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View Full Version : Dilemma - What Would You Do?


JimLewis
11-30-2009, 11:12 PM
So here's the situation: A customer called and canceled service last December. So someone in our office took the call, stopped Quickbooks from generating her invoice monthly, turned her into a "inactive" customer, and told her thanks for her business. Then the usual process is we call the crew who maintains that yard and let that crew know to pull that page out of their book and not go by the property anymore. Somehow, someone dropped the ball during this part of the process. Either the office forgot to call that crew or that crew forgot to remove the page. Regardless, we've been stopping by the house providing regular weekly service ever since - for free. And nobody ever called to let us know.

This doesn't happen very often. But when you're not a solo op. anymore, have a couple hundred accounts and several crews, this does happen occasionally. Almost always, the customer eventually calls after a few weeks and says, "Hey. I don't know what's up but we canceled service a month ago and your crew is still coming each week." We thank them for letting us know and then we're sure to cancel it. Very rarely does it go on for a whole year like this.

So we just caught this mistake today. And now we're at a dilemma. The thing is, someone should have called and let us know. If you cancel with a company that is regularly providing you with a good or service and then somehow continue receiving that good or service (by accident) and aren't paying for it, it's called "theft of services". And the service provider can collect remuneration for those services.

I feel kinda like a Schmuck to ask for money from this person now. It's our fault we didn't stop the service. But at the same time, ,eventually it becomes their fault (especially after several months) for not letting us know of our mistake and continuing to benefit from it. So I don't know whether we should press the issue or not. If we press, they very likely will refuse to pay and blame us for the whole thing. If we continue to press (e.g. civil action) then we could probably prevail in court but we'd have one pissed off person. And that pissed off person could go all over the place and leave negative comments about our company. Angie's List, BBB, etc. That's the last thing I need is bad reviews of our company. We have a great reputation in the area.

So I am thinking we should just drop it. But it kinda pisses me off that someone would do that and never let us know. That's pretty messed up on their part.

What would you do if you were in our position?

Oxmow
11-30-2009, 11:22 PM
I think you should call them first then go from there.

Hanau
11-30-2009, 11:22 PM
Me? I'd make an example of whomever was responsible for the screw up in the office.

If they're a good employee and this is their first or second screw up then I'd suspend them for 2 weeks without pay.

If this is yet another screw up in a long line of screw ups I'd can em.

That's just me. I prefer to keep my employee's screw ups in house.

In my mind taking it to the customer says "Hey, I am so incompetent and inept at running my organization I didn't catch this for a whole year. Please give me money so I feel better about myself".

Bob dont roll like that.

Does Jim roll like that?

LouisianaLawnboy
11-30-2009, 11:26 PM
Call them and maybe pay get half. Or take it out of offending employees paycheck.
Posted via Mobile Device

grassman177
11-30-2009, 11:34 PM
Call them and maybe pay get half. Or take it out of offending employees paycheck.
Posted via Mobile Device

you cant dock the pay of an employee, better whatch that one. i woul ddef find the error and who it was, repremand from there,

next i would call the customer and inform them of the situation and explain to them the legal matter of the situation of them continueing service(only after talking to a lawyer first).

then go about yoru business and make sure it does not happen again with rules set as precedent according to how you handle the person who screwed up

LouisianaLawnboy
11-30-2009, 11:47 PM
you cant dock the pay of an employee, better whatch that one. i woul ddef find the error and who it was, repremand from there,

next i would call the customer and inform them of the situation and explain to them the legal matter of the situation of them continueing service(only after talking to a lawyer first).

then go about yoru business and make sure it does not happen again with rules set as precedent according to how you handle the person who screwed up

