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Lost 3 in one week

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by jpmako, Sep 23, 2005.

  1. jpmako

    jpmako LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 593

    It's a long story but I have been doing these 5 properties in a row for a couple of years now and since last year I have started charging a monthly price for all of my clients. My contract states clearly that they are charged for a minimum of 28 visits. and then goes on to say that if we skip a scheduled cutting due to any circumstances beyond our control that we may elect to perform other services at the time of their visit.

    Well as many of you are aware the summer months here in NY/NJ have been pretty dry. So Client 1 started off the year on my bad side.
    She had a cable wire next to the driveway that was partially exposed well it got ripped up from snow plowing. She sends me a bill and like an idiot I paid it even though my Snow Plowing Service Agreement clearly states I am not responsible for that type of damage.
    Spring time rolls around and while Aerating her yard she claims that I broke a sprinkler head and a piece of the irrigation pipe. She sends me another bill, this time she deducted that from the check for spring clean-up.
    Well last week she claims that I did not show up for two weeks in August,
    when in fact I did. Only twice this whole season did her lawn not get cut and I blew of the leaves and picked up sticks in place of the cutting.
    Well she called and wanted to cancel her contract. I told her that I needed it in writing and that I will continue servicing her property until I received the cancellation letter.
    I think that I am gonna have to take her to court for the $200.00 balance that she has.

    Client number 2 says that she cant afford me anymore and that my rates are to high.

    Client Number 3 Always late with her payment gets me to give an estimate for a retaining wall and complete paver walk, My price $3800.00
    So the neighbor asks (Client number 2) and I give her a price of $1600.00 for a small wall project.

    Well a week later there is another Landscape company there doing what I would call the worst job on a paver install that I have ever witnessed.
    Neither wall has caps, some of the blocks had huge chunks missing on the exposed side, and the walkway was crooked as hell.
    Last week I asked what they paid and this was the numbers on the bill

    Client number 3 Wall and Walkway $1890.00 :realmad:
    Client number 2 Wall $600.00 :realmad:

    Wow I almost fell over...

    So today I get the letter from client number 3 Saying that She has found someone cheaper and that I should cancel our contract.
    Shes has a balance of approx $1400.00 because she is on a 12 mo payment plan. Client number 2 is paid up for except September. I know I am going to have to take each of them to court for my money.

    Sorry for the long post but it just goes to show you that Price is everything to some people and customer loyalty is not always there when you think it is.

    BTW they are all using the guy that did the pavers.

    Thankfully I have well written contracts that will enable me to charge them all for the month of sept with interest on their outstanding balances and of course attorney's fees if needed.

  2. JS Landscaping

    JS Landscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 191

    I feel your pain buddy. Been through that ordeal twice this season. First time was a large landscaping job. Came up with a beutiful design for around an above ground pool including patio's walkways, plantings, and lighting. Everything the client wanted. This is a weekly maitence customer of mine as well. Did the presentation to them of my plans that i drew and even did a rendering for them of the proposed plan. They said hey we love it can i have a copy of the plan to show my brother in law. So figuring no harm i gave them a copy of both. They said we will give you a call in a few days and let you know the definate date we want you to come in here and do this for us. Seemed like I had the job. Came back on friday to mow and found another contractor doing it, using my plans which were sittin on the retaining wall they just built. One way to ruin the day for me! Ended up getting under cut by 238.00 dollars. Thier patio doesnt drain properly, the caps are crooked and cracked, the wall is bowed out, half the plantings are dead. Serves them right!. Second instance was just 2 weeks ago, easy mulching job with river rounds around a pool and regular brown mulch for the rest of the beds. Again i was undercut by 400 dollars. The guys tore the hell outa the yard with thier skid steer, broke the fence around the pool and didnt even rake the mulch out! This too was another weekly maitnence customer. Some times ya just cant win.....lowballers :realmad:

  3. jbell113

    jbell113 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 654

    Never give them the plan. If they want it they can buy it for $125
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I am NOT responsible for sprinkler heads or anything else for that matter. Push comes to shove, read: I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE. They deduct from the check or come around strong-arming talk about they're GOING to do it (meaning they're telling ME what the deal is), they're gone in one swift line-crossing motion of my pen as I cross them off BUT...

