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Customer talking trash?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by JTVLandscaping, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. JTVLandscaping

    JTVLandscaping Senior Member
    Messages: 862

    This week I send out a second notice to a business owner who flagged me down for service in January. She had just opened that week and needed a snow contractor. Cool I thought, told her I'd be happy to do it, I would plow it and send her a bill. I told her I couldn't really give her a price, since I always sleep on an estimate...she thought that was fine. We discussed briefly some terms...she wanted no salt, no shoveling...just plow it. I plowed half of it then the parking lot filled up with customers. So I leave...I've got a schedule to keep after all. I head back, still customers there and I talk to her, tell her I'll be back after business hours to finish it, and she seems happy. I do exactly that. Plus since it had gotten so packed down, I throw out a little salt, it was in the speader anyway. So I bill her, good price I thought, given the time I had to wait for traffic to clear to back out on the road, the emergency nature of service, etc. Time passes and I bill her again. With a note asking her to call me with any issues...as I'm assuming there must be something since I've got nothing in the mail. I hear through the grapevine that she's trashing me to people in town. I charged her too much...she's not paying it...I didn't shovel...I should have waited and all the cars would move, doesn't think I needed to come a second time...and so on. I have no intrest in her business, as I don't deal with these type of people. My question is...how do you professionally confront someone who is trashing your business this way? Thanks!
  2. Dogplow Dodge

    Dogplow Dodge PlowSite Veteran
    from NJ
    Messages: 3,699

    I call them, or show up on their doorstep.

    It's a shame that you're going through this. I guess communication is the best policy here.

    If you plowed her lot, then had to put salt down, did you call her first to get the OK ? I learned a long time ago that..."no good deed goes unpunished"

    Unfortunately, as of today I still am being punished, as I still occasionally do good deads, the sap that I am...

    I assume from your post you charged her "extra" for salting, Y or N ?

    If so, then you're to blame for your problem as you didn't follow through with your agreement that you wouldn't salt.... even though it needed it. She feels betrayed and now she's going to make you pay for it..... is what it sounds like, although it's difficult to really know as I'm only hearing your side of the story, and not hers.

    I still would call her, or attempt a face to face and ask what's wrong. I'd eliminate the charge for the work she didn't want done, and hopefully come up with some type of agreement in the middle, and get paid.

    I suggest that you do a written contract, being very specific with what she wants and DOESN'T want done listed. This way, there is no misrepresentation on either part.
  3. snowplowchick

    snowplowchick Senior Member
    Messages: 549

    Unfortunately, you walked right into this situation by servicing the site without at least a verbal price. Both of you were clearly not on the same page.

    Sounds like an expensive lesson if she doesn't end up paying you.

    At least she showed her true colours at the beginning. She is completely unprofessional to openly trash you to others, good riddance to her.
  4. nepatsfan

    nepatsfan Senior Member
    Messages: 727

    I would ask her how much she thought it would be and try to negotiate somewhere in the middle. You should have a contract or at least a verbal price for anything. I suggest a contract for commercial at the very least.
  5. Flawless440

    Flawless440 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,543

    If you don't get any money from her i would write all types of reviews (goggle, word of month, etc) about your business experience. She is trying to open a new business and already burning bridges. She won't last long.
  6. siteworkplus

    siteworkplus Senior Member
    from mass
    Messages: 514

    how much did you charge her? $100+/- ? just guessing. write it off as a learning experience and send her a welcome to the area comp. You look like the good guy and her -not so much. If your rep is good in the neighborhood don't sweat what she's saying because everyone already knows what your about. A smile and humility will work for you in the end. Just my experience-good things always follow good people.
  7. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Depending on what type of business this is,you could of hung out a few minutes to see if the cars left then plow all of it. As for the salt you should of N/C it.
  8. Eronningen

    Eronningen Senior Member
    Messages: 447

    I hope you didn't specify salt on the bill as she said she didn't want it.

