PDA

View Full Version : Customers bleeding you dry and how to handle it!?!


TempleLawnCare
12-22-2012, 09:09 PM
I want an honest opinion.....I have a customer that started out great 3 summers ago, I took alot of pride in their yard and made it something to be proud of instead of ashamed to tell people where you live, last summer I took in on trade their lawn equipment for lawn services, nothing I could use commercially but I figured it was payment and I w ould make my money back off craigslist, I was there every 2-3 weeks faithfully until I worked off the equipment, well this year they have been slow paying all summer to the point I actually had to send a bill 2 months after 2 months of services have been rendered.....Well here we are at snowplowing season, it had snowed for 2 days prior to me plowing so everyone had ample time to call or in their case respond to my messages seeing if they needed plowed out, 8pm last nite rolls around and by this time everything is frozen solid and they cant get in their driveway, I get a message to come plow them out at the crack of dawn. I live 12 miles from town but still offer the lowest rates because I plan my route out as efficiently as possible, am I in the wrong for telling them sorry I cannot come out because I already made my rounds and it's not fair to me or my paying customers if I am just expected to make a special trip and have no clue when I am going to be paid or be told to come on a day I am not in town.....Long story short is I felt I was being taken advantage of and probably should have handled it differently.

:hammerhead:

TempleLawnCare
12-22-2012, 09:20 PM
Here are a few pics......

jrs.landscaping
12-22-2012, 09:20 PM
A) You let them get 2 months behind and continues to service them?
B) Your customers call YOU and tell YOU when to come and plow?

To answer your question yes, they are taking advantage of you and yes you are allowing it.

TempleLawnCare
12-22-2012, 09:28 PM
Most of my driveways are vacation homes and are paid in advance, cash at the door, or check first of the month. I call her to see what her "payment plan" is to try and avoid this situation. Some people are to cheap to realize they need plowed out until the plow trucks come through and plow them in.....she was also one of my first customers and I have since learned to handle the situation upfront, so I have very few customers I trusted on this basis.

jrs.landscaping
12-22-2012, 09:31 PM
When I did driveways I set the terms, I plow every 4" at my per push rate. People would call and tell me the guy down the road does it for $25 after the storm. Fantastic, hire that guy, in fact give me his number so he can plow mine too :dizzy:
You have a good thing with the vacation homes, stick with that, a lot of guys up here making a killing off of seasonal homes.

TempleLawnCare
12-22-2012, 09:39 PM
I hate snowplowing......trying to make the best of it.
I also have been told what so and so can do it for, well why don't you hire so and so....oh cause he is unreliable and uninsured

jrs.landscaping
12-22-2012, 09:47 PM
I hate snowplowing......trying to make the best of it.
I also have been told what so and so can do it for, well why don't you hire so and so....oh cause he is unreliable and uninsured

:drinkup: .... It's the same thing no matter what service you are offering, they always know someone who can cut them a deal!

TempleLawnCare
12-22-2012, 09:54 PM
I hate to lose a contact, but it was like damn here we go again, enough is enough.

Duekster
12-22-2012, 10:01 PM
Sounds kind of like you have a relationship with them.
Maybe they are on hard times.

The slow pay is the clue, perhaps the equipment in trade is too.

You may need to have a heart to heart with them.

Tell them you do have a bare bones payment you need. Maybe they can give you some reviews. Some people are just absent minded. I have a good client but they get slow pay at times but they do pay if I remind them. You just need to know your client and let them know you do have expenses and bills to pay too.

TempleLawnCare
12-22-2012, 10:08 PM
Thanks Duekster, I have not replied to her nasty text messages yet. It has been about 2hrs so I am sure she has called someone else. I am sure it is to late but your saying I should apologize and maybe offer a monthly payment plan, and explain that I have bills and a family to feed to.

TempleLawnCare
12-22-2012, 10:37 PM
I have great relationships with all my customers. I think an apology is in order regardless if I lost the customer or not and if they are still on board we need to set new payment terms.

Darryl G
12-22-2012, 11:58 PM
Yes it sounds like they are taking advantage of you. Plowing starts at $40 with me if you are on my route and a 2 or 3 inch trigger. If I have to make a special trip for on-call service it's a minimum of $75 and usually that ends up not being enough.

TempleLawnCare
12-23-2012, 12:10 AM
That's another good selling point and something that needs to be brought to attention upfront for the on-call people. I should already have a non-route price in place and I don't think that registers with them. I am a hermit in the winter and only go into town when duty calls, and summertime I am in town about everyday of the week.

In a perfect world everyone would be on a seasonal contract with monthly payments, and that is something I am seriously considering. But how do you go about switching over customers you have been servicing for 3 years without offending anyone.

:dizzy:

BrunoT
12-23-2012, 12:41 AM
Here are some key words and phrases from your post.

