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Keeps getting under my skin deeper & deeper

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Envy Lawn Service, Dec 8, 2005.

  1. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    Ever been at a point where certain senarios just get under your skin worse and worse every time you are confronted with them?

    Well boys, I'm here to tell ya, I'm afraid I'm long gone on this issue by now.
    Heck I'm not even sure of what's gonna come out of my mouth as a response anymore...

    Anyways, here's the deal. I was doing a rather ugly leaf cleanups in one of my areas today. Jobs I would have rather not done, but I really hated to let them get covered in snow and ice tommorrow.

    The jobs came out really well, but they were not spicn-span like I prefer to leave them on the last visit... Due to weird fall conditions this year, these jobs have been troublesome to do and now the still have loose ends that need doing, but not enough that all the customers are going to pay extra again to have me come out to make things spotless.

    I have some though where I will be out to do this as well as several other neglected little tasks the customers are finally getting around to wanting to pay for. So, I was talking with this one customer (whom I like a whole lot) when I finished up. Just having a general all around discussion of these things.... as I was again cutting him a good deal on the service I had provided.

    When he found out I was going to be right next door at a later date over the winter, he asked for a quote to have some shrubs trimmed. So we looked them over and made small talk. I talked about the plants and he talked about how he had bought electric trimmers some time ago to keep them up himself.

    These were three large 6 ft ball shrubs. So I was thinking about doing a minimal 'shaping' trim... the fact I was going to be right next door... the fact it would be at my leisure in the dead of winter... and how pleasant a customer he is... and so forth.

    I consider that the trimmings will be prickly, but still I figure a tarp and some time.
    I think oh, what the heck.... $10 a piece.... $30.
    Nah... he's a good ol guy and I don't have to haul the trimmings off-site...

    "Oh, I wouldn't charge you but $25-$30 to take care of those for you when I come back out"... is what came out of my mouth.

    He quickly followed with a sincere expression and said "that's way to much."
    I could tell he sincerely though I was quoting a rip-off price.

    I was so surprised by it I didn't say anything.

    I guess the silence got the best of him and he broke it saying something about that's why he just bought those electric clippers because he had that one guy come out that time to trim them and he charged so much.

    Finally my mouth opened up. My brain caught what my mouth was going to say, and apparently if took everything I had to keep from saying "you gotta be freakin' kiddin' me" because what ended up saying it not so many words was do it yourself. Then I said my farewells and was on my way.

    Here it is now after midnight and this is still crawling up and down my spine.

    Things like this shouldn't bother me. But anymore, they do. I guess I've worn thin to it and it gets under my skin and stays there a while. It's not that I'm mad at the customer at all. He has been a good one and really I could care less one way or the other about the job. I didn't really want to fool with it for that little anyways. Actually I felt more that I would be doing the customer a nice favor.

    Needless to say I was floored when I got a response that was opposite of what I had expected. So I am not angry at the customer or mad about the fact I didn't get the job. What I'm ticked off about is the business environment responsible for the fact this was a sincere opinion.

  2. HOMER

    HOMER LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,183

    I feel your pain.

    I had a regular customer ask me to trim some overgrown shrub growing on the corner of her house. I put it off all summer, kept telling her I would get to it. She pays good for what I do but any extras.........she really trys to stick it to me. The other day I went over with the chainsaw. I told her the easiest way to handle these things was to cut them down to 3-4' off the ground and let them come back where we could keep them under control. She agreed and I cut and hauled the debris to the curb. Took all of 20 minutes, I even went to the other corner and cut another one down. Had I bid this for a non-regular customer I would have charged 50-60 bucks. When she asked how much, I told her .........ahhhhhhhhhh..........30 bucks. She thought (just as I suspected) that was too much. She had alread made the check out for $20.00 more for the work I just did. I knew this was coming so I told her I would trade for the swing that was sitting in her back yard (nice swing). She said she paid $100.00 for the swing and kind of brushed me off. I chalked it up to another loss but figured I'd make it up down the road like I always have with her. Later that week she told me to come get the swing......said I would get more use out of it than she would!!!

    I did.

    I think she must have given some thought to the extra shrubs and figured she short changed me quite a bit.

