Dealing with nuisance customers. Swallow your pride or fire them?

iclypso

LawnSite Member
Location
CA
Otherwise, actively search to replace the customer and then drop. To me, no amount of money is worth putting up with rude people. Will I do it temporarily? Yes, but only until I can replace them.
^This. Tolerate it for the minimum time your situation (a.k.a. personal financials) allow. That nuisance customer is taking up time you could be spending on a customer who isn't a nuisance.
 

GRANTSKI

LawnSite Silver Member
Location
Ct Shoreline
Running a business is already stressful enough. Not worth getting your blood pressure up over $50 a week (more like $20 after taxes etc) . My policy is as soon as they become disrespectful I confront them about it and of no change then they are ex customers.
Recently had to drop a lady w dementia ...she was “nice” but passive aggressive and Was calling a MINIMUM of 5 times a week. “Cut it high - cut it short - you missed a spot - when are you coming - don’t come this week - actually come this week etc etc. some times I would have 5 missed calls in one DAY . It actually took me about 10 conversations to drop her as a customer and after kindly referring her to someone else guess what ....10 more voicemails Over the past week complaining about the new guy and literally BEGGING me to mow her lawn again lol. NO.
 

Valk

LawnSite Gold Member
Location
KS
Drop them AND block their phone #.
 

DA Quality Lawn & YS

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Rochester, MN
If they get how you describe, we let them go. Generally we do it like this....

After getting a couple of complaints that I consider to be BS....

1. We inform client that we may not be the best fit for them any longer.
2. We tell them that we're happy to finish out the (insert month, next couple services, etc) following services in order to give them time to find a suitable replacement.
3. Often, they don't find them, we still discontinue service.
4. If they complain again after tell them the info above, I typically tell them no charge for that service and immediately cease service.
5. If they find another service, I typically say "Thanks so much for the opportunity of working with you, please keep us in mind if you need something in the future". I do this for 2 main reasons....First, I try to keep it polite in order to avoid a negative reviews. Second, I LOVE when they reach out 1-2 months later and ask to get back on schedule. That's when we get to say "I'm so sorry but unfortunately we're completely full on all mowing routes. Please keep us in mind for next Spring".....Then you know what I tell them next Spring :nod:
This right here is a good respectful way to do it.
 

Mark Oomkes

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Grand Rapids, MI
I agree with the others, it's kind of a gut feeling based on what the complaints are.

But don't be afraid to, life is too short to deal with some people's BS.

Also, it seems like people are getting more demanding than in the past as well as to a certain point unrealistic with those expectations.

January 2019 we had a big ice storm, I actually pulled our crews off the road because it was raining so hard it was washing the salt right into the drains. We had a couple customers that thought every square inch of parking lots should have been ice free by opening time that morning. We had salted twice before opening and a third time at 10 AM at one location. It was just completely unrealistic.
 

rob7233

LawnSite Senior Member
Maybe I am turning into an old crank, but my tolerance for dealing with nuisance customers has gotten really low. I used to put up with a lot of grief so long as it meant dollar bills kept flowing out of their pockets, but the older I get the less I want to deal with implacable or rude customers. It's one thing to deal with legitimate complaints, but some customers are endless headaches incapable of ever being pleased or acting like a decent human beings.

Anyhow, how do you folks treat headache customers? Do you drop them or keep taking abuse from them just to keep the money rolling in? Do you allow their revenue amount to dictate how much abuse you will suffer?
Some of the BEST paying accounts I've ever had, are the ones I don't do anymore.

There are times,"the drain/pain" is way more than it ever paid! Always remember, one of the best things about working for yourself is that YOU get to decide who you work for (or with).
 

gcbailey

LawnSite Gold Member
Location
WV
This is my approach.... You've got picky people and some people pay enough to be picky and some don't. We try our best to ensure what is to be done each service when we first pick up a client. I tell clients up front what height we cut, don't allow them to dictate. Let them know if they want XXX or XXX it's additional $$$.

I've had clients in sub-divisions who are next door neighbors in the past say "why does the neighbors yard look so much better?" Then explain that they pay us for spraying or whatever additional services.

In the end this line of work has enough headaches, if people don't want to pay to be picky then find someone who does and be sure you follow through on what you claim to deliver.
 

zlandman

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
Ohio
After they are clearly being unreasonable I just send a letter saying we can no longer service your account. Usually time this right after payment for the previous month.
Like the lady that told me it was my fault her dog bit me because they don't know when I'm coming. Or the lady that needed me to mow every two weeks and thought I should rake it for free because there's so much dead grass.
 

Ijustwantausername

LawnSite Silver Member
Location
Raleigh NC
My first thought is fire them. Plenty of work to go around for everyone, unless of course it is a very good account, even then it may not matter. I've mentioned this before about dealing with stuff like this that just adds to the stress of this job, but I listened to a presentation about toxic employees (we can add in customers for the sake of it). The guys response was simple, "It is your heart attack". In other words why put up with it if it is not warranted and is causing stress. This hit me hard and I ended up firing the problematic employee that I had right around that time. Things have been smooth now that he is gone.

Do a regret minimization assessment. Ask yourself if that customer fell off the face of the earth would you miss them or their money? If not then I would lose them right now.
 
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