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View Full Version : Unhappy Customer? What do I do?


RedMaple Lawns
08-30-2009, 08:56 PM
I'm relatively new to the site...so here's a little bit about me...

I've worked in the customer service industry since I was 15, mostly summer jobs and part-timers through college. I picked up the lawn care and landscaping trade after working for TruGreen. I've never had a problem dealing with people, especially customers, and have always received compliments on my work. I've only been in business for myself for 2-3 months, working it part-time this year in hopes that I can operate full-time by Summer of 2010. Honestly, I'm trying to get and retain any customer I can while keeping my prices decent.

I've had this customer for approx. 2 months, it started with a pine straw and mulch install and led to a "full service" lawn and landscape agreement. He is a big-wig...a dentist who owns his own practice and lives on a local golf course. I'm sure his expectations are set very high. Anyway...nothing has been said until my last visit...which was on a Thursday. He calls Saturday to ask "What the hell did you do here?...I've been spraying 3 ft. tall weeds for 2 hours!" Honestly, I didn't know what to say? I tried to explain that I had worked for 2 hours...which is what was billed out. I didn't have time to stay and pull every weed and assumed (bad idea) that I could pick-up what was left on the next visit.

He continued on...saying that "If you don't want to do it, then I can find somebody else. I want it done PERFECT. And I DON'T want to keep having these conversations."

This was the first time I've heard anything from him...I'm going this Tuesday, while he is home, so that he can "show me" what I missed, etc. What do I do/say? And how do I act? I don't want to let this guy run all over me, but it's good money, and before this he's been a good customer.

Thanks guys!

Jpeg lawn maintenance
08-30-2009, 09:08 PM
IMO i would go like you said when the gentlemen is home and have him show you what you missed. Tell him that you will mkae sure everything is in great order from now on and just go away with your head held high knowing next time you will do a great job. We are human and will always make a few mistakes take it easy on yourself and listen to him and remember customers come first. thats why we are in buisness hope this helps good luck to you !!

punt66
08-30-2009, 09:15 PM
I'm relatively new to the site...so here's a little bit about me...

I've worked in the customer service industry since I was 15, mostly summer jobs and part-timers through college. I picked up the lawn care and landscaping trade after working for TruGreen. I've never had a problem dealing with people, especially customers, and have always received compliments on my work. I've only been in business for myself for 2-3 months, working it part-time this year in hopes that I can operate full-time by Summer of 2010. Honestly, I'm trying to get and retain any customer I can while keeping my prices decent.

I've had this customer for approx. 2 months, it started with a pine straw and mulch install and led to a "full service" lawn and landscape agreement. He is a big-wig...a dentist who owns his own practice and lives on a local golf course. I'm sure his expectations are set very high. Anyway...nothing has been said until my last visit...which was on a Thursday. He calls Saturday to ask "What the hell did you do here?...I've been spraying 3 ft. tall weeds for 2 hours!" Honestly, I didn't know what to say? I tried to explain that I had worked for 2 hours...which is what was billed out. I didn't have time to stay and pull every weed and assumed (bad idea) that I could pick-up what was left on the next visit.

He continued on...saying that "If you don't want to do it, then I can find somebody else. I want it done PERFECT. And I DON'T want to keep having these conversations."

This was the first time I've heard anything from him...I'm going this Tuesday, while he is home, so that he can "show me" what I missed, etc. What do I do/say? And how do I act? I don't want to let this guy run all over me, but it's good money, and before this he's been a good customer.

Thanks guys!
just sounds like miscomunication on expectations. Personally these are the kind of accounts i have been weeding out. I hear on here all the time about how "quality" is all "I" do. But after being in business for a while i have learned the mow, blow, and go yards where people arnt interested in perfection are my real money makers and are easy to please with no complaints and checks are always in the mail.

FLAhaulboy
08-30-2009, 09:19 PM
Be sure and charge him extra for being difficult!

shovelracer
08-30-2009, 10:17 PM
just sounds like miscomunication on expectations. Personally these are the kind of accounts i have been weeding out. I hear on here all the time about how "quality" is all "I" do. But after being in business for a while i have learned the mow, blow, and go yards where people arnt interested in perfection are my real money makers and are easy to please with no complaints and checks are always in the mail.

Ah the age old question is it better to make one stop for $200 or 4 mow n blows for $50. The 4 will take less time and be easy money, but the neighbor who is looking to spend 20K on quality landscaping will never call you because you give the impression that you cant give him quality. The one stop though will leave you feeling happy about the quality, but upset that you dont make as much as the other 4. Now that neighbor wont call you because you appear very expensive and he just needs his lawn cut.

