PDA

View Full Version : Crappy accounts


Lawnut101
06-06-2011, 02:36 PM
Have you guys ever mowed accounts where you can't wait for the year to be done so you don't have to mow them anymore? I screwed up bidding on a few jobs this year (I was higher than the old company though) and I can't wait till the contract is done on them! :hammerhead: :rolleyes: Next year though, I will know what I need to bid, so I guess it's not the end of the world.

So far this is my first year doing condos, and it sucks. All they do is whine. The big ones are especially bad. I like resis and commercial jobs. I can put up with those. Just trying to feel a little bit better from my mistakes, by hearing if you guys have been in similar situations.

Today especially sucked, we were mowing and a lady came up to me and said, "Excuse me, but you just shattered my storm doors window." Sure enough, we did. One of those days today. I like landscaping so much better!

tuffram
06-06-2011, 03:39 PM
Have you guys ever mowed accounts where you can't wait for the year to be done so you don't have to mow them anymore? I screwed up bidding on a few jobs this year (I was higher than the old company though) and I can't wait till the contract is done on them! :hammerhead: :rolleyes: Next year though, I will know what I need to bid, so I guess it's not the end of the world.

So far this is my first year doing condos, and it sucks. All they do is whine. The big ones are especially bad. I like resis and commercial jobs. I can put up with those. Just trying to feel a little bit better from my mistakes, by hearing if you guys have been in similar situations.

Today especially sucked, we were mowing and a lady came up to me and said, "Excuse me, but you just shattered my storm doors window." Sure enough, we did. One of those days today. I like landscaping so much better!

This past Friday I was mowing one of my regular accounts and when I finished I rang the door bell the lady opens the door to the house and the bottom pain of glass on the outer storm door explodes all over the house and her and me. I felt bad but I tell all of my clients up front I am not responsible for damage caused by my mower throwing something in there yard I cannot see as well as they are not responsible for me hitting something with my mower that damages my mower. I had no idea something had hit the glass door but it happened for the first time in over 20 years.

Patriot Services
06-06-2011, 04:03 PM
A good argument for mulching. I have been very fortunate that nothing escaped from the deck after getting sucked up.
Posted via Mobile Device

cpllawncare
06-06-2011, 04:11 PM
This past Friday I was mowing one of my regular accounts and when I finished I rang the door bell the lady opens the door to the house and the bottom pain of glass on the outer storm door explodes all over the house and her and me. I felt bad but I tell all of my clients up front I am not responsible for damage caused by my mower throwing something in there yard I cannot see as well as they are not responsible for me hitting something with my mower that damages my mower. I had no idea something had hit the glass door but it happened for the first time in over 20 years.

I have to disagree here, if this was the case then why am I carrying insurance? Your absolutly responsible for something thrown by your mower while mowing your customers yard! I've hit roots with my mower and bent blades, well of course I'm not going to go to the customer and tell them they are responsible for the damage LOL that's just crazy.

tuffram
06-06-2011, 04:23 PM
I have to disagree here, if this was the case then why am I carrying insurance? Your absolutly responsible for something thrown by your mower while mowing your customers yard! I've hit roots with my mower and bent blades, well of course I'm not going to go to the customer and tell them they are responsible for the damage LOL that's just crazy.

I ask all my customers to make sure their yard is thoroughly picked up before each and every mow. I take extra time to walk/ride the property prior to mow I explain if they carelessly leave something in the yard I cannot see and I hit it I am not responsible for the damages to property this is disclosed up front before I even take the account I do have insurance but Iím not using it because of someone's negligence period. The property belongs to the customer and itís their responsibility to know what is in it.

cpllawncare
06-06-2011, 04:43 PM
I ask all my customers to make sure their yard is thoroughly picked up before each and every mow. I take extra time to walk/ride the property prior to mow I explain if they carelessly leave something in the yard I cannot see and I hit it I am not responsible for the damages to property this is disclosed up front before I even take the account I do have insurance but Iím not using it because of someone's negligence period. The property belongs to the customer and itís their responsibility to know what is in it.

I understand your point, but I would bet that if a homeowner took you to court over damage you caused (their negligence or not) while on their property they would win. Problem is, at least for me, I don't have set dates except for a few that I mow lawns, just a set time frame IE: every other week or every week ETC ETC. So they have no idea when to pick up the yard. Like you, I do a good walk over before I start, but things happen and you can't put it on the customer.

