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View Full Version : Call aheads drive me nuts


Turfdoctor1
08-16-2009, 08:15 PM
I only call in advance for customers with dogs in the backyard or locked gates. The main reason being: this time of the year, so many of the ones I have to call in advance give me this response, "Oh, I think we are just going to skip this round."

Really? Do you not realize that each application is timed for a specific purpose? Do you not realize that you are going to be calling me in the spring, or in a few weeks or who knows when complaining about your lawn again? Do you not realize that my income is based on people paying me for the service that they ask me to perform at the beginning of the year? Do you not realize that if every customer cancels the day before service that I am stuck with 10's of 1000's of dollars of chemical?

What do you fellas do in this situation? I think I am going to start billing them anyway.

mngrassguy
08-16-2009, 08:21 PM
I only do call aheads for gates/dogs. Any other reason is a cancel. period.

greendoctor
08-16-2009, 08:28 PM
If you miss a doctor's appointment without giving adequate notice, their is either a missed appointment fee or a full bill. I think it is right that this is done because someone else's time is being wasted. Secondly, I am very careful of yards where the dog has free run of the lawn. Lastly, on locked gates. Either the customer keeps that gate open on day of service, or provides me with a key, combination, etc. If that cannot be done, no key-no service, client is fired immediately. Someone that paranoid about locking up their property has craniorectal inversion, a problem that is way above my pay grade and area of expertise. To people that object to my policy on locked gates, they are told that locks only keep out honest people. If someone with dishonest intentions wants in, they will do what they must. Be it hop a fence or break whatever locks are in place. If I cannot be physically there to confront an intruder, I leave it unlocked. I do not want to deal with the damage caused by someone trying to break in. On the other hand, the opposite is true if I am there. I want to hear someone picking or breaking locks.

RAlmaroad
08-16-2009, 08:39 PM
Methinks, I see a weak and verbal contract here. You do have a written contract with conditions and services; don't you? If not, you should! A good businessman would allow monthly rates only to a new and first year clients; then if they like your work and are satisfied with their lawns; a 1/2 yearly premium would be due before the the second half of the season stated and witnessed by client, you and one of your assistants not their spouse where two against one is not in your favor.
Business is business and general sessions courts are general sessions courts for these matters.

greendoctor
08-16-2009, 08:54 PM
My policies on dogs and gates are clearly spelled out on a service agreement that I sign and date, as well as both husband and wife. Needless to say, I have not had to fire someone over their gates or dogs. A person who would give me trouble over this is scared away and that suits me just fine.

Turfdoctor1
08-16-2009, 09:27 PM
Methinks, I see a weak and verbal contract here. You do have a written contract with conditions and services; don't you? If not, you should! A good businessman would allow monthly rates only to a new and first year clients; then if they like your work and are satisfied with their lawns; a 1/2 yearly premium would be due before the the second half of the season stated and witnessed by client, you and one of your assistants not their spouse where two against one is not in your favor.
Business is business and general sessions courts are general sessions courts for these matters.

No. i do not have written contracts with my customers, and I would venture to guess I am in the vast majority here on lawnsite. I can recall more than one thread on the subject. As a small company, I would rather keep a customer and let them off the hook if they skip a round rather than dropping them because "That's what the contract says."

Thanks for the feedback guys.

Let me rephrase the question. If you call in advance because a customer has a dog, and they tell you to skip this round and you have a verbal agreement for yearly service, are you out of line if you tell the customer that it is not an option to pick and choose which applications are skipped.

LawnTamer
08-16-2009, 09:31 PM
Instead of calling ahead, send the bill for the service in advance with the date of the service and a reminder to have the lawn accessible, sprinklers off etc. We have been doing this since 1996, and it works great. Clients get their bill 2 days in advance. If we are unable to service the lawn because of the client leaving a dog out, or a gate locked, there is a $15 trip fee.

DA Quality Lawn & YS
08-16-2009, 10:01 PM
This thread sound like so many over in the mowing forum.
You show up, and customer says "why don't you skip me this week?"

Frustrating, isn't it?

EVM
08-16-2009, 10:31 PM
No. i do not have written contracts with my customers, and I would venture to guess I am in the vast majority here on lawnsite. I can recall more than one thread on the subject. As a small company, I would rather keep a customer and let them off the hook if they skip a round rather than dropping them because "That's what the contract says."

Thanks for the feedback guys.

Let me rephrase the question. If you call in advance because a customer has a dog, and they tell you to skip this round and you have a verbal agreement for yearly service, are you out of line if you tell the customer that it is not an option to pick and choose which applications are skipped.

I am not so sure about the call ahead. I do not offer this "call ahead service". I send out a letter at the beginning of the year stating the proposed app dates; which has a 20 day buffer. I think you are frustrating yourself with stupid home owners life styles and decisions. I am 100% positive you can avoid these situations by getting pre-paid or getting a contract in writing. You are just frustrating yourself.

