Why Customers Cancel

The most important aspect of growing your business is keeping the customers you already have.  If you  must first replace 30% to 40% of your customers every year due to cancels, it will be difficult if not impossible to grow your business.


In order to limit cancels, it helps to understand why lawn and landscape customers cancel.

Below is a small excerpt from a large consumer focus group study conducted several years ago in 4 cities throughout the Midwest and the east coast as to why homeowners cancel their lawn care service.





Poor service, poor results, (specifically poor weed control) and lack of professionalism (not showing up, rude behavior, etc.) were the primary reasons for dropping a lawn care service.


Most customers applied a "two strikes and you're out" rule when canceling lawn service.  Many canceled simply because the service didn't show up to fertilize the lawn when they were supposed to, or because they refused to come back to re-treat when things weren't done right the first time.


  • I canceled because - once again - they were late.


Poor results were usually the first step toward an unhappy customer.


  • It didn't look like anything was happening. I couldn't see a difference between when they started and when I cancelled at the end of the season.


  • I don't have anybody now because I wasn't seeing the results.  Two years is long enough to make a difference and they weren't making one.


  • One reason I fired them is because they didn't do a quality job.


  • I didn't see any results, even after two years.


Many droppers reported a decrease in service and results over time.


  • Service was good at first.  As time went on, they got worse.


  • At first I was really impressed . . . but started to see brown spots, fungus, and they never got it back.


  • It was never as good as the first year.


Unresponsiveness was another customer irritation.


  • They just didn't do what I wanted done.


  • I had to call them and tell them when to come.  After the second year, that was it.  I figured there was someone out there that would listen to what I wanted instead of telling me what they wanted to do.


  • They didn't show up when they were supposed to.


  • After an unpleasant experience with herbicides and my pet, I asked the company to never apply any herbicides to my lawn--never.  The very next treatment "we applied a broadleaf herbicide to your lawn today to knock out any weeds..." Are you kidding me?


Customers desired better communication between themselves and their lawn service.


  • There's never any face-to-face contact.


  • I never had anyone say, 'You're having a grub problem and here's what we can do for you.'


  • They rarely even talk to me.


  • I shouldn't have to go outside if I'm home and tell the service man what my problems are.  He's the professional, can't he see that there's weeds in the backyard.  Or there's a dead spot over in the side yard.  What am I paying a lawn service for if I have to tell them how to do the job?  I can get the kid across the street to come over and fertilize the lawn if I tell him how to do it.


Some customers stated that lawn services were often responsible for problems instead of fixing them.


  • They killed some grass and that really upset me.  I called to complain and they couldn't figure out what I was talking about.


  • The lawn service came out to kill the ivy in an area.  They did, and killed the grass too.


  • Our first lawn service burned our rosebushes; some of our mum's leaves curled up and our tomato plants got curly leaves too.


  • They treated our lawn when we were on vacation and left instructions to water-in the treatment after 24 hours.  It burned the grass badly.


Unprofessional, untrained, and unknowledgeable staff was a turnoff for many respondents.


  • I spoke to the customer service woman and she was so rude I said, 'Take me off your computer and don't call me again.'


  • What really scared me was I drove up and saw some kid applying it and just slopping it everywhere, which could kill a lot of stuff.


  • I came home from work and there's little granules all over the drive and sidewalk.  I'm afraid I'll track it in the house and the cat will eat it and get sick.  How much time would it take to blow off the drive and walk?  They put those little signs in the yard to keep your pets off for some time, and then I'm tracking it into the house.


Sometimes cost was an issue.  A few respondents, especially those who perceived very little differences between lawn care service companies, would always switch services for a lower price.


  • I had a good price.  Then the price went up.


  • Every year or two, the price would go up and I didn't feel I was getting what I wanted.


  • I've been a customer for a long time.  You'd think I'd get some sort of flyer miles for being such a long time customer.  I accidentally got one of their mailers and they had a low price on it but it was only for new customers.  You'd think they'd want to give a break to their existing customers from time to time.


Taking care of and retaining your customers is imperative if you want to succeed in this business.  Think about the cost to replace them – somewhere between $50 and $300.  Wouldn’t you spend that much to keep them if you needed to?


It makes sense to do whatever you can within reason to save a good-paying customer.  And one of the easiest ways, is calling them on a regular basis.  One of our lawn care clients calls his customers after each and every application, just to be sure they weren't having any problems.


If you receive a lawn complaint or a question, follow-up immediately.  Guarantee your client's satisfaction with your service.  Unhappy customers are not only expensive to replace but they can take away even more business when they leave by sharing their dissatisfaction with others.


Always under-promise and over-deliver your service.