1. "I took in on trade their lawn equipment"
2. "I was there every 2-3 weeks"
3. "they have been slow paying...I had to send a bill 2 months after 2 months service had been rendered"


They were trying to tell you they're bad quality customers. You just weren't listening.

I want an honest opinion.....I have a customer that started out great 3 summers ago, I took alot of pride in their yard and made it something to be proud of instead of ashamed to tell people where you live, last summer I took in on trade their lawn equipment for lawn services, nothing I could use commercially but I figured it was payment and I w ould make my money back off craigslist, I was there every 2-3 weeks faithfully until I worked off the equipment, well this year they have been slow paying all summer to the point I actually had to send a bill 2 months after 2 months of services have been rendered.....Well here we are at snowplowing season, it had snowed for 2 days prior to me plowing so everyone had ample time to call or in their case respond to my messages seeing if they needed plowed out, 8pm last nite rolls around and by this time everything is frozen solid and they cant get in their driveway, I get a message to come plow them out at the crack of dawn. I live 12 miles from town but still offer the lowest rates because I plan my route out as efficiently as possible, am I in the wrong for telling them sorry I cannot come out because I already made my rounds and it's not fair to me or my paying customers if I am just expected to make a special trip and have no clue when I am going to be paid or be told to come on a day I am not in town.....Long story short is I felt I was being taken advantage of and probably should have handled it differently.

:hammerhead:

Darryl G
12-23-2012, 12:49 AM
Seasonal plowing contracts for residential customers is a really hard sell where I am. I'm down on the shore and a lot of our storms are rain while it's snow inland. We can really get hard if we get Nor'easters though. My favorite is when we get in a pattern with little Alberta Clippers coming in every few days dropping a few inches of nice light powder. However, most storms start as snow, turn to rain and then it all freezes up within hours. I usually only make contact with my customers once at the beginning of the season and after than it's up to me whether I plow or not. If they want to shovel it themselves that's fine, but I'm not going to just skip a driveway that I think needs it and then be pushing on ice when the next storm rolls in.

cpllawncare
12-23-2012, 12:51 AM
I don't fret over losing a customer anymore! Take charge of how you run your business, it's a business treat it as such, don't let people get behind! don't do crazy stuff like take trade ins for payments etc etc. Sending a bill after 2 months is crazy, your not running your business like a business. I quit being the nice guy, as the old saying goes "Nice guys finish last"

TempleLawnCare
12-23-2012, 12:53 AM
I went against my better judgement and should have plowed their driveway, I guess I had a chip on my shoulder from them being slow paying in the summer and now I am gonna pay the price of losing a customer.

cpllawncare
12-23-2012, 01:07 AM
I went against my better judgement and should have plowed their driveway, I guess I had a chip on my shoulder from them being slow paying in the summer and now I am gonna pay the price of losing a customer.

Don't look at it like that! It was a customer that was costing you money and had no respect for your business. I learned to take my feelings out of business decisions. That's not to say I don't have feelings or compassion for people but business is business and must be conducted as such.

TempleLawnCare
12-23-2012, 01:22 AM
Thanks for backing me up, I just wish I would have went about it in a different manner.

:drinkup:

JesseN
12-23-2012, 01:54 AM
My motto is "You never want to be Tired and Broke".

On every account, I evaluate our profits and our stress level working with the client (1-10). The stress level is determined based on how much work is required to make the client happy and how timely they are on payments.

Once we get over a stress level of 5 with a client, I raise their prices. My goal is either to make the account worthwhile in terms of money made or drive them away. I have a few very well paying clients from this method and much fewer head aches since I implemented this system into our businesses.

ringahding
12-23-2012, 02:02 AM
Naw, you text her back & tell her you are on your way. Text number two(10 minutes later)"Oh it almost slipped my mind, could you have my check ready when I get there"?

TempleLawnCare
12-23-2012, 02:18 AM
ringahding has had a couple customers like her....

I think I will just let it be and just take it as a lesson learned.

I like the post that said they were trying to tell you they were bad customers, I just wasn't listening.

johnnybravo8802
12-23-2012, 10:53 AM
Take this from someone who's been there and done that. These people have no intentions of keeping you around and paying you. Just look at their house before you cleaned it up-Good paying customers don't let their house and yard get in that condition to start with. As soon as you were caught up on the equipment , they wouldn't pay....typical!!! They have no money for your services...Mark my word, they WILL DROP YOU!!!! Walk away now and save yourself the headaches. By the way, nice job on the clean-up.:clapping:

guitarman2420
12-23-2012, 11:03 AM
You have no reason to apologize. A non-paying customer is a non-customer in my book. It's amazing that the most demanding client can have the most one-sided relationship. They want everything and are willing to pay the slowest. My answer to clients like that is to go find a better one to replace them. It's amazing how many time I will utter a little prayer to do the right thing with a problem client and amazingly, a few days later the phone will ring and I get a good client to replace them. It's happened time after time. Just do the right thing - not only for the client but you. If you do the right thing for them and you, it should always net a good result. One word of caution . . . if that's your client's house you sent pictures of, you can get yourself in some hot water if you don't have permission. I would guess if you are having difficulties with them, they would be upset with sending out pictures of their property. I'm not "flaming you", just a word of caution.

