PDA

View Full Version : Need advise with new customer


mowerbrad
04-26-2009, 05:12 PM
I picked up a customer a couple weeks ago. I went out the day they called to give them an estimate and got a call from them later that day that they would like me to do the lawn. I started out doing a quick clean-up and dethatching (very minimal work with not many leaves). I get done and the lady says that everything looks good. I tell her that weekly mowing will start around May 1st and get going to my other accounts that day.

So at about 5:00pm that evening (7 hours after I had left) I get a call that they were unhappy with the job. I drive back over to their place from across town to see what the problem is. They first tell me that I didn't dethatch their lawn like I said I would. I told them when I gave them the quote that I would be using a tine rake dethatcher on my mower. But after explaining that to them another several times they still didn't understand that I dethatched. Then the lady starts tell me how I didn't blow the beds because leaves had blown back in to them. On top of all that, she starts to tell me that I didn't empty the bags on the mower often enough. After explaining to them another two times what type of dethatching I did (using the tine rake and not a power rake) they still didn't understand.

I was trying to be very professional with them while I was there. I said to them that I was glad they told me they were unhappy so I could help correct the problem. Then they proceed to tell me that they weren't unhappy. I was finally able to leave and return to the other clean-up I was about to start.

I returned to their place yesterday to clean-up the leaves that blew back into the beds. When I was finished the lady starts telling me how I need to take dethatching off my list of services because I don't do that. She said it was mis-leading because I didn't dethatch (which I did, I just couldn't make her understand).

So far this lady has been nothing but problems and I can only see more to come as weekly mowing starts in another week. I am undecided as to what to do. I am debating whether or not I should just drop them or keep them. I didn't quote them high enough to continue to make return trips to their house.

So now that I have vented a little, I need some advise as to what to do.

JB1
04-26-2009, 06:19 PM
all that crap and you don't know what to do. your in trouble.

delphied
04-26-2009, 06:23 PM
Maybe they know what a real de thatch job is with a real power rake and dont consider going over it with a tine rake to be a true de thatch?

93Chevy
04-26-2009, 06:24 PM
If you didn't quote them high enough, and it seems they're going to be a problem (obviously), then you have to ask yourself, do you really need the business?

turfbuilder
04-26-2009, 06:38 PM
I am in a almost identical situation with a new customer that I picked up this year. After 1 cleanup for these people I realized that they are a PITA. They basically want me to do extra services above what they are paying me for.
I have not mowed there yet because of rain but I'm beginning to think their $30.00 account isn't worth the B.S. They will be my 2nd PITA customer that I dropped this year. After all these years in LC I am not going to put up with people like that it's just not worth it. So basically Mowerbrad you have to decide if the headaches are worth the account :usflag:

JDiepstra
04-26-2009, 06:46 PM
I would give them a couple mows and see how it goes. Two more weeks won't kill you. If that's still now working out just tell them you are unable to provide them the service they are looking for, and give them the number of an LCO you don't like. Haha.

TheC-Master
04-26-2009, 07:00 PM
I had a guy who had a terrible lawn who hadn't had it done in ages, and the neighbor who I had done asked me to do his or see if I could. The guy ended up asking me to do it. I did his lawn and he said it was fine, his edging hadn't been done in God knows how long. I had to kick what I edged to get it out, and I explained that the first time through wouldn't make it look fully maintained right away, but it looked good. He was happy. I could tell he was the guy who waits until his lawn is godly awful and ask someone to do it just that one time. I went over there Friday and he complained about the edging after I explained that I did it and it would take multiple goes. I had did a customer that day with bad edging and I fixed it on the second go. So I told him I could do it, and then he says it isn't a problem. Why complain to me about something, so when I "fix" it you don't want it. I ended up kicking the curb after I edged it again and I managed to get it done. He wasn't a full time customer or anything like that and I know those kinds are headaches from a mile off.

mowerbrad
04-26-2009, 09:06 PM
I would give them a couple mows and see how it goes. Two more weeks won't kill you. If that's still now working out just tell them you are unable to provide them the service they are looking for, and give them the number of an LCO you don't like. Haha.

I was thinking I will keep them for the next couple weeks and see how things go. If they continue on with all this bullsh*t I will refer them over to a different company. I have never had a customer like this, I have been lucky in the fact that most of my customers over the years have been very good.

siclmn
04-26-2009, 10:58 PM
Using a tine rake to de thatch a lawn is a joke. I don't have the nerve to use one and then charge someone for dragging it over their lawn. A power rake is how it is done and truckloads of thatch are removed. Using a tine rake is scamming them.

