Big valuable lesson: ALWAYS call when you say you will

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Ozi_Brisbane, Sep 13, 2003.

  1. Ozi_Brisbane

    Ozi_Brisbane LawnSite Member
    Messages: 27

    I had a very valuable lesson today. It is good that it happend early in my business career, because it will make sure that I'll always go the extra mile from now on.

    I had a small job for a customer. It was a one off, but she then asked me to do her lawn mowing. I said, fine, great!

    She calls me a few days later and says, smugly, "oh, guess what! I've decided to rip out my lawn!". I said, great idea, it's a small yard might as well make it low maintenance. But there is still the strip of lawn outside your house that would need to be mown. She says, 'oh, ok, do that then'. I said, I'll call back later this week to arrange a time.

    Thursday night comes when I call my scheduled customers for a Saturday appointment and I can't find her phone number. Reason being that it was recorded on my voicemail, but it gets deleted after 72 hours and I had forgotten to write it down! And since she's new in the area she's not in the phone book, and I wasn't sure of the spelling of her last name.

    So I think I'll pass by her place and drop her a note on Monday to let her know that I lost her phone number and if she would call me.

    However, I had no such opportunity! She calls me today and says, 'I am not happy, you did not call as you promised!. I own 20 properties in the area and I was thinking of giving them to you. No way! Goodbye!" I did say that I had lost her phone number, but as you can imagine, that's a pretty crappy sounding excuse at that point.

    I don't know if she does have 20 properties in the area, she well might have, but I now know that I'll make sure that I'll get in contact with my customers in whatever manner necessary if I do lose their phone number. And as quickly as possible.


    I'll send her a Thank You card, because this will have been the most valuable job in my business. It cost me, no matter if it cost me $40 or $'0000s. It was a very valuable lesson.

  2. John Gamba

    John Gamba LawnSite Fanatic
    from ct
    Messages: 10,812

    Sad but true. Your not the only one that has learned that way.
  3. Randy Scott

    Randy Scott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,915

    Actually, you've learned two lessons, the other one is that the people that boast about other properties you could get, or "they'll tell their neighbors" are usually people you never get other work from. They like to talk a lot, but never seem to produce.

    So take what she said for what it is worth.
  4. Ozi_Brisbane

    Ozi_Brisbane LawnSite Member
    Messages: 27

    You might be right, Randy.

    I was a bit suspicious when she mentioned all those other properties. Firstly, most people that I know who are wealthy rarely boast of their wealth in this way. Second, she mentioned that all those properties are in this area.

    As a small scale property investor myself, I know better than to put all eggs in one basket. I'd spread my properties far and wide to reduce risk.

    Still, I'll have to make sure to get all contact details down on paper as soon as they are given to me and then enter them into my database. I don't want to lose customers unnecessarily.

    I do pride myself on customer service since it gives me a lot of satisfaction. A slip up like this is painful. Irrespective of the potential of a customer.

  5. GLAN

    GLAN Banned
    Messages: 1,647

    This is interesting

    yes a lesson learned.

    On the flip side. We are human, destined to the occasional mistake. I make appointments during the day off the top my head for a couple days later. I do forget sometimes. Tell someone I will get back to them in a few days, sure I get distracted, I might call the day after was supposed to call. Or even work, running around working job to job. Tell a customer that I should get to theirs in about a month. Meanwhile the ones your working on add on to the job, or a neighbor sees that work and wants it to. Or someone calls they have a special occasion and need a whole new landscape by the end of the month. Ok so that month went by and so did another week, then another week.

    OK it might be bad planning, but is it realy? I firmly believe that while doing a landscape and a neighbor that you don't service wants one. Jump on it while they are excited about it.

    Now if my schedule is full............and I have to schedule for weeks later. I strongly stress the point that they need to call and remind me a week in advance.

    What is the harm of them reminding you?

    OK what I speak of is a rare occasion............but you get my drift.
  6. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    what I would do is send her maybe a small gift, with a letter explaining the situation and ask her for another chance. See if she bites
  7. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,233

    Ozi- I have lost phone numbers berfore even worse I have phone #'s and address' for potential new customers when I said I would come down and do an estimate. Something that has helped me a lot is I have all my routs for each day stapled together. The last sheet is an estimate sheet, with name, number, address. When I get a call, or answer a voicemail I write it down immediately. This way its not just on a scrap piece of paper or an envelope I found in my truck that could be easily lost. Since I started doing this I have never had problems.
  8. Ozi_Brisbane

    Ozi_Brisbane LawnSite Member
    Messages: 27


    I agree that a reasonable person would not immediately kick another in the backside for a single slip up. I wouldn't and there have been many times when I recontacted a trades person because they didn't call me as they had promised. I do understand that sometimes work becomes overwhelming and if you are the only one running the biz, some things just fall by the wayside. No problem. If the trades person continued with slip ups then I'd start looking for somebody else.

    Errare humanum est, and we have to make allowances for it.

    I'm wondering if it's worth pursuing this particular customer if she went haywire on a one-off slip-up, when she was clearly so delighted with having me work for her on the first occasion. Maybe this is a sign of somebody not being very balanced, and do I need a client like this? Not really.


    I will write a letter explaining, together with a gift certificate offering a free service. This, not to regain her favour, but because it is the professional and fair thing to do.

    It's definitely an experience. Part of the fascination of running one's own business :)

    Never a dull moment!

    Thanks for everybodies comments. Much appreciated.

  9. walker-talker

    walker-talker LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 4,771

    I have recieved a lot of business from people that said "you were the only one that returned my call" or " three other guys were suppose to give my an estimate, but you're the only that should up." I usually just nod my head yes and say "yeah.....I hear that a lot". I have done that before as well as most of us have...just something you have to stay on top of.

  10. Doogiegh

    Doogiegh LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 871

    Maybe I'm just in a cranky mood, but dude, SKIP this one.

    Let's say she DOES have 20 properties.. And she was thrilled about you and then dropped you like a lead balloon because of 1 phone call??????

    Does she have 20 different LCO's working on her 20 different properties?? If she was sooo thrilled about you and then dropped you that quick, and needed you that bad for her other 20 properties, she's off base.

    And is she trying to find a LCO during SEPTEMBER? What happened to her previous guy or 20 guys??

    I doubt she has 20 properties, probably only her own and she's a pita and her previous lco just dumped her. Now she hates all lco's and will treat you like garbage.


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