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Once they start complaining excessively...

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by DFW Area Landscaper, Apr 15, 2005.

  1. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    I've been through it several times. Once a customer starts complaining excessively, you really have no choice but to fire them. I've put up with it in the past because I needed the money. This year, with 131 new customers, I can afford to let a few go and it won't kill me. I don't wanna do it, but I'm certain it's the smart thing to do.

    My experience tells me that once they start in with the excessive complaining, not only will they not change and start miraculously showing you more respect, but inevitably, you will be getting the note that says "We won't be needing your services anymore."

    Not only do these ******* complain and talk to you like they are above you, THEY ARE GOING TO FIRE YOU TOO. They may not fire you today or next week, but once they've started complaining and failing to show you respect, it's only a matter of time till they fire you.

    I hate nothing more than losing a customer because of a perceived quality issue. How is it that a lawn service can get compliments and rave reviews from the majority, yet run across a small percentage who think the service is so bad they must complain?

    Never again for me. I don't mind a complaint phrased in a civil tone. But when they are coming back three weeks later with another complaint, THEY WILL BE FIRED...BY ME. The end result is the same. They won't be with you for the long haul. They've already decided you are too incompetent to be mowing lawns. The only reason they don't fire you right away is because they first want to threaten you with the loss of their business. This makes them feel more important. They can't do it with any other company in our country and get the same feeling. The operator at the cable company could care less if he cancels and he knows it. But they know the lawn mowing company is small and that their business is important to us.

    I've got a new customer. He complained after the first cut. (It's odd getting complaints from a man. First time for everthing, I suppose.) Anyway, sent the crew back for a free cut the next day. He ordered a shrub and mulch job. He's complaining. Says we cut all the leaves off his shrubs and caused "damage". My crew leader is telling me this property looks outstanding. He's proud of the job. Well, the guy calls complaining today. He wants me to come out and look at what "they" did. I told him I would drive out and take a look, only because I am curious to see this job. I've got the customer telling me we "damaged" his $20,000 landscape and I've got my crew leader telling me the place looks really good. I know my crew leader has good taste in landscapes and trimming. He's better at it than I am. So I will drive out to see this "butchering". Unless the shrubs are truly butchered to the point they are really damaged, he's gone. Even if they are cut too far back, he's gone because he's already determined we're too incompetent to mow lawns. He wants to threaten this time, get his azz kissed and then fire me later on. He may not realize it, but that's the cycle I've been through in the past with every complainer. Once they prove to me that they are complainer, it's cold war as far as I'm concerned. Are you gonna launch the first strike, or am I? I have more experience, so from now on, I will be the one launching the offensive and they will be the one getting fired.

    I am now the Lawn Nazi..."No cut for you!"

    I just can't imagine how it must feel to be banned from purchasing a legitmate company's product or service ever again. Talk about role reversals.

    Another thing about handling it this way, if you fire them, they'll probably be too embarassed to bring it up at the cookout with the neighbors. If they fire you, rest assured, they're gonna brag about it.

    DFW Area Landscaper
  2. grasswhacker

    grasswhacker LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,873

    I don't mean to be rude, but why are you in this business? You seam to have great difficulty with customer relations and managing your employees.
  3. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116


    You've never had a complaint?

    DFW Area Landscaper
  4. grasswhacker

    grasswhacker LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,873

    In 12 years I've probably had less than 5. However you seem to have situations on a weekly basis.
  5. yamadooski

    yamadooski LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 434

    DFW, Im with ya all the way!
    I have been doing this for 13 years. There are some ppl out there you just cant please.
    I started to do the same thing about 6 years ago. A friend of mine told me 3 strikes and your'e gone.
    I have filthy rich ppl that just like to belittle you.
  6. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    Nope, not really. I get far more compliments than complaints. I'd guess it's about a 12 to 1 ratio of people that go out of their way to brag vs complain.

    I appreciate you questioning me for staying in the business. But I honestly expect to make six figures mowing lawns next year. Don't think I'll be getting out anytime soon.

    This thread isn't about whether or not an LCO gets too many complaints. It's about the psychology of a complainer. Why do they complain? Isn't the real reason for the complaint just a way for them to feel important while belittling you? And once they start complaining, isn't it just a matter of time until they fire you. So why tolerate it? Why not fire them instead?

    DFW Area Landscaper
  7. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,995

    We all get complaints. We all get pitas. Some of us have higher tolerance than others. Some of us see it as a selling opportunity. Some of us are delusional too.

    I have a lady that every other time we come out she has a hissy fit. Two weeks ago she had too many weeds in her beds. I asked for her to point them out. She found 2 clovers that had 3 clovers on each. Then she was on about the weeds in the turf. Ma'am, I suggest you call Quantum with that complaint. I don't do fertilizing for you. Yesterday it was because we butchered her bouganvilleas. She came running out to stop my helper from continuing to trim.

    All this over 2 yes 2 blossoms that had been trimmed off, from a branch that jutted out into the mowing area. She and I had a little discussion. Ma'am you are right your bouganvilleas have been butchered, but that happened about a month before we took over the account. That was six months ago and now you are getting your first real growth spurt since then.

    More: whine moan complain. Long story short.

    Your choices are: we stop service, we stop trimming, or you stop complaining. She stopped complaining and said, well you are the only one who has been able to cut the grass every week, but only if you would learn how to trim.

    I think I will fire her effective at the end of her prepaid paid time. May 15 she needs a new whipping boy.
  8. TeamFla

    TeamFla LawnSite Member
    Posts: 27

    DFW, Why don't you sell those accounts? You found them adequate at first right?
  9. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 2,116

    I've only got like one account where this is necessary. All the rest of the chronic complainers have already fired me. Making money selling chronic complainers isn't something I'm interested in doing.

    There are two kinds of complainers.

    An acceptible complainer would say "Hey, can you ask your guys not to scratch the fence posts so much with the line trimmers? My fence posts are getting scuffed."

    The chronic complainer with the same complaint will say something like this: "Your crew was here today. They are running the line trimmers and causing damage to the wooden fence posts. I paid $X,XXX.yy for that fence and I won't have your crews ruining it. If you can't ge it straight, I will have no choice but to take my business elsewhere."

    I used to really tremble when I heard something like that. Every customer I had was so important. I would apologize all over myself and promise better service. Then, they'd fire me later on anyway.

    From now on, when a customer complains like that The Lawn Nazi will be pushing the weapons factories into high gear, fully expecting all out war.

    No Cut For You!

    DFW Area Landscaper
  10. pjslawncare/landscap

    pjslawncare/landscap LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,410

    I agree totally with ya DFW. Most every place in the country will have your PITA's and if u have a large customer base, u are certain to have a couple. Ive learned the pattern as well & I have one in perticular I'm about ready to give her walking papers to.

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