Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lawn and disorder

Happy Victoria Day, or May long weekend, or whatever you like to call it. For me it marks the near end of my second round of applications.

This year I have been hearing some disturbing stories from my customer base and consumers alike, about the underhanded behavior of other companies in the lawn care industry.

Some claims, "Even though I told them I quit and didn't want the service anymore, they showed up and did my lawn and billed me in the Spring! Now they say they'll take me to collection if I don't pay."

I'm well aware of this tactic. I used to work for one of the bigger companies and every Spring I'd have four, or five unhappy homeowners, a day, screaming at me because they cancelled. I was never told by the company. I was just given the invoice to perform my job.

However, this year seems to be even worse. Not only is this practice in full swing, but these companies are no longer paying attention to the fact the lawn has already been flagged by someone else. By double application they are risking the health of the lawn and only angering the former customer further.

Then there are the incessant phone calls. As many as three times a week. "Who's doing your lawn? We can give you a better a price. Why did you leave?"

Do they really think these pesty moves of desperation are going to endear themselves to the homeowner who has worked all day and now has to be bombarded by calls from a company they don't want to hear from?

But the worse practices are the companies who show up to assess the property, take the pre-payment and then don't do the work- it is happening!

Or the companies who are slandering others in the industry to get the customer's business. "Don't go with them. They don't use the correct weed control. They won't do the work for you. They are not as efficient as us."

If you define efficient as: Having an unlicensed student technician, with one day training, running through your lawn because he's got forty jobs to do that day and who spends more time filling out your invoice then doing the work - then I guess they are right. I'm not as "efficient" as them.

If you define efficient as: Not being able to have your lawn problems and billing issues solved because you can't get anyone in the office to return your phone calls now that they have your money - then I guess they are right. I'm not as "efficient" as them.

I'm not sure if the new bylaw is making everyone crazy and fight tooth-and-nail for every square foot of lawn out there, or years of greedy practices like these have just made the offending companies stupid?

I would hope it's the first reason, but really there is no excuse to what's going on.

I would like to apologize to the homeowner on behalf of this lunacy because it just makes my job harder when I have to go in and try to rebuild the tattered threads of trust.

I would like to name all the offending parties, but then I'd just hear cries of "We'll take him to court!" Besides you probably have a pretty good idea of who they are. After all, they're the ones who have been screwing you for years.

I would like to say, "Forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing."

But they know exactly what they are doing.

It's what they've always done.

It's just that the consumer is much smarter than they are given credit for.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Aerating the dirty laundry

This week I started doing my aerations.

Why so late you ask?

I should ask you, why did you do your lawn so early?

I know some companies have been attacking neighborhoods with their army of students for weeks now, offering low priced aerations. Some, started...*gulp*... back in late March!

It's a competitive market place out there and I understand everyone wants to be the first to take the money off the street.

What you as a homeowner, don't seem to realize that aerating your lawn that early, to save a few bucks, is actually doing more harm than benefit.

Sure aeration is great for your lawn. I recommend it twice a year- spring and fall. It's great for compacted soils, allowing oxygen and nutrients to reach and thicken the root base; breaks up thatch layers; promotes deeper root growth; even helps alleviate grub infestation, but not at the cost of destroying the composition of your soil.

You know how soggy the weather is in April. Do you think adding a heavy machine like an aerator to your soft lawn helps?

I don't tell you this because I want your business. I can't possibly service every lawn out there. I'm just asking you to think long term when it comes to your lawn. You want it to look nice don't you? To be healthy, thick, lush?

Is it really worth the $10 or $20 dollars you saved to be counter productive in reaching these goals?