Lawnut101
06-06-2011, 05:30 PM
I'm just mostly pissed cause I underbid my first big job. Oh well. Live and learn.

Patriot Services
06-06-2011, 05:59 PM
Everybody underbids a job at some point. Normal part of the business.
Posted via Mobile Device

cpllawncare
06-06-2011, 06:19 PM
Yep, I've got'em too, I've tried to gently raise the idea of a price increase but they threatened to go elsewhere, they will be the first to go as soon as I have a full load.

Lawnut101
06-07-2011, 12:24 AM
Everybody underbids a job at some point. Normal part of the business.
Posted via Mobile Device

Yep, I've got'em too, I've tried to gently raise the idea of a price increase but they threatened to go elsewhere, they will be the first to go as soon as I have a full load.

Well, I am glad to hear that I am not the only one. Thanks guys. From a fellow lawn care brother. Like I've said before, it's not the end of the world. Just a lot of experience.

McVey Landscape
06-07-2011, 02:45 AM
We signed a 3 year contract on a cemetery, yes I said cemetery. I was the highest bidder and they knew my company. After several discussions they signed. It's a *****, but a steady income every month. The bad thing is gas prices are up, and is now eating in my profits. I should have put a gas increase on estimate. Lesson learned!! This is my last year don't know if I will resign.

LHS Lawns
06-07-2011, 08:52 AM
I gave a price on a res mowing job a couple of years ago that should have been much higher. At the time my wife needed to reduce her hours at work due to health reasons, I just lost 2 customers to the economy so I was looking to get something to make up for the lost revenue. Got the job and fussed and complained everytime I cut it. I couldn't believe I was cutting at that price. I was miserable. On top of that the owner asked me to cut around some tree plantings. Should have charged more but kept on cutting for the same price.
It is less than 1 mile from where I live outside of town in farming country so that helped some but not much.

Before the next season we worked out a new price for the extra work, he takes care of the trimming and I just ride. I'm the only one to blame for the miserable year but I'm glad it worked out. Lesson learned.

MOturkey
06-07-2011, 09:25 AM
Did you ever notice that this is one of the few industries where a bid is locked in stone? Call a plumber, and he'll give you an estimate on what it will cost. If he runs into additional problems, it will cost you more. Same with auto repair, electricians, etc, but with us, if you make a mistake or run into something that requires additional time, people expect you to honor the price no matter what. On large properties, it can be really tough to know exactly what to charge until after you actually service the property.

LHS Lawns
06-07-2011, 02:34 PM
Yes some are hard to judge. I priced a 3 acre yard about 3 years ago and didn't pay any attention to the county road front ditch. Got the job. Thank the good Lord I priced it as such that the cutting of the ditch fit in with the price. I have often thot about cutting a lawn first to see just how long it took me and set a price. If the owner doesn't agree with it they got a free cut. I know something like this can get out of hand I guess thats why I've never tried it.

Cam.at.Heritage
06-07-2011, 03:13 PM
Yes I understand maintenance is different then install, but we have a condition on all our contracts that reads "any unforseen conditions or events that arise after contract date to be billed on time and material basis" and I can't even tell you the number of times that has saved our profit margin.

Although there are always those days where you just make mistakes and you need to bite the bullet....

cpllawncare
06-07-2011, 06:49 PM
. I have often thot about cutting a lawn first to see just how long it took me and set a price. If the owner doesn't agree with it they got a free cut. I know something like this can get out of hand I guess thats why I've never tried it.

I have wanted to do this so many times, But I'm guessing it's a big no no

Lawnut101
06-07-2011, 11:34 PM
Yes I understand maintenance is different then install, but we have a condition on all our contracts that reads "any unforseen conditions or events that arise after contract date to be billed on time and material basis" and I can't even tell you the number of times that has saved our profit margin.

Although there are always those days where you just make mistakes and you need to bite the bullet....

I usually try and do that for landscape work, but can't do that for mowing. Nobody would like that, especially the condos.

coopmaster
06-16-2011, 08:40 PM
I have often thot about cutting a lawn first to see just how long it took me and set a price. If the owner doesn't agree with it they got a free cut. I know something like this can get out of hand I guess thats why I've never tried it.
Great idea. I'm going to use it next time and save myself a lot of grief.

topsites
06-16-2011, 08:53 PM
What you going to do if fortune one day takes a crap on you!?

