View Full Version : Controlling customer expectations...

10-08-2008, 01:30 PM
OK, I just lost a customer who was not happy with his weeds...

first of all, he hardly had any and it took very close and particular scouring of the property to find anything... so I almost am not too concerned to lose him although he seemed to be a REALLY nice guy...

He called me a week or so ago and said he had weeds and the amount was unacceptible... I go out and like I said it was actually difficult to find the colprits... I found a few winter weeds and some VERY low ground cover type weeds, unsure of the name but from looking at them I new it would be hard to control, kind of like creeping charlie but matted up and flat on the ground...

So I apply the chemicals I had to attempt control and let him know that they were treated and we would be back for a check up on them...

He calls today and says that most of the weeds died but not all and he was not happy, therefore he was terminating the service...

OK... is all I said... maybe we can be of assistance next time...

HE EVEN STATED that he understood that the lack of rain and all was probably a contributing factor... so I didn't know what to say...

My question is how do you control peoples expectations when they don't have a sprinkler system, and we don't get any rain, we are still in a severe drought, raining today for the first time in WEEKS...

I don't know what else I could tell the guy... he understood the issue with the rain, he had VERY limited weeds, just a few problem areas where the grass was already thinner such as near trees and such... and the lawn itself was in great condition...

Maybe he is just one that can't be pleased... I want to make sure I don't have this happen again though if at all possible...

10-08-2008, 02:27 PM
Sounds like to me he doesn't want to admit the real issue. (maybe lack of money) Being "REALLY nice" sometimes comes from lack of self confidence. Not saying I know, that's just what it sounds like to me.

If I remember right most your customers are saying thier lawn has never looked better? I wouldn't worry about him. Wish him well and mention that if he ever wants to rehire you he is welcome to. (unless you don't want to work for him)

10-08-2008, 02:45 PM
Thats what I told him... He started out stammering and all... I don't be rude or anything or push them to let me keep working for them, especially with the economy the way it is... I take it real easy on the guys, keep it the least uncomfortable as possible...

I say I apologize for the situation, that if he wouldn't mind telling me what the problem was that is causing him to cancel so I will be able to solve the issue and keep the same thing from happening to my other customers... he stammered some more and said that the weeds were the issue... nothing else, and his lawn looked great the last I was there with VERY minimal weeds... he said that the weeds were why he got rid of the last guy and that he really needed the weeds gone... again, there were VERY few weeds and he said himself that most had died but a few had not died yet... the first time he called I was out the next day taking care of weeds and even walked his beds, which I don't treat normally, and either sprayed or pulled all the weeds.

I don't see where he has a case, I just let it slide... told him that if he would like to give us an opportunity again in the future I would love to have him as a customer and that was that...

Oh well... I just wanted to know what you guys do to help control the customers expectations... no rain and not being allowed to use sprinkler systems makes things hard enough to keep lawns nice and we all know weeds don't get the effect needed if they aren't getting the nutrients and water they need causing them to go dormant which means they don't take in the chem...

What processes do you go to to get people to understand with out overwhelming them with info?

10-08-2008, 03:02 PM
I would agree, sound like he wasn't man enough to admit what the real issue is. It happens, just move on and next season send him a "We want you back letters."

To answer your question we provide all of our customers a "Customer Expectation" sheet. It explains the basic principles of having a healthy lawn. We don't guarantee a 100% weed free lawn, that would be would be in possible.

10-08-2008, 03:18 PM
sounds like an divorce sale in the works, or maybe a lay off, we have had one or 2 drop off, it happens, go get his neighbors, we had one customer get us 3 accounts in the block then one day calls and says she can not do it any more, she is out of cash. Itold her to get me some more of the block to sign up and I would do hers for free, its 8 in a row now, one free be for a while but eh , I got the whole block and she is happy and a valued customer for her honesty. some folks just don't want the help that can come there way by being honest

one down and 250.000 to go..............

10-08-2008, 10:10 PM
I agree, it is a $ issue. Do you expect the customer to state otherwise? It's not your service or quality, it's the economy.

10-08-2008, 10:16 PM
I have actually had quite a few customers who cancelled admit that it was either they lost their job or something to do with the economy, that my service was not a factor. I have thought about offering the free service for added customers but am not sure as to how to go about this with out it looking like a handout or a put down on with their pride...

We have done A LOT of door to door advertising this fall and quite a few people straight up told us that they couldn't afford it due to them being out of a job... and their yards showed it too... kind of feel bad for the people... I especially hate seeing homes for sale that you know are being forclosed on... quite a few neighbors of customers have homes for sale that are on the brink of foreclosure...

Times are bad...