    Been there done that verbal stuff but I have NEVER said I'll do it and think on it and charge you what my sleep dictates.
  9. bln

    bln Senior Member
    Messages: 767

    I had a guy once run his mouth to my dads friends, all I said was maybe you guys could lend him some money so he can pay me or at the very least help him find his check book. Needless to ay I got a cal back, got paid, and got a one month advacnement.
  10. 32vld

    32vld Senior Member
    from LI, NY
    Messages: 622

    You did not give her a minimum maximum range/ ball park price.

    You let a bad deal begin. You laid the ground work for the lady to assume you're just like her last low baller.

    Why were you afraid to give her any idea of the cost?

    That desperate to get work in a slow season?

    I'll add that no one should be in the snow removal business if they have to get a lot of work in. You can't count on mother nature to bring a lot of work every season.

    Then the lady said NO SALT.

    Then you put down salt against the lady's wishes/plain as the nose on your face.

    Then you complain that the lady complained that you did not follow her explicit instructions.

    Chalk one up for the customer. If you would of manned up and given her an idea of what you would of charged she may of told you no thanks. Then she would be bad mouthing some one else instead of you.

    Instead you tried to play her by not giving any numbers. And now got a whole mess of free negative advetrising.
  11. JTVLandscaping

    JTVLandscaping Senior Member
    Messages: 862

    I never charged her for the salt, didn't even tell her I used it. I wasn't desperate for work as I'm mainly seasonal. The problem I ran into is that I asked her what she could afford, she said she was broke. Obviously, I can't do it for free. To be as fair as possible, I wanted to sleep on it...guess it was a bad idea. I'm well aware of the mistake of not agreeing on the price and all that...at this point I've pretty much assumed the money's not coming. My challenge now is how to deal with the bad reputation I'm getting from this lady. I have no intrest in running her name in the dirt, that doesn't help me at all. Just wondering if anyone has ever had a disgruntled ex-client before and ever had to do damage control, and if so, how do you deal with it?
  12. 32vld

    32vld Senior Member
    from LI, NY
    Messages: 622

    Even if you did not tell her that you salted she was bound to see white salt stains on the asphalt and if you used salt sand mix and she has to think where did all this sand come from being I'm 3 hours from the Atlantic.

    Any way I assume you have more loyal and highly satisfied customers then you can shake a plow at with loose ball joints and bent wheels.

    If this is so put the cheap skate on ignore. Your large customer base should keep you in future referrals.

    Beside the type of low rent business owner she is means she hangs out with the same low rent people. People that you do not want to be referred to you anyway.
  13. Dogplow Dodge

    Dogplow Dodge PlowSite Veteran
    from NJ
    Messages: 3,699

    Yes... as I said before.... and others have chimed in...

    Call her, do a walk in, and whatever it takes..... Talk to her as a human being, even though she's not being one.... get her to cooperate, even if it means you get 1/2 of your fee.... or none at all, that's not what is important.... as reputation is everything.

    If it gets really heated, tell her that the most important thing on your mind is the satisfaction of your customers, and nothing else matters. Be sincere, and offer her a deal where if she pays you, you'll do the next light storm for free.... or any other way you can come out on top with this one, such as her paying 1/2 price for the past storm, and move on. You have to satisfy her, regardless of how unreasonable she might be, as her backlash can go much further than you can possibly imagine.

    Granted, you may never get another dime out of her, nor would you necessarily want to, but at least the collateral damage can be minimized. If I were you, after she's all happy and stops her tirade, depending on how your meeting turns out, I would make myself permanently busy for her future phone calls and requests if you get any inclination that she's going to do the same thing all over again.. Maybe if she gets a dose of a really bad contractor, she might realize just what she had with you. Either way, you have to be the professional, and end it no matter how hard it hurts or sucks to have to do so.

    Make lemons into lemonade, man. Be the bigger one here, and it will take you places.
  14. V_Scapes

    V_Scapes PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,072

    What kind of business does she run? If she refuses to pay you, maybe you should try to barter the amount of snowplowing for whatever she can offer to you if its of value for you.

