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Did i do the right thing?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Ray_Lawns, Dec 6, 2012.

  1. Ray_Lawns

    Ray_Lawns LawnSite Member
    from NE AL
    Messages: 125

    I have a customer that is beside a lawn my friend does. The neighbor approached me today wanting a quote saying she us happy with the service but she is not pleased with the fact that the guy that does it seems to always be drinking beer when he comes. I told her yes I would give her a bid but that I really didn't care to take business away from my friend since her yard is always immaculate when he gets done. She agreed and said its just the fact that he drinks so much. The conversation rocked on and I eventually told her that maybe the best thing would be to ask him to not be drinking when he comes and to let him continue her service since she is pleased with it. I can understand his deal I struggle with alcoholism myself and there are days I want to drink from when I get up but I seen no sense in taking a customer from him when I know how hard he fights to beat his problem and feed his family at the same time. I know there will be varying opinions but where do you draw the line between helping a friend and keeping your own family fed?
    Posted via Mobile Device
  2. Puttinggreens

    Puttinggreens LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from southeast PA
    Messages: 398

    There are many things wrong with this picture.

    However, a friendship is more important than gaining a new customer. Politely pass on this one.
  3. Ray_Lawns

    Ray_Lawns LawnSite Member
    from NE AL
    Messages: 125

    I agree there is a hell of a lot wrong. I have tried to talk to him and let him know that the drinking will end up wrecking all he has worked to build and I get nowhere.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  4. JCLawn and more

    JCLawn and more LawnSite Fanatic
    from MI
    Messages: 5,281

    I would do the same and take the oprotunity to talk to your friend about it. It might make him see things in a different light. I would not even mention the customer who said it, but tell him the one you talked to noticed. There a business I buy used tires from and you can tell the guy always seems drunk/hung over. It does not bother me so much but it does effect his performance and effectiveness of running his business and could be a real turn off.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,187

    Not even a hardcore alcoholic would last long in FL heat drinking beer. He could at least be discreet about it.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. StihlBR600

    StihlBR600 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 705

    Maybe you should have stole his lawn to show him that he will start losing his business. To be drinking beer at a job site is just rediculous. How does he drive to each lawn? Its people like this that will not stay in business and will go nowhere. I do not feel sorry for him
  7. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Well, there are a few issues going on here. I would have told you to take the account for several reasons:

    First, you're worried about stealing an account from one of your friends. And honestly, you shouldn't be. There's absolutely no reason to feel guilty about that unless you were the one who encouraged the customer to switch services. But if they came to you, saying they're unhappy for any reason - there's no reason to feel guilty about servicing that customer. If I have a customer that is unhappy with my service and they canceled with our company and hired one of my friends (I have a lot of friends who are competitors as well) I wouldn't feel mad at him at all. I would look at it like we must have done something wrong and learn from it. Either the customer I had was a little too picky (which happens) or our service was lacking. If our service was lacking, I should try to learn from that and improve our services going forward. And I should be happy that my friend got the work. Honestly, I'd rather he pick up the work than some mow-blow-go schmuck that I don't even know and is undercutting everyone. So he shouldn't be upset with you if you end up with one of his old customers either. If he's not mature enough to look at it that way, then you need to get more mature friends.

    Second, business is business. I lose large jobs to my friends who own competing companies all the time. Sometimes we're both bidding on a big install job. Just 12 months ago I lost a $38,000 job to a really good friend of mine. It sucked. That would have been a great job for us to have in the winter. But even though I was bummed we didn't get that job, I was happy for my friend and glad that it at least went to him. Business is business. I can lose a job to him on Wednesday and still have him and his family over for dinner on Saturday. We should all be mature enough to keep business separate from friendships. If you're not trying you hardest to win every job, you're doing yourself, your family, and your employees a disservice. You should always be passionate about getting more business.

    Third, that lady is eventually going to go somewhere else anyway. It is only a matter of time. Better you than someone else.

    Fourth, if he is actually drinking in plain sight....where she can see....on her property - he DESERVES to lose that account. Alcoholism or not. That's just flat out totally unprofessional. If it's really that bad for him that he cannot even wait until the work day is over to get lit then he has much bigger problems. Worrying about losing an account is really the least of his concerns. And nobody's doing him a favor by teaching him that it's okay to do that.
  8. Ray_Lawns

    Ray_Lawns LawnSite Member
    from NE AL
    Messages: 125

    Jim, your comments have hit home and went a long way with me. I called and met with my friend tonight and layed it all out to him explaining that I would no longer turn down work from his customers. As far as the second post I am lost, I am actually Ray Landscape Services and I actually just grabbed the name for here on a whim. Thanks for your input guys, I appreaciate it.
  9. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,780

    I was prepared to write a short reply, until I read Jim's post. My first instinct is to say I would never knowingly take business from a friend, but Jim, as usual, makes some very valid points. It is likely the lady is going to switch no matter what, and if you don't take the job, obviously, someone else will.

    Also, from a personal perspective, my older brother was an alcoholic. He was 12 years older than I, so I actually never realized a lot of what was happening until I grew older, but I look back now and see so many things wrong with his life. He completed college, although it took him 5 years to do so. He taught in high schools for 10 or so years, and although from all indications, a very talented teacher, he never stayed anywhere more than 2 years. He was a very likeable person, and I am guessing now that because of his talent and likeability, administrators would give him a good recommendation, rather than blackballing him so he would not be able to get another job in another district.

    At 27, he had a horrible accident, driving drunk, which broke his neck and very nearly killed him. He spent 6 weeks in the hospital in Wichita and was partially paralyzed after the accident. My folks were very supportive, paying what insurance didn't cover, and bringing him home for several months after he got out of the hospital. He continued to teach, and drink, after the accident for several more years. A couple of years before he died, he told me about having multiple other accidents which he managed to cover up. In one, he totalled his car, but wasn't injured (fortunately, these were all single-vehicle accidents), and one of his students actually came along and found him. Several of the students and their parents cleaned up the scene, removing all traces of alcohol, and took him home, allowing him to sober up before notifiying authorities. When the police investigated, he told them he went to sleep. When he left a town after teaching at a town, he generally would owe every merchant in town. My folks would go around and pay the bills for him. I recall when he was still in college, my Dad had to make a trip to Emporia and bail him out of jail after he got in a bar fight.

    Eventually, he quit drinking and became a nationally certified substance abuse counselor, but he had to hit rock bottom and lose everything before he did so. So many with substance abuse problems have at least one "enabler" which makes it easier to remain on the path to destruction. My brother had many. I look back now, as an older adult, and wonder what his life could have been like, if everyone had decided to make him responsible for his own actions? My folks, my Mother in particular, thought they were helping my brother, but actually made it much easier for him to remain a drunk. Because he was a good teacher, and had a great personality, school administrators would allow him to go to another district and get employment, rather than make him accountable for his alcoholism.

    Your friend needs a wake up call, and I hope he receives one.
  10. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,187

    And when he finds out you now have the account you will have an angry drunk friend beating on your door at 3am.
    Posted via Mobile Device

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