That employee wouldn't get any vacation or christmas bonus. They are other ways to do it.
Posted via Mobile Device

gravedigger5
12-01-2009, 12:08 AM
How much are we talking? $1000? $2000? More? If your concerned about your reputation, I probably would handle everything in house. If you can prove who did it, reprimand them. Employees make screw ups. Part of owning running a business. But you might try calling the customer and explain what happened on your end and ask why they did not bother to call you. You might be surprised. Maybe something stupid like they were not home or they were at work when the services were being performed and thought that their new lawn guy was doing it when in fact he was showing up the next day and the work was already done, so he sent your customer a bill even though he did not do anything. Stupider things have happened. But I doubt it though. Good luck. Just reminds me I'm glad I went back to solo, but I screw up too. :confused:

procut
12-01-2009, 12:09 AM
Did they give a reason to why they canceled in the first place? Was this a big account or $25.00 mow and go?

As far as firing anyone, or giving two weeks off no pay I probably wouldn't do that, seems a little harsh for what sounds like as honest mistake. I guess if it were me, I'd probably eat it and move on. I mean, what else can you really do?

I agree it wasn't very good on the customers part to let this happen.

JimLewis
12-01-2009, 12:24 AM
Well, unfortunately there's no way to know who or where the ball got dropped. We let our main office manager go for the winter, last November. Then, for the winter, the office duties (what little there was) were covered by me, my wife, and our landscape designer. Just depending on whose free, it could have been either one of us. And none of us recall receiving the call - over a year ago now.

Furthermore, there is no proof it was someone in the office that dropped the ball. We very well could have called the crew over the phone or radio and it was them who dropped the ball. Finally, that crew leader left the company and one of his sons now does that route. So no way to punish them anyway.

brucec32
12-01-2009, 12:30 AM
I'd revamp my proceedure for dropping accounts, for starters. Sounds like someone was taking it WAY too casually. Obviously a phone call to the crew and having them rip a page out isn't enough. A little redundancy there couldn't hurt. Usually you want a paper/electronic history of changes like this anyway. For example :

1. Cancellation call = report to owner generated = memo to route scheduling person = memo to accounting. A phone call to a busy crew who may or may not be "with it" anyway probably isn't good enough for a large company.

Second, I'd want a report on all cancellations put on my desk so I'd have an idea why they dropped, maybe do a customer contact/exit interview, etc. That might have caught the error right there. But it would be useful to know anyway.

There also needs to be tracking of work done vs revenue so that this sort of thing doesn't get lost in the cracks as the size of the company gets beyond one person's control. What if your guys are stopping by doing lawns for cash on their own? How would you track this? It's always a good idea to generate a report to match/track revenue to the work done anyway. In this case you would have been given a spreadsheet with "Jones account 2.5 hours labor time on-site for June, vs ZERO revenue. A quick glance down the accounts would have shown this as a red flag pretty early.

This all is a system issue. And systems are expensive and difficult for small businesses who lack personnel experienced in setting them up.

As for getting paid, I bet there is some doctrine in the law that would allow suing them, but it would be a hassle and an uphill fight. (they could claim they thought their neighbor did it, etc, and how do you prove you serviced an account where the grass grew back? It becomes he said/she said in court.) Big enough to not miss the money for a long time? You're probably big enough to shrug it off.

JimLewis
12-01-2009, 12:35 AM
How much are we talking? $1000? $2000?.

We're talking about $1800.00.

But you might try calling the customer and explain what happened on your end and ask why they did not bother to call you. You might be surprised. Maybe something stupid like they were not home or they were at work when the services were being performed and thought that their new lawn guy was doing it when in fact he was showing up the next day and the work was already done, so he sent your customer a bill even though he did not do anything. Stupider things have happened.

Yah, more likely the conversation would just go like this, "Um. Hi. Mrs. Jones? This is Jim Lewis with Lewis Landscape Services. You had us take care of your landscape, remember? ......yah, well turns out that after you called to cancel we accidentally kept the service going all these past 12 months. You've undoubtedly noticed that the service was still going on, haven't you?"

"Yep. I have."

"Ok. Well, can you explain to me why you didn't call and let us know?"

