Controlling customer expectations...

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by DeepGreenLawn, Oct 8, 2008.

  1. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,372

    OK, I just lost a customer who was not happy with his weeds...

    first of all, he hardly had any and it took very close and particular scouring of the property to find anything... so I almost am not too concerned to lose him although he seemed to be a REALLY nice guy...

    He called me a week or so ago and said he had weeds and the amount was unacceptible... I go out and like I said it was actually difficult to find the colprits... I found a few winter weeds and some VERY low ground cover type weeds, unsure of the name but from looking at them I new it would be hard to control, kind of like creeping charlie but matted up and flat on the ground...

    So I apply the chemicals I had to attempt control and let him know that they were treated and we would be back for a check up on them...

    He calls today and says that most of the weeds died but not all and he was not happy, therefore he was terminating the service...

    OK... is all I said... maybe we can be of assistance next time...

    HE EVEN STATED that he understood that the lack of rain and all was probably a contributing factor... so I didn't know what to say...

    My question is how do you control peoples expectations when they don't have a sprinkler system, and we don't get any rain, we are still in a severe drought, raining today for the first time in WEEKS...

    I don't know what else I could tell the guy... he understood the issue with the rain, he had VERY limited weeds, just a few problem areas where the grass was already thinner such as near trees and such... and the lawn itself was in great condition...

    Maybe he is just one that can't be pleased... I want to make sure I don't have this happen again though if at all possible...
  2. JDUtah

    JDUtah LawnSite Silver Member
    from UT
    Posts: 2,636

    Sounds like to me he doesn't want to admit the real issue. (maybe lack of money) Being "REALLY nice" sometimes comes from lack of self confidence. Not saying I know, that's just what it sounds like to me.

    If I remember right most your customers are saying thier lawn has never looked better? I wouldn't worry about him. Wish him well and mention that if he ever wants to rehire you he is welcome to. (unless you don't want to work for him)
  3. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,372

    Thats what I told him... He started out stammering and all... I don't be rude or anything or push them to let me keep working for them, especially with the economy the way it is... I take it real easy on the guys, keep it the least uncomfortable as possible...

    I say I apologize for the situation, that if he wouldn't mind telling me what the problem was that is causing him to cancel so I will be able to solve the issue and keep the same thing from happening to my other customers... he stammered some more and said that the weeds were the issue... nothing else, and his lawn looked great the last I was there with VERY minimal weeds... he said that the weeds were why he got rid of the last guy and that he really needed the weeds gone... again, there were VERY few weeds and he said himself that most had died but a few had not died yet... the first time he called I was out the next day taking care of weeds and even walked his beds, which I don't treat normally, and either sprayed or pulled all the weeds.

    I don't see where he has a case, I just let it slide... told him that if he would like to give us an opportunity again in the future I would love to have him as a customer and that was that...

    Oh well... I just wanted to know what you guys do to help control the customers expectations... no rain and not being allowed to use sprinkler systems makes things hard enough to keep lawns nice and we all know weeds don't get the effect needed if they aren't getting the nutrients and water they need causing them to go dormant which means they don't take in the chem...

    What processes do you go to to get people to understand with out overwhelming them with info?
  4. cpel2004

    cpel2004 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,416

    I would agree, sound like he wasn't man enough to admit what the real issue is. It happens, just move on and next season send him a "We want you back letters."

    To answer your question we provide all of our customers a "Customer Expectation" sheet. It explains the basic principles of having a healthy lawn. We don't guarantee a 100% weed free lawn, that would be would be in possible.
  5. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,911

    sounds like an divorce sale in the works, or maybe a lay off, we have had one or 2 drop off, it happens, go get his neighbors, we had one customer get us 3 accounts in the block then one day calls and says she can not do it any more, she is out of cash. Itold her to get me some more of the block to sign up and I would do hers for free, its 8 in a row now, one free be for a while but eh , I got the whole block and she is happy and a valued customer for her honesty. some folks just don't want the help that can come there way by being honest

    one down and 250.000 to go..............
  6. cudaclan

    cudaclan LawnSite Member
    from Zone 5
    Posts: 152

    I agree, it is a $ issue. Do you expect the customer to state otherwise? It's not your service or quality, it's the economy.
  7. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,372

    I have actually had quite a few customers who cancelled admit that it was either they lost their job or something to do with the economy, that my service was not a factor. I have thought about offering the free service for added customers but am not sure as to how to go about this with out it looking like a handout or a put down on with their pride...

    We have done A LOT of door to door advertising this fall and quite a few people straight up told us that they couldn't afford it due to them being out of a job... and their yards showed it too... kind of feel bad for the people... I especially hate seeing homes for sale that you know are being forclosed on... quite a few neighbors of customers have homes for sale that are on the brink of foreclosure...

    Times are bad...

    DUSTYCEDAR LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Posts: 5,137

    HOUSE acrost the street just sold guy bought it and hasent made his first payment and got laid off last week
  9. TMGL&L

    TMGL&L LawnSite Member
    Posts: 243

    Have you seen him mowing the lawn himself? Are their commercial mower tracks or stripes?

    I'm sure money is the culprit, but their could be others too.

    Did he hire a 13 year old to do it a family member or friend? I have ppl who think that b/c their properties might like great for like a year or two that my job is easy for anyone to do.......Like a 13 year old neighbor who uses the homeowner's mower from their garage and mows too low and with dull blades for like 15 bucks a pop...then uses scotts fert 4 steps a year....:dizzy:

    just a thought

    I must say though, stammering and complete lack of confidence sounds like a complete lack of money in the wallet.

    ...I hope you got paid for your last services.
  10. TMGL&L

    TMGL&L LawnSite Member
    Posts: 243

    By the way Treegal that lady's lawn and the pass-alongs is brilliant.

    I'll rem that trick forever

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