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View Full Version : how does everyone else do this?


marionlandscape
03-06-2006, 11:21 AM
I go to their house I give them a door hanger. They call in for a free estimate. I take their info and put it into the computer. I print out the bid sheet. we go back to the house (or business)we talk to the customer and evaluate the property. we go back to the office. I type up a pretty little proposal. I print it out and take it to the customer. they keep it and think about it for 3 days. they call back in and say they want service. I go to the computer and type up a contract. I take it back to the customer get it signed or leave it for the proper person to sign. I go back to the office. they call say it is signed I go to the customers and pick it up or sometimes they mail it to me. howdoes everyone elso do this process?

Joey bag a' donuts
03-06-2006, 11:28 AM
sounds like a lot of work to me...once we get to the property to evaluate the work we give a price and take care of the rest on the spot.

daveintoledo
03-06-2006, 11:32 AM
i bring pre printed forms, 2 copies, one for me, one for the customer, and fill it out while im there, and get there signature while im there the first time..my estimate doubles as a service agreement

Runner
03-06-2006, 11:33 AM
Wow.....Then you have to work the rest of the season to pay yourself for the 6 trips you made. If a residential calls us, I go over, look the property over, confirm what they are looking for, maybe even upsell a little bit, sometimes write them up an estimate - sometimes not. Ususlly, it's based on a handshake. For commercial, If I get a call, I speak to the person, go out and survey the prop(s), and go home and type up the proposal. It will have a cover letter, and an agreement on the bottom pre-signed by me. They sign one copy and give it or send it back to me, and keep one copy.
For you, I think I would suggest skipping the step between the "bid sheet" and the estimate. For residence, just write out on a pre-printed form if you want.

Wells
03-06-2006, 11:38 AM
I started out doing things the way you just described but it got to be a real hassle especially when you have a dozen of them to get done, so now I just schedule a time to meet with the property owner on site, we walk the property, talk about their property maintenance needs and a verbal bid is given right there on site.

I usually will ask the client if they would like the bid in writing but most are satisfied with a verbal estimate. If they agree to the pricing right there I will hand them the payment agreement terms which can be signed right there as well or they can mail it back.

Now, on the commercial bids the procedure is more along the lines of what you described above, with the bid sheets and the pretty proposal, an aerial photo of the property, formal letter, etc.

Greenscapes, LLC
03-06-2006, 01:39 PM
how would you get an aerial photo of the property?

Killswitch
03-06-2006, 01:47 PM
I go to their house I give them a door hanger. They call in for a free estimate. I take their info and put it into the computer. I print out the bid sheet. we go back to the house (or business)we talk to the customer and evaluate the property. we go back to the office. I type up a pretty little proposal. I print it out and take it to the customer. they keep it and think about it for 3 days. they call back in and say they want service. I go to the computer and type up a contract. I take it back to the customer get it signed or leave it for the proper person to sign. I go back to the office. they call say it is signed I go to the customers and pick it up or sometimes they mail it to me. howdoes everyone elso do this process?

I go out and give the estimate on site and make the sale right then and there, or that evening.

I dont use contracts and never will. They are silly for residentials especially and Im not going to hold anyone to supplying me work if they dont want my service.

What do you gain by having this so called contract?

Killswitch
03-06-2006, 01:49 PM
Wow.....Then you have to work the rest of the season to pay yourself for the 6 trips you made. If a residential calls us, I go over, look the property over, confirm what they are looking for, maybe even upsell a little bit, sometimes write them up an estimate - sometimes not. Ususlly, it's based on a handshake. For commercial, If I get a call, I speak to the person, go out and survey the prop(s), and go home and type up the proposal. It will have a cover letter, and an agreement on the bottom pre-signed by me. They sign one copy and give it or send it back to me, and keep one copy.


Exactly.......

instyle
03-06-2006, 02:13 PM
I have a laptop and a cheap printer in the truck. For the estimate I bring my wife (she is 1/2 the buis), we walk the property with the home owner. Then my wife goes back to the truck and puches the info in to the estimte template. Prints it out, hand it to the guy and go from there.

daveintoledo
03-06-2006, 02:15 PM
how would you get an aerial photo of the property?

available on must county real estate websites.....

daveintoledo
03-06-2006, 02:25 PM
I dont use contracts and never will. They are silly for residentials especially and Im not going to hold anyone to supplying me work if they dont want my service.
What do you gain by having this so called contract?

and you dont know the benifit of a contract, residential or not.... hhhhhmmmmm....

Splicer
03-06-2006, 02:36 PM
Contracts just keeps things honest. With no contract you are open to being screwed. There is no other way to put it and there is really nothing else to say on the matter as far as I am concerned. Take it from a guy who has contracted for the past 25 years all over the country.

Killswitch
03-06-2006, 02:53 PM
Screwed how? Mr Jones says Yes Sir....cut my lawn for 45 a week, 200 for leaves, maybe 3 or 4 fert apps......

I ned to write a legal contract for that?

Does your plumber make you sign a contract? Your grocery store? Comon.

I can see purchase agreements.....but a contract for a residential client?

I service peoples grounds for as long as they need me or want me, and if they dont pay I dont go back other than to...."Collect"

Not to downgrade what we do fellas but we cut grass (for the most part).

Id consider it some threat or insult to ask someone to sign on the dotted line to have their lawn mowed.

Its just not the way I do business. Maybe its because Im a small player. I dunno. I just cant see the advantage to having some homeowner sign a legal contract for lawn mowing.

If it works for you thats great. I choose a more personal approach and am not looking at changing the world through lawn care.