"I did call. I called you last December."

"Right. But then for some reason the service continued long after that point and you didn't think to call again and let us know?"

"You didn't send a bill. As long as I am not paying for the service, I wasn't going to complain. If you want to keep taking care of my yard for free every month, that's up to you. I did my part though. Sounds like you guys just didn't do yours. What more could I do?"

"Well, you could have called again, to let us know."

"Hey. I'm a busy woman. I just come home every week and the yard looks good. For all I know it was a nice neighbor taking care of it for me. I don't have time to babysit you guys or figure out who's giving me free lawn care. And I'm not one to kick a gift horse in the mouth. So if someone's going to give me something for free, I'll gladly take it."

"So you don't feel you owe us anything for the 12 months of service you just got for free?"

"Hey. I didn't ask for that service. In fact, I called and specifically asked you to cancel. If I had asked for it, I'd feel obligated to pay. But since I didn't ask for it, no. I don't feel I owe you a dime."

"Um...Ok. Well have a nice day."

What's the point of that conversation??? Just reinforcing the fact that we made a stupid mistake and can't really do much about it?

gravedigger5
12-01-2009, 01:19 AM
.
What's the point of that conversation??? Just reinforcing the fact that we made a stupid mistake and can't really do much about it?

Jim, sorry if my earlier post seemed a little ******ed. I have been reading your posts for years and always appreciated your wealth of info. Matter of fact the only reason I clicked on this thread was because I saw it was yours. You posted about this problem asking our opinions, so I don't think your too concerned about "reinforcing the fact that you made a stupid mistake" as possibly figuring away to get some compensation without damaging your credibillity. I know you don't want to call, but $1800, if you called might get some of that back. the worst thats going to happen (as long as you don't threaten them)is they're going to tell you no. I know this isn't a deadbeat or late payer situation, but with those I can usually resolve them with a very polite phone call. But if you don't call, I understand. But thats my opinion that you asked for. Goodluck, Marc

JimLewis
12-01-2009, 01:28 AM
Don't take me the wrong way. I totally appreciate your (and everyone's) opinion on the matter. I was just thinking out loud, more or less. I was thinking I can't really envision the conversation going very well. I can't imagine she'd just say, "Oh Hey! Thanks for calling. Yah, I probably should pay you something, huh? How much do I owe you? I'll send a check tomorrow." I just don't see that happening. So I think I'm kinda screwed here.

The crappy part is this was an expensive mistake. The good part is we're big enough that we didn't really notice it. We've still been making good profit margin this past year, despite this misstep. So I think it's just best that I drop it and not pursue trying to collect any money for it.

I kind of already knew what I had to do here. I just wanted to discuss it a little on lawnsite first. It helps me confirm what I was already thinking and it helps others to not make the same mistake.

I still think it's pretty chintzy for someone to do that though - keep taking services when they know darn well they aren't paying for them.

Bruce32 is right. We need to review our cancellation protocol so this never happens again.

DLAWNS
12-01-2009, 01:42 AM
Don't take me the wrong way. I totally appreciate your (and everyone's) opinion on the matter. I was just thinking out loud, more or less. I was thinking I can't really envision the conversation going very well. I can't imagine she'd just say, "Oh Hey! Thanks for calling. Yah, I probably should pay you something, huh? How much do I owe you? I'll send a check tomorrow." I just don't see that happening. So I think I'm kinda screwed here.

The crappy part is this was an expensive mistake. The good part is we're big enough that we didn't really notice it. We've still been making good profit margin this past year, despite this misstep. So I think it's just best that I drop it and not pursue trying to collect any money for it.

I kind of already knew what I had to do here. I just wanted to discuss it a little on lawnsite first. It helps me confirm what I was already thinking and it helps others to not make the same mistake.

I still think it's pretty chintzy for someone to do that though - keep taking services when they know darn well they aren't paying for them.

