ok ok, i need a jury......

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by bobbygedd, Nov 30, 2005.

  1. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    i got the most amazingly stupid phone call today, from a client i've had for 3 yrs. here is the scoop: we are contracted to do ferts + mowing, THAT'S IT, nothing else. she does her own leaf cleanup, there are very few leaves. ok, so, she gets charged a flat rate for mowing, april thru october. well, her grass grew alot in november, and she don't feel like cleaning the few leaves, so she called and asked about a cleanup. i told her $75 should cover it, i'll give it a mow, and pick up the leaves. she said, "well, you missed me for grasscutting twice this year, so, are you going to deduct $60 from the cleanup bill?" i said, "ummm, did the grass stop growing, those 2 weeks, when i wasn't able to mow? no, no discount." the contract clearly states that missed cuts, may or may not be deducted from the bill, at my discretion. here were her final words, " bob, you are a bad businessman. i'll tell you why: you would rather lose me as a client, than refund $60 for missed mowings. you are penny wise, and dollar foolish. do NOT come around here next year." thoughts, opinions, verdict please. by the way, my reply was, " your final bill is due on the 1st, one day late, and i'll have you arrested"
     
  2. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,501

    That was unnecessary for one thing. Secondly, you're the one who is going to lose in the long run on this one $$$wise.
     
  3. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,842

    Well, first of all, it was cheap of her to bring up the $60 refund AFTER you did the leaf clean-up. I hate it when clients pull that crap. You wanna get paid and they say, "Oh, well you should owe me because of this so now I only have to pay you this much..." That's pretty lame. She should have brought up the $60 earlier, not now. That's her bad.

    But I have to say that I agree with her that if you missed mowings, you owe her something. I also agree with her that you are a little foolish to let a good customer go over something like this. She has a fairly legitimate gripe but you're being so headstrong and acting on "principle" is going to cost you thousands of dollars that you could have had from her over the next year or more as a client. Not the best business decision, in my opinion.

    Listen, I am not saying do stuff for free to keep customers. But you could have compromised or something. If you missed two weeks then you didn't incur nearly as many costs as if you had been there two weeks. Sure, you can say that the grass still grew. That's true. But it's not like taller grass equates to twice the amount of work. I could skip any one of the lawns we maintain for 1 week. And the next time I mowed I might end up taking a little longer to mow and a little more grass to haul away. But the extra grass is negligible and the extra time isn't anywhere near twice as long to cut grass that is a little taller. It might take me 20% longer to mow. But not 100% longer. So I agree that she is owed something.

    In addition, she didn't get the benefit of having a nicely manicured lawn those two weeks either. And from a clients' perspective, that's worth something too. She's paying you so that every week she'll have a nice manicured lawn. That's what she expects. That's a reasonable and usual expectation. Sure, your "contract" might say that you don't always come every week. But that doesn't make it any easier when it happens. People care more about how their property looks than they do about some stupid contract. It's reasonable for any client of any LCO to expect to always have a nice looking lawn. So when you don't show up for a week and her lawn is left looking less than perfect, that's worth something to her. And so I believe it's reasonable for her to expect something in regards to a refund.
     
  4. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    i understand jim, but if i need to refund for 2 missed mowings, then i'll need to go back and ADD for the times i needed to double/tripple cut, etc. fair is fair, right?
     
  5. cborden

    cborden LawnSite Member
    from 46140
    Posts: 177

    Gee Bobby, I thought you would have been thinking faster and just said, "Yes ma'am, the $60.00 for the two missed cuts has already been deducted and the difference is $75.00".
     
  6. Remsen1

    Remsen1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,020

    This would have been a good time to point that out. While she didn't make any mention of the missed cuts at the time, you also didn't make any mention of the extra work that you provided.

    I would have tried to give her a credit of nearly a $60 value to be used toward a future service, not for the leaf clean-up. This would be a way for me to demonstrate that I value her as a customer, but that I didn't appreciate holding/hiding a "complaint card" to be brought out after work was performed and used as leverage in price negotiating. If she had a complaint she should have brought it to you right away or within a reasonable amount of time. A credit toward a future service is also a good way to find out whether "bending" will save the customer or was the customer already planning on leaving after screwing you?