Killswitch
03-06-2006, 02:56 PM
Contracts just keeps things honest. With no contract you are open to being screwed. There is no other way to put it and there is really nothing else to say on the matter as far as I am concerned. Take it from a guy who has contracted for the past 25 years all over the country.


I know you say you're done with this but maybe a few examples of how you alowed yourself to get "screwed"

Im curious.

CAG
03-06-2006, 03:18 PM
That is way too much work for res customers!! I usually never use contracts unless they ask for one or the job is for more than $2500.. I have used them a few times when I got an uneasy feeling about a customer, and actually once the contract helped me collect without to much of a hassle.. That being said with all the work you do for one estimate the one job you get screwed on will not equal out to the time and money lost to write up the other 250 or whatever number you price per year..Something you might want to consider is a company called NEBS I have seen some nice contracts, proposals, and service agreements that have every landscaping service you could think of. All you have to do is just check the box and fill in the price..Check them out i bet they will save you a heck of a lot of time and could close the deal in on visit..

barefootlawnsandlandscape
03-06-2006, 04:34 PM
Fellas,

Just started in this business. What I am doing is measuring the yards, punching into a computer, and giving the bid in contract form with the option to pay by visit. If they go for the monthly payments I have 12 months income from that customer. If they don't I have an increase in the amount payed per visit in the busy time. Since the pay per visit is still in contract form someone cannot come in and undercut me. The customer or myself have a 30 day clause to get out of the contract if they feel like it. I just feel this presents a much more professional way of presenting their payment options to them. I am also doing fertilizer and chemical apps. that are included in the monthly payments. The contracts also allow me an accurate way to pre-order my supplies, and I tell my potential customers this when they ask why I need a contract. How do you all feel about this way of doing business. If a customer just wants me to mow their lawn without a contract I will do it, but would prefer the customers that want fertilization, weed control, and mowing.

Splicer
03-06-2006, 05:05 PM
A prime example of getting screwed is doing the work and not being paid. C'mon, you guys are making this too hard. I think you guys all work too hard to not get paid. CATV is the same way.

A written contract gives one recourse in the event of failure of complying to the contract by either party. It does not have to be fancy. Yes with 70 accounts it is alot of paperwork to store but guess what? You're in business. It ain't all peaches and cream.

All_Clear
03-06-2006, 05:06 PM
As i read thru this thread i must say...

To each his own....

If it works for you, then keep doing what works...
(I dont understand why some of you have so much to say on how others run their business, if it works for them and they arent asking for help because its not working... then why even comment)

Back to the org. posters question... I think (my opinion) your doing to much leg work, try to cut back on the times you visit each property, have forms with you for the customer to sign (if this is how you run your business) Each extra trip you make costs you/your business in some way, time, money etc...


All_Clear

qualitylawnmanagement
03-06-2006, 06:04 PM
Thats alot of running around. I just use my contract as the bid propels, much more easier.

Roger
03-06-2006, 09:33 PM
I have to agree with Killswitch .... I read threads on LS about having trouble collecting, or other troubles with low-volume residential customers, and the follow reads something like, "... the contract says ... and they aren't (didn't) ...." From reading many threads over the years, small contractors with residential customers having small accounts aren't gaining anything with a contract. The customer knows they owe money for services rendered. A piece of paper isn't going to help remind them of this fact. And, is the piece of paper going to help collect the money ... so many threads on this topic seem to not support that point. Somebody is honest (to use an argument advanced earlier), whether a piece of paper has been signed or not.

For larger work, say $2,000 and above, the story is undoubtedly different. Often payments schedules are perscribed, details for scope of work, etc, and this helps with understanding for both parties. But, a bill at the end of the month for four regular mowing visits, who does not know how to handle an invoice for those visits?

For the initial question, for the rare case when somebody wants a quote, I use two sheets of preprinted paper forms from my wordprocessor. A carbon paper between the two sheets records on the bottom page what I write on the front page -- the customer gets the front page, and I take the carbon copy for my record. In nine seasons, I have never used my carbon copy for any reason. Handling this matter is the easy part of the business!

hotpan
03-06-2006, 09:58 PM
I asked one of my buddies, who got me interested in this business, about the contracts and he said with residential, he tells customers that he doesn't do contracts b/c he would rather build a "trusting" relationship with the customer. He says this has worked for him and has never had any problems with anyone not paying, cancelling svc., etc.

ed2hess
03-06-2006, 10:07 PM
You gotta think about using e-mail, email, email. No calls no visits no spending 30 minutes giving them advise on their lawn, etc. etc.

Roger
03-06-2006, 11:17 PM
To reinforce my earlier point ....

http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=136356

daveintoledo
03-07-2006, 12:19 AM
you will find hundreds of post about why they are need and used by most professional companies........

dont call it a contract, call it a service agreement...:)

LorentzLawnSnow
03-09-2006, 06:53 PM
shawn, back to your original question. bring as much with you as you can the first time you stop. going back and forth just gives them more time to "think" about it or the wife to nag the guy to just get out and do it himself, or another contractor to move in between trips. have everything ready the first time and don't give them the time to change their minds or overthink the situation.

chriscraft
03-10-2006, 03:15 PM
we have a 2 part quote its hand written at the site unless involved we leave it with the customer or in the door we call them back that evening to make sure they recieved it. if they want us back to talk we make an appt. Speed is the key or you will lose them. If they arent home leave quote go home and call them to let them know you care.

Green-Cuts
03-10-2006, 11:39 PM
Hello

Could anyone that is using there bids and service agrements in one form post it so we could see an example?


Thanks
brandon Jolley