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drsogr
03-24-2006, 12:21 PM
Would you take a job where the customer was unwilling to give you more than a $200 dollar deposit for a landscaping job. The landscaping job is relatively small.....$1400.00 I have not been asking for deposits, because I usually feel comfortable with the people I am dealing with. But after more and more advice I have been.

Whats your take?

This was an oriental customer...I believe they will pay..they always do. Unfortunately these people are really untrusting. Almost every oriental person I have met is. I ended up taking the deposit...and taking the job. Should I have ran?

The whole deposit thing really scares me. I don't know why...it should come natural. I think if maybe I told them up front that I require a deposit on any landscaping jobs...it would make it easier to get the deposit in the end.

Coffeecraver
03-24-2006, 01:15 PM
1/3 to 1/2 deposit is normal

466.00 or 700.00 down before the job gets on to the schedule

It's Just good business

:)

NickN
03-24-2006, 01:59 PM
I won't do it,even with established customers who I've had for a few years.I'm not in the financing business.You have to make others' money work for you,not the other way around.

Doug Z.
03-24-2006, 03:50 PM
That's not even close to the 1/2 down that I require. Any job I do is 1/2 down, or 1/3 down on any job over $10,000, 1/3 upon start, and the last due upon completion. If somebody is only willing to give me that little bit, in my opinion, your going to have trouble getting the rest of your money out of him when your done. Also, by getting 1/2 down, if he were to screw you, the worst you'd be out is you labor!

procut
03-24-2006, 05:23 PM
If it is a customer you've been doing business with for somethime with no problems, then I'd say you made the right decision. If it was a firstime customer however, I'd say red flag.

sheshovel
03-24-2006, 05:32 PM
1/3 to 1/2 deposit is normal

466.00 or 700.00 down before the job gets on to the schedule

It's Just good business

:)

Agreed..you should not have to use your own money if you don't have accounts with your suppliers for materials.

jblawns123
03-24-2006, 07:27 PM
I ask 1/2 down on every landscaping project, not on maintenance. Have been for 7 years, never had a problem, never an arguement.

Trinity Lawn Care, LLC
03-24-2006, 07:49 PM
I agree 1/2 down 1/2 when complete. If someone will not give me 1/2 down that puts up a red flag to me. We will not do it. If they are not going to give you the money now chances are they are going to try to not give it to you later (slow pay / no pay). Not worth it. As Sheshovel said, especially if you don't have accounts with your suppliers.

LawnScenes
03-24-2006, 08:07 PM
I require 1/2 down on everything. Sometimes I include an option in the contract that allows me to request another 1/4 during the job and the remaining 1/4 at the end, but so far I've never needed to enforce it. I only include it on large jobs. Just in case I run into a problem or something is slowing us down.

drsogr
03-24-2006, 09:29 PM
I have only asked for deposits with people that I have felt uncomfortable with in the past. People I feel comfortable with I don't even ask for a deposit. But it just seams that every time I ask for one people feel real hesitant. Now this may be for several reasons.

I am a young business owner....people always take notice.

I am not a salesman

I have a tendancy to be a pushover....

I don't know if its the standard in my area.....

I am always afraid that I will lose the job if I don't ask for a deposit.

I have never had a problem getting paid when the work is done...just sometimes I don't exude confidence. I haven't been in the business for a long time. It would definitely make doing business easier with a deposit.

Meadowbrook
03-24-2006, 10:00 PM
If they refuse to pay you more than $200, then I'd be leary. If you have a contract, tell them it's security for them and security for you. If you've got a different outlook on payment, explain it to them.

My buddy did work for an Indian, had a signed contract and all included price. After the job was done, she wanted to barter. That doesn't and shouldn't fly. So he met with her and she gave him the 3rd degree. He said if you want to barter, then lets barter. He walked to a shrub and pulled it out of the ground, and said "That's $40 off your bill." He walked over to a tree and did the same thing. Finally she was so pissed, she called the cops. The cops said she signed the contract with an agreed price and she had to pay him on the spot.

HaHaHaHa!!!

