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Horrible Clean up today

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by tiedeman, Nov 8, 2005.

  1. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Posts: 8,745

    Man, this whole week, and it's only Tuesday, has been bad luck. Today was the topper. I bid out a fall clean up last week for $216. I thought that it would take me about 2 hrs. Well, lets say that the leaves were a lot wetter and thicker than previous estimated. To make matters worse a lot of the neighbors leaves blew over in their property. Usually when leaves are that thick I mulch them first, then throw on the bagger and bag then. So at about 3 hours, I realized that it was a lost cause. There was so much leaves I just kept on bagging and bagging and bagging. I approached the customer, told him that it would be impossible to to get everything since there are so much leaves, and how mulched they are. I apologized to him, gave him a price break, he would only have to pay $150, and cut my losses. I figured that I would be there for at least another 2 hours. Better to cut out, give a discount, instead of doing a 5 hr job for $216.

    He understood and actually didn't want me to give him a break. But I told him no, I didn't feel right because I was not happy with the job that I did. He then asked me if I would take care of his leaves next year for him, and do a fertilization & spring clean up for him in the spring. But he said, next year we will do multiple clean ups instead of one.

    So maybe I didn't totally lose out.
  2. ProLawns

    ProLawns LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 476

    A wise man once said, "give, and it shall be given unto you".
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Don't feel bad... Yes I think you did the right thing and no I don't think you lost out because:

    There are two types of customers, ones you can trust and ones you can not trust. The basic difference becomes ruefully obvious in your example, you accidentally left your back door WIDE open and look here, your customer didn't take advantage of you, that to me is a rare quality worth hanging onto... It has been my experience MOST folk will not and are not considerate towards my back door, if I leave it open some will walk right in and take me for a ride, but your customer did not do this (and for the most part, neither do any of mine nowadays). At the same rate, I find when I leave my back door wide open, that is test time for my customer - If they take advantage of me, even one time, that's bad for the relationship, and the reverse is true as it builds or destroys trust almost instantly. I've even left my back door open on purpose before, just to SEE if someone would jump at the opportunity (usually in a small way, and to confirm a suspicion) and WHEN or IF they do, it is a sign of doom coming further down the road and it's time to leave for better waters - Folks who take you for granted and take you for a ride are a dime a dozen, you want the honest folk and they are hard to find so I think you found yourself a rare gem.

    It took me a long time to learn that it is really ALL about the back door being left open, it doesn't matter who's fault it is or whether the back door is for real or imaginary, both YOU and your customers should respect each other and no offense but remember this bit should there come a time when YOU can take advantage of one of YOUR customers when THEY leave their back door open, it can be hard to resist the temptation but resisting is what it's all about, it really pays to be honest.

    It's crazy but I think you made out, not so much in money but you found yourself someone good (unless there is something I am missing).

    p.s.: Leaves always can take HALF as long or TWICE as long as I thought... Every year this is my problem with leaves but it's only the beginning, they're just now coming down as if they mean it.
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Here's another bit when it comes right down to it:

    As far as I know, ALL of my customers right now are really honest people. We ALL make mistakes but the difference is honest people make honest mistakes, while dishonest people CLAIM it was a mistake when they know d@mn well it was NO mistake when they planned or realized they saw the opportunity AND took it ! It can be hard to tell the difference, but like in the above example had the guy NOT been so reasonable then that would've been a clue this MIGHT be one of those who just don't care about you...

    Now me, I'm anal about paperwork and getting paid. SO anal in fact I can claim a non-paid issue of less than 1 percent for the year, but anality comes at a price... There are times I get sick and TIRED of keeping track of who paid and who didn't and times like that I can go for a month or longer without worrying at all who paid AND I am not keeping track of it (well I kinda do it's just I'm tired of the effin paperwork all the time)... So it is during times like these when not only do I NEED my customers to be honest but I realize how good I got it when one of them walks up to me one day and hands me a check...
    I'm scratching my head and ask them 'what is this for?'
    And they tell me 'oh I forgot to pay you 3 weeks ago...'

    Now THAT'S what I'm talking about, I can't even REMEMBER them not paying and they're so good to me, that is the ONLY customer I want because I trust they will not take advantage of me on purpose... If it happens by mistake AND we BOTH forget they never paid, I think I can handle that... Because for the most part, honest people do right at least 9 out of 10 times... Not to say honest folk don't make mistakes but it's a BIG difference when compared to the ones just WAITING to see your back door open, it sure is.

    I suspect there are SOME folk out there who don't even SEE the back door openings... Those would be even higher in my book than those who are able to resist it, but if I can see the back door openings, I don't really got no more room to talk other than to say Don't walk through it.
  5. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Posts: 8,745

    good points
  6. cantoo

    cantoo LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,910

    I don't quite understand this. Did you not finish the cleanup or do you mean you are going back later and will finish up for another charge? A few years ago we took on a property that looked pretty big but when the leaves really fell it was just unbelievable. It is a small seasonal trailer park and the property is about 3 acres with trees everywhere. We kind of expected (hoped) some of the leaves to blow away but in fact they stayed and were joined by millions more from the neighbour's trees. The leaves were about two feet thick on the entire property. We couldn't even do anything with the Walker. Luckily because it was a trailer park we could drive everywhere so we just vacuumed the whole property with the leaf loader. I can't remember exactly how many loads we hauled away but it was at least 15. We were dumping them at a friend's farm a mile away. It took 15 minutes for a round trip to dump and about 15 minutes to reload the truck. It was one of those jobs were you knew if you stopped for a second you would never start again. My wife, myself and our 3 young kids did the job one afternoon and into the dark that night. The client was so happy with the job that she gave us a big bonus that made the job reasonable in the end. We learned a few lessons that day.
  7. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Posts: 8,745

    nope, basically did not finish the clean up as was quoted. I quoted them as bagging and hauling everything away, but all I ended up doing was mulching them. To be honest with you, I was really embarassed at the situation
  8. o-so-n-so

    o-so-n-so LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Alabama
    Posts: 1,218

    If nothing broke and no one got hurt.....consider it a good day. You can make up the $$$ down the road. Glad it worked out with the customer...honesty goes a long way in this business.

    I was doing a leaf clean up today...everything going well....first round mulching with the W/B while my helper is bagging with the lazer. (large property) I finish and pull the W/B on the trailer, remove the Pro One sulky and noticed that I (fatso) have been running with a chewed up outter bearing on my sulky wheel. Now I got to get a new wheel.........not the end of time but it will slow down progress tomorrow.

    :D good luck
  9. Guthrie&Co

    Guthrie&Co LawnSite Senior Member
    from nc
    Posts: 784

  10. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,758

    216 for 5 hours here would be fantastic pay! How do you folks do it? I gotta get out of Pierce County!

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