Turfdoctor1
08-16-2009, 10:34 PM
I am not so sure about the call ahead. I do not offer this "call ahead service". I send out a letter at the beginning of the year stating the proposed app dates; which has a 20 day buffer. I think you are frustrating yourself with stupid home owners life styles and decisions.

you are exactly right.

but, i also want to refrain from putting down fertilizer and pesticides with dogs outside.

EVM
08-16-2009, 11:12 PM
you are exactly right.

but, i also want to refrain from putting down fertilizer and pesticides with dogs outside.

Yeah, I hear ya. I am in a different position than you. I frequent all of my properties on a regular basis for other services. Coming back to re apply in a fenced in area is no big deal. Even then, I never have a customer with their dogs left roaming in the yard during the day. I guess I am lucky with that one.

brizine
08-16-2009, 11:18 PM
You guys crack me up with your "I don't call ahead, my way or the highway attitude" I do call aheads for dogs/locked gates, this is a must. Call aheads are generally a couple dollars higher per service to help offset cost. You have to do them because most people with pools/dogs, lock thier gates for home owners insureance reasons. In this sue happy world you have to be careful no matter which side of the fence your on. As far as skipping treatments I just politely inform the client that is not an option. No, I do not require them to sign a contract either. Some have cancelled service, but it is a very small percentage.

greendoctor
08-17-2009, 03:33 AM
I am there monthly, sometimes 2-3 times in a month. It is not always on the same day of the week. It would become a scheduling nightmare if I had to call people to unlock things. In the agreement signed by all parties: NO KEY-NO SERVICE. The dog thing is no problem for me. Most people with dogs keep them as housedogs that stay inside when the owner is not home. The few exceptions tell me what to do with the dog if it is out and I need to do something with the lawn. I recently picked up some residential accounts where the clients insist on being home. That is something that is new for me because most people are literally too busy to do that. I half seriously tell those people if they have to meet me, it will cost them extra. Because having to be somewhere at an exact time is a PITA that becomes unfair to the client before this person. With what I do, it is beyond a routine application. I am doing IPM monitoring of all properties. I do not like having to leave something for "the next time" because some self centered control freak insists on having to meet me for every round.

jbturf
08-17-2009, 09:37 AM
i feel the pain too,
how about the customers with kids and pool areas or likewise,
they get pissed that you are coming out to ruin their good time, they love their expensive home oasis's, but wont let you in to keep it maintained!

it seems like no matter what time of day or week i show to these types in the summer, they always get mad, "i cant keep the kids off the lawn"
and "cant you do this some other time" or "come back when its raining, we
wont be outside using the pool" or the most common "just skip this treatment"

chrisby316
08-17-2009, 07:51 PM
I also dislike calling people ahead because it is always the PITA people who want to wait around for you. Our contracts are for a 5 application process that covers one year, only had one customer EVER skip a step and it was cuz the old guy that mowed there lawn couldnt keep up with it. make people prepay and you will be surprised how many fewer applications will be skipped.

P.S.
do most guys on here really not have written contracts??

mikesturf
08-20-2009, 11:36 PM
I've had written contracts all my 5 years and not one complaint! Half payment before I start and 2nd half in fall. I tell them I don't want to be a collection service, I want to spend my time making your lawn look great. Call aheads; always with big dogs, never want to be suprised by someone letting their dog out when you are trapped in their backyard. Kids playing in pools; if I ever have to miss a stop where kids are playing, I make a note to always hit that lawn first thing in the a.m. when they are still eating breakfast.

LawnoftheMonth
08-21-2009, 01:25 PM
kids dont go outside here, it's too hot, lol, so that's never an issue. I have a few call aheads but not too many.

Think Green
08-21-2009, 08:48 PM
GreenDoc,
I second the motion on agreements signed by both parties in the household.
We have lost several mowing accounts over the years because of dogs,etc. Don't get me wrong, I have 3 dogs but if a service technician is scheduled to come, they are put in the carport. Call aheads for us only lead to voice mails, and sitting on the curbsites for 15-20 minutes waiting on the customer whom always seems to forget that you are even servicing their lawn.. Does this sound familiar---" Oh!- I am so sorry, my kids were at karate and the class ran over, I had to stop by the beauty salon and get my nails done, and my hubby ran out of fuel on the highway, and I had to go and take him somewhere.!!!" Did I forget to mention the school traffic was terrible and the dog jumped over the fence and the animal control officer has him!
For pitty sakes, stop with the excuses and start remembering your commitments people!

I tried to impose a fee for this kind of crap on upper middle class riff-raff and it didn't pan out!! Too much politics involved in this small town. Everyone is friends with each other........????