Bruce32 is right. We need to review our cancellation protocol so this never happens again.

Jim- I feel for ya. Those mistakes are frustrating. I think you have it right that you'll just need to let it be and review your procedure for canceling customers service. In my opinion sometimes as much as we hate mistakes, they are a learning experience that can better our businesses. Let us know what you decide in the end. Good luck.

topsites
12-01-2009, 02:34 AM
Oh well, tough luck, it isn't the customer's obligation to do anything at all, granted it is nice when they do
and perhaps any conscientious person would or should say something about it, but the recipient in these
cases is not under any obligation to do that or anything else, you gave it to them, they accepted it, lalala.

Doesn't even necessarily make them a bad person, either.

It is also not the fault of whoever dropped the ball, I learned a long time ago,
if you wish for a problematic behavior to stop, punishment after the fact is the least efficient method.
Why, because prohibition didn't work, either.

The best way to get problems like these to stop, is build yourself a system that does not lend itself to the practice in the first place,
whether the practice is accidental or not, a system that lends itself to it will be abused, sooner or later.

Otherwise no matter what you do, it is only a matter of time before it happens again, and then again,
and again and again, soon one day maybe it's going to hit you a lot worse than $1800 too, what then?

Because even with honest people someone's going to trip that loophole one day,
lo and behold, after that it's lord help you if dishonesty takes hold.

No.


So, hard as it is...
But take this as a hard lesson learned and turn it into an opportunity to
rebuild what system you have so this BS does NOT happen again!
It will take time, and work.

But use the loss of that money as your incentive, your driver to push yourself to think up of some kind of a device or a method,
some other type of approach to the customer care situation you're in now, so that in the end the system your business uses
doesn't allow it (and not because it's prohibited, but because it simply does not work anymore).

Peace out

SNAPPER MAN
12-01-2009, 08:42 AM
I'd just let it go man. Don't blame anyone. It's done so just forget about it. You guys get to worked up over something you can't fix.

Tharrell
12-01-2009, 08:55 AM
You're probably not going to get someone to pay even if they took your services.
Here's what I would do.
Go to them and ask if you've earned their business now. Don't even let on that it was a mistake.
It's so out of the ordinary, it could work.
You don't really have anything to lose and if they were impressed enough with what you did, it could be a fantastic word of mouth thing. Tony

ALC-GregH
12-01-2009, 09:07 AM
That employee wouldn't get any vacation or christmas bonus. They are other ways to do it.
Posted via Mobile Device

your going to get yourself in trouble with your way of thinking. If the employee has earned a vacation, you can't take that away. As for the Christmas bonus, sure you can hold back on them but then any other employee's that got a bonus will rib the other, then you have a huge mess on your hands. Better have a GOOD reason to fire someone too or you could find yourself paying a LOT out in attorney fees.

DixieFerris
12-01-2009, 09:14 AM
If its just mowing services, then at least you aren't on the hook for materials like plants, mulch etc too which is good. This happened to me last year with a customer. The customer did call me, but only after 6 weeks of us mowing for them. They owed $240 for the 6 cut ($40 per visit), so I called them back and explained it was my fault for not changing the log book in that team's truck. I then told them I was prepared to eat the loss but perhaps they could see a compromise in meeting me half way on the bill, which they thought was fair at $120. Everyone left pretty happy, and this year mid way thru the season they came back to us and even gave us 2 extra fall cleanups. Sometimes just picking up the phone helps a lot

LouisianaLawnboy
12-01-2009, 09:25 AM
your going to get yourself in trouble with your way of thinking. If the employee has earned a vacation, you can't take that away. As for the Christmas bonus, sure you can hold back on them but then any other employee's that got a bonus will rib the other, then you have a huge mess on your hands. Better have a GOOD reason to fire someone too or you could find yourself paying a LOT out in attorney fees.

No one is entitled to a vacation, that is given out by the good graces of a company.