Lawnut101
04-27-2009, 02:12 AM
I woudn't need a customer like that. I have had them in the past, but no longer work for them. Maybe try the mowing and see how it goes. But they may be a huge pain, which is what it sounds like.

Lawnut101
04-27-2009, 02:13 AM
Using a tine rake to de thatch a lawn is a joke. I don't have the nerve to use one and then charge someone for dragging it over their lawn. A power rake is how it is done and truckloads of thatch are removed. Using a tine rake is scamming them.

No, using a power rake wrecks their lawn. Way to aggressive.

topsites
04-27-2009, 02:28 AM
I believe this customer is in the right, doesn't make them a PITA even thou it might feel that way.
That it's not pleasant, no argument there but I would offer a refund or a credit.

cutterschoice24
04-27-2009, 03:04 AM
It sounds to me like they are going to be trouble I'm a firm believer that a 1st impression is a lasting impression and it does not sound like they made a good impression just my 2 cents.

McEwans Lawn Service
04-27-2009, 08:30 AM
I don't know about you but my patience is very short. I have run into problems like that before and I did just what you did they seem to be alittle more polite in person that on the phone. I listened for a few minites and tryed to explain what I had done. It didn't work so I told them keep what they owed me and we would call it even and to find someone else to mow their yard. They calmed down thought they might have over reacted and I have been mowing it for 3 years now. Life is to short to deal with crap their are good people out their to work for that will aprieate you and will pay you on time another good plus.

ALC-GregH
04-27-2009, 08:58 AM
Obviously you are at fault here. They are the customer and you were hired to do a job. Even though you did what you felt was a good job, they might not be happy with the results. I'd offer to go over it again at no charge or apply the price you charged toward the mowing. A lot of guys seem to think they don't have to satisfy the customer when the customer isn't happy, they think they can just dump them rather then work with them to keep them happy. Customers have right too. Remember the next time you buy something and your not satisfied and want to return it.

cutterschoice24
04-27-2009, 10:14 AM
i agree with pleasing the customer but before he left they seemed very happy with his work and then they call him back or is anybody forgetting this part that would piss me off too.

topsites
04-27-2009, 11:57 AM
i agree with pleasing the customer but before he left they seemed very happy with his work and then they call him back or is anybody forgetting this part that would piss me off too.

Yeah that is a bit of a pisser thou they might have said it in a rush att, but still.

Now I think, after wondering about this messy bit of a situation I like McEwan's answer.
And I don't know about the part where one threatens to leave, but I won't say much about that either way.
Because I've had it too, where I've spent twice the amount of estimated time and still someone was not happy...
They wanted a good price, I gave them that, so you ain't gotta do much math to realize where I'm headed,
but I can also say that right then I am ready to pack it up, let them keep their money, and have a nice day.

So, but to cut a long story short, I think the simple of it is...
Maybe consider sticking with customers that more fully appreciate the kind of work you do.

mowerbrad
04-27-2009, 08:40 PM
After they had complained about the work I went back over a few days later when I had time and fixed everything they had found unsatisfactory. I did this at no extra charge. I always say the customer is always right and I guess they were, so I went and fixed the problems (for now).

mowerbrad
04-27-2009, 08:43 PM
Using a tine rake to de thatch a lawn is a joke. I don't have the nerve to use one and then charge someone for dragging it over their lawn. A power rake is how it is done and truckloads of thatch are removed. Using a tine rake is scamming them.

I have found that the power rakes are too aggressive for most yards around here. Every year I have people choose my tine-rake dethatching over the power raking because they feel that the power rake is too aggressive on their yard. I don't get enough business to justify buying a power rake, let alone renting one for a couple days. These were the first people to ever complain about the tine rake dethatching.

siclmn
04-27-2009, 10:03 PM
I only do it on thick spongy lawns where there is a lot to remove and sometimes it will look more like dirt then lawn when I am finished. This will be after six passes over the lawn. Then I reseed and fertilize and it always comes back like a brand new lawn. That is why I was so alarmed of the way that you do it. It would just not work on these kind of lawns for me.

mowingmachine93
04-27-2009, 10:30 PM
Sorry for the dumb question I am new to the lawn care business but what is de thatching?

Mahoney3223
04-27-2009, 11:16 PM
Anyways, I would for sure drop the customer. Unless you are hard up for work and every yard matters. Trust me I have put up with @$$#$$#$# before and its so much better to save the stress. Yards come and go.

topsites
04-27-2009, 11:36 PM
Sorry for the dumb question I am new to the lawn care business but what is de thatching?

