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View Full Version : Referals? God I hope I spelled that right..


J. Peterson Grading
07-14-2012, 10:35 PM
Hi guys. its been awhile.

I have a customer that we have been doing some pretty routine (for me) jobs for.

Before we began work, the customer requested some referals because they have only lived in the area for the past 2 months. Which is totally understandable.

I gave them the list, they checked them, and was then hired.

We have performed all the work that they have asked for so far, and we are in the planning stages of the additional work that we have been asked to perform. Work that untill finished makes the rest of my original tasks impossible to complete.

This afternoon. the customer contacts me and asks for more referals. Referals specific to a patio that we have been planning on installing for them (Given approval of the type of patio stone that would be chosen) Plus, a trip to some of our past patio projects to see how we do them.

They also are talking about doing Egress windows, that to speed the work along we offered to dig and cut in (since we had equipment on site that could do so) They would need to find a contractor to do the actual window installation. So they contact a contractor, and their responce is "That since I would be digging and cutting, I would need to get the permits for the project." My responce. "Well if I am getting the permits, then I pick the contractor to do the window install, you pay for all my services (I would have dug for free to get it done), plus I am now the General contractor on the job" to which they (The customer) respond with "Um, well I guess that makes since" I guess I have never seen a window leak due to digging a the actual window well whole. It usually how the window was installed.

I feel that I am jumping through hoops, getting complete mixed signals from these people (Customers) and feeling a little insulted by working well with them and still being treated like its my first day ever in the business.

So tell me this guys.

1. Should I feel as insulted as I do about providing more referals. (Already provided 5)

Thanks again

J.

4 seasons lawn&land
07-14-2012, 10:40 PM
ya thats a red flag for sure. Id deal with it and just start working the prices up substantially. Sounds like your going to need the extra. you lost me at the free part...

J. Peterson Grading
07-14-2012, 10:43 PM
I offered to dig the window well holes for free if we got the patio project. It would have taken me about 3 hours total to do it. I can eat 3 hours and still come out ahead, as long as we got the patio. But no patio = no free digging.

4 seasons lawn&land
07-14-2012, 10:48 PM
either way, it sounds like a customer that needs an extra 15 % tacked on the quotes. Depends on how busy you are really. Ive been putting up with morer because all my lawns are dried up and burnt!

J. Peterson Grading
07-14-2012, 10:51 PM
Well, We NEED the work right now. So I am willing to put up with a bit more than usuall.

But not this much and not that bad.

hvy 1ton
07-15-2012, 12:35 AM
To answer your first question, referrals has 3 r's and an ellipsis has 3 periods. :drinkup: As to the second, i wouldn't be happy with the way things are going either. On the other hand, work is work and if you can snag the GC slot for the whole deal things might smooth out some. Sounds like your a bit deep in to do much else anyways.

AWJ Services
07-15-2012, 10:28 AM
With out being there in person I may be overreacting from what you are posting but I literally have loaded my equipment up and left in situations like yours. I am one of the most pleasant contractors around here and I tolerate immense amount of aggravation from my customers but once I get to a certain point I get very direct and let them know this is the way it is, take it or leave it. It is usually when they are questioning my abilities repeatadly.

Dirtman2007
07-15-2012, 11:34 AM
Yeah they sound like they dont have much faith in your word. I mean do they want you to ride them around all day showing off projects you've done all over the town? Do you really think those previous customers want a bunch of random people around their house looking at stuff? probably not everyone.

I can't remember the last time anyone has ever asked to see some of my previous work. We have the website but it dont show everything.

I guess you just gotta go by your feel. I've done some 50K+ jobs and the customers never asked about anything.

YellowDogSVC
07-15-2012, 12:00 PM
I will show someone work if it's convenient, nearby, and my other customer doesn't object. Where I work, there are a lot of locked gates and it's not convenient to go visit. (You end up standing there and talking to people all day when you could be bidding or working..)