As for as bonuses. You could have a performance bonus at the end of the year and that person just didn't qualify.

This is pointless though bcz like the op said, it could have been his wife or anybody.
Posted via Mobile Device

txgrassguy
12-01-2009, 10:05 AM
The post from Dixie echos what I would suggest.
Simply call the customer, explain the situation and see if they would pay any amount towards the cost.
I have had this happen and when I called the customer, I set up an appointment to speak with them in person. During the conversation, of which we were both quite polite, I approached the subject of payment and the customer offered one-half which I took. To this day when we see each other we both get a laugh out of the matter.
If not then write the loss of as an noncollectable debt through your accounting software.

mdlwn1
12-01-2009, 11:18 AM
Lol at anyone who thinks you should go after the money. And a BIG lol to those who suggested penalizing an employee......it's clear they don't have any.

MOturkey
12-01-2009, 12:04 PM
I suspect this happens way more with larger service companies than anyone wants to admit. One seems to find there are actually very few totally honest people out there. This same client might never think of stiffing you for a bill, but thought nothing of letting someone service their property for a year with no compensation.

Ultimately, I think it has to be one of those situations where "the buck stops here". For whatever reason, it was the mistake of your company, so you pretty well have to eat it, unless the customer is one of those totally honest peoiple, and decides to reimburse, which isn't likely to happen.

I would, however, either drop them a letter, or make a phone call and make them aware that you now are now aware of the situation. If you don't, they may have their own little laugh that they got away with it and no one even noticed. I'd make sure they know I noticed. Neill

green grass lawn care
12-01-2009, 12:22 PM
well someone said in an earlier post that the new yard guy could be showing up and seeing the lawn already cut just billed them. i would call and explain the situation and if the customer calls the new guy and asks a few questions and finds out she has been paying him for your work all year you may just get her back you may lose that entire year but you will have her for life. just a thought. vince

hackitdown
12-01-2009, 12:27 PM
I would ask the customer for all the money, what do you have to lose? Just ask. I'd do it in person, too. Admit that it was your fault, but so what, ask for it.

Maybe they say no, but maybe they pay you some or all of the money. You gotta try! Again, you have NOTHING to lose by asking.

If they say no, consider the whole thing a learning experience.

lotsagrass
12-01-2009, 12:49 PM
I would imagine there's no way to legally make a claim against the former customer and win. In my business, we've inadvertently paid for former home office employees phone service for a year or more after they left the company. There wasn't much we could do about it but cancel the service once we found out and eat the cost. It was technically our company's fault for not having the service canceled or transferred to the employee's name. Suffice it to say, the accounts payable dept no longer allows the company to directly pay home employee's phone service, etc. The employee must submit the expenses every month and be reimbursed. Otherwise we miss some now and then and the person gets free service for a long time. Anyway, different situation but essentially the same thing...we got stuck paying for it since it was our mistake...no matter how bad it sucked knowing the person got away with free service for so long.

On the other hand....I wonder if cable companies are successful in recovering money from people they supposedly turn off yet the customer somehow keeps the service because a tech didn't disconnect them or whatever?

Two Seasons
12-01-2009, 12:57 PM
Every time there is a change in a route, EVERY account within that route should go through the usual company hoops to ensure they are:
1.) active
2.) payed up
3.) approx time spent on site
4.) optimal crew

Every time a call comes in, it should be logged and that information needs to be sent out to all management. Sounds like you don't have company/crew meetings regularly with all employees present. Good time to present kudos as well as having all eyes and ears on the same message.

