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Customer mad over tree trimming price

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by maple city, Aug 12, 2003.

  1. maple city

    maple city LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 305

    Please tell me if I'm way off base here.

    We were asked by one of our customers to trim a 16' tall bush. It was already shaped, and needed the new growth shaved off. She was given an estimate by another guy for $100.00. Didn't seem to bad, so we told her $50.00. We ate a little on it because it ended up taking us over an hour, and there were 2 of us working.

    Anyway...She's pleased with the job we did, and next time we come to mow, she asks us to trim a crabapple tree. She never asked us what the price would be. We did the crabapple, it was overgrown, and took about 1 1/2 hours for us to trim and clean up the mess in her mulch bed. There were 2 of us. I charged her $50.00 for the crabapple. I felt I was being pretty nice because I really felt the job was worth more. So my husband stops by her house today and she is all upset about the price for the crabapple tree. She felt like we overcharged her for it. My husband explained what we did, that we have overhead and insurance, and how long it took. She was still unhappy with the price. My husband even offered to trim a burning bush that she has for free, as a peace offering. He told her we just wanted to be fair to all parties involved.

    I don't want to lose this account, we do her house and her son's house. She is generally very happy with us, and I was surprised about how she acted. I also want to point out that I always do extras for her yard. If she has a trash can with weeds and sticks, I'll empty it in our truck and dispose of it for free. One time she was in a jam and needed a desk moved into the house. We did this for her for free. We have gone above and beyond for her (I feel).

    Was the price for the crabapple too high? How would you all have handled this?

  2. scott's turf

    scott's turf LawnSite Senior Member
    from NH
    Messages: 949

    A little over $16 per man hour I would say is one hell of a deal. My employee would be netting more than me at that rate.
  3. Rhett

    Rhett LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,071

    Been in your shoes. A few select clients I just do what needs to be done and bill them. The rest are given a price on each item that will be added on to thier bill before I began. Have had a few questions from absentee home owners and I usually let them know that if they trust me to do the work I will trust them that they are going to pay. Like to send a picture with the bill at the end of the month
  4. Jimbo

    Jimbo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,093

    Maple city- I think your price was fine. The problem is most likely that your customer is getting used to these "Extras", and probably thought it was going to be an "extra" since you didnt give a formal estimate.
    In the future you should quote everything (even if it is only verbal) so that they realize they are getting charged.

  5. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    that is why all extra we do seperate from mowing. We set up an appointment date for it and do it seperate for the customer knows that this is additional work.

    BRIAN GALLO LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 282

    Maple city,

    I don't know what your economic area is like, but $50 still sounds good for what you did even if it's a low paying region. Watch out for all that good samaritain freebie work though. You need to slowly ween yourself away from that, if you still want to keep the lawn. Been there, done that. That type of "do me a favor" customer will end up bleeding you dry. Then when you still charge a fair or low price for something (as you did),and they complain, it really leaves you feeling mad and taken advantage of. That's not a good place to be, so try to stay away from those situations. Good luck.
  7. fblandscape

    fblandscape Banned
    Messages: 776

    Get rid of that client as if she were the plague. Those prices are WAY too low for what you did. I would have asked for probably $100 - $150 for the first tree, and $150 - $200 for the crab apple. Those prices are low too... I might ask more for the crab apple if its really overgrown.
  8. sildoc

    sildoc LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,925

    Did the freebe thing a couple of times had to end it because she came to expect it. No longer will do it. Told her so and still have the account. Come to find out that the last lco that had her account put up with it for 2 years and told her this year to scre__ herself. Goes to show you that if you nip it in the butt early it won't come back to haunt you.
    Good luck.
  9. geogunn

    geogunn LawnSite Gold Member
    from TN
    Messages: 3,010

    I'd have nelped with the desk--no problemo. it is just the kind of thing I would do because someone asked.

    but your prices on the bush and tree seem too low for two people.

    one person--same time 1 hr, 1.5 hr...sounds alot better.

    if she told me she had a $100 bid on the bush, I'da shot her a $75 quote.

    I will have to admit to doing some crappy tasks just because people call.

    but that is because I want to keep them calling me (instead of calling someone else).

  10. Rustic Goat

    Rustic Goat LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,194

    The problem would seem to be one of communication and/or clarity.
    Many clients ASSume that if they aren't told a price at the time of their service request, then it must be free. They feel it's 'their' job to get as much out of you as possible without having to get their wallet back out.
    Until you have that rapport with a client that makes them aware that asking for more work means more fees, you've got to go through the steps of making them understand the reality of the situation.

    She wants a tree trimmed, OK, 'We can do that, it should take about X amount of time and that'll run you between $ and $'.
    Same thing as a salesman 'closing the sale'. That way both sides know where you stand before any sweat starts to flow.
    From then on, customers expect charges, or they don't ask for 'little favors' cause they then understand it means spending money.

    Your pricing structure seems very fair, your customer doesn't.

    Money for nothing, and the checks are free!

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