Strange customers

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by CutterCutter, Jul 19, 2012.

  1. CutterCutter

    CutterCutter LawnSite Member
    from WV
    Messages: 76

    A few weeks ago it was beginning to get dry here. I had a customer whose smallish front lawn was starting to show some stress. I skipped a mowing and they agreed that I could put out a couple sprinklers and give the lawn a drink.

    The next week I mow and in addition to the regular bill I include a small additional bill for laying out my hoses and sprinklers and then coming back later in the day and picking them up. Customer pays the regular bill but not the add on. A week goes by and in the meantime we start getting meaningful rain. I again cut the lawn and rebill the watering charge.

    So... a few days later I receive the customer's check for both the mowing and the watering and a note telling me to hold off on any additional watering. This is after the area has had several rainfalls which would make additional watering ridiculous. What am I missing?
  2. grandview (2006)

    grandview (2006) LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,465

    You didn't tell them to do it or at least put their hose on the lawn and tell them to turn it off later.
  3. herler

    herler LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,139

    That was really uncool for you to offer to do something and then charge them for it, that is what seems to be missing, it was in your best interest anyhow and if you're going to charge for something then you need to let them know that upfront, like say you're working outside a restaurant and you're sweating because of the heat and a waiter comes outside with an ice cold glass of water and asks if you'd like some water to cool off and says it all nice and you're like sure and you drink it and blam he slips you a bill for $5 for the ice water...
    Now good luck setting it straight, and I think you're lucky they didn't let you go but I can guarantee those customers will be a whole lot more careful around you in the future, they know if they say hi the wrong way it will probably cost them, certainly it's far from the worst thing that could have happened and it's not at all beyond repair but I would see if something can be done in ways of an apology.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2012
  4. scagman52

    scagman52 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 406

    I agree with herler plus why can't the homeowner water his lawn himself?
  5. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,028

    I can't believe that so many people here would work or do something for nothing. When a customer agrees that you can do something then you should be paid for it. Now if you take advantage by charging some outrageous price then it is a different issue. However I have had customers ask me to come by and turn the hose on to water new grass while they were out of town. We did not set a price and I did the work and billed them a standard hourly rate that was reflected in the bill based on the time it took me to do the work. Sure it helped me out in the fact that I am able to mow that grass that was growing but it also helped them out.

    Just about every service job will be paid when they do a job otherwise you are a volunteer. I understand that putting the sprinkler out is a benefit to the gentleman that is mowing the lawn but it also is benefitting the homeowner. That homeowner does not have to take the time out of their day to water a lawn. It may not seem like a major deal but it cost someone time to do this. Time is money to me. I will be paid for my time.

    It is kind of shocking to me that people will do things for free. We have business relations with customers. If it is a family member then its free, if I know you as a business associate, you pay. I am in business to make money.

    What service jobs do something for free? Why should we?
  6. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    It sounds like they thought you were going to do it for free. Make sure your customer understands what the costs will be for anything you do for them, even if it's just a rough estimate.
  7. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    I have been guilty of things like this myself, but a little communication would have solved the whole problem. When the customer ASKS you to do something, I generally interpret that as HIRING you, so a reasonable charge is in order.

    If, on the other hand, you suggest something be done, particularly if it is outside the normal scope of your service to them, you need to convey the fact that there will be a charge for the service. All you would have had to do is say something like, "Would you like for me to set up the sprinklers for you, or would you rather do it yourself? I'll have to charge you for my time if I do it."
  8. OakNut

    OakNut LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,104


    Them telling you to "hold off on any additional watering" was code for "We didn't know you were going to charge for it - we'll pay this time, but don't do it again."

    I doubt they will drop you - just a case of unclear communication.
  9. CutterCutter

    CutterCutter LawnSite Member
    from WV
    Messages: 76

    All of you who are afraid to charge for you services should read MOW ED's post very carefully. I can assure you that each of you is leaving a lot of income on the table every year.

    It's common for me to do extra work for customers without talking with them about the work beforehand. The work that has been done is described on the bill and whatever the charge comes to is listed as an additional item. I've never had anyone complain over the course of twelve years and hundreds of extra services. I do occasionally get a "boy I'm glad you did that, thanks!"

    In the case of the stressed lawn I did the customer a big favor. He lives there but isn't aware of the real condition of the turf. I'm a LCO so I am aware of the danger if the lawn doesn't get some water and get it now. The charge happened to be $25 which to this customer is nothing. And don't tell me the amount may mean something to them because I know them, you don't.

    The original post was about them thinking they had to tell me not to water after we had received several good rains. It had nothing to do with any of the other stuff.

    Stop being afraid of serving your customers. And if you have cheap customers get different customers.
  10. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    I realize there are people in this world to whom $25 is nothing, and there are those to whom $25,000 is nothing, but it doesn't mean that all those people don't care about spending that $25 or $25,000. People can be cheap whether they are multi-millionaires, or work at McDonald's.

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