View Full Version : Customer learns something new......

06-25-2004, 06:47 PM
then quits us.
Picked up a new customer the last week of april this year. Made it real nice, because we then had three in a row for 105 bucks. Took Matt an hour and half by himself every Wednesday evening.
I didn't bill her for April since it was only one cut. End of May I bill her for the 5 cuts she owes. She sends back a check early June with the total scratched off, minus the sales tax. Scribbled note says, "Fertilizing company never charges sales tax, you can't charge me tax. Do you even have an ID number?" So I pull up the Dept of PA website, find the sales tax info, highlight it, print it out and mail it back to her giving her our sales tax id number. Also telling her in the future if she has any questions about her bill to call first before automatically reducing her price. Don't hear from her for a few weeks. 3 days ago in the mail she sends a check along with a note apologizing saying she was away on vacation, and that "she learns something new every day." Come home today and find a message on the machine telling us that she is quitting us because her nephew will now cut the lawn. Oh well, I'm glad I was at least able to teach her something new one time. :laugh:
Seriously though, all over a couple bucks in sales tax. Go figure.

06-25-2004, 06:57 PM
Naw man. It was because you proved her wrong. Women cannot stand to be told they are wrong. Didn't you know that! :)

06-25-2004, 07:03 PM
I have had that before. When you prove customers wrong and they get upset that I proved them wrong so they drop me because they think that I am a a@@

06-25-2004, 07:25 PM
AVERY - that is PRETTY BOLD OF YOU TO SAY...especially when you are in NC & Jodi is in PA!!!! ;) Did your wife see this? Mine would give me the frying pan up the side of the head if I said this!


DFW Area Landscaper
06-25-2004, 07:43 PM
Agreed, you have to handle the "there is no sales tax...what are you doing?" complaint with kid gloves. Simply proving them wrong won't keep them on the schedule.

Realize, first off, that the vast majority of your competitors don't bother with sales tax. Secondly, the way I've handled this in the past is to explain to the customer that you realize many of your competitors don't charge sales tax, but that you do. And the reason you do is because you don't want to be in business for years only to find that you're being bankrupted by the government years later. After you explain that, offer to give them your sales tax ID number and the state comptroller's phone number. This tells them that you aren't making up the charges to pad your profits.

It sucks losing a customer because you're paying taxes and your predecessors were tax cheats. Unfortunately, until the industry decides to get up off it azz and start policing itself, this sort of thing is going to be the reality that we must all deal with.

DFW Area Landscaper

06-25-2004, 07:52 PM
and this is why i treat customers like they should be treated: like a paycheck, like money, nothing else. THEY ARE EXPENDABLE, REPLACEABLE, and worth only as much as thier last invoice

06-25-2004, 08:04 PM
I prefer to treat people like I want to be treated, then hope for the best. Try it sometime.

06-25-2004, 08:08 PM
and i prefer to treat people like what they are worth. if you are my friend, you are worth the trouble of emotions, and misunderstandings. if you are a client, it's business. period! when u cost me money, or problems that result in loss, you are gone!

06-25-2004, 08:48 PM
I agree with Bobby. A customer is just that...a customer and nothing more. I treat them with respect, but I never, ever depend on them to remain loyal to me or my business. One thing I have learned about this business is that people who use lawn service companies to take care of their yard will shop for the lowest price that they can find. They will drop you in a heartbeat if they can find another company that will do it cheaper.

06-25-2004, 09:07 PM
When I started I went with the friendy approach, after being abused, screwd, threatened, lied to, cheated etc, I see a client, I see money, nothing else, sure I'm nice n all, but any crap I'm gone, sence attitude the quote goes up, dealing with the public certainly hardened me up, put feelings into it just causes stress.

You gotta try to be one step of people, they are not loyal to you regardless of what you think, they use us, we use them, it's all a money game. Clients cannot be friends, it's an illusion.

06-25-2004, 09:18 PM
good god tony, for the first time, you said it son, you said it all, i love it.

06-25-2004, 09:30 PM
i dont get the sales tax bit ....we dont collect sales on labor here in ill.......

tony tony ...have you not been enlightened from ways of the scotsman.....why just a few days ago i got 2000 dollars owed me .....my sofisticated silver tongue was responsable ..dont get disillusioned ....remember be like us scots ........keep on the sunny side ..allways and the sunnyside ......keep on the sunny side of lifeeeeeee........... now you might ask why is this guy a customers relation's genius ......it's the sensitive scottish blood :D

06-25-2004, 09:49 PM
Yeah mate, I'm not their friend, never confuse that issue, I'm just their contractor, nothing else. All there needs to be is mutual respect (hopefully) and all I am is friendly but professional, no b.sing, I'm here to do a job and go, time is money, start getting too nice and folks start getting slow at paying cause they think there is a casual friendship involved or wanting extras free cause you are their friend, there ain't, it's business, no more no less, any crap, c'ya, the crap just ain't worth it.

the longer i do this the more of a thick skin i'm growing, i have a life too, and it isn't about being friends with those who i know will screw me as soon as they can to save a buck, polite and professional and give good service is ALL that I see is required for my biz.

Here is a tip I've learn't, cease the wanna be a friend thang, be seen as a contractor nothing else, no b.s no confusion and in my niche of ride on mowing people don't try to bargain as much then, they want it done and know if they start **** they won't get the job done and will waste more time finding someone else. Get to the point straight up, look and price and say, "just let me know when" and start towards your truck, a lot say, oh, when can you do it?" I try to do it there if it is quick or schedule it asap cause they WILL call around if you give them time.