JohnsonLawn
03-24-2006, 10:13 PM
Ask him to have a carpenter come out to build him a deck or garage and see how $200.00 flyes. You have to get a deposit to cover your a$$. At least if he tries to stiff you upon completion, 1/2 will most likely cover most of your materials and you are only out the labor. You are a business owner providing a service and should be treated as a professional. If they don't want to give it up, see ya! Don't wait to get burnt before you change your policy. Good luck

drsogr
03-24-2006, 10:46 PM
I notice that most of the people replying are from the east coast....is this maybe a more acceptable practice out east? I am just wondering.

drsogr
03-24-2006, 10:50 PM
I also have people who are leary of signing the contract as well.

MIKEJ
03-25-2006, 08:36 PM
As far as contracts go, I have some maintenance clients that I don't require contracts for (if it is basic service), but for contruction projects you should always have a contract for your protection as well as the customers. Start getting deposits for your work and charge for your time.

Meadowbrook
03-26-2006, 12:01 PM
Not really sure if it's an East Coast thing....but more of a con-artist thing. I've always heard that if you don't have a signed contract, you don't have to be paid. Bottom line. None of my clients have had a problem signing my contracts, -Knock on wood!- But never-the-less, like I said, security for you and security for them. Plus if they don't want to sign a contract tell them that's not how you do business, and you'll be able to find someone else who will. If they REFUSE to sign a contract, then they were out to screw you all along.

Chris

YardPro
03-26-2006, 01:40 PM
new clients have to pay a deposit before we begin work.

ONLY exceptions are long time maintenance customers and jobs under $5k.

J&R Landscaping
03-26-2006, 02:05 PM
I collect all of the material costs UPFRONT! I need to pay for the materials and even though I have an account with my supplier, it covers my a$$. For mulch and such, I bring samples with me so they know what to expect but I still ask for it upfront! Labor and any other charges are collected upon completion of the job!

Doug Z.
03-27-2006, 01:25 AM
If they aren't going to give you more than that for a down payment, that's one thing(not acceptable) but not wanting to sign the contract??? bye bye! I got screwed on a job 3 years ago, lost out on $17,000.00 plus interest that I had to pay my vendors, and attorney fees. First thing I did was get a new contract. I had a generic one like the proposals that you can pick up at office depot. They dont hold crap in the legal system. My new contract is incredible. In the past two years, I had 2 people try to screw with me. I told them that if they want to play games with paying me, tomorrow, I will call my attorney, he will put a lein on your house, and file suit against you right away too. In 2 days, your bill will be $1000.00 more, read your contract. Both times, I had the money the next day. Ive only had one lady who would not sign my contract, I told her that there is no way I can do business for you then. S%$t happens.

ladibugg
03-27-2006, 08:49 AM
Here in the Great Lakes area (not east coast) most if not all the trades require a deposit that is substantial. In most cases 1/3 of the total job when a contract is signed. Then another 1/3 when product is delivered and final pay upon completion. On smaller jobs common practice is the 50/50 split. On jobs in the 20 grand and up I will split the draws into four or even five payments and all change orders are payed in full in advance. Again this isn't a landscape practice it's a trades practice. Painters, drywallers, plumbers.roofers,etc... all tradesmen require a up front deposit to keep the ball rolling.
Now, there are exceptions to every practice. I have a brother in law that has been in business about twenty years, very successful and great reputation. He takes no deposit, everything is due upon completion. It works for him.
So go with your gut and set your business up the way that feels right for you. Have a contract that can't be disputed and make sure potential customers know your requirements up front.:usflag:

JimLewis
03-29-2006, 02:20 AM
No, this isn't an East Coast thing. It's fairly standard across the board in every state. I've been to enough conferences and seminars to know.

And not only is it fairly standard in our industry it's also fairly standard in most other residential construction trades as well (siding, roofing, decks, fences, concrete, painting, etc.)

You need to get some balls and exude more confidence. I don't care what your age is. Act professional, be professional, look professional and you'll be respected as a professional.

If you're still driving around in an unmarked truck with a few rakes sticking up in the air and your estimate forms are made on your dot matrix printer and your uniforms consist of a rock concert T-shirt and a Yankees hat, then you're not going to be taken seriously.

Our payment terms vary by size of job. If the job is less than $1000 and is going to take us less than one day to do, then it's payment on completion. If it's over $1000 and takes longer than 1 day, then it's half down and remainter on completion. If it's a really big job and is going to take over a week and is over $20,000 then I get 1/3 down, 1/3 when job is 50% complete, and remainder on day of completion.

Most of the jobs we do are in the second category - where we get 1/2 down.

