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Please tell me this happens to other people too?!

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Envy Lawn Service, Mar 12, 2005.

  1. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    Somebody please tell me they get this a lot too....

    You meet for an interview with a property manager, they sing the same old song about how they are unhappy with last year's service with 'Company X'.... yada yada. Then they go on to tell you the list of things they want done....

    But when you get to the property, you realize the condition of the property is saying one thing, while the property manager is saying another.....

    In other words you can tell they have not been getting the level of service they are requesting.... or more importantly, not paying for that level of service. Plus, if you had to guess by the looks of things, you would lay money on the fact that they would rather pay a cheap price and complain, rather than pay for the level of service they say they want.

    I hate when this happens.
    If you run into this, what do you do?
  2. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,995

    If the person seems like a real shmoe I just keep the interview to a minimum and get badk to doing something productive.

    If I think there is hope, I discuss their desires with them and prod them as to how they would like things too look. Taking the psychiatrist approach, just asking leading questions but letting them do the talking.

    When they have painted a rosy picture of what they want, I slow down my speech and clearly ask what has been their biggest problem towards making it happen. This usually stops them cold. Then depending on how they finally respond, I will either go with how I would do it OR say well in my experience there are only 2 real reasons.
    1. the previous company didn't know how to do what you want or didn't know what you wanted. or
    2. They were not paid enough to do what you wanted.

    If they have been very open I go with cluing them in to my plan.

    If they seem like they are trying to muscle me, I go with the second option. I say choice 1 then pause and right before they speak I say choice 2 then say nothing until they respond. And when they do (no matter what they say) I respond with. Mr. Jones you are aware that what you want is not cheap or easy and especially considering where we stand today you are talking about a significant level of deferred maintenance to over come. Is this something you are willing to tackle at this point. If they seem willing, then I start to lay out my plan in stages.

    The cheap complainers will rule themselves out by this point anyway.
  3. Patrick.B

    Patrick.B LawnSite Member
    Messages: 249

    Its happen all the time ..went meet with a manger of this property and telling me all kind of sad story about his last service and i'd look at the property and ask him nice ...when the last time you had this property service ?.....hes was like HUH ???.....he said well...about two years ago ...i said okay ,..let me go do a figures on this property and be back in min ,,,well..came back with a price and he like to flip :blob4: ...i said okay have a nice day ,,,,call me back in two days trying to get me to go down on the price ... :D
  4. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,995

    that is hilarious.

    My internal response.

    Lets see no payments for 2 years, so you saved 24 months of payments and now you want me to come down on my price. I am already at 1/3 of what you would have spent if you kept it maintained for those 2 years.

    I think you are getting on hell of a deal.
  5. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    I usually only get caught with the clueless type...
    In other words they really have no clue how much it costs to get what they want done right, and they have no clue why the lower bidders never deliver. The sad part is that they are HONESTLY CLUELESS, which is how I get caught up in it.

    The most recent situation, I got that story, drove over to the property, and before I could pull in, my first impression was "I guess the old LCO doesn't plan to finish up here?"

    The lawn and landscaping area is pretty much evenly split at a bit over 13,000 sq ft each.
    The mulch is dyed, as they asked for, but I can tell it was first installed last fall, if you can call it an install.... Only the openly visible areas have dyed mulch lightly sprinkled over the old mulch.

    But what takes the cake for me? You can readily tell it's a 'sprinkle' mulch install and as I said before, it looks unfinished. Why? Because about a foot of the old mulch is still uncovered and exposed on the major highway side of the property.

    Now I hate to make myself out as a Landscape Snob.... but I've got to point this out to the property manager before I go any farther.... and I have to be blunt and say "Doing this job right will have to be priority #1 because I cannot allow my company to be associated with that type of work."

    Sadly, that is the truth. I can't be out there mowing, ect around landscaping that looks like that because people will assume I'm the one that did the skimpy s#itty looking job on the landscaping.

