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lsu03
04-16-2007, 07:56 PM
how do you guys handle just a "handshake contract"? do you mow when they want or according to your schedule? how do you not lose them? would you sign a contract w/ a college kid, or would you trust him with just a handshake? they could trust me, but most ppl think of all college kids as one.

also, the first place i am advertising is in an upscale neighborhood where most ppl are doctor, lawyers, ect. and dont have time to do yard work. would it be to my advantage to offer full maintenance?(weeding, mulching, fert)

bohiaa
04-16-2007, 08:48 PM
handshakes are ok.... most places it's a binding contract.
of corse written contracts are the best. you just have to do a judgement call.

dont be surprised if you get little or NO responce from the "upscale" neaborhood. sometimes there hard to break into, but after you get your first one and people see you there. it will creat the domano effict..

dont ask Y

M&SLawnCare
04-16-2007, 09:10 PM
I've never had a customer sign a contract. I guess it just depends on where your working and the type of people you get. Handshake agreement just seems much more personal and friendly than signing a paper imo. But for higher end residential and commercial lawns I'd offer, but not require them.

As for scheduling i cut all my lawns weekly or bi-weekly. So we set a day and i just show up the same day every week. As long as your reliable, and do a good job, you shouldn't loose customers mid season. Handshake deals revolve on trust (which is built on reliability and quality). Once your customers trust you, you wont loose them to anything but low balling, something contracts wont help you with.

lsu03
04-16-2007, 09:44 PM
thanks for the responses so far.:)

Wells
04-16-2007, 09:48 PM
I've never used contracts myself except with commercial properties. Some people swear by them while others don't bother with them, both have their pros and cons.

I've found that people don't mind signing a agreement of payment terms but they don't want to be bound by a contract that binds them to a certain service provider for the season.

outcold00
04-17-2007, 01:14 PM
I've never had a customer sign a contract. I guess it just depends on where your working and the type of people you get. Handshake agreement just seems much more personal and friendly than signing a paper imo. But for higher end residential and commercial lawns I'd offer, but not require them.

As for scheduling i cut all my lawns weekly or bi-weekly. So we set a day and i just show up the same day every week. As long as your reliable, and do a good job, you shouldn't loose customers mid season. Handshake deals revolve on trust (which is built on reliability and quality). Once your customers trust you, you wont loose them to anything but low balling, something contracts wont help you with.
what if its raining that day? do you still mow? or just come back the next day? i mean in you mow in rain, crappier cut, and possible mud marks, so how can you even do that to a customer? i have seen people on the thread who say they mow even if its raining or if it doesn't need mowing, or if its brown, i dont get it

kip huddleston
04-17-2007, 09:00 PM
had a small commercial account last year that was a hand shake agremant. when i called before the season started they were going to have a gay that worked for them that was starting to mow lawnstake care of it. 3 months in to the season got a call from them to come back they couldnt get him to mow. it looked bad when i got it back took me the rest of the season to get it to looking good agian. so if you do good work and they want good work done they will stay with you or will come back. you could just offer a contract to them set up how you and them agree on.

kip huddleston
04-17-2007, 09:05 PM
we have some companys that that trim and edge ect. when its rainingthe company that does my wifes company that im trying to get does that me if i can i move my jobs that day back a dayif i can

Midwest Lawn Services
04-17-2007, 09:28 PM
I've never used contracts myself except with commercial properties. Some people swear by them while others don't bother with them, both have their pros and cons.

I've found that people don't mind signing a agreement of payment terms but they don't want to be bound by a contract that binds them to a certain service provider for the season.

I agree. Commercial is a must, and most commercial clients won't even look seriously at your bid without insurance and a contract. All my commercial accounts have them.
Residential accounts are different. We have never had a contract with any of them. If you are on a monthly payment plan with them, and they don't pay, don't go back! Trying to win a claim in small claims court is not worth your time or the small amount of money you would recoup from the client.... if you win. Just my .02 worth!

ECS
04-17-2007, 09:43 PM
I have never used a contract. I only do residential and have never had a problem. I leave Fridays open for extra work or the slim chance of rain. I offer anything and everything. If I can not do it, I get someone to do it for the customer.