TempleLawnCare
12-23-2012, 11:07 AM
Thanks Johnnybravo....I am not going to beat myself up over it, but you guys are right, in the future I need to look for the little signs before hand. I work for a few people on ssi and they are on a monthly budget plan and that covers clean-ups, mowings and snow removal. I keep track of what is paid and services rendered and apply the rest to the cleanups, so I think in the future when I see something like this happening I will try to offer a monthly plan.

MOturkey
12-23-2012, 11:18 AM
I don't do snow, so I don't have an inkling as to how that is generally handled, but, personally, I would have responded in some fashion, rather than just ignoring their texts. Doing so makes you the "bad guy" in this situation. If you didn't feel you could go to town for one drive, fine, tell them so. If you didn't feel you could do their drive without being paid up front, fine, tell them so.

Due to their payment history, I'm guessing they expected you to do theirs on credit, knowing full well if they called another service, they were going to have to come up with the cash, otherwise, they probably wouldn't have called you at all. I ran retail businesses back in the day when you still had charge accounts. My pet peeve was for someone to owe me money, then shop with a competitor when they actually had cash, sticking it to you not only once, but twice.

There is a difference between a slow paying customer, and a non-paying customer. I can live with slow pay. The trick is to be able to determine when that slow paying customer is fixing to become a non-paying, and I'm guessing these people are rapidly getting there.

TempleLawnCare
12-23-2012, 11:27 AM
I believe the same guitarman, if you do right by people it does come back.

I appreciate all the different views and ways to handle it.

I do feel like I am gonna get stuck twice, cause yep now they now they are gonna need cash upfront with any new company and now I run the risk of getting bad mouthed.

I take pics of all properties before and after, mostly for billing purposes.

TempleLawnCare
12-23-2012, 11:44 AM
I couldn't just let it go with nothing being said after putting so much time into that place so I did respond back this morning with the fact that I was sorry for the way I handled the situation, but at the same time I felt like I was being taken advantage of and I left it at that. The husband is a complete ass and I will not deal with him, she is the one who hired me and the only communication I have with her is through text since she works 12hr shifts. She is a slow-paying customer and I have never been in fear of non-payment. I guess I should have looked at it like this: it wouldnt have cost me but $5 bucks to plow and 15 minutes of my time now I look like an ass, lost a customer and revenue of about $1000/yr which easily could have been broken down into 12 monthly payments of $85.00

I will learnt myself one day....lol

:hammerhead:

guitarman2420
12-23-2012, 11:57 AM
I agree, it's a great idea to take pix of the client's property; but my point was just be careful with sharing them with them others. Before I use a client's pix on my website, etc. I ask them for permission.

Keith
12-23-2012, 12:35 PM
Fellow forum member, 'Landscape Poet' has (or had) a signature line that shows on his replies. It says something like "10% of your customers or 90% of your problems." I think that pretty much sums it up for a lot of us. I think these folks are in your 10%.

ringahding
12-23-2012, 05:37 PM
ringahding has had a couple customers like her....

I think I will just let it be and just take it as a lesson learned.

I like the post that said they were trying to tell you they were bad customers, I just wasn't listening.
Every business has customer's like her & her husband....this will not be your last customers like this.

If anything this will shift your thinking when dealing with slow payers and non-payers in the future. It is very hard to say "NO" to customers, but it will come to you in time.

Darryl G
12-23-2012, 07:18 PM
I tend to get a bad attitude toward slow paying customers myself.

We had a little storm a few weeks ago, enough to plow a factory lot I do but not enough to do my residentials, especially since the forcast was for warming weather and I knew it would soon be gone. I did have one senior call and request that I plow though. She's north a few miles from the shore and tends to get more snow there than my coastal customers. Anyway, I had to pass this slow paying account on the way between my factory lot and my senior citizen. They carried a balance all season and only caught up after I withheld service and then fell behind again and had an overdue balance. In fact they didn't pay a January plowing invoice last season until April. I'm pretty tired of chasing my money with this customer, but it's an $80 per mow bi-weekly and a $50 plowing account. There was pile at the end of the driveway at the road that would be hard to drive through and usually I'd push it back as a courtesy if I was bassing by, I call it "free apron service", but I just drove right past. Had they been current with their payment I would have done it. I went by a half dozen other accounts on the way back home that do pay on time and pushed all their aprons back for free. The moral of the story is...if you want good service, or service at all for that matter, PAY YOUR BILLS!

