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Valley Country Club. Baltimore MD

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by thomsoutdoor, May 13, 2007.

  1. thomsoutdoor

    thomsoutdoor LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,444

    I have been in business for over 17 years now and its been a while that I have had a customer such as this one. Long story short. I bid ed on a property back in March for this season. I figured 3.5 to 4 man hours to mow and trim this property. I use $60 per man hour and charged them $210.00 to cut this place. I few red flags went up and I should of taken the warnings. First red flag was when I saw the place in March it was obvious that it who ever had the contract last didn't finish the job in the fall. The grass was already long, no edging, and the leaves were never cleaned up. The company wasn't any good or they booked because the client was a PIA. The second flag was when I gave them the price of $210 the were not to thrilled and mentioned that the previous company started at $175 but kept raising their price as they went along. hymn wonder why? So any way I got the contract. First cut no problem , second cut they came running out upset that it really didn't need it and to cut, they wanted it every two weeks. Keep in mind that this is a Country Club and its the height of the growing season. I couln't believe what I was hearing. I should of quit on the spot but I said OK but I will not be responsible when it turns into a hay field. Sure enough when we schedule the next cut it was almost 3 weeks and it was about a foot tall. When I saw this I knew my days were numbered on this one. I was going to quit or they were going to fire me. This was BS. Sure enough I cut the place and for the most part I cleaned up most of the mess around the main areas but around the pool I pretty much said F it. Also they were supposed to remove the 50 some tables off the lawn area which they didn't so I just did circles around them. I took about an hour longer then I wanted to. At this this point I said no more 2 weeks I am coming back next week and they agreed this time. So this week I cut it again and it was a little better but they still wanted me to clean up some of the straw that was do to the amount of time between cuts that they made the call on. I said sure but it will have to charge extra. They looked like a dear caught in head lights. They said no. To no surprise I lost this deal. At one time I would of been upset but with experience I knew this would be a loser deal and I feel sorry for the poor sap who pick up this contract.
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I had a similar experience last year with a complex, some things I learned:

    - NEVER take on a multi-owner property as a solo (i.e.: ass'n owned). For me, it's the lack of resources (employees) fails to properly buffer the problems, I will consider owner-operated props thou. Only if I speak and deal with the owner him or herself, no presidents need apply in my case, as a solo, that is.
    > The best way to handle it, when they call I explain to them I am a small company I run out of my house, and feel I lack the resources to tackle larger projects, and that I learned this the hard way and felt it would be better to be upfront in the future. But, I ask first how big it is, who owns it, too.
    - NEVER take on a customer that consumes more than their fair share of resources (I'd say 10% is way too high, 5% even still, out of 40 customers if one takes twice as long as everyone else that is roughly enough)...
    - Yup, even commercial props can be PITAS, the red flags are there so watch out for them all the same. The greed of the apparently good money did me in, no matter how I tried to avoid it, it was that chunk of money kept my mind off track.
    > Yes, I make the schedule, if I don't it costs more (but you knew that, sorry to hear the outcome).
    - Wait until you have at LEAST 4 years in the business before taking one on.
    > The good news is, imagine what this would've done to you had it come around in your first 2 years, your experience at least told you to cut and run when it did... In my case it took a little longer but I saw it, too, and did the same thing you did, that saved me in my 5th year. Had mine come around the first year or two, it likely would've been the end of me.

    I guess another one that comes to mind, thou it's before my time, no matter how long you've been doing it, one or the other still gets ya somedays, the good news is I do find one day I can look back and :laugh:
    Wow thou, 17 years!!!
    i am so puny, so nothing.

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