We do our share of both and this is exactly the case. We have an area that we took a couple of mow n go lawns. We now have 14 all on the same street. Although each individual lawn is not necessarily a money maker,but this area is our highest grossing area for the time it takes. Problem is very few of them ever get any extras so the season is short lived. Now we have several high end stops that get it all. They pay us what we want/need to make, but still dont compare to the mow n go when looked at hourly. However these stops easily take in a few hundred man hours each of straight labor every year which more than makes up for the other short comings.

LouisianaLawnboy
08-30-2009, 11:38 PM
You should have went over as soon as he called.
Posted via Mobile Device

punt66
08-31-2009, 05:43 AM
Ah the age old question is it better to make one stop for $200 or 4 mow n blows for $50. The 4 will take less time and be easy money, but the neighbor who is looking to spend 20K on quality landscaping will never call you because you give the impression that you cant give him quality. The one stop though will leave you feeling happy about the quality, but upset that you dont make as much as the other 4. Now that neighbor wont call you because you appear very expensive and he just needs his lawn cut.

We do our share of both and this is exactly the case. We have an area that we took a couple of mow n go lawns. We now have 14 all on the same street. Although each individual lawn is not necessarily a money maker,but this area is our highest grossing area for the time it takes. Problem is very few of them ever get any extras so the season is short lived. Now we have several high end stops that get it all. They pay us what we want/need to make, but still dont compare to the mow n go when looked at hourly. However these stops easily take in a few hundred man hours each of straight labor every year which more than makes up for the other short comings.

i have a full schedule and struggle to keep up with spring and fall and all the installs i do as well. Works for me and i maximize my take.

Mike's LawnCare Landscape
08-31-2009, 07:02 AM
I see you work in Asheville . Just stand your ground and don't let him run over you !!

topsites
08-31-2009, 08:39 AM
Just go on over there and listen to what the guy says, mostly that,
the beauty of it is you don't have to say much of anything, just listen.

It should be all right, as you understand what the man is saying, to say "Yes sir"
and "ok" in between, otherwise let the man finish talking, then if you have any
questions you should ask those, after that it is a simple matter of following the
instructions and all should be good.

lawnkingforever
08-31-2009, 08:41 AM
You should of went over that day to resolve the issues. Be honest with yourself when evaluating this, was it sub-par work on your part or is this guy being a pita. If this guy is being unreasonable, drop him. When I take a job I always discuss before hand the expectations along with it. Now you know from the phonecall he wants every weed pulled out. If I underbid a job that is on me and I will stay until it is completed properly. Then I will explain to the customer that next time we may have to tweak the price. By leaving a job not done and expecting to finish it next week you are setting yourself for misery.

RedMaple Lawns
08-31-2009, 01:41 PM
Thanks guys! This helped quite a bit. Tomorrow is the big day so we'll see how it goes...

JNyz
08-31-2009, 07:09 PM
Sounds like a good client to me. He wants it done right. Do it how he wants and make sure you bill him for every minute you are there. With clients that want it right you can rack up some big hours. I wish all my clients were like that that, I could add 25% to my total hours billed.

Jpeg lawn maintenance
08-31-2009, 10:39 PM
You should of went over that day to resolve the issues. Be honest with yourself when evaluating this, was it sub-par work on your part or is this guy being a pita. If this guy is being unreasonable, drop him. When I take a job I always discuss before hand the expectations along with it. Now you know from the phonecall he wants every weed pulled out. If I underbid a job that is on me and I will stay until it is completed properly. Then I will explain to the customer that next time we may have to tweak the price. By leaving a job not done and expecting to finish it next week you are setting yourself for misery.

where are you located in pitt ?

old oak lawn
08-31-2009, 11:18 PM
[QUOTE=RedMaple Lawns;



"What the hell did you do here?...

"If you don't want to do it, then I can find somebody else. I want it done PERFECT. And I DON'T want to keep having these conversations."



This is when i tell the customer to GO F!!K YOURSELF. I take no crap, if there is a problem tell me what it is and i will fix it but dont go at it like this.

lawnkingforever
08-31-2009, 11:24 PM
North of the city, where every man,woman and child is mowing lawns. The more the merrier. Jpeg, you ever pull into a Get Go or Sheetz in the morning around here, it is packed. I started fueling up in the evening now if I need gas. Where you at?

TMlawncare
09-01-2009, 12:13 AM
The guys probably a PITA but you have to look at it his way also. He has a LCO working for him and one of the jobs it to keep the beds clean. The guy has a day off from work and looks at his landscape and sees a lot of weeds so he is stuck doing it. If I am paying someone $35-40/hr I don't want to be stuck weeding after paying.

Az Gardener
09-01-2009, 01:24 AM
You need to make a decision on what type of clients you want to service. If you want to go after high end clients like the one you are discussing you need to have documentation and lots of it. Solve problems before they happen, imagine all the bad things that could happen and be proactive about avoiding them.

