I need your input about a situation w/ a customer

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Lohse's Lawn Service, Jul 27, 2007.

  1. Lohse's Lawn Service

    Lohse's Lawn Service LawnSite Member
    from US
    Messages: 213

    I figure some of these details are necessary. Maybe not. Sorry for the length.

    I have several lawns in a, for the most part, clean mobile home park, but there is one customer that I've done a couple times this year. They called me mid-season. The yard is a mess, and I charged accordingly for the first mowing so that I wouldn't be losing money. Family situations are going on with them, 20 year old moving in and out, w/ boyfriend, etc. all stuff she has told me; I have tried not to make any outside judgments.

    The grandmother that was living there temporarily was the one paying, but she's moved on. Now it's her kids that live there, they are probably in their 40's. I called the grandmother about mowing, she had already moved, but said go ahead and mow it. I drove by, nobody was home, and it was one of those yards that I'd rather not mess with. Potentially not getting paid (even though that hasn't happened the few times I've mowed it). I drove by about a week ago when I was mowing my regulars, and the front yard was scalped, looked horrible. I assumed the rest of the yard was done too. It was not.

    The 40-something woman living there now called and asked "Uh when are you coming? I had you down for a couple weeks ago." I told her I saw the front mowed, she said they paid the neighbor to do it. I told her I would come mow it early next week, and since it wasn't really anybody's fault, I would charge my original cost, and I apologized for the mix-up. She said that would be fine, they would be leaving tonight (they are truck drivers) and probably would be gone for 3-4 weeks. I told her I would take care of it on Monday and keep my eye on it from now on.

    For future reference, it is not worth the time to deal with people like this? The kind that have too many other "irons in the fire" or am I over-exaggerating? Either way, to keep my good name, I will be mowing on Monday, it's a $30 yard, and who knows how tall the back is. It's not that big of a yard so I feel by sacrificing this time I will be alright. Any input would be appreciated.
  2. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,781

    In my limited experience, these things go with the territory. I am currently mowing a property which is vacant, but up for rent. The owners live in Minnesota. I've never met them, all arrangements have been over the phone. Paid me a cleanup fee, and the first two months mowing with no problem. Owner mowed the yard once when he was there working, didn't bother to call me, so I made a wasted trip to the place (about 8 miles). Now, they haven't yet paid me for June, and I've mowed it twice this month also. I think they wil pay me, but it is one of those situations where one really doesn't know what to do.

    If I were you, I think I'd mow it, as promised, then call grandma and tell her you really need to get a check before mowing again. More than likely they check in with her from time to time. Good luck.
  3. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,263

    I try like hell to work with everybody and give them a chance. My advice to you is take the account on if you really need it. With regard to the fact they have a non-traditional lifestyle I would insist on prepay for the month of service or any service for that matter. It is a major pain to chase money on work after it is done. Explain this is your policy and it not up for negotiation. Good luck and keep us posted.:usflag: :usflag: :usflag:
    ericg likes this.
  4. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,988

    Well if they want you to do it, and they pay your price, on time, and don't make your life hell, personally I could care less what else they have going on in their life. I'm running a business, not being a counselor or worrying about what others' lives are like and I'm not involving myself in anyone's personal problems, no way no how.
  5. Grits

    Grits LawnSite Silver Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 2,994

    I don't really see a problem. You have always received payment. You are thinking that you may potentially not be paid. Sounds like it is all in your head.
  6. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,366

    If you have only got to cut this yard a couple times I think I would move on and get a replacement that you can get more cuts......they didn't make an attempt to call you when it needed to be done. I think your concern about payment is well founded.
  7. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    I have a tendency to disagree. Yes,..there has been a "change of residence" - even a few times, with the kids moving in/out or whatever, and the grandmother going elsewhere. But it sounds as if the people living there now are wanting the services, and probably will not be bad customers. If they drive truck, they are wanting their place taken care of. Since you already have some in the area, I would just do it. Keep track of your dates, though...so they will not be doubting if you were there on some certain date(s).
  8. Chilehead

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

    You have to ask yourself if this client is really worth the hassle. If $30.00 is going to make you or break you, then by all means keep mowing. If it were me, I'd make them pay in advance before each cut unless they signed a contract. In the mean time, I'd scout for a more reliable (or set of) customer(s).

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    Yet another good example of why credit cards are great...the customer could be an astronaut at the Space Station and yet I still just punch their CC# into my machine and get paid. If you haven't looked into it yet, do so now.
  10. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Of course it's that thing, if you have enough business that it doesn't matter, I might be for moving on. But it might be ok, I'd be sure to get some names (first and last) of the person responsible for the payment, and I'd also be for knowing that each cut could be the last, more so to prevent disappointment.

    You never know thou, it might be ok in the end, I just dislike being tested like this but at least they're not lawn-boying you, see it's kinda 50-50 in my book. I'd probably stick with it until end of season, if for no other reason than it's the easy way, then take it from there.

    Good luck

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