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Got rid of a customer

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Remsen1, Jun 28, 2004.

  1. Remsen1

    Remsen1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,020

    Well, It isn't confirmed yet, but I may have gotten rid of my worst customer without even trying. She's the kind of customer that doesn't want anything done until it looks terrible. 2-3 weekl mows "as short as you can get it", snow removal "after I can't drive through it anymore". As a result of these work conditions she has been paying the same as my regular maintenance customers, but instead of having a nice looking lawn, it's burnt stubble and instead of a spotless driveway in the winter she has to slip and slide until its finally bad enough that she has no choice but to call me. I have tried telling her many times that her property could be in much better shape for the same money if she would agree to regular maintenance.

    Well, I don't expect her to call me again. Here's the story. A few weeks ago while I was trimming, she stopped me and asked if I could fix her phone line. Somebody had done some work for her and broke the line that goes from the box into the house. I spliced it and told her that it wasn't a permanent fix and asked her if she'd like me to fix it the right way at a later date. She said she would get back to me. A couple weeks later she asked me to fix it. To eliminate the splice I had to crawl under her house locate some slack in the line and wire it directly to the box. I was done in 1.5 hours. Then I cut her grass and trimmed for our agreed price. I charged her $30 for fixing the phone line and she got really upset when she saw the bill. As she hands me the check she shoves my estimate for some future services back at me and she complains about the price of fixing her phone. She says, "It takes me two days to make that much money", I think, "yah right, it doesn't take two days for anybody to make $30" but I say "I'm sorry, but I make $30 per hour for my time + more if I use machinery, I should have charged $45". Then she says, "You charge too much for around here, that is why you don't have very many customers here, most of us make social security and that's it", and I say "I'm not trying to be busy, I'm trying to run a profitable business." She says "If I knew it was going to be that much I would have had my son do it." I think to myself "Lazy SOB should have done it for you, for free, 3 weeks ago." She continues "The phone company would've charged only $10 more." I say "Then didn't I save you $10? I'm sorry that you're not satisfied with the price. Thank you for your business." I leave. I was boiling, but later I began to realize that I have been wanting to get rid of her cause she was far from the ideal customer. No extras, not interested in having a nicely maintained propery, poor working conditions, always focused on cheap price, poor representation of my work.

    My mistake was that I should have told her the price that she could expect to pay then she could have menally prepared herself or opt out, but what was she really expecting to pay if $30 was so upsetting? $5? $10? $20? Sorry, I don't take an hour and a half from my family for peanuts.
  2. RedWingsDet

    RedWingsDet LawnSite Gold Member
    from Detroit
    Posts: 3,556

    thats nuts, if i had a customer like that i would drop them ASAP!
  3. Expert Lawns

    Expert Lawns LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,660

    i gues i don't know why you were fixing her phone line in the first place?? aren't you running a lawn care company?

    when it comes down to it, i guess it's better that it happened. i got rid of a customer like that and it almost made my whole week go by better
  4. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,137

    My 2 cents (and no offense):

    I wouldn't have a customer like that, period. She wouldn't last long enough to be a pita customer. There is too much work out there to waste your time fooling around with cheap, angry, pita's. Some of the things you say she wants, with the mowing, snow, etc, I wouldn't even consider.

    I am always amazed at some of these stories and how long the pita's get to stick around and be pita's. I've had my share of pita people in the past, sure, but it didn't take me long to realize they aren't worth my time, and sure as hell aren't profitable. Any that I take on now, are gone fast. It's my business, and I want to work for nice people who are willing to pay appropriately for my services, and appreciate my work after.

    Good luck.
  5. Woody82986

    Woody82986 LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,128

    I sometimes run into PITA clients that I decide quickly to either sell them on a total service package or drop them and devote the time I save to advertising and finding replacements more suitable to being on my schedule.
  6. Green Pastures

    Green Pastures LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,457

  7. impactlandscaping

    impactlandscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,332

    Not to be a wiseazz or anything, but shouldn't the guy who broke the phone line or the phone co., have fixed the phone line? Whenever I get an off the wall request from a new client(our regular clients know we don't do stuff like that), I am more than happy to refer them to someone else who will. On one occassion, a lady wanted my brother to move furniture for her after they were done mowing, and I wasn't there. He didn't do it,thankfully, and the lady called me bitc*ing about it. I told her we are a full service landscape and lawn service company, not a "handyman" service. She was so mad, she didn't want us to finish the mowing season. Oh well, sorry to be you, I guess. She even had the nerve to call for leaf cleanup in the fall....:eek:
  8. Remsen1

    Remsen1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,020

    No offense taken, I appreciate the feedback.

    I feel better now that she is gone. I kept her on cause up until now, even though she was a PITA, she was nice and appreciated me, always paid on time, and wasn't hard to please cause she wasn't picky. I kinda felt sorry for her cause I knew she didn't have alot of money and she is located within walking distance of a few other customers.

    The guy who broke it was not owning up to it and said he would charge $90 just to come back. I'm going to try to stay away from the handyman stuff or at the very least make the price range known up front .

    The part that I didn't like was that I didn't like being seen on the property cause it never looked as good as it could high grass, then scalped grass, lumpy rutted up driveway in the winter, just stunk overall. I won't have to be associated with it any more. So it is a major plus.

    I have been trying to focus on getting customers who want emaculate properties and are willing to pay acceptable prices. I don't want to be the "lawn butcher" who chops and goes. I want to be the guy who comes reliably and makes the yard the envy of the neighborhood. She was the only customer that I had who didn't care what it looked like, and I will look out for these in the future for sure.
  9. impactlandscaping

    impactlandscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,332

    You're heading in the proper direction!!Good luck.
  10. DennisF

    DennisF LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Florida
    Posts: 1,381

    I've had customers that fit that description. I do my very best to satisfy them, but when they begin to complain about prices or the way I run my business...I tell them good-bye. If I go out of my way to please a customer and that customer is not happy, I won't waste their time or mine any longer. I won't let a PITA customer soil my business reputation or waste valuable time that I would be using to make money elsewhere. I tell them "Seek competitive bids from other lawn care companies, because I will not be back".

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