1. Missed the live Ask the Expert event?
    Catch up on the conversation about fertilization strategies for success with the experts at Koch Turf & Ornamental in the Fertilizer Application forum.

    Dismiss Notice

crazy lady problem

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by Agape, Nov 1, 2011.

  1. Agape

    Agape LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,644

    sorry this is so long.:waving:

    I have a customer who I did a $2K cleanup for, and gave an estimate for maintenance. I have 3 programs

    1) lawn care only-nothing outside the lawn

    2)lawn care and includes bed work...weeding, raking,leaf care in winter/fall, and cut perennials as they die back.

    3) every thing in 1 & 2, plus all the pruning 1-2X per year (under 14')

    now about this old lady; she has a billion flowering stuff all growing wild and together, but she loves every one of them like children and actually screams from the kitchen if she thinks you are too close to one etc.... we did the cleanup but I was barely able to pre-treat the weeds and was not allowed to put any preventative measures down.

    She selected program #2 and the plan was to work our way around the property doing a section each week, (which would have been easier right after the initial cleanup),and if she had any additional requests we'd come in for a couple hours 2x/monthly at an additional charge.The couple also paid me a year in advance for the maintenance.

    we were set to start early in the AM each week as were her instructions, then when we showed up the next week she decided she wanted to be there supervising (which I thought was because she didn't want us to accidentally hurt her beloved flowers) and she was unavailable 1st thing in the AM. so I had to reorganize my route and make her the last stop of the day.

    Then every week she presented us with instructions and basically had us doing things outside the original agreement, in fact, we rarely do weeds until it's a small section of overgrown weeds that she has us finally do, and there can be NO collateral damage.

    It makes not much diff. to me because we allocate a certain amount of man hours per week (1.5 max) so after 45 minutes we're gone no matter what.

    since we made her the last stop, it greatly varies what time we arrive(based on troubles and setbacks throughout the day) so recently she said "we need to figure out how to get you here at a set time" (lol) so we're now back to first stop AM.

    The issues are;

    1) we often don't have on board the things we need to do what she asks, so we have to bring it the following week (ladders, hedge trimmers etc... and then we gotta work around it all day- but this is not about "how can I carry more stuff"

    2)we are about to go to our winter schedule so no matter what, we are coming 2x/month maximum starting in December.

    3) I'm really wanting to get back to what the original plan was. I am going to throw it on them in march, and I've already been paid so they just have to take it- it's the plan they agreed to. and when I go dormant this winter she will still have weeds everywhere and that is tuff ducks, I'm keeping my winter schedule despite the work needed because if we went with the original plan it would be caught up.

    I know it's my fault for letting it get to this point, but I kinda assumed that her supervision was to protect her flowers, not to get slave boys. and 2 weeks after she gave me the check for over $2K for pre paid maint. I had that money spoken for.

    I just need some continuity and I can no longer accommodate her whims. I know I'd be well within my rights to say sorry, we are now weeding and doing the lawn and nothing else follows AND we are here when we can get here.- she's already paid.

    other than that she's a very nice lady, I like her and her husband.

    my plan is to continue through winter but only come when we normally would, (which would blow her "schedule" right out because it would then not even be a specific week.)and then in march going to the regular schedule of weeding weekly- NO LISTS.......sorry.

    what would some of you do?
  2. MDLawn

    MDLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    Not have spent her money, paid her a refund, and walked away. I don't run a huge business but anyone that has paid me up front for the year I have always had that money ready to pay back just in case. What if you decided to call it quits or got hurt, you would OWE that money asap!! I think the trick with the upfront payments is to stuff them away and only pay for anything with the amount it would have been for the month. Easier said than done, but thats how I looked at my up front payers. I mean if they didn't pay up front would you have gone under? Was the "spoken for" money something you bought because you now had $2,000 cash on hand?? :nono: Techincally that money isn't truly yours until the year is up. I'm sure many have spent up front money but thats a risk if you needed to, or in this case wanted to, refund someone.
  3. zak406

    zak406 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,516

    She seems "nice" just a bit of a pita, not your typical pita though because they usually *****. If it were me I would see if she could set a plan for you a week in advance for instance if you are at her property today she would tell you what to do today for next week, that way you can get the proper tools and equipment. If you are spending the alotted time there and are making money, why walk away? She paid you up front and doesnt ***** about what your doing, she may be a bit hard to work with but im sure the money is worth it!
  4. FoghornLeghorn

    FoghornLeghorn LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 753

    You don't run an a la carte restaurant. You have a set route, with set tasks to complete on each account each day. When she gives you 13 different weird things to do each time you there, it throws your whole operation off.

