How a freebies or discounts can turn into a nightmare.

There is an old say that goes ‘no good deed shall go unpunished.’ In this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, we see how one lawn care business, who tried to offer a kind gesture, wound up regretting it later. This should make you pause and think about the interactions you have with your customers.

He wrote “I got to an estimate the other day with a new lawn care customers and he told me how he recently lost a family member. I felt bad after hearing the story and thought I would try and do something nice, so I offered to give him a good price on lawn maintenance and a FREE dethatching.

He agreed and I did the mowing and dethatching.  Now this has already been a little while back, but at the time he told me the job was not performed to his satisfaction. I don’t think it came down to the final outcome of the lawn but it was more of the manner I performed the job. He felt it wasn’t performed the way it should be done and he told me, instead of using a dethatching rake, he really wants me to use a machine instead.

I had rented a machine for the job, but since it wasn’t functioning properly I decided to do it manually instead. He must have seen the machine and thought to himself that I was trying to do the work the cheap way.

I have done dethatching manually for many customers in the past with a dethatching rake and I manage to fill up 4-5 bags per average lawn give or take. It takes more time to do it this way, but it’s less of a hassle for me. Renting fees have gone through the roof for this piece of equipment.

Anyway, this customer has been nagging & NAGGING me ever since. He told me ‘I hired you, instead of the company I had last year  because they wouldn’t dethatch my lawn since I don’t have an annual lawn care contract with them and you did a sub-standard job.’

Here is what I wanted to say, ‘Well you ********, forget about the PERFECT deal I made you considering you lost a family member, how about I charge you $270.00? I did your lawn the way WE do it. It was performed to my satisfaction and all of my other clients’ satisfaction. You are the only one complaining! If you want to hire the other company back to run a machine across your lawn, BE MY GUEST! I don’t profit from you, so GO if you want to, or stop complaining! If you think I am going to go back and rent a dethatching machine just for you, you are out of your damn mind and you obviously have no eye for quality!’

A second lawn care business owner said “you can’t make everyone happy. If he’s nagging about something that you are doing for free now, just wait until the season really gets started. Nothing will be good enough and he will try to start seeing what else he can get for free. Some customers like to push around little lawn care companies because they know you need their business. Maybe you should cut your losses before the season really starts. But try to end it on good terms because every neighbor is a potential customer.

Also if you are dethatching a lot of lawns you really should consider finding a good used power rake online somewhere. They can be pretty cheap and will save you a lot of time. Once you get used to using them, you will find they do a better job than hand thatching and you will be able to cut down your production times. We usually go over a lawn with a power rake, rake the thatch on to a tarp with leaf rakes, and then throw the thatch in the back of the truck.”

A third lawn care business owner said “I hear ya! I took on a new lawn care customer a couple of weeks ago. So a long story short, she’s disabled and a nice woman. So I thought I’d cut her a break.

This year I’m bidding all the average lawns at $25. Her’s, I bid at $20 and did an extra good job, which took me twice as long to do. Well, today I have her on my route and low and behold as soon a I pull up I notice the old woman’s lawn had been mowed. Now that ticks me off! She signed up for the whole season and now this?!

I remember her saying last time I spoke with her that her grandson, who is in his 20’s needed money, but it didn’t click with me until today. I bet she had her grandson do it instead, and I’ll also bet she’ll still want me to do it, but only if her grandson doesn’t need a few bucks at the time. It burns me to no end because there were a lot of people driving by and watching me mow it last time and now since he mowed it, it looks like crap! He shaved the grass down to the thatch and his mower deck was horribly uneven.

I’m waiting for her to call me now and want to know when I’m gonna show up next, as I noticed that he didn’t bother to weedeat or do all the back yard. I’m just gonna tell her she lives on the other side of town and I’m full up of customers who actually want my services, and not a damn pitty party or a freebie hand out!!

She’s one of these ‘disabled’ folks who are perfectly capable of working, but too damn lazy and full of excuses. People like that make me spit nails. Anyways, done venting!”

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