PDA

View Full Version : Does It Pay To Do Extra Work?


Military Lawns
06-14-2008, 12:44 AM
I had a customer who always wanted her yard cut on Friday because she entertained on the weekend, every weekend. Not the highest paying customer but always paid in advance and only took 40 minutes tops.

Situation from last year:
Here in Florida it rains during June and July everyday at the same time. This will throw even the best schedule off. As such, I was unable to cut her grass on Friday because all week long the thunderstorms were torrential and the ground was extremely soft. I called her and told her this and she agreed that if I made her lawn the first one on Saturday, that all would be well. She lived right around the corner from me, though she did not know this so, this little threat was taken lightly.

True to my word, I headed out and made her the very first stop. Did an extra good job by double cutting, picking up trash and giving the flower beds a hit with the old Trench Blade. I was really proud of the job because everything was looking really good. In fact, I did some landscaping the week before and the plants held up well in spite of all the rain. Even hand trimmed some of the Gardenias, Hibiscus and Topiaries.

Finished the job and put all my equipment away. Went right around the corner to the next customer. Before I could exit my vehicle, she called me verbatim, " You have been paid for all of your services, Do Not Come Back!". The phone goes dead! I called her back and she screams at me that it stopped raining (late) on Friday and I should have serviced her lawn as agreed (verbally, but an agreement nonetheless). I did not argue because her mind was made up and I make it a habit to always take the high road. I asked her if the lawn looked good, she said it was great and hung up the phone.

Fast forward to May, 2008. I go to a IHOP in Orlando (She lived in Deltona, Fl, about 45 minutes north of Orlando). This waitress comes up and ask me me what I would like for breakfast. She does not recognize me but it was the rude customer who terminated my services because I could not control the weather. I ordered my breakfast and left her a tip for $7.00 and my bill was only $8.00. I also left a note advising her who I was and that in spite of her behavior, I am not like her and trust that she will treat her next LCO with more respect providing that they perform accordingly.

The moral of this story is that I could have left her nothing, ran her ragged and then complained about service. Fortunately, I am a Christian and have strong beliefs in reaping what you sow. Make no mistake about it, being human I was sorely tempted to mistreat this woman because up until then, I had a 100% retention rate because I pride myself on the work that I do period.

Since then, I do not double cut unless the customer ask and agree to an additional fee and I do not do favors (trash, bed edging, etc). The thing is, if my customers noticed this extra work, they have not said nothing to me (albeit a few). The remaining could give a you know what, therefore I conclude that unless asked, I do not do it. Since my 100% retention rate is out the window, I am not ashamed to say that I have lost a few PITAS (good riddance!). That have actually improved the time I spend at other customers because I am not being held up.

Time is money and I will talk to all of my customers anytime they want. However, what I will no longer tolerate is constant critisim, shadowing and profanity (disrespect). These three things will get a customer dropped like a hot potato no if ands or buts. All will not agree with this but that one customer actually taught me how to run my business leaner by dropping or working with customers who want the impossible. It is possible...just know your limits.

PS: My former customer lived in a $600,000 house. She has since moved...

-DJ

lawns Etc
06-14-2008, 12:52 AM
I believe there is nothing more that you could have done.Maybe she was falling on hard times as a IHOP waitress cannot afford her former home. I always reply when asked to do extras and they question charges for it " order a pizza from Dominos and ask for more cheese or extra sides you expect to be charged right?" they usually understand

topsites
06-14-2008, 12:56 AM
This is a lesson we can all learn from, it is something I have been working on for more than a few years, it is also something that still tests me, and something I do not always handle with the best degree of success.
But, nobody is perfect.

Nice one thou.

screensnot
06-14-2008, 01:00 AM
Everyone wants their lawn cut on Friday. :dizzy:

You can talk a lot of those people into Thursday by explaining that Friday cuts sometimes get delayed until Saturday because of weather.

I am fairly up front and honest about the fact that I do have a few customers that get a bit of preferential treatment when the weather shortens my days. I also tell them that I try to be fair with my time for rest of my customers, but sooner or later some of them are going to feel inconvenienced. I let them know that really only 2 things get you on the preferential list - premium price and/or long standing customers. They will either accept it, and maybe respect your honesty, or they will try their luck with another company.

Tom-N-Texas
06-14-2008, 01:04 AM
I had a customer who always wanted her yard cut on Friday because she entertained on the weekend, every weekend. Not the highest paying customer but always paid in advance and only took 40 minutes tops.

snip..

