Take the Surcharge away!!!!

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by MOW ED, Oct 7, 2006.

  1. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,028

    I have a customer that is in no small way a "BALL BUSTER". He is an old guy who used to be a commercial executive headhunter. He is about 80 years old and is a millionaire. I have maintained his property for 5 years and I was given the property by another LCO who probably didn't like to keep getting his nuts wrenched by this guy.
    The property is a 30K sq ft estate on the water. Nice place which by the way is currently for sale. Taxes on it are 10K a year and the sale price is 650K so he is leaving when it sells and moving to his other house in Tempe AZ.
    He is interested in tracking every detail of my pricing and I have a message on my machine from him asking when I will be removing the surcharge from his bill.
    Two years ago when gas was making astronomical climbs I had hinted that I may institure a surcharge. He called me and voiced concern that it was unjustified and that I should not be charging him more. He went on to say that I mow his property every week because of his sprinkler system and I am guaranteed to be mowing all season. BTW he knows I am a licensed applicator but he chooses to use a hack company that is lower priced and gets 2 fert applications and 1 WC during the year.
    In 2005 I didn't give him a surcharge, I flat out raised his rate. He was informed by letter and he had been paying the additional TWO dollars per cut. A month ago he questioned me as to why his bill was 2 dollars higher than the initial rate that he was charged 5 years ago when I took the account over. He thought it was a surcharge and I reminded him of the increase in rate back in 2005 that he has been paying without a question.
    Back to yesterday, he states that now since gas has gone down in price (2.19 a gal) he wants to know when I am taking the charge away. The answer will be its not a surcharge and its not going away. I took a good shelling because of many cost of business increases and this guy is twisting my sack right now. He is a good payer and probably my highest biller but if he wants to spar, he can cut it himself. He is making a stink about 10 bucks a month and I can justify the rate but I really don't feel like.
    You guys will probably beat me up for only raising his rate 2 bucks in 5 years but I make it up in the add ons like spring and fall leaves.
    I'll let you know the outcome when I talk to him later but I just had to put this one out for comment.
    I know you guys have some ball busters for customers too, what do you think?
     
  2. scaper27

    scaper27 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 115

    if it is just one guy maybe take it off. I actually took mine off starting this week
     
  3. John Gamba

    John Gamba LawnSite Fanatic
    from ct
    Posts: 10,812

    Leave it! Hes moving.
     
  4. stumper1620

    stumper1620 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,889

    2 bucks a cut in 5 years. If he can't understand that, hes a total idiot and not worth wasting your breath on. I made a 10% increase this year that translated into about 5 bucks each. I didn't hear a single complaint.
     
  5. Mark889

    Mark889 LawnSite Member
    from SE PA
    Posts: 17

    If your concerned about loosing him even though he will be moving shortly and you will be loosing him then anyway, so if your concerned about loosing him early, take the time to explain to him why the surcharge is not based solely on the prices at the pump. Explain how because of the increase in gasoline, all prices of all goods went up. These same goods have not dropped in price because gasoline has gone down ie; steel, mowers, trimmers, trucks, trailers, tires, oil. Therefore the 2 dollar increase over the span of 5 years is totally justified and should have been around $2 / year which would barely cover the cost of inflation. If the old geiser still doesnt understand I would not take the increase away/lower your price. If he doesnt like that let him leave, never let paying customers go.
     
  6. parkeeee

    parkeeee LawnSite Member
    Posts: 227

    He probably acquired his wealth by questioning every nickel being spent.

    Ever been behind someone at the grocery store that is convinced that they were overcharged three cents on a head of lettuce? I just want to toss them a nickel.

    I think that if you explain that the $2 is not a fuel surcharge he still will not 'get it'. Maybe you could tack on an additional amount in fall or spring if he is still around to cover the amount that you would have charged.

    Let us know how it goes.
     
  7. 6'7 330

    6'7 330 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,823

    Mar sin leibh , PITA


    Two dollars in five years and the former corporate head heater is complaining lol..Let him hunt up another LCO .
     
  8. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Posts: 7,949

    I would charge him more for complaining:laugh: Really, these people didn't get where they are by working for peanuts. Annual inflation $$ increases are neccessary for running a sound business. Even larger increases because of the price of fuel are rightly tacked on. The price of fuel hasn't even come down that much.
    I lost a customer this year because the rich neighbor told her I was charging too much:rolleyes: :hammerhead:
     
  9. stumper1620

    stumper1620 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,889

    I can't believe I missed this when i read it before.

    Heres what you do with this guy. Remove the "surcharge" then tack on a 50% increase to cover the ever increasing cost of business, that up to this point you have absorbed. that will teach him to complain.
     
  10. Ed Ryder

    Ed Ryder LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 541

    It's strange that he doesn't value you as a service provider after all this time.

    If it were me, I'd probably just tell him that I can't take it anymore and he can find someone else. But in the mean time you will continue cutting until he finds your replacement. At that point he will probably realize that getting a new cutter is too much trouble and he will remain quiet. I had this scenario this year with one PITA customer. He thought he had the leverage and began to twist the screws. I said hell with it, get someone else. But agreed to stay on until he found a new cutter. Five months later I'm still cutting him:laugh: And he hasn't bothered me since then!
     

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