Stolen Work

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by PYMLscape, Nov 21, 2006.

  1. PYMLscape

    PYMLscape LawnSite Member
    Messages: 44

    We are a husband-wife maintenance team, working for the new owners of a home we worked at for 15 years. They had the whole landscape redone by a large design/build company. The homeowner is a building developer in the city, and uses the big company for his new buildings.

    We take care of the house all summer, plow the snow, and do cleanup.

    Twice now, the big company has come in when the homeowners were out of town and mulched (or put down pine boughs, in this case). While they are at it, they cleanup the ENTIRE freakin yard, taking a good chunk of money right out of our pockets!!!! Who do they think has been cleaning the leaves up since the start of the fall? Why do they have to clean up the LAWN when they are mulching the beds?????

    The design guy is probably doing some heavy-duty brown-nosin' to get more contracts.

    The homeowner's wife already asked us to do the work, maybe she would have told them to leave the cleanup for us if she had been there. She's always pleased with our work and tells us so, even saying she wishes we could be there every day.

    We are so pi***ed off, and all we could do was leave a message for when they get home.

    I'd like to leave a message for Mr. Brown-Noser, all right. Any comments or suggestions? Has this ever happened to you? In all our twenty years of doing this, this has never happened before. AAARRRGGGHHH.
  2. nobagger

    nobagger LawnSite Gold Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 3,065

    I would flat out get in touch with the owner and ask whats going on. Personally I would never "split" services up, you either have us do everything or nothing.
  3. daveintoledo

    daveintoledo LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,587

    i would probably have to send the bill, they asked me to do the work, and if i showed up to do the work and it was already done,..... you get a bill........

    but i can understand if they had a big lnadscaping project done to go with a big company, but why arent the haveing you install the mulch, i think that falls under maintenance...
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Dunno if you'll like my answer...

    Bill them $40 for the visit, same as when you miss a doctor's appointment...
    But I can see it already, a phonecall with them wondering why they're being double-billed and some other argumentative nonsense coming... Maybe not you, but for me? Yup.

    Similar things have happened to me throughout the year(s).
    It's never everybody or everytime, but always just one or two folks gotta be cute or wise guys, dunno...

    My pet peeve is when I get there, and someone else's lawnmower has already cut the grass.
    It likely wouldn't set me off so bad IF somebody would be so kind as to CALL to let me know, but they never do.
    So, since they have no incentive to be courteous to me, this year was also the last year I put up with this.

    Now, I don't give a crap if they went on vacation and the husband with the grandmother in the hospital where the grandson came home story, I done heard them all by now... The ONLY acceptable excuse is 'you need to come out more often,' then once I accelerate their schedule, so long this fixes the problem, great!

    Otherwise, if a customer has hired me to do something and by the time I get there it is already done, then my services are no longer required. Well, they got someone else, didn't they? Yup, sure did!
    I cross them off the schedule as I take the truck down the road...
    The cooling effect this has on my anger, it melts away almost instantly...
    It still simmers some, but the boil over threat has vaporized.
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I will say thou...

    In the case of leaves, I would be RELIEVED someone else did them LOL!

    Just had a guy call me to tell me he did it himself, man was I glad (and I told him, too).
    It might burn a little if I had drove all the way out,
    but there's not much love lost when it comes to leaves,
    if they're already done that's true relief.
  6. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,940

    I feel the opposite about owners cleaning their own leaves. I believe I have the work, put it in my schedule, and then learn they have done it themselves.

    The past few weeks has brought poor weather, especially the weekends. When I hear the forecast for a unfavorable weekend, I am glad. Last season, we had at least one very good weekend (Sat/Sun), maybe even two. Over one weekend, I lost about $500 worth of work. When showing up, I found the work already done, "... it was such a nice day ... blah, blah, blah ..." This season, weather has created a challenge, and only one time has somebody done some of their own, that that was a minor last cleanup. The unfavorable weather does have advantages.

    Yes, doing leaf work is hard work, but it is income. And, it sure beats sitting around. I will work any day I can, no matter what the task. Relief is knowing there is still more work that can be done someplace, and constrenation is knowing that all the leaf work is done.
  7. ECS

    ECS LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,733

    I would tell them to get the hell off of my property.
  8. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    People, People.. The world does not revolve around us, we are about as low on the totem pole as you can get. I think many people take this stuff way too personally. The guy that owns the big design build co is not trying to take work from you in fact he probably has not thought for a minute about you. He has a good client he wants to keep happy and does what it takes.

    The fact that there was lag time between when you were given the work and they came and did it says one or two things. Either the job was not a priority to you or you are behind or both. The way you get to be a big design build firm is not by stealing work (thats not what he did by the way) he was being aggressive to gain more work.

    You have built your company in a way that has been pleasurable for you both, its like a hobby that you are enjoying and getting paid to do and thats great. I don't doubt you ability or knowledge. In fact you are probably do a better job and are more knowledgeable than the evil design build firm.

    But he is running a business not for fun but for pure profit. He has lots of people depending on him to make payroll every week. Making sure one of his big fish is taken care of is just the cost of doing business. You would do better to invite the owner of the design build firm to lunch express you concerns and try and work together.

    Or you can toss in the towel and dump the account. But complaining to a developer of all people will only cause you to loose face.

    It sounds like you are in the upper end residential market like myself. I feel if the client has had to ask for something I have dropped the ball, and I do drop the ball more often than I would like. But I know which balls I am dropping, its not the 2-3K per month account its the 5-600 per mo account. I would suggest being more proactive getting the work done sooner. Calling the other contractor letting them know "hey we will be mulching etc. on this day".

    I deal with other contractors all the time, you just have to be out in front of everything communicating to everyone. For all the whiners that are going to reply its not your job to do all that, its not worth the grief yada yada yada. All I can say is enjoy you view from wher you are because with that attitude you wont get too far.
  9. Lady Bug's Dad

    Lady Bug's Dad LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    :usflag: I'm new to this site and seems to have great information.
    I find communication with the customer is of the upmost importance. I give them superior service at reasonable rates and they give me their loyalty. When I first meet with a potential customer, who has obviously had a previous service, one of the first questions I ask is why they are looking for a new service provider. Acceptable answers to me is the previous service was poor, did not provide desired services, service provider went out of business, etc.. If the answer involves price I refuse to undercut by a few bucks just to get the business. Those are not the customers I want. I also talk about their expectations and my expectations and then live up to the services I promised and even give a little extra. If a problem occurs (like the dog will be in the house and gate unlocked for you and it isn't) I immediately talk to them about the importance of me keeping them on a schedule and how I can keep prices competetive by eliminating wasted trips. It usually only takes one conversation. I could ramble on for hours about how important communication is but I'd put you all asleep.

    TURFLORD LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 834

    Business is business. These things happen.

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