The destruction of customer service

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by steveair, Apr 21, 2000.

  1. steveair

    steveair LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,073

    This subject has been talked about before, at least I'd imagine it has been, but I just have to speak my mind on it.<p>Where I work, we have a huge work load and are just unable to handle it all right now. So, to pick up some work, we hire outside contractors to handle some of are mowing, mainly for areas that need more attention than we can give them.<p>Now, we have some of the biggest and the best contractors working around our facility for other tennants already, but ourselves, we use a local, smaller company. We have companys like brickman, dubrows, etc, who are major players in our area, doing each individual hanger complex. <p>Now, heres my problem. I compare the company we are using to these other company's, which charge the big $, and you know what, I notice no difference. In all honesty, I personally think they all just stink. <p>How do they stink?<p>In customer service, that's how. I'm sorry, and I don't mean any offense, but what ever happened to this idea in our business. It seems to have gone right out the window. And how did it go out the window?<p>With foreign help, thats how!<p>I'm sorry to say it, but every company that works around the airport is nothing but either spanish or other people who have no ability to communicate. From the big giant companies, to the local guy with a pickup, its all the same anymore. <p>Well, I just hate it anymore, and personnally am getting sick and tired of it. <p>There's no way to communicate with your contractors anymore. I walk up to the crew that does our complex to ask a few questions, and well, I just get a dumb look and am told in broken english, &quot;contact the office&quot;.<p>You now what, I DON'T WANT TO CONATACT THE OFFICE JUST TO GET A 20 FT STRIP OF GRASS MOWED. It's just becoming ridiculous. What am I gonna do. Contact the office, talk to the secretary, then play phone tag for a week to get someone in charge, then setup a day for him to come out, then get a quote sent to me a few days later, then have to send the quote back and signed, and then have to pray that they tell the crew to mow that strip of grass. <p>IT'S RIDICULOUS! <p>All this so there guy can do something that takes 30 seconds!<p>I am not saying that everyone is like this, but it sure the hell seems like it. What ever happened to having someone to talk to on the job.<p>It seems that today, even foreman, the cornerstone of your maintenance crew, have no idea what they are doing anymore. It's such a rarity these days to walk up to a landscape crew and be able to get any kind of answer from them, none the less, a answer in English!<p>To me, it seems like customer service has just gone by by. Its sad, but its the truth. And who's to blame, I'm not sure, but I think we are all.<p>Its sad these days that we in this industry have no choice but to higher outside labor. It's very sad.<p>And personally, I think we are beginning to destroy ourselves with it. We are giving ourselves the image of what everyone thinks we are, as &quot;GRASSCUTTERS&quot;. That, we are not.<br>We ARE BUSINESS PEOPLE, who should be working in a professional manor. With this influx of outside labor, we are tagging ourselves as a bunch of cheap working, uneducated people.<p>For instance, when my supervisor asks why the strip of grass is not being cut, I tell him that I can't get in contact with anyone. <p>You know what he says back to me, this:<p>&quot;Well, its just a bunch of landscapers, what do you expect, I guess just do it yourself untill they will&quot;<p>This tells the whole story. We are killing ourselves these days. In our quest to find economical labor, we have reduced ourselves to nothing more than &quot;landscapers&quot;. We will never get respect this way, and all the problems that we have with pricing, customers, etc. will never go away unless something is done.<p>Just some thoughts,<br>steveair<p><p>
     
  2. Evan528

    Evan528 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,144

    i strongly agree with everything you said! the reason why these companys are hiring foreigners is because they work harder than any american ive ever seen. they dont hire them cause there cheap.... cause there not even cheap anymore! the mexicans now no how good of workers they are and what a damand there is for such great workers that at least locally there not working for less that 10-12 bucks a hour to start.... some are making 14-15 a hour.... they will quite if someone offers them 25cents more an hour so bosses are constently uping there pay to make them happy. i help out a guy i no this summer with his buissness when i was slow cause of the drought....he had 12 full time employees, 8 of them were eleagal aliens with fake ID from daminican repupblic. i couldnt stand workking with them all day and not being able to comunucate with themexept for sign language. whe I would work with them alone i woold go crazy. when costomers would come out and ask them a question or tell them something they would just point to me cause they cant speak english.... i hated working with them. i will never hire one of them unless they can learn english.
     