pseudosun
12-23-2012, 09:33 PM
I've traded work for equipment and won't do it anymore. I admit that i don't have the social skills like my customers (it's something i'm working on), and i thought i was getting a good deal. I was always ticked off after doing it. When i look back at how they pitched the equipment, they were just so smooth, like a professional salesman. I didn't pick up on it, i guess because i wouldn't do that to someone else. Now i know that it's not a good sign of getting paid. Whenever a customer tries to push equipment on me, i'll tell them that i'll haul it off, but i have what i need. In the early days, part of me wanted to please them, and i came out on the short end. It really is not my nature to be aggressive, but when i have a mortgage payment due, insurance, etc., i will downright harass customers until they're paid up. I've learned to not feel bad about wanting my money immediately, because i took care of their "immediately".

guitarman2420
12-23-2012, 10:26 PM
Bartering is only a good idea if there is something that both of you need from each other. Accepting equipment that you don't need and want is not a good exchange. Equipment from a client can only be a bad idea. If there is a problem with the equipment you can't really say anything - they are a customer. Normally their equipment is going to be residential grade, not commercial grade. Like someone said, don't be afraid to tell a customer no. They certainly are willing to tell you no.

MOturkey
12-24-2012, 01:52 AM
I think there is one thing that is obvious from this thread, and that is communication is the key to resolving 90% of the problems which arise with customers. I too am guilty of letting things go, most of us are, but just as it isn't right for our customers to think we are mind readers, so is it not right for us to believe our customers are either.

If you let a customer get two months behind and don't express your concern, even in a simple, polite email or voice mail, you are simply fortifying their apparent belief that it is okay to pay you whenever they feel like it. "We paid the guy late last year, and he didn't seem to mind, so why worry about it now?"

herler
12-24-2012, 02:44 AM
Thanks for backing me up, I just wish I would have went about it in a different manner.

:drinkup:

I hope we can all learn, in time, how to do that.
You did the right thing, just the manner, me so guilty too thou.

I've traded work for equipment and won't do it anymore. I admit that i don't have the social skills like my customers (it's something i'm working on), and i thought i was getting a good deal. I was always ticked off after doing it. When i look back at how they pitched the equipment, they were just so smooth, like a professional salesman. I didn't pick up on it, i guess because i wouldn't do that to someone else. Now i know that it's not a good sign of getting paid. Whenever a customer tries to push equipment on me, i'll tell them that i'll haul it off, but i have what i need. In the early days, part of me wanted to please them, and i came out on the short end. It really is not my nature to be aggressive, but when i have a mortgage payment due, insurance, etc., i will downright harass customers until they're paid up. I've learned to not feel bad about wanting my money immediately, because i took care of their "immediately".

I threw a sorry cheapo hand held blower against the side of the trailer so hard it sounded like a gun went off, from there in the trash it went, which is a good thing because a good piece of me wanted to take it back where it was given to me and leave it in their trashcan...

Ain't no dang home owner equipment, especially the cheaper stuff, dang $100 blowers and weedeaters are cheaper to replace whole, you can find them on sale for as little as $70 and they think... You can't fix that garbage, 30 minutes into it I done wasted more time and if it won't start from the git go, throw it away because a lot of those tools are designed to last 50 hours per the EPA

I get awful angry when they don't need it anymore so they give it to me, like I'm the guy hanging out in front of the salvation army for I have no tools to go to work with.

That...
Is what we have to work on.

The customer(s) mean well, they don't mean no harm.
But that's also the clue that they want us to do it for free.
Here, hand you down this, you slave, me master.

guitarman2420
12-24-2012, 08:00 AM
Wow, I hope you felt better after venting!

herler
12-24-2012, 08:36 AM
Wow, I hope you felt better after venting!

I am glad to have shed light on the perspective of it all.

TempleLawnCare
12-24-2012, 08:53 AM
Your absolutely right herler......and then they act as if they did you a favor

Only reason I took it was I knew I could make my money back, which I did, and there was a brand new poulan saw that I wanted.

I should have said something when she was getting behind, I thought having to send her a bill would have been a clue.

I am slowly learning to tell people no and bid my jobs with confidence.

TempleLawnCare
12-24-2012, 09:02 AM
She was one of my first customers and I have since learned to bid with a on route price, off route price, and a seasonal price right from the start to avoid unnecessary trips and hurt feelings of a higher price.

AI Inc
12-24-2012, 09:05 AM
I want an honest opinion.....I have a customer that started out great 3 summers ago, I took alot of pride in their yard and made it something to be proud of instead of ashamed to tell people where you live, last summer I took in on trade their lawn equipment for lawn services, nothing I could use commercially but I figured it was payment and I w ould make my money back off craigslist, I was there every 2-3 weeks faithfully until I worked off the equipment, well this year they have been slow paying all summer to the point I actually had to send a bill 2 months after 2 months of services have been rendered.....Well here we are at snowplowing season, it had snowed for 2 days prior to me plowing so everyone had ample time to call or in their case respond to my messages seeing if they needed plowed out, 8pm last nite rolls around and by this time everything is frozen solid and they cant get in their driveway, I get a message to come plow them out at the crack of dawn. I live 12 miles from town but still offer the lowest rates because I plan my route out as efficiently as possible, am I in the wrong for telling them sorry I cannot come out because I already made my rounds and it's not fair to me or my paying customers if I am just expected to make a special trip and have no clue when I am going to be paid or be told to come on a day I am not in town.....Long story short is I felt I was being taken advantage of and probably should have handled it differently.