It is the process of removing thatch.

mwh350
04-28-2009, 12:46 AM
My take on this situation is I would have told them that they were right and we obviously have a misunderstanding about how dethatching was done. Call a local rental center and ask how much for a power rake which is what they are really doing. Then quote them a price to power rake it and clean it up. For me that is double or tripple the price of using the spring tine. And if they want it then you power rake it, and then run over it with the bagger to pick it up. They get what they want, but they have to pay for it. I do a 3 or 4 pass with the tine rake dethatcher and I charge half the going rate of the lowballer fly by night no insurance suckers. My opinion is that he spring tine is the way to go unless you are doing a renovation.

Alternatively Put some Power rake springs on a 21 inch mower you have laying around and dethatch with that. You need to keep that sucker moving to avoid swirl marks, but they will get the assloads of thatch removed they were looking for. And it will only cost you like 20 bucks. Have done that sometimes on small yards for people that want it "power raked" instead of renting an actual power rake Keep in mind that the actual rake will do a better job, but only marginally.

edgewood
04-28-2009, 10:06 AM
Using a tine rake to de thatch a lawn is a joke. I don't have the nerve to use one and then charge someone for dragging it over their lawn. A power rake is how it is done and truckloads of thatch are removed. Using a tine rake is scamming them.

A little harsh on the wording there buddy, a tine rake, when set up correctly, removes all the thatch that one needs to remove without destroying ones lawn in the process. We use one exclusively and we get about a 1/2 ton load equivalent from an average size town lawn (6000 ft 2). What more do you need to do than to expose the dirt between the plants???

A tine rake is hardly scamming or a joke. What is scamming is ripping out all their roots and then having them call you back to reseed (or worse - them have to do it by themselves). I realize that certain areas are different than others, but for the most part, a maintained lawn only needs a tine rake dethatching. Anything else is overKILL. It seems that power rakes are starting to be a thing of the past.

Finally, what did homeowners do before power rakes? A tine rake dethatcher does a far better job than a manual rake.... therefore, what need is there for a power rake.....

delphied
04-28-2009, 12:05 PM
A little harsh on the wording there buddy, a tine rake, when set up correctly, removes all the thatch that one needs to remove without destroying ones lawn in the process. We use one exclusively and we get about a 1/2 ton load equivalent from an average size town lawn (6000 ft 2). What more do you need to do than to expose the dirt between the plants???

A tine rake is hardly scamming or a joke. What is scamming is ripping out all their roots and then having them call you back to reseed (or worse - them have to do it by themselves). I realize that certain areas are different than others, but for the most part, a maintained lawn only needs a tine rake dethatching. Anything else is overKILL. It seems that power rakes are starting to be a thing of the past.

Finally, what did homeowners do before power rakes? A tine rake dethatcher does a far better job than a manual rake.... therefore, what need is there for a power rake.....

Most lawns dont need any of the thatch removed to begin with.

betmr
04-28-2009, 01:28 PM
Using a tine rake to de thatch a lawn is a joke. I don't have the nerve to use one and then charge someone for dragging it over their lawn. A power rake is how it is done and truckloads of thatch are removed. Using a tine rake is scamming them.

I agree with this assessment, If you are charging for De-Tatching, That is what you should be doing. If I were paying for that, I would expect It to be done properly. Those Tine rakes are not Vertical Mowers, and if I pay someone to De-Tatch my lawn, They better have a Vertical Mower on their trailer. Not some chintzy rake.

edgewood
04-28-2009, 02:02 PM
Most lawns dont need any of the thatch removed to begin with.

True enough, and the ones that do can be done by a tine rake. We only do about 10 % of the lawns we cut.

edgewood
04-28-2009, 02:08 PM
I agree with this assessment, If you are charging for De-Tatching, That is what you should be doing. If I were paying for that, I would expect It to be done properly. Those Tine rakes are not Vertical Mowers, and if I pay someone to De-Tatch my lawn, They better have a Vertical Mower on their trailer. Not some chintzy rake.

Youve never used a tine rake have you. What does a customer care what equipment you use, as long as you are selling YOUR service and do a good job at it.

NOW.... if you tell them you have a grass ripper (power rake) and don't, thats not cool. Just the same as if you tell them you have tine rake and rip out their grass with a power rake, thats not cool either....

mowerbrad
04-28-2009, 03:03 PM
When I went to give them the estimate on dethatching and weekly mowing, I explained to them exactly what I would be doing when I dethatched. I told them that I would be using a tine rake dethatcher and explained to them what that was and how it worked. They were okay with it and went ahead and told me to schedule them.

