Why does the cheapness in people always come out during the winter?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by WalkerMike98, Dec 19, 2005.

  1. WalkerMike98

    WalkerMike98 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 167

    Did some cleanup today for a customer I have had for over three years. I live in a small town so I keep an eye on my customers properties. I have known this guy for several years. He has many mature trees on his property. I normally charge him $150 because he lets us come whenever it starts looking bad and it takes about 2 hrs normally. Today it takes 2 of us 4 hrs and i charge him $250. He calls blasting me out that i should have let him know it would be more especially before Christmas. Keep in mind this is a $350000 property that is 1 acre in size with a big dry creek bed running through the middle of it. He basically said he would find someone else and that this was no way to do business and that I should have done $150 worth of work. I could have just done the yard and left the flower beds full of leaves along with the creek bed. So I tell him how long it took us and he says I cannot believe you are charging $60 plus per hour for crunching up leaves. I tried to explain that this was for 2 of us along with all the other expense. I mowed his yard all season for $75 and it took an hour and fifteen minutes.
     
  2. FL&G

    FL&G LawnSite Member
    from R.I.
    Posts: 91

    I had a similar experience last month. About an acer and a half of lawn. The whole property is full of mature oak trees. Two of us were there for 9 hours. We got every acorn, stick leaf out of that lawn. We also cleaned his gutters and mowed. I charged him $550.00. He calls me up and said he had the same job done last year for $275.00. Yeah- right! I simple told him that was the best price I could give him and that I could see anyone doing that property for less. What the hell is wrong with these people? I busted my butt. That lawn looked perfect. Keep in mind most respectable guy's in my area charge around $35.00 per man, per hour around here.
     
  3. WalkerMike98

    WalkerMike98 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 167

    I normally bill $40 per man hour. This was actually my first account and is a corner lot in an area where i have 8 other accounts. I have always given them a break because of the advertisement and other accounts i have goten from people seeing me there. The guy is about 7-8yrs older than me and since we grew up in this same small town i have known him most of my life. I just recieved word tonight that his mortgage business is suffering and they have always tried to keep up with the joneses from my observation. Maybe he is just taking it out on me. He knows alot of people here and I am worried that this could affect my business. He could start alot of rumors and in a small town it doesn't matter if they are true or not.
     
  4. DeereHauler

    DeereHauler LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 604

    today i sent out very nice christmas cards, and some late notices/threats.....tis' the season.

    my worst are doctors, lawyers, and well-off retired folks. the people who aren't rich are always the ones quickest to pay, even if they can't afford to have a lot of extra stuff done. but that is a sterotype, and i shouldn't say it., because i do have a doctor and his wife, they are always the very quick to pay, and they pay extra usually.

    but i do think you're right about the holidays and not paying, i don't know if money is tight, or their minds aren't in the right spots!
     
  5. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    Well, it seems to me that you assumed he would not even think twice about giving you $100 extra for (what was in his mind) the same job. I really don't know where your reasoning is geared from, but right or wrong there, you were wrong in his eyes.

    The thing I have learned to remember this time of year is that certain folks from all walks of life get very sensitive about their spending this time of year. I can never pre-judge who these people will be, so I do not handle business the way you did here, especially not this time of year.

    I'd say it's typical for the type of customer you describe here to feel over extended around Christmas. A lot of them have no more disposible income than the next guy after the regular monthly bills, and with their image of excess... they know others don't expect them to go cheap for the holidays. So they get their drawers in a wad for a month or two.

    Just for future reference, if I were pinned in a tight spot on doing a job I knew was going to cost extra and I couldn't get prior approval, and I couldn't be stuck with the choice of doing the job part-way or later, I'd handle it different.

    I never want to leave a job looking half done before the holidays. So I'd do the whole job and then contact the customer in-person before sending the bill. In this case, the guy would have still gotten squirrelly... but I would have had a chance to explain and a chance to lighten the burden a bit. If he was still grumbling about the extra $100 I'd BS with him a little in good sprits and in the holiday sprit I'd tell him "I understand and if it's going to be a problem since it was unexpected, just go ahead and send out the $150 you were expecting. When I recieve that, I'll cut an invoice for the other $100 and send it out AFTER Christmas and you can just take care of the rest then."

    I'm not going to work extra for free, and I'm not going to cut big discounts for something like this just to please a customer. But that doesn't mean I have to be a Grinch. I can still be a diplomat for a good customer that has been with me for 3 years.
     
  6. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    Missed your second post there while I was posting WalkerMike.
    Sounds like I was "on" though...
     
  7. WalkerMike98

    WalkerMike98 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 167

    The guys wife has always been the one who paid me. Not once in three years has he ever paid me. She said it looked great and wanted to know how much. I told her and she paid and thanked me. He called 10 minutes later. She asked us to keep the creekbed clean all through the summer. It was not much extra so I just included it in the price for mowing. I figured she wanted to keep it clean during the winter also. In 3 yrs not one complaint out of this customer. I always went the extra mile and did many little things they may or may not have noticed. I guess this is a hard lesson learned. Also I normally mulch there once a year. This year she kept putting me off and the flower beds look horrible. I think this makes me look bad.
     
  8. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    Ouch... now that's an ugly situation you can't do much about...
     
  9. FL&G

    FL&G LawnSite Member
    from R.I.
    Posts: 91

    If they put off the mulching, I think your probably right about them being over extended. He is just taking it out on you. Any consolation , I see many similarities in what youve been saying to my expieriance this season. My third. First full time. One thing Ive learned so far, Telll the people up front the app. cost. Make them understand that its only an estimate that the price could be higher. Also, you have other customers in the area, They know that this lawn does not represent your best work.
     
  10. flam41

    flam41 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 125

    Mybe talk to her & explain. I'm sure she will understand, the other spouse usually does. Let them know you want to help & want to make them happy. Unfortunately we must sometimes grovel in small towns. Good luck.
    (let the flam bashing begin for this post.....)
     

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