Overwhelming attitude of poor customer service

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by firefightergw, Oct 6, 2006.

  1. firefightergw

    firefightergw LawnSite Gold Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 3,340

    Why is it that many of the views and attitudes on this site are just full of poor customer service. Everywhere, you read about how people will not do one-time cuts, refuse to cut any accounts bi-weekly (twice a month), refuse to do bed clean-ups, fall clean-ups, spring clean-ups, etc., etc.? The predominate attitude that I have seen is that I am going to stick it to them before they stick it to me. Now, I know many of you guys have been doing this for YEARS but it seems to me that many have become extremely jaded.

    I personally believe that we are in the SERVICE industry and the better service you provide and the more services that you provide, equals a more lucrative business and more repeat business. Do I ever get a customer that is just too much of a PITA? Sure I do but that is certainly rare and certainly not the norm.

    I haven't been doing this very long. As a matter of fact, this is my second year in business. I started out with a 21" residential mower, weed-eater, and blower in the bed of my truck. That was last year, solo with 15 accounts. Fast forward to second year. Two 21" commercial mowers, 36" walk-behind, two weed-eaters, two blowers, edger, and a whole lot of other tools of the trade. Two full-time guys servicing 100 accounts weekly while I make sure everyone is happy.

    I've got to tell you guys that I attribute my success to doing things against the grain of what a predominant amount preach on this site. When we get a call from a customer and they ask how much we would charge to water their plants on the back porch while they are on vacation, I'll tell them that they are one of our best customers and we will take care of it without charge. You enjoy your vacation and we will take care of it. (It only takes 15 minutes) My labor cost on that 15 minutes is $5. We spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on advertising to get customers only to lose them over $5.

    We had a customer call requesting that we give an estimate to mow a friends house. This friend was a single female that had recently had surgery and was unable to care for her lawn for two weeks. They wanted an estimate for us to go out and do a one time mow and my current customer was going to pay for it to help them out. I went out and looked at it. Mow, weed-eat, and blow would take 15 minutes. I called my customer back and told them, "you are one of my best customers. I like to help people too. We will service your friends home and will not charge either of you." My customer was speechless and has since given us three more full-time accounts, and, we did a substantial mulch job and stone edging for them at a good profit.

    Now I know this is long but for those of you that are having a hard time making a profit and getting customers, you just may need to think about what makes a customer feel appreciated. Because I will tell you, you make them feel appreciated, and it will come back 100 fold to you. People are educated and have their gaurd up in today's world. They may like the way you make their lawn look but any of us can do that. What sells people your service year after year is relationships.

    My two cents.
  2. bullethead

    bullethead LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 273

    That's certainly one way to go about it. I think when you multiply the number of yards you have by 4,5,or 6 etc. - you'll find it more difficult and expensive to administer. At that point - you'll have to pick a direction to go a) continue the full service mentality and add the appropriate overhead or b) become more of a wham bam thank you mam lawn service. Both are interesting and rewarding in their own right - I know as I have both types of companies.
  3. firefightergw

    firefightergw LawnSite Gold Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 3,340

    To start out with, we are not the cheapest service. We are lean and I do track the crews time every minute of the day. I can go back six months and tell what my labor cost on every yard we have done has been. I can also go back that far and tell what my labor cost between each stop has been. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying one should be stupid and have a disregard for responsible time management and let their overhead rise, I am simply saying that I think a lot more people would be happier and many businesses on here would grow faster with higher profits if focus was shifted away from "they're not going to get me" to "letting your customers know you appreciate them".

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    A lot of it is just guys venting...I don't believe for a minute that people really say to these customers what they claim they tell them :laugh:

    I do believe it's cheaper to give the occasional freebie than to try to acquire new clients.
  5. RedWolf

    RedWolf Banned
    Messages: 279

    You know, I`m glade I`m not the only one that does one time work that my good customers send me. I weed flower beds and whatnot to better my services.Plus if you have alot of beds full of weeds it makes the rest of the yard look like crap. Because of how I run things I make money and my customers are happy and send me alot of work. The most important thing here is that you make money BUT also keep your customers happy. If they ask to have the the flower bed weeded then I do it and then charge.Also Do the best job you can an that also will bring you work. A lady saw one of my customers yards and asked her who did the yard because it lookd so good.That was three years ago and this lady is still a customer.Keep them happy and you will come in to great things.Treat them like crap and your future will look grim.
  6. MarkintheGarden

    MarkintheGarden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,133

    Thanks Firefightergw,
    Great post about attitude, it is everything!
    Six years in business and I am finding my attitude to be less positive than when I started.

    I do not mind going the extra mile for my customers it does pay off, it's called Karma, do good things, good things happen.
  7. lawnman_scott

    lawnman_scott LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,547

    I disagree with everything this thread is about

    Firefighter, what is your household income (other than lawn care)? If you dont want to say, just tell me if its more than mine. Mine is $00,000.00.

    I do this to make money. One time cuts are usually a waste unless your doing the neighbor, or are driving right by. Some things just arent a money maker.

    You can only feel bad for so many people.
  8. Howard Roark

    Howard Roark LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 805


    It sounds as if you are doing everything right firefighterguy, so why bother coming on here and posting complaining how everyone else isn't?

    Posts like this are absolutely ridiculous. No truly successful man complains about his competition NOT doing well enough.

    90% of your post is telling us how great you are. Congratulations, you sound like most firefighters out there.
  9. mslawn

    mslawn LawnSite Senior Member
    from LA
    Messages: 483

    Well said!!! Thats exactly what I was thinking!
  10. kootoomootoo

    kootoomootoo LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,369

    You run your business I will run mine. I like many on here have earnt the right to tell certain customers to foff.

    Sorry I dont work for free.

    ""Two full-time guys servicing 100 accounts weekly while I make sure everyone is happy.""

    Prove it hotshot. Some of us will remember a few years ago some guy claiming he grew 400 customers or so in 1 year.
    Where is he now?

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