I have a 2 page questionnaire that I start with, at the end I list a number of tasks and who is responsible for what so everyone is on the same page. I have posted it on here before and most though it was too much. My clientele appreciate the fact that I am so thorough. Most on site know I am just anal :laugh: but hey, it gets the best jobs.

After I land a client I have a full page of contact info I ask them to fill out everything from the kids names to the pets and pool guy, plumber, electrician, office, vacation or other homes, emergency contacts, HOA, vet, neighbors you name it. I want to know who to contact if my guys show up and there is a stream of water rolling out from under the door. Or if their pet is unresponsive in the yard and no one is home. Get all that information up front and have it updated every year. Keep the info on your computer for easy access and you have an opportunity to be the hero. I know its not what you signed up for but whats that saying "Success is where preparation and opportunity meet". You save a pet or minimize flood damage they will think long and hard before canning you over a rate increase.

You do this work long enough and you you will understand all the crazy stuff that happens when people are away and you or your crew is there.

punt66
09-01-2009, 05:42 AM
You need to make a decision on what type of clients you want to service. If you want to go after high end clients like the one you are discussing you need to have documentation and lots of it. Solve problems before they happen, imagine all the bad things that could happen and be proactive about avoiding them.

I have a 2 page questionnaire that I start with, at the end I list a number of tasks and who is responsible for what so everyone is on the same page. I have posted it on here before and most though it was too much. My clientele appreciate the fact that I am so thorough. Most on site know I am just anal :laugh: but hey, it gets the best jobs.

After I land a client I have a full page of contact info I ask them to fill out everything from the kids names to the pets and pool guy, plumber, electrician, office, vacation or other homes, emergency contacts, HOA, vet, neighbors you name it. I want to know who to contact if my guys show up and there is a stream of water rolling out from under the door. Or if their pet is unresponsive in the yard and no one is home. Get all that information up front and have it updated every year. Keep the info on your computer for easy access and you have an opportunity to be the hero. I know its not what you signed up for but whats that saying "Success is where preparation and opportunity meet". You save a pet or minimize flood damage they will think long and hard before canning you over a rate increase.

You do this work long enough and you you will understand all the crazy stuff that happens when people are away and you or your crew is there.

if there is a flood, you call the police depaertment. I have done it. Thats way too much personal and confidential information that i would not want to be driving around with.

ponyboy
09-01-2009, 06:47 AM
IMO shovelracer hit the nail on the head I'm in the same boat we have several estates that do it all and take 4 guys 4 hours a week and we have blocks with 20 -35 houses of cut and runs I make one crew do the high end houses and I leave them alone because i dont get complaints from them or the customers and I make money on the extras and there are plenty. My other crews are in and out then go home and still no major problems. My problem can in when i had a cut and run try to do a high end house the attention to details was off and I blame myself so I figured out it was better for 1 crew to do all those houses even if the crews over lapped on the route sheet. Looks like u are in the same boat I was go there fix the problem today meaning weed today and either know u will be there longer each time or reffer him to another company that is set up for this type of client if u are not. I also feel if he is saying there are weeds 2 feet tall either he is a PITA or you are not set up to handel this type of account because it takes several weeks for weeds to get that tall and you should have noticed it a while ago I will asume he is a PITA and the weeds are not that bad

Az Gardener
09-01-2009, 08:19 AM
if there is a flood, you call the police depaertment. I have done it. Thats way too much personal and confidential information that i would not want to be driving around with.

No guts no glory :weightlifter:

The proper response is shut off the house water yourself, then call the homeowner or personal assistant and the plumber if you have some information you think will be helpful.

You get to a home and the pool is way low and the pumps are grinding you shut off the pumps put a hose in the pool and call the pool company then the homeowner and turn off the hose when you leave.

punt66
09-01-2009, 12:39 PM
No guts no glory :weightlifter:

The proper response is shut off the house water yourself, then call the homeowner or personal assistant and the plumber if you have some information you think will be helpful.

You get to a home and the pool is way low and the pumps are grinding you shut off the pumps put a hose in the pool and call the pool company then the homeowner and turn off the hose when you leave.
then they blame you for touching it. No thanks. I have the clients phone number. I dont need their dentist, plumber or gyno's #.

punt66
09-01-2009, 12:42 PM
No guts no glory :weightlifter:

The proper response is shut off the house water yourself, then call the homeowner or personal assistant and the plumber if you have some information you think will be helpful.

You get to a home and the pool is way low and the pumps are grinding you shut off the pumps put a hose in the pool and call the pool company then the homeowner and turn off the hose when you leave.


in my area you could dry up a well and have to buy them a new well pump. your playing with fire and getting too deep in peoples business in my opinion. but whatever works for you.

