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Frustrating Customers

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by mtdman, Nov 11, 2003.

  1. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,143

    Preface: In Ann Arbor, where I mostly work, the city picks up the leaves off the street. They have a schedule for each neighborhood, and when I do cleanups, I try to do them a day or so before the street pickup.

    So, I had about 8 cleanups to do for Wednesday's street cleanup. I did 3 on Monday, and had 5 left to do today. Even though they were small cleanups, I didn't think I'd get them all done before Wednesday. But, the city had been running late on the pickups, and I can always take in my truckloader/leafbox and suck them up if I miss the street date.

    Today, it rained part of the morning, then I went out later in the day and got a total of *1* done. Wet leaves, cold weather, and I've had a cold for the past week that I just can't get rid of. So I stated calling the remainder of the customers I didn't get to to let them know I would get the cleanups done, and if necessary take the leaves away with me. I was doing fine until I got to Mrs B.

    Mrs B went on and on about how she had to get her neighbor to do the cleanup and she was afraid she wouldn't have her leaves cleaned up and I should have called earlier, blah blah blah. And she was not nice about it, she was very nasty. I asked her if I had ever let her down in the 5 years of working for her, had I ever not done the work for her. 'Well, No' she says, but she still just didn't think I would get her leaves done. This woman constantly complains and moans and whines about little things, which I go out of my way to appease her of. She's never happy no matter how much I do for her, and she's very often nasty. I have on several occasions gotten into 'disagreements' with her, and I get the idea that she waits for me to screw up.

    So I got very mad at Mrs B tonight when she told me how I should have gotten her leaves done before everyone else, and it didn't matter to her that I was working in the wet weather while sick. And how her neighbor raked his lawn on Sunday and how everyone else had their lawns done already and it didn't matter if I could take them away or not, I had missed the cleanup for the street pickup. So, I told her I was done working for her and hung up on the woman.

    This woman frustrates the hell outta me. I have gone outta my way to do things for her, and she basically tells me on the phone she didn't think I was reliable. Every other customer I called tonight was very nice and very understanding. This one woman had to go and crap on me, after all the work and service I have given her. And the worst thing is, I've been working like a mule trying to get this stuff done for people, while sick, and she couldn't care less. I lost a longtime customer, and it pisses me off, even though she was a bi.tch.

    :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad:
  2. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Messages: 4,899

    So What the problem? You just eliminated a pita, be happy, rejoice, and be sure to wave as you do the neigbors.
  3. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,143

    I don't like to have unhappy customers, and I don't like to lose longtime customers, especially when I have 2 or more in a row like I have with her. Yeah, she's a PITA, but she still brought in the dough. And I feel like I did something wrong, even though I know I didn't.
  4. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Messages: 4,899

    She's been treating you like crap and been having trouble with her. So for a few $ your willing to debase yourself and become her verbal punching bag? Forget about her and get someone that appreciates your work.
  5. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,143

    Actually no, I'm not, and that's why I hung up on her. But 90% of the time she's a good customer, it's just when she gets something stuck in her butt she is unreasonable. I know I won't feel bad for long, but it still bums me out. Why are older people so angry and uptight? Especially people I've worked for for years. You think by now she'd trust that I would get it done. That's what burned me up about her so.
  6. jasond

    jasond LawnSite Member
    Messages: 72

    We have customers like that ourselves. They complain if you mow when the grass is wet, if it is not sunny, if the wind is blowing...these are also the same people that take 30+ days to pay their invoices.

    I personally think these people are very unhappy. I used to try and make things better, thinking that they were just a bit more detailed than other customers. After about four months of never doing anything right and waiting 45+ days to get paid, I made the decision to do a half-azz job on the property for the next two months.

    Same complaints...no mention of the stripes dissappearing, no mention of the string trimming not being done...just pure dislike.

    I drive by weekly and have now counted three other companies that have come and gone.

    My advice...as soon as you can 'replace' that account with another customer in the same location/price, discontinue her.

    We typically send a nice 'dear customer, you have been fired' letter. They get pissed, make threats, blah blah blah, whatever.

    Good luck.
  7. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Messages: 4,899

    First I'm probably one of those older people thats angry and uptight and the reason were like that is we can find someone like oh lets say the lawn guy to take our frustrations out on!!!! LOL.
    Either she's good enough or her $$$ good enough to put up with her crap or its not. If it was me and she started bit#*ng for no GOOD reason. I'm gone and when she settles down and wants me back fine but my fees will have gone up. If she not willing to pay more fine there are plenty of good hearted, kind people, that would be lucky to have me working for them. Thats my attitude!
  8. STAN1366

    STAN1366 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 334

    When a customer's got nothing to keep them busy, they think that they're the only thing you should have on your plate. 7 days a week they look out the window at the same lawn and wonder what the hell you could be doing? I've got a guy who has the envelope with each weeks $$ in it just waiting for me to come. He even writes the date on it! He expects me there every Wednesday & sometimes he's even asked me to call if I'm not going to be there that day. It took years to get it into his head that I've got other customers that are also important & a full time job too. Heaven forbid my family should need me or the weather not cooperate, right? I've been working for him for 25 yrs so I've learned to bite my tongue at times, but I can't tell you how many times I've told him to "F-off"! I've never told anyone else to F-off, just this guy and he's told me the same, but we've never skipped a week since I started. He likes the job I do and I know I never have to worry about getting paid so I try not to let him bother me. I've got a few other "older' folks who just seem to ask a little much of me from time to time and I've found that you can't let them get to you. Have to let their comments roll of your back sometimes. Just smile at them and say you did everything you could to get the job done. maybe you could send this woman a letter saying that since she's been a long time customer that you'd like to continue on with the relationship. Maybe she'll calm down after thinking that she might have to find a replacement for you and welcome you back. She might learn to rephrase what she says to you. Good luck!
  9. GrassBustersLawn

    GrassBustersLawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 981

    Sounds like GOOD RIDDANCE to me! YOu've got 4 months now to find a better (more profitable & easier to deal with) customer. The consultants call it EXCHANGING. Exchange your lower profit or PITA customers for higher profit low PITA ones.

    Personally, I work on a "2 strikes and your out" basis. Sounds like this one used up her 2 strikes years ago. As the song said "You can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself."

    I have FAITH IN YOU mtdmaster. You can replace this client with a more profitable one! Now go out and MAKE IT HAPPEN!

  10. sildoc

    sildoc LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,925

    Good for you. Me personally I have taken several PITA from other LCO's why. I knew they were PITA before I took them and charged accordingly. Hey when you talk to them for a minute all of a sudden the PITA becomes easier to handle. YEP. Easier. Maybe they are going through a devorce, just getting old and don't have the energy to do what they once liked to do, or heck having a bad day.
    One lady constantly complained every week. I looked up in the yellow pages and wrote on my business card:
    My price for being your psychiatrist 60.00 hr.
    Such and Such Psychiatry 541-555-1212.
    She called me back that night and said to add 20 a week to her bill if I would stay 15 min to have coffee(and listen to her gripe, but hey I dont get paid and I listen to my wife gripe all the time LOL)
    Hey what the heck coffee and listening (time for a break to be scheduled there) I can tune them out the best but when you finely understand what is going on they can be the best customer ever. As for the rest I just tell them as long as they keep sending the check every month they can walk with me and complain all they want (hence the second reason you should wear ear plugs). I agree with exchanging them but for most of the complainers they are the higher payers. Work with them till something better comes along.

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