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Lost a Huge Client today

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by David Gretzmier, Oct 18, 2008.

  1. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    Lost a huge rehang client today that really made me glad I do not rent but sell product.

    They purchased over 30 grand in product/install last year and it took my 2 best guys 14 days to install in November last year, about 30 man hours over the season to maintain, and 3 and 1/2 days to takedown. We really jumped through hoops and went above and beyond on this project. Thier rehang this year was a little less than half the install price, and they let me come out and work for 1 1/2 hours before telling me they would not do it this year. Kinda rude the way they did it, as I called them 2 days previously, and then she wanted a price, and after 3 calls from my wife and myself we came out to start this weekend.

    I estimate it would take 2 guys 11 days to install this year, along with 3 1/2 days takedown, and probably 30 hours maintenance ( mostly gfci dance), and they will probably hire someone else to attempt this project. the sad thing is, I am confident they will find someone who thinks they can do it for less, but they have no clue what they are doing. a 40 foot ladder will not reach 2/3 up on the front of thier home. I cannot imagine anyone in my area with the expertise to do this job. Further, they lost warranty protection today on their items. The next person most likely will not have a magic box to repair thier wreaths/garland and displays.

    I am really sad when folks make decisions with thier pocketbook rather than thier head. they will hire someone less expensive who will get into a mess, and they will want to call me at Thanksgiving, but thier pride will not allow them to.

    We gave them 24 hour on call service last year, They loved it, but in the end, wealthy people really cannot see the value in good service sometimes. many feel that everyone is trying to rip them off, even when you have showed them you are a great company to deal with.

    I have seen this over and over, and all I know to do is continue to provide great product and service and hope that the value appeals to those who can tell the difference between a crook and a professional.

    lastly, let this be a lesson to those of you who rent. many of the items they wanted I have not sold before. If I had chosen to rent I would be stuck with used items in storage. I am at least glad I sold them goods, made my overhead money in the first year. I really would not want to deal with trying to rent those items again and storing them.
  2. turf hokie

    turf hokie LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,744

    Sorry, to hear you lost a large account like that. I have lost a few decent size accounts this year but nothing like that.

    However, I tend to think we will always agree to disagree with the whole rent vs sell theory. Selling works for and renting works for me.

    I look at this scenario differently. Yes, I may have some special order items that may be hard to rent to another client immediately (as I do have a couple of items that I have b/c of customer non-renewal). I will find someone that would like to have those items. But the thing is that the next guy would have to purchase (and even find the vendor to get those items) in order to re-install the job.

    Your customer now has all of your (their) product ready and waiting for some jack-leg to come and put it up on the cheap.

    My customer would be left with no product. Therefore the guy trying to be cheaper than me will lose his shirt b/c he has no idea how to get/price/install/service the material that was used by us.
  3. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 582

    Oh man, i hope this doesn't start again!!!
  4. turf hokie

    turf hokie LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,744

    I know not what you speak of:dizzy::dizzy:
  5. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    Speaking of Jack leg, this story got more interesting today. the wealthy folks called my crew foreman and offered him 12 bucks an hour for him and 12 for his helper to install thier Christmas Lights for them. This has got to be the most staggering example of cutting out the middle man I have ever seen. Luckily, my guys are loyal and told them no, and furthermore told me. Since they both make more than that per hour, they were insulted. Had the folks been willing to pay, let's say, 25 bucks per hour each, they might have stolen my guys. But then how could the wealthy folks live with themselves knowing they paid such an obcene amount of money to mere commoners?

    Look at this closely. The wealthy folks must have been happy with the work, for they wanted my guys to put it up again. They just did not want to pay a fair price. Listen to me close and understand this well- This is how many wealthy folks get and stay wealthy. They want the best, but they want it cheap, AND many have no problem hurting others financially to get what they want.

    Those of you who believe you must pay a fair wage, and treat people fairly, you will have a much tougher road to riches. I'm one of those folks.
  6. newz7151

    newz7151 LawnSite Silver Member
    from Tejas
    Posts: 2,419

    Your employees aren't "loyal", they're smart. Pretty sure they knew you would find out and that they would be out on their ass with no jobs.
  7. Grass Happens

    Grass Happens LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 682

    "Those of you who believe you must pay a fair wage, and treat people fairly, you will have a much tougher road to riches. I'm one of those folks. "

    Although I don't do lighting, yet, I do agree with your last statement. It may take me a long time to get to the point of your client's wealth, but if and when I do, I can live with myself and the decisions I made. I will know my employees didn't suffer any financial hardship due to me paying less then their worth, and I don't have to hide from people in the supermarket.
  8. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 582

    it's called a non-compete contract. I would recommend having all your employees sign one. Why should you train your competition?

    but I will say that those people are pretty darn brave to try and pull that one off! I'm glad you have solid guys!
  9. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    they all have signed a non compete. But realistically, what can you do, call the police ? If you see your guys putting up a job after they leave you, good luck getting a court order to stop them. You could probably get back the profits they made on the job, but not without a lawyer or a trial.

    Although I am glad my guys are solid, in the end I would have rather put up the job and gotten paid a fair price for a giagantic job. That was a big egg in my basket, and not bragging, but I got a pretty big basket. It is way better to have many small and medium jobs than a few jumbo's.
  10. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 582

    At $12 per hour they wouldn't have had any proffit!

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