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hortboy
01-09-2004, 02:37 AM
I had a ridiculous customer call me today and inquired about a fertilizer program for 04. they just moved into the house in Nov and seem particular about there lawn. they said and i quote "start as soon as possible". I said "I can do a quick release spring fert as soon as the weather breaks in the spring". That was not soon enough for them. They actually want an application now as in Jan 8,2004. there theory being the fertilizer will be present when the snow melts and turf comes out of dormancy. Would you guys get your spreaders out and do a lawn in the middle of winter. Keep in mind we have only a dusting of snow now but the temps are around zero right now. I am supposed to call her w/ an answer on Fri. If i do it, i can assure you I will take my personal truck w/ no signs (company logo)on it.

Richard Martin
01-09-2004, 04:40 AM
I would first remind them that the crabgrass pre-em that you will be putting down at the appropriate time contains fert first. If they stil want the fert put down I would also get them to commit to an "as needed" lawn cutting schedule. You could also put down a temperature dependant fert that delays release until the weather warms up.

mtdman
01-09-2004, 04:52 AM
No. These people sound high maintainence.

KenH
01-09-2004, 07:40 AM
Tell them being the ground in now frozen, anything applied will be caried off in runoff from the melting snows.

John B Laidlaw
01-09-2004, 08:33 AM
I agree w/ mtdmaster. You'll spend most of your time calling these people back for every little thing! You want to treat one dandelion when you're going balls-to -the -wall and have no time?
J

KenH
01-09-2004, 08:39 AM
Give these people a shot and charge them accordingly. It is customers like these who keep you on your toes and keep your level of service high. If they do become a PITA, you can always drop them.

TotalCareSolutions
01-09-2004, 10:04 AM
Give the customer what they want. I certainly would try to explain that in your professional opinion it is not going to be effective. They should be able to understand that vegetation is not absorbing what is being put down, but don't get into that if it they don't care.

I would make certain this is going to lead somewhere by way of service agreement w chem program. Have that ready and explain that you sign new customers year round.
If they turn out to be PITA, cancel them.


Arent a couple of your guys a little quick to jump the gun? I mean, if you have a customer base that allows you to turn away a shmo, that may just not know, well cool. But if your interested in growing...

MTD- what is our definition of "high maintenance"? To me, these are people that should 'pay to be picky'. They are usually in a higher end neigborhood and there is good money to be made. I agree there are PITA's that can be barely profitable and not worth the tax they put on a business owner mentally. They steal your focus and anchor your precious time. There is good trade and bad trade...these people that just moved in want their yard lookin good for the hood, too early to tell. Could be some easy money there...check it out.

johnbast3
01-09-2004, 10:23 AM
In my opinion,after many years in the business,the "winterizer" will work just fine-a little unorthodox,but none the less it will work and you will lock the new customer in..JB

John Gamba
01-09-2004, 10:26 AM
Originally posted by mtdmaster
No. These people sound high maintainence.

LOTS OF MONEY!!! ??

John Gamba
01-09-2004, 10:28 AM
Originally posted by johnbast3
In my opinion,after many years in the business,the "winterizer" will work just fine-a little unorthodox,but none the less it will work and you will lock the new customer in..JB

Very Good Point.

crawdad
01-09-2004, 10:28 AM
Why did I have to read that? Why don't people title their threads? That's the last untitled thread I'll ever read. I hope you notice, it's getting a lot of views, but few replies.
Crawdad

John Gamba
01-09-2004, 10:30 AM
Originally posted by KenH
Give these people a shot and charge them accordingly. It is customers like these who keep you on your toes and keep your level of service high. If they do become a PITA, you can always drop them.

Bullseye!