Some folks here apparently are ASSUMING the economy is going to improve.
Granted, I made that mistake myself.

But I say better get used to them because this economy ain't going nowhere, way I see things, with the shortage of
natural resources and everything just keeps getting scarcer and pricier, things are bound to get uglier before they
start to looking up, if they ever even do... We're probably looking at 10, 20 or more years of this humdrum bah humbug
state of the economy and that's still taking a big assumption that things will somehow get better one day.

Best start to appreciate what you got!
That's what I say, what if global warming's, the petroleum and fresh water shortages are for real!?

Because the other thing is, I've been around this one bend before...
And I can tell you, my experience is you might be surprised when the tide or the weather turns...
Who ends up dumping you!

Yes sir, you could be down on your luck so bad and who dumps you?!
All those you thought were your best customers who swore to your face holding their right hand
high in the air and displaying the most solemn look of honesty they could muster!
And who is still your customer?
Those very ones you didn't think much of !

Oh and you think that's bad, think again, maybe if it weren't for them you wouldn't have NO customers!

Look here, if they pay, I do as I'm told.

Lawnut101
06-16-2011, 11:34 PM
What you going to do if fortune one day takes a crap on you!?

Some folks here apparently are ASSUMING the economy is going to improve.
Granted, I made that mistake myself.

But I say better get used to them because this economy ain't going nowhere, way I see things, with the shortage of
natural resources and everything just keeps getting scarcer and pricier, things are bound to get uglier before they
start to looking up, if they ever even do... We're probably looking at 10, 20 or more years of this humdrum bah humbug
state of the economy and that's still taking a big assumption that things will somehow get better one day.

Best start to appreciate what you got!
That's what I say, what if global warming's, the petroleum and fresh water shortages are for real!?

Because the other thing is, I've been around this one bend before...
And I can tell you, my experience is you might be surprised when the tide or the weather turns...
Who ends up dumping you!

Yes sir, you could be down on your luck so bad and who dumps you?!
All those you thought were your best customers who swore to your face holding their right hand
high in the air and displaying the most solemn look of honesty they could muster!
And who is still your customer?
Those very ones you didn't think much of !

Oh and you think that's bad, think again, maybe if it weren't for them you wouldn't have NO customers!

Look here, if they pay, I do as I'm told.

I understand you point. But basically I have to hire extra help to handle this job, which isn't really worth it, because I could do other things myself. I like landscaping way better than mowing. There is a lot more money in it.

Get Some...
06-16-2011, 11:43 PM
I understand you point. But basically I have to hire extra help to handle this job, which isn't really worth it, because I could do other things myself. I like landscaping way better than mowing. There is a lot more money in it.

That is true.
But it's best to be a full service company.......and mow money is a steady income source.

topsites
06-17-2011, 12:31 AM
I understand you point. But basically I have to hire extra help to handle this job, which isn't really worth it, because I could do other things myself. I like landscaping way better than mowing. There is a lot more money in it.

I know, but it's a package deal, some accounts are more profitable than others, win some, lose some.
You can't chase just the money, kind of like you have to deal with the bad to get to the good.

Businesses bigger than yours and mine have tried it, too.

A big car dealership made the same mistake, years ago.
They gave regular customers the boot while they serviced "only" their high end
commercial and industrial clients who had fleets of vehicles.
Why, because it was where the money was, and they thought they didn't have to deal with folks who only wanted (or had) one car.
That didn't work out so good for them.

Same for me, I made the same mistake.
Thought I could just concentrate my efforts on the nice lots, heck with the crap accounts.
Didn't work out so good.

Why, because the people with the "crap" accounts will badmouth you
to the "good" customers and before you know it, you have no customers.
You'd be surprised, the connections between customers, the way some know each other wouldn't dawn on us in our dreams.
Heck one of those "crappy" accounts might have sent you a good one, just because they knew their work wasn't profitable
and they felt bad for you, granted that may not have been the case at all, but the thing is we never know, you never know,
it could well be that one of your most profitable accounts came along JUST because of this.

In the meantime...
The dealership changed their name lol
They're still in business, somehow, well it was more than a few years ago.

