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Old 07-05-2012, 03:16 PM
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MOturkey MOturkey is offline
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How Would You Handle This?

Just wanted to get some input on a situation that arose today. These accounts are new to me this year, actually given to me by another LCO who was downsizing, so I'm not well acquainted with the owner. It consists of two properties, her home and an apartment complex. She also owns another business which she actually runs. I was told when I started this spring that she liked for things to look nice, "because it is a small town."

We, like many of you, are experiencing extremely hot and dry conditions. I normally mow both properties weekly, on Thursday. The first of last week, I got an email saying, "Obviously no mowing on any lawns this week. Thanks."

Well, I drove by the apartments day before yesterday, and one side was starting to get to where it needed mowing, in my opinion. Yesterday morning, I sent her an email asking what she wanted me to do this week. This morning, no reply. I had one other lawn in town that I skipped last week, so I called and he said to go ahead and mow, as it was getting pretty high in spots, which means I'm going to have to hook up and go into town anyway.

I try calling her business, but don't get an answer. I finally found her cell number, and called it, leaving a voicemail. I then left and went by and picked up my trimmer from the shop, and drove from there to her home, which is on the outskirts of town. There was a kid there who works for her cleaning out her garage, and I asked if she was around. He said that she was at the office. I told him I had tried to contact her but hadn't been able to, and he told me she had a meeting until about 9:00 this morning. (It was about 11:00 by then) He suggested I try the cell first, which I did, no answer. I called the office again, and some guy answered the phone. I asked if I might speak to J, and told him who I was, and why I was calling. He came back on in a few seconds and said she said for him to "take a message." I told him I just needed to see if she wanted me to mow or not, and he said she "about bit my head off and said to take a message." I left my cell number. The lawn at her home had maybe 500 sq. ft. that really needed mowed, and a few weeds here and there. I was going to ask if she wanted me to just tidy the place up and charge accordingly, or skip it altogether. I didn't mow, and went and mowed the other place the fellow had told me needed mowing.

When I left there, it was after 11:30, and still no returned call. I drove by the apartments again, intending to just go on home, but the lawn really looked tacky on about half of the property, so I decided to just go ahead and mow, rather than get home, then get a call telling me to do so.

Well, you guessed it. When I got done, there was a voicemail on my cell apologizing for not getting back with me sooner, but to just skip the mowing again this week. She also said she had sent an email. When I got to the house, her email says to "hold off on the mowing another week. It is getting overgrown in spots, but it is just too hot."

Okay. Should I send an email telling her I'm sorry, but I didn't receive her message until after I mowed the apartments, and in my judgment they needed to be done, and bill as usual? Should I do the same, but charge her a reduced amount (didn't have to mow all the property, maybe 3/4ths, plus trimming was minimal)? Or, should I just eat it and not charge her at all?

This is a decent account, and priced right, so they are profitable and losing the cost of one mowing is not a big deal for me. It also would not be the end of the world to lose the account, but I would prefer not to. What is your take on the subject? Thanks.
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Old 07-05-2012, 03:31 PM
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TriCountyLawn TriCountyLawn is offline
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PITA situation, In the end your the contractor who has to make a decision and some customers will skip and skip and skip. IMO Id cut a break on a partial mowing and explain that you will need notice otherwise you will use your discretion from here on out. Takes a while to build solid rapports with customers. Good Luck.
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Old 07-05-2012, 03:34 PM
herler herler is offline
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I hope certain folks can see now, when it comes to customers, it really isn't as easy as it looks.
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Old 07-05-2012, 03:58 PM
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MOturkey MOturkey is offline
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Thanks for the replies so far. I want to add, that I don't believe her desire to skip mowing is motivated primarily by money, but rather more because she is worried about damage to the lawn if it is mowed when it is too hot, which is a valid concern, but I don't think the lawn in question will be adversely effected because it is largely bermuda.
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Old 07-05-2012, 03:59 PM
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chesterlawn chesterlawn is offline
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I would email her and explain what happened and say, I cut the whole property, would 1/2 price be fine with you? She sounds like she may be a little hard to get along with until you get to know her better, so I would do it this way.
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Old 07-05-2012, 04:09 PM
Duekster Duekster is offline
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My first impression is money too and people get snappy when money is tight.

I would not even mention the mowing to your or bill her for it. She will see you mowed.

first a few questions

is it irrigated?
type of grass
is it fertilized and treated for weeds and by whom?

I would develop a general maintenance plan based on best practice as you know it.

