Losing your temper with a lawn care customer.

Some lawn care customers are just going through a rough time in their life and are looking for others to take their anger out on. There is no winning with them. The more you engage them, the more fuel you give them to be angrier. Here is a great example of that from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum. Unless you REALLY need the money, sometimes it’s just best to cut them loose and find another customer to take their place.

One lawn care business owner wrote “last year I had gained a client, she was the worst at making payments and would always ignore my calls. She referred me to one of her friends, another deadbeat, someone I could live without as a customer.

Anyway, I made it through the season with her. She then said to me that she will not be able to hire me next season, as she is selling her home. I have called all of my previous customers the first week of April, she did not answer her phone - but I left a message for her to call me back. I noticed that her sign was still up and the home was not sold.

Late April she calls saying ‘I have an open house on Sunday. Can you pass by and clean up my yard - it doesn’t really need to be mowed.’

I agreed and the job was done Friday. I came back Saturday to do a few touch ups to make her yard look perfect. She wasn’t home and I didn’t bother to invoice her. I didn’t want to see her again anyway. Enjoy the lawn, good luck with selling the home, that’s all I was thinking.

The end of the first week of May she called me again saying ‘I would like to hire your lawn maintenance service again this year.’ I told her it would be the same price as last year. Unfortunately she didn’t call early enough, so I would have to go through the week to try and fit her into the schedule I have.

She said she was going to have another open house on Monday and wanted to know if  I was able to mow her lawn before then. I told her I didn’t do lawn maintenance on the weekends, though I would see what I could do for her. If I couldn’t mow her lawn on the weekend, I’d see if I could fit her in early on Monday.

It rained all weekend and I wasn’t able to mow her lawn on Monday. I also had a lot other things I need to due like buy some new equipment and maintain current equipment. Pick up/deposit money, make phone calls, estimates, office work, etc.

Then she calls Tuesday. My employee was with me and was laughing at how many times I attempted to hang up the phone on her - but I resisted. My finger was actually PRESSING the ’shut the f’ up button’, though I just wanted to see how the argument would turn out.

The customer was SHOUTING at me and basically begging me to go to her house and light her lawn on fire. I was furious with her, but I kept my cool. She had the nastiest attitude I have EVER heard from a customer.

Here is how the conversation went:

Customer: I put my trust in you and you didn’t show up! If you’re not going to mow my lawn, tell me now and I’ll find someone else. There are thousands of other people who can do it!

Me: Well if you want someone else, that’s alright with me, go for it! I called all of my customers from last year to confirm if they would be with me this season. You didn’t answer your phone - I left you TWO messages. I have everyone booked now and they have priority over you right now. I have no concern with your open houses, my concern is with YOU paying for the work you want me to do BEFORE I do it.

Customer: You did NOT leave me a message. I know you aren’t concerned with my open houses, I understand that. Though you said you’d be here on Monday and you didn’t show up! My lawn looks horrible! I was ready to take my lawn mower out and do it, but I trusted you.

Me: We had rain all weekend. You have to understand I cannot be where you want me to be every single time you call. I have a schedule and everything has to be organized. I have people who have ALREADY paid me to do work for them, yet I haven’t received a dime from you. Who am I going to focus my attention on? Them! I don’t work on CALL, which is what I believed you wanted. You only told me you were interested in full season lawn service 3 days ago. You should have called weeks earlier so I could have had you booked properly and we could have avoided this situation. I have many many many things to do and until you pay me, I can’t take you seriously!

Customer: You could have at least called me! You didn’t even bother to do that! At least tell me you wont be showing up!

Me: I understand, though I don’t always have the time to make phone calls to people who aren’t paying customers. Right now what you WANT doesn’t concern me until I receive payment from you. You called me last minute and will have to wait for me to fit you into my schedule. I speak to just about every customer I have on a daily basis, dealing with their requests - try to understand that. You think you are the only customer who needed something done specifically on Monday? Trust me, you aren’t!

What I heard from you is that you wanted full season lawn maintenance and to me SO WHAT if I missed your open house. Your lawn is still going to be maintained every week for the entire season! That is what matters to me.

Customer: You want money? Fine. What’s the price?

Me: You have to pay for $XX for the month of May.

Customer: I think you raised your price from last year.

Me: I charged you the same price as last year. My price for you is $15.00 short of my MINIMUM which I should be charging you. I don’t even make a profit maintaining your lawn.

Customer: I’ll leave it in the mailbox tomorrow. Tell me now, are you going to show up or am I hiring someone else?

Me: Honestly, because of this conversation you have put me in a tight situation. If you want to hire me, the choice is yours.

Customer: It’s your decision, so are you coming or not?

*30 seconds pass*

Me: I’ll pass by tomorrow morning.

……………

I left out a lot of details. This lady had the most aggressive tone in her voice. She owes me money from last year, though I didn’t chase her down for it because I promised myself I wouldn’t take her this year and it was only a few bucks here and there that she owed.

She bashed my service continuously all last year and now I am having second thoughts.

If I do her lawn tomorrow and take the money in the mailbox I will have to deal with this again all year long. After the argument we just had, I don’t want to be interacting with her at all. The price she has to pay isn’t worth hearing another word out of her damn mouth.

So I am thinking, should I just mow her lawn and leave the money there with a note saying I will no longer be mowing her lawn? I’d like to mow the lawn this last time, as I’m not a complete a-hole.

The fact is, once she said that she’d hire someone else. That just makes me want her to. I’d like to see it happen! I’d like to see someone else deal with her and charge her double!

When a customer says that, it basically draws the line for me. I felt so much rage and disrespect when she said those words. She knows the deal she HAS with me, but I want her to know the deal she HAD with me.

What would you do? If you would do the same as I, what would you write/add in the note? I don’t want to leave her any reason to call me back.”

A second lawn care business owner said “this is what I would do… mow her lawn and take that share of the money leaving a note saying you are unable to continue servicing her lawn. Simple as that.”

Order the book “The Lawn Care Business Can Get Dirty, Ugly, And Mean.: Stories Of Survival And Success To Get You Through The Rough Times” today.

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