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gdguth
02-27-2012, 06:44 PM
I sent out my spring letter and info, and I receieved back a letter from customer saying only this "we are looking at other options for our lawn this year." I assume that means that they are not happy, are going with someone else. Would you guys call them and see what the deal is, or would you just write it off and forget about and go find another to replace them. Keep in mind, I already mow the two neighbors next door on the west side and two neighbors across the street. The customer I am refering to lives on the corner of the street. They have been decent customers, but not great. He has to always come out each week and stops me and give me a check, even though I would like to bill at end of month. I do think they think I cut the grass to high as he always scalped the crap out of it and has mentioned it should be shorter. However he said that it was the best his yard had ever looked. It was weird the last time I was there last fall, He said he wanted me to mow one last time, but to wait until the next week. So I did as he wanted. I then proceeded to mow the neighbors and then I look over there like 20 minutes later and his son was doing it scalping it way down until it was yellow looking. I did ask him about it as I was finishing up and he said , oh don't worry, my son just wanted to help out. If I were to go talk, I dont think I could really come down in price as I am already a little lower than I would like since I have 5 yards in a row. I gave him a better price since I was already doing the neighbors. What would you all do? I don't want someone elso coming in and trying to take them all.

orangemower
02-27-2012, 06:54 PM
Ask him why and what you can do to maintain the lawn.
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FLC2000
02-27-2012, 06:57 PM
Call him and find out what the deal is. It cant hurt anything but it could help the relationship you have with him.

Landscraper1
02-27-2012, 06:57 PM
I would contact him. If not in person then a letter would be ok. Just tell him that you are sorry to hear that he is "looking at other options" and would appreciate knowing why. Was he unhappy with your service or was the price an issue? Could be he is just having his son do it.

Good Luck

White Gardens
02-27-2012, 06:58 PM
Sounds like his son wants to get into the business.

Can't win them all.

You can call, wouldn't hurt to find out so that you don't make the same mistake twice if there was one.

...

CutterCutter
02-27-2012, 07:22 PM
I would not contact him again.

You already did that when you sent him your spring letter. All he has done is let you know he is considering other services. There's nothing wrong with that. Every customer has a right to do that at any time. I would simply show up at the time you normally would at the beginning of any mowing season. However, I would get verification from the customer that they want you to continue to handle the lawn before mowing.

They are probably going to want you to continue. If they don't want you to continue I would not ask why. What I personally do when this happens is to let the customer know that I have really appreciated their business and if they ever need my help again to just give me a call.

This doesn't sound like the greatest customer from your original post so losing them shouldn't cause you too much pain. The main thing is to always stay positive with every customer. No matter what happens always let them know you appreciate their business even when you don't. I do this because people talk to other people and I want them saying positive things about me.

If a customer gets unbearable and I decide give up on them I always thank them for their business. Being polite and appreciative doesn't cost anything and always helps your business.

GMLC
02-27-2012, 07:33 PM
I would send him a letter thanking him for his business and letting him know to call if he needs anything. Also state you are always trying to improve customer satisfaction and ask for suggestions.
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Runner
02-27-2012, 07:43 PM
I'm sorry, but I have to disagree. Contact him, ask him what his concerns may be, and LET HIM KNOW that you are genuinely concerned. That is one of the keys to a service business - you make every customer feel important. Letting him go will just convince him he was just a number, and may even help influence other neighbor customers around him. When you speak with him, and you WILL go over there and speak with him personally, you will let him know that it is important to you so that you can further better yourself for future service. you will then also ask "What can I do to make it right?". Understand,...there are corporations out there that have whole divisions or departments for customer retention. Simply "letting him go" is not the answer - not in this case. NO one can make more money off this account than you, because you are already there. Problem customer? The guy runs out the door with a check in his hand! Keep this guy. You may even have to butter him up a bit, by offering some sort of incentive for him to stay on. That is fine - it is an old technique, and will always BE used.

jsslawncare
02-27-2012, 07:51 PM
cuttercutter & GMLC- that's the way I feel too.

