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View Full Version : Customer Complaint after Spring Cleanup Yesterday


spronk1
03-31-2010, 11:03 AM
So, Yesterday was the first day back out starting spring cleanups and lawn cleanup. My typical spring cleanup includes Blowout of hardscapes, raking of lawn(i use a JRCO Tine Rake) and mowing/bagging of all the debris.

I pull into the first neigborhood and I am all excited b/c I have 8 of them lined up on the same block, 4 of which are all neighbors so I could do 4 backyards all at once. I lined up these 4 with 1 person. The lady called me about wanting her yard dethatched and also her neighbors. I went out there about 2 weeks ago to look at the lawn and advised her that dethatching with a power rake was not necessary as there was minimal thatch buildup and told her I can do it cheaper by just raking with the JRCO rake to loosen up the matted down grass. Snow mold was very prevalant on these properties. Everything matted down like it had tarps onthe lawn all winter. So she agreed to the JRCO raking and cleanup and talked to the other neighbor and all agreed to the service. So I pull in, spent about 4 hours total in that neighborhood with all 8 properties. I then get a phone call from one of them complaining that there is still alot of dead grass on the lawn and he could have done a better job hand raking. he then asked if I had even done any work and picked up any clippings b/c there was still dead clippings on the lawn. I explained that no mower will get 100% of the clippings off the ground but that did not satisfy him. Out of 8 properties, he is the only complaint. The rest have all told me they were pleased with the service.

I use a Toro Midmount 52". Now I do have the gator blades on to help break down the clippings. I guess if needed I could put some High lift blades back on to help get more clippings picked up but then I would just have to dump twice as often. But even then it will not pick up 100% of the clippings

I have attached some pics with the amount of grass I pulled up just from the 4 neighbors in a row, including the complainers lot. I even emailed these pics to the complainer. The rest of the clippings are in the back of my truck. This is a good reason to take before and after pics of each job. I failed at taking before pics of the lawn. error on my part

I am a little frustrated at this point and just looking to vent. I have never had a customer complain to me after doing a spring cleanup.

FYI< IT FELT GREAT TO GET BACK OUT THERE. Wind was blowing 20-25 MPH, dust flying everywhere. Got dirty as heck but was worth it. Getting some revenue flowing again is great.

nepatsfan
03-31-2010, 11:05 AM
A lot of people think dormant rye grass is thatch.

blk90s13
03-31-2010, 11:07 AM
Sounds like he is getting ready for a way out

topsites
03-31-2010, 12:00 PM
The key question is, if there's still a lot of thatch and the customer asked to have it dethatched...

As for the customer who doesn't complain, 9 out of 10 customers who are unhappy with a service
or product never say a word, they just go on their way and don't come back.

told her I can do it cheaper

Oh yeah, I can do it cheaper too, matter of fact I can do it for free.
How that comes across, maybe that was your mistake but it doesn't matter.

The customer wanted the yard dethatched, now if there's still a lot of thatch left...

Raymond S.
03-31-2010, 10:14 PM
All I can say is you need a dump insert...

spronk1
03-31-2010, 10:32 PM
I would love to have a dump insert. Just cant afford one at the moment.

I did some more cleanups today and looking back I think I can see why the homeowner had some complaints. I lowered my deck down today to 2.5" and it did a way better job of pickup. Most properties I have been at have little to no growth and have been very dry and dusty. We need rain in a bad way to give this grass a jump start. the temps are here just not the moisture.

Hind sight is always 20/20 .

unit28
03-31-2010, 11:55 PM
I'm still waiting on a truck so I'm jelous.
But go back again.

zak406
04-01-2010, 12:37 AM
I would love to have a dump insert. Just cant afford one at the moment.

I did some more cleanups today and looking back I think I can see why the homeowner had some complaints. I lowered my deck down today to 2.5" and it did a way better job of pickup. Most properties I have been at have little to no growth and have been very dry and dusty. We need rain in a bad way to give this grass a jump start. the temps are here just not the moisture.

Hind sight is always 20/20 .

If that is the case maybe you should go over the complaining customers one more time.... Sounds like that would be a nice neigborhood to keep happy.

LR3
04-01-2010, 01:00 AM
Go back and hand rake it. It comes with the territory, especially if you take pride in your work. Don't disagree or argue. That's one in 8 in the same neighborhood. Word of mouth works both ways, you don't need anyone mother*$&@#_% you:nono:. It won't take too long to do and regardless if you make it look better or not, he will at least see that you did your best to do so.

ALC-GregH
04-01-2010, 07:35 AM
I would love to have a dump insert. Just cant afford one at the moment.

I did some more cleanups today and looking back I think I can see why the homeowner had some complaints. I lowered my deck down today to 2.5" and it did a way better job of pickup. Most properties I have been at have little to no growth and have been very dry and dusty. We need rain in a bad way to give this grass a jump start. the temps are here just not the moisture.