DiyDave
09-01-2009, 01:54 PM
IMO shovelracer hit the nail on the head I'm in the same boat we have several estates that do it all and take 4 guys 4 hours a week and we have blocks with 20 -35 houses of cut and runs I make one crew do the high end houses and I leave them alone because i dont get complaints from them or the customers and I make money on the extras and there are plenty. My other crews are in and out then go home and still no major problems. My problem can in when i had a cut and run try to do a high end house the attention to details was off and I blame myself so I figured out it was better for 1 crew to do all those houses even if the crews over lapped on the route sheet. Looks like u are in the same boat I was go there fix the problem today meaning weed today and either know u will be there longer each time or reffer him to another company that is set up for this type of client if u are not. I also feel if he is saying there are weeds 2 feet tall either he is a PITA or you are not set up to handel this type of account because it takes several weeks for weeds to get that tall and you should have noticed it a while ago I will asume he is a PITA and the weeds are not that bad
Dude-- buy yourself a couple of keys that have the picture of a comma and period on them, that's got to be the longest sustained run-on sentence I have ever read on this forum!:laugh::laugh::waving:

freddyc
09-01-2009, 04:48 PM
You need to make a decision on what type of clients you want to service. If you want to go after high end clients like the one you are discussing you need to have documentation and lots of it. Solve problems before they happen, imagine all the bad things that could happen and be proactive about avoiding them.

I have a 2 page questionnaire that I start with, at the end I list a number of tasks and who is responsible for what so everyone is on the same page. I have posted it on here before and most though it was too much. My clientele appreciate the fact that I am so thorough. Most on site know I am just anal :laugh: but hey, it gets the best jobs.

After I land a client I have a full page of contact info I ask them to fill out everything from the kids names to the pets and pool guy, plumber, electrician, office, vacation or other homes, emergency contacts, HOA, vet, neighbors you name it. I want to know who to contact if my guys show up and there is a stream of water rolling out from under the door. Or if their pet is unresponsive in the yard and no one is home. Get all that information up front and have it updated every year. Keep the info on your computer for easy access and you have an opportunity to be the hero. I know its not what you signed up for but whats that saying "Success is where preparation and opportunity meet". You save a pet or minimize flood damage they will think long and hard before canning you over a rate increase.

You do this work long enough and you you will understand all the crazy stuff that happens when people are away and you or your crew is there.




You're kidding right?

If I was a homeowner and anyone asked me all this info I'd tell you to get in your truck and go away. I want you to cut my lawn--I don't want to marry you. Its good to try and take care of people but I think you're going too far. Just my opinion. I don't want to become my clients best friend--and I don't want them having an expectation that no matter what goes wrong at their place I will try and resposd to it. I'm cutting lawns--not becoming superman.


With regard to the original posting, no matter what, the guy is wrong speaking to you that way--- you're not trash. If you didn't do as much work as you should have, fine, go make it right. The statement "I don't want to keep having these conversations" is arrogant at best. Sign up to be his client, show up on time and when he walks in 10 minutes late to clean your teeth tell him you don't intend to sit there waiting for him to keep an appointment...maybe he will get the hint.

As far as him being a "big wig" just remember he puts his pants on one leg at a time like you and no matter how much money he has he's no better than you in any way.

Az Gardener
09-01-2009, 06:44 PM
I know when I am ridiculed here on site I am on the right track :laugh:. I get compliments on being proactive and looking out for my clients every time I present this questionnaire.

Of course I have a paragraph at the top that clearly tells them why I want the information and that if they are uncomfortable I don't want the information. It is there for their protection and convenience.

Punt had it right "whatever works for you" my systems work for me and my clientele. If you ever want to do more than make tall grass short you might want to give it some thought.

JNyz
09-01-2009, 06:55 PM
:sleeping:I know when I am ridiculed here on site I am on the right track :laugh:. I get compliments on being proactive and looking out for my clients every time I present this questionnaire.

Of course I have a paragraph at the top that clearly tells them why I want the information and that if they are uncomfortable I don't want the information. It is there for their protection and convenience.

Punt had it right "whatever works for you" my systems work for me and my clientele. If you ever want to do more than make tall grass short you might want to give it some thought.

After being here 2 years I think most want to make tall grass short. I wish I could get a nickle every time someone asks what should I charge. You answer it and they say my client will not pay that much. Well, it doesn't hurt to try.

Az Gardener
09-01-2009, 07:08 PM
:sleeping:

After being here 2 years I think most want to make tall grass short. I wish I could get a nickle every time someone asks what should I charge. You answer it and they say my client will not pay that much. Well, it doesn't hurt to try.

I once got almost 4 times what the last guy got and it wasn't a $25 lawn. The client had been paying 200+ per month my bid was almost 1-K and have had the client for over a year :rolleyes:

RedSquareLandscaping
09-01-2009, 07:49 PM
Remeber Customers come fisrt listen and youl do fine