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Old 11-12-2012, 11:58 AM
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jeffh1988 jeffh1988 is offline
LawnSite Member
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: MS
Posts: 112
Impossible landscape customer....opinions?

It's a long story but here it is as short as I can make it. I am looking for opinions on my next move. This spring we finished a several month install for a LA's personal home. He built home to retire to and it's on a nice golf course where we do tons of work. Anyway the install went great he was very pleased, however his neighbors yard was lacking especially after the large install next door. As a neighborly favor the LA did a landscape design for her upon her request and gave me a referral to do tHe install. The lady wanted a quote and before giving the quote gave me a background of how sick her husband is and all her life problems. (first sign to run for the hills) so I quote the entire plan and include reworking a very poorly installed irrigation system and replacing all of her weed filled lawn with new sod. The total was 60k plus, I went to meet with her and thought she was going to fall out. Keep in mind this is a high end golf course community so this in my opinion is reasonable and given her husband was a doctor for a long time and she stil works I didn't think I was out of line. Anyway she asks me to work on price and work with LA to see what we could eliminate to cut price, blah blah blah. I asked if she had a number in her head as a budget and she said 20k. ( second sign to run for the hills). So I work on quote and with reduction of plant material quantity and size, not sodding whole yard, eliminating a retaining wall etc I get the price below 30k and resubmit with reasoning that she would not be pleased with end result if any more cuts were made. So a week passed and her neighbor calls to inform me she has bid the job out to several other companies from out of town. (third sign to head for hills, I know when will I learn) after she received all bids, which were all based on the same drawing, she asked her neighbor to help her look through them. She had one she wanted to use that was 13k but included no sod at all, no irrigation adjustments and repair for new beds and cut plant material by 50% and only used 1 gal. Material. Her neighbor told me that all the bids were different like she had told each one something different and it was like comparing apples to oranges, but he puts in a good word for me and offers to work with me to get down to her budget. He approaches me with his ideas ( he is a great customer that is why I have stayed with this) and wants me to ultimately do the work because he knows our work will compliment his home. So we work together to get to 20k and submit it and we met. During meeting everything went great until I pulled out the contract and she starts backing out of the deal immediately. (I should have run way before this) I leave all paperwork with her and told her to let me know. The next day I receive a text she says she is going to bid the whole project again. I now have hours and hours of time put into this, I am pissed. The next day I receive a message that she has decided to move forward with my plan. I am apprehensive but move forward and project goes smoothly. She is very pleased with result as is the LA neighbor. A month later I get a message wanting to meet so I go by and she has concerns with a few plants. I adjust irrigation and everything is fine. Another month in she contacts me I meet with her and she is mad 3 plants have died two were run over by her and 13 hydrangeas had a fungus. I understand her problems and replace dead and run over plats under warranty and treat hydrangeas. Then a week later she is mad about weeds starting to come up. This is part of general maintenance not my problem. A week later someone has gone through her irrigation that she didn't want to rework and she took notes on all the problems and claims I should have addressed them. In the hopes of keeping peace I did some minor adjustments and repair. In the meantime she complains about me to her neighbor, he reassures her the hard is fine and I have done nothing in correct. Next she calls complaining of holes in her yard. I show up to find she has marked any possible depression in her yard with masking tape, yes MASKING TAPE, 90% of these are in areas we did not work in due to budget constraints but in her opinion I should have fixed this. So I grit my teeth and fix all the depressions we are in a small area and this neighbor hood is my bread and butter. Now she has contacted golf course superintendent which I know, and tries to get him to tell her I did something wrong. He backs me up and she is still mad. So during this time several azaleas got a little over watered with rain and running irrigation and started to turn yellow. So you guessed it that's her next complaint and she says hydrangeas don't look better. So once again I try to make her happy and I feed the azaleas and give them a little iron to green them up and replace the hydrangeas. Two weeks later I check in and the azaleas are looking better. Her neighbor informs me last week that he saw her walking around her yard with another landscaper and she was taking notes. I have gone above and beyond to keep this woman happy and she keeps dogging me and my reputation to anyone who will listen. Several customers have asked me about it. She says I am nonrespondent. I am so pissed but trying to still work with her to save face in a small town. I have not billed her for anything since original install and only thing she needs right now is a remulch. I have co sidered doing that for free to take one more shot at making her happy. My long time customers have told me she is dogging me just so I would know I won't lose customers, I am just scared of losing potential customers. Where would you go from here? Put down the mulch?

This will never happen again I will run way before I get to this point!

Sorry for the long post but thanks for opinions.
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