Hind sight is always 20/20 .

You obviously didn't do the job as well as you THOUGHT you did. Go back and do it right and let the customer know that you want them to be happy.

beargins
04-01-2010, 07:49 AM
Does anyone here bag their grass? Just wondering because I notice that a lot of guys here in the city just dump it in the back of a trailer aswell.

Darryl G
04-01-2010, 08:11 AM
Sounds like it's dead grass that's still attached. Some people think it's necessary to rake all of that out...I just mow short and use the JRCO myself and as soon as the lawn starts to come in the brown disappears.

What you do really depends on what you charged and what the agreed scope of work is. This is exactly why I only do cleanups on an hourly basis, because it's not really a finite end point. You have to draw the line somewhere based on professional judgement. If they want it done more meticulously, like get every last blade of dead grass and every last leaf from the pachysandra, I'll be happy to do it....hourly.

brucec32
04-01-2010, 09:50 AM
Possible mistake: doing work for people you haven't met, if that was the case. I've said it here before. Because of the high percentage of inexperienced incompetents, the unintelligent and uneducated, outright crooks, etc in this business, you are assumed to be a low-life by most people. If they've met you and you're not one, they will be less likely to assume the worst of you. Many I run accross for the first time seem almost surprised that I don't speak some form of barely decipherable redneck pidgeon english. Meet them, discuss the job, and they will be a lot more likely to trust you.

Possible mistake: not discussing exactly what would be done and what the results would be with each homeowner. In fact, absent a written contract or a conversation, this guy doesn't technically owe you a dime. I doubt a judge would accept "but this neigbor lady said to do it!".

Possible mistake: Not having the specs of a job in writing for a first time customer.

Language should be included that reflects the reality of the work done. In this case "tine raking to remove the BULK of thatch and winter debris.." etc. instead of "removing thatch".

Possible mistake: Doing one-off jobs for strangers and expecting 100% of them to be satisfied and pay up. Realize that 90% of customer conflicts come early on in the relationship. The odds are simply greater that you'll get this type of customer if you're doing a lot of jobs for people for the first time. Charge higher rates to cover bad debt costs. When you've mowed their lawn for a year and always were on time and did a good job, they're more likely to assume you did the job to a professional standard.

It sounds like you did a quickie job for a lower price than the real deal, which is fine, as that's probably all it needs. But what are the odds the customer actually expected it to still have some thatch laying around?

There's a reason some things we do that are "good money" are "good money". They're more prone to pitfalls, do-overs, and complaining customers. I can spread seed on a lawn in 10 minutes. But that doesn't mean I'd ever charge for just 10 minutes of labor time on a reseeding.

1 in 8 sounds about right in terms of the ratio of real sticklers to normal people. Offer to make another pass, reduce the charge, or just write it off.

And yes, high lifts would probably have gotten more of it up. Also, my Exmark vacs much better than my toro and Gravely mowers. The difference after one pass is quite distinct. Perhaps you do need to get more of the stuff up after all.

lawnworker
04-01-2010, 10:02 AM
In Virginia we don't see a lot of raking and bagging for spring clean ups. Unless the leaves need removing. Probably because most people don't have real bad thatch.On a side note,There has been some studies that aggressive use of inorganic fertilizers is killing the micro decomposes in the soil inhibiting thatch breakdown. Maybe i good reason to sell top dressing jobs.

Jason Rose
04-01-2010, 12:04 PM
When I used my JRCO rake I always would go back over the lawn with the mower and suck up what it missed in the first pass. Often I'd go over the lawn 2 times with the rake too. You already admitted you used low lift gators so they wouldn't pick up so much. What's the point then?
Posted via Mobile Device

Darryl G
04-01-2010, 02:21 PM
The JRCO tine rake is a good tool, but it just doesn't give the same results you'd get if you power dethatcher...gets maybe 1/3 of of the stuff. In your case I don't know if it just didn't free up the dead grass or you didn't pick up what it did. But for the difference in time and effort, I think the JRCO is usually good enough.

spronk1
04-01-2010, 03:51 PM
Thanks everyone for all the responses and opinions. It is always good to hear others thoughts on items.

As far as this customer is concerned, his basic issue was the amount of loose debris left on lawn. I have my JRCO Rake set deep and it pulls up alot of debris. The actual amount of Thatch buildup on this property is not an issue. Has about 1/4-1/2" of thatch. Thats why I did informed them I was not going to use a power rake. The problem was that I had my deck set too high and it did not suck up as much debris as it should have. I have spoke to the customer again and I informed him that I will stop back by the property and run over it again with the bagger to pick up some more loose debris. And surprisingly he already sent the check before I told him I would go back.