CircleC
02-27-2012, 08:42 PM
You gotta call and give it a shot at keeping him. It may be just an oversite and something you can address easily. Is he a bad customer cuz he stops to pay you or he asked to have his lawn cut shorter. Just deal with it, handle the issue and keep him happy. Atleast your not chasing him down for money. What's gunna happen is some guy is going to start mowing his and all your other customers are going to disappear by beating your price. We are in a customer service roll and making the customer happy is a part of it....good luck!
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FLC2000
02-27-2012, 08:51 PM
I would not contact him again.
You already did that when you sent him your spring letter. All he has done is let you know he is considering other services. There's nothing wrong with that. Every customer has a right to do that at any time. I would simply show up at the time you normally would at the beginning of any mowing season. However, I would get verification from the customer that they want you to continue to handle the lawn before mowing.They are probably going to want you to continue. If they don't want you to continue I would not ask why. What I personally do when this happens is to let the customer know that I have really appreciated their business and if they ever need my help again to just give me a call.

This doesn't sound like the greatest customer from your original post so losing them shouldn't cause you too much pain. The main thing is to always stay positive with every customer. No matter what happens always let them know you appreciate their business even when you don't. I do this because people talk to other people and I want them saying positive things about me.

If a customer gets unbearable and I decide give up on them I always thank them for their business. Being polite and appreciative doesn't cost anything and always helps your business.




??????

How is he supposed to get verification without contacting him?

93Chevy
02-27-2012, 09:19 PM
??????

How is he supposed to get verification without contacting him?

He just said how....show up without contacting, and then get verification. I'd assume by knocking on the door at the time he shows up.

CutterCutter
02-27-2012, 09:20 PM
??????

How is he supposed to get verification without contacting him?

Guess I wasn't explicit enough.

I would show up on the normal day that mowing would begin. I would knock on the door, exchange greetings, ask how he had been etc. etc. Mention that I had received his letter and ask if he wanted me to cut his grass that year. If he says yes I mow the lawn. If he says no I thank him as mentioned in my post. If he or wife are not home and I'm unable to get confirmation I don't mow. Of course, if I want to retain the account I'll make another effort at a later time to do the above.

Speaking personally I would not want to retain this account. Everybody runs their business differently but if it becomes an issue I let my customers know I am the only person that is to mow their lawn. Are you their lawn care provider or not. The original poster said the customer's son had mowed the lawn late in the year. That would be a no no with me. I'll drop a customer quicker for that than for a lot of other things.

Also, if a LCO is that concerned about losing customers there must be something wrong with the marketing program. I've always said that for every ten new customers you add only three will develop into what I call a "good customer."

gdguth
02-27-2012, 09:29 PM
I thank everyone for all the input. No, he is not a bad customer because he comes out and pays me. It is just a pain because he has to always walk out when I am mowing and I have to stop the mower and then he wants to chit chat as the mower is running. I guess it is just frustrating, why can't he stop me when I am blowing and finishing up. I should be thankful he pays me all the time and I shouldn't complain. I like both opinions/sides that I am getting from everyone. I don't want to make him upset by inquiring more, but I would like to keep them since he is so close to the other ones. Can anyone else chime in and persuade me one way over the other?

FLC2000
02-27-2012, 09:34 PM
He just said how....show up without contacting, and then get verification. I'd assume by knocking on the door at the time he shows up.



And you dont think the issue is going to come up while he is standing at the door asking the customer if he still needs service?

Sounds like a waste of time to me if he can just pick up the phone and find out what the problem is.

frameslawn
02-27-2012, 09:35 PM
I would contact him and attempt to find out while he is unhappy with your services and what you could to do improve. Just because he is looking for other options doesnt mean there are better options out there. Also, if you are already mowing next door, thats easy money. Just my 2 cents

gdguth
02-27-2012, 09:36 PM
Guess I wasn't explicit enough.

