View Full Version : Would you tell them?

DFW Area Landscaper
07-21-2004, 06:43 PM
A customer called this spring and wanted prices to prune a tree and trim the shrubs. I gave her an estimate. Three weeks ago I show up to mow the lawn and the tree has been butchered by her brother in law. These wounds aren't going to heal. Eventually it will kill the tree.

However, with a chainsaw and three minutes, the wounds could be easily fixed.

I was too expensive. She didn't show any respect for the knowledge required to do the job. She viewed it strictly as flunky labor. She did it herself. Within several years, the tree will die if someone doesn't tell her what she's done wrong and how to correct it.

Would you tell her????

DFW Area Landscaper

07-21-2004, 06:48 PM
:blob3: No I would not! She made the call-let her live with it.

07-21-2004, 06:50 PM
Is she going to pay?

07-21-2004, 06:51 PM
i would tell, being that the tree isn't the one that offended you....;) if her brother in law did it, maybe she really didn't have the money for your services. she'd didn't hire another guy, saying you were unable to do it. I would tell her and say if yyou want me to "clean this up"..... it will be just X amount of dollars.

Mico Landscaping design
07-21-2004, 07:01 PM
Its one of thise job's you bid it high and hope you dont get it :) thats wut i would have done good luck

07-21-2004, 07:15 PM
This is a mowing client?

I 'd consider telling the tree for free....

Turf Medic
07-21-2004, 07:23 PM
I guess it really comes down to how much you care about the trees. I'm not joking, my grandfather really loved plants and trees, if it were him, he would probably fix the tree and say nothing, especially if it is as easily fixed as you mention.

On a more realisic view, how bad is the property going to look with a dead or dying tree in the middle of it. How much hassle is it going to be for you if she decides it is dying and does a half ass job of removing it. Leaving the stump for you to mow around.

07-21-2004, 07:26 PM
Just curious to how u could fix the tree with a chainsaw? and I would tell her.

07-21-2004, 07:40 PM
I've seen some tree "experts" damage trees pretty badly. I thought they would die also...none ever did.

I would prolly say nothing...it might sound like sour grapes to her "dissing" the work done.

Mebbe just mention painting the wounds. She might not know that's necessary.

07-21-2004, 07:47 PM
Southern Fried,
Don't tell her to dress the wound's! That is not proper maintence for tree's. The paint only traps moisture and hurts the tree. But to the point I wouldn't tell her. She needs to live with her decision.


07-21-2004, 07:51 PM
Painting the wounds is bad?

I am not a tree guy...but, I always thought an open wound allowed tree varmits, like borers to get in and do damage.

At least that's the problem they say it could cause down here. Am no tree expert tho.

Randy J
07-21-2004, 07:51 PM
Geffory, in fairness to Southernfried, in San Antonio, you have to paint the wounds on live oaks to prevent them from catching oak wilt. It does slow down the healing process, but that's much better than oak wilt - which will kill the tree.

Mark McC
07-21-2004, 07:58 PM
I'm not sure I'd say anything...maybe start a conversation about the trimming job and ask if the job was done according to some guidelines or other.

You might suggest pruning paint in an offhand manner, almost like an afterthought (in addition to anything else that might help the tree survive). That way if she gives you grief if/when the tree dies, you can say you recommended preventive action.

07-21-2004, 08:07 PM

Not a chance...
Successful business people do not hand down valuable information like that to clients.
In your particular circumstance I definately would not pass along trade secrets to my client for the next guy to use.
You obviously know what you are doing and he may not. So tell her that that is why she is paying a premium price for your service.

Mikes Lawn Landscape
07-21-2004, 08:15 PM
A patient asked his doctor why his bill was $10,000 for a simple appendectomy after all it only took the doctor 1 hour and a simple cut to remove.

Dr. changed the bill

Apenpendectomy incision and time $100.00............................

Knowing where to cut and what to take out $9900.00

I would not tell her after all you are only the "Lawn Boy"

07-21-2004, 08:17 PM
I'm anything but a tree expert but I know a tree expert in AL. He says that is 1970's knowledge and should never be done. It is never good for the tree. The CODIT process of walling off the decay or open wound is hindered by the paint and traps moisture in the wound and furthers the decay. Just the other day the local extension office president concurred with this. Just what very smart people are saying down south so take it for what it's worth.
Ask an arborist in your area to confirm.

Randy J
07-21-2004, 08:22 PM
I agree painting the wound is generally considered bad, but in Texas, oak wilt is so prevelant that it must be done. Painting the wound keeps the borer beetles (I think that's which bugs it is that spreads it) out that spread the disease. Once one oak catches it, it spreads through the roots to other oaks, and before you know it, you have not trees left. Painting the wound is the lesser of 2 evils down there.

07-21-2004, 08:23 PM
Mike's, lol...

I'm gonna start using that.

Unless you want residual checks....

07-21-2004, 08:26 PM
Randy..that's what I've heard from our local garden Guru's.

Tho, half the time, I think Bob Webster is full of manure.

07-21-2004, 08:41 PM
Posted in the wrong forum again!

07-21-2004, 10:22 PM
I'd tell her it was done wrong and offer to fix it for free - if it only took 3 minutes and a chain saw.

