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Exact Rototilling
07-01-2007, 10:41 PM
I have 2 mowing clients that are weekly. Rototilling jobs have ceased for now. All verbal agreements and no written contracts. We have agreed on a scheduled time with an alternate day. I trim, mow and blow and I am paid for each service. I show up the following week and repeat.

Am I doing something wrong? What is the advantage of having a contract for the customer & me?

wooley99
07-01-2007, 11:15 PM
I have a couple properties on contract for year-round, maintain everything in the lawn. And a few that I maintain weekly on a handshake so I'm very interested in the replies of those that actually know what they are doing.

Separate question just cause I'm curious, what do you charge for rototilling and where's the demand?

Thanks,

Grits
07-01-2007, 11:32 PM
At this time, I only do contracts for semi-big landscape jobs. None of my mow customers are on contract. But I am thinking about going with the contract next year for mowing.

MeadowsLawnCare
07-02-2007, 12:44 AM
I let the customers choose. They either go one month payments on contract or verbal if they only have up to 2 mowings per pay. A benifit of contract is to state legal things in writing such as "were not responsible for damage to malfunctioning sprinkler heads" Stuff that you verbally agree on will hold up in court much better when its in righting :P

J&T Kiev
07-02-2007, 01:22 AM
I use a contract for landscaping installs, and Lawn Maintenance. There are some good reasons for residential and commercial contracts. Signed contracts make your company more appealing when you go down to the bank and apply for a loan , and more valuable if you should ever sell, Give you added leverage if you need to take a customer to court for non-payment,put customers on seasonal contracts, put in a cancellation clause, fuel surcharges etc. With a contract, youíll have a solid document of all pertinent information.

stevenf
07-02-2007, 01:28 AM
other then not being responsible for damages, What does a contract state? If a business signs your contract but in return doesnt like your service, can he or she just let you go or its an agreement that you get paid anyway?

Exact Rototilling
07-02-2007, 02:14 AM
wooley99,

As for Rototilling I charge $49 min and that covers the 1st hour beyond that I charge an additional $49 per hour incrementally. There are some low ballers in my area who charge less. Some jobs only take 20 to 35 min or so but I do a knock out job and most people really notice especially when someone else has tilled for them in the past. It is not uncommon for people to be so impressed that I'm paid more than my quoted price. I've had several referrals from my 1st phase of customers. I mainly try to compete with what would be a minimum charge for some one to rent a quality decent rear tine tiller for 2 to 4 hours. The soil here is very rocky which means you take a serious beating as well as the equipment. Tilling season is in the spring to early summer. Not sure about fall tilling but I'm expecting only a fraction of the work. I'm planning on being licensed in a neighboring state which means collecting state sales tax etc and I expect to be absolutely swamped next spring.

HBLandscaping
12-12-2007, 08:15 PM
Can someone send me a copy of the contract they use. I have a real short (3-4 line) contract and I want to redo mine in the off season and have a really clear, Clean, professional looking contract. I want to see what others have in their contracts that I may put in mine, I'd like to see the different wording that is used, Payment time lines & non-payment clause, cancellation clause/fees, Change order fees, fuel surcharges, additional cost, etc.

Thanks

Whitey4
12-12-2007, 09:09 PM
I use what I call "agreements". it's a non-binding service agreement, cancelable by either party for any reason at any time. Basically, it spells out what I will provide in terms of services, when and how the customer will pay, but leaves both the HO and myself with an easy out if for whatever reason, we want to sever the relationship. Commercial accounts, which I don't do, would require a contract in most cases, and is in the best interest of both parties.

My HO's like having something in writing that says what they will get for their money, but aren't comfortable signing a legal document. It simply clarifies what is and what isn't included in the service plan they want. Never had a cancellation. The argeement has helped to clear up some misunderstandings. If the customer is a headache, I also have an out.

NC Greenscaper
12-12-2007, 09:13 PM
Can someone send me a copy of the contract they use. I have a real short (3-4 line) contract and I want to redo mine in the off season and have a really clear, Clean, professional looking contract. I want to see what others have in their contracts that I may put in mine, I'd like to see the different wording that is used, Payment time lines & non-payment clause, cancellation clause/fees, Change order fees, fuel surcharges, additional cost, etc.

Thanks

PM me with your email and I'll send you a copy

shane mapes
12-13-2007, 01:41 AM
make sure you get a contract on everything you do to protect you from your customer ..make sure you are covered legally also lic. insurance and all that ... contracts are the only way to go in this field

jawila
12-13-2007, 03:00 PM
I'm writing up a service agreement right now and was wondering what I should put into it. It basically has my services, and payment outlines in it with a few stipulations (sprinklers must work -desert climate- , dog crap is xtra, may use subcontractor, snow removal stipulations). Is this appropriate for a small HOA, or do I need more?
I don't want to get too complicated or legal, it may push customers away. I want this to be good for both parties.
Do you folks have any suggestions of what else I may want to include?
I may go talk to a local attourney to have a better agreement written up sometime in the next year. But for now, is this good?

landscaper22
12-13-2007, 03:26 PM
I use what I call "agreements". it's a non-binding service agreement, cancelable by either party for any reason at any time. Basically, it spells out what I will provide in terms of services, when and how the customer will pay, but leaves both the HO and myself with an easy out if for whatever reason, we want to sever the relationship. Commercial accounts, which I don't do, would require a contract in most cases, and is in the best interest of both parties.

My HO's like having something in writing that says what they will get for their money, but aren't comfortable signing a legal document. It simply clarifies what is and what isn't included in the service plan they want. Never had a cancellation. The argeement has helped to clear up some misunderstandings. If the customer is a headache, I also have an out.

