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Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by FrankenScagMachines, May 6, 2003.

  1. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Messages: 4,739

    Of all the old, cheap, nit-picky customers who have nothing better to do than chat, nit pick about anything and everything and then expect you to do it for $5 less than the last old guy using a push mower!!!!!!:angry:

    I had this one old lady who is allergic to the grass clippings but likes to work in her flowers. Apparently the kid that was doing it was bagging and it was doing ok for her, then he moved and she called me. I suggested try mulching once and see, well that was for $25. It took alittle longer than I thought, 40 minutes the first time I did it double cutting only the front (3 extra minutes) but it's only a block from another one I do that is more profitable, so Ok that I can deal with... well... she calls me up and says it's not working I'm still sneezing. I said OK I can bag it for $30 (I can take a loss right :rolleyes: ) she said no they charge $20 to leave it lay (discharge) and $25 to pick it up. I was thinking Ok yea the kid down the street is not the other pros. I said well $30 is it thats all I can do. She is like well then I'll be looking for someone else but thanks for coming out anyway. OK.... bye!

    Then another old lady (92 y.o.) has always griped about the big mower on her yard. I charged her $25 and it took 20 minutes or so and it's a corner lot with edging bi-weekly (lot of sidewalk) but still a profitable account. She has always griped about the big mower (52" w/b) and always comments on the short amount of time it took.... well apparently the guy she used to have dumped her because he was getting so many commercials that he didn't want to do res' anymore and apparently he used a 21" on her yard. Well the last time I was there I could see rain coming so I went alittle faster on the mower. Loaded it up grabbed trimmer and I'm running between obstacles as it's getting very dark and can hear thunder. Put up trimmer, grab edger and am running to do the edging and sparks flying everywhere. Ok I'm not gonna go home just because it's starting to rain then come back later.... ok so it starts raining big heavy cold drops as I'm putting the edger back on the rack and grab the blower. Clippings and dirt from edging are getting wet. Start blower strap it on and the tube comes loose and off of the 90 degree elbow by the blower housing. So I'm holding it on with my right hand and holding the tube with my left while trying to quickly blow clippings off the sidewalk while I'm getting drenched with cold water. Ok I can deal with this... she should understand alittle if it's not perfect right? Well I go to the door for my check (doesn't want monthly) and she takes like 3 minutes to write a stinking check (why don't they have it written before I come to the door?) but had asked me in on the doormat. I'm dripping wet my boots are muddy but she said thats ok. Well that was last Thursday. Today she calls me (5 days later) and says that I left grass clippings on the garage door, which I know for a fact I didn't because I didn't get close enough to it due to the layout of sidewalk, etc. and that it took her an hour to clean it off and she found a pinhole in it? I know for a fact none of that happened. She also says she wants me to trim slower (it looked just as good as if I was walking thats why I have a commercial machine that spins 9600 rpm, so I can hurry if I need to) and that she doesn't like the way the big mower cuts (looks better than a 21" and cheaper for her) gripe gripe gripe gripe!!!!!!!! She tells me she has found an older guy to do it with a push mower. OK good luck.... thanks for leaving me, what a relief!!!!!

    Most of my other customers are younger and more than happy with my work and prices. They understand that this isn't 1910 when you can get your yard mowed for a nickel. They also understand that I have better things to do than sit and chat (and so do they). They appreciate quality work instead of looking for or making up faults.

    I would love to go buy a 60" ZTR and only take on yards at least an acre and the customers no older than 50 y.o. This way they can't help but like the cut of my big mower because there is no kid with a push mower going to do it and they know it. There is not going to be many retired guys with a murry rider and a push mower on these properties either. It will keep out the riff-raff so to speak. When I start making money off of these and can dump some of the small accounts that I don't want I would sell the 52" for lack of place to put it and get a 72" ZTR. When I get past that, a 12' Toro Groundsmaster! Be doing large residential and commercials with less scrubs in it and you wouldn't have to worry about a little clump of grass here and there.... just sheer production mowing with machines lowballers and scrubs aren't as likely to own (in this area anyway).....

    Yes I'm dreaming but wouldn't it be nice to grow into that as I know many of you have. You can hold back the "I told you so" comments. Yes you were right :eek:

    Then if that one got succesful start another crew to run a Dakota, S10 or Ranger with a 21" s/p in the back with a bagger just one guy, small truck, mower, trimmer and handheld blower. No edger just mow trim blow and go. Charge cheap with low overhead. I am over the quality work charge high stuff on these little properties. A couple months ago I thought little properties were best. Maybe they are if you find the right kinds of customers and have them close but that is no longer my style. Let the kids and old guys with 21" mowers fight over the little places while lowering prices. I'm "moving out" of that if I can.

    Sorry this is long, just had to get it out of my system. Feel free to express thoughts but don't expect a reply.
  2. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,360

    BHB, welcome to the real world. We all get people like that at some point. Its called weeding out the junk. I use to take offense to things like that also, but not any longer. Write it off as a good learning experience. Start paying attention to what people say when you first talk with them. If you listen attentively they will usually tell you in some way they are a pain in the butt. Eventually you will be able to pick these people out and refuse to work for them before you get irritated.
  3. landscaper3

    landscaper3 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,354

    Well when you have been in business as long as we and others have been you will be able to pick and choose who you want to service and who you dont! It took us years to find our nich and customer base. We all have to start somewhere and to make $$$$ for new equipment to help get jobs done faster. I ask new customers that call me for an estimate who did your lawn care before? If another landscaper did I ask why are you changing? If they didnt like the service I will go bid on it if they ask me looking for better price I kindly tell them not interested in competing in price in fact we are pricey and you get what you pay for. BHB hang in there those 1 million doller homes will be calling you!!!!!
    The customers you want are the ones you can UPSELL other services too, thats where the $$$$$$$$$$ is!!!! BHB Look for those accounts!
  4. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Messages: 4,739

    I Know Hoss, I almost didn't post that but after I had all that typed out, well, LOL it took a while to type. Just need to vent, but I'm glad to be rid of these customers. I had another one kind of like these but younger. She outright said that she didn't like the marks my big mower left and that I would do good on large lawns but she didn't want that on hers and she outright said that she just wanted a kid in the neighborhood to come use her mower for $15 or so! The nerve! LOL Oh well i was glad to be rid of her too!