This was basically why I am having issues. I explained to them everything I would be doing, and they were fine with it. Then when I finished the job they were happy with the end result. But several hours later, at the end of the day, they were unhappy.

betmr
04-28-2009, 03:37 PM
Youve never used a tine rake have you. What does a customer care what equipment you use, as long as you are selling YOUR service and do a good job at it.

NOW.... if you tell them you have a grass ripper (power rake) and don't, thats not cool. Just the same as if you tell them you have tine rake and rip out their grass with a power rake, thats not cool either....

As a matter of fact I have, and would never waste any money buying one. A "
Properly adjusted" Vertical Mower is the right tool for De-Thatching. Note the operative words- Poperly Adjusted. Set it too low and I agree it will rip up some stuff. In De-Tatching, we are not trying to rip out the roots, The idea is to cut out the dead Thatch Layer, and bring the debris to the surface.This is accomplished by setting the blades at the right depth. I feel that these Tine Rakes are nothing more than Turf scratchers.

mwh350
04-28-2009, 06:19 PM
As a matter of fact I have, and would never waste any money buying one. A "
Properly adjusted" Vertical Mower is the right tool for De-Thatching. Note the operative words- Poperly Adjusted. Set it too low and I agree it will rip up some stuff. In De-Tatching, we are not trying to rip out the roots, The idea is to cut out the dead Thatch Layer, and bring the debris to the surface.This is accomplished by setting the blades at the right depth. I feel that these Tine Rakes are nothing more than Turf scratchers.

Having owned both I can see the benefit in both methods. Most lawns in my area do not need dethatched in the first place, but really could use a nice fluffing up, leaf cleanup in the spring. This is the job for Spring tine rake. I use it 95% of the time and it paid for itself in less than 2 weeks. The other 5% it needs to be aggressively dethatched, and needs the Power Rake to do a good job.
Time=Money in our business. If all the customer wants/needs is the lawn fluffed up and mowed short with less thatch removal then the tine rake is the method of choice. If there ar serious thatch problems then a power rake is what to use. To say one or the other as not effecitve is dumb and would suggest that you personally have not used the other method.
As far as what the business and the logic suggests a Power rake is really better used in the fall as it does make the ground more susceptible to Weed infestations that are prevalant in the spring. I have found that the spring tine doesn't cause as much of a weed problem, but still gets the customer what they want and that is a fast green up. Just by getting the snow mat standing back up the soil temps increase faster than the matted snow next door and it will green as fast if not faster, and that is what the customer is really interested in 90% of the time.
Both methods have their place, but the spring tine is much more cost effective for the customer as it takes you less time so you can charge less.

betmr
04-28-2009, 10:50 PM
mwh350

To say one or the other as not effecitve is dumb and would suggest that you personally have not used the other method.

Let me just start by saying that I really do not appreciate this personal attack. Then let me show you, that not once did YOU equate a Tine Rake with De-Thatching, let's see, you used Fluffing up, Spring Leaf clean up, and Snow mat Standing up. Any time YOU mentioned De-Thatching, you said power rake. Be assured that I know the difference between Spring Clean Up and De-Tatching. And I also know that De-Thatching is not done on a yearly basis, but done when there is EXCESSIVE build up of Thatch. And to end... let me tell you that a Harley Rake is a power rake, and a De-Thatcher is a VERTICAL MOWER. And I have used all three.

lawnwizards
04-28-2009, 11:09 PM
mwh350

To say one or the other as not effecitve is dumb and would suggest that you personally have not used the other method.

Let me just start by saying that I really do not appreciate this personal attack. Then let me show you, that not once did YOU equate a Tine Rake with De-Thatching, let's see, you used Fluffing up, Spring Leaf clean up, and Snow mat Standing up. Any time YOU mentioned De-Thatching, you said power rake. Be assured that I know the difference between Spring Clean Up and De-Tatching. And I also know that De-Thatching is not done on a yearly basis, but done when there is EXCESSIVE build up of Thatch. And to end... let me tell you that a Harley Rake is a power rake, and a De-Thatcher is a VERTICAL MOWER. And I have used all three.


calm down and dont wet your panties. its not a personal attack on you. re read what he wrote and see how you now look like a clown.

betmr
04-28-2009, 11:35 PM
calm down and dont wet your panties. its not a personal attack on you. re read what he wrote and see how you now look like a clown.