I would show up on the normal day that mowing would begin. I would knock on the door, exchange greetings, ask how he had been etc. etc. Mention that I had received his letter and ask if he wanted me to cut his grass that year. If he says yes I mow the lawn. If he says no I thank him as mentioned in my post. If he or wife are not home and I'm unable to get confirmation I don't mow. Of course, if I want to retain the account I'll make another effort at a later time to do the above.

Speaking personally I would not want to retain this account. Everybody runs their business differently but if it becomes an issue I let my customers know I am the only person that is to mow their lawn. Are you their lawn care provider or not. The original poster said the customer's son had mowed the lawn late in the year. That would be a no no with me. I'll drop a customer quicker for that than for a lot of other things.

Also, if a LCO is that concerned about losing customers there must be something wrong with the marketing program. I've always said that for every ten new customers you add only three will develop into what I call a "good customer."


I think it might be to late if I wait until the grass is growing to talk to them.


I am not that concerned about losing him, I am just concerned as it is next to a bunch of properities that I already mow and I don't want something bad to start and lose them all.

Also I am part time and I only mow about 20 yards, I don't even market as all I do is word of mouth. I really shouldn't worry as long as I can keep my full time job (school teacher).

FLC2000
02-27-2012, 09:37 PM
I thank everyone for all the input. No, he is not a bad customer because he comes out and pays me. It is just a pain because he has to always walk out when I am mowing and I have to stop the mower and then he wants to chit chat as the mower is running. I guess it is just frustrating, why can't he stop me when I am blowing and finishing up. I should be thankful he pays me all the time and I shouldn't complain. I like both opinions/sides that I am getting from everyone. I don't want to make him upset by inquiring more, but I would like to keep them since he is so close to the other ones. Can anyone else chime in and persuade me one way over the other?



Throttle the mower down halfway only. Step off next to it, accept the check, thank him and get behind the mower again.

Or just tell him that you will knock on the door when you are done.

Youre not going to upset him by asking him for an explanation. Explain to him that you want to make your company better and you are always looking for input from your customers on how to do it.

yardguy28
02-27-2012, 09:41 PM
i would contact them if you really want there business. they said they were looking into other options. that doesn't mean your fired. just they are looking around. they could end up using you again.

let them know your schedule is filling up fast though so they don't turn around the last second and try to use you. it gives you the possibility of filling there time slot.

93Chevy
02-27-2012, 09:43 PM
And you dont think the issue is going to come up while he is standing at the door asking the customer if he still needs service?

Sounds like a waste of time to me if he can just pick up the phone and find out what the problem is.

Don't ask me, I was just interpreting.

WHIPPLE5.7
02-27-2012, 10:20 PM
I've had people that were happy with me for several years and then out of the blue they suddenly have someone else. I don't push the issue. Many times its not something you did or didn't do. There is always someone's kid, brother in law out of work, etc, etc that tries alittle lawn work just to get a few quick bucks. They feel some peer pressure from family/friends to give them the work even though they likely don't want to. And then there is the chance they just don't want you anymore. It happens. They move on, you move on. Its not like you are sharing child custody or something. Its a lawn and thats it.

gdguth
02-27-2012, 10:28 PM
Whipples, i know you say u dont push the issue, but dont you want some clarity as to why someone no longer wants service?

Bob_n_weave
02-27-2012, 10:32 PM
Since it's a yard next to others you mow, I would call, (you will get voicemail) and say you got letter and would hate to lose them as a customer
and if anything I did was unsatisfactory to let me know so I can correct it.

Then move on,you can't make everyone happy. Especially if they have a son to cut it for free.

If it was a yard by itself I wouldn't even call.