I would go buy two flats of flowers and plant them at her house while she is at work. Leave a card on the door saying thank your your business.

I would then ask for a face to face meeting via e-mail and offer two time options, such a tuesday or thrusday. Morning or afternoon.

I would tell her how happy you are to have her business and hope your work is statisfactory, review her expections, then make suggestions. Then offer to create a proposal for full service based on your knowlegde and her expectation. I would offer flat monthly billing.

Basically tell her to let you use your judgement to provide the results she expects.

I forgot to say, you get the two businesses but do the home for free and it better look nice too, flowers, shrubs and all.

Last edited by Duekster; 07-05-2012 at 04:16 PM.
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Old 07-05-2012, 04:14 PM
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Ijustwantausername Ijustwantausername is offline
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I would just call/email her like you said and explain that at your discretion you made the call and mowed. She should have let you know something.

Unless I get told not to mow, I mow. I don't care what the grass looks like. I have to hook up the trailer, I have to get up early to beat the heat, I have to drive out there, and I have to waste gas. If I go anywhere I am mowing. I did some today that really didn't need it, but I wasn't told to not mow them.

If I don't mow I get creative and do something else on their property to make it worth everyone's time.

I would make it CRYSTAL CLEAR that you need X amount of days notice if the place(s) don't need mowing.
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Old 07-05-2012, 05:32 PM
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MOturkey MOturkey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duekster View Post
My first impression is money too and people get snappy when money is tight.

I would not even mention the mowing to your or bill her for it. She will see you mowed.

first a few questions

is it irrigated?
type of grass
is it fertilized and treated for weeds and by whom?

I would develop a general maintenance plan based on best practice as you know it.

I would go buy two flats of flowers and plant them at her house while she is at work. Leave a card on the door saying thank your your business.

I would then ask for a face to face meeting via e-mail and offer two time options, such a tuesday or thrusday. Morning or afternoon.

I would tell her how happy you are to have her business and hope your work is statisfactory, review her expections, then make suggestions. Then offer to create a proposal for full service based on your knowlegde and her expectation. I would offer flat monthly billing.

Basically tell her to let you use your judgement to provide the results she expects.

I forgot to say, you get the two businesses but do the home for free and it better look nice too, flowers, shrubs and all.
First to answer the questions, no irrigation, quite a few weeds, home primarily fescue, apartments primarily bermuda.

You've got some really great ideas, but I'm way too old to do that much ass-kissing for any customer, plus the home takes more time to mow than the apartments. Also, I am basically mowing only. She has a guy hired who apparently takes care of the maintenance at all her properties, including trimming shrubs, mulching beds, spraying herbicide, etc.
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Old 07-05-2012, 05:36 PM
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MOturkey MOturkey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ijustwantausername View Post
I would just call/email her like you said and explain that at your discretion you made the call and mowed. She should have let you know something.

Unless I get told not to mow, I mow. I don't care what the grass looks like. I have to hook up the trailer, I have to get up early to beat the heat, I have to drive out there, and I have to waste gas. If I go anywhere I am mowing. I did some today that really didn't need it, but I wasn't told to not mow them.

If I don't mow I get creative and do something else on their property to make it worth everyone's time.

I would make it CRYSTAL CLEAR that you need X amount of days notice if the place(s) don't need mowing.
I agree to a certain extent, but I will skip an account on my own accord, if I think it doesn't need mowing, even after driving there. However, in this case, I do feel it is largely her mistake, one, because she knows I mow on Thursday, so she should have notified me sooner, and, two, it wouldn't have taken her any longer to tell the guy I had on the phone to tell me not to mow, than it did to tell him to take a message. That pretty much ticked me off.
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Old 07-05-2012, 05:45 PM
Duekster Duekster is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MOturkey View Post
First to answer the questions, no irrigation, quite a few weeds, home primarily fescue, apartments primarily bermuda.

You've got some really great ideas, but I'm way too old to do that much ass-kissing for any customer, plus the home takes more time to mow than the apartments. Also, I am basically mowing only. She has a guy hired who apparently takes care of the maintenance at all her properties, including trimming shrubs, mulching beds, spraying herbicide, etc.
I thought you said the home yard was 500 sf.

I thought a little ass kissing would be a challege if you wanted to keep the property. Sounds like it could be a dog and the person dumped it on you for a reason?

Clearly the little ass-kissing could cost you all of $30.00 ( two flats of flowers and card) However, I would pretty quickly decide if I wanted to ass-kiss any more after the meeting.
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