-DJ


hearing stories like this is disheartning. Some people are just so irrational. You have to wonder how they function in life.

Groh's Mows
06-14-2008, 03:43 AM
Good for you taking the high road. If this former customer went from living in a $600,000 house to waiting tables at IHOP, I don't think there is a lot you could have done to her that life did not do to her already. I know some will say waitresses can make a good living, but there is a big difference between the evening trade at a fine resturant and the morning shift at the local hash house. I think this goes the other way as well. Some on this site say don't even talk to people who can't afford your work. But do you really know that going in? The wealthest man from my home town wore work clothes and drove a 10+ year old chevy truck. He owned half the town. Somebody you snub who is down and out today may not always be in that position. Any of our positions in life can change in a heartbeat...

Ford2000
06-14-2008, 06:26 AM
After being in Bus.for 20 years you learn to let things slide and not worrie so much when things do not go your way or the way you think they should of gone.My wife always says things like,what happened to that Customer or hey why didn't you get that job and it's because your not going to keep every customer or get every job that's the way it goes,that's a part of being in Business OH WELL :):)

shovelracer
06-14-2008, 07:17 AM
Extras can eat you alive if you are not careful. I used to do whatever it took to get each account looking good. Even if they only paid for a simple mow and go. Then I found myself bagging and double cutting every lawn and in the end very few people appreciated it. I have changed my policies since then and the problem accounts have since moved on to the next sucker. The accounts that know they are more work are aware and are willing to pay for it.

The only problems I have now lately are the 3 customers that self applicate their scotts fert. All have burns and striping, but some sections grow like 12" or more in a week. They all are only willing to pay for a single cut mow and go. So that is exactly what they get. What I dont understand is why someone who couldnt care less about the quality of cut would even bother to use fertilizer.

Since I have changed policies I have lightened my work load and the properties actually look better. Heres why: Half used to just wait till I would pull that weed, but now they know I wont so they do it right away. The other half know that they arent going to do it so know they pay me for it. So really doing less has made me more. Lastly I only had 1 customer think he was still going to get his regular extras like weedwhacking his small front bed. Well not quite. He would get mowed to where the mulch was supposed to be, even a nice vertical edge like everyone else and thats it. Beautiful lawn with a patch of 2' tall grass in the middle and also a few sickly plants. He felt it only took me a few minutes extra to do it, but wasnt willing to pay so he dropped me. Now he self mows and intentionally makes his riding tractor turns in his neighbors yard. Well he mows at 2" and I mow at 4" so you can see where I have a problem with this.

delphied
06-14-2008, 07:35 AM
My service is mow, trim, edge, and blow. Anything more is extra including picking up sticks. If there is a piece of paper or something, I pick that up or move something in the way but thats about it. My customers dont want or pay for anything more.

lawnspecialties
06-14-2008, 07:37 AM
I believe it was our old friend rodfather who said he drops the least profitable 10% of his customers every year. Being a "want it all" solo LCO, I just didn't quite grasp the concept. Now this year, it's all came to a head since I was just getting run ragged every single day. It got to where the quality of my work was suffering since I was in such a rush to beat the sunset.

Not only have I dropped an entire route from my schedule, but I've been able to pick up so many small projects (pine straw, mulch, plantings, etc.) that I'm making more revenue in less time.

If I was still running my routes the "old" way, I would be miserable. Have a great year, DJ. :weightlifter:

Carolina Cuts
06-14-2008, 08:51 AM
Does It Pay To Do Extra Work?

only if you remember to add it to the bill.

zemzabob
06-14-2008, 10:02 AM
Wow I love the way you handled yourself, it just makes me realize that I need to work on the way I handle things sometimes in the heat of the moment I just can't stop myself from say things that I probably shouldn't, I think a lot of us can learn a thing or two from this story, and not just about how to run a business but how to be the bigger person thanks for posting.

RonB
06-14-2008, 11:22 AM
PS: My former customer lived in a $600,000 house. She has since moved...-DJ


iHop - 600,000 house? what goes around comes around.

Military Lawns
06-14-2008, 12:53 PM
hearing stories like this is disheartning. Some people are just so irrational. You have to wonder how they function in life.

Tom,
This reminded me of your little incident and you are correct. How do these people function in life? if only everyone was as organized as our customers.

