"It doesn't need mowing this week"

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by PTP, Apr 25, 2009.

  1. PTP

    PTP LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tulsa
    Posts: 1,383

    Normally, when a customer says that, they are just being cheap. And when a biweekly customer says that, they are one step from being canceled.

    Last week, I had a biweekly customer say that and so I skipped them. I mowed the lawn across the street a couple of days ago and glanced over expecting to see an overgrown mess that I would be expected to clean up but she was right, there was no growth. In fact, her lawn wasn't even green.

    I mentioned that to my wife this evening and she told me that when the customer called, she had said that her grandson had sprayed weed killer on the lawn and that was why it wasn't growing.

    I suspect he used Round-up. It did, however, kill all of the weeds.

    GOOSEHANSON LawnSite Member
    Posts: 84

    I guess that is one way to get out of getting there lawn mowed...doesn't sound like a good customer anyways..
  3. Big Bad Bob

    Big Bad Bob LawnSite Bronze Member
    from zone 5
    Posts: 1,074

    I was going to say to sell her on fert but with what you said about her grandson, I'd say drop her.
    I had a lady who has me mow from time to time when her mower won't start who was complaining a couple of years ago that her lawn was dying. She wanted me to diagnose the problem. Now her lawn seemed to be very sporadic and I normally wouldn't do a lawn such as hers but she paid very well when we did mow it.
    I looked at her lawn and she said she had spread 25 lbs of seed this year and it just wouldn't grow. I took a soil sample to the Dept of Ag extension. I got the report and the first thing the officer asked was, "what are you or have you been doing on this land? What are you trying to grow?" I told him it was a lawn. The report showed a saturation of nitrogen.
    It seems that in the spring her son fertilized because he didn't think it was greening up enough. Then the next week he did it again. His thought was that if 50 lbs of fert was recommended and would help the lawn, than 150 lbs would work 3 times as well. She asked what to do about the problem. I told her that if she could afford it that in between rains,(we got a lot of rain last year) she should saturate her lawn every day and it should leach out the nitrogen. At least that's what the Dept of Ag suggested. We retested the lawn in the fall and found all the levels and the ph were fine except it needed some bone meal. We reseeded for her at a high cost. Went back this spring and the new grass was brown. Talked to her and she said her son said we didn't know what we were talking about, even though we got grass to grow where it hadn't been able to establish itself for 2 years, and he spread fert twice late in the fall and twice already this spring. :dizzy: Dropped her and will not answer her calls again.
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Yeah, I tell ya...

    Now you got two kinds of customers, I get them, too...
    One is the kind who knows what's going on and it's pull up, do the job, leave a bill, get paid, see ya later.
    The other...
    Is the kind who knows just enough about lawn care to be dangerous :p
    I guess you could say they are their own worst enemy, or at least the lawn's.

    This is something I'd like to see addressed, I find this type of customer frustrating sometimes to the extreme,
    if for no other reason than they're always working against my own efforts.
    They later blame me, themselves, or external circumstances for the eventual outcome, but that's another story.

    And excuse me for saying it, but dropping them is the quick and easy, but wrong answer.
    Unfortunately I don't know the right answer, either.

    So how do we deal with these folks, successfully?
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2009
  5. Think Green