    If you don't get this woman under control, you're going to be running around in circles and pulling your hair out trying to be her "yard boy".

    Present this client with a calendar of services by visit detailing each thing you'll be doing, each visit. If she needs to change the scope of work, charge her accordingly (both for the extra labor and the fact that you now have to juggle everything around her one account).

    You look to have a good amount of equipment and a pretty good operation, you didn't get there by having PITA clients like this.
  5. Agape

    Agape LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,644

    MD- when I say already spoken for simply means I want it I could have given it back but I'm not in that kind of business where I give it back, and I'm not solo, so if I get hurt i'm just mostly a spectator. plus I took it initially to mean that she wanted to be there to protect her flowers,or do a specific area, not to task items that were not on the menu.

    Zack- I have no intention of simply walking away, it is profitable as I've put a time limit each week on how long, so we're still making about $45-50/hr, no matter what she wants done, it's just a pita 'cause we don't always carry all our stuff, but rather just what we need for maint. and we have to REMEMBER it next week. the problem is that we're supposed to do weeding, and none is done and we ARE going to our schedule of 1-2X per month soon so she may have a problem, or she may not. but we're not coming weekly OR spending more time regerdless of how many weeds there are.

    JO- you are correct, it's not a la carte so I need to get it controled.

    The good news is that they paid upfront and all I have to do is honor my written agreement and give them exactly what they paid for.so I'll spring it in march and they may hate it, but we do good work so they'll probably love us again by june when their service comes up for renewal.

    she's very nice,Ice water and lemonaide in the summer so I feel bad - especially because it's my fault for letting her do it, but I'm simply giving her what she agreed to and paid for.

    It may go well, it may be bad, but no refunds. I know what I should have done in the beginning.
  6. Agape

    Agape LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,644

    I took a copy of the estimate and explained to her that when she signed up for the service that this is what it was and was never been intended to be a 1.5 man hour cleanup each week and how we needed to be efficient in order to give the prices we do etc... she was willing to do it but still wanted to micro-manage us (weed here...do this) and I said we need to stick to the schedule... she said if she couldn't supervise, then she wanted to go down to the "green" package (lawn only) and I offered that since she paid a bit extra, in advance for the upgraded plan, that I would extend her service an additional month and she was fine with that.

    chalk it up as a lesson-re learned
  7. nortonlawncare

    nortonlawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 307

    I think the solution you came up with is the best in that situation.
    I have a crazy lady i deal with, she's nuts but she pays on time and she pays well.
  8. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    She thinks you're an employee, not a contractor. During my first season I had a lady come out with her pointer stick while I was cutting her hedge to show me where to cut, the whole time saying, back and forth, back and forth...I called her Pointing Patty P. Now add this to the fact that she came out with a trench coat on in the middle of summer (sun sensitivity she said) and a golf cap perched on top of her huge blonde frizz hairdoo....I felt absolutely ridiculous!

    My point is that you can't have a customer micro managing you to that point. It sounds to me like she needs to hire a gardener or something that will work under her direction. I would be out of there pretty fast is she pulled that stuff on me. I don't mind people who are particular, but I'm not gonna let them baby sit me or not give me a defined scope of work that I can plan around. I think you need to put your foot down and tell her how you operate, and if that doesn't work for her you need to excuse yourself and tell her she needs to find someone else...refund for any unused time.
  9. Agape

    Agape LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,644

    yeah,she was/is crazy, I'm glad it workedout, she loves the lawn and on that program I can be in and out in 15-20 minutes by myself and is more profitable than the upgraded package.

    I used to do the lawn and edging and chem tretment , and tell my worker to go find out what she wants and I'll help you finish when I'm done with the lawn. but my worker is taking november to work at a x-mas tree farm, so this is just in time, because as it was palletable to have my worker be her little ###, I didn't want to.
  10. Total Lawn and Sprinkler

    Total Lawn and Sprinkler LawnSite Member
    Messages: 27

    If you think there is any chance that you might be in the red after doing her lawn I would refund the money and get out of the deal immediately. That's my rule of thumb. Don't let a customer squeeze your margin.

Share This Page