Here's another example of what I'm getting at

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Envy Lawn Service, Oct 14, 2006.

  1. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    OK, here is a situation that I experienced today that is a very good example of what I mean about several issues with customers.

    1) Accounts that can tie you up more than they are worth.
    2) Accounts with no loyalty
    3) Accounts that split work among contractors on purpose

    OK, I have this account, which has been OK, and pays me a lot of money. From the beginning I have never did all their work. But I've had my part of the maintenace and renovations. Part of it is under contract and the rest they have been doing as extras, as needed.

    I had no issue with any of this.

    However, as time has went on, this week for example I found myself hung up, making two trips to do work they wanted done this week. Then sure enough, Friday about 11am I get a request for more work that must be completed this week.

    Well, 11am on a Friday is not exactly the best time to request a 3rd maintenance request you need completed this week. But I took it totally in stride with no issue at all. And sure enough I find myself ruining my Saturday over a dinky little job they wanted done.

    Sure enough, while I am there I see another outfit roll in to do a "good job" that I had been awaiting the 'all-clear' on to do. Another renovation job, which I do for them.

    Well, I stood there dumbfounded and embarassed by on-lookers (residents) as I stood there on my Saturday s#it job maintenance request, while someone else rolls in on my renovation job I was so much looking forward to. A job that would have turned me a profit of 7 times more than what I was there doing at the time.

    The more I worked, the worse this burned. To think that I had already did several hard ones for them, and left them flawless, and was finally looking forward to one that would not be such an intensive hard renovation.

    By the time I got through running this through my head I was almost to the point of my hair bursting into flames.

    If you are a guy like myself, you really have to beware sometimes. I know I stay on the higher end of the price scale, and lots of times it is really hard to judge the motive of some customers/accounts. What I mean is, sometimes they are willing to pay your rates, not because of you, or the quality of your work, or anything else... but rather because they cannot find anyone that can do the work and will do it in their time frame.

    Sometimes they will also throw you a bone here and there on better paying jobs to keep you around doing that other stuff they can't find some other outfit to do.

    You also have to be wary of some accounts because they want to monopolize you too much with too many little jobs, or too many weekly requests, or too much consuming red tape type stuff.

    So now I find myself having to sit down and evaluate what my pride is worth to me, and needing to sit down and RE-evaluate if this piece of business is even worth it to me anymore if I am not 1st in line on all the renovation work too.
  2. mojob

    mojob LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 515

    Why don't you explain this to the person in charge of the account just like you did here. They might not be aware of how this business works. At this point I don't think you have much to lose. Good luck.
  3. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    Well, I've gotta cool off, re-gain some composure, and re-evaluate things before I say a word.
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Oh yes, the good times loss leaders provide, I've been there and learned that customers come and go, and so do we...

    Hence I can say this much:
    - Always charge at least what the job is worth (more if you have to). This way, WHEN they hire someone else to do whatever, it doesn't burn nearly as bad. You may still get a bit flustered, but eventually it could get to the point where you are earning SO much that they can call whoever they want because it just doesn't matter to you anymore... And this brings up:
    - Never give a discount or a better rate based on the hopes of future business.
    - Don't bend over backwards any further for a high roller than you would for anyone else, because it's not fair to you and to the rest of your loyal, well paying customers (and not to be mean, but this is where we tend to bring it on, what this next point explains):
    - Pre-screening (watching for red flags) helps. Anytime someone wants to donate to your cause (throw you a bone), it is at this point you may already wish to reconsider the relationship in addition to refining your own methods: In some cases, customers can't be helped from thinking what they are going to think anyhow, but in other cases we tend to bring it on ourselves, too.

    Hope that helps, don't throw in the towel, you've hardly gotten away from the starting line, it is far from over :)

    p.s.: A loss leader can be defined in many ways, but in this context it is defined as something that leads us to loss and loss is losely defined as something that is not good for either ourselves or the business, whether financial or otherwise.
  5. WildWest

    WildWest LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 384

    If they pay well, and for the most part have been good to you, I would have a "sit down" with them... tell them that you have been there for them when they needed you and that you have no problem, (give them a "for instance" THIS job you're doing on Sat.) Tell them that YOU went to work for them on SATURDAY because they had "to have it now" and you came through for them. Then when they have a nice job, they contract someone else.??? Ask them WHY? And if it's, say, a 3000.00 dollar job and they got someone else because of a 100 or 200 bucks. I would tell them that "hasn't my devotion to your property and requests been good enough for a couple of hundred bucks?
  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Oh I agree, anytime I get that angry I used to give it at least 48 hours, like say until Monday or even their next service date.

    Nowadays, words are not necessary because I can not change them, I can only change myself or my methods.
  7. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    Well topsites,

    This is one of those cases where you can do everything right and still feel the burn of getting "used" for lack of a better word.

    This piece of business is one of those where I have bid the whole shabang... and I have bid the 'other half' too in the past, and never once even got a nibble on my pricing. So I got to the point where I'd just decline their invitation to bid anymore.

    So when I got the call on this, I did HEAVY pre-screening before even going out. Then went out to have a look and everything matched up to what was said... and it all came together right.

    They had an outfit that was doing both the maintenance and renovations, and yes they were substantually cheaper than me. The results were really really lousy. So the whole thing was shaping up.

    In the beginning, I tacked 20% extra on top of my pricing, and the first thing I did was I agreed to re-do a renovation. Everything went well and I filed them under the heading of 'finally learned a lesson' and went on.

    Everything I have done I have made excellent profits at since. It's just that I have been scheduling a lot of little extras for them on a regular basis with quick completion dates... which can be a little smothering, and some of it has been rather stressful in certain ways... but worth it overall when considering I have also been getting the 'bigger fish' renovations too.

    Getting cut out of the best and easiest renovation to come along yet burns a LOT.
  8. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    Yeah, you get the point of the "feelings" about this really well.
  9. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    And heck, further more than that.... I don't exactly get why they didn't just ask the other crew take care of THIS little job they had to have done, while they were there, instead of calling me out to for it?

    Anyways, I will have to have this 'sit-down' conversation probably. But unless I mellow out a lot more between now and next week, I think I will have to be willing to walk on the whole deal if I do have this conversation. Not because I think they would cancel me... but because I might be tempted to just walk...

    More than anything, this sort of thing is just a slap through the face.
    The kind wrecks your 'do' and leave your hair whipped across your forehead.
  10. SOMM

    SOMM LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 425

    Topsites, with a knack for the obvious you sound like Al Gore and Mr. Rogers all rolled into one :rolleyes:, but we all luv ya !

    Envy -hope you still show this customer all the excitement, drive and results you did when they first signed on with you. Part of LCO Customer Service is also an obligation on the part of the LCO to always offer "new improvements" in lawn care processes year after year, even if they are only 10% improvements. (This also includes "new" marketing materials of flyers, mailings and post cards) The "new guys" obviously offered that impression, while your company did not. We're sorry.

    If this customer (like most) is saavy enough to shop you around, you need to get on the phone with them more often and send reminder notices with coupons well in advance of the "other guys", and be genuinely excited about it so they actually hear the "smile" in your voice (again?), complimenting them on their wise decision to choose your company again.

    We trust things will get better.
    Best Regards

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