    Think Green LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,746

    Funny you should mention a customer like this, because back last Spring, I obtained a customer across the way from our office. She had a 1/3 acre lawn in a cul-de-sac and told us to mow once a week and she quoted--"Keep it mowed tall because I want the grass to crowd out the weeds." Late July came and so did August, hot as a firecracker and dry as a bone, and she wanted us to either skip the lawn or do not mow until it needed it. No Sweat!--being across the way from the office, we drove the equipment over and didn't move the truck.....! September rolled around and some rains, the lawn recovered from drought and began to semi-turn green again. She didn't want any mowing. I gave her a letter of cancellation for not mowing and keeping me on retainer still requires some sort of action on that lawn. We didn't do anything all winter, and gave her another chance to regain our services. She didn't want to pay cleanup fees or even have the lawn cleaned after our January Ice-Storm. We went over in March, did a mulch over job and didn't haul any limbs away.........stacked them up in a pile in the back lawn corner. They loved the work....................!?!
    She came over the second week of March and was upset that the lawn was full of winter broadleaves and onions. She inquired us to spray out the weeds because the neighbor next door has another spray company that maintains their lawn all season. She said--" Make my lawn look like that!" I told her that one application of pre-m and 3-way would not do the trick. She said that she will see the results and make a decision. The weather was still sort of cooler, and with the cost to spray her lawn that she could afford, the products would work a little slower with the cool temps. 4 weeks went by and with periodic warm spells, the henbit, onions, chickweed did curl but not completely dead yet, she called and wanted a re-spray. I told her to wait a little longer for warmer weather to hit and then I will retreat for the same price. A couple days later she called and wanted to cancel services as the lawn was mowed by us earlier and she was not pleased with the bill of pre-season cleanup. I asked her what was insufficient about us doing a mulch job on this lawn that hadn't had anything done to it all winter, and she not wanting any cleanup costs and hauloffs. She stated that she didn't think that we did 85.00 worth of work after spending 2.5 hours there with 3 men including piling sticks and limbs. I told her that we did her a favor at that price.....
    Anyway, she said that she will pay the bill by the beginning of the new billing period. The temps started warming up quite well, and I noticed that the tall fescue and bluegrass parts were starting to turn brown. I started thinking back to when I mixed Pre-M and Vessel together and this combination will not kill these cool season grass's. I waited a week and called her to inquire why the lawn was dying and no green grass's visible. After 15 minutes of heem humming around, she told me that after we spoke of the spray treatment, and her having to wait until warm weather, she saw a neighbor's son spraying his lawn with an ATV and tank. She had him treat her lawn because he said that he had the stuff to do the job..???????????? OMG!
    As soon as she said that, I immediately told her that I hoped she will love her brown lawn now, because the preacher's son always uses round-up on his dads lawn. He burns it down and his dad reseeds each year. The emptiness on the phone was humerous as she tried to tell me that she didn't pay him anything and why would he use something to kill the grass.... I told her that a few weeks earlier when we spoke, that she wanted her lawn to look like her neighbors lawn. I told her that one treatment would not do. She said that now it looks like her neighbor's lawn, but the only difference is that the other lawn is greening up with semi-dormant zoysia but she has dead bermuda and will come back...................................with more weeds than before.!!!!
    I went over and took a picture of the preachers lawn and then took a picture of this customers lawn. Sent her another statement for the non-payment of services and a disclaimer for our release to spraying her lawn in the beginning. She signed it!!!!!!
  6. Chilehead

    Chilehead LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Stockbridge, GA
    Posts: 1,899

    If a customer tells me that line, I usually tell them "tough", and mow it anyway. Then I drop 'em.
  7. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,899

    My customers under agreement are explicitly told as per written agreement that service will be weekly/bi-weekly, etc or whatever service they agree upon. I then show up to mow as per the agreement, nothing less. The customer loses the right to say 'um, skip this week maybe...' with the agreement. I don't want to be jerked around like that, this is a business. The customer can, however, cancel if they want - but most want the quality I provide.
  8. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Yeah, I see what you're saying.

    After reading what ThinkGreen went through, it really would appear...
    I mean, once we explain it what is the problem, if the customer will not listen?
    Things can only be explained but so many times, jobs really can't be done over
    and over just because someone isn't feeling the satisfaction, that is, assuming
    the treatment and all of that went and performed as planned.

    I reckon I retract my earlier statement, if it's going to be that way then we have but so much a choice in this matter.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2009
  9. Mowbizz

    Mowbizz LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 970

    I'm not going to mow a lawn that is not growing...sheesh just move on and get to the next lawn. When you don't "need" this type of PITA client anymore because you have built a good client list and a nice tight route, drop them like a hot potato...my client who does this actually calls me beforehand so I don't need to make the trip to his house to see that the grass hasn't grown since last mowing. I consider these clients a little boost to my cash flow until I can dump them because I have enough good clients.
  10. Hell on Blades

    Hell on Blades LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 513

    I'm still working on my client base and I have another full time job. I also try to avoid contracts, unless the customer wants one. I do however make it clear that I mow on Thurs and Fri. If they do not want ic cut that week, I must have an EMAIL by Wed at 8pm. That way I can change my routes and plans...

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