Lost long time customer

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by pseudosun, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. pseudosun

    pseudosun LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,739

    This was one of my very first customers. A few years ago, after she wanted me to skip fall/winter when there was tons of debris to clean up, i politely dropped her; or tried to. She begged me to come back, and said that she wouldn't interfere with my schedule, and she trusted my judgement. I dropped to 3 weeks for fall/winter, so it's a small price to pay to keep her yard maintained. Yesterday, i get a text saying that she raked the front and back, and don't show up. I'm especially angry because i just cleaned it up (azaleas, vines, etc.) to make it easier for both of us. It WILL get out of control, and she doesn't see it. If i have accounts that require no service for fall/winter, i'm okay with it; it was already established. This $50 for the day would have helped me alot, and i was looking forward to it. I didn't expect my reaction, but i was fuming. I felt she was taking money out of my pocket, disrespecting me, not realizing what she is doing, and preventing me from possibly getting a year-round account. She pretty much wants to switch to 6 months on, 6 months off. I couldn't do it. My anger got me. I let her go. She whined via text, but i couldn't go back and listen to her money woes. She takes trips twice a month, has new car, and eats out. Give me a break. I'm wondering about the forum members' approach or mindset when it comes to control of the property/account. Basically, do you feel that you are in charge of maintaining the property, or do you feel like they are in charge of maintaining the property? If your customer did your yard work, and told you not to show, how would you handle it? I understand the opinion that the customer is always right; just looking for feedback. Thanks for reading.
  2. KrayzKajun

    KrayzKajun LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,737

    It's your business.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,139


    I have learned a lot in the last 12 years...
    One of those things is that customers will never change, and nothing I do or can do will ever change that.
    It is a very powerless feeling I get out of that, and it took me years to understand, and I still struggle with that feeling today, that I neither have the power nor the control to affect nor change any of it... Really, I even hated the thought at first, before that I couldn't even accept the fact ...

    That no matter what I say or do, things outside of me will never change.
    That the only thing I can change is how I look at things.
    It means I have to learn to accept things just the way they are.

    Another way to say it is I can not expect them to act any different, but I can model myself and my business to meet their needs and expectations.

    Oh, believe me, I struggle with it.
    The concept is simple enough but for me it does not always seem to want to come easy.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2013
  4. Jaybrown

    Jaybrown LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,160

    I has a customer that was constantly making me mad I let her go and it felt good not listening to her complain about the price. She to lives in a mansion doesn't work and takes trips lol
  5. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    Virtually every person I have ever known, myself included, has something they really don't like spending money on. Unfortunately, lawn care, for many, seems to be that "something".

    I have one customer that lives in a modest home, with a small lawn. I charge them my minimum price. I'm not sure what he did for a living, but I know his wife retired from banking, and from what he told me, was very high up in the industry. They moved here to be more or less to be centrally located with regards to their family.

    Anyway, he always calls and cancels service a few times every year. Twice, this year, I had already driven by his place before he called, while in town doing other things, and was planning on mowing until he called and cancelled. Monday, I had one lady that wanted me to do a final mow and mulch her leaves in the same neighborhood, so I called him up to see if he wanted me to mow one last time while I was out anyway. It has been over 2 weeks since I last serviced the property. He thanked me and said he'd see me in the spring.

    Now, his place isn't overgrown, but if it were my lawn, I would have wanted another mowing. It will look like crap all fall with the "ragged" look. He smokes like a chimney, and, literally, buys scratch-off lottery tickets by the $100 worth at a time, but is tighter than the bark on a tree when it comes to having the yard mowed. My reaction is to simply thank him, and forget about it. The only time I really have a problem with someone cancelling, is when the place obviously needs mowing, and delaying service is going to make more work for me the next time.

    You can't force people to pay for something they don't want, even if it actually is in their best interest in the long run. And, you can't really can't concern yourself with what they choose to spend their money on instead, although we all do so, myself included. All you can really do is decide if you would rather have the work they will pay for instead of no work at all.
  6. Caddyshack Lawn Care

    Caddyshack Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 748

    Neill is dead-on. Take the $ you can get during the growing season and just plan on not working for her during the winter months. I don't understand being upset because a homeowner wants to do their own fall/winter clean-ups.
  7. B-2 Lawncare

    B-2 Lawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 263

    This is a funny, I was think about posting something very similar to this thread.
    My situation is much the same, the property is a large acreage. Very well two-do, deceased husband was a senator. This was also one of my first accounts and because of who they were and my inexperienced in the market I way under bid it.
    I have continued to roll with it because of a small price increase and because her "influence" that she has in our community.
    She has a daughter that is constantly telling her Mother things like mulching is not good for her yard. She wants me to come plow her snow but only when she calls. I feel like we could could continue with a price increase. And if the daughter will but out.
    I have no doubt that she would "not" intentionally bad mouth us, if we do drop her but what will she say. If she were any other customer we would have drop her already.
    Not share what we will do.
  8. Laurel Leaf

    Laurel Leaf LawnSite Member
    Messages: 33

    I don't think she "did your yard work" she just raked her yard. Why don't you try and sell a different service. These are customers not competition.
  9. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,643

    Ive alaways respected the fact that I don't "own" the homes I service.

    I do feel the pain of lack of work this time of year, its been a extremely slow fall for me.
  10. Groomer

    Groomer LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,681

    I think we all lose sight of the fact that a small % of the client base out there rarely looks at or thinks about their lawn in anyway close to how we look at it-just be glad for those who appreciate your work.

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