When a customer insists you scalp their lawn.

Some lawn care customers think they know exactly what steps should be taken with their lawn to achieve a healthy and lush lawn. You may find that you can accommodate some of their requests while other requests you may feel are bad or misguided choices. What do you do though when a customer insists you perform a service, such as lawn scalping, that you feel may actually do damage to the lawn, short of just walking away from the job, here is a suggestion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum.

One lawn care business owner wrote “just the other day I had one of my mowing customers, who has zoysia turf, wanting me to scalp their lawn. With this being the end of fall I am wondering if I should wait until Spring to scalp it. I’d hate to do that to the lawn and then hit a stretch of freezing temperatures that might kill it all. Would it be better if I waited until March?

After thinking about it for a bit, I decided to send this customer an email.

I wrote:

“I have some concerns regarding mowing your lawn too short at this time of year.

February and early March can still bring hard freezes and scalping the Zoysia grass will cause it to suffer damage if we have future frosts. I’ve researched this more in depth and have found that it is recommended to mow the grass at 1″ while it is still dormant to remove the dead top growth, but this should only be done after the danger of hard freezes have passed. The dormant grass blades are currently providing much needed insulation against these freezing temperatures.

When a customer insists you scalp their lawn.

When a customer insists you scalp their lawn.

Since this lawn was planted late last year, the roots still have not had much time to grow deep enough yet and therefore causing me to be more concerned with removing the dead top growth at this time due to the current temperatures.”

Apparently some friends of this customer said that it is good to scalp the lawn. From my own research, it does seem like it is good for this grass, but only after there are no more threats from hard freezes that year.

A day later I received an email response from this customer and she said that she trusts my judgement and to do whatever I think is best.”

Lawn scalping or dethatching?

A second lawn care business owner said “some people think scalping a lawn is the same thing as dethatching. I recently had a couple of customers ask for me to cut their St Augustine really short so they could reseed it but what they mean is they needed it dethatched. They either forgot the term or didn’t know it and I had to help educate them on the topic.

I live on the west coast and have had clients asking for this sort of things all the time. My response to my customers was simple, I would say no and would explain to them why it would be a bad idea. If they insisted on their idea, I would do it but would not include any sorts of guarantee that the results they were after would be the ones that they would get.

Four years ago I can remember having a couple who had St. Augustine grass they wanted to dethatch it during it’s dormancy period. I can’t really remember the month but it was right after we had the first frost here around December or early January. I told them not to do it, they insisted, so I handed them papers to sign stating what I told them and that they still insisted on the service being performed.

Afterwards the grass almost died completely. All that was left was just some Rhizomes. That was enough to get it back on track during the growing season, but the point is I covered my butt by having them sign the papers saying I was not responsible for the job and that if the grass died, it would be on them.

When all was said and done, these clients had to pay extra for the rejuvenation of their grass for the next 2 years and we came out with our hands clean and pockets full.

So be sure to warn your clients of the potential damage. If they continue to insist on the service, have them sign papers stating that you are not responsible for any further damage since you had already warned them and any additional lawn treatment will come out of their pockets. Once the damage happens, be ready to provide the client with ways to have their grass come back a live.

The lesson to learn here is always try to educate the customer first. When they feel they know best and want the service done anyway, give them a waiver to sign and make sure you both understand and agree to all that is going on.”

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