And Maybe you can Clue me into this Clown thing you're talking about. If You reread the quote from his post, you might get it. Looks pretty personal to me, concidering he figures, I hav'nt used one, so it is dumb of me to critique it ? How can someone assume that I hav'nt ? Because I disagree with telling a customer I De-Thatched their Lawn with a Springy Thingy, bolted on my Z turn while I rode around their yard ? There's more to turf care than that.

mwh350
04-29-2009, 12:22 PM
O.K.

Let me restate so that I am not going to tossle any feathers. First let me explain my self. First I moved in the last three years from Utah where people are very much aware of the benefits of Aeration, and where they believe that Vertical Mowing Or as the natives call it "Power raking" I understand that is not the correct term, but when a customer calls and want's power raking they indeed want vertical mowing as they would crap their pants if you showed up and hit thier yard with a harley rake.

However here in montana it is a generally understood idea that yards should be Vertically mowed, De-thatched or Power raked every spring. Does any yard need to be raped and pillaged to that extent. Absolutely not! However every fly by night idiot around here has a used $150 dollar Vertical mower and a couple rakes that they feel they need to take thousands of dollars from the pockets of honest people here in montana. here They do whatever the customer asks because it isn't about the lawn it is about the $$$$ :)
For two years I tried educating people and trying to explain that not only was Aeration almost half the price, but a better long term care strategy for thier lawn. I am the only one in my town who owns an aerator because they cost more than 2 or 3 hundred dollars. So for two years I got to ride the pine and watch no insurance idiots pocket money that could be mine if I was willing to lay waste to the Yards around town. Not only that, but I own a vertical mower, and a Lazer Z with a bagger so the amount of work to clean up would have been far less for me than tom dick and harry with their rakes. Still I rode the pine.
Then I realized something. Homeowners don't know what the hell they are asking people to do. They ask for their lawn to be power raked, or de-thatched, but what they are really asking me is can you get the yellow out of my lawn and make it green up faster than my neighbor. I know that's what 99% of them are asking because I am no idiot I can tell that the lawn does not need to be Vertically mowed. Their are some clumps left over from last year some leaves and some snow mat. They want a spring cleanup. At this point if I charged them vertical mowing prices for what they actually want I agree I would be a crook. However If I can undercut the idiot that is going to come in and tear the hell out of a perfectly healthy lawn by about 50% and actually give the customer what they want then why not. That is where the Spring tine comes in very handy, and has made me loads of money this spring. I do educate the customer on my methods and tell them what results they can expect to see before I get started.
When I come across a lawn that actually needs De-thatched I make sure that is priced in and is done correctly. Most of the time this means vertical mowing. The same result that vertical mowing achieves can be accomplished with spring tine. However In my experience it takes between 4 to 6 passes altering directions to accomplish this and tends to be slower than just hitting it with the vertical mower and then cleaning up with the mower/bagger. Depending on size of th yard. I had a .65 acre lawn that was wide open that the owner wanted cleaned up well. I hauled 3 pickup loads of dead grass from the lawn with 4 passes on the spring tine. He specifically asked that I not use the Vertical mower as he did not want the lawn hit that hard. His lawn looked great, and was definitely dethatched.
Additionally I have found that Many people do not want to have me aerate because it leaves the plugs behind on thier lawn. At the rates the fly by night guys charge for "power raking" I tell people who are price shopping that the Aeration will do a better job for them, and that I will Aerate, and Detatch for the same price as the "power rakers". This will leave no visible trace of the lawn ever being aerated. And it will remove the thatch and have the lawn green up quickly. The Jrco Rake does an unbelievable job of breaking up the plugs that are left behind by a plug aerator.
When priced appropriately the spring tine is a huge money maker for me and a huge money saver for my customers. To have people run around and act like there is no place for the vertical mower or the spring tine is hogwash. There is a place for both methods. The key is knowing how to look at the lawn, and know which method is best for the lawn.

As most of you who are in favor of the vertical mower have stated it only needs to be done when thatch problems exist. If you turn down every customer who asks for a de-thatch because no thatch problem exists you can hardly warrant owning the piece of equipment, and if you do it for every customer then you are probably screwing a lot of people that were asking for a spring cleanup with the wrong terms. If I were to buy only one of the two I would buy the spring tine first as not every yard needs vertically mowed every year, but every yard can benefit from the Spring tine every year. Very visible results I look at it as being able to get one more mowing in for every customer because I can start before the grass is green.

My novel is done there are benefits for both. Stop making they OP feel like he was an idiot for buying the spring tine.