John B Laidlaw
01-09-2004, 10:36 AM
Possibly in my quick opinion I jumped the gun but how many times have you gone against your gut feeling and paid the price? Being in business does not mean you take every job. Sometimes its more prudent to back away from a job then to become over-whelmed by it. As a pro in the Green Industry, there are certain indicators that determin what you do. yes its a crap-shoot, after all none of us has a crystal ball to the future, but having been there and done that, I know what to look for in a client.
Once you have committed yourself to a client, justifications begin to get blurry and simply canceling a customer may have a steeper pcice in the end then if you had not taken the customer in the first place. Only my 2-cents worth, but taking a closer look has helped me greatly in the past.:rolleyes:
J

John Gamba
01-09-2004, 10:47 AM
Originally posted by John B Laidlaw
Possibly in my quick opinion I jumped the gun but how many times have you gone against your gut feeling and paid the price? Being in business does not mean you take every job. Sometimes its more prudent to back away from a job then to become over-whelmed by it. As a pro in the Green Industry, there are certain indicators that determin what you do. yes its a crap-shoot, after all none of us has a crystal ball to the future, but having been there and done that, I know what to look for in a client.
Once you have committed yourself to a client, justifications begin to get blurry and simply canceling a customer may have a steeper pcice in the end then if you had not taken the customer in the first place. Only my 2-cents worth, but taking a closer look has helped me greatly in the past.:rolleyes:
J

John
It sounds like you are saying Its better to have not had the customer then to have that customer and fail?
I go up to this type of customer with a plan i want them to fallow, if they give me a hard time then i dont do them. If they seem to be to picky OR demanding i dont do them. So far this has worked for ME to a point.
Its like when you get a tug on the line you really dont know what you got till you pull the fish up BUT you have a good idea.
John

John B Laidlaw
01-09-2004, 01:15 PM
No I'm not thinking of not having the customer ect. What I'm saying is there are considerations to take into account. Not every customer is a match... no matter what you do they will never be happy! Isn't one of the aspects of being your own boss the right to choose your headaches? I have learned to always have a plan when selling my services, to be as clear as possible to the customer when I explain my services and in the contracts. Even then your not in the clear! I will take a high maintenance customer but at a price that makes it worth it.
If you have reservations or a little voice is screaming in your ear "red flag" then be wise to your heart and treat accordingly.
J

twins_lawn_care
01-09-2004, 01:20 PM
I would let them know what you recommend as a professional, but also offer to do any work they request. They may be asking an absurd question to a number of places, to see which one will go out of their way for the customer.
I'd tell them my advice, but also tell them if they'd like, I would do it.
just a note, I am a lot smaller, and would jump at any opportunity for a new potential client. They may be a good customer, or may be a bad one, but by never giving them a chance, you will never know.

dishboy
01-09-2004, 04:16 PM
jump at any opportunity for a new potential client. They may be a good customer, or may be a bad one, but by never giving them a chance, you will never know.

Yard Perfect
01-09-2004, 05:21 PM
Out here in the West, we put Winter fertilizer on to encourage root growth, thus making a stronger more viable grass in the summer. This might be what they are looking for. No way would I put it on in the snow. Act confident and tell them you would be happy to put the Winter fertilizer on as soon as the snow melts. Reminding them, that you don't want to waste their money.

bobbygedd
01-09-2004, 05:55 PM
nooooo problem. this is when i scrape up any garbage, any partial bags, starter, winterizer, dimension, trimec, whatever. mix it all up, put in spreader, and go. this is a great way to get rid of leftover stuff, and make a few bucks.

J Hisch
01-09-2004, 07:52 PM
Put on straight Urea this will help with the Green up in the spring. thats about all it will do in this time of year.

nelbuts
01-09-2004, 11:32 PM
Ok, I agree with Bobby!

