A Frustrating Situation

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by MOturkey, Jul 25, 2014.

  1. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    I'll try to keep this as short as possible, and still explain the pertinent details. In 2012, I bought about a dozen accounts from another LCO who was relocating because of his day job. Two properties were owned by the same elderly person, his residence and a commercial property, but the commercial property is managed by another family member.

    The guy I bought out told me that all his accounts were priced right on the money, except one, the residence of this elderly couple. Turns out they were old family friends, and had actually been his babysitter when he was a kid, so he gave them a big break on their house. He was charging them $47.50 per service on what should have been a $60 lawn.

    Well, he had both these accounts listed as EOW. I asked the customer, who we will call "Joe", if that was written in stone, or if the residence could be mowed more frequently. He told me "if you come by, and it needs mowing, go ahead." We drove by early in the season 7 days after the last service, and I felt it needed to be mowed, and did so while they were gone. Got a frantic phone call that evening from Joe telling me they had budgeted for 2 mows a month, and simply could not afford for it to be serviced any more frequently. Well, 2012 was a drought year, so we made it through the season with no major problems, although the place was often a mess when we arrived. The lawn has never been cared for since the house was built probably in the 80's, and Joe always mowed too short, so crabgrass was rampant, as well as having a large area of Johnson grass.

    Next spring, 2013, I raised his price $5. Should have been more, but I figured if I lost the residence, I'd probably lose the commercial account as well, which is a fairly decent one. We had a wetter summer last year, and the place was sometimes pretty rough looking. If you have ever seen what 2 weeks growth on crabgrass and Johnson grass looks in hot, humid weather, you know what I mean. I did the best I could, sometimes even double-cutting the worst portions, but it still didn't look like a weekly account at times.

    End of the season, I get a note with the final check letting me know that Joe was going to be mowing himself in 2014. I knew that was a lie, because he had health problems which had caused him to hire the guy I bought out in the first place, but I really didn't care. It is a big yard, with lots of trimming, and I was getting tired of dealing with the EOW situation on this particular property. I half expected to lose the commercial account, but never heard anything, so started mowing it as usual.

    A month or so into this season, I get a call from the relative who takes care of the commercial property, and I think, "Okay, here we go!" Instead, I was surprised when he asked me if I could begin weekly service during the peak growing period because they were wanting to improve the looks of the property. I had actually been considering contacting him before he called to ask the same thing, because portions of the place can get pretty rough looking in 2 weeks.

    A couple of weeks later, a friend of mine who also has a mowing business in the same town, calls me and asks if I serviced such-and-such commercial property. I told him I did, and he tells me he had talked to some friends of his who also have a mowing business, people I am familiar with, but have never met, and they told him they were supposed to start mowing it.

    I said that seems odd, because I had just recently been contacted and asked to service it on a weekly basis. He kept talking and mentioned something about "forty some odd dollars", and I knew he was talking about the residence, not the commercial property. I told him that I knew Joe was having someone mow besides me, but I didn't know who it was, since I had never passed by while the property was being serviced, but it did appear that was being mowed every week.

    He went on to tell me that his friend was mowing weekly, and charging them $65!!! Joe told them they had to fire me because we mowed too fast, mowed when it was wet, and the place looked terrible most of the time.

    Well, I don't mow slowly, but I don't go full-bore either. As for mowing while wet, due to my route that day, I don't think his place was ever mowed before noon. Of course, 10 inch high crabgrass is going to be wet, no matter when you mow it! My buddy did tell me that his friend more or less defended me and told Joe that it sounded to him like he was getting a pretty good deal for what he was paying us.

    I drove by Joe's several times, and can't see anything the new guy is doing that we weren't, except mowing weekly, and, perhaps a bit shorter. I'm wondering now if Joe was trying to replace us on the commercial property as well, but the relative who manages it balked and just started having us mow weekly instead.

    Losing the account really isn't the issue. If you aren't happy with my service, fine, get someone else, but don't bad mouth me to the new guy, especially when you don't give the whole story. What really irks me is that very first time I mowed for this guy, I found a $100 bill on his lawn on the other side of the garage, out of sight of the house. I could have pocketed it and he would have never known the difference, but instead did the right thing and knocked on his door and asked if he might have lost some money. He said he thought he did because he had a bunch of cash in his shirt pocket when he came home from the hospital late one night, and thought he came up short the next day, so I gave him the money.

    What really blows my mind is that he almost blew a gasket when we mowed one time on less than a 2 week interval, then replaces us and gripes to the new guy about how the lawn looked, all the while letting them mow weekly for $12.50 more. I'd love to confront him about it, but know I would probably end up losing the commercial account if I tick him off, which is a decent account, especially now that I service it weekly.
  2. Jimslawncareservice

    Jimslawncareservice LawnSite Platinum Member
    from mn
    Messages: 4,143

    some people are just nuts. I have 4 lawn in one area. had a 5th last year. it was EOW as they said they were tight for money but had me spray and fertilize. last winter they had a new company do the snow and now the lawn weekly but shut off the irrigation. I am sure theres plenty of other stuff I am not thinking of. but it all comes down to some people are nuts and some just are not a good match for you and your company
  3. echo

    echo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,696

    Sounds like it ended up a good situation. As was said, some people are nuts.
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  4. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,578

    I wouldn't even care.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. xstatikplus

    xstatikplus LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 299

    Hey you lost the one contract you were cutting for a discounted price and you still got the affiliated good contract still. I think win win for you. As for the smack talk about your service to the new guys who cares? You think his new landscapers care really what he is saying or doing the smile n knod while in their head saying get back in your house so I can get back to work
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  6. OakNut

    OakNut LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,104

    I'm still waiting for the post you were going to keep "as short as possible".

    :D :D :D
  7. Razorblades

    Razorblades LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,261

    What he said ^^^. I do understand that you don't like that the elderly man said some untruths about you to the "new guy" and especially since he is getting to do it weekly now for that price, but i wouldn't let it get to me if i were you.

    Just accept it and move on , as you've still got the more desirable of the two properties anyway.:)
  8. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,139

    You have way too much time on your hands if you can post all that trying to be short.
  9. lawnsaspire

    lawnsaspire LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,695

    Sounds like Podunk Missouri ways of thinking and doing business. I rarely accept every other week clients bc of the trouble they give me. Insist on every week mowing for everyone unless there is a serious drought and you'll weed out a lot of idiots. Charge a reasonable but not low ball price and the good ones will be happy to pay weekly. Keep up with the u.s. Drought monitor. If it doesn't say you're in any kind of drought status then mow weekly no questions asked or the client is out of here.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  10. easy-lift guy

    easy-lift guy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,372

    I believe the OP really let this customer get under his skin, the customer knows it. Give the customer a Two week notice and fire them. Move forward. Don't spend any more emotional capital with customers that choose to play mind games with you. You have better things to do than waste your time with these mental midgets.
    easy-lift guy

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