Stood my ground with new customer(kinda)

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Eho, Mar 20, 2005.

  1. Eho

    Eho LawnSite Member
    Posts: 205

    I was excited to give two estimates today( got the first one and was on my way to the second one). As I went to the second one, the lady came out and started talking to me. She explained that she called another guy to do it but she wasnt impressed with him ( he didnt return her call promptly, etc.) I gave her a quote of $25 and she said that would work. Then she explained that the other guy said he would put down the fertilizer for free. Then thinking about the new lawn I would get I said" I ll apply it tomorrow for free( I know this was stupid shouldnt have ever, ever done it) After this she shows me some bushes in the front lawn that she wants trimmed. I explain to her that this will be an extra cost. She kinda gives me a funny look and says that it will have to wait b/c she doesnt have the money for it yet. I held my ground on this issue and wouldnt budge. As I got in my car and was driving home I was getting nervous about this customer...already wanted fertilzer for free and bushes trimmed for free...what would be next? Just then she called my cell phone and informed me she called the other guy and he said he would trim the bushes for free. She was already playing games with me and this other guy and I didn't want any part of her. I really regret that I even said I would fert. for free but am glad that I wouldnt budge on the bushes issue. Sounds like I would have had a lot of problems with this customer.
  2. jpp

    jpp LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,128

    I hope that you told her to go with the other guy. Sounds like she is going to be a real pita.
  3. Eho

    Eho LawnSite Member
    Posts: 205

    oh i forgot to include that...i told her to use the other guy, she said if he didnt work out she d call me back i said "ok" but there is no chance I will do her lawn
  4. DennisF

    DennisF LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Florida
    Posts: 1,381

    That's an old tactic used by many cheapskates. They will get several estimates from different LCO's, then start asking for free services of one kind or another. They play one LCO off against another to get as many services for free as they can and the lowest price possible. They are usually complete PITA's from the start, so I usually avoid them by raising the bid each time they ask for something else. The conversation usually doesn't last long after price goes up.
  5. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    wether you were wearing one, or not, she saw a big sign on your chest, it said, " I AM AN AHOLE, PLEASE TREAT ME LIKE ONE." this is what you do: call her up asap, say, " mrs. xx, i really want your business, i'll do the ferts and trimming for free. i'll be there tuesday to start". show up, put down 30-0-0 @20 lbs per k. DO NOT document it in any fashion. that's all, don't go back, don't return her phone calls. if you get anything in the mail about lawn damage, file a complaint of harrassment against her swearing u never saw her, nor did u apply anything.
  6. Mark McC

    Mark McC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,565

    There are two ways to ensure you'll get paid well for your work.

    1) Make sure your prices aren't absurdly low or high for your market; and
    2) Put out a zillion flyers/mailers so you're comfortable that you'll have manymanymanymany people calling you. That way, you're not under a lot of pressure to get that potential customer standing in front of you.
  7. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Posts: 8,745

    if she calls you back, inform her this time that fertilization is an additional charge as well
  8. SouthernYankee

    SouthernYankee LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 789

    Look at this way,

    If you were in a store, could you ask for an item from free if you told the sales clerk that you were going to buy another item? Stores dont work that way and neither should we. Your better off not having that pita!
  9. DFW Area Landscaper

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


    Last summer, I did a cancellation study and found that customers who took both my fert program and my mowing service were more likely to stay on the schedule longer. At the time, I had a handfull of customers who were having us mow the lawn weekly, yet weren't using anyone's fert service and they weren't doing it themselves. My customer base was lean and every customer was very important to me.

    So, I made the poor decision to offer free fert & weed control service to three customers for six months, just to get them to try it out. The applications made a tremendous impact on the way their lawns looked. And almost just as importantly, the lawns really needed mowing when we showed up to cut the lawn.

    Well, now that I am able to view the three customers with 20/20 hindsight, I can see that the plan worked with one customer and blew up in my face with the other two. One customer called for a new landscape design during the winter and we did the job. He treats me with perfect respect. He's never complained. Ever.

    As for the other two, I got a phone call from one of them late last fall. She said we had left the gate open. But does she leave it at that? Hell no. She also casually mentions that if it happens again, she'll have to go find someone else to cut the grass. Then, after the first cut this spring, she sends an e-mail complaining that we didn't pull the weeds in the beds and she and her husband had to get out over the weekend to pull them. I quickly shot back an e-mail that my crew sprayed the weeds in the beds. Anyway, I've created a PITA. She never complained before the free fert.

    The other customer also turned into a PITA. She sent me an e-mail last week and said that she wanted to billed and please don't charge my credit card anymore. If we decide to place another credit card on file, we'll let you know. But for now, please do the work and bill us after you've already done everything. She goes on to say that her lawn doesn't need weekly cuts until May first, so please cut bi-weekly until then. I fired off a reply. Long story short, she's not my customer anymore.

    The moral of the story is nice guys will finish last more often than not. You can't show a single sign of weakness or the customer will eat you alive. The customer's business is very important to you, and you know it is. But you simply can't let the customer know that.

    I can't tell you how many homeowners I've run across who think we ought to trim shrubs for free, just to keep them on the mowing schedule. I don't know if the Mexican owned LCO's do this for free...maybe they really do...but if they're doing shrub trimming for free, they may as well be working for the gringo. It'd be easier than running their own business and they'd probably make more money.

    Reasonable people expect to pay extra to get their shrubs trimmed. It's our job to find those people.

    DFW Area Landscaper
  10. AEW

    AEW LawnSite Member
    Posts: 161

    Screw her :p

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