Now I'm not telling you what to do, how to do it...
But it is a lesson most of us only go through once.
The outcome is you're either back to square one, where we are now, crappy accounts and all of that.
Or you're not in business anymore.

You can try cherry picking, but...
Better off raise your prices a little overall.
Cover for the BS, but service them all.

tacoma200
06-17-2011, 01:59 AM
I've learned to bid high. Even if they tell me they have a lower quote I tell them why they should choose me at a higher rate and usually get the job. Usually after talking to a potential customer for a few minutes I can tell if it's going to be worth it, but I still get stuck with a few bad apples every now and then.

Joe Midwest
06-17-2011, 02:48 AM
I just dropped an account today, and there are several others that I'm dying to get rid of.

I think I did the right thing... or at least I did what I really wanted to do. It was a tiny little residential lawn. So small in fact that a 22" mower was almost too much. The problem was that the guy had a billion little things in his yard (ornaments, plants, and such). I'd spend about 20mins trimming around everything, in between bricks of the brick sidewalk... etc, etc. All the while the customer would hover over me pointing things out. To top it off, this guy was one of those people who literally expected me to hang out for another 15mins and shoot the breeze once finished. All this for $15!

I felt terrible after telling him that I couldn't take care of his lawn anymore, he looked so dejected. He was a refferal from one of my best customers, and he also reffered me to the guy next door to him, an account that I plan on keeping. I could loose the other two accounts, plus another one that his friend reffered me to. I knew all this as I was weighing the options... but this one account was driving me crazy, and was a waste of time. We'll have to see what happens.

The lesson I learned? Pay really close attention when doing estimates. Don't get desperate unless you have to. Don't allow yourself to get too personal with customers like this.

I'm thinking about going with a $25 minimum next season. I won't advertise that of course, but probably won't settle for anything less unless it's an extremely easy and fast job.

cpllawncare
06-17-2011, 08:51 AM
I just dropped an account today, and there are several others that I'm dying to get rid of.

I think I did the right thing... or at least I did what I really wanted to do. It was a tiny little residential lawn. So small in fact that a 22" mower was almost too much. The problem was that the guy had a billion little things in his yard (ornaments, plants, and such). I'd spend about 20mins trimming around everything, in between bricks of the brick sidewalk... etc, etc. All the while the customer would hover over me pointing things out. To top it off, this guy was one of those people who literally expected me to hang out for another 15mins and shoot the breeze once finished. All this for $15!

I felt terrible after telling him that I couldn't take care of his lawn anymore, he looked so dejected. He was a refferal from one of my best customers, and he also reffered me to the guy next door to him, an account that I plan on keeping. I could loose the other two accounts, plus another one that his friend reffered me to. I knew all this as I was weighing the options... but this one account was driving me crazy, and was a waste of time. We'll have to see what happens.

The lesson I learned? Pay really close attention when doing estimates. Don't get desperate unless you have to. Don't allow yourself to get too personal with customers like this.

I'm thinking about going with a $25 minimum next season. I won't advertise that of course, but probably won't settle for anything less unless it's an extremely easy and fast job.

$15 ???? Most on here have a minimum, mine is $45 you'll put yourself out of business if you don't KNOW ALL your expenses and cover them on every job, I'm probably going to a $55 minimum next year, bidding is hard but you HAVE to cover expenses and that's what I'm thinking about constantly when I sit down and write out a bid.

Agape
06-17-2011, 10:11 AM
Yep, I've got'em too, I've tried to gently raise the idea of a price increase but they threatened to go elsewhere, they will be the first to go as soon as I have a full load.

If you're not makin money, who gives a crap if they go?

G780
06-17-2011, 10:20 AM
I'm happy to say ever since we started I never had that issue. BUT I always remember the contracts that we bidded low for just to get. Just keep your head down and go :(

cpllawncare
06-17-2011, 05:15 PM
If you're not makin money, who gives a crap if they go?

