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I Just Want to Get My Grass Cut

I Just Want to Get My Grass Cut

by Frank Roche on June 11, 2009

in KnowHR


Best Lawn in the Neighborhood
I like having one of the best looking yards in my neighborhood. We’ve planted more trees and bushes than almost any other family in the area over the past few years and that looks great. But our grass looks terrible.

The guy who used to mow our grass had done it for the past 9 years. We had a business relationship with him that extended beyond mowing our grass — he painted several rooms in our house, for example. He did a great job with our yard and hired well. The guys who worked for him paid a lot of attention to detail. Our grass got mowed at a minimum of once a week (it needs to be mowed more often in the early spring). I was proud of our yard.

Then our regular guy got out of the lawn maintenance business. Enter the new guy.

We Get a New Lawn Guy
New Guy was recommended by Old Guy. We trusted the judgment of the Old Guy, so we signed on with New Guy. Bad decision.

First, New Guy didn’t turn up when our grass started growing in late March/early April. We have a lush lawn that’s been maintained at a high level for a number of years. It grows thick and it grows fast.

New Guy let the grass go three weeks too long, even after several promptings to get there and mow. Then, it started raining in April and May. He missed a week. Our grass got a foot tall and went to seed in May. I felt like I was going to blow a blood vessel.

What Happens When Your Employees Damage a Customer Relationship?
Fast forward to June. One of New Guy’s employees weed whipped my peony. Whacked it to the ground. Total loss. Cost to replace the plant: $50. Then, on a subsequent week I came home to find that one of New Guy’s employees ran a riding mower into four trees, making huge gouges in the base of each one. (There was no reason other than laziness because we have mulch rings around all our plantings. He clearly just didn’t want to do the hand mowing that was required.) Gouging trees at the base can be a disaster for trees at this time of year. The cost to replace those four trees could run in excess of $10,000. (And maybe a lot more.)

Tearing Up My Trees
My wife called New Guy and said, “You’re fired.” He asked for another chance. Made an appointment to come yesterday to survey the damage and work out a new plan. He didn’t show. Said because of the rain he was behind on other yards.

I blew a blood vessel. I’m not sure that New Guy should be in business anymore. With one phone call I could start a process that would make that happen. Being a small business owner myself, I’m hesitating.

As HR, You’re Responsible for Your Employees
We’re in the human resources business. We need to hire well. Train them. Tell them to do no harm. Talk about what great customer service is, even if what you provide is a commodity. Absent that, getting fired by a customer will be the least of your problems. This is the kind of stuff that can make companies go out of business.

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