And also, of the 8 customers that I did in that neighborhood, this is the only complaint. The other 7 have all told me they were satisfied with the service. I was worried after this guy called me so I ended up calling the other 7 to make sure they were satisfied and if they had any issues/concerns.

Thanks again to all for your input and responses.

LR3
04-01-2010, 04:03 PM
Good deal. Now he can't say anything bad about you.
Posted via Mobile Device

ProSeasons
04-02-2010, 10:26 PM
Double Hi Lifts rule. I would've also went back as soon as I could have. Mulitple customers on one route stop is the ultimate.

Windshield time brings the suck.:nono:

topsites
04-02-2010, 10:59 PM
Possible mistake: doing work for people you haven't met, if that was the case. I've said it here before. Because of the high percentage of inexperienced incompetents, the unintelligent and uneducated, outright crooks, etc in this business, you are assumed to be a low-life by most people. If they've met you and you're not one, they will be less likely to assume the worst of you. Many I run accross for the first time seem almost surprised that I don't speak some form of barely decipherable redneck pidgeon english. Meet them, discuss the job, and they will be a lot more likely to trust you.

I could not agree more.

This past week I just came to another realization ...
It is better to follow the customer's recommendation than it is to try and sell them a better way of doing things!
Yes, even if my way is ten times better and a whole lot cheaper, even if their way is dead wrong and bassackwards.
That is, so long it's the customer's idea it is easiest to simply do as I am told.

And that is so because when...
Yes, WHEN things go south!
It's a whole lot less trouble if I did exactly what the customer told me to do.
Little sucks less than trying to explain my way out of why it didn't work when it was my idea.

This thread is a perfect example.
They tell me to dethatch, I dethatch, if it ruins the lawn we cross that bridge when we get to it.
But I did as I was told, to the best of my abilities.
So what could have gone wrong?
I don't know.

LawnGuy73
04-03-2010, 09:33 AM
Windshield time brings the suck.:nono:

Windshield time will kill a guy. Not only are you not being paid for it, its costing you money especially if you have employees.

Darryl G
04-03-2010, 05:31 PM
Yah, I'm thinking of taking my windshield out to improve my profitability. I'm also thinking of lowering my insurance rates by moving because I heard that 90% of all accidents happen within 5 miles of home.

Runner
04-05-2010, 11:26 AM
Now that's funny! lol :)

topsites
04-05-2010, 11:33 AM
I have spoke to the customer again and I informed him that I will stop back by the property and run over it again with the bagger to pick up some more loose debris. And surprisingly he already sent the check before I told him I would go back.

And also, of the 8 customers that I did in that neighborhood, this is the only complaint. The other 7 have all told me they were satisfied with the service. I was worried after this guy called me so I ended up calling the other 7 to make sure they were satisfied and if they had any issues/concerns.

Excellent!!!

Good deal. Now he can't say anything bad about you.
Posted via Mobile Device

That's what I'm talking about.

And I realize it takes more time and labor (and thus money) out of our pockets, it SUCKS, no doubt about it.
But right now with the economy, and yes I realize it's been down for dang near 3 years and counting, that sucks so bad, too!
But I think it would have been a BAD idea to try and resolve this potential disaster any other which way.

Instead this all turned into a job well done, now the customer(s) isn't just satisfied but hopefully sees
that some folks are still willing to go the extra mile, please trust me when I say THIS is what will get
business going again, my opinion.

STL Cuts
04-05-2010, 01:32 PM
Whats with the Youtube link?

You a big Akon fan? lol

Tower Rat 95B
04-05-2010, 11:09 PM
I would have done the lawn again from another angle with the the jrco rake , if he is a reasonable guy he would be happy with that ,,,,,,,,,, I am sure you know that some people are never happy if he is one of those kickem to the carb and move on......

topsites
04-05-2010, 11:14 PM
Whats with the Youtube link?

You a big Akon fan? lol

not rly but that one song rocks lol

Matter of fact I got to listen to it Saturday while I had the pleasure of pulling my mower out of the ditch.

big acres
04-06-2010, 12:19 AM
We usually do a finish pass without the rake. When you make your turns with the rake, your vac doesn't always track the same as the rake, leaving loose stuff on the turns. Give them one thing to complain about, and some willo.

wahlturfcare
04-07-2010, 09:46 AM
i've built my own dethatchers and have noticed doing yards this year that alot of the grass is dormant or has snow mold with little thatch.
I always take lots of before and after pictures. and try to do each yard 1 at a time in case someone says im cheating them on time or anything.

dave50kate
04-07-2010, 11:43 AM
"You obviously didn't do the job as well as you THOUGHT you did. Go back and do it right and let the customer know that you want them to be happy. "


Good advise. Afterward, show them some core samples to show them the thatch layer left.