View Full Version : how would you have dealt with this?

08-10-2004, 04:06 PM
so yesterday a customer called me and left a message on my voicemail:

"we are wanting to go to every other week service due to the heat"

that isnt a problem that she wants to go to every other week, so i called her back and left this:

"Mrs. ___ i am letting you know that there is no problem with every other week service. since we are going to every other week we will need to increase the price of each visit 10 dollars. with the taller grass, it is harder on the equipment, and there is more to trim and edge than normal. also, it dips into our finances at exactly half. if there is any problem, call me and we can discuss."

mistake 1: talking about finances, b/c they dont give a **** if i go broke or not. they want their lawn mowed for the best price, and at the frequency that they desire

today, i get a call from her husband:

"Hi, this is Mr. ___, and i was calling b/c we have a problem. my wife says that you are fine with the every other week mowing, but you want to increase the price 10 dollars? now, i have owned and operated many lawn care companys, and i have NEVER heard of this. "

me (caught off guard): "i dont know about that never happening before, b/c i know it is pretty standard policy to increase the price for every other week mowing."

him: "well, it's st. augustine, so it doesnt grow 5 feet tall in this heat so i dont see the problem"

me (being a desperate dumbass): "i'd hate to lose you, so i guess we can stick with the original price"

him" "THANKS! i'll let my wife know, and i appreciate it"

the entire time im thinking, if he does this for a living, or has, then why the hell isnt he out there mowing his own yard? and, what gives him the right to tell me how i should price, or that there hasnt been a president set prior in this situation? :rolleyes: maybe i am the first one to do this, but does that matter? if you can run a company more efficiently and fair than i can, do YOU want to take over? i hate mowing this guy's yard as it is. it has 3 levels in the backyard that are bordered with stone. it takes 30 minutes to mow b/c of lugging the mower around.

my question to you guys....

should i swallow my pride and continue doing the service?

typical response im sure: "can you afford to dump her?"

08-10-2004, 04:24 PM
send cancelation notice:" dear sir, after further consideration i have decided it is in our best interest to discontinue service at your property."

08-10-2004, 04:31 PM
pretty much says it all,of course the owner of the property should expect the notice since he has owned and operated so many lawn care companies...

08-10-2004, 04:34 PM
The question is can you afford to keep her? Are you making a profit?

For all my new customers and renewals, I've inserted the following statement into my contract "...the price will be $x per week for 23 weeks from 5/1 - 10/9. This price is based on an estimated average of 19-25 mowings per season..."

This helps me in two ways:
1.) No calls for "everyother week".
2.) No reason to question whether I "earned my money" by mowing that week.

08-10-2004, 04:35 PM
I agree with bob.

but the reason you give for canceling them TODAY is that TODAY you have decided to cancel all every-other-week customers...and unfortunately that means them.

GEO :)

08-10-2004, 04:38 PM
somebody pinch me, i'm dreaming, i must be. geo stated, "i agree with bob". ok, ok, where's the punchlune, come on, i can take it

08-10-2004, 04:40 PM
I no longer have customers on everyother week schedule,most i have educated and are now weekly accounts...

08-10-2004, 04:42 PM
"Don't let your customers dictate your policy" rings louder every day.I've learned,in my short time as an LCO,that most people expect you to be an idiot when it comes to finances and pricing.I've had more than a few try to sneak one in on me.
Stick to your prices and policy.You're(At least I do) going to lose alot of business over this.Most expect you to work for very little,but demand perfection.Isn't worth my time to even worry over these people any more.I figure if I wait things out,I'll get the customers I want.Not the ones that want to tell me how to run my business.

08-10-2004, 04:55 PM
Lakeside, Depends where you are at client wise. If you are at the point that you can pick and choose or are turning away work I would let them go. If you are not and can still pull a profit from this account continue service until you can replace them. It all depends on where you are at in your business. You told them you would continue service. If possible, keep your word but let them know at the end of the season that next season you will be doing only weeklies.

08-10-2004, 04:59 PM
Do they have an irrigation system?

I don't know how it is in your area. But around here, if people don't have an underground professional irrigation system installed, that's usually a huge warning for me when I am giving a bid. Now, SOME people are really good at watering with an above ground sprinkler. But MOST are not. So when I see a lawn without an irrigation system that's a huge warning to me that this person is probably going to not be watering that much in the summer. So I make it REALLY clear to them when they sign up that we mow EVERY SINGLE WEEK. And that they are paying a flat fee every month. I don't vary from that policy.

Again, I don't know about your area. But in my area, I really try not to get maintenance accounts where there isn't an irrigation system in place. I don't really want to work for those kinds of people for the exact reasons that you're experiencing. I don't want to get that call about doing it every other week.

If your client does have an irrigation system, then I don't understand the problem. If they are watering, it should be growing at least a little each week and need mowing.

08-10-2004, 05:04 PM
Call back and say that On second thought I am going to have to go back to every week or $10 more. I run my business to how I see fit and it has been working. It is up to you (the client) what you want to do. I have done this a few times, except it was all during the same call.

Up North
08-10-2004, 05:29 PM
I agree with the other guys here, but IMO I think there is another way of looking at this. And please guys if you think I'm wrong, let me know and also why I may be wrong. I'm learning this business as I go, so always open to opinions & knowlege from the experienced.

In my position, I'd say "yeah we can do that." I wouldn't be happy about it but in this part of the country 10 day mowing and some 2 week mowing is NOT out of the norm, however most of my jobs are commercial and need mowing weekly. Going into this business for the first time this spring I tried to price all but two of my accounts (those two accounts I underbid, my mistake) in a way that if a customer changed their mind about weekly mowing I could accomidate them and still make $ at it. And as figured, two of my accounts did request something other then weekly service after I had started. And because contracts for mowing don't fly here, I had to try to plan ahead a bit.

