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first problem with referrals..

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by fga, Sep 19, 2005.

  1. fga

    fga LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,449

    had a falling out with a lady who recomended me to a few accounts. one of them hired a new guy over the weekend suddenly, and her neighbor, asked me to call him. the dominoes are falling.
    first time losing some based soley on referral influence. i guess if thats the way they are, i don't want them anyway. i'll probably lose 4 by the weeks end.
    on each of my invoices, i put the dates we were there. she called me up cursing, saying i wasn't there on those dates, and that i'm lieing to get her money. :realmad:
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Sorry to hear that, but THAT is one of the main reasons why I keep saying word of mouth ain't all that, at least it's over-rated...

    I've had it happen, too... One refers another, the original customer is great and their friend is a pita, then I drop the pita OR it doesn't work out or whatever and my original drops me. Man... I have lost SO many customers this way, it is why I say 24-7/365 advertising is the ONLY solution for me and my business and when someone new comes along and wants to talk all high and mighty about how they're going to tell ALL their friends and act like they'd be doing me a great favor, I want to just laugh somedays...

    Not to say word of mouth doesn't work, word of mouth works incredibly well but it does NOT work the way most people think it does... Took me years to 'see' the background workings of true word of mouth and I am impressed by it, but certainly not in the way people make it out to be. Hopefully one day you too will see how it REALLY works, and I can almost guarantee you'll like it in the end but the surprise of it all sure makes me laugh a lot nowadays (in a good way at least).
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Word-of-mouth experiments and results (most of these the original act was intentional, the end results were not entirely so, and certainly not what I had predicted, but interestingly TRUE to the ways of the universe):

    - Drop a few (at least 3, 4-5 is better) of your real pitas and THEN watch how many of your OTHER customers drop you in return in no apparently connected way, especially the folk you REALLY wanted to hang ON to! This is how I lost a SLEW of customers last year, one led to another but in the end I was better off... I was NOT prepared for it thou, it took MONTHS to recover and it shook me bad.
    - Birds of a feather DO flock. Put down your foot once or twice, then do it consistently. Within a year, 90 percent of my phonecall volume dropped off... MORE advertising hardly increased it... Interestingly enough, I am busier and earn more money today than ever before. Another way to say it is you've gained their respect, now they leave you alone to concentrate on the real work (actually they're off bothering NEWER Lco's) while the customers you have LEFT are worthy of holding on to like crazy glue...
    - AFTER a few years, word of mouth FINALLY works the way people think it does, but I find it has to happen naturally and too many try to influence it OR you with it (yeah, haven't you ever noticed the TENDENCY to WANT to give a BETTER price to a referral - that's influenced BY it). Ok so maybe you don't give a better price, how about it, don't you feel at least a little OBLIGATED to take the work or help them out, don't you trust them more than any stranger? If so, why? Don't feel bad, we're human, I'm in the SAME boat, it happens to me, too.

    man i could tell some stories... too much thou, not enough characters per post, too boring really...
  4. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,758

    I agree 100%. Why is it that your good clients will have a friend that crawled out of the gutter and be your worst nightmare. Got to when I hear that "Ill tell everyone I know" makes me cringe. Had a client telling me 2 weeks ago about his 88 year old mother was looking for another LCO because her guy only comes on Wensday and not Friday like she wants, wants a contract (gasp) and does not like her walking around giving him orders while he is working. No lie, the client told me this, wanted me to give her a price. Told client I had no openings right now ( I really didn't, nor for PITA).
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    That's the only part I still can't figure out when I say birds of a feather flock, the good client / pita factor is contradictory ... or does it only appear that way?
    I don't know...

    What I do like is your answer concerning a full schedule thou I must say I catch a dirty look here and there that way... Still, better than the OTHER result, and yes it makes me cringe somedays too. In the end I dislike gaining new customers (mainly due to the WEEDING involved) as much if not more than if word of mouth plain didn't work, we could just hang on to what we got forever and be done with it lol... Otoh, it is ok, there are good sides to word of mouth AND it works in more ways than one, perhaps I've only touched the surface but certainly the referal factor is only a small percent of how it all works.
  6. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    It's a double edged sword, for sure. One way to minimize the domino effect is to not accept referrals from PITA or wacky customers who might turn on you. And I certainly NEVER discount for it. You will wind up striking a vein of cheapskates if you do. They are always looking for a better deal, and will eventually find one.
  7. Evergreenpros

    Evergreenpros LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,154

    People have a phobia of being ripped off. For whatever reason she doesn't believe you did the work. Learn from your difficult customers, if you can please them the rest will be REALLY happy!!

    Also, word of mouth advertisment has it's place but it's not a replacement for traditional advertisment mediums.
  8. GreenMonster

    GreenMonster LawnSite Silver Member
    from NH
    Messages: 2,702

    Adam, lying can be a real problem. You should grab the bull by the horns, and deal with your problems head on before you lose something much more important to you than a silly little mowing account.

    TURFLORD LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 834

    Don't worry about it. Count your money and move on. Don't call and beg, just let them go and forget it. This is part of buisness.
  10. lawnguyland

    lawnguyland LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,108

    It sux when they are family (to each other) even more. I've wanted to drop this one house for over a year, but I'd likely lose 2 more as well if I did. Oh well, life's a *****. What? I can't say ***** god damn it! Female dog? In the dictionary. On TV all the time. Of course the site owner can set whatever rules he wants and I respect that, but come ON. Sorry for the bitching. Oh I see I can say bitching but not *****. That makes sense. :p

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