Getting fired by a lawn care customer.

People are emotional creatures. Some times we have good days and some times we have bad ones. As a business owner, we need to keep this in mind when interact with our customers and try to find ways to deflate a situation from exploding, for we have the power to turn a simple problem into a big one if we want to. Let’s take a look at this situation from a member of the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum and see how a small situation can be either elevated to an explosion or deflated into a non-event.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I’m so angry right now. I just got off the phone with a client who I was calling about his late payment. This customer was one of my favorites, always paid on time, good people.

When he hired me, he said that the PREVIOUS lawn care guy he hired, trimmed his hedges and weeded his garden for free, without ever really asking. So I said, if I ever have the time I’ll see what I can do.

Initially, the pay from him was great. I figured I could whiz by every now and then and clean out his garden (4 times now). The last time, I did 3/4 of the garden because I didn’t have the time to do any more.

ON THE PHONE he basically bashed my service and hung up on me. I called him back and yelled at him for 30 minutes. I explained that I did the extra free jobs out of the goodness of my heart and he shouldn’t expect free EVER from anyone!!! He obviously didn’t understand. I told him to go back to the guy he hired before me, if he’s still in business that is! Can’t be that good if he got canned too.

ANYWAY, he owes me $15.00 for a small job I did for him. And he said if I’m willing to go over there for a lousy $15.00 to go ahead and pick it up. I don’t care for $15.00, but I’m gonna go over there right now and take what’s mine.

I’m so pissed. I’m getting rid of 4 clients already that suck this season and at first I thought this guy was one of my good ones. This has been my worst month ever. I haven’t received ANY payments yet, just silly complaints.”

A second lawn care business owner said “when you took over this job did you and the client talk about their expectations? Personally I think this is something we should all do, how else can we be measured?

The way we handle such situations can really make a big difference in the success or failure of our lawn care businesses. I would have handled the situation like this. Generally it works out better keeping calm. I don’t like to burn bridges and I never lose my cool in front of a client, that has taken years to get here.

I would simply say Mr. Jones, we seem to have an issue, could I trouble you to come over to resolve it? Emails and telephone are not the way to do this. Those provide the customer a way to hide and you can’t tell from body language how things are going.

In person I would simply state, I really appreciate your business and you are one of my best paying customers. Perhaps we misunderstood each other and what your expectations are. I am a small lawn care company and as such need to be paid on time. You are a valued customer and you have expectations as to what you want done. Let’s take a walk around your property and talk about what I can do for what I charge and what you feel should be done, so that we can agree and move on.

I would bet 70% of the time, I will spy something we can do and say, for example, those gutters look like they could use a cleaning. If you are ever interested I would be happy to give you a quote. You see clients are looking for value, we need to offer value added services.

The worst thing we can do is lose it. No one wins and I like to think the majority of people out there are reasonable.”

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