for guys w/ over 200 + accounts

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by JML, Jul 1, 2002.

  1. JML

    JML LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 415

    This is our first year with over 250 accounts. We seem to get a few complaints daily. I know my guys do a very good job, I work with them, sneek up and watch them work, check out there work when they are done, I can safely say they do an excellent job. An our prices really can't be beat, because on most of our routes we have at least 2 to 3 houses on the same block. I really get aggravated hearing people complain when they have no reason to. I was just wondering what some you medium sized firms to do keep customer complaints down, and make sure customers are satisfied.
     
  2. rvsuper

    rvsuper Senior Member
    Posts: 930

    Do it how they like it. I found that's the way to keep complaints down for me anyways. I find that older people have more of a tendacy to complain then others.
     
  3. robert payer

    robert payer LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 282

    I do NOT have 200 plus accounts, but I do have some advice. Tell your customers that you hand pick all employee's, they are only the best people. (But do so) Tell the customer that they must trust these individuals are doing their best. Things will be missed on ocassions. They are not buying your staff. They are buying you and your experience, work ethic and managment.

    Sounds like less than 1% Complaints that you are receiving.
    Try to correct problems but remember do not sweat the small stuff. 1% is very good.

    Champion forward! Keep pushing! See you at the top!
     
  4. Dennis E.

    Dennis E. LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 349

    Service each property as if it were your own.
    I'm not 200+ (yet) but thats the attitude I go in with. Commercial/ Residential: same attitude. Seems to keep complaints to a bare minimum.
     
  5. Kent Lawns

    Kent Lawns LawnSite Senior Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 870

    4 Step process:

    1.) Hire, train for excellence. (sounds like you've done that.)
    2.) Survey customers always to determine exactly what "scratches them where they itch."
    3.) Communicate to the specific employee what specifically needs to be done. (you'll need s good software program for this: one that itemizes specific instructions on each customers property.
    4.) Follow-thru and survey again.

    Quality customer care is an ongoing process.

    One more note: treat EVERY customer call (good, bad or otherwise) as an opportunity.
     
  6. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,360

    From a management standpoint, try to see if there is any common thread to the complaints. It may end up being something very small that could be corrected to make a huge difference.
     
  7. This has been the same with me, but we solved most of those calls by telling the guys and writing it on the route sheets for specific old folk instructions. Now It is written in english and spanish. I only have a few cronic complainers left, but I charge them for it.
     
  8. bart may

    bart may LawnSite Senior Member
    from montana
    Posts: 273

    I'm in the same situation. I only have a few complaints but that just eats me up to know that someone isn't happy. I've found that communication is the key. I can tell when the customer comes out and looks around if there is something bothering them. I immediatly shut the mower off and in a friendly way ask them how things are looking 90% of the time they'll let you know the little thing thats bothering them and you can address it. I then tell them to please let me know anytime if they are bothered by something. This has worked great for me because they become comfortable with you and generaly become more forgiving because they realize that you actually care. You must find one person on your crew who has this ability or you will continue to get the calls. I'm still struggling though with this whole "growth thing" also. good luck
     
  9. bubble boy

    bubble boy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,020

    i used to think that way, but it just got to be too much. i have now accepted the fact that some people will never be happy, and i don't let it bother me. i try to teach the guys to do a good job, and i tell them to always do their best. but you cant please everyone.

    i find sometimes not communicating is the best indicator. that is, as long as a customer isn't calling, i assume he or she is happy.

    if you know that your crews are good, i would bet it is just customers with nothing else to do but bother you. gotta love em:rolleyes:
     
  10. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,403

    I don't have 200 accounts, but I have 10 years experience with about 40-50 accounts. I have received a total of 4 complaints in 10 years doing the work myself or at least being on-site when the work is done. So, it may well be that they are making small mistakes. There are always people who are never satisfied, but it will be harder as you grow bigger to make sure the work is done perfectly. I had 40 employees at a previous business and they were great, but I did handle 3 or 4 complaints a day, at least. Employees screw up.

    If you average, say, 2.5 complaints a day with 250 accounts, theoretically you are ticking off 1% of your customer base every day. In 5 months of work, you'll have run through all of them, losing many as customers, no doubt.

    I would make sure to try to personally check out each complaint on-site to reassure the customer and also find out if they're genuine. If they are, you may need to start some sort of program to hold the crews responsible financially for complaints. If they're not genuine, well, you'll just have to hope for the best, I guess. This is a tough problem that goes along hand in hand with growth. I know I can do a near-perfect job every time, but with employees......no way. they don't have the incentive you have. They screw up and lose a $7-$12/hour job, big deal. You have a much bigger investment.

    On paper, I can have another 40 employees and make lots more money. The modern reality is different. The "friction" of growth is severe in this business due to the low wages and current work ethic, plus the availability of options inherent in a welfare state. Maybe one day when we get a grip on the immigration situation and wages go up again to levels where employees have "something to lose" by messing up, quality will improve. (Not to say your employees dont' do a good job). When a person can make it a career position at a nice wage, you'll see more professionalism, investment by owners in training, and better results. Right now it's a revolving door of applicants seeking temporary work for the moment.

    Just an aside: If you need a quick example of the affect of immigration on wage rates for semi-skilled work, Meat packers made the equivilent of $30/hour in the 60's (in today's dollars) Today these jobs pay minimum wage or slightly more in unsafe conditions staffed by desperate immigrant workers who have to shut up about conditions or lose their jobs. Hardly a career position. (example is from "the case against immigration" by Roy Howard Beck)
     

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