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Help avoiding a headache

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by HARRIS Property Management, Jan 22, 2010.

  1. HARRIS Property Management

    HARRIS Property Management LawnSite Member
    Messages: 135

    Got a call last week from a prospective residential customer. Go out and meet her and she tells me she is looking for lawn service and so is her neighbor next to her and her neighbor across the street. In addition she is on the decision making committee at her church and wants a bid there also. She asked if I would consider giving a discount if they all signed and I said absolutely. Now you know the type...she lives in a nice golf course neighborhood but her yard looks like crap. She has a lawn service but nothing looks like its been edged in six months and grass is all in the beds and dead vegetable palnts planted here and there in her flower beds. So granted I can see why she would be unhappy but at the same time you can tell she is a penny pinching, keep you there for an hour each trip kinda person. She tells me about other lawn services in the neighborhood that she doesnt care for so Im already alert that has gone thru the circuit of lawn services.

    So I work up a bid for her and the rest of the group for the whole year and itemize out what each of her services cost (mowing, pruning, fertilizing, etc) and send it to her via email. I also gave them each a $190 discount for the whole year. I get an email back saying she likes my contract but my prices are 'considerably' higher than what she is currently paying and she doesnt like that I put 'discount based on four units because she didnt know how things would turn out in the long term' and she will get back to me. That kinda confused me because thats exactly what she asked for. I say ok and that I will be happy to look at what she currently pays and see if I can work something out. A day later she and the neighbor next to her email me and say that Im too high but thanks for the bid, etc, etc. I was personally relieved! I just culled out two customers like her so I didnt want another one.

    In the meantime I signed up the other customer across the street. He was much easier to deal with.

    Today I get a call on my machine from the initial lady saying 'she knows she already declined my bid but was still pondering what to do and wanted to know if I might drive back out there and we could walk the yard one more time and maybe she can decide on what to do'. Man! I do not want this customer already I can tell.

    Does anybody have any suggestion the best way to turn this lady down without her harboring any hard feelings. I have to be diplomatic about it because I will be cutting her neighbors yard right across the street. I thought about saying something along the lines of letting her know with our pricing difference that maybe it would be better if she got some other bids (and maybe even send her some names of other companies) and perhaps if that didnt work out maybe I could pick her up next season...or something along that line.
  2. djchiodo3

    djchiodo3 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 345

    You know your business has reached a particular size, level, and success when you can pick and choose what lawns you want and the clients that come with them. If your gut says stay away from this lady, then stay away. If you are not that hard up for work just tell her no or go high on price. If you get it, good, if not, so what. Stress from a lawn client can suck and wreck the day or week. Off topic a little. I got fired from a pain in the ass client years back. After a while they realized that they had made a mistake and ask me to come back. I told them thanks, but no thanks. I can not begin to tell you how good that felt. I turned away from them with the biggest smile on my face.
  3. HARRIS Property Management

    HARRIS Property Management LawnSite Member
    Messages: 135

    Its not so much picking and choosing the lawn as it is the customer. We can take a crap lawn and make it look good but the last one I dropped was an older italian lady that walked outside every single time and squeezed us for as many freebie side jobs as she could. That wears on you after a while.
  4. Rons Rightway Lawncare

    Rons Rightway Lawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,164

    I would just stick to the original estimate, a take it or leave it deal. Sounds like she is a PITA and if your gonna have to deal with her you might as well get what you thought was fair in the first place.
  5. djchiodo3

    djchiodo3 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 345

    I agree. I have one client who is a great guy. Pays well and is always satisfied. The problem is he is a talker. He will talk to me for as long as it takes to mow the lawn. He has even stopped me on a lawn across the street and will signal me to come over to him. I am the type of person who hates to stop what I am doing until I am done. He drives me nuts. We are on the same page when it come to politics so some times I don't mind as long as I can get my opinion in. So many of my other clients are so far left I never discuss politics. Again, the power is in your hands. To keep or drop is the question at hand.
  6. HARRIS Property Management

    HARRIS Property Management LawnSite Member
    Messages: 135

    Ron I just watched your utube video. That looks like a suicide mission!
  7. Valk

    Valk LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,711

    Your gut knows you better than you know it.
    IFF your gut says NO, then don't walk away, RUN away.

    If she's a PITA now.......................

    As stated above, and in slightly different words: Ain't nothin' worse than working for someone you can't stand the sight of...

    Speaking as the self~righteous hypocrite that I am: my most troubling lawn left me a voice message last week to let me know she didn't need me this coming season. I instantly smiled...then realized that I could only have felt better had it been me getting rid of her. Yomsain??

    If it works out for both you and she, well then here's to you and she and many happy mowing's! :drinkup:
  8. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Yeah that's a PITA coming brother, you want to avoid some serious headaches here's your choices:

    1. An extra large 500-pill bottle of Aspirin or Motrin should last you a year, $8 Walmart.
    2. RUN Charlie, RUN!!!

    As for the final call, didn't she already say your bid was too high but thanks, etc, etc?
    Yeah, she did...
    And now she calls again...
    So I would just ignore it, politely.

    The last problem, you did get that one customer so unfortunately I can almost guarantee it ain't over.
    Hopefully I'm wrong in that regard but stick with that one customer you did get, and my answer to the types of
    customers who like to come over to try and get me to do more for nothing is usually along the lines of thanks
    but I'm very busy right now (and get right back to work).

    Just be nice about it, but...
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010
  9. CircleC

    CircleC LawnSite Senior Member
    from NW
    Messages: 309

    had a lady just like your talking about...wanted me to pull weeds weekly, complained about everything. Lawn looked soo damn good, but she couldnt sleep at night because of something. AND, I was going out of my way thursday morning to mow her place. I drove right by her place on Tuesday and she didnt want it done on Tuesday. Last year was my 1st year full time so of course I need to keep everything I could. As the year went on and I got fuller...I wasnt gunna renew for 2010. Best of all, in September she stopped me in the middle of mowing and said she wasnt gunna need me, had another guy stop by and say he would cut for $20 a week. I was charging $40. I was like Thank You! Finished up and left....few weeks later in Oct she called and said guy never showed up since the 1st mow and told her he couldnt afford to do blow out. I over charged for fall clean-up and over charged her for blow out.

    We shall see if she wants me to mow...Tueday only for $45. If not call me in June when your guys doesnt show up and it will be $55.

    If you need it take it and deal with it...could lead to more work. If you dont need it charge the hell out of her to make it worth it!
  10. FastMan

    FastMan LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 846

    When I encounter a potential customer who's trying to chisel me down, and I sense they could be a potential PITA, I keep my price high and refuse to budge. The last thing I want is to get paid less to put up with more grief.

    Here's a possible resolution: "Oh, I'm so sorry, Mrs. PITA. Since the time you declined my offer I've taken on a number of new contracts, and my schedule is currently full. I can't take on anymore clients at this time."

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