I'm in a pinch--has this happened to you?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Chilehead, Apr 14, 2007.

  1. Chilehead

    Chilehead LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Stockbridge, GA
    Messages: 1,968

    I've got this customer I did a bid for that included planting about $1000.00 worth of bushes/trees/annuals, adding 4 yards of dirt to the bed, adding 2 yards of mulch, and building a small retaining wall. I calculated about 20 man-hours of work into the bid. Now here's the catch: I am a one man show right now and the client lives 55 miles away(all expressway driving of course).

    The client gave me a nasty-gram today stating that the work is not being completed fast enough. I explained the time required to pick up materials/set up deliveries, and drive to his location does in fact take time. So far, I have performed 10 hours of ACTUAL LABOR at his house over 2 days, and am half way complete.

    I apologized for that the rate of work was not to his expectation, yet he insists that I am purposely dawdling. Have I done the right thing? Is the customer being unrealistic?
  2. DBL

    DBL LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,219

    say no more 55 mile is a hike and half and a lot of stress for a one man show
  3. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    Hey, that's not right. Did you agree on a time frame? A completion date? If not you just do that job at the pace you can do it and no faster. He can't tell you how fast to do your work. That is unreasonable and unfair.
    55 mile drive is killing your time and your profit margin.
    . Can you leave your tools on-site and stay over a few nights at a cheap motel? Or keep them in an enclosed trailer? Get all your deliveries done then hang out in the area a few days, probably cost less than gas back and forth. Not to make him happy but to help you get done?
  4. bladelawn

    bladelawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 58

    Yeah, as long as you didnt agree on a completion date he has nothing on ya.
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Uhm, if it takes you 4 days to complete 20 hours of work for one customer, that's pretty good this time of year, even if a weekend breaks it up.

    Most of my stuff is a week backlogged, no promises on completion.
    I do the best I can, but don't push me or call me at 7am demanding I get to it today, is what I mean.
    But if one gets like that, there's not a whole lot I know of can be done, thou hindsight did show me once or twice where I went wrong in the pre-screening process, still I think pita is not always predictable.

    The only stuff to watch out for is the possible 'Im not paying because I'm not satisfied,' I would at this point do your best to keep things calm and on an even keel, best you can, kiss tail if you have to but finish this job asap and idk if you can chalk it to experience but I guess we all get one like that every once in a moon. You might likely run into some resistance come time to get paid, might have to use a tough act, just telling you this as a heads up.

    10 hours left, would you be gambling losing one or more regulars if you got it all done your next available day?
    If not, then finish it all in 1 stretch, otherwise just asap.
    No, no amount of money is worth losing a regular, not to me.
    But it is worth a collections issue lol.

    Good luck.
  6. Turf Troll

    Turf Troll LawnSite Member
    Messages: 227

    It reads to me like you told him you were charging by the hour,
    if not I would take it as a lesson that I shouldn't work that far away, which I do two or three times every year. :)
  7. tjsquickcuts

    tjsquickcuts LawnSite Senior Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 943

    It seems to me, the guy expected maybe it would be more then one person performing the labor, therefore cutting the time of completion in half. IMO, a $1000 job should have been completed in 2 days tops....Sounds like a time management problem. You should have invested Sunday gathering most material needed, Monday morning Delivering and prepping, Tuesday putting it all together, cleaning up, taking pictures, and getting the finally payment. I am not knocking you at all, I have been there done that, but I learned. As a solo LCO, the original bid probably seem GREAT, but after all the finally expense and Labor, it probably really wasnt worth it. I was in a similar situation as you, long drive, poor scheduling, fully loaded Mtce schedule, and trying to get a $1500 job down. I took me about a week, and I lost some of my regular mtce accounts because I missed them trying to finish that dang job. In the end, after all my time, gas, and lost accounts, I made nothing...not a dime....and my goal was to hopefully get some of her broke a$$ neighbors to take some interest, but when I told them my pricing they ran like I was a ghost....but I learned, and I wont go any past 20 miles outside my home.

    ED'S LAWNCARE LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 361

    Carefull sounds like he's trying to set up an excuse for non payment.
  9. Lawnworks

    Lawnworks LawnSite Fanatic
    from usa
    Messages: 5,407

    It is $1k in materials... he never stated his labor rate.
  10. tjsquickcuts

    tjsquickcuts LawnSite Senior Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 943

    Well I am curious to know the total estimate!!! And was it worth it!!! Has it affected your weekly Mtce??? If my math is correct, and this is strictly how I bid....But if its a $1000 in Material, then there is usually a 100% Mark-up for Labor and Design. Equals a $1000 profit, or $50 dollars per hour, not including drive time, picking up materials, etc....which now makes that about $30 Bucks a hour, give or take a few bucks. Now minus gas, warranty coverage(a just in case) and Wasted time, then you could be closer to $15 to $20 bucks a hour. That cuts your estimated profit from $1000 to $400. A $600 difference, and thats a lot especially if you are counting on that money for misc things. But I will say again, I am curious to know what the total estimate covered?

Share This Page