo. During mowing season I'm turned down so damn much it makes me sick. Every kid and early retirement guy are out in their cars with a $99 mower hanging out the trunk and they are doing this to kill time instead of make money. They do terrible work but its so cheap customers don't think twice about it. For a 50-65% reduction in price they will take low end work.

bill8379
05-27-2008, 01:59 PM
I hurt my back this spring as well, then I aggravated it again a few days ago lifting Iron grates off of windows. It's very uncomfortable working with a sore back but, at least for me, I don't need any medical attention. If you do, and you have no health insurance, man, that's a bad state to be in. It's times like these I'm glad we have free health care in Canada even if we are taxed to death:(

Charles
05-27-2008, 02:16 PM
Learn to say the word NO when you don't want to do something. Don't feel embarrassed to charge for what you say yes to. Explain when you get a job that anything extra is extra dough.
Building a friendly relationship with a customer is a sure way to fend off the competition. Sometimes the only difference between you and the competition is if the customer likes you. Throwing in a little extra things is a good way to build that bond. Like blowing off a back step that doesn't really need it.
Learn to be patient with the elderly. I would rather have an elderly person who is slow to find a check book than a dead beat any day. Most elderly waite until you come to the door to find the money(for some unknown reason:rolleyes:)
I have have had and do have some pia customers. I really don't care if they stay with me or not. So in a nice way I let them have it back when they get on my last nerve lol and everything works out fine and I don't get ulcers from holding it all in

Harley-D
05-27-2008, 04:21 PM
I was taught...a long time ago...anything over 15 minutes is billable.

Roger
05-27-2008, 11:25 PM
I wasn't looking to offend anyone with my terminology. .... In my findings most people who spend so much time pointing out the corrections others should be making normally have some pretty serious skeletons in their own closet. ...

Some of us had no problem with your decision to rid yourself of some customers. That was your business decision. From your descriptions, there were problems in what was negotiated at the time of the pricing, and then the other items. It sounds like all these folks were asking for add-ons. I find that strange, after having done this kind of work for more than ten years, nobody ever asks for these kinds of add-ons. Why are they asking you?

My problem was your use of the language to describe your negotiations. Your defense demonstrates this kind of perspective is part of your thinking. The fact that you "... wasn't looking to offend anyone ..." says that you saw nothing wrong with the statement, and are defending use of the language.

For those defending the use of Whipple's language, use of the language is apparently acceptable usage to you. How can any of you defend using such language? If used here in a public forum, it must be commonplace in your household and everyday language. For those with families, what message does that send to your spouse and children? Attempts to defend such assertions through use of some TV character shows lack of understanding of the term. For those who suggest "lighten up," the suggestion also demonstrates a lack of respect for a particular group.

Whipple, you have taken an noun, made it a verb, and then used it in a pejorative sense. Why do you have such negative connotations? Why do you have such disrespect? To suggest that others have "skeletons in their own closet," that is the age-old rebuttal in a vain attempt to justify one's own actions. What anybody else has in their closet does not change the deprecatory nature of your statement.

Chilehead
05-28-2008, 12:12 AM
Fire 'em, take care of your back, and get some new accounts. If your financial woes are really that bad, you are at a crossroads: either take the risk to advertise with what you have, or find another line of work--at least until you can come back to mowing lawns. I had to find work the first 4 winters I was in business and they were usually crummy jobs, but at least I had a roof over my head, food in my gullett, and reliable transportation.

topsites
05-28-2008, 02:34 AM
I was taught...a long time ago...anything over 15 minutes is billable.

I agree, this is yet another reason why a LOT of times I have my stop watch running from the time I pull up.
The main reason is I really want to see how long this is taking.
But come around and interrupt me, now I have a silent witness to how long this is taking.
Of course it isn't always like that, I don't always charge someone for it.

But I don't stop that clock for nothing, now a few minutes it's like all right, also it depends on other factors but I'm not above charging a customer for every last minute either. Just depends what it is, and so on.

And that, as just one example, is a neater way of doing things.
They get the message real quick, too.
Some will drop you, others leave you be after that, still some might not even mind.
Now that's just how I do things, so the trick is to find a little method that suits you.

btw I like that, anything over xx is billable :p
It's still at my discretion, but I at least have not lost control.
And I think that's the issue at hand here, control.

PORTER 05
05-28-2008, 08:25 AM
wait youre not soposed to move furnature and take away crap, opps i though that was part of being a landscaper...

they see this dump truck drive up to there house and its on, take the old fence, the old bike the old hoses, do you want this , take this ohh you can have that--no thank you

MarcSmith
05-28-2008, 08:56 AM
When I showed up for the first cut she said could you cut the back this one time. I say sure, and she didn't give me any extra. The 2nd time she says the back grew fast again and wants it cut again for just the front estimate. Well since your so church minded I'll phrase it like this. Her back has not had the dog SHE-OT cleaned out it since the dawn of time and got tired of wading thru all of it and not even being componsated at all.

Not to pile on here but "Why did you do the work without asking for any money?" You could have said, Yes Ma'am I can cut while I'm here, but it will be an extra $10 bucks, or $5, or whatever you felt would have been appropriate.

in this scenario, not once, but twice you felt it was appropriate not to give a price for the extra work. She did not "jew" you down, she did not hoodwink you, she did not "out negotiate you". You asked for nothing, and she gave you nothing.

"Ma'am, the price we negotiated only covers the front lawn. As a courtesy, I'll cut the back yard this one time on the house(if you are feeling generous), but in the future, it will be an extra 5 bucks(or whatever you feel is proper) and we will cut it every time when we cut the front yard."

This way the decision is her's whether or not to keep you as her landscaper.

1MajorTom
05-28-2008, 10:20 AM
These names/terminology are offensive to some. Enough of this has been said.