you are in BUSINESS, think with your head, not your heart

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by bobbygedd, Apr 14, 2004.

  1. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    my general rule of thumb has always been, this is business, nothing personal. but, i will admit(shamefully) that i've had my soft spots, on occasion, for the elderly, less fortunate, and even for beautiful single women. so here is a story, and a very good reason, to keep it business, always, or you will end up like "the last guy" who went out of business. so, i got a call from a lady, wanted leaf cleanup, mowing, and ferts. i started at $27, and found it should have been a few bucks more, but i'll finish the season, bring it up to $30, $32 the following year. well, over that winter, her husband passed away. spring time came, i stopped by to renew, and heard of the tragic news. she also expressed that she was having financial trouble, so i just didn't have the heart to increase the fees, and in fact, didn't even charge for a spring cleanup(it was minor, since i did the fall cleanup prior year), and even did shrub trimming at substandard prices. but i made it a give and take thing. i would edge every 3-4 weeks, instead of every other week. if there were fallen limbs, i tossed them to the side or filled up her garbage can to keep from charging an extra few bucks. i didn't push for bed work, or mulch, etc. i kept it minimal, so she could afford it. we made it through the year. the following season, i sent renewels out in feb. didn't hear from her, made several calls, she never called back. finally, in the middle of may, she calls, asking me to come by, she wants to speak to me. i went. she stated that she really didn't want to use us anymore, we did a bad job. we didn't edge and mulch the beds, we didn't do thorough cleanups after storms, we didn't clean the street curb area, we cut corners, and we didn't replace the shrubbery in the beds that had died(she planted them). i laid it on the line, ALL OF THIS COST MONEY, i explained, and i was under the impression, that she couldn't afford it. she said afford it or not, i still need it. can you provide better service, or do i look elsewhere? i said sure, you want a price? she said no, just do it, then i'll pay you when you're done. fine. $800 later, i was knocking on the door for my money. she didn't have it, and "she didn't feel like running to the bank." i kept hearing "stop by tommorow", after like 8 visits trying to collect over a 3 week period, i finally got $650 out of her. took it, and never went back. moral of story, think with your head, not your heart. make every job worth your while, or you will be "the last guy, who went out of business."
     
  2. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,501

    Bingo...right then and there I would have said, "Ok then, I'm sure you have a budget in mind. What do you want done each week?"

    I'm not saying it's not right to express some sympathy for the woman bobby, but business IS business IMO...good thread btw.
     
  3. triadncman

    triadncman LawnSite Member
    Posts: 72

    Hey bobby same here on the soft spots, except with me its beautiful non-single women too.
     
  4. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,501

    Hope your life insurance is paid up...lol
     
  5. proenterprises

    proenterprises LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,297

    I agree with you on this one bobby. My boss from last year had the very same situation with a lady. It was a fairly crappy house, she didnt have alot of dough and just needed the place looking somwhat okay. She didnt even want us to trim, just come in and mow and thats it. Well, thats about what we did, and just a quick qind sprint around with the trimmer to keep things looking nice.

    The only different part was she was grateful on everything we did, we would toss sticks in the woods but any extras we didnt do.

    Its too bad this lady dosent see what your really doing to help her out. Good luck.
     
  6. crawdad

    crawdad LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,939

    I just had one of last year's customers call, he got someone to do it cheaper, $40 for what was a $60 lawn. He probably told them the same as he told me last year, "The last guy did it for $50." He's probably getting it done cheaper every year. He wanted me to match the other guy's price, though he said he wasn't trying to "jew me down." Nice language for a lawyer to use. Oh, well, he needs the money worse than I do. I hear those Jaguars are bad on gas.
    Crawdad
     
  7. EastProLawn

    EastProLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,110

    Agree 100%. I used do alot of "freebies" for the customers that are on a so called "fixed budget". I would let things go here and there, but not anymore. It was never appreciated, the little I was charging them was always followed by some complaint. Bobby you hit it right on the head, business is business. Keep it all business and you'll have minimal problems as far as billing goes.
     
  8. protouchlawn

    protouchlawn LawnSite Member
    Posts: 142

    I ran into this just yesterday. I had an elderly lady I had been maintaining for 3 years. She aws one of my first customers when I started. I took this yard at 25.00 because she said that was what she had been paying and it was all she could afford really. This is in reality a 50 to 65 dollar property. Tons of trimming and a lot of stuff to mow around. It takes two of us a solid hour to do it properly. I sent out a letter in March letting my customers know that, due to the rising costs of business, I would have my first price increase ever. I called this lady personally and told her my minimum charge would now be 35.00. She said she understood,no problem. We went for the first cut of the year the Thursday before Easter as she requested. We did what amounted to a small spring clean-up (at no charge of course) and were there about an hour and a half. She said everything looked lovely,thank you, etc. We get a call yesterday morning from her saying she loves us, we do a wonderful job, but she has found someone to do it for 25.00. She said she couldnt afford 35.00, and I told her I could not afford 25.00. Now this is a lady I have replaced doorknobs for, hauled back and forth to church when she was sick, and who knows the things I have done in a professional capacity that I would have charged anyone else for.ALL FOR NOTHING-NO LOYALTY WHATSOEVER. If she could"nt afford to keep us for another 30 or 40 dollars per month, p%$^ on her. I can assure you this woman could afford it. I can also assure you this WILL NOT happen again. Sorry for the long post, but I feel better now.
     
  9. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    here is my take on the "i cannot afford it" excuses. guess what, if you can't afford it, YOU DON'T GET IT!! there is a place for everyone on this planet, and that is the perfect spot for joe scrub. of course she will sacrifice quality, dependability, and proffesionalism, but , if that's what you can afford, then that's what you get. check it out, i used to have a cleaning service once a week to do house work, i cancelled, why? I CAN'T afford it! i cut my own grass (sometimes, when the nieghbors complain) why don't i have a service? i can't afford it. why am i driving a mini van, and not a mercedes? i can't afford it. you get the point.
     
  10. lawnranger44

    lawnranger44 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 370

    We are in a similar situation, with clients who want us to come "only when it needs it." Well, it just so happens that they think it "needs it" only when it is 6 or 7 inches tall. We're trying our best to sort of tell them that we're coming when we think it needs it, and if it's every 5 days, then they will have to pay a bit more.
    Good thread
     

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