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grumble, grumble, grumble...

Turf Terror

LawnSite Member
Twice in the past two months I've been called to give landscaping estimates...
This old lady called and I went to her house, briefcase in hand, laptop with ProLandscape program, all spiffed-up and ready to present a professional image. She wanted 35 areca palms planted along a fence, 2 hardscaped flowerbeds in front and alongside her house(filled with an assortment of colorful tropical plants), pygmy date palms, hedge plants to hide her A/C unit, a stepdown paver patio off her existing one with another flowerbed in the backyard, and around 40k square feet of sod. I told her that since she was buying such a large package of work, I would throw in a custom made(at my welding shop) ornamental wrought iron railing on her existing patio--free of charge with the deal. I went home with the pics of her house and designed a beautiful landscape for her. I brought the pictures back to her and her husband, with the price for the work and they loved it. We sat around on the patio, BSing and sipping coffee, and generally getting to know each other. They said that the prices were great and they would call me when they were ready to start(after the other contractor's were finished running underground wires and building a concrete driveway). So...3 weeks go by and I drive by the house to check on progress. All the other work was done, so I gave her a call and asked if she was ready for me. She tells me that her husband(74yrs old) decided he was going to do the work himself....ACK!!!
Seven hours of work, 3 visits back to her house, plus the other time spent kissing her wrinkly old a$$, and "poof".... I asked her if she got a lower estimate and she said "No....that her husband really IS going to do it.........eventually." hahahahaaa Beeeee-atch!!!

Next case(I said it happened twice):
Read the above and substitute "old geezer" where it says "old lady".

I know it goes with the job--when you offer "Free Estimates". That isn't the issue.
I just wanted to vent a little. :cry:

*thinking of calling Kervorkian on the geezers*


LawnSite Fanatic
Yup, this is one of the main reasons I almost never get large projects to do...

Soon as it starts off with the firly whirly fart around the yard crap where I feel like the lawn faggot, it's as good as over. Once they invite me inside the house, that's even better, I can almost guarantee that outcome...
We'll call you = now you're at our mercy, just what we wanted...
Translation: Either they say no, or if they do say yes I get took.

Something about the whole rigmarole, looking back on things like that, I can see where once things get off on that foot, I've made the wrong impression. I can see they now think of me as their little lawn toy, something to throw money after when you're in the mood for a horse and pony show, so to speak.

Nowadays I don't play these games anymore...
I go out, take one look, and either I can see a finished product in my mind, or I can not.
Either way I take it from there:
- If I can not see it, sorry, I can not help you at this time.
- If I can see it, I give them the price, yes or no, and thank you.
> Be glad to spend a few minutes (5 or 10 at most) explaining a few things, but real basic like: Ok, mulch here, this there trimmed up, and a bit of blablabla but really it's got to be 1-2-3 and we're done, yes or no?
>> Some say ok, do it... Others tell me that's not what they had in mind, ok, fine, no problem, but sorry I gtg.

Basically, if they agree, then whatever happens is my plan, I do as I please and in that sense it should turn out really nice (and it usually does)... The customer, however, may not have the same thing in mind: This has to be determined early on and fast, because if we're not a good match, time to go or it's a nightmare a-brewing.
If it is a good match, w.o.w., minimal time and effort bs'ing, most of the labor went into the project itself, and I got paid for that and the customer, so long we had at least the same rough idea, is happy.

If they disagree, one or two minor changes or adjustments I am ok with, but any major deviation from MY plan isn't happening.

I just got tired of getting ran around like their little office gopher, I don't mind kissing a little tail but once I become their lawn toy, it's as good as over. This is why I don't go to these 'meetings' with other business owners and what have you, here's my plan: Take it, or leave it.

Most of the time it doesn't work out, that I have to accept.
But, I am in charge of my business, and anything that comes in, and goes out, the customer only controls what they want done, not how, when, or where. Again, either we click, or we don't.
But when it does, I feel my frustration levels so low, and limited to stupid stuff (like a rake tine breaking lol).


LawnSite Fanatic
Washington DC
never leave the plans behind....Unless they want to pay for them...

Estimate was free, but the design wasn't. You still own the design...and should not have left with them...

Turf Terror

LawnSite Member
thats pretty sneaky when they pick you brain like that....
Yup...but it's par for the course.
I should also say that during this time I got 4 other large landscape jobs(presented the same way) and they all came through.
So I'm not disappointed in the way the business goes...I just wanted to share the stories involving a couple of time-wasters.
If anything good came out of these episodes, it was that they gave me a chance to sharpen my business and presentation skills. And those are some valuable lessons to learn.


LawnSite Senior Member
True....but when I do win one, I got a cool little "end-zone" dance I do around my house.
video that and post it That would be funny. :laugh: :laugh: Good Luck on your next one.