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Being nice to customers, you lose $$?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by K.Carothers, Jan 28, 2006.

  1. K.Carothers

    K.Carothers LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,124

    I am going to approach my "new" customers differently this year. When I first started, I was extremely nice to customers. I would stop the mower when they came out, take time after the cut and talk or should I say listen to their life story week after week.
    I'm not talking about being mean or rude, but I think there's a difference between being friendly and being a friend while conducting business. Yes, customers want those warm fuzzys from us. Some will stay with us just for that reason as long as the job is getting done. But I am losing valuable time on jobs. At the same time, some customers take advantage of this friendship for those "free extras". I'm not talking about the occasional talk about life or like I did last year with a customer, I bought her ice cream from the neighborhood goody bar man. It was my last stop and she is a good customer so I cold off with my customer.

    What are your thoughts fellow LCO's?

  2. Trinity Lawn Care  LLC

    Trinity Lawn Care LLC LawnSite Senior Member
    from NJ
    Posts: 946

    I kind of agree with you. I know that I am horrible with this. I spend way to much time talking to my customers. Even some of my employees have said something to me. There is a fine line. We need to keep the good positive re pour, but not to the detriment of our company. If you spend 10 minutes talking to 6 different customers in a day then that is 1 hour of lost productivity. I hear you loud and clear.
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    I hear you, I learned that lesson in my first 2-3 years myself, and even last year I had a few gentle (and a few not so gentle) reminders.

    It used to never bother me, but now I can't STAND it when someone has to come out and talk for 5-10 (or 15-20) minutes every single dang time I come out, I find this highly frustrating anymore... But it happens a lot less than it used to, for one I no longer aim to be there when they're home... It's not that I go out of my way to avoid anyone, but I used to think if I showed up when they were home this would be better because I might get extra work and I would get paid ! Nowadays, I'm either too busy to worry about it or I plain don't care.

    Over time it got to that point I really started watching the clock, after I did enough work for 20 - 30 dollars / hour, it dawned on me that time wasting was costing me dollars by the minute. At a low hourly rate it's not so bad, but once I tasted 40 and then 50 dollars / hour, every second is worth at least a penny, you want to hand me a 20-dollar bill to cover the bs'ing? And I have been known to charge a little higher price for the bs as well, that one grew on me somehow to charge 5-10 bucks more when there was always the bs'ing.

    Then for some reason I lost some of those customers over the years and today am in a more aggressive environment. Just like yourself, it's not about being unfriendly, but it has gotten to where it is about getting the work done and moving on. Yup, just don't got time right now, gotta go, a lot of work, sorry... It got to where I realized getting home before dark was nice.

    One thing that has helped is over the years my customer base has grown, as has my hourly rate and a lot of my equipment is newer and better and I have more tools to work with, while my patience and tolerance towards some things has gone down and with that came along a demeanor that emits more of a no-nonsense attitude.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, it gets better with time, it really does.
  4. Royalslover

    Royalslover LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 382

    I can diagnose your guy's problems with four words; too many old people.
  5. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 14,700

    I handle it like this and it works for me. If they come out while I'm working the first thing that comes of my mouth is something along the lines of "I don't mean to be rude but Mrs. Smith down the block just spent 20 minutes telling me about her nephews gall bladder operation so I'm kinda in a hurry." Then I go on to tell them how busy I am and blah, blah, blah. Works almost every time. In fact it works so good that one elderly customer who used to drive me nuts every week now only comes out to chat once every couple of months now and I don't mind that because it makes her think that I really give a rat's behind about her nephew's bladder.
  6. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,922

    Someday you too will be old ....

    TURFLORD LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 834

    I agree with ALL of this, but being a good buisnessman means also being a good politician. A few sentences won't hurt. It's good to be a little familiar with your customers. They like to know a little about you too. You're not just selling your work, but yourself as well.
  8. godzilla

    godzilla LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 401

    If you have a crew going that doesn't depend on you to be there, then it's no big deal, BS as much as you want. That's how you get the referrals and other work. However if you need to be out there working on your own, or worse with your crew (not only are you losing money on yourself but them too when they sit) then you need to figure out a way to not BS all the time. Either go back at a different time and deal with them, or whatever.
  9. yardmanlee

    yardmanlee LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 898

    Agree's w/ turf lord I try to watch my time that I spend w/ them and those that are really chatty I do those at the end of the day or on non busy days
    and I also know their schedule by talking to them, so you can be there when
    they are not. and these people are the ones that usually send money at christmas and most of my referrals come from these people so what is 5 to 10
    minutes when it scores ya a few more customers !!!!
  10. Jpocket

    Jpocket LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,278

    I don't mind talking with 1or 2 Customers during the day or on a Saturday, because during the week noone is really home anyway, except for a few $$$ stay at home moms.

    I think talking to a few customers a day is a small price to pay, to gain some/ reinforce their loyalty. No matter how many customers we have, I want my customers to feel that I care about them, and value there business.

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