Military Lawns
06-14-2008, 12:58 PM
Wow I love the way you handled yourself, it just makes me realize that I need to work on the way I handle things sometimes in the heat of the moment I just can't stop myself from say things that I probably shouldn't, I think a lot of us can learn a thing or two from this story, and not just about how to run a business but how to be the bigger person thanks for posting.

I was in the military for 21 years and during my earlier career, I would think with my mouth and then my fist and feet (I believe I was an original UFC fighter in my prior life). Won some, lost some, the point is that never solved anything. Took many, many years of self discipline, write ups, threats and my religion. I still struggle when I meet someone who is a natural arse for no other reason than to mistreat people.

Keep working at it...

DJ

Military Lawns
06-14-2008, 12:59 PM
Does It Pay To Do Extra Work?

only if you remember to add it to the bill.

That's right!

Military Lawns
06-14-2008, 09:08 PM
If I was still running my routes the "old" way, I would be miserable. Have a great year, DJ. :weightlifter:

Thanks and the same to you!

Tim03
06-14-2008, 10:31 PM
$600K house, hosts parties every weekend, and works for tips at IHOP????

Florida has an unusual economy.

Dean of Green
06-14-2008, 10:39 PM
Makes you wonder what kind of parties she hosted.

brentcausey
06-20-2008, 04:53 PM
I agree with the original post about PITA customers. I mow a used car lot and alot of the cars were parked on this one 2 foot strip of grass. We'd weedeat around them and blow off EVERY car on that line just to make sure no grass stuck to it. One of the salesman came out...first word out of his mouth was the F word. He told me that we need to turn the weedeaters around so that the grass won't get on his cars. I explained to him we blew off the cars each and every time and the only other option was for him to move 20 cars for us - or we just not mow the grass. He huffed and puffed and walked off (this was just a salesman, not the owner or manager). 30 minutes later after we finished I stopped by the office to talk to the manager and let him know I sent his invoice and make sure everything was OK. The same salesman..while sitting on the porch of the office... tossed a cigarette butt on the ground and said "Hey buddy...do us a favor and pick up those cigarette butts while you're at it." I looked down at the 100 cigarette butts on the ground and told him I'b be glad to do it, but I charged $1.00 per cigarette butt! He looked stunned and I walked off. The best news of this is - the dealership went out of business but are in a lease for the property so I get to continue mowing with NO CARS!! hahahaha!!! :) :)

topsites
06-20-2008, 06:00 PM
I got news for a lot of customers out there, and there are a few who 'get' it but some are about as clueless and it's as much a pain to try and figure out how I'm supposed to do my job when everyone wants a beautiful lawn and also wants it mowed every friday... Because a truly beautiful lawn is no accident, and to keep it that way is not easy.

My definition of lawn care means to tend to the turf in such a fashion that it looks its best year round without the need for killing it off and starting over every fall... That it still needs treating every year is without question, but there is absolutely no need to kill it off in the summer either, especially when considering the sheer amount of customers who quite simply won't or can't spring for that full lawn treatment come sep-october.

To me a lawn mowing is not a hair cut in time for a date, it is not a car wash in time for vacation, and it is not dog grooming in preparation for a dog show. Hence I don't cut a lawn to 'make it look good in time for the upcoming prom,' that's not what or why I mow lawn for. Granted it does look better after it has been mowed, but in order to get class-A turf there's a whole lot more to it than just mowing it as often as friggin' possible, too...

Thus I don't bestow myself upon nature's plants in order to showboat it in front of the neighbors. A lawn consists of grass, and grass is actually millions of tiny little plants, that's what a lawn is, a few million or so teenie plants... And in that sense a lawn needs to be cared for much in the same way we care for shrubs and bushes and flowers and trees and the like.

And I don't care how many thousands or millions of folks agree or disagree, this is just how I do things.
That is, to each their own, no problem.

That having been said, if push comes to shove and the customer absolutely has to have me cut it then I will do it, but it kills me... And I also know from experience customers like that usually don't last long, don't ask me why, it's just the way it is.

greenred
06-20-2008, 06:03 PM
I had a few customers I had no problems making accommodations for as they were good people, paid on time, and respected us so I went out of my way to go the extra mile for them. I had a very minority of customers who where jerks and snobs and so when it came to extra things even little things they got charged what I call the ass hole tax for things that I normally would have done for very little or for free.