    I know im young and fairly new to running a business and its hard to turn down work when your young dumb and hungry for it. but when she said shes "Broke", thats the first red flag that should have went up. ive learned from veterans in business to keep a keen ear for keywords or phrases like that.
    Just like when a female calls you for work and the first few words out of her mouth is "I just lost my husband." Well, of course you feel bad and its a shame but that doesnt mean you have to lower your price, people are ****** up and thats how they play the game.
    Sorry if i got alittle off target here, just trying to offer what ive learned. Like dogplow said, id go meet here, un announced, and ask if you can talk privately and see what she says. If she refuses to pay id leave calmly and never work for her again.
  15. jhall22guitar

    jhall22guitar PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,056

    First off, I dont think ANY client would ever complain about free salt on their lot, it helps with the ice anyways, and its FREE.

    Second, if you have a website, go to some satisfied customers and get testimonials, and then get hers, make a testimonial page and people will see all the good from the one bad testimonial.

    Third, I carry around blank contracts just in case I get flagged down, and in that case, I give them a price right there, to avoid this issue.

    I cant go against your methods, I used to be that way. My dad let me know what could go wrong, so I changed quick.
  16. jhall22guitar

    jhall22guitar PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,056

    Why do some people on here have to be like this and only bash the other person. When he told the lady he couldnt give her a price, she said ok. Then he told her to call if there were problems, right there she could have called and discussed what was wrong. But instead she goes and tries to ruin his reputation. People need to more considerate of each other.

    I give the OP a big thumbs up for being the bigger man and not trying to ruin her. Thumbs Up
  17. Glenn Lawn Care

    Glenn Lawn Care Senior Member
    Messages: 552

    I would have gave her a price before you did any plowing. So you may have to bite the bullet and only get half of the payment or none. Live and learn I guess!
  18. 32vld

    32vld Senior Member
    from LI, NY
    Messages: 622

    Because he ignored the red flags, I don't have money, middle of season and does not have a plow guy lined up, if did and he must of quit on her, would not give her even a ball park price, told no salt and he put salt down so shows he can't follow directions.

    In short this was a business transaction that he lost all control over because of the way he handled it. He's running the plow business he's the expert on not just doing but selling the jobs.

    How was it the lady's fault salt got put down when she said don't.
    plow guy

    How was it the lady's fault that she was allowed to be delusional about the price being what she wanted because none was given?
    plow guy

    How come the lady got upset because the plow left before the lot was finished, and the plow guy did not get out of his truck to explain why he was leaving then, but would be back later?
    Plow guy

    Yes blame the lady because she asked the plow guy to do the job.

  19. mkwl

    mkwl 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,362

    Not to sound like a jerk, but WHY would you EVER do ANY work for ANYONE without a written contract? ESPECIALLY for something like snow management- she didn't sign a contract, damage waiver, or anything?????

    My rule #1 for anything pertaining to any sort of work I do ESPECIALLY if it's for someone I don't know/doesn't have a history with my company, DON'T under ANY circumstances do ANY work on their property without a written contract outlining the service, prices, and damage waiver in place. I won't drop my plow on any property which hasn't first signed my contract and damage waiver- just opens yourself up to a massive can of worms in terms of liability, inability to collect, etc....

    Put yourself in a courtroom setting as you're taking someone to court for non-payment (not saying you should for 1 snow plowing, but maybe for something larger)....

    You: don't have any written contract, or even really a verbal contract with that matter, and you did service which you both agreed shouldn't be done.

    She: never agreed to any pricing verbally or written, and told you NOT to salt...... she could actually come back at you if your salting caused damage to her driveway (if it were pavers, etc)- and sue you for the damages.....

    Moral of the story- DO NOT EVER do any work without a contract- just asking for troubles!

    Sorry for my rant- but I had this drilled into my head in my contracts classes in college- no contracts is a huge cause of companies opening themselves up to liabilities....
  20. Chineau

    Chineau Senior Member
    Messages: 447

    Just about all you need to know about bidness in so few words.tymusic