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Customer insulting employee

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Gnyus, Sep 7, 2005.

  1. Gnyus

    Gnyus LawnSite Member
    from Canada
    Posts: 33

    Hi guys
    Yesterday I was out on a small yard with one of my helper. Suddently, while I was picking some trash on the lawn I hear the customer get out of his car (he was parked in front of the house) and shout at my helper because he hit a small branch (about one inch in diameter) of his apple tree and a 2-3 apples fell off. The customer told my employee how he is a dickhead and how stupid he was for this small mistake.
    On the spot I didn't know how to react and I apologize for my employee's mistake.
    I have a very friendly relation with my employees and try to treat them as good as possible.
    This type of attitude isn't something I'm used to and my employee didn't feel right after the event. Also he is 16 year-old.Althought the customer clearly overreacted I'm thinking about dropping the customer.
    What would you guys do?
    The lawn takes 5 minutes with a 3 men crew in and out and brings me about 20 cad. I never had trouble getting paid too
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    I dunno, is the guy a drinker?

    That would be my first question, anytime someone acts wickedly out of whack I wonder if they drink or do drugs... It COULD also be a wild hair, like if you've had this guy for a LONG time and like once in two years they geek out on you, that's not entirely abnormal. If, on the other hand, this is a first-year customer, I might give him a second chance but he's treading a THIN line and one more problem out of him for the next 6 or 12 months and it's over.
    I don't blame you for wanting to drop him, do yourself a favor and at LEAST keep that thought in your mind if you decide to keep him... Should it be a one-time thing then it won't happen again for a looong time, but if it isn't then another problem will surface soon and if it does, it's over... That's if you don't drop him right now.

    A good one at this point if you haven't figured it out is to leave the decision up in the air for a bit, you got some time until it needs cutting again, right? Well, just put it on the back burner and see how you feel the day you're supposed to cut it next time, sometimes the decision comes to me while I wait, sometimes it comes to me as I'm turning the last corner, sometimes they do something in that time helps ease OR worsens the turbulence and that firms the decision, so to speak.
  3. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,496

    I agree...this is irrational way out of line. You could perhaps apologize to your employee for your CUSTOMER'S behavior, and that will go a long way with this employee. Some people are just like that...explain that to this kid. You are just going to run into that. There is always more horse's asses in this world than there are horses.
  4. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,758

    I agree with Runner, NO ONE should be talked to like this. I would drop him like a bad habit even if it was my only or last yard. I refuse to put up with people like this, I have no more patience for them nor do I want any like him.
  5. gqnine44

    gqnine44 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 501

    Almost the same thing happened to me this spring. The Customer's husband came running out of the house calling one of my guys "stupid" for getting stuck in the mud. It was the nuttiest display of human behavior I have ever seen. I quickly went over and told him to "calm down" with a "your crazy dude" look on my face. I told the guy later that he was out of line and he gave a half-hearted apology. I had pretty much decided to drop the client when all of sudden I start getting referals like crazy from this dude's wife. I have easily gained another 5k this year from referalls from these people. So I am glad I didnt drop them.
  6. Gnyus

    Gnyus LawnSite Member
    from Canada
    Posts: 33

    I apologized to my employee for the customer's behaviour and told him that if anything similar happens he must come to see me and we'll sort a way to get the customer to apologize or I will drop the customer. There is no excuse to talk like that to anyone.

    I decided to keep the customer because I've been mowing his lawn for the past 4 years and it is pretty good money.
  7. hole in one lco

    hole in one lco LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,793

    if it was me id packed it up and left.............................. he has no respect for you or your business. I dont care how much money you got respect is what counts
  8. stumper1620

    stumper1620 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,889

    that is a good way to handle it, What is your guys opinion? if he is a good kid, his opinion should mean a lot to you, I would tell the customer alone that one more time of going after my employee and we will pack and leave without finishing anything we have started. and he will be billed for the stop.
    If he takes that bad then let him go.
    tell the guy if he has a problem with one of your guys he is to talk to you and you only, employees are my business to correct if correcting is required.
  9. Bulletproof

    Bulletproof LawnSite Member
    Posts: 156

    Had roughly an equivalent situation happen a few weeks ago. One of our guys blundered, I overlooked it, and the customer freaked. Absolutely went ape-schitt. I told him that I don't talk to my employees like that and neither will our customers. Nice doing business for you. And the lawn was very profitable. We don't need BS on the job, regardless of pay. :)
  10. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Posts: 4,900

    Where was the branch and what did he hit it with??? This does not make sense, branches are in a tree so did he hit the branch with his head or did he hit the tree itself.

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