  3. Scraper

    Scraper LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,656

    I wholeheartedly agree with you and used it to my advantage yesterday resulting in three new lawns and possibly a whole lot more in a neighborhood I service ($300k+ homes). There is a service that &quot;lowballed&quot; everyone by providing services for $22.50/cut. Some of these lawns are over a half acre. I was mowing my current properties which I had been servicing for the past 5 years when a property owner pulled up and asked me if I would mind stopping by and giving him an estimate. I did and I got the job for $40 a cut. While cutting his lawn two other neighbors came over and asked me to do their lawns as well. While mowing the second lawn I saw the crew that these people were upset about and it was two foreigners and the owner who sat in the truck watching them work. Needless to say I got some cold glares as the neighbors went over and told the owner that he would no longer be providing services! Just more proof that lowballing and foreign help DOES NOT PAY! All the new customers were more than happy to pay more $$! No way in hell was I going to cut them for $22.50. I almost felt like walking over to this guys truck and tell him how he is ruining the industry by his business practices, but I just smiled knowing I took three of his accounts and probably more in the next few weeks as the neighbors switch to my services. Sorry if I went a little off topic.<p>BTW...One other reason these people switched was due to my using a 36&quot; mower which lays more stripes and looks neater than the 61&quot; this guy was using on smaller residentials.
     
  4. Gus

    Gus LawnSite Member
    Posts: 75

    Hey guys I`m not my brothers keeper so what other companies do are of no concern to me <br>and the opposite should apply too. My rates<br>and all other aspects of my business are the<br>sole responsibility of me! You can call me a &quot;grass cutter&quot; or &quot;landscraper&quot; or whatever<br>who cares? Companies such as the ones mentioned help my business by getting me new customers who want good service. This whole brotherhood aspect thats a part of other industries is a crock that just reeks of marxsist pragmatism. The bad operators in our chosen profession reflect badly only on themselves and to suggest otherwise is in my opinion wrong-headed. My goal in this business and life in general is to function in a manner that is productive,profitable and<br>in a way that satisfies me first.
     
  5. Scraper

    Scraper LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,656

    Gus: It is how society as a whole perceives this industry, not your particular customers that will have a direct correlation on what they feel our industry is worth.
     
  6. Toroguy

    Toroguy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,075

    Good discussion...Steve I feel your pain, the hispanic population is growing. They need to be fluent in English to succeed. The ones who are, have a greater advantage over the spanish only crowd. Likewise for us gringos, learning Spanish can be an asset.<p>Our image to society should be no concern...I stereotype Accountants as geeks, but who will I call with tax concerns? There are top notch accountants, overworked, burned out and crappy ones too.<p>Continuing to improve customer and contractor service isnt the most glamorous part of the business. Sometimes it tastes like a &quot;Sh*t sandwich&quot; I just spit it out when nobody is looking and hope the long term benefit will out weigh the taste of it.<p>Scrapers situation is a perfect example.
     
  7. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Posts: 1,625

    It seems to me that it's not the workers that are causing the problem, it's the management of the workers. If no supervision is given then what do you expect from them! They don't know the limits of the contract. <p>As far as talking to them let me ask you this question if you where having a house built would you talk to the junior carpenter or to the builder? The builder right then why talk to the guy mowing the lawn. Can tell you this the guy mowing the lawn is getting paid alot less than the carpenter. <p>How many guys who have men working for them tell them what the limits of their contracts are. If a customer comes up to one of my men they are directed to call me on the Nex-tel and I can answer their questions at any time or will come out to the job site and talk with them, that is the biggest part of customer service. <p><br>----------<br>paul<p>ps. to Paul's post. This is Mrs. Paul and I just wanted to say better communication is the key all the way around. I had two American boy-next-door types trimming my parkway tree for the village. I asked them to quit because they were chopping the hell out of it. They totally ignored me. I was told by the Village that an arborist was on the job as supervisor. Well, dingbat, it was the supervisor that ignored me. SO GO STRAIGHT TO THE TOP BABY&gt; CAUSE IT IS THE TOP GUY'S ATTITUDE THAT TRICKLES DOWN!<br>
     
  8. Gus

    Gus LawnSite Member
    Posts: 75

    Not to sound like a half-ass philosopher but<br>society as a whole are for the most part &quot;incurably ignorant&quot; and most go by what they heard. They don`t know and don`t know that they don`t know. To many in this world the perception is the reality so to avoid dealing with such madness my business philosophy is what has been called rationally selfish. My whole point is that I`m committed to running my business as I see fit and justly reap the<br>rewards of my efforts. <br>
     
  9. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Posts: 7,952

    Society as a whole is encouraging this type of incompetence. We had an article in our local paper about people being riped off by local building contractors. Their sat the sad faces of a couple picture in the paper who was out 6000$. I had no sympathy for them at all. They were trying to save money and hired a con man who was not a license contractor and checked no references. People are getting the lowest bids and not caring about quality. Until the job either doesnt get finished or it look terrible when it is finished. Same in our business. Consumers trying to save a few dollars and blaming everyone but themselves when the quality is not there. We got people moving to mexico and bragging about their low cost of living their including taxes. While mexicans around them live in poverty. Lowballers survive because their is a sucker born every day and some people never learn. You get what you pay for is usually the general rule.
     
  10. nlminc

    nlminc LawnSite Bronze Member
    from GA
    Posts: 1,671

    Charles, Perfect!! Could not have said it bette. Our brains must be on the same frequency!<p>Chris<p>
     

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