DavidsonLandscaping
02-27-2012, 10:34 PM
sounds like the guy doesnt know anything about his lawn. i wouldnt contact him, let it go. when that yellow turns to dust he just might be happy. i just dropped a customer because ive been doing her all season with no complaints. until her strange husband moved back in. wanted it short, super short, i refused in a nice way. id rather lose one customer, than having a potential customer driving by seeing my truck and equipment work that property incorrectly. ever wonder when you go someplace and it has beautiful lawns and you love it, then another place looks like crap, people notice. just like your truck right out front.

yardguy28
02-27-2012, 10:37 PM
Whipples, i know you say u dont push the issue, but dont you want some clarity as to why someone no longer wants service?

sometimes yes and sometimes no......

i always wanna know if its something i did so i don't make the mistake with someone else.

gdguth
02-27-2012, 10:39 PM
Since it's a yard next to others you mow, I would call, (you will get voicemail) and say you got letter and would hate to lose them as a customer
and if anything I did was unsatisfactory to let me know so I can correct it.

Then move on,you can't make everyone happy. Especially if they have a son to cut it for free.

If it was a yard by itself I wouldn't even call.

I should have mentioned this before, there son is like age 50, he was actually there when they hired me and he was the one that really convinced his dad that I should do the mowing.

smallstripesnc
02-27-2012, 10:53 PM
Ive had one customer who wanted their beautiful fescue lawn cut as short as my mower goes. I refused and explained why and the damage it would do. He gave in and let me cut it high like I always do and then got a call from his wife telling me to refund their money because they hired someone else to cut it short. A week later the husband calls begging for my help to bring back his dead lawn.

If I were you id definitely contact him and see why he wants to explore different options and ask if theres anything you can do and obviously thank him for his business. Good luck and if you loose him as a customer just remember even completely satisfied customers will swap lawn services for no reason.
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Smallaxe
02-27-2012, 10:53 PM
... No, he is not a bad customer because he comes out and pays me. It is just a pain because he has to always walk out when I am mowing and I have to stop the mower and then he wants to chit chat as the mower is running. ...

Rule of Thumb:
When the client is present and has something to say, Shut the mower off and talk with him/her, paying attention to whatever they say as if your job depends on it... becuz it does...

Our most important marketting advantage is word of mouth... Ignoring the opportunity to finesse a client is like, "stepping over a dollar, to pick up a nickel"...

Impersonal businesses tend to be the first to fail... If you are large enough that you don't have to deal with a client that does the bs thing, then don't worry about it... move forward without him... :)

CircleC
02-27-2012, 11:00 PM
CutterCutter your a BAD A$$ dude! I like the I'll DROP ANYONE! I wish I was like you and had sooooo many customers that I could pick and chose....you must be rolling!


OP...call the guy, work it out and move on, your next door for heavens sake. If he says to kiss dirt, move on. Wave when you see him and pick him back up later whn someone else jacks his lawn up. But at that time you can double the price.

Good luck fella....
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Valk
02-28-2012, 01:27 PM
i would contact them if you really want there business. they said they were looking into other options. that doesn't mean your fired. just they are looking around. they could end up using you again.

let them know your schedule is filling up fast though so they don't turn around the last second and try to use you. it gives you the possibility of filling there time slot.

Good advice right there.

I find corner lots to be the ones that I tend to underestimate (by at least $5) as they are often a bit larger in size with more trimming & sweeping.

I tell folks my mowing/work is my signature that remains after I leave...and TALL lawns just do better (more heat/drought tolerant) and look greener.

Rather than suffer through dealing with this guy coming out before you're through, have him put out his check in a prearranged place hidden from view. Emphasize that monthly billing will facilitate this transaction requiring less checks written. But, ya know some folks have inner-quirks and would rather write 4 small checks than one large - even though they equal the same amount.

If he/they really need to tell you something important, then you need to be there & listen.

nortonlawncare
02-28-2012, 01:51 PM
i would personally leave this one alone. I have had customers who have summer homes in the area and they all want their lawns scalped, the lawns always turn yellow and burn in the sun, i tried to explain to them the reason their lawn always dies and they don't care. if they want a dead lawn i sure wouldn't want my name associated with it

yardguy28
02-28-2012, 01:51 PM
Good advice right there.

I find corner lots to be the ones that I tend to underestimate (by at least $5) as they are often a bit larger in size with more trimming & sweeping.

