Number one thing customers do to pizz me off

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by DFW Area Landscaper, Sep 19, 2005.

  1. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,120

    Without a doubt, the number one thing customers do to pizz me off is skip or otherwise attempt to dictate the mowing schedule. (That, and using the call ahead as an opportunity to skip a chemical app.)

    It is a problem in April. It is a problem in September. It is a problem in the 100 degree heat of July when we have no rain.

    If they tell me they want every other week service on the front end, fine. I have no problem with that at all. Just adhere to the fert restrictions and everything is good.

    But the customers who choose weekly service can cause problems. The truth of the matter is, these lawns don't really have to be mowed every week, even with fertilizers, in April and September. We could mow them weekly starting on May 1st and switch back to every other week on August 31st and the lawns would be just fine. Its hard enough to make money with zero revenues for 4 months. In order to get the cuts we need, we need to mow these lawns every week in September and in April.

    My business can tolerate it on the level that it is happening because most customers have enough class that they don't try to pull this schit.

    I mean, these people will tip in a restaurant because they want to pretend they have class. Yet, with someone they will do business with on a repetitive basis, they want to be as cheap as possible, cut every corner they can and still pretend they have a good relationship with their lawn mowing company. As far as I'm concerned, not leaving a tip for a waiter and dictating every other week service in April and September are on the same level.

    I have thought and thought about how to solve this problem and I simply can't figure out a solution. It isn't happening on a large enough scale to cuase major problems. But if everyone pulled this schit it would really hurt the bottom line.

    The thing that bothers me is, the customers who have class end up paying more for the service annually than the cheapos who are foaming at the mouth to switch to bi-weekly on September 1st.

    Any suggestions?

    DFW Area Landscaper

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,534

    Don't offer the service at all and if they require it tell them to find another.
    But really if the lawn does not need cutting (as many of mine don't right now) try to do something else for the weekly customer or cut some of the guys loose early and save on payroll.

    This is when the year contract will be beneficial.
  3. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,912

    I've really never had that problem .... we get paid weather we mow the yard or not .... same amount each n everymonth

    My biggest issue ..... not that it's really an issue is either leaving stuff on the lawn or parking vehicles too close to the edge of driveway
  4. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    Why bother with the customer? Tell them up front you won't tolerate, don't allow it, whatever. Get rid of 'em...then you won't have to post this. no?

    That is the joy of owning your own business. You can operate it as you see fit.
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    LOL man that sounds like the problem I have with the few who like to cut their own grass about once or twice a year so when I drive out to their house it doesn't need cutting and I'm like wtf!
    Just like you, it doesn't happen on a large enough scale OR frequently enough to really tick me, but when it happens I find myself smouldering for a while...

    The solution in my case has been offered but it is drastic, it involves drawing the line and if a foot steps across, that's the end of it... And because of the nature of the problem being that it doesn't kill me, I don't feel like getting all arrogant and crappy about it... Likely the solution in your case is similar, get drastic with them or do like I do and tolerate it best you can, hehe...

    But yeah, it is a pizzer.
  6. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,120

    I have thought of a couple of different ways to potentially handle these calls:

    1.I have thought about telling them we don't like it. They are trying to convince themselves before they call that what they are doing is ok, but I guarantee if they have any common sense they know its pizzing us off. I have dreamed up a conversation that goes like this:

    "Yes, I'd like to switch my service to bi-weekly. Our lawn just isn't growing very fast right now."

    "Let me ask you a question. When you go to restaurants, the kind where they have waiters, do you tip?"

    "Uh, yes. What does that have to do with anything?"

    "Well, you might not have thought about it, but we don't get any work for four months each year. [pause for effect] We have it mapped out and a weekly mowing client gets 32 cuts every year. As you can imagine, it's hard to make money mowing lawns. If all of our clients tried to dictate the mowing schedule in the spring and fall, our business might not even work. At the same time, if our weekly mowing clients want to dictate the mowing schedule, we're pretty powerless to do anything about it. Just like a waiter is pretty powerless to make sure people leave a tip. If you want to dictate the mowing schedule, we have little choice in the matter. But we consider it to be on the same level as a guy not tipping his waiter."

    Then just shut up and listen.

    I'm sure this would result in a lot of cancellations but it might also result in a lot more customers backing down and letting us dictate the mowing schedule.

    2. Or possibly I could explain our "Don't cut unless it needs it" service.

    "Yes, I'd like to switch my service to every other week. Our grass just isn't growing very fast right now?"

    "I'd be glad to help you with that. Perhaps you would be better off with our "Don't cut unless it needs it" service. Basically, it's the same thing as our weekly service, but instead of cutting the lawn every week in April and September, we only cut every other week during these two months. The lawn gets mowed every week between May 1st and the end of August. The price per cut is a little higher, but at least you don't have to see us mow your lawn when you don't feel it really needs it."

    Then if the customer goes nuts over a higher price for the same service he's been getting all along we simply part ways.

    Just brain storming, trying to figure out a way to solve the problem...if there is a solution for those of us who charge by the cut.

    DFW Area Landscaper

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,534

    Start selling Irrigation,

    "What's that sir, you don't think that your grass needs cutting because it is brown and not growing. Well what it really needs is water and I can help you with than, Just sign here and we will be out to put in our system that will keep your grass happy all year!!!"

    DFW, do you really only cut 32 times a year. I thought your climate was about the same as ours and we run about 38. Or are you talking about not cutting in summer because of the heat?
  8. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    We had one say..."you can skip the leaves this week we are going on vacation and won't be around to look at it." I replied nicely that we do not operate that way. I got a chuckle and a "oh, okay"
  9. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,120

    I am really leaning towards going with the "Don't cut unless it needs it" service offering. The only problem I see with it is this:

    They start service at $25 per cut. They get their credit card statement and realize that we charge sales tax because we've hit their card for $27. They are fine with that, but they do realize that none of the other lawn mowing companies they've dealt with in the past have ever charged sales tax. Oh well, it's only a two dollar difference.

    So then they call in the fall. We go over the "Don't cut unless it needs it" service option. They agree to pay 7% extra per cut. Now, after the sales tax, they are being hit for $28.89 per cut.

    Next spring, they get door hanger after door hanger after door hanger advertising $25 & $22 & $20 cuts. What are they gonna do now? Especially if they assume that these other lawn mowing companies won't be charging the sales tax?

    DFW Area Landscaper

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