Get all those half full bags of fert. Mix them up and put it down. From what I understand you aren't making much anyway. I don't think I would put down the chems. but the fert is a go for me. Make sure you charge a high price and if they pay without complaints then try to sign them up because they will pay for service.

proenterprises
01-09-2004, 11:37 PM
explain to them that its not the best thing to do but if they want it they they can have it.
they do sound high maint but also payup give em a try-if they are big PITA you could always drop them.

stevo22
01-10-2004, 01:28 AM
just show up and spread 40lbs of cornmeal...they will never know the difference...

tiedeman
01-10-2004, 01:37 AM
it all comes back to the ethics and giving this industry a good reputation. If you are just putting down the fertilizer, knowing that it is a waste money, but you want to lock them in as a customer I would suggest to you to step away from the industry. You have to educate the customers about why not to put it down this early. Even if they said that it didn't matter, I still wouldn't do it. Just remember that you are not only working for yourself and but the industry in general. Everytime that you are out working your work reflects onto others.

That is my opinion on the matter.

olderthandirt
01-10-2004, 01:52 AM
Originally posted by tiedeman
it all comes back to the ethics and giving this industry a good reputation. If you are just putting down the fertilizer, knowing that it is a waste money, but you want to lock them in as a customer I would suggest to you to step away from the industry. You have to educate the customers about why not to put it down this early. Even if they said that it didn't matter, I still wouldn't do it. Just remember that you are not only working for yourself and but the industry in general. Everytime that you are out working your work reflects onto others.

That is my opinion on the matter.

Gotta disagree with you on this one Tiedeman

Next time you want to trade in your truck or mower try and find a salesman thats gonna educate you to the fact you don't need one. You tell them its not the best time if they want it done you take the money becoase the next guy they call is going to, and he's gonna be telling them how right they are and how wrong you were all the way to the bank. I don't believe his work reflects on the "industry" I believe it reflects on some of the dumbazz we have to work for:gunsfirin

Mac

mtdman
01-10-2004, 06:54 AM
I still think you shouldn't bother. He's explained to the people that putting down fert in snow isn't desirable, and they should wait until it thaws to do it. Obviously they are not interested in working with him or listening to him, they just want someone to do as their told. And that's going to translate later into a customer that wants you to be at their beck and call whenever they snap their fingers. Having done this for a while, I can tell you the worst kind of customer is one that asks you a question, doesn't listen to what you tell them, and ignores your answer. I want people who are going to listen to my opinion and respect my knowledge of the business. Not to mention the best customers are those that let you do your thing and aren't constantly demanding. People who want a nice lawn are generally profitable, and good to have as customers. People that are extremely particular to the point they want a fertilizer put down NOW in the middle of winter and can't wait until spring are picky pains in the azz. The kind that watch everything you do, inspect the lawn before you leave, find tiny little things to be bothered with, call you a couple times a week to complain or see where you are, etc etc. I don't want 'em.

And personally, any customer that would ask to put fertilizer on top of snow in the middle of winter has to be an idiot to begin with. There is nothing to be gained by putting it down now that couldn't wait until March.

Not to mention, if you take this customer and they turn out to be a PITA, it's far more difficult to back outta the relationship later on, and to do it without hard feelings. If I get a gut feeling about a potential customer, I have no problem telling them no thanks and turning away from the deal. I'm not so desparate for work that I take on customers that will make my life miserable, regardless of the potential financial gain. That's the best part of being your own boss, getting to say no.

bobbygedd
01-10-2004, 10:07 AM
that's like, well, ok, a fat guy goes to mcdonalds, orders up 2 macs and a super duper fry. the manager comes out and advises him of the health risks, and that he should really just have the salad and a cup of water? no chance, the guy wants 800 grams of fat, and they will give it to him. now, if the client had called, and asked your advice, you tell them what you know. if the fool is gonna call in jan, and make a stupid demand like that, then give it to them. it's not gonna hurt anything, and the nitrogen will remain for when the grass needs it.

mtdman
01-10-2004, 12:02 PM
I'm not sayin' you shouldn't give a customer what he wants, if he absolutely demands it. I'm saying you might not want a customer like that who is going to turn into a pain. Someone that demands something so rediculous now is almost certainly going to turn into a pita later. My experience says forget it, let Chem Lawn do it for 'em.

