Dealing with Difficult Lawn Customers.

Have difficult lawn customers? Two words. Drop them. They're not worth it.

When I hear landscapers talk about how certain customers make their lives miserable, yet refuse to drop them, I think of this story…

Letting go of the banana.

“There is a clever method that hunters use to catch monkeys. A banana is put into a small cage just larger than the banana. A monkey comes along, slides his hand through the narrow bars, but is unable to pull out his hand while still clutching the banana. The monkey could easily let go of the banana and go free. Yet he refuses to let go and the hunter returns.”

What is the message?

Don’t clutch on to problematic customers. Let go. Certain customers will put you in emotional chains because they are demanding, cheap, never happy, and never will be happy. They will suck the life out of you until there is no more energy left to carry on with the rest of your business or your outside life. You will think about getting out of the lawn business. It is just like a bad boyfriend-girlfriend relationship that doesn’t end.

Remember that 10% of your customers give you 90% of your problems.

Drop those 10%.

As soon as I started letting go of my banana customers, my life drastically improved. Emotionally and financially. I regained the enthusiasm that I used to have when I first started out. I have more energy to take on more work and talk to more customers, which equates to making more money.

How should you drop these customers?

Diplomatically. You want to get paid for the work you’ve finished and avoid being badmouthed to other customers.

Mid-season is most difficult.

  • Make sure you leave a ‘right to terminate the contract at any time’ clause in your contract.
  • Sometimes swallowing some money is worth getting someone out of your life.

End of Season is the easiest.

  • It is an easy transition because you don’t send them a new contract the following year. But you have to notify them that you won’t be sending them a contract.
  • Send them a letter saying that …You’re getting out of the lawn business. You’re downsizing. You’re going to ‘drastically increase prices, so instead of losing them as a customer, you will recommend them to someone else working in their area.’

It doesn’t matter how you get rid of these difficult lawn customers…sell the account, give it away, or neither. Just drop them.