There is or should be a getting to know your customer period when you first get them signed up. Asking them questions and learning their quirks can lead to a long and profitable customer experience. Some lawn care business owners will try to force their view onto their customer and it tends to lead to conflict. Other lawn care business owners will learn their customer’s quirks and focus on what makes them happy. Which path you choose to take will effect your business and your mental well being. Let’s take a look at how two lawn care business owners handled two quirky customers and these situations led two different outcomes.
A lawn care business owner wrote us on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum and shared a difficult situation he found himself in with a customer. He wrote “Ok so this lady has been a thorn in my side for the last 2 months. I should have seen it coming but I did not. Here’s the situation.
I work a full time job and try to do all my mowing on Friday. So about 2 months ago on Friday morning about 9am I get a call from this lady that she would like an estimate for lawn care. I told her I could come by around noon and give her a quote. That wont do she says and wants me to come by at 3pm. I say ok.
So 3pm, 91 degrees, been up for 24 hours, humid as all h e l l. She agrees to the estimate and wants me to cut it right then. I am money hungry so I go for it. As I am finishing up she comes out and wants me to hit the weeds in her flower beds with the trimmer, ok fine. So the next week goes by without incident.
Then on week number 3 she comes out and follows me around and starts pointing out all the weeds in the flower bed that I did not ‘trim.’ As I finish the lawn this week I think to myself, next week I’m gonna talk to her about this trimming the weeds crap.
So the next week she calls me at 11am and wants to know if I am coming out ‘because my grass is really high and it needs cut.’ I told her that I had one more lawn before her and an estimate to give and I would be there around 12:30pm. So I get there and her power is out due to the previous nights storm and her sister died this week and the wake is at her house tonight and all these people are coming over and… yea OK just trim the weeds and get the heck out of there. The weed talk can wait a week.
So the next week is the 4th of July and I told her before I left that I was going to try to mow on Thursday because I was going out of town for the holiday. It poured down rained on Thursday. I called her and told her I would come over on Monday. So Monday at 10:15am she called (sounded really nasty) I need my lawn mowed and if you don’t want to do it just let me know and I’ll find someone else.
I’m thinking what the ??? So I get to her house around noon and she’s not there. I mow and trim (even the darn weeds) and leave. I’ll get paid next week.
So on Tuesday, she calls and leaves a message, I don’t need you to mow my lawn anymore. When I called her back she said it was because she had to keep calling me to mow the lawn. Now bare in mind that all her calls were before noon on the day she was scheduled to have the lawn mowed. I was baffled. So I went to pick up the final payment. We have a contract that stipulates a 7 day notice in writing to cancel service. I mentioned this to her and she went ballistic. I cashed her check as soon as I left her house and I did not go back a week later.”
Another lawn care business owner shared “you are going to run into these of customers. What I have found is that if you can afford to get rid of them, do so. I usually include basic lawncare-mow, edge, trim, & blow off in my monthly & annual agreements. I have a few who demand trimming & pruning be rolled into one monthly rate rather than billed separately as needed.
So in each case where I am asked to do extra trimming throughout the year, I estimate the length of time it will take to trim everything on the property and multiply that by my hourly rate, multiplied by 4 services a year then divided it by 12 months. I then add this figure to my monthly lawn rate. Still with me here? So where customers have me trim & clean up 2-3 times a year, I figured I do it more often (4 times annually) & keep it looking good.
I have one customer who seems to give a damn less about the lawn & is neurotic about the trimming & prunning? All summer last year every 2 weeks he was like ‘aren’t you gonna trim these damn hedges again?!’ I would reply, ‘No sir I did it 2 weeks ago.’ He would then counter ‘well I’m paying you to have them maintained all year long….! There’s a few sprouts sticking out there! blah blah…..’ ‘Yes sir I’ll knock those off for you….’
In the winter he kept saying stop running that hot mower (whatever the hell that means) over the lawn it doesn’t need it! The grass is dormant then, but the weeds get a foot tall over a 2 week period. Then he says ‘do some trimming while your here instead!’ Last week I got a similar speech ‘the rain makes the ground too soft to mow….. do some trimming instead!’
It’s more like the guy wants 30 some odd trimming visits a year & 4 mowing visits instead of the other way around. We hit the end of our contract last month. He called me & where I should have just dropped him, we agreed to just trim more & mow less. We stayed at the same rate & continued another year. While the whole situation aggrivated me all year long, the guy does like my work & even sent me a tip around Christmas. We just had a difference in expectations. In the end the customer is your boss (so to speak) so what the hell….. we’ll try it his way! Hopefully this year wil be better with him.”