    I did have a guy a few weeks ago where I was striping and because I'm so new at it, I wasn't paying as much attention as I should've been and I whacked both a sprinkler head and an ornamental lamp... I felt bad, he never accused me of a thing thou I suspect he came out of the house for a reason, he looked innocent (he REALLY did) so I informed him immediately of the damage and he was ok with the sprinkler head (he had spares) but he was kinda down about the lamp... I asked him if a credit for this grass-cut would help and his face brightened up, so that fixed it.
    See, that's how it works. He never once assumed it SHOULD be me who pays for it, I never once assumed it was HIM who was responsible. I'm not blaming him or assuming he SHOULD pay for it, but I want the same respect in return.

    All we're doing is feeding the monster if you walk into McDonald's and bust your azz cauz your foot slipped, now you can sue them for a new azz. Well CHIT if you walk out in January and slip on a piece of ice, what then!?

    At the same rate, I did it, too (until I learned). Yes 2 years ago I wrote out a check for some stupid damage I honestly don't even THINK I did but why do they do this to us, I'll never understand other than once I put my foot up a few azzes, they don't even try this stuff on me anymore. Thou if you're not in the azz-kickin' mood, an eventual cross-them-off-your schedule without notice works well.
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    No offense, but are you folks beginning to understand why I don't like proposals or written estimates? Are you seeing how they take YOUR papers and shove them in the NEXT Lco's face while asking if THEY can do it CHEAPER?!!! Yes, we understand each other in this dog eat dog world.
    And that is the reason why when they INSIST on a written estimate, I make sure I am the LAST guy to turn mine in and half the time I make extra sure the price is OUTRAGEOUS to boot. Sometimes, just for KICKS and especially if I have good reason to KNOW someone is running around with the famous '20 percent off ANY written estimate' I go ahead and make up a REALLY LOW price and IF they call me back, ooohhh no, I ain't going out there, ignore that phone persistently. See I am under NO obligation to start or finish anything, I can opt out at ANY point during the process.

    My estimate = their bid. In the end, it IS a bidding industry - MY estimate is THEIR bid! Yes, while they're collecting estimates, they are also BIDDING on who gets to do the job, and highest bidder always wins in my business SO if they are the LOWEST bidder out of all the jobs I got lined up (meaning they got the CHEAP estimate) then they are also LAST in line.
    And why not, they play us Lco's against each other, all I'm doing is playing them against each other and in this fashion the customer who f*ks with my prices the least always wins, and so do I.
    It is beautiful.
  6. Dashunde

    Dashunde LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 638

    Rought week.

    btw... can I mooch your contracts? :p (seriously...)
  7. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,758

    Man, that sucks! That is my kind of luck but I think I still hold the record for lost clients. The first one sounded like a real pita though but would hate to lose 3 at the same time (and have). Good luck in replacing them.
  8. jpmako

    jpmako LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 593

    Thanks for letting me rant,

    I have already replaced them, but now there is more travel time involved.
    What sucks is that I am pretty sure that they are gonna try and stiff me for the $$$. I spoke with my attorney last night and he said not to worry.
    As a corporation I can not represent myself and his presence would be necessary. He also said that the small claims court judge will ask us to go outside and try to reach a deal before it is brought before him.
    He says that once these people are confronted with the contract and he goes on to explain that they are paying him $200.00 an hour to sit there that they are likely to pay right away. :)

    Anyway I am not worried and I guess that it is good that these people all canceled at the same time because I did not really like the lawns anyway.
    Good luck to the new guy who I understand through a mutual friend in the business does not use contracts. Hope that low-balling per cut lawn jockey gets what is coming to him.

    Anyway My contract has been revised over the last week, I will post the revised edition tomorrow. Meantime do a search and you will find my old one.


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