Help with problem customer!!

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Cleve, Jan 29, 2001.

  1. Cleve

    Cleve LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Rockmart, GA
    Messages: 404

    I am sorry for the long post but I sure would like some opinions from other folks.
    As part of our regular lawn maint. we have been aerating and overseeding for the past 5-6 years. I use a Jacobsen T6030 which is a good commercial machine that is a true vertical core type machine. It will aerate even in some dry soils because of its weight.
    I have done fine with all my regular customers over the years and never had a complaint.
    This past fall a neighbor of one of my customers asked me to do her yard. I agreed (maybe a mistake).
    I had told them to just lightly water with their irrigation system before the aerating date. Seems they must have let the water run for hours.
    The machine aerated but in some spots really stirred the mud up. I've seen worse so I finished the job. Just was harder because of the buildup on the machine from the soft Ga. clay.
    Anyway, I even applied a little extra fescue seed and covered all the open spots with hay.
    Now for the problem....!
    Starting the very next day, the lady of the house stopped us in the neighborhood and asked for additional seed to cover what she called "light areas with almost no seed". This occured for the next 2 to 3 weeks. Seems every time she saw us in the area she asked for additional seed. I gave her a few pounds each time as I always carried a little extra anyway.
    Question is, how do you treat customers like this. I don't mind adding a little more seed on any of the jobs and actually plan on it if heavy rains occur after the job.
    I feel this customer probably operated their irrigation system just too long after the seed and fertilizer was applied and actually washed some away. She denied this of course.
    After overseeding what is your policy regarding the seed even coming up, thin spots, bare spots, etc.??
    Please let me hear from you...
    Thanks, Cleve....
  2. HOMER

    HOMER LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,183

    You have picked up a liability rather than an asset. I would write her a very professional letter detailing every thing you do for all of your regular customers and then let her know what you have done, beyond the call of duty, for her. Seed costs money! I bought 5 lbs. of fescue for $9.00, granted that may be a lot higher than anyone else pays for it but the fact remains your giving away your money! You did what you said you would, she did more than she needed with the water and now your exceeding the limits of normal warranty work.

    You've done your part, let her know it and let her go. She'll never be satisfied!
  3. Ocutter

    Ocutter LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 314

    Give 'em an inch and they will take a yard. She sees a very helpful LCO and plays off of that. Tell her that you seeded the spots that needed it when you did the job. "Why do you need more Mrs. X?" Tell her there will be a charge for the next bag. She'll stop then.
  4. Ssouth

    Ssouth LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 436

    Back in the fall there were several post on seeding. Somewhere in those post this issue was talked about. And if I remember correctly the best policy was to advise the client on how much water and when to do it. And to either give them an instruction sheet or verbally tell them. And after your done with the seeding it's up to them. Personally, that's what I did after reading many post. I also bought a 5-10 lbs. extra and told the client that if in the spring they had bare spots I would re-seed the bare spot at no charge ( however I factored this cost into the original seeding job) All of my seeding jobs were for my normal customers so I already know which lawns will need a touch up. And since I visit all of these properties weekly I know if they watered correctly. Some did and some didn't. The ones who didn't will be charge a small fee for the touch-up work.
    I have found no way to guaranty seeding since there are so many variables involved. Having said all of this I think you have gone beyond the call of duty and from now on I would charge for your time and materials.
  5. sunrise

    sunrise Banned
    Messages: 247

    Homers right write her a letter and tell her way it is.
    If see still want more charge her for it if not drop her
    your in business to make money not give it away.
  6. Cleve

    Cleve LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Rockmart, GA
    Messages: 404

    I feel better.
    Thanks for all the replies.
    By the way, I did tell them to just water for about 5 to 10 min. on each zone each day after the reseeding job and as soon as the grass could be seen to go to the regular water schedule.
    My biggest problem is worrying about what she tells her neighbors.
    I depend on my work being my calling card so to speak. This is the kind of person that would love to spread the word.
    Thanks again, Cleve....
  7. bob

    bob LawnSite Platinum Member
    from DE
    Messages: 4,260

    Don't worry about what she tells her neighbors. If your giving them a good job they'll keep you, dispite what the woman says. Chances are she treats them the same way. Charge her for any further seed.
  8. awm

    awm LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,354

    I dont because this is like farming .You never
    know what mama nature is going to do.
    I tell them what it should do and what might
    cause failures.
    C ourse then you get lucky enough to get
    weeds in your seed.I just keep working at it.
  9. jeffex

    jeffex LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,933

    write it on the bill !!!!!
    I tell my
    customers very specific instructions and then
    write them on the bill. I had 2 people last yr
    who I did late in the year and I even wrote on
    thier bill that once the frost hits the seed
    won't germinate but will be thier next spring if
    it doesn't wash away. Most pros charge high
    enough price to factor in call backs for seeding
    If your lowballing you'll get burned
  10. zimm4

    zimm4 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 106

    Treat her like A queen. This woman is hard to please.
    When you turn her into a beliver of your services.
    She will be A cheerleader for your biz.

    Remember if you turn into a great customer.
    She will tell all about you. Anybody that knows her,
    Will stop and think. If this guy can please her!!!!!

    Im using his service no questions asked.


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