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View Full Version : Why are people so uneasy about agreements?


Turf Professionals Inc.
08-17-2007, 11:58 AM
I keep getting calls from people that want their lawn maintained. I send them a nice letter that explains the cost of the services and attach an agreement (which is explained). No one wants to sign the agreement. The agreement is real simple. It simply gives a scope of work to be completed and states that the costumer agrees to pay me. If either party must cancel the agreement, it can be done by a written letter and in 14 days service will expire.
Most of these clients either dont want to sign the agreement or I have to go over the agreement with them for an hour or more before I get them to sign it.
What do you guys do about these situations.

Sammy
08-17-2007, 12:22 PM
Most people don't understand contracts.
They feel that they may be getting the Slick Willy sales.

STRINGALATION
08-17-2007, 12:46 PM
i have found ppl who wont sign are very poor customers and your contract does not allow flaky ness

Grn Mtn
08-17-2007, 01:05 PM
trust me, if they don't want to sign the contract, you don't want them - they will be a dead-beat payer. Not all mind you, some are just freaky but all the same.

topsites
08-17-2007, 01:09 PM
Several things that come to mind...

I find those customers who try to take advantage of me do it whether I put it in writing or verbal, doesn't seem to phase or slow up their day at all. For myself I found verbal works best, I also find to each their own, you have to do what works for you, neither is necessarily better or easier than the other, both have their perks and dis's.

What they said, I myself am verbal but also find that 9 out of 10 just don't make for a good customer, I suspect your written agreement does the cherry picking for you, either way this is most likely par for the course. The other thing you might do is have a friend read your contract, both to himself and back to you, perhaps there are some rough spots you might find?

Now if that doesn't work out, the written thing may not be for you, you might try verbal agreements but here again it's not really easier, I'd be for reviewing the contract for a bit, seeing how you've already went that far.

brucec
08-17-2007, 01:12 PM
I explain mine as a service agreement, it even says service agreement at the top. I think most people shy away from contracts. I explain all it does is explain in writing what is expected from me and what is expected from them. I haven't had any problems yet. I also agree if they won't sign one you don't want them, unless they pay up front!!! Hope it helps.

xpnd
08-17-2007, 01:33 PM
trust me, if they don't want to sign the contract, you don't want them - they will be a dead-beat payer. Not all mind you, some are just freaky but all the same.

I've been running service agreements for over ten years. If a potential client is uncomfortable to back a verbal promise with their signature, I do not want them in my client base. Yes it eliminates quite a few customers but those that sign the service agreement pay promptly. Within a week of sending invoices it takes me that long to cash checks if I don't want to stay in the bank for a hour. My service agreement is quite inclusive. If your gate is locked, an area obstructed or aggressive dogs and an area can not be cut, there is no discount and there will be an additional $30.00 fee to cut what we missed if you want us to come back that week. If we damage your sprinkler system that is your problem. It was either installed incorrectly or the head was worn out and needed to be replaced as normal home maint. When light bulbs burn out, you can't get a free one on exchange and so it is for sprinkler heads. My phone only rings for new clients, not ones whining about some trivial problem.

My business works hard for the money the first time. If I have to work hard the second time, I like to have the clients signature for small claims court. My default is near "0". I have several liens on properties and eventually get paid a lot more than what they owed me to begin with.

The service agreement is a filter. I use it to push deadbeat customers to services without one.

Turf Professionals Inc.
08-17-2007, 01:36 PM
It is my understanding, that here in the state of Florida, it is illegal for a Landcape Contractor to have a contract with a residential customer. My agreements says "agreement" at the top. I never use the word "contract"

grandview (2006)
08-17-2007, 02:41 PM
I use the word Proposal for my paper work and have them sign it never really a problem. Your right on the word "contract" it sounds permanent .

SimonCX
08-17-2007, 02:53 PM
I have been using a service agrement for a couple years now, in that time I only had one person who didn't want to sign it. Most people don't even hestiate to sign it.

Vikings
08-17-2007, 03:05 PM
Maybe its the "in writing" clause they don't like. I know that at the Better Business Bureau, soon as you phone them and say, 'I would like to file a complaint', they interrupt you and say 'all complaints must be in writing'. This stops most complaints dead in their tracks. (it stopped mine)

Or maybe your "Service Agreement" has the look and feel of a contract. A little to strict or binding.. lawyer speak etc.

