Whats the worst customer you have or had

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by nobagger, Jan 9, 2006.

  1. nobagger

    nobagger LawnSite Gold Member
    from Pa
    Posts: 3,065

    Mine is last season, he was a well off guy who worked for a Sate agency,(unemployement agency). He lives in a 200-225k home in a high class area. He told me I am the 3rd lawn care company he had in 4 years. The first 2 were priced too high, and the 3rd I guess tried to take advantage of his blind wife, telling her the lawn was trimmed etc. Every time we went there his 5 kids were running around unsupervised,well supervised by his 15yr old son. Toys everywhere, socks everywhere, hoses, you name it it was in the yard. I told him serveral times to make sure the yard was picked up, kids were inside etc. He was a bi weekly account who was a late payer. In his contract he was supposed to mow on the off weeks we were not there, he did twice. I could go on and on. Needless to say we will no longer be doing bi weekly accounts and in our contracts this year the toy's and sock thing will be covered. But I did learn a lot from this guy, even if it's the hard lesson's learned.
  2. drsogr

    drsogr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,275

    Its amazing how you learn the most from your worst customers. I had this guy who was a total a$$ hole. He hired me to do sod, well I ended up doing that and more. He hired me to do the sod, we scheduled it, and kept getting put off by the fence and the irrigation.

    By time it was my turn, I was so busy I had trouble fitting him back in. This pissed him off to no end. He would call everyday asking when I would be out there. Then to make things worse, he wanted me to build a garden, then we added a 135' dry creek river bed. Well by time all of this done, he had thrown my whole schedule off wack, and it took him and I longer than we had anticipated. I barely made any money on the deal, because of bad calculations for the dry creek river bed. He took off a couple of days from work, just to watch me work.

    He told me how he thought every thing should be done. The sad part is, I let him have the upper hand from the beginning and never got it back. I let this customer run all over me, and dictate how I ran my business. To make matters worst, he told me that he was going to withhold all of the money until next spring, to make sure the sod took. When it said specifically in the contract, the terms. That is when I put my foot down.

    To make a long story short, I will never take on a customer when I have a bad feeling during the estimation process. I will never let a customer dictate how I should run my business. And I will never do a project I am uncomfortable doing. I grew up a lot from this project. To this date I still hate this guy....he is a great candidate for a roundup water ballon.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    I was just telling another member about this customer from 2003, the "Year of the Eternal Rainstorm"

    Extremely wet on the east coast, so for the longest time I really had no schedule. This particular client did nothing but bit** and moan...didn't want it cut in the rain, and when it wasn't raining, it was still too wet in his opinion. I sarcastically asked him if I should just come back in say...July or August, you know, let it dry out for 2 months or so :rolleyes:

    I started showing up on different days...all different times of day...just to try to avoid this schlep of a client. But always he would pull in the driveway right after I had started...he'd walk over and do this.... :nono: "What do you think you're doing????"

    Finally we had it out, and he agreed to back off. But at the end of the season, he fired off a cancellation letter, citing my "inability to mow on a consistent schedule, and continually rutting up the left side of the lawn" (Which was the only way to the backyard, and typically the consistency of quicksand)

    Good riddance I say...:drinkup:
  4. jd6323

    jd6323 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 27

    What do you plan on doing about that? I have a couple people who would clean up the yards the first couple times I'd cut then got lazy about it. Should I just charge extra for clean up of all their crap or what?

    One guy who is really bad about leaving stuff everywhere always said "Oh I'm sooo sorry, next week I'll make sure to pick up before you come" and it never happened. So one day it wasn't just pool toys and what not everywhere but big stuff like wheel barrows and ladders so I just went around everthing thinking it'd teach him a lesson and if he fires me oh well, I hate doing the yard anyway. Well, he doesn't really care how it looks as long as it gets cut so this didn't affect him at all.:realmad: Now I just move the stuff in the front so it doesn't look like a bad job for others to see but the back gets 1/2assed around his junk...saves me a lot of time.
  5. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Posts: 8,745

    I had two really bad customers before:

    1. Was a regular customer for about 5 years. He always asked me to do additional work around the property, outside of what the contract stated and he always paid me for it. Well, one month he asked me to do a lot of work in a short period of time. Well, he got the bill wasn't happy with it because of the high price. So, to please him, since he was a great customer over the years and I didn't want to lose him, after negotating back and forth, I finally dropped $400 off his bill. Then next thing you know, he turned to me and said, "Now that settled, I don't want you to do anymore work on the property." Talk about a slap in the face.

    2. Second customer, was a pretty good customer. Had for about 4 years. Well, I could tell that the tension was building up one summer. She was constantly complaining about work that was costing too much or about how certain work wasn't completed. She would accuse my crew of not doing the work properly, but the funny thing was, I was right there with my crews doing the work. So it finally boiled over, when I got a phone call in January from her. See, I provided snow removal services for her during the winter months. I thought that she was just calling up to ask about the snow removal, and next thing I know she is saying, "You owe me $5,000 damage to my garage because the eves backed up with ice and caused water to drain in the garage." I was like what the heck are you talking about. She basically claimed that she asked me to clean the eves in the fall, but I didn't do them. BUt my question to her was, if I cleaned the eves in the fall, wouldn't you have received an invoice? And if you didn't receive an invoice for cleaning the eves, would you not have called to question why it wasn't done yet? That basically shut her up.
  6. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,232

    I had a customwer that always had toys in the yard, I told time after time they need to be picked up, he agreed but it never happened. Finally I started running over the toys, I saw him a few weeks later and he said I taught his kids a lesson and I shouldnt worry about toys in the yard anymore, and he was right. Ultimately he was fired due to non-payment, still trying to collect. He has since moved to a much smaller house so obviously he was living beyond his means as many of my customers do.
  7. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Posts: 8,745

    I had a customer similar to the toys thing. But it wasn't just toys, it was rope, dog food cans, electrical cord, clothes, shoes, you name it. Finally, after warnings I told them, I am done.
  8. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    The WORST I have or had???

    Well overall, I have been at this a long time and I have ran into some bad ones.
    I'll have to think about this one for a while...
  9. impactlandscaping

    impactlandscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,332

    Troy-We have a client whos dogs carry her panties and pantyhose outside thru the doggie door, into the backyard. I don't know how many pair we have ran over..lol:eek:
  10. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Posts: 8,745


    That is too funny

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