How much do your customers control you?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by 93Chevy, Aug 26, 2010.

  1. 93Chevy

    93Chevy LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 38,301

    Just wanted to see how everybody dealt with their customers. I don't want to make a long-winded post and I'd like to see everybody's input. But I'll list below what sort of information I'm looking for.

    Do you:
    1. Conduct yourself as "I'll give the customer what they want even if it's not in their best interest."
    For example, if a customer wants a tree planted too close to a house, wants their lawn cut way too low, etc. Do you do what the wish because they're signing the check?

    2. Conduct yourself as "I'll give the customer my opinion, but they still sign my check." Basically, same as number 1, except there is a little more customer education involved, but it really boils down to you wanting the job, even if it won't make you look good in the end.
    For example "Well, we should edge the beds before mulch, but if you can't afford it, we don't have to this time."

    3. Conduct yourself as "I'll sit down with the customer, explain to them how the job should be done (professionally and correctly) and let them decide if they want it done that way." Meaning, you'll still do the job "incorrectly" if the customer is "stupid" but you at least took a lot of time trying to get them over the right outcome.
    For example "It's going to cost another $400 to amend the planting beds properly and your plants will thrive better, but we don't have to do it if it's not in your budget."

    4. Conduct yourself as "I do it my way." Meaning YOU tell the customer what will be done if they chose your service.
    For example, "we always till our bed before new plantings," "we always cut at 4" until early October," or "we always put down a pre-emergent after every mulch job."

    5. Realize the customer's goals for their outdoor environment and make a solution that best reaches their goals while still doing the job "the right way."
    For example, "in order to best serve your lawn, our crews mow between 3" and 4" depending on growth and dampness," "in order for your plants to thrive, our crews amend the beds properly before new planting are installed," or "I wish we could be of service, but our company is not able to serve your goals to your best interest."

    Just trying to get different opinions. Should be an interesting discussion.
  2. dgw

    dgw LawnSite Bronze Member
    from OH
    Messages: 1,008

    i listen to them and all their ideas

    tell them how great their idea

    then explain they i do it , why, and the benefits

    usually works, thats why they call a pro
  3. Raymond S.

    Raymond S. LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 996

    I'd say close to #3. For example; I have an old lady who has insisted all year that I cut her grass lower and lower and lower. Had a fungus issue/burn in the front that was treated and now recovering quite nicely. Again with the lowering today. I said "Listen, if I go any lower I'm going to be throwing rocks around your yard." She doesn't like the way my mower "lays it down and you can see those lines (stripes) when you're done." I went over to the trailer and cranked the deck down 4 turns. She said "thanks, now let's see what that does." She went inside, I cranked it back up and mowed. She still complained but said it was much better. She has some sort of shady fescue grass that is more like hair than grass. You can see my footprints in it when I leave. I use a 52" WB and she wants me to use a 21". I refused and told her if she wants that she'll have to use another company because there isn't enough $$ in it for a 21".
    Long story short, I'm dropping her next season. However, I have caved into her requests a bit after telling her no multiple times. I am now cutting her lawn at 2.5" against my better judgement. But I honestly don't care if it scalps and burns the piss out of the lawn. I typically don't even talk to my customers but this one has really gotten my goat all season. Her daughter is a damn clone too, I'll probably drop her next season as well.
  4. wbw

    wbw LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,078

    Without a doubt #2. I try to be very accommodating. If they are paying what do you care? As long as I give them my professional opinion I feel that I have met my moral obligation. Any other standard is arbitrary and mostly in your mind.

    What I won't do is accommodate them in ways that are not prudent financially.
    i.e. scheduling. I plan my route for efficiency to make me money.
  5. Chilehead

    Chilehead LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Stockbridge, GA
    Messages: 1,956

    I'd have to say both numbers 3 & 5. I will however make sure that the customer is aware that any damage as a result of them not wanting things done the way I want (the way they should be done) is their liability, not mine.
  6. georgiagrass

    georgiagrass LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 970

    We pretty much do it the way the customer wants, although we will spend a good bit of time with the customer to make sure that they understand our view of their request. We are usually successful at educating the customer. I have often supplied the customer with reference material to support our opinion. Overall, most of our customers appreciate and respect our opinions and follow our advice. In those instances where they continue to insist on their way, we'll do it, and in significant enough cases, I'll send them a note in writing expressing my concerns about an adverse outcome.
  7. wbw

    wbw LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,078

  8. 93Chevy

    93Chevy LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 38,301

    Thanks for all the replies guys. Keep 'em coming.

    I'm not trying to steal anybody's ideas, but I'm only 3 credits shy of graduating with a B.S. in H R Management, I find it interesting to see how everybody conducts their business, and how successful they are in relation to their dealings with customers.
  9. TheC-Master

    TheC-Master LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 819

    I'm more of a 4&5, I do it my way, but we reach the goal for the customer at the same time. I accept pay the way I want, work the way I want with what I want. But if they have a celebration or something I might move them around if noted in advance.
  10. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,220

    It's funny how we handle customers.

    some simply dont want to be bothered, others are always wanting this or that, still others are wanting advice on this or that.

    I have always considered our type of work a thankless JOB,

    if a man comes home from work at the end of the day, gets out of his car with a million things on his mind, goes in side and doesn't nothce his lawn. then we have done our job.

    if He does notice it, then we have NOT done our jobs.

    seems there is NO ONE way to handle each customer.

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