I agree, with the account I'm talking about which was one of my first, I'm making money just not what I should be. I've not got a full load yet, so it would behove me to keep this one until I can afford to let some go. As soon as I get to the point that this account is keeping me from a more profitable one it'll be gone. It's a freakin struggle in the beginning, but I'm learning day by day and go out and try a lil harder everyday, I've not lost an account yet, I take that as a good sign, or maybe not, but I'm not going below my minimum, ever again. I've did the math and it's what I have to have to be able to make money and grow my business. After talking to a lot of the local LCO's I'm not over or under priced so I feel comfortable with my price point. Most of the ones around here are raising prices next season for sure.

jvanvliet
06-17-2011, 06:40 PM
can't bid below cost... you have to know your numbers... period. You'll never make up negative cash flow with volume.

My contracts have an out clause with 30 day notice. I've fired customers for being a PIA, specially when the return is marginal.

Eventually all the low ballers are going to go broke; they see the dollars coming in but don't have a clue what the cost is. I'm picking up people in communities that walk over to my rigs looking for someone who is good and dependable... the low ballers do crap work & are unreliable.

My book is full, I'm thinking of jacking the prices on my bottom 10% earners to make room for more lucrative accounts. Get rid of the crap first & then think about putting a 3rd. crew on.

Business is good and I'm busier than I've been for a while :)

cpllawncare
06-17-2011, 08:10 PM
can't bid below cost... you have to know your numbers... period. You'll never make up negative cash flow with volume.

My contracts have an out clause with 30 day notice. I've fired customers for being a PIA, specially when the return is marginal.

Eventually all the low ballers are going to go broke; they see the dollars coming in but don't have a clue what the cost is. I'm picking up people in communities that walk over to my rigs looking for someone who is good and dependable... the low ballers do crap work & are unreliable.

My book is full, I'm thinking of jacking the prices on my bottom 10% earners to make room for more lucrative accounts. Get rid of the crap first & then think about putting a 3rd. crew on.

Business is good and I'm busier than I've been for a while :)

I couldn't agree more! I am tired of hearing how lowballers are hurting people's business's, I would say that your not marketing to the right people if this is the case. I'm no pro but I've learned to ignore the lowballers they aren't in my target market anyway! They only compete on price! I compete on service and quality!

topsites
06-17-2011, 09:52 PM
BREAKING NEWS:... The Pity Train has just derailed at the intersection of Suck It Up & Move On, and crashed into We All Have Problems, before coming to a complete stop at Get the Hell Over It. Any complaints about how we operate, can be forwarded to 1-800-waa-aaah with Dr. Sniffle Reporting LIVE from Quitchur Bitchin'. If you like this, re-post it. If you don't...suck it up cupcake! Life doesn't revolve around you

Snapper Jack
06-17-2011, 10:10 PM
BREAKING NEWS:... The Pity Train has just derailed at the intersection of Suck It Up & Move On, and crashed into We All Have Problems, before coming to a complete stop at Get the Hell Over It. Any complaints about how we operate, can be forwarded to 1-800-waa-aaah with Dr. Sniffle Reporting LIVE from Quitchur Bitchin'. If you like this, re-post it. If you don't...suck it up cupcake! Life doesn't revolve around you

LMFAO:laugh: You're very witty.

swbluto
06-17-2011, 10:20 PM
I have often thot about cutting a lawn first to see just how long it took me and set a price. If the owner doesn't agree with it they got a free cut. I know something like this can get out of hand I guess thats why I've never tried it.

That's basically what I do and I haven't had problems with it, yet. Except instead of "free", we have a $10 "try us out" price.

Lawnut101
08-26-2011, 12:33 AM
can't bid below cost... you have to know your numbers... period. You'll never make up negative cash flow with volume.

My contracts have an out clause with 30 day notice. I've fired customers for being a PIA, specially when the return is marginal.

Eventually all the low ballers are going to go broke; they see the dollars coming in but don't have a clue what the cost is. I'm picking up people in communities that walk over to my rigs looking for someone who is good and dependable... the low ballers do crap work & are unreliable.

My book is full, I'm thinking of jacking the prices on my bottom 10% earners to make room for more lucrative accounts. Get rid of the crap first & then think about putting a 3rd. crew on.

Business is good and I'm busier than I've been for a while :)

There is an out clause in my contract. But since they aren't necessarily a pita, I'm not going to drop them this year. I am doing the job below cost this year, and I am learning a few hard lessons on some mowing jobs this year. But next year I am going to rebid, and explain why their price is going up. I hope to keep a good relationship with them, and maybe they will stay with me. They are more than happy with my work and have given me other business. But simply put, I can't operate below costs. I think there are only 2 out of my 35 jobs that are below cost. One of them is the biggest though, so that kinda hurts my checkbook a bit. I am learning. It's going on my 5th year, so this was my first big mowing account.

