Problem Customers

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Keith, Apr 7, 2000.

  1. Keith

    Keith LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,003

    I have gotten rid of most of our &quot;problem&quot; customers, yet I still have a couple. You know the type, the ones that have strange demands.<p>We have one in particular. We have had the lawn for about 5 1/2 years and have actually known the people longer. The yard is extremely shady and doesn't grow all that well. We started off with standard services but it has changed over the years. For example, they removed one area of grass a few years back and put in a little garden. They then wanted us to pick up sticks and stuff every week out of this area. They justify this by saying 'well you don't have to mow it, all you have to do is pick up debris.&quot; Well, the problem with that is that it take 3 times as long as it took to just mow it :)<p>Next, about two years into the job, they asked if we could blow of the roof after the leaves fell. No problem, it took 30 minutes, once a year. All of a sudden it is part of our service, minimum 6 times a year.<p>They have a screened in area with plants and vines and stuff. We originally went in and trimmed it once a year for like 50 bucks. Next thing ya know they have us cleaning it for free. They say &quot;hey, don't bother mowing this week, just trim in the screened area.&quot; Mowing takes all of 10 minutes, the screened room takes over and hour.<p>But the worst thing is the fact they don't appreciate anything and they always have to be right. Today I was cleaning the roof off again and while there I trimmed some limbs off the roof, like they would ask us to do sooner or later anyway. Upon finishing, the woman says &quot;don't trim on the Japanese maple anymore, we don't want that cut&quot; I romoved a grand total of about 12 small branches that were on the roof and rain sensor for the sprinkler system or growing into the house. The thing about it is that I knew she was going to do this. And if I hadn't cut them she would have asked us to do it.<p>I feel completely out of control in this yard, if something is done without them telling ya to do it, they don't want it done. If you leave it, they ask ya why you didn't do it. Their bazaar activity goes beyand this though, they asked if we took their gas can a few weeks ago, LOL. They asked if we took a bucket one time, turned out their son had it :) They go to NC a few times a year and it is like a vacation when they are gone. However, this is usually followed by a string of requests when they return. One year while they were gone we had a pretty bad wind storm, they returned about 2 days after and we showed up on Friday. The man said &quot;what did you do while we were gone? The Place is a mess!&quot; I was like, uhhhh, we had some like tornados or something a couple of days ago. Dumb-ass ( I din't say dumb ass to him :))<p>By telling them I can't do there lawn any more, I will also lose the daughter's lawn, but I can't deal with these clowns. You guys got any nuts like this?
  2. kermit

    kermit LawnSite Member
    Messages: 138

    Don't feel bad, just dump them and fill in with two or three real customers. I had clients like this who drove me nuts. Always wanted more, never thought the grass looked right. T was taking pictures one day to enter the property in an awards program, customer says to me the lawn looks terrible. I submitted the pictures I had taken that day and won as best maintained property in Eastern Ontario. When the client say the award they still insisted their lawn should look better. Dumped the customer, ewho needs grief from people who can't accept that their place looks GOOD. Screw em. Now I see the place looks like crap and figure it serves them right. Unfortunately they were my best paying clients,oh well can't always get what you want.
  3. DMC300

    DMC300 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 325

  4. Charles

    Charles Moderator, Friend, Angel
    Messages: 11,810

    Some of my customers try to slip in new things for me to do for free. The new regulars not the old ones. The old one know better. I have a price for everything i do. I have a story ready for why I should be paid for doing anything extra. Its called job creep. Like a leaky dam. Too if you do extra work for free customer begin to expect it and they get spoiled and begin to not appreciate it. Alway and I mean ALWAYS make sure the customer realizes how valuable your think your time is. Never and I mean never let a customer tell you how to run your business when it comes to job size. I charge one price for what I do to a yard and an exact time it takes me. You add anything then there is an extra charge. Always try to be business like. Most customer try to bribe you with buddyin up with you. Or offering food. I can turn on a dime from being freidly to being serious and friendly when it comes to my time. Dont let yourself be used so that you become their house boy. I even had a man send his wife out and sweet talk me. I knew what they were trying to do. get me to do this junky yard they had etc.
  5. crew

    crew LawnSite Member
    Messages: 163

    Some people are like kids; if you cut the crust off once, be prepared to do it forever. I have an account with around 33M of every coceivable terrain and condition. The lady of the house actually cried when one of the guys did a 2 foot long burnout going up a fairly steep, shaded hill in the least conspicuous spot in their yard. She or the hubby are out every week with specific instructions on how certain portions of the yard are supposed to be mowed. Iput up with it because they pay the big dough and I believe in the 5% rule; at least 5% of your customers will provide 90% of the complaints. At least with the current crop of 5%ers,I know where the bithcing will come from and can prpare in advance.Who knows what the next 5% may bring.
  6. yardsmith

    yardsmith LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 628

    Drop them like the plague-<br>remind them you quoted a price to do the lawn, & most importantly the investment of time involved. You could swap labor for the 15-20 min you're there to do an odd job, but time is money, & you're not a charity organization. Remind them that if everyone did that, you'd be out of bus. Your time is valuable in that you have your route configured to make income necessary to keep bills paid & a LITTLE extra. The extra favors put you behind & cost you money by delaying your progress on the route. &quot;I'm usually 1/2 done with the next lawn by now, I must be going. I have so many hrs. to get my day's route done&quot;. Bid adieu & drop em; they won't change their ways.<p>----------<br>Smitty ô¿ô<br>
  7. osc

    osc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 502

    I have some customers like this but I can't seem to make myself cut them off. So the compromise is that I still do them but I just don't worry about them or what they have to say. I have learned to say no to the little projects that I don't want.
  8. OP

    Keith LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,003

    Smitty, i will probably drop them this week. You are correct, they will never change. If I doubled the monthly charge, they would expect double the work. I always save this lawn for the last thing Friday afternoon, when it gets dark early, I can't work but so long. But now it is getting dark at 8pm :)<p>The worst part is their daughter is a pretty decent customer. She pays just about as much and is nowhere near as much work. But if she drops us like I know she will... I know what kind of person she is, and might as well get rid of her too.

    FIREMAN LawnSite Senior Member
    from n.j.
    Messages: 318

    they're all a little nuts at least the residential ones....never give anything away for free unless you think it will bring you more business...i've been burned a few times doing freebies but if you have a feel for your customers you may end up pulling some benefit from &quot; helping them out &quot;.. also if you've got lucrative accounts that insist on driving you nuts raise your price, site increasing overhaed as reason and if they balk they're no longer your problem, if they don't at least you have a little bit more$$$ to keep you sane. please forgive my typing , it wasn't in the job
  10. gusbuster

    gusbuster LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,010

    I just got rid of a client like this. My family has been working for this family for over 25 years. They watched me grow up. The straw that broke the camel's back was this. After my worker spent an hour on the second visit i did doing clean up in the flowerbeds, she asked me to trim a 2 bushes.I told her that i already spent to much time there and needed to leave. That was in February. I haven't been back since.<br>Jean<p>----------<br>J-LC Landscaping & Maintenance Gardening<br>C-27 Ca Contr# 770044

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