:hammerhead:

As far as the plowing goes that should have been taken care of in late aug early sept at the latest andf by mail.
as in :


" the price for service this season will be $ _____ , check this box and and return in postage paid envelope by october 15th to be sure to have a spot on our route." ect

AI Inc
12-24-2012, 09:06 AM
Every business has customer's like her & her husband....this will not be your last customers like this.

If anything this will shift your thinking when dealing with slow payers and non-payers in the future. It is very hard to say "NO" to customers, but it will come to you in time.

10% of customers you will never make happy , and neither will anyone else.
Another 10% you will not make money off of , and neither will anyone else.

Do yourself a favor and dump both types as soon as they have been identified as such.

TempleLawnCare
12-24-2012, 09:12 AM
10% of customers you will never make happy , and neither will anyone else.
Another 10% you will not make money off of , and neither will anyone else.

That's the honest to god's truth...

pseudosun
12-24-2012, 09:18 AM
Maybe we should interview the customer:0 - "So, how long have you been on your job? Can you fit a lawn service into your budget? Have you ever hired a lawn service before? What happened? You are looking for regular service, right? , etc"

TempleLawnCare
12-24-2012, 09:36 AM
Very good questions, the first two may be offensive, I always ask what happened to the last guy and what their expectations are of me.

guitarman2420
12-24-2012, 09:51 AM
The third question, "have you ever hired a lawn service before" is important. There are a couple of things I've learned the hard way:

1. If you are the first lawn service company to service a client who has a pristine yard and they did all the work themselves, watch out! They will be extremely difficult and expect you to be their personal gardener, without being willing to pay you to be a gardener.

2. When a customer says, "I don't think I'm hard to please", run the other way! lol

orangemower
12-24-2012, 09:59 AM
The third question, "have you ever hired a lawn service before" is important. There are a couple of things I've learned the hard way:

1. If you are the first lawn service company to service a client who has a pristine yard and they did all the work themselves, watch out! They will be extremely difficult and expect you to be their personal gardener, without being willing to pay you to be a gardener.

2. When a customer says, "I don't think I'm hard to please", run the other way! lol

#1 is right on the money. However, you can easily shift that thought that they have to your side by simply telling them that you don't live there and can't spend all day to make it look nice. You just have to be totally up front about it all so they don't walk on you. If they still think they have you under their thumb, well, it time to move on.

guitarman2420
12-24-2012, 10:19 AM
You are right. Sometimes they What I have found out is that there is a transition time until they become reasonable and understand that their expectations of the past will not be met by using a landscaping professional. The people that I have had success with, have turned out to be customers that I do a tremendous amount of landscaping and extra project work for which is very profitable.
Posted via Mobile Device

pseudosun
12-24-2012, 10:27 AM
The questions were partially a joke, but wouldn't it be nice if we were in such demand that people would have to apply to get our service. You could ask them, "Now why do you think you qualify for my service?" :) They'd sit across the table from you, while you looked over their application. You'd say "It's looks pretty good. I'll let you know something next week. Thanks for applying."

TempleLawnCare
12-24-2012, 10:31 AM
I had a guy 3 weeks ago that was sick of his current plow company, the guy is an alcoholic and made that clear from minute one. The plow guy got stuck in his yard and expected the customer to pull him out, wanted to borrow the guy's tractor for his landscape business, yatta yatta just dogged him right out....I ask well what do you pay, and what do you expect. "I pay 475 and he only plows 6" plus".....I say is that per push or for the year? cause were talking 1/4 mile driveway through the woods he says how's $600 sound and I pay you $300 now and $300 the first of feburary. Well I took the deal and it is not as grueling on my truck as I thought, I went over in the middle of a storm and pushed it all back and now it is frozen solid so it should be nice plowing from here on out. The other lco has stolen countless numbers of my signs and it felt good to take his "neighbors" driveway and get offered a considerable amount more. Since I got a tree job from the man that paid well. I just had to ask though why he wasnt doing it anymore and your expectations from me and we seemed to be on the same page.

AI Inc
12-24-2012, 10:34 AM
Long driveways are were the money is. They are usualy real easy , but people expect to pay a bit. Short ones backing into traffic are the profit killers.

