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Thinking of dropping a big one.

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by JohnnyRoyale, Aug 1, 2008.

  1. JohnnyRoyale

    JohnnyRoyale LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 616

    I have had this particular property manager as a client for a number of years. We used to do really good business, year round, multiple properties, always paid on time, was very particular about how he wanted things, and we delivered. We really took care of him over the years, and respected him with pricing fairly, doing a great job, never cutting corners, and overlooking the little stuff we would normally bill others for. When he said jump, we would. He was our biggest client.

    Nowadays, he isn't our biggest client. In fact, he's one of our smallest. His clients have has sold off most of their real estate (huge commercial shopping centres), he's getting ready to retire, and we have only one property left for summer groundskeeping work only, payments aren't as regular, and we have had to secure work elsewhere to make up the decrease in revenue.

    This spring we quoted on edging and mulching beds at the property, which we do every other year, and he tells me they have budget restrictions, and will have to get the mulch blown in as its cheaper. The job takes 150 yards of mulch over 35 acres, hundreds of trees and lots of big beds. So I give him a price on edging only, and he claims he'd still be over budget, so decides to get them blown in only and forget about the edging for this year.

    Last week he calls me from the site, and tells me my guys are there, and it looks like crap because the trees and beds havent been edged. I inspected the property the week prior, and it looked fine, all double trimmed, shrubs were shaped, grass was green, but i would agree, the edges would have to be re-cut to be perfect.

    In an insulting tone and rage, he asks a labourer if he know how to edge a tree, then grabs an spade (not a half moon edger) out of the trailer and demonstrates how he wants the edges to look while the crew stood around to watch. He cuts the soil out around a tree and lifts it over the mulch and leaves it there. The foreman comments on how it looked better before he touched it, and he gets pissed off and leaves. I get two calls, one from my foreman, and one from him. I'm thinking-either this guy has lost his mind, or demetia is setting in. I remind him of how much it would have cost him, and he declined, and explain to him now its going to cost him more, because they have to move the much out of the way, then edge and put the mulch back. He gives me a lame story of how the owner is upset, as the other properties he owns (out of town) have edges everywhere and they look beatiful, and he suggests that if we want to keep the contract we have to do it for free otherwise he'll have to find someone else. I tell him to tell the owner to take his wallet out, and he can have almost anything he wants done for a price.

    The contract we have now is a little underpriced. In the past they always spent money on one thing or another, and because of the volume, and they paid promptly, I didn't increase them as much as I should have this year. When they started axing properties, the volume was gone, and I was left with this property at the volume price, with increased expenses. I kept quiet and didn't even raise the issue-first mistake. Now he wants me to kick in 4-5 k of edging for the sake of keeping the property-whatever!

    What would you do? I've decided to instruct the boys not to edge as he doesn't want to pay, and if he starts acting up today, to pack everything up and leave.

    Sorry for the long winded rant, but the ignorance of some never fails to amaze me. I've never experienced this level of ignorance on any of the public sector work we do, only with dumb ass property managers. I'll be making that full transition into public sector work a little sooner I guess.
  2. Nosmo

    Nosmo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,216

    It certainly sounds like from your side of the story he can no longer be reasoned with. If this continues it may be time to thank him for all of his business in the past and part company.

  3. ALC-GregH

    ALC-GregH LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Messages: 7,051

    I would tell the guy to read the contract close. Then call me back when you approve the additional edging that they declined. Otherwise do whatever is stated in the contract.
  4. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,463

    Seems everyones dropping accounts this week. You cant run a crew and pay for a bed edger and edge for free. If it were me I would leave the beds the way they are and just wait to see what happens, that is of coarse you have a more work than you can handle.

    With realestate a little down the feller may just be stressed out, and realived som stress out on you.
  5. the angler

    the angler LawnSite Member
    Messages: 56

    from the story , i gathered you arejust dealing with the property manager ????
    and the owner is upset because his property doesn't as good as some of the others ????? it sounds like the old timer property manager messed up his budget and spent the money for property care the wrong way....i've had this happen on a smaller scale apartment complex...........

    the best thing to do is to call the OWNER, don't deal with the manager anymore,obviously he's not doin his job correctly if the owner is upset..

    talk to the owner and tell him you heard he was not happy with the way the property haas turned out this year and maybe sit down with him and explain the conversations you have had with the manager...(sounds like this guy might be loosing his job thats why he blew up and expects the work for free...to save his own rear) tell him what happened what you did and show him estimates for work turned down because of their budget......the owner im sure is a busy man who has no idea whats goin on all he hears is what the manger tells him .................go around that idiot and take care of the matter and try to keep a good customer.
  6. hackitdown

    hackitdown LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,631

    One time I had a similar situation with a residential customer that was getting similarly low pricing. I made sure I was very cool about it, but I suggested that he check with some of my competitors and get bids on the work. I gave him the "no hard feelings" speech, but it is probably time to learn what the market is paying.
  7. Frontier-Lawn

    Frontier-Lawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,955

    talk to the owner directly about it, cut out the middle man.
  8. brandtb1

    brandtb1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 153

    The property manager did not want to pay for the edging, and then complained when it is not done? That is crazy. I would finish what you are contracted to do and explain to him that is all you are going to do. I would personally finish the year on the cutting, and then let him bid it out to others next year if he is still in the business.
  9. JohnnyRoyale

    JohnnyRoyale LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 616

    I'm assuming he's scrambling now, because he thought he could get away with not getting the edging done, and it would be no problem, spend the money somewhere else, where he'll get some of it back (if you know what I mean). I could have the guy turfed in an instant with knowledge of some of the crap he's done, and if push comes to shove, I'll let him have it. But for now, I'll have to wait and see how this unfolds.

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