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Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by DVS Hardscaper, Mar 24, 2011.
...and an even better one on the homeowner.
this is one area i try to cut corners on............
I hammer into the guys heads keep the area clean, cut off a pallet strap put it in the trash bag. cut a paver, scrap into the wheel barrow. lunch scrap better be in the bag too.
I will even sometimes have a guy with a shovel and broom cleaning the loader tracks up immediately, after i pass between trips so they don't get so caked and nasty, one swipe and its done.
i posted a picture of some formed concrete steps we did recently, that job drove me up the wall, roofers were dropping plastic and shingle scraps everywhere on top of us. (one of the reasons i show trash in the form photos..... for the sake of my added charges to the general contractor)
Last summer, while going over my proposed design with a client at his spec house, I was questioned as to why the plans had irrigation. Puzzled, my answer simply was the obvious, plants need water to live. He then pointed at a 50' tall Live Oak and said "Look, that tree is doing just fine without irrigation.... Just plant some plants that don't need any water."
After a few weeks had passed at his house, where we installed quite a bit of landscaping and a koi pond, I was having a bear of a time figuring out why a very random few plants were dying, and fast......after some deductive reasoning, I came to the next best explanation after seeing it with my own two eyes......one, if not all of his 3 dogs pees, x amount of times on x amount of plants, daily....made perfect sense to me.......brought this to his attention....he goes..."you gotta be kiddn me!!! Dog piss?!?!?!?...No way, not my dogs!!!! those plants probably have cancer, plants can get it too......."
I stood in awe........
This is the same client who tried to pay every invoice possible on the spot...would literally beat me to the delivery truck to get a copy of the invoice..... He would scrutinize every line on my invoice to him, and try and barter down EVERY SINGLE ITEM.......
He was an extremely sloooooowww pay... His wife signed a change order and added over a grand worth of plants. Install went fine, and everything looked great. When he got the invoice, he flipped his lid. Went off on his wife in fornt of me and proclaimed he had no money to pay me for these plants b/c he just bought another business in NC..... Needless to say it was the last job i did for Mr. Full-of-Himself..... Took him over 6 weeks to pay me $750, still owes me money to this day. He would pace around the yard as we were working, constantly dictating the next step, and questioning the proper usage of materials and products. he would keep a tab on labor and make suggestions to me on how i can save HIM money...
I do have to say I am VERY glad I got this DB outta the way very early on. I have been in this industry for almost a decade, but have only owned my business for about a year now. I am learning (to run a business) the hard way, through trial and error. I have learned many, many invaluable lessons from this terrible client:
Never let your clients see YOUR cost on ANYTHING
Never let a client try to push you over on your pricing, stand firm.
Never do work without a written contract, SIGNED by the client, EVERYTIME!
If anything for a job costs you even a penny, you must recoup it without question, Nothings free...ESPECIALLY design....
Speaking of design, this fall, I got taken from a nice sweet lady, whom I didn't charge for design work (greenhorn mistake)
Included was a water feature, hardscape, planting, lighting and a bistro..... only to be told I was OUT BID. Come to find out she took my plans, and between her and her husband, did ALL the work themselves. I spent 3 days planing, bidding, finding products, CAD work, etc etc....I was bamboozled and lost out on 4k profit.... But that is for another thread I suppose.
I'll tell you, I got part way through your story and I could feel my blood pressure going up.
Even if you do barely average quality work, a clean jobsite makes you look like a champ.
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This topic has to be one of my most memorable client experiences from 2011!
So much, that I thought I'd bring it back to light for the new members to enjoy!
Did a landscape job a couple years ago. It was for a contractor working on the same large job we were doing. We were doing strip and remove, excavator, grading, landscaping, etc...
His daughter was getting married at their house and they needed the landscaping down ASAP.
I did the job. It was basic, river rock, trees, plants, drainage, sod, peagravel, etc... Easy couple days... you would think.
His wife was very specific on the plants. She wanted to come to the nursery and pick out all the flowers, etc... no problem. Only took 4 hours. (imagine shopping with your wife only WORSE) There is no man bench to sit on at the nursery and wait.
Got all the trees, delivered them. They were being installed between a deck and a fence so they had to be maneuvered by hand. Then they would be in. She would like them. Be happy. The next day she wanted them rotated a bit one way. Because of the leaf coverage. Then 4 hours later, back to where they are.
The same thing for the plants, the decorative grass, etc... HUGE ORDEAL. Spent more time moving stuff around than planting. Lets try it here, lets try it there.
A 3 day job, took 4-5 days. It was an hour away. I did it for time + material, so wasn't losing money, but not really making profit. Was doing a few jobs with this guy, so was hoping would lead to more construction work.
Finally, got finished, gave her a bill.
Still no money. Their wedding was coming up soon. They kept having excuses. Money is coming. Blah. Blah. I knew he was tight, the big job we were doing was slow paying too. But things were tight for me as well.
Finally had enough. Showed up one day with machines on the trailer, told them we were removing everything we installed. There wedding was that week.
Funny, they found their cheque book and paid right away.
I used to have a power sweeper for the skid steer. Mainly for doing construction cleanup on large jobs. Can usually pick up a few side jobs in the area if I have a machine parked in a busy construction zone. The sweeper paid for itself several times over. Also did a few parking lots for commercial accounts. Have a guy blow out the corners, and curbs with a leaf blower and the skidsteer did the rest.
Now I wish I had it for landscape jobs. It's an extra thing to put on the trailer, but you can scrub the roads clean quicker than a laborer can figure out which way to hold the broom.
Never saw this thread before, it's full of lessons and tales of PITA customers to remind you to know your costs and don't let customers dictate your profit.
Thank you so much for the laughs. I haven't laughed so hard since Jeffrey Ross roasted Emmit Thomas! That spread sheet is hillarious.
I'm sure we all value our time, some more than others. Your customer clearly stated what he was looking for and it was up to you to provide that info. or move on. You chose to hang on and assume some sort of victim role, which is common in our field.