TempleLawnCare
12-24-2012, 10:39 AM
Yea cool thing is I got a fall cleanup in the neighborhood and landed 2 jobs off the one sign I put up, moved that sign to a new yard and landed this driveway. The homeowner is talking to two of his neighbors for me to plow while I am there, and I landed two more by word of mouth from the hardware store, so now I got 3 that I plow in the same neighborhood.

The two new ones are cash at the door, so that's nice to have instant gas money when I leave his house.

guitarman2420
12-24-2012, 10:47 AM
So I have a deep and thoughtful question to ask all of you. What is it that makes us us so desperate to talk to someone that we are all on a lawn site website on Christmas Eve? Lol!
Posted via Mobile Device

TempleLawnCare
12-24-2012, 10:48 AM
I was invited back to join the chamber of commerce this year and the deadline was 12/20 I called and said I just didn't have the funds right now to join. I asked if I could plow or shovel for the chamber, she said it's a nice benefit having you on the chamber and I think that once your in the directory and the map book you will really benfit from us. I was on the chamber last year but joined to late to get in the books. Long story short she was nice enough to put in the money and let me pay in january. Things are looking good for next year.

TempleLawnCare
12-24-2012, 10:51 AM
Inlaws are on their way and business always comes first.....

:cool2:

It's 20 degrees out and I just got satelite turned off and it's way to early to start murdering people on call of duty

:drinkup:

guitarman2420
12-24-2012, 10:52 AM
Posted via Mobile Device

johnnybravo8802
12-24-2012, 10:57 AM
The third question, "have you ever hired a lawn service before" is important. There are a couple of things I've learned the hard way:

1. If you are the first lawn service company to service a client who has a pristine yard and they did all the work themselves, watch out! They will be extremely difficult and expect you to be their personal gardener, without being willing to pay you to be a gardener.

2. When a customer says, "I don't think I'm hard to please", run the other way! lol
I had a pain in the a#@ customer a few years back and will never do that again-I'd work at McDonald's before I'd work with him again!!! I had red flags everywhere and avoided all of them because I "thought I needed the money and work." The first red flag was their son telling me, "they're hard to please." The second red flag was that they had been through several lawn services, and me thinking I could be the "Big Lawn Chief" and perform some huge magic trick nobody else had been able to do. The third red flag was when we sat down to sign the contract and he proceeded to tell me about all the other lawn services he had been through and then said, "Well, we haven't fired you yet!!!!" Man, let me tell you something, if a customer is talking about firing you before you ever set foot on his property..........RUN!!!!!!!!!!:nono::nono: I went ahead and took the job like a dumb a@# and put myself through 3 yrs of misery. I had to mow his entire yard(1.5 hrs) with a 21" and bagger, I literally had to crawl under every shrub with each mowing and look for weeds-he had tons of beds. I found out with the first few mowings that I had WAY underestimated the time it would take to do the job and I was losing my butt with my estimate. I kept adding labor(1-2 guys) and it would take 2-3 Hrs to do his yard. We would literally bust our butts on his yard, have it looking great, and he wouldn't tell us what a great job we did, he'd have a list of things we had missed!!!!!!:hammerhead::hammerhead:The whole time I kept beating myself up thinking I had failed with my service and justifying the money "we couldn't afford to lose." Never did this guy ever notice that we kept adding more laborer's to his yard or kept spending more hrs on his property and he NEVER offered me more money. The thing I've learned over the years is that, a person with literally watch you work your a@# off all day for FREE and never offer you a dime. The funny thing is that, they wouldn't do it at their job!!!!They also wouldn't go forever and a day w/o pay. If they wouldn't do it, why do they expect me to do it?!!!!!!!! The bottom line is that these people are cheap, will never be satisfied, and aren't worth the pain they put you through. Don't ever think you need the money so bad you can't get rid of them.....you were making it before they came along!!! DROP THEM - I kept this customer around ONLY because he was the first check in the mail. If he had of been slow paying, he would have been gone early-it's still not enough to justify it. You live and learn.:walking:

jrs.landscaping
12-24-2012, 10:58 AM
So I have a deep and thoughtful question to ask all of you. What is it that makes us us so desperate to talk to someone that we are all on a lawn site website on Christmas Eve? Lol!
Posted via Mobile Device

Wife is at work and my boys are in the living room quiet and trying to play nice, I'll stay in the other room on the computer until I hear screaming :laugh:

TempleLawnCare
12-24-2012, 11:04 AM
I seen a guy post on here once a customer tried lowballing him on a $300 job for $50 he pulled $50 out and said you do it for $50

I think I worked for that same guy bravo......the money was there, it was a weeks worth of work to begin with and he made it two, I charged him and he glady paid but I never went back, I knew there would be no pleasing him on a long term basis and if I did, how many customers was I losing out on trying to make this guy happy. I would clean out an area to a "T" go home and come back in the morning and there would be 2 leaves down and he would want that whole area cleaned again......You just cant please everyone and you will kill yourself trying if you do. As we start out in business we will do anything to land a contact and keep them happy, then as we grow we learn how to be more confident in what we are offering and learn to be more assertive from the get go so we dont get trampled on. So yes your right you live and you learn.

