First customer complaint of the year, caught me off guard

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Mower For Less, Jul 12, 2005.

  1. Mower For Less

    Mower For Less LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 823

    Alright, I guess I want to know your opinion on this, or how you would handle the situation. I have a customer that is new this year, been cutting for just over 2 months now. I like the lawn, and think it always looks great when we are done. (See attached pic). It stripes nicely, so we are always cutting it on diagonals, cross-cuts, changing patterns, the works. I always try to do an extra nice job just because it does turn out so well, so I had no reason to think the customer would be disapointed. Well, on their first months invoice, they did not check off anything on the 1-5 satisfation pole that is on every invoice. No biggie, Maybe only 50% of my cutomers bother to check it off anyway. Today, I get a call saying they are unhappy with the service, they have been since it started, and now this last cut we damaged one of the small bush's in front of the house. The customer has already decided prior to the phone call that this should be worth one free cut (her words and suggestion). Now, I did in fact damage the bush while trying to make sure the stripes were as close to the bed as possible, the jungle wheels just clipped it and snapped the thin frail thing. I did not deny the damage, I was well aware of it, but I was still stunned from the announcement that she has not been happy with our service even before this incident. In shock, I agreed to the free cut in exchange for the damaged bush (the bush would have cost me more to replace, so its not a bad deal for me really).

    The bush is not my real dilemma, more the catylist. My real dilemma is that they are not happy with the service when in my opinion I am doing an excellent job. This customer has obviously made it to the top of the potential PITA list. I want to meet with her in person and discuss the situation, try to explain the accident, and find out why she is really unhappy. But I wanted to share this story first, see if anybody here had some ideas or suggestions on what to do to make my in person meeting more productive and come to a resolution easier.

    Here is a pic of the property:

    Thanks For Your Input,


  2. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Messages: 4,899

    Well you could get on your knees and pucker up, that sounds like it might make her happy. Give her the free mow and then drop her right then when you can look her in the eyes. You do it before she does it to you.
  3. qball98

    qball98 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 83

    If it was my place I would not be happy with the grass growing in the driveway and sidewalk cracks. Other than that it looks good to me.

  4. HighGrass

    HighGrass LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Z5 MA
    Messages: 1,237

    Sounds to me like the bush was the "straw". That is in thier mind, the last straw. There is other stuff here, I'd bet on it. Maybe legit, maybe not. Meet face to face if possible and have a note pad. If you really want to keep the account hear out but don't be a door matt. because trust me when i tell ya, give them a yard (sorry for the pun) and they'll want a mile.

    BTW, how bad is the bush?
  5. lawnman_scott

    lawnman_scott LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,547

    I too wouldnt like the grass in the driveway cracks, but 10 years from now she will still be crying about the bush you "destroyed".
  6. Mower For Less

    Mower For Less LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 823

    As a rule, our basic service does not include management of sidealk crack grass. The homeowner if free to spray it, but we do not include it. As an add-on I will do it. I do not think this is really the issue as our contract clearly states what we maintain. That said, it looks a little worse in the pic than in real life becase of the black expansion strips in the driveway. If something gets too unruly, we will whip it down, but it it is flush with the cement, we leave it.

  7. South Florida Lawns

    South Florida Lawns LawnSite Platinum Member
    from usa
    Messages: 4,783

    I would try to discuss what she does not like about your services and why she is not happy.
  8. Mower For Less

    Mower For Less LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 823

    The bush is not dead, but it is disfugured. It will take some time to recover, possibly a couple years because it was the front of it that was damaged, so it is the most visable to an onlooker.

    I think you are right with the "last straw" idea, but like I said this property is always left looking good, it looks like the picture every single cut (just the direction of the stripes change). I do agree a face to face is the best way to determine if her complaints are real, or from the mind of a PITA. I actually like cutting this account, it is small, and looks nice, but it wouldnt hurt if I lost it. Im not trying to create any bad will, and I would like to keep her. I will have to try to get ahold of her tomorrow after I can sleep on it for a night and clear my head.

  9. PLM-1

    PLM-1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,640

    Looks good to me. How far to the left in the picture does the property go? To me, it looks like you are cutting to the next driveway. I also agree about the crap in the cracks, but if it's not in your agreement, it's not your problem.
  10. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    I bet she doesnt like the stripes and them changing all the time,how much you wanna bet.Stripes are much more important to LCO's than they are to homeowners,some like a more natural overall even look where there are no stripes but a consistant green flat layer mowed all the blades the same direction.

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