Large Lawn Seeding Job - Customers FAILED to water. What would you do???!

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by lawnlandscape, Jul 26, 2010.

  1. lawnlandscape

    lawnlandscape LawnSite Senior Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 780

    Ok, so here is the deal. This is at a Condo Association that I have done all the snow removal, lawn fertilization and lawn mowing for the past year. They just signed a 3 year extension on those services.

    A couple of months ago they were bidding out some lawn repair work. I originally bid the job at $2,800, but they said they got a $1,800 bid. They said they really wanted me to do it, but I had to match that bid. I originally estimated it was going to take 24 yards of topsoil, but seeing the other bid made me second guess that number. Thinking I was to high on my estimate I lowered my bid. Partly because I did not want another company to do work at my condo association. I SHOULD HAVE JUST LET THAT OTHER COMPANY HAVE THE JOB. I ended up braking even on that job, BUT NOW:

    The job was complete, and I believe I gave the Condo Association President very clear watering instructions. He said he had a team of 4 people to do the watering, and they were going to split it up into 4 sections. Sounded good.

    After 3 weeks probably about 75% of the areas are going to need to be reseeded. The ground was cracking it was so dry and it was clear that the watering instructions were NOT followed. This really frustrates me, because I have never had a seeding job before where I have had to redo more then 5% UNLESS there was washout. There were no heavy rains within 2 weeks of seeding this property so washout was not a problem, it just simply did not get the water requirements.

    Estimated cost to reseed areas with labor, seed, starter fert, and straw is $450. $150 of which is labor, the rest is actual cost.

    If this were any other customer I would have told them they failed to follow my watering instructions, and that I would love to help them by reseeding it for them, but its going to cost $450 do repair it.

    But, wanting to stay on good terms I told the president that it is going to cost me about $200 just in seed, and that I would be willing to repair it for them if they just covered $100 in seed and I will repair it free of labor charges. Remember this is a job I broke even on too, so this would defiantly put me in the red.

    After I told him that, I was angry with myself for bending over and offering that because this WAS NOT MY FAULT!

    THEN, tonight the President of this condo association called me tonight and said that the board voted 2/3 to NOT give me the $100 towards cost of the additional seed needed. After he said that, he told me he wants me to wait until fall to repair it.

    How would you guys handle this? I am outraged! He clearly still expects me to redo this area even though they will not even give me $100 (which is nothing) to cover PART of my seed cost. No where in the contract does it say anything about any kinda of guarantee on the job if the seed does not come in. I even seeded this at 1.5X the seeding rate to begin with.

    Your opinions are greatly appreciated.
  2. ajslands

    ajslands LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,238

    It's their fault they didn't water so you should charge them!
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Never seed in summer, unless its overseed, with plenty of shade. Never trust anyone to do the watering. It should never have gone 2 weeks b4 you said something to the president. He should have been notified the first time the ground dried. Never be conciliatory and offer to 'help out', until 'after' they realize, they were the ones to waste the money.
    What would I do now? Give them advice on what to do next, plan on not working there anymore. In the long run it IS better.
  4. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

    You should have told them about your guarantee

    I guarantee that if these areas are not kept wet for the next 2 or 3 weeks the seeding job will fail and its not my responsibility
  5. lawnlandscape

    lawnlandscape LawnSite Senior Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 780

    After doing dozens of seeding jobs already just this year, this is really my first failer. One thing I can say is this is defiantly a learning experience for us. We are going to be sure we spell out very clearly on the proposals for seeding jobs that is required, and I think I am going to use that quote right on my proposals if you don't mind Bill. "We guarantee that if these areas are not kept wet for the next 2 or 3 weeks the seeding job will fail and its not our responsibility."

    @ Smallaxe - I don't want to lose all my work there because of this. lol.... We do their lawn mowing, lawn fertilization/weed control and their snow removal. This is why I was trying to be so generous. My biggest fear is that I will give them a huge deal in fixing this, then they will start to expect lots of little free things from me. They have already started to get kinda bad in this area.

  6. roberthathaway7

    roberthathaway7 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 115

    Oh man no doubt, give any cutomer an inch and they will take it a mile. I do some landscaping but mostly mowing. Due to past experience, I tell people up front that I will never cross the threshold of their bedding barriers with even a weedeater for less than an extra $30. This is because my landscaping starts at $30 minimum per job even if I have to come pull 1 dandelion. Of course I am always telling them this in good humor explaining to them that I have to clearly separate my mowing from my landscaping, because if I don't it's a slippery slope to doing something that I didn't sign up for for nothing. Once you weedeat one little spot in a flower bed that they aren't taking care of next thing you know they expect you to throw in bed maintenance in there with your mowing price. Uhhhh no. Stand your ground from now on man, and kindly let them know why.

    If you get the whole "We pay you enough already you should throw this in for nothing" bit, which I have gotten before.. well I wanted to throw down whatever tool I had in my hand, tell them to keep and do it themselves and I wont be back :) of course I don't do that but I do use the term "I can't start doing that." It's one of those short and sweet terms that are hard to argue with because it says "no. if I do it once, you'll be looking for me to do it every chance you get and that's just not going to work out for me as much as it is for you. I work to live." It's understood.

    Funny note: Another one that is awesome to pull on people is "you don't have to explain yourself." if someone is trying to explain something they did to justify or or because of something embarassing, just keep repeating it until they stop talking, lol. It's golden
  7. NarNar

    NarNar LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 489

    I don't know big the contract is with this company, or your position. But you do have to take a stand and risk losing the customer, but you will at least be able to go to sleep at tnight. We are in this business to provide service and make money. Their will be those who will try to low ball us. If you broke even on the seeding job, to save your contract, that is justifiable, but I can't see a reason why you would have to go into the "red."

    Did you take pictures? Do you have a copy of the email with instructions? Do you have it in your contract that you are not responsible for damages, if the instructions were not followed correctly? .... These are important.

    Request to speak in front of the board and tell them your side. Let them know you fulfilled your commitment.

    Sometimes you have to put your foot down and let them go. The funny part is, sometimes they just through a number out at you to see if your hungry for the business, and once they know you bend. They will try to break you.
  8. NarNar

    NarNar LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 489

    What you said is "money!"... put that in the bank.
  9. lawnlandscape

    lawnlandscape LawnSite Senior Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 780

    Contact states EXACTLY THIS:

    After Seed is set:
    How well your seed comes in will depend 95% on watering. All seeded areas will need to be watered in once day on cloudy days, and twice per day on sunny days for 3 weeks. The best times to water is in the morning for the first time and in the late afternoon for the second time
    When watering the general rule 'short but frequent' should be used. This means that when you do water, you just need to be sure the top of the soil where the seed is gets a good watering. You do not need to drench the soil underneath. You do not want to water so heavily that the water pools, because the seed will float.
    (This is for me for) Do not cut the newly seeded areas until the lawn is at least 6”. Cutting to early can damage the area because the root system is not strong yet.


    I have to take all that and make it into some kind of guarantee. I want to guarantee against washout only, and specify what my definition of washout is. Such as: 'If there is washout caused by more then 2" of rainfall in a 12 hour period it we will repair it at no change." I think it is fair to guarantee that because even though something like that is not my fault, it is certainly not theirs.

    I did not take pictures, but I should take some and post them on here. Its really bad.
  10. NarNar

    NarNar LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 489

    It is clearly written, I wouldn't be to worried about it. If they haggle you and twist it to make the problem sound like you caused it... then you would really have to consider your position. Most places can be reasonable, especially with HOA's sometimes they have a lazy staff and they know it.

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