EastCoast
12-01-2009, 12:59 PM
The customer did their part, terminated service, not sure why your complicated system could keep up??? You should eat it..... why should the customer be held for your mistake? Maybe the customer leaves early and returns late and dosn't see that the lawn was cut?

lotsagrass
12-01-2009, 01:13 PM
Another scenario...instead of some service provided, let's say a bank has something worked out where they put $40 in your account every 2 weeks for the duration of some deal you have with them, whatever it may be (just making something up for sake of argument). Now, let's say you cancel whatever you had going on that was having the bank deposit $40 of their money or someone else's money in your account every 2 weeks....but through some glitch, you continued to get that $40 deposit for another 6 months but you didn't tell the bank and you in fact spent that money as it were your own. What do you think would happen? My guess is the bank would run you through the ringer and you'd be easily convicted if they decided to take you to court for theft. Now, compare that to a lawn service that's provided. What's the difference? Only difference it a service is provided rather than cash handed over but really, what's the difference? It's all money. The more I think about it, the more I tend to think at some point (after 3 maybe 4 mowings max) the customer is responsible for raising the issue. Seriously...how would this be much different than a bank accidentally depositing money in your account every so often???? It's still stealing no matter how you want to dissect it.

ADVANCEDOHIO
12-01-2009, 01:14 PM
I think I would keep my reputation in good standing. Obviously you had expenses by maintaining the property... This should reflect on your profit & loss statement and can only help when tax time rolls around. As others have stated, I would call it a loss and re-structure the system to "try" and avoid this from happening again. It's all in a days business and you probably learned something from it. You have no legal standing in civil court for this matter especially when you acknowledge that they did in fact call and cancel services. Good Luck!!!

PLS-Tx
12-01-2009, 01:15 PM
The customer did their part, terminated service, not sure why your complicated system could keep up??? You should eat it..... why should the customer be held for your mistake? Maybe the customer leaves early and returns late and dosn't see that the lawn was cut?

Maybe, or maybe they just like getting things for free.

Yes, they did their part, but the RIGHT thing to do would be to let the company know their lawn was still being serviced.

Jim, you are no doubt a good guy and run a very reputable business. Anytime I see a post with your name on it I read it to see if there is anything I can glean from you.

I wish there were more guys like you in this business.

JimLewis
12-01-2009, 03:36 PM
Well, good news! It turns out that we actually haven't been taking are of the property for the past 12 months for free. It was still in our office schedule but the crew actually HAD removed the page from their book last year. It just appeared (based on our copy of their schedule) that we were still doing it. So problem averted. But a good time to revise protocol anyway! At least this lesson didn't actually cost me anything. :):):)

grassman177
12-01-2009, 03:38 PM
that is great news, there is always room and time to review protocol. have a great winter

txgrassguy
12-01-2009, 04:19 PM
Well geez Jim, what a way to yank our johnsons over nothing.
Glad it worked out though.

lotsagrass
12-01-2009, 04:22 PM
Well, good news! It turns out that we actually haven't been taking are of the property for the past 12 months for free. It was still in our office schedule but the crew actually HAD removed the page from their book last year. It just appeared (based on our copy of their schedule) that we were still doing it. So problem averted. But a good time to revise protocol anyway! At least this lesson didn't actually cost me anything. :):):)

Maybe the crew was using that one as their cover while they took naps :)

JimLewis
12-01-2009, 04:48 PM
Well geez Jim, what a way to yank our johnsons over nothing.
Glad it worked out though.

Yah, sorry about that. But I was excited to find out that we hadn't been doing it, like we thought.

Almost always, the schedule in the office matches the schedule in the crew's truck. In this case, the only thing we hadn't done was remove the customer's name from the office copy of the schedule. I feared the worst. But once we checked with the crew we were pleasantly surprised.

I'll make it up to you. Next time I see you I'll buy you a beer. :drinkup:

RLS24
12-01-2009, 05:06 PM
Well, good news! It turns out that we actually haven't been taking are of the property for the past 12 months for free. It was still in our office schedule but the crew actually HAD removed the page from their book last year. It just appeared (based on our copy of their schedule) that we were still doing it. So problem averted. But a good time to revise protocol anyway! At least this lesson didn't actually cost me anything. :):):)

That just totally stole my thunder hahaha. what I was GOING to say was, I think as the primary over-see-er, you, at SOME POINT in that last 12 months, would have looked at each crews "book" to not only check it against your records, but see how you could possibly optimize the routs. So I WOULD have said, shame on you for not checking the records and making sure everything lines up at least ONCE a year.