There was a good article in the TCIA magazine awhile back titled "Firing your customer" or something like that. In it, the publisher who was a former contractor" felt like he might be getting ripped off or that the contractor on his project might not live up to his expectations. After being confronted by the contractor who felt insulted and offered to "fire" the customer, the writer of the article re-examined his questioning and realized he was insulting the contractor. Not all customers understand what it takes to get a job done. They may be worried about letting go of so much money (which may or may not be a lot to us). Anyway, if the customer is asking too much from you and you are really having to jump through hoops, it might feel good to fire them and concentrate on finding customers who are easier to work with.

Since I adopted this philosophy (and it's a work in progress because it's hard NOT to take work), I feel less pressure and spend a lot less time explaining myself. On occasion, I will field the questions for a customer who has a good disposition but really needs an education or is eager to learn. With those people I have a lot of patience and end up making a friend.

Hope this helps.

ProTouch Groundscapes
07-15-2012, 01:01 PM
it sounds like they have been watching too many hgtv programs. welcome back jpg! you need to stick to your guns and be nice but firm, when you let them start getting their way they will take it all, but im sure you know that. i hear you on needing the work, things have been slow around here as well, both landscaping and mowing b/c of the lack of rain.

Cornell
07-15-2012, 02:49 PM
I know how you feel. I recently did a project for a friend of mine and ended up jumping through hoops to satisfy what she wanted. It ended up costing 30% more than I originally bid but she gladly paid without complaints (the work she received was worth well more than 30%). I also didn't have an issue with it because we are going to be doing 3 more large projects for her in the near future so I'm hoping it will go smoother from here on.

I just got done at one residence and the homeowner didn't even ask us for a bid because he had 3 other contractors out there and they said they couldn't do it with their equipment. He had been searching for 7 months to find someone capable. I built a 2000 sq ft boulder wall their last week and now we have ended up with another wall to build on the other side of the house, a water feature in front of the house, a 4' waterfall that feeds a 10' waterfall, along with probably 100 10' pines, and landscaping the whole yard.
He was writing us checks before we even asked for payment because he was so pleased.

It's amazing the difference in customers, and how easily they are to work with compared to others.

AWJ Services
07-15-2012, 05:57 PM
I know how you feel. I recently did a project for a friend of mine and ended up jumping through hoops to satisfy what she wanted. It ended up costing 30% more than I originally bid but she gladly paid without complaints (the work she received was worth well more than 30%). I also didn't have an issue with it because we are going to be doing 3 more large projects for her in the near future so I'm hoping it will go smoother from here on.

I just got done at one residence and the homeowner didn't even ask us for a bid because he had 3 other contractors out there and they said they couldn't do it with their equipment. He had been searching for 7 months to find someone capable. I built a 2000 sq ft boulder wall their last week and now we have ended up with another wall to build on the other side of the house, a water feature in front of the house, a 4' waterfall that feeds a 10' waterfall, along with probably 100 10' pines, and landscaping the whole yard.
He was writing us checks before we even asked for payment because he was so pleased.

It's amazing the difference in customers, and how easily they are to work with compared to others.

I will say that it is an awesome feeling to be respected and appreciated by your customers. I never mind doing a little extra for some people and I never mind being questioned or interoggated about how or why I am doing it. When I leave a sales call the Customers ears hurt .LOL

Steiner
07-16-2012, 12:11 AM
Got a good job lined up but customer was sending emails every day, with 4-5 questions per email. Non stop phone calls. Customer was making me answer 1 hour phone call questions about mulch vs. stone topping on beds. I finally had enough after 13 emails and hours of unbilled time leading up to the small planting job.

I called to drop them. I said basically that they seemed untrusting in my abilities to complete the job. You hired a contractor to do the job and make the job run smoothly. They just did not have a level of trust that we needed and maybe another larger company would be a better fit.

They called back and did not realize how their questions and hoops were affecting me. The gentleman had been a contract auditor and spent 40 years asking contractors why. He backed off and we finished the job with a good amount of profit.

I was smart enough though to give him tasks, to help alleviate my stress. He always wanted to be part of the process, so I had him research each plant and also bought him a water meter and gave him the job of checking each plants soil moisture as they were staged at the job.

Maybe this story helps
-Chris