Morale kicker!

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by robert payer, Oct 2, 2002.

  1. robert payer

    robert payer LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 282

    I know this is long but there is some good stuff buried in here.

    I have and had total confidence in my Co-workers while out of town for one week. They were eager to earn my praise upon arrival. They worked very hard and even worked some long days. Despite the fact that they each have experience less than 3 months they have come to be professionals who apply what they have learn and frequently suprise me with there efforts.

    Well now to the point. Got a call from a customer that when cutting they missed some spots.... Ok I can by that. Then stated that they did not blow, they did not edge they were in and out in ten minutes. Now mind you this job may not be big but the degree of difficulty takes time. The account log shows they were on the job for fourty minutes and I do not think that I doubt that. This customer who I have worked with for years states in the message along with all this that he may need to search for another service. Now If you knew me and how dedicated and hard working that I am to the people that I service your jaw would drop open also. I think that he might have been having a bad day. Search elsewhere?

    Now to the point that is most important, the reason that I post this thread. Be very careful to screen or sugar coat some complaints to your staff. I think this was a major quieting blow to the guy who was left in charge here. morale killers are not needed. Before leaving on vacation I posted in the truck: **Keep customer value high, push your self daily, and be as good as you can.** That sincerely was his excepted target. I think he was also pleased with the fact that a person as controling as I left on vacation with so little said other than the needed instructions.
    Well he was so quiet all day today after hearing the news. I fell bad that I said anything. I should have just stated that some spots were missed, accidents will happen and that we should me more careful.

    Well It was nice to talk about it here. I hope that you might have grown from this one too.

    Tomorrow is a new day!

    Shake off you clothes and get back to business as a professional!

    See you all at the Top!
  2. nu83

    nu83 LawnSite Member
    from omaha
    Messages: 238

    I think you handled it well, you should not expect someone with less than 3 mos. experience to be able to run your company well, if at all. I would have expected some mistakes.
  3. Nomoslowmow

    Nomoslowmow LawnSite Member
    Messages: 39

    Maybe you should not feel bad!

    Over the years I have gotten some complaints like yours that I just could not figure out-they did not make sense! One day a lady called and said there was grass clippings in her pool and she was distraught over it. We have mowed there for years with no trouble. Why today? I happened to be on the mobile phone with my wife when my wife got the call. I was two blocks away from the complaining lady's house, so I just went there while she was still on the phone with my wife.

    When I arrived, she was apologetic and told me I should not have come. I told her that if it was important enough to her to call and complain, I was there to clean out her pool and reassure her that we would be more careful next week. Again, she told me I did not need to be there as I walked to the pool. THERE WAS NO GRASS IN THE POOL!!! I have no idea why she did this except for some twisted attempt to get something extra out of us later on.

    This actually happened again last year, different customer, dumber story about a broken glass top on a patio table. We don't mow the patio. While my wife was taking the (irate) message I remembered the above story and asked my wife to tell her I would be right over. The lady actually changed her story and said maybe her husband broke it LAST YEAR!!! DUH!

    What I am trying to say is, if the complaint is far fetched or does not match what you could predict, maybe it is a fake!

    Maybe these people read an article about how to complain to their service companies to get better service......


  4. robert payer

    robert payer LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 282


    Thanks for you insight,. Believe me I am searching and kind of mad. Thank you for the compliment. In the back of my mind, each time the customer discussed this for conversation sake at home or with others they added a variable to there complaint. The more they tell it the bigger it gets. Literary license lets say.
    I do not deny that the first complaint was exceptable. Why did they potentially need to add. These guys blew and edged I know it. Believe me I also know that that yard can not be cut in ten minutes nor thirty. I hate having to take sides. I have worked for these people for some time.
  5. Green Pastures

    Green Pastures LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,457

    I'm wondering if your customer is not exaggerating just a wee bit.

  6. AL Inc

    AL Inc LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,209

    Robert-This is something that I have had to deal with since I'm not working with the crews every day. I think what Scott said is probably true- they may be exaggerating a bit. Sometimes people are having a bad day and need to vent. They just want you to listen and make an effort to correct the problem. End of story. It sounds like you have a good crew who work hard to please you. I read a quote a while ago in one of the trade mags which I have found to be true-It is easier to replace a good customer than a good employee. Just my opinion. Mike
  7. The Lawn Choupique

    The Lawn Choupique Banned
    Messages: 199

    Before I even agree to take on a new account, I let the prespective client (suspect) know that I will take the job, but if I hear one and I mean only one word that I consider out of line that they can find another lawn boy.
  8. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,360

    Here is probably what I would have done...
    Gone by to look at the property first. Quick inspection should tell something. Even if its been days, there should be higher and lower spots. See if there was a true complaint. If not, just write it up to PMS because it wasn't you with them and they wanted to see you on the property with the guys. I

    If the complaint was justified then you have no choice but to have a discussion with your guys. So the log book says 40 minutes. We are talking about employees here. They could have screwed around. Its your business, your name, your liability, your house note, your car note, your...etc, that is on the line here. If they really did screw around you can't worry about if you hurt his feelings. Your the boss, you have to deal with tough situations sometimes.

    Like I said, I would have taken sometime to truely investigate before I did anything.
  9. Brickman

    Brickman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,249

    I agree with Hoss, and the others. Before passing the complaint on to the lead employee I would have gone for a little drive.
    Quite possibly the customer would have changed his story when you showed up. Just like the customers did in Nomoslowmow case.
    If a customer was yanking my chain like that I would probably tell them they need to find a new lawn service.

    I had to laugh earlier this year before I sold, this one $$$$ customer's secretary was getting to be a bigger and bigger PITA all the time. After I had discounted their bill by over $200 one month because it was so high, she had the gall to tell me that she wasn't going to pay the amount of the lowered bill because it was still too high and WHAT EVER......
    I was suspicious for a long time that she never told the owners what was going on. So I wrote her a letter telling her what the real bill should have been, and that since she was trying to stiff me she could find a new lawn service to begin mowing this week yet. I also set a copy to the owner at his home address. There was no way they could acuse me of wrong doing, I had told them fine if that is how things are, then they do not owe me another penny for the half month that I had already did, and thanked them for their biz in the past. I about died laughing the next day after mail time. She calls me up all sugar and cream and so sorry and she is sorry she hurt my feelings and on and on. In the several years I had dealt with her she was never so respectful. I really think that the big daddy leaned on her after finding out what was really going on, and told her no more. I was boiling mad, but waited for a day or two to write a curtious, but brutally honest letter. I am very certain that if I had not sent a copy of the letter to the owners, I would have never heard another word from her. She would have been very quiet about it and got a new service telling the owners a B S story of why I was no longer doing it.
    I asked the guy I sold to how things have been going with her since he took over. He said no problems at all.

    Sorry to get off the topic, but I think this shows that if you always bend over some customers are not above breaking one off.
  10. SIG

    SIG LawnSite Member
    Messages: 188

    I love this thread! Ever since I started using an employee, I've started getting complaints about stupid crap! I will go look at their complaint and everything looks fine. I don't understand it. Why do people think they are hiring me as their personal Lawn Boy. My employee does great work and the only way they know it wasn't me is if they see him at their property, then it starts. "Dave , we would really like it if you would mow our lawn next time. You just do such a nice job." Well I guess they won't mind if I raise the price next year?????

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