But, glad you got it figured out!

starry night
12-01-2009, 05:16 PM
Bet you are glad now that you didn't pay those a customers a visit and ask why they let your crew work for free for the year. They would have thought you were wacky.

topsites
12-01-2009, 05:26 PM
Well, good news! It turns out that we actually haven't been taking are of the property for the past 12 months for free.

:laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

That was a good one, not to say I haven't had my share.

MOturkey
12-01-2009, 07:38 PM
The customer did their part, terminated service, not sure why your complicated system could keep up??? You should eat it..... why should the customer be held for your mistake? Maybe the customer leaves early and returns late and dosn't see that the lawn was cut?

Geez, give me a break. They wouldn't have noticed if their yard hadn't been mowed for a whole season? :hammerhead:

STIHL GUY
12-01-2009, 08:25 PM
i would call em and speak with them and see if you can get half payment

starry night
12-01-2009, 08:47 PM
i would call em and speak with them and see if you can get half payment

:) stihl guy. You are a little late; the fire is already out. Bet you didn't read all the way to the last page of the thread. I recognize it because it has happened to me several times. Then I feel like such a fool. Not calling you a fool just ...... oh well you get it.

orlawncaresvc
12-01-2009, 09:06 PM
I say leave it alone. And it is your fault. Do you not yourself or have someone check where your crews are occasionally? I'm sure if you would of done that you would of caught a lot sooner.

JimLewis
12-01-2009, 09:25 PM
That just totally stole my thunder hahaha. what I was GOING to say was, I think as the primary over-see-er, you, at SOME POINT in that last 12 months, would have looked at each crews "book" to not only check it against your records, but see how you could possibly optimize the routs. So I WOULD have said, shame on you for not checking the records and making sure everything lines up at least ONCE a year.

Well, sorry to steal your thunder. Point taken. But the thing is; as a company gets larger, you have to delegate. There is no way you can watch over every part of the company with that kind of detail. I oversee all 3 areas of our company but I focus most of my time focused on running the landscape and construction side of our business - landscape, hardscape, irrigation, water feature installs, etc. I have managers who oversee the other parts of our company, maintenance being one of them. Together with the office manager, all of the duties related to the maintenance side of our business are covered. I oversee their work but I don't have time to check on every one of our 200 maintenance accounts and see if they are all "lined up" properly. I just make sure we have good solid systems in place that assure how we manage a maintenance client, make sure they are placed in the most optimal part of our route, make sure payment is secured, etc. We have a very good system in place for watching over all this. But even the best system is subject to human error and I simply don't have time to oversee our maintenance accounts in that much detail. If I did, it would take time away from more profitable jobs I could be working on.

At some point - you have to delegate it. You can't micro-manage forever. At some point - 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 accounts - you have to realize that you personally are not going to be able to oversee every aspect of the operation involving each account. Now for me, I reached that point a few years ago. I realized I wouldn't be able to maintain that level of control and still grow to the level we needed to grow to. I had to delegate some of that and trust that the people I put in those places would oversee those operations correctly. 99.5% of the time, they do. Sometimes they make a big error and something like this happens. Fortunately, this time it was just a small error. But it can't be helped when you're doing the kind of volume we're doing. Sometimes there are going to be human errors that effect the company negatively. You just do your best to correct, teach, and learn from the mistakes as you go on.

DLAWNS
12-01-2009, 09:35 PM
Jim- I'm glad the problem was rectified. I'm glad it wasn't an $1800 mistake...:)

Kennedy Landscaping
12-01-2009, 11:58 PM
Figure out how the message failed to get relayed. And then call the customer and see whats up.

