Jerky Customer

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by JCee, Apr 20, 2006.

  1. JCee

    JCee LawnSite Member
    from NY
    Messages: 113

    Got a sping cleanup from a newspaper add I put out. Went and did the estimate and told them 110 for spring cleanup... Customer says ok and will call back if they want service.

    Customer calls back and says, I have been getting other estimates for 75, so will you do it for that...I say not a chance and she says ok, so when can you do it? IOW lying to get a better price....

    So I go to do it, and my partner who also did the estimate did not happen to be there with me. Me and another worker do the job and they are peering from every window trying to see what we are doing.. Now dont get me wrong I dont have a problem with this, but at the same time there is something I dont like about it....

    So at the end, they (husband + wife) and say, you told me you were going to seed the dead spots. Now I know that this was never said, and they state that my partner said this. Once again, I was with him when we did the estimate so I know it is an outright lie, but I stay calm...(I also double checked with my partner)

    Unfortunately to be nice I laid a small amount of seed down, but the moral of this long story is I cant stand customers like this always trying to pull sneaky crap. I felt like screaming at them, but instead I put my tail between my legs and helped them out.....What what you guys have done?.....and furthermore what would you have done if they witheld the check?
  2. LLandscaping

    LLandscaping LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,016

    We dont do one time cleanup but if we did I would make the customer sign a work order. The work order tells exactly what you are going to do, the price and make the customer sign it saying they will pay when job is completed. If you gave the customer a price just to do the cleanup I would have told them the seeding would cost extra.
  3. 1MajorTom

    1MajorTom Former Moderator
    Messages: 6,073

    what exactly did you do when you "laid this seed down"? just throw it down on top of the bare spots?

    To answer your question, it's easy to become a little intimidated by a customer especially if you are new to the business. At this point in our business though, we've been thru all that, no, we would not have done any seed work for the customer, no way. besides, seed work takes prepping the soil first, can't just throw seed on hard compacted soil and expect it to grow.
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Had someone last week try to tell me some similar bs about 'they were under the impression this and that was supposed to be done...'
    My answer: I know nothing about this, what we discussed was (and I repeated verbatim what was talked about) and that is what got done and that is what the bill is for.

    I got paid, and I did nothing more and wouldn't have, either.

    If someone wants to hold the check that is no problem, before the day is over they are referred to a collection agency who in turn reports the issue to all 3 credit bureaus (equifax, experian, and trans union). This is one item on their record that shows as collections and gives off an R-9 rating (the worst) which must then average itself out with the rest of the stuff on their credit record, so if they have 4 x R-1 items, suddenly their overall credit rating is at least an R-2 and on its way to becoming an R-3 ... 4 x 1 = 4 + 9 = 13 / 5 = 2.6 = R-3
    Although the R-3 average can be prevented by having enough R-1 rated items (R-1 is the best rating and rather standard so long you don't mess up you have an R-1 rating), preventing an R-2 rating is near impossible at this point, all for a check.

    It's not to say I always get paid, but over time and after I put my foot down, I don't get this much anymore... I was more surprised the other week that the lady even tried it, not the fact that she did it, that part was so much routine and par for the course for me, I think that may also make a difference... That attitude of 'ohhh yeah, this again' lets them know at once if you've been there before, it works wonders vs. when it surprises you (thou the first time I got my money, too - but it wasn't nearly as quick).

    Meanwhile I got a feeling I'm out some money for some other thing ...
    Only time will tell ...
    I swear.
  5. Bustus

    Bustus LawnSite Member
    Messages: 181

    I've learned there are some bad customers out there, no matter how nice you try to treat them. I guess thats the way it goes.
  6. tcls83

    tcls83 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 239

    Didn't you just say you said "Not a chance, I won't do it for 75" and you did it anyways?

    I get people like this. I just won't do work for them.

    It could be in the attitude you present to the customer in the first place. I know when I started when I was 19, I looked like an easy target for customers to screw me around. After I realized that they were just playing games with me when I finished the job, I took the hit at the time, and quickly realized that none of this B.S. should be allowed to fly with me after a couple of times.

    I don't know if you are new at this, but I am sure you will pick up on these types of people. You even get some that try to act buddy-buddy with you at first, making you allowing to let things slide with them, and you do and get hurt from it, but then realize truthfully it is just part of their game.

    Don't put your trust into any customer. Be firm with them no matter who it is.

    A good customer would never complain if you stick to your guns.

    You can tell who a bad customer is if they feel offended that you won't let anything slide with them, because the what they really could be thinking to themselves is "Dang, this guy's good, I can't get anything out of him!"

    Never feel like the bad guy if a customer feels offended by your pricing or by the way you stick to your guns.

    Personal matters with customers shall never get in the way of how you run your business. I have quickly learned that.

    We should all stick by what you have agreed on with the client. That way when people look to hire a lawn/landscape company, they would be much less likely to jerk us around.

    Good luck.
  7. Tn Lawn Man

    Tn Lawn Man LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 479

    TCLS - good post

    I have adopted a policy that so far has been working very well.

    Since, I am primarily a mower, I only offer my secondary services like mulching or clean ups to my mowing customers or friends or neighbors personally referred by my mowing customers.

    This works out well because there is already a committed relationship between you and the client. They are less likely to lie to you or take advantage of you because they will see you all year or have seen you all year already.

    I found that the people that are most likely to take advantage of you are the one timers. And, they do this in a number of ways.

    This policy has been a little tough because I have left a lot of money sitting out there for someone else. But, my payment rate has increased immensely.
  8. mcwlandscaping

    mcwlandscaping LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,163

    For all new single time cleanups from new customers and any other new service for new customers i make them sign a work order and/or contract clearly stating all work to be done. Hate people tryin to BS to get more than what they are payin for.
  9. JCee

    JCee LawnSite Member
    from NY
    Messages: 113

    ...Yes I am new to the business, and am trying to build my client base through taking whatever jobs I can....and just to clarify, I stuck to my 110 price on the job mentioned above, my point was that she tried to bull s#$t me into taking the 75, but when I told her no way, she asked when I could do it for 110.

    I have about 10 mowing accounts from last year, and put out a newspaper ad and did alot of hand delivered flyers. Problem is all I am getting is the one time spring cleanups. Out of the ads was good response I got about 30 cleanups and I keep getting steady calls from relatives and friends. Unfortunately not many mows though....

    So for now I am kind of stuck in the one time cleanup business. I have also been pretty good with upsells while I am at the property such as mulch and hedges. So we will see what happens.

    Thanks for all your replies about sticking to what was said. I will try to do that but I have a good and bad trait of wanting everything to be perfect before I leave. Once my customer base builds up I will be a bit better with this, knowing that I gave them all that I promised and thats it.....
  10. Raven386

    Raven386 LawnSite Silver Member
    from CT
    Messages: 2,169

    i had a customer call me and tell me i didnt do their fall clean-up. i was like ok i know i did but i will take a look at it. he tells me i cant because theres "work" going on in his backyard im like thats fine just call when i can get back there etc.... i got there, theres leaves in one corner, its apparent to see that their neighbor did not take care of their leaves. he keeps telling me he is not paying me extra for the leaves, and expects me to take them all away and do all this other sh*t for free too. i hate it when people have to be so damn cheap.

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