When they start the price comparison crap I say sorry, but why did he not do the job and why am I here?
we all know why...:)

Nup, sorry, better mower, better cut, I'm here, waddayareckon?

I don't lose many...

be weak or get into too much dialog, the client can tell and will talk you down every time. the get to know you, nice, be friends thang, doesn't work sorry. this is business only.

Thanks Bobby.


06-25-2004, 10:29 PM
Oh Odin, what am I gunna do with ya?

Gentle, kind, sensitive, new age guy you....I'd be too bloody scared to owe you money, remember I know what ya look like! Got nothing to do with diplomocy! It's the 7'' sword you wield my friend!

I see the sunny side mate, remember I'm an Aussie, plenty of sun here, plenty of crap clients too, I'm a happy bloke generally, but not into taking shi.t, did at first but am toughening up fast, took a few years but...

The less "nice" and b. s in quote time I've found leads to a better business relationship, no confusion about duties or expectations.

Some you can't help but yak to, just natural, but the ones where you invest time convincing and explaining everything to are a waste, they don't need to know our pricing structure, tax etc, they only need to know quote for their job.

A lot of people want to waste time talking, I answer questions politly but don't lead them into more questions and keep everything focused, if I get the job they can chat a bit if need be, but not the ones who just shop around wanting to chat with every mower guy around wasting everyones time.

Talking about the job is one thing, general b.s is another.

But Odin, you know I'm nice to my clients, just the time wasters I'm learning to deal with, I'm not interested in being a friend to a client, and the dumb ass ones who part pay etc I'm getting better with dealing with them too.

Got several long time good clients who over time saw me as soft and take weeks and weeks to pay, told them it is check, cash or internet payment upfront, not mowing until I'm paid, thought I'd lose them, nup, they obviously shopped around and realised my loyalty even if I am more expensive, got every one still.
was nice, professional, but firm, I'm no charity, and I live from week to week like every other bugger.

I haven't had to wield the big sword yet Jack, lol.

Funny, in our busy season around January my old mower broke down in the time I bought my new one, was down a few days, most people understood, and it was raining, but a few new ones, wow, called abused and threated me , shocked, being a passive kind gentle guy like you and Bobby, I quickly had to explain ''nicely'' that it wasn't my fault and i'm sorry, that didn't help, these 2 clients just wanted action on the phone, i again explained quickly and ''nicely'' I can be at their homes within 10 minutes, any more crap and they will get what they are threatening no probs! Ya know when you get that ol' feeling, you just want it soo bad, LOL! (not mean sex either)

Both callers backed down, bloody whimps!

Another guy started as soon as I pulled up, came out going off at me cause I was 2 days late, (I did offer to find someone else for all of these) well, he was off, I raced around the back of the trailer and told this moron to shut up or he will be shut up, well these motor mouths aren't physically brave, he appologised, I mowed his lawn at 2$ a min. plus spraying, he paid twice in the end for his dramas, he was happy that I still did the work for him :)

Learning a lot of hotheads over the phone are not real brave when they know you aren't shy, whimps.

my point is, these few of many examples have taught me that the public is generally fowl mouthed, fowl tempered, intimidating types who just want to screw people around, they want me they must show respect and be at least pleasant if they want a nice mannered professional, or they get someone else, but I don't have to put up with scum. People can get under your skin, minimise dialect, maximise work, only way to make a buck out of this game, imo.

people must remember that this is a business, not a social club.

06-25-2004, 10:41 PM
I agree and disagree. First i have older clients that I do have a great relationship with. They are very loyal to me to the point that 1 of them got back her power of atty from her daughter, because she let me go after I would not do her mothers lawn the way she thought it should be done. I went over to the moms house before Christmas to drop off a small gift to her and she cried and told me she missed me doing her lawn. Well after the month of April I was back maintaining it again and have no dealings with the daughter. Several of my clients are like that. However there are some where I just do my business, give great service, but know that they may replace me, or I them if the occasion arises. Those are usually the younger business types. I must say though I have seviced most of them for several years. Maybe their more loyal than i think!

06-25-2004, 10:54 PM
Thanks, that's the nice stories that I wish I had to share, I'm only speaking of my niche, I don't do small domestic lawns so most of my clients are real estate, developers, rich or wannabe rich, business people, and the plain nasty. I lot I only ever meet once, love them, no bother.

It is the plain nasty....age 30-60.

My clients will be a lot different from many here, no hand mowing, no working with oldies etc.

Sorry if I sounded bad, there are many great clients out there, many of mine are just great, but we all get the rude, the time wasting, the scamming, the bad paying, the wanna be friends so they can take advantage types, this is why I keep friendship out of business.

sorry for sounding so negative guys, it's not all bad, just the bad gets me going , lol!

06-25-2004, 11:26 PM
Originally posted by bobbygedd
and this is why i treat customers like they should be treated: like a paycheck, like money, nothing else. THEY ARE EXPENDABLE, REPLACEABLE, and worth only as much as thier last invoice

is that why we always hear about your pita customers?

theirs a fine line between friendliness and business like, I try to make the customer feel that when they have my time, they have my full attention.

06-25-2004, 11:36 PM
tony tony .....you know im the poster child for the 98 lb weakling ......:D :D

steve in Pa.
06-25-2004, 11:42 PM
major tom where in pa. are you from?

06-25-2004, 11:53 PM
LOL Odin, I know! cough, cough, just a little fella n all eh?

I reckon you carry the 7 footer in a sheath on the side of your ROPS, LOL!

So howz your day little guy? :)