View Full Version : Help with problem customer!!

01-29-2001, 06:10 PM
I am sorry for the long post but I sure would like some opinions from other folks.
As part of our regular lawn maint. we have been aerating and overseeding for the past 5-6 years. I use a Jacobsen T6030 which is a good commercial machine that is a true vertical core type machine. It will aerate even in some dry soils because of its weight.
I have done fine with all my regular customers over the years and never had a complaint.
This past fall a neighbor of one of my customers asked me to do her yard. I agreed (maybe a mistake).
I had told them to just lightly water with their irrigation system before the aerating date. Seems they must have let the water run for hours.
The machine aerated but in some spots really stirred the mud up. I've seen worse so I finished the job. Just was harder because of the buildup on the machine from the soft Ga. clay.
Anyway, I even applied a little extra fescue seed and covered all the open spots with hay.
Now for the problem....!
Starting the very next day, the lady of the house stopped us in the neighborhood and asked for additional seed to cover what she called "light areas with almost no seed". This occured for the next 2 to 3 weeks. Seems every time she saw us in the area she asked for additional seed. I gave her a few pounds each time as I always carried a little extra anyway.
Question is, how do you treat customers like this. I don't mind adding a little more seed on any of the jobs and actually plan on it if heavy rains occur after the job.
I feel this customer probably operated their irrigation system just too long after the seed and fertilizer was applied and actually washed some away. She denied this of course.
After overseeding what is your policy regarding the seed even coming up, thin spots, bare spots, etc.??
Please let me hear from you...
Thanks, Cleve....

01-29-2001, 06:58 PM
You have picked up a liability rather than an asset. I would write her a very professional letter detailing every thing you do for all of your regular customers and then let her know what you have done, beyond the call of duty, for her. Seed costs money! I bought 5 lbs. of fescue for $9.00, granted that may be a lot higher than anyone else pays for it but the fact remains your giving away your money! You did what you said you would, she did more than she needed with the water and now your exceeding the limits of normal warranty work.

You've done your part, let her know it and let her go. She'll never be satisfied!

01-29-2001, 07:18 PM
Give 'em an inch and they will take a yard. She sees a very helpful LCO and plays off of that. Tell her that you seeded the spots that needed it when you did the job. "Why do you need more Mrs. X?" Tell her there will be a charge for the next bag. She'll stop then.

01-29-2001, 07:55 PM
Back in the fall there were several post on seeding. Somewhere in those post this issue was talked about. And if I remember correctly the best policy was to advise the client on how much water and when to do it. And to either give them an instruction sheet or verbally tell them. And after your done with the seeding it's up to them. Personally, that's what I did after reading many post. I also bought a 5-10 lbs. extra and told the client that if in the spring they had bare spots I would re-seed the bare spot at no charge ( however I factored this cost into the original seeding job) All of my seeding jobs were for my normal customers so I already know which lawns will need a touch up. And since I visit all of these properties weekly I know if they watered correctly. Some did and some didn't. The ones who didn't will be charge a small fee for the touch-up work.
I have found no way to guaranty seeding since there are so many variables involved. Having said all of this I think you have gone beyond the call of duty and from now on I would charge for your time and materials.

01-29-2001, 08:01 PM
Homers right write her a letter and tell her way it is.
If see still want more charge her for it if not drop her
your in business to make money not give it away.

01-29-2001, 08:11 PM
I feel better.
Thanks for all the replies.
By the way, I did tell them to just water for about 5 to 10 min. on each zone each day after the reseeding job and as soon as the grass could be seen to go to the regular water schedule.
My biggest problem is worrying about what she tells her neighbors.
I depend on my work being my calling card so to speak. This is the kind of person that would love to spread the word.
Thanks again, Cleve....

01-29-2001, 10:13 PM
Don't worry about what she tells her neighbors. If your giving them a good job they'll keep you, dispite what the woman says. Chances are she treats them the same way. Charge her for any further seed.

01-29-2001, 10:39 PM
I dont because this is like farming .You never
know what mama nature is going to do.
I tell them what it should do and what might
cause failures.
C ourse then you get lucky enough to get
weeds in your seed.I just keep working at it.

01-30-2001, 07:44 AM
write it on the bill !!!!!
I tell my
customers very specific instructions and then
write them on the bill. I had 2 people last yr
who I did late in the year and I even wrote on
thier bill that once the frost hits the seed
won't germinate but will be thier next spring if
it doesn't wash away. Most pros charge high
enough price to factor in call backs for seeding
If your lowballing you'll get burned

01-30-2001, 12:19 PM
Treat her like A queen. This woman is hard to please.
When you turn her into a beliver of your services.
She will be A cheerleader for your biz.

Remember if you turn into a great customer.
She will tell all about you. Anybody that knows her,
Will stop and think. If this guy can please her!!!!!

Im using his service no questions asked.


01-30-2001, 02:13 PM
I dunno about the "treat her like a queen" idea. It sounds as if you already have gone the extra mile and then a few more.

My experience is that some people are just never satisfied. I wouldn't continue losing money on this lady just on the off chance you'd increase your reputation some how. There are way too many "good" customers out there to waste time with the bozos. When I see a customer like this, I will try to do whatever it takes to make sure they are pleased with the work I have already done. But I make a point to never work for them again.

Atlantic Lawn
02-28-2001, 10:07 PM
I always try to resolve a problem in the first 24-48 hrs. I simply ask them what it will take to make them happy and if it's reasonable I give in right away. Tell them I'm happy that they are happy and generaly try to turn them into a quick asset. Make them feel good by giving in one time. That's usually all it takes.

Chopper Lover
03-01-2001, 09:58 PM

I agree with Bob. Every neighborhood has one, someone that is always complaining and causing trouble. She is probably the one for this neighborhood. Since it appears you have a good foot hold in that area, the other residents will probably just ignore her.

I would not worry about her complaining. If she is that much of a hassle you don't want her business anyway.


03-01-2001, 10:46 PM
Let her know seed takes time to grow, if you feel you overseeded the barespots real well then tell her youll come back in three to four weeks and check the progress and touch up anything then. Tell her face to face and document everthing you said on a invoice and give her a copy. Make her happy if your worried about the bad rep you might get from her. Just make a mental note to yourself not to do her yard again.

03-02-2001, 12:17 AM
I can tell you that she and other people will never change so you have to. I can tell that you aim to please. So do I. But we all get that hot feeling you know when your ears get red feeling. That's when I know a customer has went too far. I used to try and please then and really never could. Instead of hoping she will go away just tell her that you can't please her and please find someone else. Or what I have done is when a customer asks me to "while you over there could you trim that Boxwood?" I say sure for 10 bucks I will. That will put them in line. They will know that you mean business and won't ever ask you again for a free service. So if she finds you and says she need some more seed. Just say sure enough, do you have 10 bucks? Good luck! Kenny