Besides which, I heard all kinds of crap outta this forum last summer when I said I would seed a lawn if the customer asked for it, how we shouldn't do work just because someone asks for it, we should educate people about lawn care and try to enlighten them, and how we're not car salesmen but professionals. All that crap. Now it seems that it's okay to give the customer what they want??


:D

hortboy
01-10-2004, 12:28 PM
we can end the conversation. I met w/ this customer at 8:45 this morning and threy signed one heck of a contract for the next two years. I sat at there kitchen table and explained the con's of the application now and it didn't matter, I came to find out this guy was a retired biologist from cornell U. and in his mind he's right. So I started talking about a mowing contract which led to signing up for every service I offer and some that I've never offered-but they want it. The customer want there property mulched 3 times a year. 2 plantings a year 1 annualls- 1 hearty mums. decorating for the holidays. gutters cleaned every two months, veg garden planted in the spring and tilled up in the fall, w/ bi-weekly weeding. Guys - i could believe my ears when they asked me for all this. they were approving work prices as fast as i could throw them out there. This is by far my highest maintenance customer but for what they are paying I have no problem. The real kicker there entire lot is only 30.000 sqft w/ the house included. so to make a long story short I have the record I'm sure here at the lawnsite for the coldest temperature when a lawn application was applied. My thermometer read -17degrees when i filled the spreader.

burnandreturn
01-10-2004, 12:33 PM
I think you should do what you think is the best for the lawn. Tell them what you think is the best program for them, long term. They might just be ignorrant, not stupid or a overdemanding PITA so give them the benifit of the doubt. Explain to them what the downfalls are to what they want you to do and tell them what is best for their lawn in your professional opion. Maybe they're just enthusiastic and have the money to do what they want. If they want to take your advice then take them, if they don't decline the job. Several reasons to decline rather than just take their money. They are going to talk to other potenial clients about what program you are doing. These potential clients are going to talk to their LCO's and they are going to slam you for doing unnessesary(anyone know how to spell UNESSesaRY?) applications and just taking their money. Then your customer is going to come back on you and complain about you to everyone they talk to at their coctail parties! This could and will have a snowball effect and destroy your credibility. The customer will not blame themselves and say "Oh no, we made him do it. He told us it was a waste of our money." Then they will change LCO. And go on meanwhile you are the disreputable businessman.

I was in the horse business and I think the biggest PITA's and egomanic's gravitate to that business. We would alway's have to deal with people such as what you discribe. When I turned Fifty I said I don't what to deal with people like that anymore. I retired.

Runner
01-10-2004, 12:42 PM
Nope. I'm sorry, but I have to agree with Tiedeman, completely. The REAL deal is, as professionals (not car salesmen or McD's managers), to educate the consumer on their needs. A doctor does not recommend and prescribe pain pills for everyone that walks into his office and says they may have a backache a little later. One thing I think I would have in mind in THIS case though, is to try to identify with what the customer raly wants, here. In other words, what is their line of thing. Obviously, it isn't that they want a nice green lawn by January 22nd, buit they ARE concerned about having a nice green lawn EARLY, which is why they are thinking of it now. I would talk to them, see if this is the avenue in which they are going down in their line of thinking, and address it. Let them know that they CAN have a quick green-up if they want (although that is the LAST thing I would recomend - I'd rather grow a healthier turf), and that it can be done right as temps JUST start to rise, and soil temps may start rising to the adequate tempa tp allow for the turf to come out of dormancy. As a matter of fct, the material can be put down earlier than this.
Anyway, I would talk to them some more, and try to get a feel for what it is exactly, they are after, and accomodate them but in an educated fashion. Manipulate the situation a little bit, appeasing them with what they want, but also let sell them as they will recieve much more benefit by waiting. Whoever mention the runoff thing has an excellent point as well. That is certainly one of the points you should use.
At the same time, I see where Bobby is coming from, from a sales standpoint, by just sort of throwing in the towel, and saying "heck with it - you asked for it, - you got it". However, I just don't see this as the best all around approach. To any extent, Good luck with it, I hope it works out well from it, and I hope you recieve many referrals from this account, as well.