    You didn't do what I would've done, but I feel that you're within your rights and she tried pulling a fast one on you.
     
  7. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,842

    Well, now you are suspect. Because you're bringing up shlt to defend yourself that you didn't mention earlier.

    I don't know what your policy or practive is on times when you have to double or tripple cut. I don't ever have to double cut. So I don't understand how that happens. We just show up every week and cut the lawn once. It's pretty simple. But you're saying that sometimes you have to double and tripple cut lawns? Okay. Fine. For whatever reason, I'll buy that. But what's your standard practice with everyone else? Do you normally go back and ADD for the times you needed to double and tripple cut everyone else's lawn but you just forgot to do it with her? Or do you normally just let it slide. Becase either way, you are kinda screwed. If you tell me that you normally just let it slide, then you should just let it slide with her too. It shouldn't have any relevance to this discussion. On the other hand, if you're going to tell me that you just "forgot" to bill her for those extra cuts, than that's your fault too. It's really unfair of you to bring it up now.

    Your problem, if I may be frank, is that you have trouble seeing things from the customer's point of view. You have NO problem seeing things from your point of view. It's obvious to most of us here that you've got that down to a science. You're definitely protecting #1, no doubt about that. But in doing so - so overzealously - I think you often end up not seeing things from the customer's perspective and you just can't empathise at all with where they are coming from. You're so concerned with making sure you don't get Jones'd that you aren't at all concerned with how they feel.

    It's reasonable for any customer of any LCO to get some sort of refund or credit if the LCO misses a week. It may not seem reasoble from our perspective, as LCOs. But it's definitely reasonable from almost all customers' perspective. So part of being a business owner is finding compromise. It may mean that once in a while you have to suck it up and do something you don't agree with in principle just so that you can show good will to a customer. That's the best way to handle true differences.

    When you an a customer have a real difference of opinion, there are 3 ways to handle the situition.

    1) Customer is always right. Give them what they want, no matter what.

    2) Compromise. You see it one way. The customer sees it another way. But as an act of good will, you compromise so both parties feel that they are left winning something.

    3) Screw the customer, it's my way or the highway. If they don't understand my policies than they can go find someone else.

    I think you're biggest challenge is that you're usually chosing option number 3 and you should consider chosing option number 2 more often.

    That's my 2 cents.
     
  8. Mark McC

    Mark McC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,565

    Ya think? :p
     
  9. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,995

    My contract states that I will cut the yard +/- 42 times per year weather permitting, monthly and yearly pricing is not affected by the number of cuts recieved. I skipped lots of people this year due to being underwater or so soggy I couldn't walk on them much less put a mower on the yard.

    I gave ONE guy a $25 credit off his $95 monthly bill. We mowed him once that month. I figured, what the hell, I'll just be a nice guy after he asked AND he was polite about it.

    If he had demanded a discount, he wouldn't have had the opportunity to fire me. It would have already been done. Why waste time with people who don't respect that we are running a business? They have a contract to look at. We review that part verbally prior to signing. Last time I checked I don't control the weather.

    If they want someone to cut every week regardless of conditions, then call by the cut Johnny with his dull bladed mower. My clients pay for lawn maintenance. I maintained the yard. I did what was correct for the yard. Skipped it when it was a marsh and double or triple cut when it finally dried out. They need to do what is correct and pay for the service, all of the service.
     
  10. Justcutitshort

    Justcutitshort LawnSite Member
    Posts: 187

    Mr. Gedd,
    You just continue to amaze me. Man, get some schooling in the hard knocks of LCO’smanship.
    If you haven’t already built into the lawn care of this account the times you need to double cut, etc. plus the overall average times you can “shortcut” the lawn in the summer, and then plot a 5 year profit curve for “standard, heavy and drought conditions”, you need to go back to LCO “101”, or get a job at Wal-Mart, and let someone else run your business.
    Man, just get with the program, Gedd. And while you're at it, learn some verbal etiquette.
     

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