    Brian, thanks, I have bid a few commercials and the people in charge seemed to like me but I guess I overbid quite a bit, almost twice what one guy did on one and the other wouldn't tell me. The third they are trying to do it in-house this year. With a larger mower I would be able to take on these places with prices more like what they are currently paying. Funny thing is it seems like some residentials you can sell on quality but not commercials LOL. Well if you can't beat 'em, join 'em! I guess I can lower my prices some and lower my own expectations alittle and maybe pick up some commercials. Dont' get me wrong I wont' do a bad job, I just will not be quite as picky as I have been about my quality.
    These kinds of customers I kinda had pinned from the beginning, I mean I could tell alittle that they could be pains but I thought hey I need the money maybe they've just had a bad past experience and maybe we can make it work. I guess not!!!! Well I learned from it...
    Thanks for letting me whine... maybe someday I will just start a fabrication shop specifically for the green industry where I won't have to deal with the same kinds of customers (haha yeah right I know better having talked to you guys your cheaper than my customers LOL).
  5. landscaper3

    landscaper3 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,354

    In one of the magazines we get, Turf, Landscape management, Pro and tons more. I remember reading that if you get back 70% of your bids your bidding to high!
  6. crazygator

    crazygator LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,048


    Please try and remember your very young and have a very long way to go. Just because your getting better equipment, or have some knowledge now after being here at this site for 6 months or a year does not mean you are Mr. Big Time Green Industry Business Man. You cannot expect to have a huge thriving business yet.

    I am not trying to put you down, but all things take time. We all went through and still go through the customers that when we pull up we tell ourselves "Why did I tell them yes?" Just learn, but stick through your verbal or written contract for the year. This will help you the most. Let your Yes mean Yes! Dont take the job, find out you bid it wrong then dump them and run. Not good business that way.

    Try and help this customer see all the benefits of mulching. If she dont like it, tell them your new bagged price, then go on. If they say yes then do it. It is their lawn and they do have the right to have the work done a certain way.......even if we dont agree!
  7. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Messages: 4,739

    I understand and agree 100% with you! We are using written agreements and I tell them it's this price for mulching, this much for bagging. I tell them why mulching is better and explain that it will also be cheaper. I explain why it's cheaper too. Cut and dry, simple as can get, they still don't get it! I have another job I'm not making alot on but I am still sticking to what I said.
    Also, it's not that she has anything against mulching but she is allergic to it and is very sensitive to it. She was just sure she could find someone to bag it for $25. And I hate that EVERYONE complains about the dandelions "not getting cut" well they were when I was there (I've gotten my mower to cut them alittle better BTW) but since you are calling several days later, of course they're going to be there again, but hey it's not my fault you have dandelions.
    Man I've got to find something else to do to take my mind off this. It's not bugging me that I lost these customers, I'm glad I did because I was tired of their constant nit picking, but I'm still irritated about this kind of stuff. I'd go do something else but it's dark and storming out...
  8. I`ll tell u something right now there are alot more people gunning for those big commercails than the little stuff. I had a 6 foot toro grounds master lined up if i got these big commercails i bid on ( total 35 gs) and go fulltime after school and have an hire my sister to run my ZTR to trim ( I have found that women are alot easyer and cautious running stuff like that) but there was alot of people gunning for them and the guy got them for $16hr, now i`m looking for a 48"-36" W/B to add to my trailer cuz now I have to get some residentals which I hate. i`ve got 3 ball Diamonds and a few residentals and a big farm property. Now looking for some residentals , hoping the commercails come up for bids in a few months when this guy goes bankrupt, and there is another were the guy is doing a real bad job were i might try to get. all I can say is don`t plan your whole year on the contracts you might get.
  9. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,067

    Lost bids to 3 lawns this week. I guess my pricing is where it should be! :) I'm dissapointed on the other hand, I need the money, but not bad enough to lowball.
  10. crazygator

    crazygator LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,048

    Its very similar around here. I have only 1 commercial account, and when I lose them I aint looking for anymore. I do much better with residential.

    Your response above is why I keep a 36" on the trailer. I have gained several accounts this year due to everyone only getting a Z, and nothing for the gated yards. And believe me some of these are nice places too. If I can get more in this one area I can make $60 per 50 minutes......and this is solo.

    But for you BHB and any others, it all takes time to find what you really like to do and what you are really good at in this business. What I like and can do really good isnt what your all about. You might find one day you are good at shrub pruning - in a fancy design sort of way. Or that you can grow grass on concrete (just an example).....these things take time to come out of your and my personalities. Take this time to learn all you can about this business, and in all areas.

    Do a search on the internet about fertilizer, different types of grass seed, shrubs, mulch, equipment, aerating and so on. You can learn so much about very specific areas then your niche will be found, and if you look long enough you WILL find it.

    And with all this other stuff, just be like a duck and let it roll off your back.......or you will quack up!......hahaha :cool:

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