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Pour Salt In The Wound?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by RLS24, Mar 3, 2012.

  1. RLS24

    RLS24 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,601

    Last summer, we took care of the maintenance on a house that was for sale. I dealt directly with the people who were selling it, and for the most part they were great customers, payed on time, never complained, etc. Come winter, we plowed the driveway. It was agreed upon that even though the house was for sale, we were going to carry out the contract to its extent (my idea of a safety net to avoid them trying to get money back in the event of the house selling) and they were ok with that. Now, we have an an EXCEPTIONALLY mild winter, and only plowed 4 times. In late January (we had plowed twice at this point), the following chain of events happen: About midway through the season, 2 weeks after the last time we had plowed at that point, I get a call from the homeowner and he says theres a huge dent in the garage door (which there is, and I'm almost 100% positive its from one of those rubber blocks they put on the back bumpers of delivery vans) thats right in the middle and way to low to be from anything we cause. I ask my employee who plows the driveway, he says there was no damage last time he was there. I go back and forth with the homeowner, and he says the house has been sold, the are closing TOMORROW and they need to replace the garage door TODAY so they want me to dish out 3 grand for an emergency service new garage door. I deny everything, and he says they will be having the door replaced and his lawyer will call me to schedule a time to inspect my vehicles and will hold me responsible for the bill for the new door. I call my insurance agent and my lawyer, who both say to tell the guy to go f**k himself when he calls back.

    I never hear from the guy again. A month later, my employee and I drive by the house in an un-marked truck and notice that A) the for sale sign is gone, B) our plow stakes are ripped out and thrown askew all over the front lawn, D) there are cars in the driveway that we have never seen before and C) the garage door has not been fixed.

    Now, to bring this all back to mowing the lawn....it was a really great full-service property. It was a very decent size, a lot of landscaping to take care of, and a lot of high-maintenance plants to take care of. I also mow the house on either side of it, 2 down the street and about 4 more within a mile of the place. I have a general inquiry letter that I send out to houses that have recently been sold in neighborhoods that we service, kinda saying "welcome to the neighborhood, we have a lot of satisfied customers in the neighborhood and we'd like your business" type of thing and I throw in a couple business cards and a couple of our refrigerator magnets. I also send these letters to houses that we used to service that have been sold and say we'd like to continue to service the property. I really want to keep this property and get the new owners as customers, but I also don't want to re-spark a firestorm about the garage door. I also don't want the new owners talking to the neighbors and telling them that we supposedly damaged the door and wouldnt do anything about it and give off a negative image of my company in the neighborhood. I'm just not sure what the best approach would be in this situation.
  2. GreenI.A.

    GreenI.A. LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,132

    I would say to go after them as you would with any person who bought one of your properties. Send a letter explaining how you have maintained the property for x amount of years. I would ignore the door unless they say something about it, there's a chance they may not know you were accused of causing the damage. Basically handle it as you would any other house. Nif they say something about the door then I would simply explain that they did complain about it and that they decided not to take the next step to see if the damage was indeed caused by you equipment.
  3. TMlawncare

    TMlawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,197

    God I love your lawyer.
  4. 4 seasons lawn&land

    4 seasons lawn&land LawnSite Gold Member
    from NY
    Posts: 3,597

    sounds like you have the perfect situation to me. Your relationship with the customer ended badly and now their gone. New people = new customers. Plus if you get a chance to talk to them and they know about you and the door issue, it gives you the opportunity to set the story straight. If they dont know about you being the guy that took the blame then I wouldnt get into it.
  5. RLS24

    RLS24 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,601

    You'd like my insurance guy even more hahaha
  6. NMS0219

    NMS0219 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 610

    Ya Tony is awesome. Mike I would just send them the letter like nothing ever happened. New owner = new face.
  7. RLS24

    RLS24 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,601

    Yeah I liked the part when we rolled by and my plow stakes were thrown all over the front lawn. Had to laugh at that one.
  8. NMS0219

    NMS0219 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 610

    I love when customers move my stakes then complain about the lawn job the plow did. Gee maybe the plow guy put em their for a reason.

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