I almost never have anyone question these terms. Most people expect it. And if someone did balk at my payment terms I'd balk at working for them. I get PLENTY of people who don't mind my payment terms. Why would I settle for less?

Coffeecraver
03-29-2006, 05:54 AM
I also have people who are leary of signing the contract as well.

You need to have complete confidence in your abilities,and knowledge
Some great business people are not great salesmen,but they are smart enough to hire someone to do the selling who is.

Your client needs to believe in you,or at least your salesman.

You also need to believe in your client,if your terms are 1/3 or 1/2 down
then thats what they are.--(Don't back up)

When you do it opens the door for the client to walk all over you

:)

JimLewis
03-29-2006, 11:55 AM
Derek,

I was 24 when I started my business. And I have rarely experienced any of the problems you mention. I can't imagine the problem is just your age.

You have a fantastic website, as far as landscapers go. So if your clients have been to your website they should already have a feeling of professionalism from you. (only thing I'd recommend is some before-after pictures and samples of your work. Pictures are worth gold in this industry).

So I don't understand why your clients are being so apprehensive. What's your truck, uniform, estimate, business card, etc. situation? Those are look professional with your company logo, etc?

If you've answered yes then the only thing I can imagine that is lacking is your posture - your confidence. You gotta act as if this is just normal business for you.... As if you get 1/2 down payments several times every week.... As if this is just how everyone does business.... And you need to just briefly mention the payment and contract stuff as if it's just part of your regular presentation. Like this, "So that's you're bid, Mr. Smith. And the terms for this job are the usual - half down payment due when we sign the contract and the remainder due when we complete the work. If you are ready to get started, just give us a call!"

Leary of a contract? Isn't it state law where you are that contractors have to sign contracts??? It is where I live. I think that's why they call us CONTRACTors.

(Oh, and there are a few other things I do at the bid stage when I meet customers that help instill confidence and professionalism - I don't give these ideas out publicly. So email me for some more tips there. )

LawnScapers of Dayton
03-29-2006, 12:10 PM
Just put on your written estimate that 50% is due prior to starting the work. That would solve it....

D

drsogr
03-29-2006, 10:46 PM
Derek,

I was 24 when I started my business. And I have rarely experienced any of the problems you mention. I can't imagine the problem is just your age.

You have a fantastic website, as far as landscapers go. So if your clients have been to your website they should already have a feeling of professionalism from you. (only thing I'd recommend is some before-after pictures and samples of your work. Pictures are worth gold in this industry).

So I don't understand why your clients are being so apprehensive. What's your truck, uniform, estimate, business card, etc. situation? Those are look professional with your company logo, etc?

If you've answered yes then the only thing I can imagine that is lacking is your posture - your confidence. You gotta act as if this is just normal business for you.... As if you get 1/2 down payments several times every week.... As if this is just how everyone does business.... And you need to just briefly mention the payment and contract stuff as if it's just part of your regular presentation. Like this, "So that's you're bid, Mr. Smith. And the terms for this job are the usual - half down payment due when we sign the contract and the remainder due when we complete the work. If you are ready to get started, just give us a call!"

Leary of a contract? Isn't it state law where you are that contractors have to sign contracts??? It is where I live. I think that's why they call us CONTRACTors.

(Oh, and there are a few other things I do at the bid stage when I meet customers that help instill confidence and professionalism - I don't give these ideas out publicly. So email me for some more tips there. )


Making everything professional is something I have strived for. I have my name on my truck....the truck is professional. I have packets that I give to the customers that are extremely professional. I have the polo shirts. I have great business cards and stive to make everything professional. The one thing that I don't have is a proper landscaping trailer. Geesh I am getting tired of my little 10' trailer. I don't get asked for references anymore at all since I have stepped everything up. I am also closing more sales.

I am confident in what I am selling....just not in my salesman skills. I like the closing that you used. I think it would help if I took some kind of sales class or something.

I am going to start requiring deposits. Its something that I need to. It is going to be my policy.

As far as the pics on the website...last year I didn't take many pictures...this year I am really working on that. As soon as I get some time I will throw some on there.

Frontier-Lawn
03-30-2006, 12:53 AM
i dont do any landscape work/installs without a 50% deposit. if they dont like it. tuff and im thinking about puting on my estimates for it. if they decided to back out when we go to sign a contract and the deposit. i will still get $50 for my wasted time! i have had it with buyers remorse or un-trusting clients.