Plus, Lakeside, if you are new in the biz like me, you may not want to just toss a customer away. As long as you're still making money on the job, that's better then having a gap in the schedule with no $ coming in.

Lakeside, I understand your area may be totally different, and what I'm saying here is all a moot point. But maybe I can get some input also as to if I'm doing the right thing here, or not.


08-10-2004, 05:56 PM
Originally posted by bobbygedd
i'm dreaming, i must be. geo stated, "i agree with bob".

yeah. I know.

I started to say I was just kidding. haha.


08-10-2004, 05:58 PM
phew, thank god, i thought you finally lost your mind.

08-10-2004, 06:55 PM
just cut it higher!!!!! If they don't like it tell them why

08-11-2004, 02:36 AM
Originally posted by dcondon
just cut it higher!!!!! If they don't like it tell them why

i laughed out loud at that!

i decided that i would swallow my pride, and continue service. i am right at 30 accounts, and i really hate to drop below 30. it was my goal to reach there before September, and since i met it, i hate to take a step back. also, with only 30 accounts, it's nice to have the extra money coming in. when i reach 50, i'll hike the price up and they can deal with it how they want. i really appreciate all the advice. i know that many of you are in a better position than i am as far as customers, so it's easy to say, "screw 'em."

next year, when they go back to a weekly schedule; i'll appreciate sucking it up...

08-11-2004, 03:13 AM
Its a seasonal business not a charity. I think we all need to learn this. Luckily some members have customers that dont care and are glad to pay when the grass does not need a mowing. Most are not.

Mikes Lawn Landscape
08-11-2004, 09:06 AM
Originally posted by Lakeside
him: "well, it's st. augustine, so it doesnt grow 5 feet tall in this heat so i dont see the problem"

me (being a desperate dumbass): "i'd hate to lose you, so i guess we can stick with the original price"

The customer in this case was correct St. Aug in sun ain't growing right now unless they are watering heavily.

Take the advise on this forum with a grain of salt. Dropping that customer or raising the price in your situation would be stupid.

If you want to build a business you better learn real quick that the more lawns you have the more lawns you get.

When you get to 100% capacity then you can start dictating more stringent terms to your customers until then suck it up and mow their lawn were only talking a few more weeks then in Sept switch em back to weekly.

The advise on this forum just amazes me sometimes

08-11-2004, 11:32 AM
Sorry Mike,but I disagree.What happens when he gets 10 customers who "heard he'll mow every other week when the grass slows down"?If he has 20 accounts,then he just cut himself by 1/4.10 weekly,10 eow = 60 cuts per month(4weeks).20 weekly = 80 cuts per month.
Heck,he'd be better off to have 15 weekly accounts.15 weekly x 4 = 60 cuts per month,but 25% less billing and stops.Not to mention the headache of keeping up with the EOW customers.Then having to wait for their(customers) approval to go back to every week,which keeps him from being able to fill those slots with other customers,
Everyone has different ways of doing things,but IMO,bending to the every other week mowing is shooting yourself in the foot.Remember,we're only cutting an average of 32 weeks per year anyway.Cut out 1/4 of that and your income is going down by 8 weeks for each customer on EOW schedule.

08-11-2004, 11:45 AM
I agree whole heartedly with Mike on this one. Lakeside, be very careful on who you take advice from here, as LOTS of the guys on here are NOT doing this for a living ( I mean feeding a family ) I had an EOW week acct that I dropped after feeling foolish because of the advice of some of the people here.

Now that that's said, I say, look at your workload, if the people aren't a PITB, and pay regularly, I'd stick it out and then drop them when you have a solid cust. base. And like it was said, at the beginning of next season, Don't take anymore EOW acct's.

Don't let pride get in the way of profit.

08-11-2004, 11:47 AM
Go ahead, cut the lawn.....if the guy is right that it only needs bi-weely, then your cut will look good and you'll keep a customer. If he's wrong, and the grass gets out of control.....cut it.....only once. We have to double-cut several of them in our area, but for him I would cut it once, and if grass is clumped up, leave it that way.

- The only catch is that you don't want other neighbors to take this as representative of your work! -

Then, when he calls the next morning to complain, you simply tell him that you'd be glad to help him make his lawn look better, and that things like this don't happen if you cut more often. He's either gonna get rid of you, pay weekly, or not mind the mess. Either way, you'll be okay.

Don't forget .... there's plenty of grass out there!

Mikes Lawn Landscape
08-12-2004, 01:28 AM
Originally posted by NickN
Sorry Mike,but I disagree.What happens when he gets 10 customers who "heard he'll mow every other week when the grass slows down"?

Then he is 10 more customers closer to his goal of 50. Most of us who have not been in biz for years can not magically make 50 weekly customers appear just because we wish it.

Don't get me wrong weekly customers are the way to go they are so much easier and profitable believe me I was cussing my EOW's last month but I'd rather be cussing while mowing than cussing while watching OPRAH. If 50 customers is your capacity then the 51st customer is required to go weekly or not at all.

08-12-2004, 02:28 AM
First thing he said to his wife when he hung up the phone with you...

"Hey hun, he folded like a cheap suit! Grab your perse, dinners on him!!"

Really though, after this year, I am telling all of my customers next year that this is what it costs for service every 7 days (say 35) and AFTER July 1st (when growth usually slows) if you would like it cut every 10-14 days, the price will be 45 (I then will tell them they are saving 25 dollars.)