How To Provide Good Customer Service To This Situation

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by mcw615, Dec 10, 2009.

  1. mcw615

    mcw615 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 473

    I have a customer, I know he is not a cheapskate - his lawn is $30 to mow a week and we also fert/squirt aerate/overseed his lawn. He hired us to mow his mothers house weekly and add it to his bill which is $50 a mow.

    We charge $12 to show up then $60/man hr from the time truck hits park to the truck his back in drive.

    In November we only did 2 leaf removals at his mothers, and mowed and trimmed on both times. The first removal I spent 3 hours by myself and charged $120 for the work and $22 to haul a whole long bed truck of leaves that were mulched down very fine and then bagged. 3 weeks later we visited and charged $95 for mow and leaf removal 1.5 hour of work. Total for leaves and mowings for that one property of November was $239.

    He called the day after he got the bill and said I think you put someone else's leaf charge on my account because I don't have any leaves here - meaning his own house -- I told him it was for his mothers property. He said, I thought I signed up for mowing, trimming and the lawn care treatments at my house and just the mowing at my mothers? I told him the first removal was a pretty heavy leaf removal and as long as we have been in business all customers want us to pick up the leaves as long as we charge reasonably, so we tell all new customers in the fall leaves are extra and we just go ahead and do them, if they wish not to have this then please write, call or email us. I told him I was on the road and will call him when I get back to the office to try and work something out with him.

    Im frustrated but at the same time can understand because this time of year people budget very well because of christmas and he probably didn't expect to have a leaf removal invoice come in.

    What's your opinion of how I should settle up with him? I plan to call him back and say Mr. XXXXXX I apologize I should have called you when we got to your mother's house to let you know there are a lot of leaves and it's going to be a rough estimate of $XXX.00 is it okay for us to go ahead and do it? I'm just aggravated because I would really understand his shock if we mowed it each week on top of $150 for extra leaf work, on average his mother's bill he pays each month during regular growing season is $250... and the leaves have to be picked up and we charged $239 for 2 mowings, a lot of leaves, and hauling them and disposing.

    But I don't want to loose especially after I gave him a 30% break on the leaf work already but I do see where I was wrong and assumed to go ahead and do the leaves - never had any problems or questions with any other customers -- usually people thank me for going ahead and taking care of the leaves and that it saved them time from having to call and schedule a removal.

    I'm thinking at minimum negotiate with him for $100 as the base for the 2 visits for mowings but.... ughhh still loosing $139 plus giving him a $80 break....??????????????
     
  2. Lawn-Scapes

    Lawn-Scapes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,810

    It seems as though you already know your mistake and what you need to do/say to resolve it. You cannot make assumptions... apologize and move on.
     
  3. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,610

    Ask the customer. "Sir, I made a mistake by .................of course, your business means alot to me. What can we do to resolve the situation?" Leave it up to him.
     
  4. LouisianaLawnboy

    LouisianaLawnboy LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,199

    You shouldn't have done additional work that requires more money period. What if u went to get a carwash and instead of 20.00 they charged u 100.00 for a deluxe package bcz everybody does at this time of year.
    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,654

    I would have to agree that one can not simply take on large jobs, or jobs involving
    much over 5 or 10 dollars without first gaining the customer's approval.
     
  6. mowerbrad

    mowerbrad LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,273

    Apologize to the customer for not talking with him about the leaf removal first. It sounds like you already know you made a mistake and realize that you have to right the situation some how. I would try and reason with the customer, at least see if he would be willing to pay part of the leaf bill. I would tell him that since you made a mistake, you would like to cut his bill in half. That way you could at least get some money for your work.
     
  7. hackitdown

    hackitdown LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,490

    If I were the customer, and I got a cleanup bill for a job that I did not ask for, review, or approve, I would not pay. Some of my competitors do what you did, then argue all day about how the customer owes them the money. I just don't get it, but I guess a lot of customers just pay the bill.

    However, you gave him a very fair price for the work.
     
  8. I think you need to take a hit on this and not charge. You didn't gain approval for a sizeable amount of additional work and if I were him, I wouldn't want to pay for work that I didn't agree to. Chuck it up as a lesson and move on. If this guy is a good customer and you right this with him, he will remember it and more than likely give you additional work in the future and may even pay you for the whole thing once you tell him to forget about it. That is my .02
     
  9. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,403

    It sucks, I know. All the moreso when you do the work yourself. But you really didn't have a "meeting of the minds" on this and especially when doing bigger jobs (comparetively) you need to get it in writing (even on a quote form that isn't a contract) so everyone is sure they're on the same page.

    I have a customer I do nearly $1000/month worth of work for and even then on one of his properties I asked if he wanted the shrubs done before I did them, offhandedly, assuming he would. Turns out he didn't, as it was a place he only managed, didn't own. So even $50 or so is worth asking first on unless you really do have a "do what you think and send me the bill" arrangement with someone you trust.

    Funny thing is, I've had just TWO situations like this I can remember over the years. And both of them, coincidentially, balked at paying a whopping SEVEN DOLLARS extra for leaf cleanup time in excess of the time spent to mow on a visit. I canned both of the knuckleheads, as they were already getting a steal. And MY policy on leaf cleanup had been explictly on their quote. They just didn't bother to read it. Now I send a LETTER each fall to new customers telling them how I do it, and if they want they can opt out and I will just mow through any leaves and ignore the rest. Nobody has ever opted out except one lady with a total POS lawn who pays well otherwise. People just don't like surprises.
     
  10. N.TX

    N.TX LawnSite Senior Member
    from TEXAS
    Posts: 473

    I always try and see what program the customer wants to be on when I start. I try and make it very clear that leaves are by the hour too. I would reason with him and let him know you made an honest mistake but remind him you did to a fairly extensive job and see if you could at least get half the payment to cover your costs. If he still argues well then just take the loss and keep the customer. If you do anything extra for him tack on an extra 5 or 10 bucks where you can for a while to make up for it. I have had customers that will pitch a fit about what I charge them for one thing but will pay anything you want to charge on another. I just try to treat them fair and if I know I got ripped on one thing I will make it up on another and I keep the customer happy at the same time.
     

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