    It's funny how some regular customers think any extras should be given to them when the same work down the road will net you a decent $$$$.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    The one that bugged me was a regular customer that wanted a variety of things done over the winter. I had told him I could give him a better price in the dead of winter. So I meet with him one day in Jan., I figured it would take me 3 days max to do all the work. He said he was 'working on a budget', and would I mind if he bought all the materials himself and had them delivered. I figured, no problem, not much else going on in January.

    I told him around 700 and some dollars for materials, roughly. He took out his calculator, started punching the buttons, and smiled and said "Eight-thirty-four" I asked him what that was...he said "My budget is $1,000...after expenses, and assuming you work 3, 8 hour days, that comes out to $8.34 an hour for you"

    I just stared at him...I mean, I figured he HAD to be kidding. Then to add insult to injury, he said "Well, you could make more per hour if you get it done faster..."

    After staring (glaring) at him some more, he finally said "Uhh...I...take it...that's not good??? How much DO you charge per hour???"

    It hurt at the time, but I get a chuckle now when I think about it.
  4. Trinity Lawn Care  LLC

    Trinity Lawn Care LLC LawnSite Senior Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 946

    Try not to worry about it Envy. Customers will never cease to amaze us. I had a very good customer do the same thing recently. Last cut of the year she wanted be to trim a bush on the side of her house. I explained to her that I charge $45 per hour 1st hour when do trim work with a one hour minimum, but since she was such a good customer I would do it for less. She said that sounds great. When I told that I was only going to charge her $25 she stated that it only took me 10-20 minutes tops. She could not understand. Also, had a customer recently call me for a leaf removal. They asked for the estimate in October. They call me like to days ago, and we have since had snow(looks like we are getting more). I say this simply to go back to my original point. Customers will be customers and they never will cease to amaze us.
  5. garth1967

    garth1967 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 640

    gee mate i just dont know which of my experiences to tell you but needless to say i no how you feel.its just wierd,sometimes im in the mood or have the time to give a sweetheart deal and then to have in turned down in no uncertain terms

    its a crazy mixed up world

    it just doesnt happen anymore
  6. jeffex

    jeffex LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,933

    Just another case in point about my theory of being in this business " I cut their lawns for free and charge money to deal with people" One of the things that keeps me going yr after yr. is the sport of dealing with people. I find that at the end of the season they ALL seem to want to be done paying and are thinking about the expence of Christmas. Even good customers get cheap this time of year. If I am going to raise their leaf cleanup price I tell them while I am still cutting grass in Oct. this post combined with another post tells me you are ready for the season to end. Your ready to hibernate for the winter . Spring will come and you'll emerge from your cave and be hungry again . It happens to me every year. Just recognizing it and knowing my attitude will change with the season is enough to give me piece of mind that this business is still for me.
  7. Jpocket

    Jpocket LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,281

    When people do this I say ma'am or sir this is what we charge, take it or leave it! in a nicer way of course.

    It gets me when people think 30 40 or even a $100 bucks will make a differnece to me over the winter, regardless i'll live like a king over the winter, and come back in the Spring bigger and better than ever.
  8. stumper1620

    stumper1620 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,889

    Are you sure he didn't interpret that to mean 25 or 30 bucks each? ( thats what the going rate is with a lot of guys)
    you say he said the other guy was so expensive, and you are totally reasonable on that price, it makes me think he thought you ment each.
    Just a thought..
  9. Rhett

    Rhett LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,071

    What 8.34 not enough? Have a customer that years ago wanted a bunch of extras done at 10 an hour. Usually don't but let her know what my operating costs are. Uncle Sam is going to get his 2.50, the equipment is going to get its 6 dollars, trash bags are going to run me another two bucks and still haven't paid for liscensing, insurance, paperwork. So if I drop off my employee who costs me 15 an hour I could come back and pay you 2 an hour to work. How about I just stay home and send you a 12 dollar check.
  10. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,360

    Same thing happens to all of us at some point. Some people just don't get it and never will.

    Most work for other people. They all have the thought process that everything the owner bills for their time is all profit. They don't understand expenses and the cost of operating a business. That is why they work for someone else.

    Oh, next time you will know to quote that at $75-$100 bucks. Its better to be turned down for higher prices than a few dollars.

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