Customer seems upset...suggestions please.

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by LawnMan883, Oct 23, 2007.

  1. LawnMan883

    LawnMan883 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 85

    Well, i have a customer that i have had for about 2 years now. the first year i was on a per cut basis with him. this year i began a monthly maintenance package. i performed the mowing when needed all year, meaning most months was 3 visits, during the heavy growing times 4 visits a month and this month i have done 2 so far. i sent him a letter about fall cleanups specials i am running and he sends me an e-mail saying he is upset he paid the monthly fee to only recieve 2 or 3 cuts this month and then have me charge extra for the other services such as lawn aeration and leaf vaccuming. He told me he feels he is getting ripped off and if he decides to use me again next year he will want a set day of the week it will be cut and he wants it done every week or else he wants it on a per-cut basis again.
    He was always very happy with my services in the past and has been trying to help me get my name out there via word of mouth. I am sort of suprised by this all of the sudden. i do not feel i have done anything in error as his lawn is actually one of the best looking lawns i do. he even said it looks a lot better then it ever did when he used to do it. i just don;t knwo what to say to him.
  2. Clear-Cut

    Clear-Cut LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 481

    did u have him sign an agreement saying "this is how much it will cost no matter how many times i cut the lawn each month"?
  3. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    I can kind of see where he is coming from. that is the problem with the monthly based rates. you have top make sure you are in there cutting even more than it needs it, for good measure. You said that the most you cut it was four times a month - even during the growing season. Basically, he has paid alot more this season for alot less service. It is just a had transition for someone to go through when they had the per service basis before. For clean margin, next year you need to make sure you have stipulated in your contract how many cuts they will get. There needs to be a minimum. Also, you side services need to be detailed - whether it be per time, or by the hour.
  4. LawnMan883

    LawnMan883 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 85

    I did not have him sign a contract and did not specify how many cuts it would be. this year the package included collection of the clippings every mowing and sidewalk edging every visit too, so i figured he was getting a deal. last year was strictly lawn cutting and string trimming. if you take my monthly rate divided by 4 it was actually a little cheaper for him during the growing months and the fact that i have been collecting the leafs at every mowing this fall so far it should make up for the dry season, but i guess i should have been more specific when i said mowing as needed.
  5. whoopassonthebluegrass

    whoopassonthebluegrass LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,305

    I have found that direct billing and detailed itemization is well worth the extra time it requires me. I give them all info on the invoices so that even a complete idiot can see clearly what was done and when it was done. Yes, it means more time in the office... but I've never had an issue like this, as a result.

    Just my two cents. Works for me, but that doesn't mean I'm dumb enough to think it's the ONLY solution.

    As far as them being upset and being a good customer, talk to them in person and it'll smooth things over. Not worth losing a loyal customer over a little miscommunication/confusion. and don't let pride get in the way, either... Besides, isn't this guy demanding that you do MORE work for him? Do what you can to keep this one.
  6. mojob

    mojob LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 515

    It should be based on time spent at the property. If you're billing for four mowings per month and only doing two, then you should provide something for free that would take up the same amount of time. You want to have the customer long-term. Throwing them a bone now and then goes a long way. IMO.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    What I do with the flat rate customers is, I include leaf removal into the monthly price. If their rate only includes mowing, it's easy for them to do the math. You could add in leaves, hedge trimming or whatever. This way they feel like they are truly getting package deal. And a few missed cuts for whatever reason is not so big a deal.

    As for this guy...depends if you want to keep him. I never expect a customer to see my side of it, and why I need to generate a certain amount of revenue each month. If you think this will be an ongoing problem with him then maybe he doesn't fit into your scheme.
  8. T-Trim

    T-Trim LawnSite Member
    Messages: 204

    I too do monthly pricing. I figure if your cut twice in a month you should do free work the other two times out. Just like MOJOB's said. Look your customer are your cheese and bacon!!!
  9. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,940

    I would tend to agree with the customer on this situation. You had given them a monthly fee to maintain their lawn. It was your choice to migrate them off a "per task" fee basis, to one monthly fee. Now, you provide them with a "leaf special," meaning you are choosing to return to a "per task" basis for costs. In other words, you have mixed charging schemes. The customer felt they were paying a monthly fee for all their lawn maintenance, and now are confronted with additional charges for work they believed was being covered in their monthly fee.

    I would suggest you pick one charging scheme and be consistent. Then the customer has no reason to be confused.
  10. LawnMan883

    LawnMan883 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 85

    Ok, i spoke with him today and explained the billing and what was and was not included. I was not clear at the early part of the season. I explained this year i have been bagging and removing his clippings all year and this includes the same service on the leaves. the main goal of the special package i sent to him would be for lawn aeration, overseeding, or mulch if he needed those. He understood and i told him i would throw in a free lawn aeration for the miscommunication. He seemed satisfied and thanked me.

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