Tommy D
01-10-2004, 10:50 PM
I hear ya Tiedeman, I too educate my customers. People hire us because we are professionals,we know how and when to use these chemicals they dont. We have to gain their trust and in most cases we do. If someone wants me to do something contrary to what I know is the correct way to do it, I will not do it! And everyone of my customers trust me. By the way Bobbygedd, anyone who would take your advise has got to be out of their mind or stoned!

bobbygedd
01-11-2004, 12:15 AM
profile reads: in business 25 years. i work a full time job PLUS run my business. IF U HAVE TO GET STONED, GET STONED, BUT TAKE MY ADVICE: sh!t or get off the pot! you really want to "educate the customer?" why don't you just tell them that for $39 they can do the program themselves with home depot products? i been putting down applications long enough to know when stop worrying about "educating " the customer, and start worrying about my pocket. let's just say for example(and this happens alot) you take on a new client, and reccomend a program. after 2 or 3 years, you start to realize that this particular lawn(and lawns do vary on what they need) doesnt really need two herbicide treatments, and in fact doesn't need an insect or grub treatment. do you go to the client and tell them that u r eliminating these treatments from thier program, and saving them hundreds of dollars? i'm in business to make money. putting down fert in january will not hurt anything, or anybody, will put money in my pocket, and give the client what they want. in fact, i wish 100 people would call me tommorow and ask me to cum and fertilize. really wanna "educate " the customer? tell them they really dont need 4 cuts in april, july, and august. you can definitely get away with 3 during these months. i have clients every year who in october call and ask for lime applications. what do i do? tell them no? 99% of the time they don't need it, but, THEY ASKED for the application, not my advice. if they asked my advice, i would give them sound advice, if they ask me to put down $6 worth of lime, for $55, i'm doin it. when i present a program to a client, i make it very clear, i am state licensed, insured, up to date on new products and procedures, experienced,and can provide a list references as well as written refferels from my exsisting clients who have used my programs. if after hearing that, they want to blow thier money by requesting things they don't need, fine by me.

Turf Medic
01-11-2004, 01:21 AM
Originally posted by bobbygedd
i been putting down applications long enough to know when stop worrying about "educating " the customer, and start worrying about my pocket. let's just say for example(and this happens alot) you take on a new client, and reccomend a program. after 2 or 3 years, you start to realize that this particular lawn(and lawns do vary on what they need) doesnt really need two herbicide treatments, and in fact doesn't need an insect or grub treatment. do you go to the client and tell them that u r eliminating these treatments from thier program, and saving them hundreds of dollars? i'm in business to make money.

Bobby I'm somewhat curious about this part of your statement. Do you tell the customer that they don't need the extra herbicide and pesticide or do you go ahead and lay it on?

bobbygedd
01-11-2004, 01:26 AM
what would you do?

Turf Medic
01-11-2004, 01:28 AM
I like to make money as much as the next guy, but we really try not to use any more pesticide or herbicide than we absolutely have to.

bobbygedd
01-11-2004, 01:45 AM
i have a client, nice enough guy, but he knows everything(he thinks). first year there, late july, in a weeks time, lawn gets hammered. i was there to cut on a friday, it was fine, by the following friday, half the lawn is gone. he's up my azz telling me grubs destroyed his lawn. i explained that merit was applied 3rd week in june, and the damage he suffered was a fungus, he claimed i didn't know what i was talking about. i tore up 2k worth of turf, and found 3 grubs. i explained these 3 grubs could not have done the damage, again, furious and "embarased" cus his lawn looked bad, he claimed it was the grubs, and i had no clue what i was talking about. he insisted it was a combination of the grubs and surface feeding insects. i said, ok, fine. for a small fee i repaired the damage. next year, he wanted us again. he insisted i take all precautions against the grubs and surface insects that destroyed his lawn last year. ok, you asked for it. the original plan called for a merit treatment, in addition to the herbs and fert. his NEW PLAN, I ADDED in addition to the merit, a talstar treatment in july, and a dylox treatment in august, and the two bayleton treatments. his fee more than doubled for the extra treatments. were they neccesary? NOPE. JUST THE FUNGICIDE WAS. if you go and look to buy a mercedes, the dealer doesnt explain that for a fraction of the price u can buy a ford that is comfortable and runs good, he gives you what u want. sure, ipm is the reccomended practice, but if they want something i give it to them. curious, do your standard programs include a pesticide treatment, or do u wait and see if they are present, then treat?

