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professional way to ditch a customer

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by workinallthetime, Jun 3, 2007.

  1. workinallthetime

    workinallthetime LawnSite Member
    Messages: 105

    i have a guy who is a total pain, doesnt pay on time, bi weeklly account,yard to small for my stuff ect.... i only took him on to help out when i was on that side of town. I have replaced him with a very high paying account in the same area that demands much more time and they pay cash. so whats the best way to ditch the guy?
    I only have his work number and he doesnt mow on "his weeks" as i learned from you guys this is a bad situation but hey its my first year.
    I want to ditch him, i didnt show up this week but it was raining off and on all week, next week im in mexico so i wont be there so should i just not show up or call his work number and tell him " sorry im not cutting your stuff anymore"?

    oh and im solo and have worked out this week long vacation with no problems from my customers at all. of corse when i get back im going to work like a well you know
  2. Lohse's Lawn Service

    Lohse's Lawn Service LawnSite Member
    from US
    Messages: 213

    Being new to the business, it's sometimes difficult to find the best, most professional way to drop a customer. But it can be done. There will always be those few customers who never will be satisfied with your work. Don't take it personally, either. If I were in your shoes, the way that I would do it:

    "Sir, in order for me to continue mowing your lawn, there will have to be some changes. I will need to come once every 7-10 days, at least until the summer heat gets here and the grass doesn't grow as much. I can not keep doing the work when I have trouble getting paid. I would like to set aside a location at your home for you to lay out the money (in an envelope) on the day I am supposed to come mow, and if it's not there, then I will not mow the lawn. If in fact the money is not there and you wait 2 weeks for me to mow, then I will charge accordingly."

    If he doesn't agree, fine. He can find someone else. You'll be better off.

    Everyone has their own way about handling customers, and this way has worked for me every time. You can't expect to keep every customer you have forever. Sometimes, it's best for you and them to find someone else. Don't consider it a loss, but a lesson learned. Some people just aren't worth dealing with, when it comes to not getting paid.

    As long as you say the above in a respectful manner (and you can shorten it too!), I don't see how it wouldn't be considered "professional." Best of luck to you.
  3. barnard

    barnard LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 618

    Send him a note explaining that the demands of your business force you to make some adjustments . Unfortunately you are now focusing on weekly accounts and can no longer provide him lawn service. Thank him for his past business, then its goodby to a PITA you didn't want.
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Yes, I have in the past mentioned many times to just not show up / walk away, but am finding as the old timers say, it is not such a good idea. Hard as it was to do, I found developing a folder filled with form letters that cover most situations was, at least for me, the best solution.

    For a case like this, I'd send a "I am sorry but due to unforeseen circumstances I am afraid my company can no longer provide services to this address. There remains an unpaid balance of $xx which I ask please be taken care of promptly, I thank you for the opportunity and wish you the best of luck." or something short and to that effect.


    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    If it's a customer you WANT to keep, then tell him you've tried things his way and it's not working, it has to be on your terms or else you need to part ways. If you don't want the customer (like in this situation) then just tell him you don't have any other business that way and he's just too out of the way to service any longer.

    I always call the customer...they appreciate that you took the time to deal with them personally, versus sending a form letter. And you'd be surprised, I do get referrals from ex-clients...burn no bridges...it never hurts.
  6. Vikings

    Vikings LawnSite Bronze Member
    from canada
    Messages: 1,657

    It's always an awkward situation but the more you dislike the guy the easier it is.

    I once told the wife of the American Consulate guy that I Don't want the job anymore. (window cleaning)

    I like that. I have a guy that comes out and watches over our shoulder the entire time we are there. I have to stop my mower at least a few times to hear what he's bitching about. It's been raining every day and we are leaving clumps but we blow them around as best we can.

    Another guy that blames me for his awful lawn, and insists that I cut it now at the lowest level my mower goes. I cut his neighbours lawn also and her lawn is fine but he still blamed me.

    Both these customers have paid for the month that just ended... I don't want to show up next week but I find it hard to let go of money.
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    So do I, which is why I charge accordingly for the above and beyond stuff, it's almost always at least +$5 and roughly a dollar / minute. Before you know it 5 bucks here, 5 bucks there, yes ma'am yes sir, lalala, leave the bill nice as can be, the usual $30 service might've just come to $40 and that fixes it one way or the other.

    Either they're actually happy, and some are, or they run, which is fine as well.

    Way I see it they're testing me, so I have no problem testing them in return. I always think when this is going on "It is ok because their wallet is covering all of this extra," then I just add it all up and leave the bill.
    Because that's the thing, some don't mind it one bit, they have no problem paying but run me around they do.

    The other thing I do, as soon as I pull up and before I get out of the truck, I start my stopwatch, and the ticker keeps running the entire time. And yes, I have billed for standing around bs'ing for 20+ minutes, too.
    You can see this fixes a lot of problems fast, some customers adjust and stop bugging me, others pay up and keep on bugging me, the rest run for cover... I do and have lost more than a few customers, but since I got paid I never felt like I had to make up for the loss, and that is the problem I used to have, hard to describe the feeling but we all know it well.

    A few literally have no problem with it, I've turned a few of the worst pita situations around like that, they're some of my best paying customers today, and yup gotta kiss a bit of tail but I can deal with it when I'm getting paid for it.

    As for the rest, my best guess is they're off buggering some other Lco hehehe.
  8. Stuttering Stan

    Stuttering Stan LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,504

    Send a nice letter saying that you are cutting back your business to maintain profitability. Say how you have enjoyed servicing his account and hope you are leaving on good terms.
  9. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,988

    Yep, explain that due to increased business volume, you need to eliminate some accounts so that you can operate more efficiently, then thank him for his business and say goodbye.
  10. Frosty03

    Frosty03 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 171

    That's easy:

    Dear Customer,

    Due to recent circumstances, it has become necessary for us to restructure our coverage area in order to provide the best services for our full-time customers. Therefore, we will no longer be able to provide service to your property effective _______.



    Fill in the blanks accordingly. Simple, to the point and no bs.

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