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

gcbailey

LawnSite Gold Member
Location
WV
The ones that are some of the hardest to us are HOA clients. In some cases you have XX to XXX number of potential different "bosses". Townhouse 101 wants their grass at 3.5", Townhouse 103 wants 2.5", Townhouse 105 wants red mulch, Townhouse 107 wants brick chips...... Yet none of these people realize that they are bound to the covenants of their HOA agreement. The HOA says EVERYONE gets double ground natural mulch, XXX plants, grass at X.X" inches..... I've instructed all my guys if anyone in an HOA says anything about wanting something that they need to talk to their HOA president all that we do is fulfill our end of whatever the contract says. If they have issues with anything they need to show up and vote at whatever meetings they have.
 

landscaper22

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
South Carolina
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?
It's a tough one. I deal with it more and more these days, and I can't seem to stay away from these people. I feel the same, the older I get, the longer I do this, and the more I hear the same crap from them over and over, the less I want to deal with them. After 18 years in the business more of less, I know when it's me and when it's them. I put up with it until I have had enough and then I let them go. If I can put up with it for awhile, I may ride out the season and then the next spring make up an excuse not to keep them as to not hurt their feelings too bad. I am not against saying that I can't seem to make you happy, and I am sorry for that. I encourage you to look for another service. Nothing is worse than dreading a yard every time you go.
 

Dirtguy

LawnSite Member
The beauty of the nature of this business is there are a ton of potential customers. It is not like we are making car parts and can only sell to the big three manufacturers. If a customer is a pain ditch them and find another one who is easier to deal with. I don’t understand why this is so difficult for many. Each individual accounts for what maybe 2% of of your income? Losing one isn’t going to break you and they are easy enough to replace. 10% of your customers cause 90% of your headaches. Get rid of them.
 

jetson

LawnSite 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?
Lol I hate these customers. I’m like you I may be getting old or something but I don’t take it. I keep them on front street and peacefully disagree with them. I’m kind of rude in a polite way. But I’ve heard every complaint in the book. So I just tell them to get over it and stop complain g
 

Michael - Toronto

LawnSite Member
The ones that are some of the hardest to us are HOA clients. In some cases you have XX to XXX number of potential different "bosses". Townhouse 101 wants their grass at 3.5", Townhouse 103 wants 2.5", Townhouse 105 wants red mulch, Townhouse 107 wants brick chips......
There is an easy fix for that problem - ask the HOA to send a letter out to ALL the owners telling them that the landscaper can only take direction from the Property Manager or the HOA President, whichever the case may be. Then get a copy of that letter, and make a bunch of photocopies. Whenever a homeowner comes to you and asks for something special, tell them that you wish you could do it for them, but your contract prohibits that - and give them a copy of the letter (that they already received).

I'm a HOA President, and that's exactly what our HOA did (we even gave our landscaper 25 copies of the letter). We told the landscaper to speak nice and kindly to everyone with a special request, but not to do anything different at anyone's home, and to give anyone who makes special requests a copy of the letter they already got.

Nowadays, no-one bothers our landscapers, and both his team and us (HOA leadership) are very happy with the way the site looks.

Michael
 

knox gsl

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
knoxville, tn
There is an easy fix for that problem - ask the HOA to send a letter out to ALL the owners telling them that the landscaper can only take direction from the Property Manager or the HOA President, whichever the case may be. Then get a copy of that letter, and make a bunch of photocopies. Whenever a homeowner comes to you and asks for something special, tell them that you wish you could do it for them, but your contract prohibits that - and give them a copy of the letter (that they already received).

I'm a HOA President, and that's exactly what our HOA did (we even gave our landscaper 25 copies of the letter). We told the landscaper to speak nice and kindly to everyone with a special request, but not to do anything different at anyone's home, and to give anyone who makes special requests a copy of the letter they already got.

Nowadays, no-one bothers our landscapers, and both his team and us (HOA leadership) are very happy with the way the site looks.

Michael
Wow, an HOA president that gets it and isn't a Karen.
 

gcbailey

LawnSite Gold Member
Location
WV
There is an easy fix for that problem - ask the HOA to send a letter out to ALL the owners telling them that the landscaper can only take direction from the Property Manager or the HOA President, whichever the case may be. Then get a copy of that letter, and make a bunch of photocopies. Whenever a homeowner comes to you and asks for something special, tell them that you wish you could do it for them, but your contract prohibits that - and give them a copy of the letter (that they already received).

I'm a HOA President, and that's exactly what our HOA did (we even gave our landscaper 25 copies of the letter). We told the landscaper to speak nice and kindly to everyone with a special request, but not to do anything different at anyone's home, and to give anyone who makes special requests a copy of the letter they already got.

Nowadays, no-one bothers our landscapers, and both his team and us (HOA leadership) are very happy with the way the site looks.

Michael
See the HOAs we take care of all the home owners are fully aware that the HOA makes the guidelines but there's still a bunch that try to get things done "their way". I've instructed my guys over the years to listen to them, thank them and tell them that they will mention it to me and I will pass it on to the HOA president or they need to get in contact with HOA.

Our HOA contracts are VERY spelled out as far as when things get done such as mulch during XX to XX window, hedge trimming during XX to XX, grass cut at XX inches, fert done at ....... So on and so forth. It's a good system.

Another thing too in all of our HOA town house environments each unit the property line stops at the end of their porch, they don't actually own any of the landscaping, grass, anything. Seems like a lot forget about that too.

EDIT: I know at least one HOA whoever decides to show up at the meetings gets copies of the contract(s) and knows all the details.
 
Last edited:

Bermuda Conversions

LawnSite Member
Location
Ks
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?
I fire them! But I'd they spend allot of money $$$, then im more tolerant.
 

Michael - Toronto

LawnSite Member
See the HOAs we take care of all the home owners are fully aware that the HOA makes the guidelines but there's still a bunch that try to get things done "their way". I've instructed my guys over the years to listen to them, thank them and tell them that they will mention it to me and I will pass it on to the HOA president or they need to get in contact with HOA.
Speaking from a HOA President's perspective, hat's the same problem we had - certain owners were fully aware that the HOA (in other words, the Property Manager or HOA Board) makes the guidelines, but this small group of owners - typically little old ladies with too much time on their hands - kept bothering the landscape crew with requests, even though they had received the letter and knew they shouldn't be making requests.

That's why we gave the landscapers copies of the letter we sent out to homeowners - so the landscaper could give the little old lady the letter, which effectively reminds her that "Homeowners should not be bothering landscapers with requests". Usually, after the second time the landscaper has given a problem owner the same letter (whilst being super-kind and polite and sympathetic at the same time), the homeowner leaves the landscaper alone.

Michael
 
Top