I tell folks my mowing/work is my signature that remains after I leave...and TALL lawns just do better (more heat/drought tolerant) and look greener.

Rather than suffer through dealing with this guy coming out before you're through, have him put out his check in a prearranged place hidden from view. Emphasize that monthly billing will facilitate this transaction requiring less checks written. But, ya know some folks have inner-quirks and would rather write 4 small checks than one large - even though they equal the same amount.

If he/they really need to tell you something important, then you need to be there & listen.

yeah i wouldn't wanna keep a slot for them and have them not use me.

informing them your schedule is filling up fast gives you the chance to find a replacement if it comes along. it might also put a fire under there butt to make a decision. put some fear in them that if they dink around looking at other options they might loose you.

as for the weekly check thing. i never argue with how people wanna pay me. if they wanna be there and pay me weekly cash or check thats fine with me. better than having trouble getting payments from them.

gdguth
02-28-2012, 02:00 PM
Since it's a yard next to others you mow, I would call, (you will get voicemail) and say you got letter and would hate to lose them as a customer
and if anything I did was unsatisfactory to let me know so I can correct it.

Then move on,you can't make everyone happy. Especially if they have a son to cut it for free.

If it was a yard by itself I wouldn't even call.

Well guys Bob N Weave pretty much got it right, I did call the people and this is what happen. I got the answering machine and left a message. I told them I received their letter and I assume that they no longer need my services. I then thanked them for allowing me to mow there in the past. Then I said that I look to please and satisfy my customers and if it was something that I had done unsatisfactory or was based on price. I said thanks again and if there is anything I can do in the future to please let me know and then I said you can reach me at my number.

I figure I will never hear from them again, and I will just wave when the old man is out side wandering in his yard when I mow next door.

crazymike
02-28-2012, 02:26 PM
Well guys Bob N Weave pretty much got it right, I did call the people and this is what happen. I got the answering machine and left a message. I told them I received their letter and I assume that they no longer need my services. I then thanked them for allowing me to mow there in the past. Then I said that I look to please and satisfy my customers and if it was something that I had done unsatisfactory or was based on price. I said thanks again and if there is anything I can do in the future to please let me know and then I said you can reach me at my number.

I figure I will never hear from them again, and I will just wave when the old man is out side wandering in his yard when I mow next door.



Always follow up with a customer when they drop you.

Don't listen to these people who say ignore it. See where there business is in 5 years.

Having a cocky superiority attitude doesn't get you anywhere in business.

Running a business is like walking a tight rope. You are always making fine adjustments to stay on track and on balance.

When you walk around thinking you are the best, you will never improve, never be close to the best.

You call the customer and find out what happens. You always make sure you end on a positive note. The worst thing you can have, is a customer bad mouthing you.

The customer might tell you that they are looking for a lower price, giving the work to a neighbor kid, whatever. If that's the case, you feel your pricing is inline, you wish them luck and move on. They might call you when the next guy goes out of business.

However, maybe the customer doesn't like the way you edge the flowerbeds. Maybe you can adjust this. Maybe this is something you can do different on a number of jobs?

Perhaps one of your employees did something silly. Got caught peeing behind the customers shed, killed a flower, whatever. You can make adjustments with that employee and possibly regain this customer or at the very least stop it from happening to another customer.

No business is perfect, no matter what you think. If you don't let people point out those imperfections, you will eventually fall off that tight rope.

These people can say until they are blue in the face how perfect they are - they're not. Nobody is. But when you think you are- you will never get closer.

gimmejava
02-28-2012, 02:44 PM
I got a similar reply from a customer that I've had the past 3 seasons. She said she was going to let the neighbor's son take care of her yard this year. I don't think she realized this also involves letting him trim up her hedges, which is a significant. I sent her back an email reply thanking her for her business and to feel free to contact if her situation changes. She has been quite complementary of my work in the past. You can't fault her for trying to be a good neighbor, but she is a stickler for her lawn so I expect her to be back, if not this year then next. :)

It sucks to lose a lawn like that, but you got to play it smart. End on good terms.

yardguy28
02-28-2012, 08:22 PM
Always follow up with a customer when they drop you.