MV Property Care
12-02-2009, 12:39 AM
You will look like an idiot if you try to get money for the services from the homeowners. That is the stuff that makes the local newspaper and everybody gets a good laugh. Local lawncare company mows customer's lawn for a year after she cancelled service. The home owner is wrong, but just learn and move on.

PLS-Tx
12-02-2009, 01:22 AM
Hey guys, you might want to read before you post a comment. :rolleyes:

Glad it worked out for you Jim.

Agape
12-01-2010, 02:05 PM
Call them and maybe pay get half. Or take it out of offending employees paycheck.
Posted via Mobile Device

gotta have a warning first(employee) but you can offer them the option of a pay decrease or fine, or loosing their job. and I would make a policy regarding these things to where it goes down the line and then the crew has 5 days to turn in the "stop sheet" (took your advice Jim, in creating a log for each stop to keep track of things being done at each account) to the office.....extreme penalties...yada,yada,yada....

zturncutter
12-01-2010, 02:11 PM
Well, good news! It turns out that we actually haven't been taking are of the property for the past 12 months for free. It was still in our office schedule but the crew actually HAD removed the page from their book last year. It just appeared (based on our copy of their schedule) that we were still doing it. So problem averted. But a good time to revise protocol anyway! At least this lesson didn't actually cost me anything. :):):)

The problem was solved one year ago today LOL.

Agape
12-01-2010, 02:21 PM
Lol at anyone who thinks you should go after the money. And a BIG lol to those who suggested penalizing an employee......it's clear they don't have any.

I would penalize, but I would have policy in place first so it was expected and not just an "I'm mad so HERE!..."

make a plan, and work the plan- cant legally or morally do anything to anyone over a miscommunication unless there are procedures in place that were ignored.

I appreciate your sharing of problems Jim, cause I'm learning a lot that I would never have thought about until it happened to me.

hope you recoup some investment over this.

Agape
12-01-2010, 02:25 PM
Well, good news! It turns out that we actually haven't been taking are of the property for the past 12 months for free. It was still in our office schedule but the crew actually HAD removed the page from their book last year. It just appeared (based on our copy of their schedule) that we were still doing it. So problem averted. But a good time to revise protocol anyway! At least this lesson didn't actually cost me anything. :):):)

Thats awsome Bro!

Agape
12-01-2010, 02:30 PM
Well, good news! It turns out that we actually haven't been taking are of the property for the past 12 months for free. It was still in our office schedule but the crew actually HAD removed the page from their book last year. It just appeared (based on our copy of their schedule) that we were still doing it. So problem averted. But a good time to revise protocol anyway! At least this lesson didn't actually cost me anything. :):):)

I would reward that crew with pizza or something for being on the ball!
Take em to Chris' place for pizza and a beer.

freshprince94
12-01-2010, 08:50 PM
Never mind. I neglected to read and saw that the issue was solved. They need a delete button for posts haha

Kiril
12-01-2010, 09:28 PM
Yah, sorry about that. But I was excited to find out that we hadn't been doing it, like we thought.

Almost always, the schedule in the office matches the schedule in the crew's truck. In this case, the only thing we hadn't done was remove the customer's name from the office copy of the schedule. I feared the worst. But once we checked with the crew we were pleasantly surprised.

I'll make it up to you. Next time I see you I'll buy you a beer. :drinkup:

Time for you to start verifying the schedules match whenever changes are made.

TGG2008
12-01-2010, 11:25 PM
That definately sucks. I would not call the customer because the situation is just awkward and you can't really ask for payment. This is a chance to tighten up your policies on getting the news relayed to the crews.
What do the crews turn in at the end of the day?
Shouldn't someone have seen that the house was getting serviced?
Were there schedules still including this house or were they going off habit?

starry night
12-02-2010, 10:51 AM
Die, zombie thread, DIE !!

Charles
12-02-2010, 06:41 PM
Yea problem solved. Thread closed