Reasons for not telling her: Spite, revenge, satisfaction of knowing she chose poorly, anger over lost income (which you can't recoup at this time anyway)

Reasons for telling, correcting and not charging: You value the client, shows client you have her best interest at heart (even when not making money), improved customer relations and probably loyalty, future recommendations ("Yeah, my brother-in-law tried to fix it and save me a few bucks but this really great lawn guy cleaned up the mess FOR FREE - even when I didn't give him the job. Would you like his name?")

Of course, I left off the last reason for helping her out: INSANITY

I'll let you decide which it is but keep this in mind: Which lawn guy you would want to hire and or recommend to your friends? JMO

07-21-2004, 10:49 PM
No I would not tell her. I do not give free advice to cheapskates.

07-21-2004, 11:37 PM
If you feel a chainsaw is the right tool for the job,then she has already had plenty of tree experts on site already.

all degree
07-22-2004, 12:34 AM
I would tell her and fix it for free. For no other reason than I truly love trees. No seriously I love them in a literal sense....

07-22-2004, 12:36 AM
Guys I was very curious or confident about the paint question. So forgive me for "taking" over this forum but I wanted to post an email from a tree expert in AL.
From Mr. Hughes
Tree wound paint is theoretically bad because it traps heat by its
black color and holds moisture under its surface, encouraging fungal
development. Actually it's kind of neutral in its effect. It may not be
so detrimental as just a waste of time and money to do routinely after
pruning. It was commonly used before it was known how trees close
wounds by growing around them.

It may be that tree wound paint works for a specific purpose, such as
providing a barrier against boring insects that spread fungi. If so,
then it's fine.The benefit of using it in Texas may outweigh the cost
if it does help control the insect that spreads oak wilt fungus. When I
was at Texas A&M in the 80s, we looked at a lot of oak wilt out near
LBJ's ranch. At the time it was not known what spread it. Trenching was
done to separate root systems so that the fungus would not be
transmitted underground. It sounds like they have identified an insect
vector for the fungus. I would think that the insect would go in
anywhere, though, not just on cut surfaces. So I still wonder if
painting the wounds helps.

07-22-2004, 01:33 AM
Just do it free and get reccommended.

07-22-2004, 02:07 AM

I think this is your smartest move;

Ask to meet with her. Show her where the damage is and explain to her why it's going to hurt/kill the tree long-term. Tell you that you understand her reluctance to hire a professional when it seems like something anyone could do. But then explain that THIS is why you leave certain things to the professionals.

At the end of the conversation don't expect that she will hire you to fix the problem. That isn't even important. Your goal should be to let her know that there is a problem and that you recommend it be taken care of unless she wants to see it die.

Now you are in a win-win situation. If she does nothing, and later it dies, she'll definitely have a renewed respect for you - wishing she would have listened.

If she decides to take your recomendation but do the work herself (or her family) at least you'll know that she respected you enough to listen. And now you have more of her respect for future suggestions. In the future she may begin to think you actually know your stuff.

The last option is that she thanks you for the suggestion and hires you to make it right. That's great too!

Either way you win.

If you do nothing or say nothing, what do you win? Nothing. She loses and you lose. Sure, you'll be saying inside, "See! That stupid lady should have listened to me!!!" But does that feeling really do you any good? That's more of a resentful feeling that anything. It's not good to let resentment build up like that. So I think doing nothing and not telling her is a losing situation.

That's my 2 cents.

trying 2b organic
07-22-2004, 02:36 AM
This comes down to individual personality somewhat but I wouldn't tell her anything. This type of customer I guarantee will resent the advise and will not follow it. A customer only has to disagree with or "correct me" once to lose the free advise I have to offer. I dont claim to know a lot about everything but when I tell a customer the right way to do it its because I KNOW it is. Some customers want to do what they want to do, dont confuse or pizz them off with facts. :p

07-22-2004, 08:18 AM
Geoffrey, the current practice as endorsed by both the US Forest Service and Texas A&M is to disinfect saws with Lysol then seal the cut with a petroleum based sealer.
The insect that vectors the Oak Wilt is a boring bettle that is active for a short period of time. The sealing has greatly reduced this noxious insects' preference for a fresh cut. Additionally, other insects can and do vector the pathogen
responsible for Oak Wilt thereby necessitating sealing cuts of at least 1.5" and greater.
When I worked in PA, it was not the practice to seal cuts - however, the species and environment there are different than here.
With regards to either telling the client or not, I agree with telling her. Dependent upon your contract with her I would even put it in writing and annotate it on a copy for her file. Texas is a strange state for business and documentation is needed to protect your backside. As far as actually doing the clean up work, I would do that for a fee as well, however, due to the previous butchering, don't warranty anything with this tree. At some stage, this person has to accept responsibility for their decisions, you can help them see that but I would'nt accept it for them.

Randy J
07-22-2004, 09:35 AM
Good research Geoffrey. Oak wilt is a serious disease in Texas - heck there just aren't that many nice trees down there so they can't afford to lose any. All over the hill country, where I used to live, you see large old oaks that just look pitful. If a tree is identified as having oak wilt, they do trench around it to cut the roots to other "off shoots", which seems to help keep it from spreading. Also, there are only certain times of the year when you should cut oaks, though I don't remember when it is, to help minimize the chances of wilt disease. It really is a shame to see the old oaks just dying like they do.
Sorry for taking the thread slightly off topic.

07-22-2004, 12:34 PM
Just remember, your labor rate to do the job, 1 1/2 time if she helps, 2x if she supervises and triple time to fix what she screwed up