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Should I drop this customer?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by howardsells2000, May 2, 2006.

  1. howardsells2000

    howardsells2000 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 355

    Through a friend I picked up this account about a month ago. This guy own's two 7-11 stores and three houses and I acquired all of them. They are all priced low but since it is five properties I accepted the deal. This guy has complained about my prices every time he asks me to do something extra. Usually because he has the five properties I give in. Now he has really set me off. He wanted two yards of mulch delivered and spread at one of his stores. First I told him I was to busy with cutting lawns right now but again he talked me into it. I quoted him a price of $70.00 a yard. He again complained I was to expensive. We agreed on $125.00 for two yards. I go and pick up the mulch and while I'm waiting I start talking with some of the other lawn guys getting mulch and it turns out that most everyone else is getting $100.00 a yard for their jobs. So that starts to eat at me. But I don't say anything to him about this. This morning I finish spreading the mulch and he shows up with a plastic border that he wants put around one of the flower beds. I tell him that was not included in our price. He wants me to install it for free. I tell him that it will probably take me an hour to install this. I tell him it will cost an additional $50.00. He laughs and says that means I would be making $50.00 an hour. I told him that is right. I always shoot for about $50.00 an hour no matter what I'm doing. He says no way and that he will pay me $150.00 for the whole job. That means $25.00 for installing the plastic border. I'm now really pissed off but do the job. As soon as I started I realize he didn't buy the plastic stakes that you need to help anchor the plastic in place. I do my best and because there is a curb around this flower bed I dig down behind the curb about 2 inches and use it to help hold the border in place then use the mulch and dirt on the other side. When I was done it looked pretty good. I go in and tell him that he need to buy the plastic anchors. He tells me that since I know what they are for me to go to home depot and buy them and install them tomorrow for him. I think to myself, what am I your Eran boy. I feel like telling him to find someone else that he can afford. I really feel like he is taking advantage of me. I'm thinking about calling him in the morning and telling him that I will cut his grass and that is all. Don't ask me to do anything else. This is probably my own fault because I let him negotiate my prices in the beginning just to get the work. I really have enough accounts now that I don't need his but at the same time I don't like losing any income. What do you guys think? My guess is your going to say I'm being a wussy and need to stand up for myself. At least thats what I'm thinking. Maybe I just answered my own question.

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,534

    You do not have 1 under priced job --- You have FIVE..

    Brings up the saying-- I lose a little on every job but I make it up on volume. ??
  3. JT1304

    JT1304 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 97

    Just picked up a customer who gripes constantly. Like yours , he always wants something for nothing. This is my last month working for him. I cant take his crap anymore. Good luck to ya.
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I'm not here to advise you on your first year to drop customers because you might need the money in the end but I will tell you that I would never tolerate such bs from any of mine, at least not anymore.

    In my first couple of years (and especially in my first) I put up with quite a lot of crap but even then I had one or two that was just too much, and I did what I had to do in order to preserve my sanity and my business.

    As for your question regarding if this customer is profitable, the simple answer is no, he's taking advantage of you and you're barely making it but in my first few years I had more than a few like that and they helped me make it, too... A lot of it had to do with how they treated me, not so much the profit but just if they were ok to deal with then I found them easier to tolerate as well even if I did lose some money... And lose money I did, but the ones who were ok with me, for the most part I was ok with that.

    Good luck!

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,534

    If you are new(er) to this business you are probably making less than you know. If you feel that you are low and close to making profit, I would bet that you are not making profit ( I say this because I have done it --Not because I am a smart a**) It is much better to sit on your butt and make no money than to work it off for no money. (again I say this because I have done it)
  6. dKoester

    dKoester LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,301

    Get some better clients then leave this guy.
  7. CutInEdge Lawn Care

    CutInEdge Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 677

    Do you have a contract stating exactly what you are charging for? Does your contract have a clause that states any additional services will be done per $..... Tell customers upfront I dont go to home depot even for my wife (although I do). More times than not you will spend hrs going to and from HD + looking for and standing inline. If he is wanting all these additional things tell him it's time to renegotiate the contract so you are both on the same page. It's can be a win win for both of you... Just hold your own on the second go around. Just remember this type of owner talks to many people throughout the course of a day.
  8. Freddy_Kruger

    Freddy_Kruger LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,064

    When I don't like a customer or a job I raise the price and usually that's the end of the conversation (and the job) in the end though I actually like most of my regular customers and they like me. I'm talking window cleaning but most of my new lawn customers are my window or snow customers. The problem I have is raising prices, even when I know I should, when I like a customer.

    As far as letting customers that are ignorant go, I might put up with more bs if I really needed the money. If a new customers PO's me, I remember it even next year and I won't go down that slippery slope again with him. I would dump that customer if I were you. I would get what money he owes, bump up the price and if he says he wont pay it, I would say I'm sorry to hear that. end of conversation (I wouldn't bother to argue with him though).
  9. cessnasovereign

    cessnasovereign LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 292

    I would have never let him do that to me in the first place. I mean that sounds like a regular boss and escaping that kind of behavior is why I'm in the business in the first place. But I just dropped my first customer last week. The yard was total crap, weeds all in the grass, overgrown beds and rotten wood, tree stumps, piles of junk, wood piles, scaffolding, etc. So it wasn't the White house, yet almost everytime I'd cut, she'd come out and point out the mistakes, and it'd be stuff like "there's still grass growing out of the firewood pile" or "here's a blade you missed" and literally single blades of grass I skipped over when weedeating or impossible to get grass in a firewood stack or a slight unevenness on a steep slope when they don't even use to back yard for all the trash. I couldn't stand it anymore so I told her I felt it would be best if she went with another company.
  10. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    :laugh: Your second sentence of the post says it all!!! "This guy own's two 7-11 stores and three houses...":rolleyes:
    Think about it a moment. What...this guy doesn't own a motel or two? Or how about a gas station?
    Don't take any CRAP from these people! They think they can come into this country and be so much over everyone else because they ALWAYS find a sucker in the crowd. As soon as they are done with you, they'll move on to the next...al the while laughing at you not only behind your back, but right in front of you while speaking their native language. Tell them to screw off. Do the right thing!:usflag:

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