orangemower
12-24-2012, 11:12 AM
I seen a guy post on here once a customer tried lowballing him on a $300 job for $50 he pulled $50 out and said you do it for $50

I'm going to remember that one. :)

pseudosun
12-24-2012, 11:19 AM
re: lawnsite, xmas eve - I'm looking for ways to keep my mind off the gathering at 4:00. I dread it, and can't wait for it to be over. I wouldn't mind skipping the holidays; i'd much rather a regular ole work day over this holiday madness. Bottom line for me is that the holidays don't pay.

TempleLawnCare
12-24-2012, 11:25 AM
I landed a 22 popple tree job last week and got all but 8 down before the storm hit, I would have dropped them all but I stopped short to clean up the jobsite so it wasnt a mess in the spring.

Would rather be doing that or going to the denstist then spend today with the inlaws.

Darryl G
12-24-2012, 12:54 PM
So I have a deep and thoughtful question to ask all of you. What is it that makes us us so desperate to talk to someone that we are all on a lawn site website on Christmas Eve? Lol!
Posted via Mobile Device
I just got back from a Beagle wrestling appointment....had to bring the dog to the vet for an ear infection and actually tweaked my right shoulder a bit trying to hold him on the exam table...little sucker is hyper and strong and really big for a beagle...52 pounds.

I always just invoice all my maintenace and plowing services rather than collecting at the door...not sure customers would be too happy about me ringing the doorbell demanding payment at 4:00 a.m. I usually roll out at between midnight and 2:30 a.m., but sometimes as late as 5:00 depending on the storm. And I'm always in go, go, go mode when I'm plowing and don't really want to be spending any extra time at my accounts. If it's a large storm and I'm doing one-time service for people not on my route after all of my regulars are taken care of then I will collect at the time of service though.

We're really not supposed to be discussing snow plowing here though...I've seen many threads shut down for that here....kind of strange but that's how it is.

Patriot Services
12-24-2012, 01:45 PM
Back to the thread topic. Stop being a doormat. Every customer has an expiration date. They choose when that is. A customer is someone who pay for services received. A deadbeat chooses not to pay and see how long they can string you out. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and worse feeling sorry for them. If they gave a crap about you they would at least call and explain. Screw their plowing and eff their lawn.
Posted via Mobile Device

guitarman2420
12-24-2012, 02:32 PM
I once had an estimate in a very upscale neighborhood, in the historical part of Richmond, VA with tons of large pin oaks. The owner came out and said, I'll pay you $300; but when your done; I DON'T WANT TO SEE 1 LEAF. (As 100's of leaves were coming down). I asked him if he was kidding. He said no. I walked away and told him I was not interested. He asked me if I was kidding and I said NO! Some customers need to be someone else's customer.

Darryl G
12-24-2012, 03:50 PM
I had a lady who lives 2 doors down from a regular customer ask me for a quote a few years ago. She's the mom of a girl I went to school with, she's elderly, lives alone, and is only about 1/2 mile from me, so I shot her a price of $150, which I felt was a real bargain for a heavily wooded lot complete with a fenced-in pool area. She practically had a heart attack and told me that all she could afford was $30. I couldn't help but laughing in her face. I don't understand the situation, but she's still married and her husband is a doctor, but he hasn't lived with her for many years.

TempleLawnCare
12-24-2012, 05:13 PM
Thanks Patriot, your right I felt like a doormat after summer and something clicked in my head that we're not going down this road anymore. Yep she can drag the competition down for a couple years. I provided quality affordable services and have nothing to feel guilty about.

Well that wasn't so bad inlaws are gone and now it's time to kick back, watch some christmas movies and make cookies with the family.

I wish everyone a safe and Merry Christmas!

:drinkup:

BrunoT
12-24-2012, 08:29 PM
My motto is "You never want to be Tired and Broke".

On every account, I evaluate our profits and our stress level working with the client (1-10). The stress level is determined based on how much work is required to make the client happy and how timely they are on payments.

Once we get over a stress level of 5 with a client, I raise their prices. My goal is either to make the account worthwhile in terms of money made or drive them away. I have a few very well paying clients from this method and much fewer head aches since I implemented this system into our businesses.

Great motto! I'm stealing that. I agree totally with your system. I have it down now where some customers call and apologize if their check is going to be a day late. Weeding out the problems really pays off years down the line. Better to deal with good people and maybe make a little less than kill yourself.

TempleLawnCare
12-24-2012, 10:56 PM
Once a yard is evaluated, how do you go about raising rates? I have one lady that I lose my ass on her yard but she has gotten me countless contacts,and just raves about my work, I could never raise her rates but I have a couple customers that I would like to get up to par next season. Also I am going into my 4th season, and have never asked for a penny more from my loyal customers.

