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Did I do wrong?

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by Kev's Lawncare, Apr 13, 2005.

  1. Kev's Lawncare

    Kev's Lawncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    To make a long story short, last year was my first year of commercial mowing. I had just 5 lawns lined up when I ran into a local lawncare guy at the Toro dealership. We got to talking and I became a subcontractor of 15 lawns. By the 1st month of mowing these lawns 12 of the 15 had confronted me in mowing there lawns and to do away with there present contractor. All of them said there lawns looked the best they ever had. I thanked them all and said I couldn't do that, that he was good enough to trust and get me started.
    This year I let him know that I was going on my own that over last year and this year I am up to 30 + lawns (all but two are 15000sq.ft. plus). 6 of the 12 call the past week and ask me to mow, I declined. I felt these were his customers. two of the six would not take no for an answer. I told them the only way I would is if down the road things did not work out I would consider! Well he (contractor) shows up to mow these two clients. The first tells that I was going to mow from now on. This client owed a few dollars for a landscaping job from last fall and and with a few threats of collection he dicided to stay with the present cntractor.
    He went to the second customer and the same thing. Well after two calls from the contractor and being called every name in the book on the first call, and the second call being threated I was very upset. I had no Idea why he was acuusing me of taking his customers. Well, come to find out about 10:00 last night the second customer calls and said the fired the contractor and that they had to have me mow there lawn. After seeing how *nal the contractor was and threating me, I did agree to service there lawn. I also let the customer know that I did not appreciate what they had done.
  2. tjgray

    tjgray LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 294

    How did these customers even know that you had your own lawn company? When we work for our main sub-contractor we wear his companies uniforms and use his companies signs on our truck. Very few of his customers ever suspect we are more than an employee and we would ABSOLUTELY never take a customer from him. It is not good business at all to take from someone that has been so giving.

    If you didn't appreciate the little drama fest your stolen customer put you through you wouldn't have told them you would do their lawn.....remember what comes around goes around :)
  3. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    You went out of your to decline the work and give props to the guy who helped you get started. I think the customers were somewhat bad in their handling of the situation as well and threw you under the bus so to speak.....

    I might have contacted you boss at the time that his clients were tryingto get you to do the work on the side....be up front an honest...

    Its a tough call. and in the eye sof your old boss you may have burned a bridge...and I'm sure he is only hearing one side of the story and making up the second side.....you may want to take the guy out for a beer and explain your side of it....
  4. Kev's Lawncare

    Kev's Lawncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    Initially he took me around and introduced me to all of these customers. There is no uniforms or signs. I do feel guilty about saying yes to the customer last night and do not plan on saying yes to any more. I have very broad shoulders and schrug most things off, I treat everyone the way I'd want to be treated. The name calling was not a problem and would have have told the customer no last night, but the threats were the determining factor.
  5. tjgray

    tjgray LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 294

    I don't agree with threats but I would have been damn angry too. Look at it from his view. He helps you get started by providing the money needed to go out and get customers of your own. You finally have enough customers to not have to sub-contract anymore so you tell him you are going it alone and the next thing he sees is his customers leaving for you.

    In my humble opinion the one or two customers that want you to take on servicing their lawns was not worth burning the bridge. You were better off with the industry contact instead of the couple of customers that are likely to to do to you what they did to the man that was kind enough to help you get started.

    No way would I ever take a customer from our sub-contracter and although the goal is to get to the point where we don't need to sub-contract so much I STILL wouldn't even take on a customer that has cancelled with him without talking to him first and making sure he is ok with it.

    It is this very reason LCO's are hesitant to trust sub-contractors.

    If you had been as loyal as he then you would have told him his customers were dis-satisfied way before it got to this point....like I said what comes around goes around. Good luck with your new customers.
  6. Kev's Lawncare

    Kev's Lawncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14


    I agree with you 100%. I do feel guilty for letting my anger controll a decision. I have contacted two othe LLC's to find out what the going rate is for buying lawns in this area. here they are saying the first and last mowing. Considering sending him a check.

    Thank you and all for your thoughts!
  7. tjgray

    tjgray LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 294

    Thats a good idea Kevin and your first steps to easing any hostilities there might be. I wouldn't just send him a check as this might offend him as well rather I would do as Marc suggested take the guy out for a beer explain your side, let him know that you see an error in your judgment and explain that you made the decision because you were angry and that you are sorry for that. Then offer him the check :)

    Just suggestions.....Hope it works out for ya :waving:
  8. pagefault

    pagefault LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 492

    I believe that I would have told the contractor from the start that his customers wanted to switch. If he wanted to sell them, that's fine. If not, maybe I would have agreed to continue doing them and paying him a referral fee, comparable to what he was getting when you were the subcontractor.

    I agree that it is not worth burning the bridge. I was at a software/hardware company where one of the largest businesses in the world took a liking to us and helped us out. In time, we decided that we were too big for the partnership and really screwed the other company. It was ugly and in the end they nearly ran us out of business. They underbid us on countless contracts where they would have partnered with us in the past and they managed to create some real supply problems for us via some of their other partners.

    I'm not saying it will be this bad for you, but there will be enough challenges out there without a competitor who has a personal grudge.

    Why not just ask him how he would like you to handle it?
  9. tonygreek

    tonygreek LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,867

    and for these very reasons, not only would a customer think you were an employee, but the irs would as well. the guy you're subbing from might want to cross his fingers that nobody turns him in.
  10. tjgray

    tjgray LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 294

    Unfortunately for us that 1099-MISC came right on time.....no worries from either of us about Uncle Sam getting paid :)

    No need for finger crossing either we usually rely on the company attorney to keep us from doing that :waving:

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