SavageLandscaping
04-17-2007, 09:45 PM
usually with residential customers there isnt any contract only commercial, unless you offer residential clients a full contract which i plan on doing in the next year or two once i get the amount of lawns i want but my buddy offers a full year plan paying weekly or monthly covers everything from mowing and cleanups to snow removal fertalizer and all the works then you should make a contract

M&SLawnCare
04-17-2007, 10:13 PM
what if its raining that day? do you still mow? or just come back the next day? i mean in you mow in rain, crappier cut, and possible mud marks, so how can you even do that to a customer? i have seen people on the thread who say they mow even if its raining or if it doesn't need mowing, or if its brown, i dont get it

Its up to me. If its not raining hard and the ground isn't saturated I'll mow. If the ground is saturated though or i feel mowing will compromise the cut (i bag so a "crappy" job isn't as big of an issue. I'm concerned about wether the turf can support the mowers without damage mostly, and of course you need to be much more careful when turning or cutting hills to prevent mud marks) I wont and just cut it the next day. Customers understand weather plays a major factor in this business, and I've never had an issue with a customer complaining because i didn't show up during a rain storm.

lsu03
04-17-2007, 10:28 PM
some of you guys said your clients pay monthly. is this based on the number of times you cut their lawn? what if they don't want it cut?

supercuts
04-17-2007, 10:43 PM
i only started after i didnt get paid. things happen and people change, in my case husband and wife were fighting, going through a divorce, each said the other owed me. started to make me think and now everyone signs one. it also helps because i use it to post all of my conditions such as i start promptly at 7Am, not responcible for hose and things left in lawn, late fees, whatever. if they complain you tell them to check their contract that they signed. it is rare but it happens, most all of my customers would be fine without one, but i require it now

cajuncutter
04-17-2007, 11:05 PM
I have never used a contract. I have had a couple of people try to skip out on paying however I have threatened to take them to court, even over 50 bucks, and they have all paid up. Judges in my area do not like those who do not pay their bills. Also on my commercial accounts that are annual contract is purely on a hand shake. LSU03 we are in the great state of Louisiana :rolleyes: Napoleonic Code is still part of our state law. I had a friend purchase a business on a hand shake. When it came time to finalize the transaction the seller backed out. My friend took the lady to court and won. Needless to say my friend bought the business for the agreed upon price minus legal and court fees. If you are unfamiliar with Napoleonic Code then look it up and become well versed. It will come in handy, especially in this line of work. Good luck!

underH2Ovideography
04-18-2007, 12:23 AM
so i understand that most of you dont mow "in the Rain"...but what about the next day? the grass is usualy still really wet. does that make a difference? what about when it just starts to rain? where is the cut off point?

baddboygeorge
04-18-2007, 12:28 AM
Do you like working for free! Without a contract your risking working for free! Never work without a written agreement! Thanks George

lsu03
04-18-2007, 08:10 AM
thanks for the replies.

Duekster
04-18-2007, 08:13 AM
Most commercial accounts have you sign their contracts and your proposal is exhibit A.

Residential, I think it depends on the client and your judgement.

NELawnCare
04-18-2007, 10:19 AM
how do you guys handle just a "handshake contract"? do you mow when they want or according to your schedule? how do you not lose them? would you sign a contract w/ a college kid, or would you trust him with just a handshake? they could trust me, but most ppl think of all college kids as one.

also, the first place i am advertising is in an upscale neighborhood where most ppl are doctor, lawyers, ect. and dont have time to do yard work. would it be to my advantage to offer full maintenance?(weeding, mulching, fert)

I use them all the time. Every job! But, I don't call them contracts. I call them "Agreements". The term "Agreement" is less defensive and more acceptable to the customer. It also doubles as a purchase receipt so the customer has to use it.

I have two types, an Individual Service Agreement and a Seasonal Service Agreement. Both are one page (2 sided). The front page has fill-in areas to capture the customer's name, address, method of payment, amount, and type of work requested. The back side is a listing of terms and conditions (e.g. not responsible for mowing over toys and obstacles, etc). I have them printed on carbonless 2-part forms so the customer gets the yellow copy and I keep the original to enter the information into my Quickbooks and file as a receipt. I get them printed by a company on the Web cheap. 100 cost around $37. 250 cost $57.

I would NEVER suggest doing work without some "Agreement". It protects you and the customer. You get paid the amount agreed, they get the work you promise on the agreement.

I have been through a very very big lawsuit and learned much, even how to pitch it to the customer so they accept it. "Hi Mr. Thompson, okay, here is what work we agreed to do your lawn and the price I stated. This document protects you, the customer, by directly stating what work you expect to be accomplished and the timeline to accomplish it. It is also your sales receipt for your records. [hand document on clipboard to customer now] If you wish to review the information and sign at the bottom, we will start working on your lawn immediately."