I guess I need to write welcome back on for the 2013 season letters and say your lawn is going to be "x" amount this year, or so much per season and payment is due 10 days after invoice. There it goes back to that 90% thing though, most have a check to me faster then I could drive to the post office.

In my case now I realize I should have told her since I missed her on my route it is going to be a $20.00 surcharge for gas and I need to collect payment while I am there.

I am not gonna beat myself up over it, I am just looking for future solutions.

Darryl G
12-24-2012, 11:10 PM
I just send the agreement with the new price on it. If it's a modest increase of say 5 to 10% they usually just accept it. The ones I raise more than that are because the yard changed, they were weekly but now want bi-weekly, or I just plain dread pulling up to their lawn. The most I think I've gotten away with is a 30% increase from one season to the next. I have raised up to 40% before...may way of saying I don't want to work for you anymore unless you're going to make it worth my while to deal with you and your lawn. It might be better to just tell them you can't service their lawn anymore because "it no longer fits your business model."

cpllawncare
12-25-2012, 02:56 AM
I'm going to add a "terms of service" to my service agreement, I want to include things like late payment policy, inclement weather policy, service's outside original agreement policy, service termination policy, collection procedures etc etc! I really want to try and lessen any misunderstandings that they seem to always have. It's hard when your trying your best to please the customer and when they see how you are they start taking advantage. It's just too easy for customers to use I DIDN"T KNOW as an excuse.

Darryl G
12-25-2012, 10:51 AM
I'm going to add a "terms of service" to my service agreement, I want to include things like late payment policy, inclement weather policy, service's outside original agreement policy, service termination policy, collection procedures etc etc! I really want to try and lessen any misunderstandings that they seem to always have. It's hard when your trying your best to please the customer and when they see how you are they start taking advantage. It's just too easy for customers to use I DIDN"T KNOW as an excuse.

I have all that kind of stuff on the reverse side of my agreements. Over the years as new situations arose mine kept getting longer, but I think I have it all covered now.

TempleLawnCare
12-25-2012, 01:36 PM
It's sad to even have to come up with a work agreement, what ever happened to doing business on a hand shake?....I guess as I grow I will have to implement such things into my residentials. I work, you pay me. It's not rocket science.

Does anyone use square or intuit? I don't like idea of giving up 4% of my money for convience, thought about passing on the cost and giving them the option.

Darryl G
12-25-2012, 02:14 PM
The agreement and terms just serve to spell out what is expected of each party. My "Terms and Conditions of Service" in general state:

1) We provide all materials, machinery and manpower and perform work in a timely professional manner

2) We are not responsible for personal items or runaway pets

3) We do not guarantee appearance on and particular day of the week

4) The price is based on the current state of the turf and/or landscape

5) We reserve the right to apply an "excessive growth" charge for long turf for reasons beyond our control

6) Mowing services before April 15th or after October 15th are invoiced at our hourly cleanup rate

7) A request that we be provided 24 hour notice if the lawn will be inaccessible on their normal service day

8) To please pick up after their pets and that we reserve the right to apply a cleaning charge for our mowers or footgear

9) Invoicing, finance charges, withholding or terminating service and sales tax specifics

10) Consequences for default

11) Requirements for cancellation notice

12) Statements relating to the agreement being binding to successors, legal representatives and assigns and right for us to transfer the agreement to another party.

The above is not my actual language, just what is covered in it. I find it particularly helpful for informing new customers of how we do things, especially those who have never had a lawn service before. The front page has the specifics of what will be done, at what frequency and for what price.

TempleLawnCare
12-25-2012, 07:23 PM
Thanks Daryl, I like that, it just spells out the basics of what is to be expected on both ends.

cpllawncare
12-26-2012, 04:42 PM
Temple,

If you don't spell it out for them, they will make their own rules. That's why a handshake doesn't work anymore.

guitarman2420
12-28-2012, 06:46 PM
I agree everything in writing when it comes to regular service. I dont write up aerations, small leaf jobs though.
Posted via Mobile Device

Woody82986
12-28-2012, 08:37 PM
Sometimes when all the red flags go off, and you know they are going to be an absolute pain to deal with, and they want a great deal on a ton of work, and you know it will end up eating a ton of time and it's just not worth it... you just need to toss them a phone number. The phone number of the competition you want to see tied up dealing with the PITA for the foreseeable future. Sometimes it's better to turn it down and let your main competition deal with it. Let them languish with the PITA's and go find a better client. When you spend too much time trying to win out in a hopeless situation, you are taking time away from finding the better client or the better paying project.

Duekster
12-28-2012, 08:46 PM
It is a shame that 5% of the clients make it where you can not have a good old fashioned I will do this and you pay this. Sure, when the dollar amounts get up there you need an agreement but I still have few agreements with my mow clients.