Saturday, June 2, 2012

GrASS...everyone's an expert

As if there isn't enough to deal with this year with insects, weeds and the weather, I have noticed another alarming trend.

I've had to deal with a few irate customers. Now, I understand it comes with the territory, the bigger you get, the more problem solving comes with it. Yet, it seems some people I deal with are suddenly experts on when I should perform applications on their lawns. They must think my pesticide license is something I was just lucky enough to find in a Wonka chocolate bar.

Perhaps this is frustration? Perhaps this is impatience? Perhaps these people have just lost hope and to them the grass is truly greener on the other side?

Let me say this first, all our programs are designed for treatments at regular intervals 4-6 weeks apart depending on the program. The higher-end programs have more applications and subsequently more visits...that's on a normal year.

This year we've had to be vigilant due to the dryness that fertilizer rates were either dialed back or delayed. Due to heat, over 30 Celsius, we've had to suspend Fiesta weed control and due to the fact everything is a month ahead of schedule we've had to juggle applications, like Super Green, that normally wouldn't begin until the end of June.

Here are examples of a few phone calls we've dealt with of late.

A customer called and asked when the next time we were treating his lawn. I looked up his account. We were there on May 9th and I told him mid June give-or-take. That wasn't good enough. Although I was tempted to move the next application up, I told him we would be there the next day to take a look and treat as needed.

His lawn was the best looking on his street, yet chickweed was starting and root-weed was evident on the lawn as it seems to be on all lawns this year. So I sprayed the weeds, flagged the lawn and kept his next visit on schedule...2 weeks from now.

Another asked me the same question and I told him within the next week. Again that wasn't good enough. "Your competition was in the area 3 weeks ago and there's not a weed on any of those lawns. I have clover."

I told him I would move his application up and slip him into next Tuesday's route. However, what this customer fails to understand is, we are a smaller company serving the entire GTA where-as the local Weedman has 40 trucks out daily...we have 3. It is even more important we adhere to proper scheduling.

I've had some new customers expecting overnight results despite me telling them the days of a "weed-free lawn" are gone and Fiesta is a control not a killer like 2-4-D. It takes repeated applications to gain control and lawn health.

I even have one guy, a car salesman, who has been with us for 4 years now. Every year he busts our balls about how his lawn isn't as nice as everyone else's and they do nothing.

Yet, we also do about 5 members of this guy's family and those lawns look great. At first I thought it might be a soil issue until I came to do an application and noticed huge mounds of cut grass at the side of his house. He was letting the grass get too long and then scalping it, thus stressing the lawn.

If you shave off all your hair and walk out into the blistering sun, what do you think would happen?

I have half a mind to buy a car off this guy, drive the shit out of it and return it, complaining he sold me a piece of crap.

Still there is more positive feedback to far outweigh the negative. There are those who tell me their lawn is the envy of the neighbourhood and they are always asked about who their lawn care provider is. There are those who understand, even when we do encounter the problems we've had, we are doing our best with the tools we still have left to work with and they are appreciative of our knowledge and level of customer service.

With all I have told you, there is still another alarming trend all of the above have in common- they have lawn care packages that call for the bare minimum in treatment and cost. There is no aeration, no over-seeding, no grub treatments in any of them. It's all fertilizer and weed control only. In a normal year this program would suffice, but this is not a normal year.

Now, I'm not a rich man by any means and I can't afford to just jettison customers at will. This is just me venting and the Blog is as good a place as any to plant tongue firmly inside cheek when the initial frustration has subsided. I know I'm also not the only company to experience complaints, but there comes a time when I may have to decide if it's worth a continued effort to eat these bad apples, or put them curbside on garbage day.

Hey, I wonder if the garbage guys will come ahead of schedule?

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