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unhappy customers

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by HBFOXJr, Mar 7, 2002.

  1. HBFOXJr

    HBFOXJr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,712

    I'm experiencing a few program cancellations due to dissatisfied fert customers. In all cases the people had no irrigation in place, didn't use their system properly or have a poorly designed system that does not supply an even amount of water in sufficient quantity.

    EVERY lawn with a good system properly operated looked good last season despite the severe drought we are in here in NJ.

    I provide watering info with every application and leave many personal notes about problems and solutions with applications when I observe problems.

    You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink or can you? How much time can one spend with an ignorant customer that wants results without effort before it's easier to spend the effort and money to replace him?

    Help, comments, suggestions???
  2. Randy Scott

    Randy Scott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,915

    If you have given them instructions and they don't follow them, then there isn't much you can do. For the people that didn't have an irrigation system you probably shouldn't have put anything down. We were dry here last year also and some yards I skipped an application or bumped it down the road a little. For those that don't use the irrigation properly, ask if you could go through it with them and help them set it up properly. And for those that just won't listen to you, F-them. I've got a few of my own that just won't listen to reason and therefore I am not renewing them. I need money but I don't need poor exposure because the customer won't listen to me. If they have all the answers let them do it themselves. :)
  3. Its difficult when the success of your work depends on the customer doing their part, especially when you give them the neccessary information.You can tell them, put it in writing, and remind them, but you can't make them do it.

    My experience is that after 1 follow up if I cannot solve these types of problems I let the customer go. I have found that if the first call can't fix it the third or fourth won't either. So, I tell them that my service doesn't seem to be meeting their needs and they will be happier looking elsewhere. My is better spent looking for new good customers.

    Now I only do this assuming its an obvious problem such as lack of water that the customer will not correct.

    To keep a check on myself I review the customers I loose/give up to these situations at the end of the year. My comfort level is 10%. I figure if I am pleasing & retaining over 90%, then I am doing good. My number was 6% for 2001 and I can live with that to save me the continuous aggravation of trying to fix something that doesn't want to be fixed.
  4. Nebraska

    Nebraska LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 525

    Those that refuse to work with us, rather believe that we should do all the work and perform miracles, are going to be a problem. If they are not "educatable" with one company are they "educatable" with another? Who knows. Does a customer like that really help grow the business or do damage to a reputation that exists or one that you are trying to establish. I would love to just refer all those kinds to "un-green & scuds" if you know what I mean.
    I have even set sprinklers out for the customer, free of charge, so they get the hint and left notes and messages saying all they have to do is turn on the water. Gone back a week later and they were never moved let alone turned on. Offered free timers, proposed watering service at a per visit charge, and still nothing.

    A guy once told me to tell the customer to sit out in the sun for a week with no water and ask them how they feel.. Little harsh and never have done it but I bet it would get the point across.
  5. Turfdude

    Turfdude LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,900


    Since you're such a scrub....

    Seriously, I believe everyone has accounts like these. They pay for the service, don't follow directions (watering) and expect miracles. Most clients are realistic and the better more educated clients will call as soon as there is a slight hint of a problem "I think I may be getting another fungus, please check lawn" or " I see a lot of crows feeding in the yard again, do you think I have grubs?"

    These are the ones we all like to accept. Really can't these people have any "Home Pride"?

    Our biggest problem w/ clients this year is their concern with the watering restrictions. Hopefully we'll get som rain!!!

  6. Nebraska

    Nebraska LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 525


    You've been doing this longer than most people on these boards... I guess the disappointment of loosing even one customer can still "bite"? I was hoping it would get easier to get beyond the longer I do this?

    MATTHEW LawnSite Senior Member
    from NE OHIO
    Posts: 665

    In my experience with 3 major droughts, the reason cusomers get mad is that you treated the lawn and they paid money for nothing. If you skip the app with an explanation, they will usually pass the blame on the weather rather than you.
  8. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    yea, ive been getting that for years. the ones that used our programs, and watered as directed, were beautiful. the ones that didnt, looked not as good. sometimes they even try to tell u they HAVE been watering. pretty funny, no matter when i show up to cut, the lawn and soil are bone dry. they have to understand, this is a "partnership", i do my share, u have to do yurs too, or it wont work out.
  9. tremor

    tremor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,476


    For what it's worth, I used to stand on the drought areas while someone turned on the affected zone & defy them to "water" me through an obstructing tree or other item of neglect.

    Tuna fish cans are useful to prove theories of poor precipitation rate. One in a green area, one in the brown. Then run the affected zone.

    Since so many irrigation companies operate around here, some companies are winning installation contracts based soley on price. These guys often use more heads per zone than the local water pressure can support. These guys work cheaper since they install fewer zones (valves). They rarely even come close to true head to head coverage.

    Eduaction of the consumer is the only way to win them back. This takes time. The client may not want to come back to you even after they have discovered you were correct because they are embarassed.

    It looks like we're in for another year of limited water around here so maybe some printed informational leave behinds for the customers now will help to fend off the complaints later?

  10. HBFOXJr

    HBFOXJr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,712

    Well all is not bad because one that was a 3 yr customer got $1,100 in alterations done in the front and side lawns last Dec and a 2 yr account is also looking at big $$$ alterations. So I do get a few that listen. I like to take my soil probe out and pull samples and put them in their hands to feal the moisture. Also make them touch their hands to the surface of good and bad areas to feal the difference in temperature. So maybe I win 1/2 the battles??? But since I'm a sore loser that isn't enough for me.

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