Pitching the agreement like it's entirely to protect the customer puts them more at ease and they are willing to listen and sign.

I DO NOT do business without an agreement. Never had a problem yet.

If you're interested I can send you a copy of my Agreements for reference.

StBalor
04-19-2007, 07:54 AM
I just started with service agreements this year. My way of thinking is i will gain a more diserable clientille with the agreements. (less pitas, hopefully.) I was hoping to sign up 25 new clients this year all on seasonal agreements. So far i have landing 9. But we are off to a slow start here because of the freakish weather, snow and cold.

WJW Lawn
04-19-2007, 08:05 AM
Ive been screwed with service agreements...and without. If someone is a loser and wants to take advantage of you...they will. So I've decided to save the trees and forgo the contracts.

NELawnCare
04-19-2007, 09:11 AM
Ive been screwed with service agreements...and without. If someone is a loser and wants to take advantage of you...they will. So I've decided to save the trees and forgo the contracts.

This isn't meant as a sarcastic reply to your post. I was just wondering how you've been screwed using a service agreeemnt? A service agreement is a legal binding document. If it's well written and descriptive in work and price, it will stand up 10-fold in court over a customers "verbal word" or "handshake".

The idea of a well constructed service agreement is to "prevent" being screwed. Anyone using service agreements should spend the $100-$200 to have a local business attorney review the wording for correctness and applicability to your specific state laws.

I cannot see how a handshake is better business than a service agreement. With a handshake, you have nothing tangilbe to use in court.

martinfan06
04-19-2007, 09:31 AM
Hers my take on contracts :

With residentals you cant use the word "contract" I use customer agreement,people get nervous when the word contract comes around. I explain it like its a written statement of what I as your lawn service provider agrees to do for you, that way if I told you I would maintain the weeds and 2 months later you have beds full of weeds, I cant come back and say "I never said that weed control was in the price". The client gets a copy of the agreement oh "yes its right here paragrah so so".

So try explaining it that way that it really dose protect both parties involed not just you getting paid. Also how many times has a client asked for some off the wall stuff that wasnt in the "deal". Example had a lady come out and ask me to trim her 20' palm, I took a look at it said sure x amount of money. Client says "what" I say mam In the agreement only trimming up to 10' is inculed in the maintenance price. Ohh I see now thank you

NELawnCare
04-19-2007, 09:58 AM
Hers my take on contracts :

With residentals you cant use the word "contract" I use customer agreement,people get nervous when the word contract comes around. I explain it like its a written statement of what I as your lawn service provider agrees to do for you, that way if I told you I would maintain the weeds and 2 months later you have beds full of weeds, I cant come back and say "I never said that weed control was in the price". The client gets a copy of the agreement oh "yes its right here paragrah so so".

So try explaining it that way that it really dose protect both parties involed not just you getting paid. Also how many times has a client asked for some off the wall stuff that wasnt in the "deal". Example had a lady come out and ask me to trim her 20' palm, I took a look at it said sure x amount of money. Client says "what" I say mam In the agreement only trimming up to 10' is inculed in the maintenance price. Ohh I see now thank you

So what your saying is...you agree with my original post here, correct?

http://www.lawnsite.com/showpost.php?p=1798929&postcount=20

.

martinfan06
04-19-2007, 10:07 AM
So what your saying is...you agree with my original post here, correct?

http://www.lawnsite.com/showpost.php?p=1798929&postcount=20

.

Didnt read it the 1st time I saw it but yeah guess so.........

lsu03
04-19-2007, 10:24 PM
should i give the customer just a list of what i expect(lawn free of toys, branches,ect) and what services i am offering when if i just go w/ a handshake. i think many ppl would be worried to sign a contract w/ an 18-19 yo.

lsu03
04-22-2007, 09:22 AM
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xpnd
04-22-2007, 09:54 AM
handshakes are ok.... most places it's a binding contract.
of corse written contracts are the best. you just have to do a judgement call.

dont ask Y

The one place it is not a binding contract is inside the small claims court room. When it comes down to the he said, she said, I thought you meant, the case is dismissed.

Contracts overall are not good. No one want to be locked into a contract and find out 3 weeks later you know less about how to maintain a yard then the high school kid.

Service agreements are probably the best. It is a promise on your part to provide certain services according to an included schedule. It is a promise b the customer to pay for those services. The customer and you can walk away from each other without a penalty. I use service agreements as a filter for my business. If the handshake promise in written form is not acceptable than probably the customer is not one I would want.