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What would you do?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by hughmcjr, Apr 26, 2007.

  1. hughmcjr

    hughmcjr LawnSite Member
    from Oregon
    Posts: 183

    I have been in business for 16 years. Sometimes questions about how we do business arise and it seems the best thing to do is not get into a debate with someone whose place you maintain when they own it. However, when confronted by a tenant it is hard sometimes not to respond.

    Here is the scenario. I maintain 20 small yards of tract homes in a neighborhood that are all rented by college students and managed by one company. I have worked for this company for almost 10 years. They are 50% of my business with many other apartments I maintain for them. The lawn areas are no more than 300 sq ft front and the same in the back.

    I report to the property manager other issues that the college kids don't give a damn about like leaving trash in the yard and debris, cigarette butts in the beds, beer cans, etc. They then get a notice with a time frame to clean it up. If they don't we clean up or haul away what ever it is and then send a bill. I ALWAYS talk to the students first and give them the opportunity to clean it before I report it. I tell them the property manager does monthly inspections, which she does, but many times I make sure to report things otherwise if I don't and she sees it, I hear about it and get bitched at.

    I told these particular tenants there were beer cans in the back yard about a month ago. I then reported it last week as they failed to do anything about it.

    Today the tenant ask me why I don't mow the continuing grass that is actually the neighbors. It is only 4x10 ft or so, but it is on the neighbors property line. It unfortunately connects to the property I maintain, but the neighbor hasn't mowed it yet this year so it looks like crap and reflects on my lawn. The neighbor has grass on the other side of the drive that looks poorly maintained if at all.

    The tenant, a young tobacco chewing know it all, started to get more confrontational about it and pushing the issue of me not mowing it. I replied with several reasons as to why I don't. I told him that yes it does reflect on my business, but I don't work for the neighbor nor does he pay me to mow his small patch. I went on to tell him about liability and the fact that people might ***** or or try to file suit if anything happened to their lawn. He kept pushing the issue and of course he is friends with the neighbor as they are college students as well. I know he got notice about the beer cans and sure enough he went on to tell me that I should worry more about mowing the neighbor's patch and not scalp his lawn. I could tell he didn't like the fact that I reported the beer cans, but he had every opportunity to do something about them. It seems like the real issue for him was that I complained about the beer cans, not the grass, but he had some points.

    I should have just ignored him and not got into it, but I am verbal and when I am busy like this time of year, haven't eaten and still working at 7 pm, I have little patience or tolerance for someone trying to tell me what to do and or how to run my business.

    The tenant says he works for the property managers husband who does maintenance and repairs for the property management company. I know the maintenance guy and his wife very well for years on a personal level as well as professional.

    There was much more said that really doesn't matter as it became a debate and he was trying to educate me :mad:, but this brings up several questions.

    What would you do? Would you mow the grass and say nothing? Would you talk to the guy or ignore him? Would you tell the property manager what happened?

    I am going to talk to the property manager and ask her what she would like me to do and explain my concerns as to why I don't mow the strip. It is not about being lazy and would take about a minute a week to mow.
  2. Sammy

    Sammy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,734

    I don't see the problem ?

    If you are not suppose to mow it, what is there left to say ?
  3. Mark in MD

    Mark in MD LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 322

    Four feet by ten feet? You're right and he's wrong. Nevertheless, you could mow it in less time than it took to start this thread. I'd mow it and move on. Life is short.
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    There are two things you can do:

    1) Take the above advice and politely ignore the child.
    > With 16 years in, your skin ought be thick enough :)
    2) Escalate the matter and grab the punk by the throat.
    > I would hope you don't, but that is the next step in a verbal spitter spatter.

    This is why, usually, when they come around and I see them coming, I am real short with them.
    Don't even listen to what they have to say, keep right on working and the machine at WOT.
    Tinted goggles help, as does hearing protection.
    You don't want the argument, I have a short fuse, too, I learned if I can avoid the argument, I'm better off.
    If they get in the way I usually yell something stupid like 'My insurance does not cover bystanders / you need to be within 500 feet of agricultural machinery!" If that doesn't work, those Wb's are awful fast, I just turn around and head in another direction at full speed, go cut another far away section for a good bit.

    They don't usually come around when I'm string trimming, but a really dumb look with a drooling open mouth works good, and go 'uhhhhhnnnnngggg' or something lol.

    Hope it helps.
  5. LawnScapers of Dayton

    LawnScapers of Dayton LawnSite Silver Member
    Male, from Dayton, OH
    Posts: 2,574

    Tell him that your customer, who pays for your service, is happy with your work. Ask him if he has addressed it with the neighbor? My guess is NO........Then move on.....
  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Another one I like to do, if or when I make the mistake of actually listening to what they have to say (well you don't know sometimes it could be a legit thing)... As soon as I realize it's dumb stuff, I mean the very instant it dawns in my mind that it's going to be one of those argumentative bs things is I say 'Thank you for your time' and get right back to work, cut them off in mid-sentence, too.

    I try and be polite as in I don't insult them or curse, but I say it firmly.

    Don't explain yourself, you know what you're doing, peace out.
    Don't bother with the trifles, I say.
  7. David C.

    David C. LawnSite Member
    Posts: 246

    Yes---you're right and he's wrong

    Yes---you could mow it in less time than it took to . . . .

    No---I WOULD NOT mow it

    Yes---I would move on!!!

    Yes---live is short

    Yes---Eternity is long
  8. GLLawns

    GLLawns LawnSite Member
    Posts: 132

    If you are not paid for it, dont do it. If he is not the one that writes you your check each month screw em. If you did mow that grass without the owners permission, then you can get screwed. And as others have said keep the headset on, the blades spinning, and pretend you don't see him.
  9. Liquidfast

    Liquidfast LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Posts: 739

    For what its worth, I don't have an ego when it comes to making money. I think at this point you may feel if you do it, he has won. I know sometimes that sort of thinking makes it difficult to make a rational decision but in my opinion, I would mow it.

    It took me a while to get rid of the ego of being right or wrong, winning and losing but at this stage of the game, I make it a point to win people over....yes, even if it means this person will think "I won". As long as the check doesn't bounce and I have enough money coming in to justify it, I don't mind what someone thinks.
  10. LawnScapers of Dayton

    LawnScapers of Dayton LawnSite Silver Member
    Male, from Dayton, OH
    Posts: 2,574

    That doesn't change the fact that you are going onto someone property with out permission. I do agree that to mow it would be no big deal but people can be very protective and that is a can of worms I do not have time to mess with......

    If they wanted to mowed they would do it or ask you to do it...


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