10-09-2008, 12:05 AM
HOUSE acrost the street just sold guy bought it and hasent made his first payment and got laid off last week

10-09-2008, 12:30 AM
Have you seen him mowing the lawn himself? Are their commercial mower tracks or stripes?

I'm sure money is the culprit, but their could be others too.

Did he hire a 13 year old to do it maybe...like a family member or friend? I have ppl who think that b/c their properties might like great for like a year or two that my job is easy for anyone to do.......Like a 13 year old neighbor who uses the homeowner's mower from their garage and mows too low and with dull blades for like 15 bucks a pop...then uses scotts fert 4 steps a year....:dizzy:

just a thought

I must say though, stammering and complete lack of confidence sounds like a complete lack of money in the wallet.

...I hope you got paid for your last services.

10-09-2008, 12:31 AM
By the way Treegal that lady's lawn and the pass-alongs is brilliant.

I'll rem that trick forever

ICT Bill
10-09-2008, 10:09 AM
It sounds like you already know the answer, weed control in those conditions is very difficult and you should have said so.

maybe, "there is no reason for me to spray again until the environment is better for control so let's wait a week or 2, I will come by and assess the situation this afternoon or tomorrow, I am a professional and have seen this environment many times. Apologies for the problems with the grass but it has been very difficult for 2 years because of this drought to get complete control on any of our sites"

10-09-2008, 12:36 PM
would you send out a letter saying something to this point or leave it to a case by case basis? I am curious as to if anyone has found the best way to say something like you said Bill without sounding like your looking for a way out or an excuse for bad service...

I do like that though...

10-09-2008, 02:26 PM
monkey nuggets!!! its a 5 k lawn, I could dig the whole thing up and load it in one day, with the wrong end of the shovel!!! weed control I don't think was the issue!!!

if it was just about the weeds then the guy would have let you fix it not just fired you!!! what a donkey, good riddance!!

10-09-2008, 03:18 PM
Donkey, well maybe, but more than likely just didn't have the money and didn't know how to end service. He was obviously upset, hence the stammering, and just looking for a way to control his expenses without looking like a looser. It will happen, they know your services are expendable so they just need an excuse to avoid a big seen or confrontation. He got exactly what he wanted, you were speechless I"m sure in his mind he was like "thank god, that was easier than I thought, whew, OK now the paper boy he hasn't been putting it on the right spot on my doorstep, yea that should work" DG don't take it personally, you will lose and gain customers, its just business.

10-09-2008, 04:16 PM
pro you just hit on one of my customer pet peeves, they want an honest reliable service that they can BS and lie to constantly, I don't care to hear any bs, small talk me to death if you want, speak your mind or predicament, but don't start off with some bs story, as far as I am concerned you are just as good as your last transaction! the few that have had to discontinue my services there are 3 that just came strait with me and said that they just did not have the cash, one lady will never have the cash, she had been a customer for 3 years, and I will continue to do her yard for free until she says to me stop, I am not a philanthropist by any means, we have a deal worked out that we both like very much, and we have never BSed each other, and with in our deal she gets some cash off of me to help fill. the other 2 guys that said that they had no cash , tow truck, you know that is working out just great. he is now on the free fuel train and is helping out with my needs to move any thing and every thing. the other poor fellow is just down on his luck,his lawn will coast just fine for a while.

10-09-2008, 05:46 PM
what got me about it, and I am not too worked up over anything, is that he said that most of the weeds that he previously called about were dead... almost like he was actually surprised I was doing my job...

It happens, has happened before... in the future, if people come clean I will try to talk to them a little more and work out a deal to keep them and myself happy...

Just picked up a customer today twice the size of his yard... and more money involved too...

10-09-2008, 06:30 PM
good deal man, now thats 249999 to go so you had better hustle.LOLOL

10-09-2008, 07:09 PM
you have no clue... I only have 3 in bridgemill, and about 3 in Towne Lake... if that gives you any idea...

For those of you who aren't familiar... towne lake is its own community literally across the street from me with probably around 10000 homes? Then Bridgemill is a stand alone neighborhood with about 3000 by itself and that is about 5 minutes away...

Now there is a town mill in canton that is suppose to put bridgemill to shame, and then you can't forget rivergreen, etc etc etc... their putting up super neighborhoods all over... and I haven't touched half of them...

10-09-2008, 07:50 PM
See, that's the thing, you lose one no so honest customer and then there is a better one to replace it. Things seem to work out like that a lot, you'll probably get two to replace that one you didn't need anyway. TG I agree with you about the honest thing but I live in Jersey, sometimes you have to wear tall boots if you know what I mean. You begin to recognise that type of customer and what they say once you've been around a few. Don't get me wrong I have some great customers, but I have had my share of stammerers too.