What would you do with this customer?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by MMLawn, Sep 14, 2004.

  1. MMLawn

    MMLawn LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,569

    I have an older (70's) customer that is beginning to be kinda of a Cheap/PITA customer and wonder what some of you would do. There is no contract on this acct. I am thinking seriously on dropping him at the end of this month. My wife thinks I should finish the year for him and of course raise his price next year which we both are pretty sure he won't pay.

    Background: I started this customer in May of this year and his lawn is about 7/8 of an acre with lots of trimming (fence) and edging and it takes as long as any of the bigger lawns because of all that. He called me for an estm and because this is a very large subdivision with 300k+ houses I was trying to get my foot in the door so I really under bid the job (by probably as much as $15 a week) in hoping to get other accts near him figuring it would equal back out and of course he jumped on it. He then ask and I agreed 1) to bag every cutting 2) if he could pay monthly after the work had been done with no advance payment. Well the first time (July) that there was 5 weeks in the month he called and ask me to skip a cut and claimed it was because he had put out fert himself the day before the scheduled cut (Fert on Fescue in July I said??!!), but I agreed. Two weeks ago he ask me for a quote on replenshing exsisting beds with 20 bales of pinestraw and cutting new beds for another 10 bales of pinestraw. I gave him a price which was good, but NOT way under like I had done on the lawncare because I learned my lesson. I also included my flyer for Fall Service of Aeration. Fertization and Overseeding with a 15% Discount and showed that off the regular price because he was an exsisting customer. Well, he not only hasn't taken me up on the bid for the pinestraw or Fall Service but he calls me last night at 9PM and tells me to again skip this weeks service (the 2nd Month since we started him that has had 5 weeks in it also) because, get this, he is going to use his JD Lawn tractor to aerate, fertilize and overseed and then ASK ME how to do it! It has hit me that he is only using me as CHEAP labor and is not willing to pay a decent price for anything else. SO, as I said I think I will drop him shortly. WHat would you do?
     
  2. cst51

    cst51 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 72

    see me later!!!!
     
  3. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Posts: 4,900

    Kinda answered your own question on this one :dizzy: I would drop him as soon as he asked me how to aeriate, fert. & overseed with his JD. :angry:

    Mac
     
  4. mbricker

    mbricker LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 505

    I think you are reading the guy accurately. Hope you increased the price for the bagging.

    If your schedule isn't as full as you would like, it is probably to your advantage to keep him to the end of the season.
     
  5. Gravely_Man

    Gravely_Man LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,075

    I hate to say this but it sounds like you either need to talk with the customer or just cancell servicing his account. You underbid the account but him asking you to skip cuts on top of that is far too much.


    Gravely_Man
     
  6. out4now

    out4now LawnSite Bronze Member
    from AZ
    Posts: 1,796

    Just some insight here, older people are PITAs because they are generally retired with nothing to keep them occupied and they are on a fixed income so their obsesion becomes saving money(well at least for the ones that couldn't stash enough into retirements, there are rich older people) They sit around most of the day dreaming up ways to get something for free. My surviving grandparents are in ther 80's and still doing this. They can't do it themselves but the cost of meds vs. lawncare is a pretty simple decsion. In your case you can't afford to mess around with this type of customer. My advice is to find some highschool kid and let him apprentice with you starting on that account. He'll follow the kid and watch him like a hawk pointing out all the mistakes h's making while you crank out several more yards in the neighbor hood and you pick him back up when done and do a quick quality inspection. You get a trained employee, kid makes some cash and old guy gets to be cheap because you're making kid use cheap equipment and not paying him much until he's trained.
     
  7. MMLawn

    MMLawn LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,569

    Not the case here though as this customer even though he is now "retired" owns one of the largest private businesses in the County (a large county with over 1M folks) and is very wealthy. He and his wife both trade their New Lexus' every 6 months even. He also pays every month form his "Investiments" Bank Acct. He is a nice guy but I think he just wants cheap labor and nothing more.
     
  8. out4now

    out4now LawnSite Bronze Member
    from AZ
    Posts: 1,796

    Dump him. You'll be better off. Should tell him that you'd have to charge a consultaion fee to tell him how to fert. and aerate and that it will cost even more when you have to fix what he did. lol.
     
  9. MMLawn

    MMLawn LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,569

     
  10. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    don't even call, just stop showing up
     

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