I agree with this....I have only had one signed contract in five years and it was a industrial account. When you deal with big commercial stuff they want things in writing and signed for legal reasons.
The best thing you can do with all other accounts is have an agreement as stated above. This clarifies your position and what is expected of you, and also gives the customer some comfort in knowing what they can expect from you. Maybe have a place for a signature, but only to acknowledge that they received this info. I am in the process of creating such a document now, and hope to start handing them out next year. I am covering everything from when payment is expected, late fees, locked gate policy, proper communication, damage to customer property, and how to cancel service, and lots more stuff.

The one thing I am considering is some type of signed agreement for monthly paying customers (this is the only type of customers I am loking for now). The problem I run into is that when I price a job at a monthly rate, I am giving an "average price" so to speak for the entire year of service. Most of these accounts are serviced weekly for half the year and bi-weekly the other half. They pay the same monthly fee all year. I am busting my butt during the hot part of the summer and also cleaning leaves in the fall. So, it is not fair on me If I service a property form June-December, and they drop me in January. I want to include a clause that if they cancel before one full year od service then they have to pay one month's payment as an early termination penalty. I have only had this problem one time, but I don't want to see it happen again. I tell them up front that if you are not happy with my service that is one thing, but you should know after a few weeks of service if you are happy or not. Don't wait until the hard work is over to decide you don't want my services. That is the only thing I could see a contract helping with. If they are paying per visit, then a contract is pointless.

Exact Rototilling
12-13-2007, 05:55 PM
".... snip ....... If they are paying per visit, then a contract is pointless.excellent post in it's entirety - point well taken. All my services this last season were pay on the spot or pay ahead. Well meaning honest people can get behind on bills or forget to pay you so having something in writing is a great asset.

Personally I hate any sort of contract including my cell phone. I immediately think of eagle talons or meat hooks. I'm still using my original cell phone and they can keep the free phone upgrade for a 2 year contract.

So . . . for LCO purposes I'm thinking of using different language such as a courtesy agreement or something less or NON threatening for the independent minded free spirits such as myself who actually pay their bills. Any suggestions?

HBLandscaping
12-13-2007, 06:14 PM
All my "Contracts" Say "Lawn Care Agreement" "Snow Removal Agreement" on them not contract

Whitey4
12-13-2007, 07:26 PM
I agree with this....I have only had one signed contract in five years and it was a industrial account. When you deal with big commercial stuff they want things in writing and signed for legal reasons.
The best thing you can do with all other accounts is have an agreement as stated above. This clarifies your position and what is expected of you, and also gives the customer some comfort in knowing what they can expect from you. Maybe have a place for a signature, but only to acknowledge that they received this info. I am in the process of creating such a document now, and hope to start handing them out next year. I am covering everything from when payment is expected, late fees, locked gate policy, proper communication, damage to customer property, and how to cancel service, and lots more stuff.

The one thing I am considering is some type of signed agreement for monthly paying customers (this is the only type of customers I am loking for now). The problem I run into is that when I price a job at a monthly rate, I am giving an "average price" so to speak for the entire year of service. Most of these accounts are serviced weekly for half the year and bi-weekly the other half. They pay the same monthly fee all year. I am busting my butt during the hot part of the summer and also cleaning leaves in the fall. So, it is not fair on me If I service a property form June-December, and they drop me in January. I want to include a clause that if they cancel before one full year od service then they have to pay one month's payment as an early termination penalty. I have only had this problem one time, but I don't want to see it happen again. I tell them up front that if you are not happy with my service that is one thing, but you should know after a few weeks of service if you are happy or not. Don't wait until the hard work is over to decide you don't want my services. That is the only thing I could see a contract helping with. If they are paying per visit, then a contract is pointless.

You bring up a very good point here. I am introducing some changes this year which I hope most of my customers will go with. Being in zone 7b, the honest truth is that it's better for the lawn to be cut every 5 to 6 days in the spring, but only every 9 to 10 days in the dog days of August.

My new agreement plan is to charge monthly, do more frequent mowing in the spring, and less during the summer. Now, how do I protect myself from cancellations? I will add a clause that says if you cancel on me before the expiration of the agreement, the billing reverts to a "per visit" charge. What it does is protect me for work done, and makes it a bit expensive to cancel.

Not sure how folks will respond to that, and I will still offer the old once a week on this day service for those who don't like it. The customers that I have I suspect will go with it.... they are happy with my service and will go with it, especailly after I explain the old "don't cut more than 1/3rd of the height of the grass" thing, and explain why it's better for the lawn.

Sure, I'll be humping out in the spring, but can take some days off in the 95 degree heat later on. The new agreement, more or less, is a sort of cancellation charge, but not really.... after all, I will revert to a "charge per visit" billing mechanism.

Sundancekid74
12-13-2007, 10:38 PM
Contracts... The nice thing about contracts is that they are legally binding wich means if the client forfeits on their bill, you as the contractor could file a lien on there home/property as a means of attaining payment. Another benefit: in time of drought... Consider: insurance is required in order to write contracts. As the contractor you are responsible under contract for employee liability and so forth. Insurance for a lawn care company in my domain runs $600.00 per year. ????: does your contract account for these additional expenses? good luck.

landscaper22
12-13-2007, 11:41 PM
I am not against contracts. I just know that many people do not want to sign them, including myself. I hate to miss out on good accounts only because I required a signed contract, and the customer is uneasy about it. I still have everything in writing. I keep a copy of everything I give the customer. Signed contracts offer the best protection, but what I do is the next best thing. If I really start having a lot of problems, I may consider contracts for everyone. But, in my area things are real relaxed. You can still trust most people. And LCOs have an advantage...We know where our customers live....