Don't listen to these people who say ignore it. See where there business is in 5 years.

Having a cocky superiority attitude doesn't get you anywhere in business.

Running a business is like walking a tight rope. You are always making fine adjustments to stay on track and on balance.

When you walk around thinking you are the best, you will never improve, never be close to the best.

You call the customer and find out what happens. You always make sure you end on a positive note. The worst thing you can have, is a customer bad mouthing you.

The customer might tell you that they are looking for a lower price, giving the work to a neighbor kid, whatever. If that's the case, you feel your pricing is inline, you wish them luck and move on. They might call you when the next guy goes out of business.

However, maybe the customer doesn't like the way you edge the flowerbeds. Maybe you can adjust this. Maybe this is something you can do different on a number of jobs?

Perhaps one of your employees did something silly. Got caught peeing behind the customers shed, killed a flower, whatever. You can make adjustments with that employee and possibly regain this customer or at the very least stop it from happening to another customer.

No business is perfect, no matter what you think. If you don't let people point out those imperfections, you will eventually fall off that tight rope.

These people can say until they are blue in the face how perfect they are - they're not. Nobody is. But when you think you are- you will never get closer.

not to argue but i've been in business 6 years now and have yet to follow up with a client who fired me.

i think it depends on how bad you want or need there business.

some businesses are so full they welcome the chance to get away from the less desirable clients.

personally i've only been fired once where the client gave no reason an i never followed up. the others gave the reason of money being the issue. no follow up there either.

gdguth
02-28-2012, 10:51 PM
Here are some pics of the customers property that I found. The first two are pics I took when I mowed it. This was like in September when it was fairly hot and dry as you can see in the back yard, second pic. The second two are from the time his son mowed it at the end of the season last year. Sorry the quality of the pics is not really good

crazymike
02-28-2012, 11:01 PM
not to argue but i've been in business 6 years now and have yet to follow up with a client who fired me.

i think it depends on how bad you want or need there business.

some businesses are so full they welcome the chance to get away from the less desirable clients.

personally i've only been fired once where the client gave no reason an i never followed up. the others gave the reason of money being the issue. no follow up there either.

Don't get me wrong. Nothing wrong with getting away from a bad customer. But it's good to leave on a positive note. You never know who they might now and how it can reflect you badly.

And it's good to keep track of why you lose a customer. Maybe only 1 in a 100 you lose are your fault, but if you can learn something from that one customer, it will help you long term.

DavidsonLandscaping
02-28-2012, 11:41 PM
Your first 2 look pretty damn good, good job. The other 2 look like hell, I couldn't stand to look at that everyday. If I saw correctly (I'm on the cell) he didn't even trim around the sign. Didn't bag either. I hope his wife gives him a ear full about it.
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CutterCutter
02-29-2012, 02:52 AM
not to argue but i've been in business 6 years now and have yet to follow up with a client who fired me.

i think it depends on how bad you want or need there business.

some businesses are so full they welcome the chance to get away from the less desirable clients.

personally i've only been fired once where the client gave no reason an i never followed up. the others gave the reason of money being the issue. no follow up there either.


Yardguy28 hit the nail on the head.

When a customer tells you they are looking around there could be 25 different reasons. From something that makes sense to something that is ridiculous. Or they could just be talking out loud and have almost no interest in finding someone else. You can ask them and you might get the truth. You are just as likely to get something other than the truth. You are also likely to get a call shortly asking if you'll handle it again. It really doesn't matter.

The key to maximizing your hourly gross and being happy is having "good customers". They pay promptly, don't complain, appreciate your work, let you mow at the height you think best, an so on. Stop worrying about one customer and find some more people to work for. Add twenty five new people over the next couple years and cull the ones that have problems.

I'm a solo operator with 35 accounts. I've been through a couple hundred accounts over the last fifteen years. My current list is primo. Established people with regularly scheduled jobs that are priced very well.

If you don't respect your work who will?