olderthandirt
01-11-2004, 01:53 AM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by bobbygedd
[B]profile reads: in business 25 years. i work a full time job PLUS run my business. IF U HAVE TO GET STONED, GET STONED, BUT TAKE MY ADVICE: sh!t or get off the pot! you really want to "educate the customer?" why don't you just tell them that for $39 they can do the program themselves with home depot products?


Because you don't make money by educating people that your a waste of there cash. Anybody that owns an lco an thinks that when a customer calls that there the only co. there calling is just kidding themselves, Otherwise you would get your customers and they would be with you until one of you dies, and thats not the way it works. If a customer wants to hire me I will give them my professinal advise if they choose not to listen that is there choice, You can't educate that type of person, so I take there money instead. They will get there education when they find out how much cash they have been wasting.

Mac

bobbygedd
01-11-2004, 02:01 AM
thank you mac! right now, as we speak, there is a bum sleeping on my basement floor. a guy i grew up with, he's homeless. and for a very good reason, HE'S AN IDIOT!. so this fool doesn't take care of his teeth, they hurt like heck, he finnally goes to the dentist and tells the dentist he wants like 6 of his back teeth PULLED OUT. the dentist informs him this is a bad decision, that they can be saved by root canal, he says no, pull them out. the dentist shrugs his shoulders, makes him sign, and rips the 6 teeth out. i think now he has like 4 teeth left in his entire brainless skull. get my point? i don't have time to play games with clients, and i'm not turning down money. i give them what they are willing to pay for

olderthandirt
01-11-2004, 02:09 AM
I don't rip people off but its not my job to "educate" them. I figure if they have enough brains to come up with the money to own a house and need my service they should have enough brains to take my advise. If not they get what they want, I'm not turning down money either. Theres a saying about a fool and his money are soon parted/

Mac

GarPA
01-11-2004, 07:44 AM
The long list of things they want you to do, and the ease of selling all of that , with no price quibbling would make me a little suspicious of them. But I would give them a try and if it looks like a pita situation I would give them time find someone else.

Re:fert app in Jan, I'm a little surprised that nobody mentioned the issue of the fert "washing thru" in the snow/rain of winter before the grass awakens to take in the N. I have read for years, the issue of timing the apps so as to have the chemicals be absorbed and not just sit there and eventually bleed thru and end up in the Chesapeake Bay. I would not put the fer down now for this reason, regardless of how much I want the account.

Whenever I'm on the fence about a certain procedure, I ask myself "would I do this on my own property"...this usually gives me the right answer from an ethical standpoint. Yes I'm in business to sell services.....but within the boundries of being a professional.

burnandreturn
01-11-2004, 11:16 AM
When I was a kid growing up in New England, all the farmers used to make sure they spread all their manure on top of the last snow of the season, or at least they tried to get the last snow. Wonder why?

TotalCareSolutions
01-11-2004, 04:15 PM
Originally posted by TotalCareSolutions
I certainly would try to explain that in your professional opinion it is not going to be effective. They should be able to understand that vegetation is not absorbing what is being put down, but don't get into that if it they don't care.



GarPar-

It was mentioned...

GarPA
01-11-2004, 05:46 PM
sorry...my mistake