    Now, I'd almost bet this account will be like many others of it's kind....
    My material bill will be more than the last guy charged total.
  6. old dog

    old dog LawnSite Member
    Messages: 213

    If you havn't had it happen you have not been in business very long.A few years back,
    I had a woman tell me that she knew far more about mowing than I ever would.She wanted the property done for $8 per week.I was cutting it that time to help her out.
    I was 1/2 way done-shut the mower down and looked her in the eye,and said"Maam,
    I believe if that is the way you feel you should be mowing this yourself.I won't charge
    you today and have become much too busy to continue this service " She followed me all the way to the trailer and begged me to finish just today-for $10.She handed me a tenner and I threw it on the ground,got in the truck and drove off.I am still doing the
    neighbor and she won't look at me.I figured it up that night and had at least 27,000
    lawns cut to that point.Let me see...60 yrs of cuttingX 25 per year= 1500 cuttings.
    Point is she was getting what she paid for and I will not take an insult for that little
    of money.From then on ,I have paid much closer attention to gut feelings about people.She has had a minimum of two new people a year since I walked.I am so happy
    I did that because she was being a 70 yr old spoiled brat.What have I missed but
    being POed every time I walked on the place.Sometimes we must educate the client,
    however if they are unwilling to learn,then we are wasting our time.
    On a side question,has anyone ever had clients who are losing it to Alsheimers or dementia,you can't deal with it anymore,their family turns a deaf ear.What do you do?
  7. Branchland

    Branchland LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 354

    I have a apartment complex that is in bad shape. The 3 years it was open before me the lawn guy did a half a$$ job and was really scalping the lawn, killing it. The complex never spent money on fresh mulch or plug and seed. I like it because it's a easy mow. Once we took it over the prop manager and tenants complamented the work saying it never looked better. We mow everything and edge. I was able to talk them into a plug and seed last fall. So far it has helped but still looks bad. Alot of bare areas. They wanted me to price fixing any problems last fall. So I took the time to go around every building and price the area around each building seperate as they requested. I addressed the water runoff problems that was washing the mulch and topsoil away by figuring drain pipes running to the storm drains, fresh mulch, and adding top soil and seed to the bare areas. For a 10 building complex it was around $18,000. Not a bad price. Was hoping to get it over the winter. They really talked like tyhey wanted to make it look good, keep thier investment up. Haven't heard a thing from them. I guess they'll call, if they do, this summer when I slammed.
  8. TerraVenture

    TerraVenture LawnSite Member
    Messages: 144

    I bid on two commercials two years ago where they got a new property manager with lofty ideas. In my eye the place was a mess. There really wasn't any turf only about 60k sqft of weeds. The contractor who had been plowing during the winter had ripped up the weeds, broken a fence and ripped up some curbing. The planting beds had been neglected for years. The property manager told me he was going to repave the parking lot and also wanted to replace the curbing with granite. I got quite excited because it looked like a great job. I came up with some news landscape bed plans, drew up a proposal and submitted it, about 35k. A couple of weeks go by and no phone calls, so I call the property manager and he tells me that there is not enough money in the budget. He said the budget was $6500 for the year. Between my proposal and his lofty ideas he was easily talking spending over a 100k on the place. He was either pulling my chain or had no idea how much things cost. Anyhow he wasted my time. Two years later the place still looks the same. I does have trimmed weeds however.
  9. Mo Green

    Mo Green LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,487

    This is a very insightful thread. Great stories and perspectives from all. This is what this site is all about. :drinkup:
  10. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,233

    Someone mentioned having customers that have dementia or alziemers. I had one last year and part of this winter. Every week she would come and ask why I didnt show up last week when of course I did. Sent her invoices which she would mail back without a check every month. Told me ever since I started cutting the grass "her shrubs have looked just horrible" whatever, I never touched your shrubs you crazy old bat, go back in the house and watch wheel of fortune. I should have known better a reputable company serviced her before and she told me they just quit doing it. Anyways it was just one thing after another, finally told her I'm done. Oh and more thing, this is funny. Went to pick up a check from her, she let me in the house and she went to go write a check, I waited like 10 minutes. She finally came back, looks at me and freaks out asking what I wanted. :dizzy: Said I was waiting for my check, she gets upset and tells me I should knock and not just walk into peoples homes! She was crazy let me tell ya!

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