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Firing customers

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by DFW Area Landscaper, Mar 16, 2005.

  1. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,116

    After three years, I've finally found the ballz to fire a customer. Had one lady, a real PITA, had completely unreasonable expectations. The lady was just a real b!tch. I kept telling myself, don't put up with it, tell her to find a new LCO. I never did do it. Everytime I would consider it, I would look at my schedule and figure I'd do it as soon as I picked up just a few more customers. Then I'd tell her to get lost.

    Well, she fired me before I could fire her. Good luck to her and her demands. She'll never be happy with any LCO. She fired another LCO to hire me. Now she's fired me to hire yet another LCO. And the complaints, skips and azz chewings I had to tolerate for two years just weren't worth it. I wish I would have walked away while I was doing the in-person estimate when she said something along the lines of "if it doesn't work out with you I'll find someone else, there are so many out there."

    So a new customer signs up for my service. He's complaining after the first cut. I drive out to inspect the mow, and sure enough, all of this guys complaints are completely valid. As I'm driving back home, I figure I'll give him a free cut and offer to send the crew back for a free re-do. As soon as I walk in the door, an e-mail pops up and he's fired me. I was livid with my crew leader for doing such sorry work after I spend so much in advertising. My crew leader says "It's just one customer." So then, just to teach him a lesson, I decide to offer the guy a free clean-up and mulch job.

    Looking back, a reasonable customer would have said something like "You don't have to do that. Just come back and mow the lawn in April and we'll see how you do." But this guy...he says go ahead.

    So yesterday, we go do the clean-up. Twelve man-hours and 50 bags of cypress mulch. Retail value is $632.00. I drove by and the place looks immaculate. I mean, I'm really happy with the work my crew did.

    It's been a day and not a word from the bast@rd. No thank you. No compliment. If he doesn't take the time to thank me for an outstanding job, which we did for free, by Sunday morning, I'm going to fire the sonuvabitch.

    Attached is the letter I will send him.

    I think it will do me good to finally stand up to a customer and fire them. I really need the business, but it has to be customers with reasonable expectations. The customers who act like they are doing you a favor by being your customer and bring up the fact that there are so many competitors are just azz-holes. I am amazed at how many customers simply have unreasonable expectations for a lawn company.

    I just wonder how they treat "real" businesses, like car dealerships and phone companies. Are they complete azzholes with everyone they do business with? Or is it just us? Do they just completely flip out when they see surcharges on their phone bill? Do they go completely nuts that the mechanics are charging $85 per hour to fix their cars?

    Why does being a lawn company have to bring out the azz hole in so many people?

    DFW Area Landscaper

    Attached Files:

  2. MMLawn

    MMLawn LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,569

    A very childish and very unprofessional sounding letter that when he gets it if he shows it to others will ruin you via the word of mouth circuit. Remember for every good customer that says something good about your company they will tell on proven average 1 other person, but those unhappy will tell 12 others. You went way overboard on your end in trying to keep this client. You gave away a $600+ job to keep what a $30-$35 a week acct? Even if he stays you've lost money on him now and you are upset with him. A simple "I am very sorry sir along with a free cut" was all you needed to do at most. I ahve not posted on any of your post the past few months because I thought maybe you had re-grouped from your post last year and were starting "anew" But in reading this it really reminds me of your same rants last season about customers, justmowit, and the other comp and that you were through and quitting the business. Now you say you want instead to use justmowit's model in some form and expand yur business. That is GREAT, but to do that and I only mean this in a helpful positive manner, I think you need to take a long look in the mirror and get happy with the person you see looking back at you and the career/business you have chosen. Then understand business is business and there will be good and bad in it everyday, and how you handle that will detemine how successful your business is.
  3. Smalltimer1

    Smalltimer1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,223

    Looks good to me. Fry his ass!
  4. geogunn

    geogunn LawnSite Gold Member
    from TN
    Messages: 3,010

    DFW--sorry man. what you are doing makes no sense at all including offering the $632 cleanup/mulch job for free. I think your skin is way too thin on this one. JMO.

  5. grassyfras

    grassyfras LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,475

    I wouldn't send the letter. You spent more on him that what he was worth just like the above posts says.
  6. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Messages: 8,620

    Running a business you have to remain proffessional at all times even if the customer is a PIA
  7. JustMowIt

    JustMowIt LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 367

    Why would you go this far to kiss ass? There was no reason to even go look at the yard, because if the work was good, this would have not changed the end result that the customer did not like it. We offer 2 options for a complaint 1. free re-do next day 2. void charge, no re-do. This simple practice keeps most people happy, what else can someone ask for? When our crews have to re-do with no pay, the problem usually goes away quickly or I discover that we have a difficult customer that we promptly drop. This keeps our complaint rate @ less than 1%. In a high volume, low cost concept you cannot chase customers around like they are paying thousands of dollars every year! Also difficult customers will clog your system very fast, and make your life miserable! :waving:
  8. Pro-lawns

    Pro-lawns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 58

    i would call him and ask him how he like the job
    a phone call that shows you care about him and your company
    good Pr is worth payup a lot
  9. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,116


    The reason I did the free clean-up wasn't for the purpose of keeping the customer. I don't like losing customers, but that happens sometimes.

    The reason I offered the free clean-up was because my employee tried to defend the schitty work and told me "It's only one customer", as if to say, it doesn't matter. WRONG ANSWER!

    I think having him do the free clean-up sends home my message. I am paying my crew leaders the same way as justmowit...pay per job. This employee made $800 last week. When he's trimming shrubs, he can make over $30 per hour if he's working smart. And he probably makes around $50/hr when he's doing chemical apps. He works hard and he deserves it. But I can't have him doing shoddy work and thinking there will be no repercussions. I pay too much to acquire a new customer to tolerate that.

    My point is, it seems obvious to me I'm dealing with an a-hole customer. If someone went that far above and beyond to call of duty to keep my business, I would at least thank them for it. Especially if I had been prompt to criticize just days earlier.

    You guys can say what you want about whether that e-mail gets sent. But if this azz-hole doesn't at least thank me for the work, he's getting that e-mail.

    DFW Area Landscaper
  10. Cutters Lawn Care

    Cutters Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 314

    He is not obligated to give you a damn thing. Your crazy for doing the mulch job for free. You told the guy you were gonna come back out and do all this free work and he said ok. Now your pissed at him. He hasn't done anything wrong. You should have recut the property for free and if he still complained then drop him like a bad habit.

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