Not going to work for any more neighbors

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by mbricker, Sep 26, 2004.

  1. mbricker

    mbricker LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 505

    I live sort of out in the country, no sewer so all lots have to be large enough for septic lateral fields--about an acre is smallest.

    Got this call about 3 years ago from neighbor who I had only talked to once-she is elderly unmarried lady with no close family. She had asked someone else we both know to mow her lawn as she can't handle it anymore. I used to go by and see her doing this acre yard with an ordinary high-wheel push 22". So this mutual acquaintance--who works as parts manager at one of the local equip. dealerships--sicced her on me.

    Because she is elderly and a neighbor, kind me cut her a deal. $30 a cut, and it takes every bit of an hour to mow-trim-blow, plus she insists I have to come inside to visit everytime I'm there. She wants it done weekly.

    Well, I discover that's not the end of it. It's either do hers first thing in the morning, or last thing as I'm going home, and no way am I mowing 1 acre of wet grass, so it gets done late. She fusses about that. The best possible day for me to mow it is Tues, but she wants it done Friday, my hardest day. She fusses about that. I cut everything no shorter than 3" in the summer, and she fusses about that. But worst of all, she can see when my truck leaves my drive (and she spends a lot of time siting in the front room looking out the window), so she knows when I leave home and when I get back, and she assumes if I am home, I don't have anything to do. So she calls and tries to get me to come over and do some little favor for her, but what she really wants is someone to visit with. She won't believe I am doing billing, or equip maint, or working in my own yard (rare) or just relaxing.

    Thank goodness I have caller ID.

    I just can't be real mean to her, because my own mother didn't get much of my time before she was gone--she lived 2 1/2 hrs. away--and I think about how she would feel if I act like a jerk about all the little-old-lady-isms. So I just suck it up.

    But no more work for neighbors. Nuh-uh!
     
  2. drsogr

    drsogr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,275

    Wow! Sounds like a mess. Try to do a favor, and it bites you in the butt. Some people think you are just on this earth to take care of them. At lease you can take pride in the fact that you are giving an old lady something to look forward to!
     
  3. Avery

    Avery LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,389

    My policy has always been never work for neighbors, never work for old people and never EVER work for an old neighbor! It has served me well over the years!


    Dump her IMO. You are not making any money on that contract.
     
  4. bob

    bob LawnSite Platinum Member
    from DE
    Posts: 4,254

  5. DennisF

    DennisF LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Florida
    Posts: 1,381

    I would take about 10 minutes after mowing one day to explain to her that you have a business to run and a family to care for. Be polite, but be firm in your tone of voice when talking to her. Explain to her that after you finish mowing you have to service your equipment and perform paperwork. Most seniors just want to tell their problems to someone and since you are a neighbor that she sees on a regular basis she probably feels that she can confide in you.

    If she continues to be a PITA regarding mowing times or mowing heights, I would tell her to seek a bid from another LCO since you are unable to meet her mowing requirements due to business schedule conflicts. She probably won't understand what the he// you're talking about, but it should get the point across.
     
  6. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,842

    Hmmm. I've seen threads like this dozens of times on lawnsite. Lots of guys here seem to believe working for neighbors is just bad news or something.

    Maybe I am just lucky, I dunno. But I've been working for neighbors for years. Never really had much of a problem. Depending on how close of friends we are, I'll usually give neighbors some sort of discount. Some just get 5%, others get 50%. Sometimes I'll just go do some work for free. But then again, those who I give deals to, I expect to get deals FROM. One of my neighbors works at a large furniture retailer. He got me an entire $2000.00 italian leather living room set (sofa, loveseat, and overstuffed chair) for $200.00. Another neighbor who I give deals to takes me and my whole family out to dinners on a regular basis and pays for everything.

    I dunno. Maybe it's just me. But I've always had pretty good success working for neighbors.
     
  7. mbricker

    mbricker LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 505

    I think to restate the problem, no, working for a neighbor is not automatically bad. But if the neighbor turns out to be a royal PITA (but everyone else in the 'hood thinks she is a sweet ole lady) you are gonna have a lot harder time treating her like you would any other PITA.

    I am not going to ditch her, I just need to vent sometimes.
     
  8. HOOLIE

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    I have a number of customers in my neighborhood, but nobody on my street. The people 2 houses down from me were wanting me to mow, mulch, trim hedges, fert, the whole 9 yards. But I know they don't have 2 cents to rub together, so I kept putting them off. Finally just told them I'd rather not do work for immediate neighbors, nothing personal, just don't want to deal with it.
     
  9. Soupy

    Soupy LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,125

    She doesn't realize that you are giving her a deal. She probably thinks that she is paying you top dollar and expects top service. I would explain to her what is really going on, she will most likely say " I didn't realize you were giving me a 50% discount, I will stop giving you a hard time".

    You might be rewarded later for your good deeds, it's old ladies like this that end up leaving you everything thing have.
     
  10. HOOLIE

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    Good point Soupy-

    Any work I've done for friends, I always make sure to tell them that they are getting the "Friends and Family" discount. Makes them much less likely to complain.
     

Share This Page