first unruly client of the season (bit of rant)

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Isobel, Apr 2, 2008.

  1. Isobel

    Isobel LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 548

    Had my first PITA client last week. I kind of knew it when I first met with him. Big posh house in one of the richer neighborhoods around here. Wanted a simple mulching and cleanup.

    Did my estimate, gave him a price, already had a problem with it. Said he could find it for cheaper elsewhere and wanted me to come down on the price. I said no, this was the lowest I could get. He said ok, wants us to do the job.

    I get the contract from him, and he's still arguing about the price. I tell him this is my price. Contract says X amount of mulch, for X amount of money. Get the contract signed, and a deposit.

    I order mulch and it arrives the day we're scheduled to do the job. He hates the mulch. He's convinced its too light and will wash away with the first rain. He says, "I've owned houses for 10 years, I know good mulch when I see it." (whatever that means.) storms off to his car. gets in his car, goes screaming out of his driveway, and misses the truck by just a few inches. I couldn't believe it, literally reminds me of a 4 year old having a tantrum.

    We work all day, prune the property, mulch it, cleanup.
    The guy comes back, and he's bitching again about how nothing looks right, the mulch is the wrong colour, etc.

    We finish, and leave. Every few days since he's been calling wondering why there's still mulch on the property. I sent him a letter canceling our contract. the deposit he paid covered mulch and labor for my employees. the crap that i've been going through with this guy, I just want to drop him as a client and cut my losses--which right now is zero.

    I've never been treated in such a manner. Spoken to like a child. Everytime I spoke with him after signing the contract was with him starting out complaining.

    Just now he called, its 6:45pm, he demanded that we remoove the mulch by tomorrow morning if we want the rest of our money. What does he expect i'm just going to come by and get rid of it for him? not likely.

    I'd say this is a hell of a way to start the season out, but my very first client this season was very happy with our work! and he's looking for more work.

    I just needed to vent. ...and remember there are nice clients out there. gotta focus on them.
  2. CALandscapes

    CALandscapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 946

    The bad come with the good, my friend.

    We get complimented on about 98% of our work. I just remember that the 2% that complain have problems that aren't necessarily "caused" by the quality of work that we did; they'd complain no matter what.

    An example:

    A good client of ours who refers a LOT of business to us put a family friend of his in touch with us. The front garden on her house probably hadn't been weeded or pruned in 5+ years. She planned to sell the house, and wanted us to give it some "curb appeal."
    Well, I proposed a simple, cheap new landscape, which included us removing ALL of the old, nasty plants.
    She shot this down, saying that she only wanted to spend 25% of the $2k I proposed.
    Well, for what she wanted to pay I offered to prune the existing plants, put down new mulch, and add some seasonal color (the only reason I even went along with this is because she is building a new, expensive home).
    I got a call from her the day after we did the work, and she was P*****.
    I immediately left the job that I was on and went to talk with her and have her point out what she thought was wrong.
    Well, basically she expected us to replace her entire landscape for the $500 that she said she wanted to spend. I asked her if she remembered the contract that we had. She said that she expected us to basically do what was first proposed for $2k for the $500. HAHAHAHAHAHA.
    Not a chance, crazy woman.

    One unsatisfied customer among hundreds... Not a bad record.
  3. CALandscapes

    CALandscapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 946

    I took my turn to vent, as well. Thanks! :cool2:
  4. capetan

    capetan LawnSite Member
    Messages: 226

    if i ever get a bad vibe from a person, i would never attempt to help the person, i mean sometimes you cant predict a bad customer, but when some starts B*ITCHING about the price during the signing of the contract, i think i would just walk out, theres really no sense in trying to push a contract through, no matter how bad you need business, at all costs i try to avoid a bad customer its never worth it, another thing is if a customer is to particular, or askS way to many (above the average homeowner amount of ) lawn care and landscaping questions, ... RUN ...... because you just spotted a PITA
  5. Isobel

    Isobel LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 548

    you know usually I do too. before doing this, I worked retail for years and years. and have developed that 6th sense of bad customers/clients.

    for some reason I did listen to my instinct and just went ahead. oh well. live and learn.
  6. Isobel

    Isobel LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 548

    yea i need to remember that.

    I had a client i did an estimate for a few years ago. just bought a property, a bunch of shrubs that needed serious pruning, and a few that needed to be replaced. Price out the estimate for pruning and pulling. She gets back to us and says she thought it was a bit high, and, "could we now lower our price, and include planting new shrubs."

    I kind of laughed. I got back to her and said, no, this is the price we can give you, and we don't negotiate on it.
    suffice it to say, we didn't hear back from her.

    I could go on for hours. where's our ranting forum :laugh:
  7. GreenSouth Landscapes

    GreenSouth Landscapes LawnSite Member
    Messages: 78

    i just walk on clients that are like that. I don't care if we are in the middle of signing a contract, if they start "joking" or "complaining" about price or anything else, i first ask them if they think the price is fair and if they say no, i then ask, "what do you think would be fair?" when they tell me, i know right then if they are going to be worth the trouble and i will walk out on them.
  8. mybowtie

    mybowtie LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 683

  9. Isobel

    Isobel LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 548

    he hated the mulch, but he said to go ahead and put it down.

    we never remove mulch. once its bought, its bought. i gave him a description of the mulch, colour/size, and he approved it. when he saw it he didn't like it.
  10. mcclureandson

    mcclureandson LawnSite Member
    Messages: 242

    It'll save you some heartache later if you begin showing customers samples of mulch before installation...keep a small sandwich-sized baggie of different types in your truck. Be sure to explain there will always be slight differences in color/texture from one batch to the next. Some LAs require a sealed sample of material (which they'll sign off on prior to install).

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