Golfpro21
08-26-2011, 07:41 AM
I know, but it's a package deal, some accounts are more profitable than others, win some, lose some.
You can't chase just the money, kind of like you have to deal with the bad to get to the good.

Businesses bigger than yours and mine have tried it, too.

A big car dealership made the same mistake, years ago.
They gave regular customers the boot while they serviced "only" their high end
commercial and industrial clients who had fleets of vehicles.
Why, because it was where the money was, and they thought they didn't have to deal with folks who only wanted (or had) one car.
That didn't work out so good for them.

Same for me, I made the same mistake.
Thought I could just concentrate my efforts on the nice lots, heck with the crap accounts.
Didn't work out so good.

Why, because the people with the "crap" accounts will badmouth you
to the "good" customers and before you know it, you have no customers.
You'd be surprised, the connections between customers, the way some know each other wouldn't dawn on us in our dreams.
Heck one of those "crappy" accounts might have sent you a good one, just because they knew their work wasn't profitable
and they felt bad for you, granted that may not have been the case at all, but the thing is we never know, you never know,
it could well be that one of your most profitable accounts came along JUST because of this.

In the meantime...
The dealership changed their name lol
They're still in business, somehow, well it was more than a few years ago.

Now I'm not telling you what to do, how to do it...
But it is a lesson most of us only go through once.
The outcome is you're either back to square one, where we are now, crappy accounts and all of that.
Or you're not in business anymore.

You can try cherry picking, but...
Better off raise your prices a little overall.
Cover for the BS, but service them all.

that is very sound advise, all those crappy accounts add upto a decent chunk of income, lump them all into Mondays, yes Mondays suck, but the paycheck helps, plus like TopSite said, you never know when things will dry up, best to keep as much on hand as possible

topsites
08-26-2011, 10:22 AM
I have to disagree here, if this was the case then why am I carrying insurance?

Yes but the premiums of the insurance costs over top of the cost of the repair, once you put in a series of claims
your rates go up, and up, and up and up and up some more, in some cases all it takes is one or two claims but either
way they will hike the rates until such time that the insurance COMPANY has covered their COST of doing business
PLUS the cost of those claims.

Free money it ain't.

Insurance is a business, like yours, they have costs to cover, most of the premium goes to cover their cost of doing business.
So when somebody puts in a claim, they hike the rates.

Not like I can just drop $700 a year on the insurance and then break 1-2 storm windows a year at $300 a pop, doesn't work that way.
Usually by the time I broke the second one I get that letter, some are more patient and wait until renewal time but either way I am
soon looking at paying closer to a thousand a year... And it goes from there, another window or two later I'm up to twelve, fourteen hundred a year.
Some are better, some are worse, with some Insco's place the first claim and that will be two thousand a year and thank you.

Some may not go up as high or as soon, but it doesn't come down either.
Free money it ain't.

Patriot Services
08-26-2011, 10:41 AM
Yes but the premiums of the insurance costs over top of the cost of the repair, once you put in a series of claims
your rates go up, and up, and up and up and up some more, in some cases all it takes is one or two claims but either
way they will hike the rates until such time that the insurance COMPANY has covered their COST of doing business
PLUS the cost of those claims.

Free money it ain't.

Insurance is a business, like yours, they have costs to cover, most of the premium goes to cover their cost of doing business.
So when somebody puts in a claim, they hike the rates.

Not like I can just drop $700 a year on the insurance and then break 1-2 storm windows a year at $300 a pop, doesn't work that way.
Usually by the time I broke the second one I get that letter, some are more patient and wait until renewal time but either way I am
soon looking at paying closer to a thousand a year... And it goes from there, another window or two later I'm up to twelve, fourteen hundred a year.
Some are better, some are worse, with some Insco's place the first claim and that will be two thousand a year and thank you.

Some may not go up as high or as soon, but it doesn't come down either.
Free money it ain't.

Why are you breaking so many windows? Not saying I haven't hit stuff but 23 years (knock on wood) and nothing has caused shrapnel damage. I don't side discharge either so that may be the difference.
Posted via Mobile Device