Damian
08-17-2007, 06:33 PM
If I were the customer, I wouldn't like the cancellation having to be in writing and then having to put up with whatever 14 days of service entails. Who's to say you get the mail at all or in time and the service doesn't extend longer than 14 days? Remember, they don't know you any better than you know them...

Skyking
08-17-2007, 09:38 PM
It is my understanding, that here in the state of Florida, it is illegal for a Landcape Contractor to have a contract with a residential customer. My agreements says "agreement" at the top. I never use the word "contract"

I have never heard that. I have a service agreement and it also has the 14 day thing, but I tell people it can be canceled at anytime with just a phone call, But I steel have people not pay me.

lawnman_scott
08-17-2007, 11:34 PM
I keep getting calls from people that want their lawn maintained. I send them a nice letter that explains the cost of the services and attach an agreement (which is explained). No one wants to sign the agreement. The agreement is real simple. It simply gives a scope of work to be completed and states that the costumer agrees to pay me. If either party must cancel the agreement, it can be done by a written letter and in 14 days service will expire.
Most of these clients either dont want to sign the agreement or I have to go over the agreement with them for an hour or more before I get them to sign it.
What do you guys do about these situations.If its older people they are intimidated by it, and the others, well just sit at an intersection one day and look at all the lawn guys drivng around. Really look at them, and ask if you would sign an agreement with most of them. I charge in advance, that solves most anything you are wishing to accomplish.

Mrs. H
08-18-2007, 10:34 AM
i have found ppl who wont sign are very poor customers and your contract does not allow flaky ness

This is exactly what David and I have been working on. This year it has worked wonders. We've got one 90+ year old lady who didn't sign, well she had a good point...will she last longer than the contract...her words. But, really old people (over 70) in general grew up with handshake agreements and attach honor to them. Our society has moved away from that.

Now, I can't figure why anyone would automatically sign just about anything else (cell phone contracts for instance) but hesitate when it comes to service agreements for the Lawn Guy. And, most of you are right...they lose the ability to wiggle out of paying for services. We've had only a few not want to sign and we moved on. It sure beats wasting time trying to collect money you know you'll never see.

topsites
08-18-2007, 10:38 AM
But, really old people (over 70) in general grew up with handshake agreements and attach honor to them. Our society has moved away from that.

Whoa, you have moved away from that.

What do you do when someone doesn't pay, or is it that you just haven't had this happen?
Because I don't see black and white stopping someone, I really don't, it might slow a few of them down.
Then again if you're not a man of your word, there's no telling what's going on.

...........
other notes: I see now it isn't america that's selling out, but it is each individual who either stands up for themselves, or turns out as just another weak, spineless pos.

Man to somebody else's wife:
Say lady, would you have sex with me for 50,000 dollars?
Her: - WHY SURE!
Ok, so how's about 20 bucks?
- What? What kind of woman do you think I am?
Nevermind that, I'm just haggling at this point.

Mrs. H
08-18-2007, 12:02 PM
Whoa, you have moved away from that.

What do you do when someone doesn't pay, or is it that you just haven't had this happen?
Because I don't see black and white stopping someone, I really don't, it might slow a few of them down.
Then again if you're not a man of your word, there's no telling what's going on.



Ha ha ha! How many times has David came on here with a gripe about people who have "Shook on it" and then turned around and smuggly replied "I did no such thing!" (Both residential and commercial)

WE would love for everyone to keep their word, cause we plan on keeping ours. BUT, there are some who won't. David works his hind end off and walks away with a lot less than the agreed price...or nothing at all sometimes! Over a few years this adds up to thousands of lost money/time/product and we can't feed our family on that! And we can't spend our lives on their porch stoops, banging on the door only to have them say 6 months later "You didn't trim my bushes the way I wanted them done." In our contract, if you don't complain or dispute in 30 days, you pay.

Fact is...our (David's and Mine) generation X has no clue...and we have to protect our income and family. SAD SAD SAD but true. This summer, we went on a trip and was told that we couldn't use CASH to make a purchase! OUR GENERATION is different from the pre-WWII generation. I TRUST my 90 year old customers. I can't trust too many others. And they don't trust me for the same reasons...even though I wouldn't take advantage of them, and I am as fair as I can be in as many situations as possible .


p.s. I am a woman of my word.

JimLewis
08-18-2007, 10:21 PM
Why are homeowners hesitant to sign service agreements?

Well, I suppose there are three main reasons.

1) They don't want to be tied down. They want to be able to cancel service at any time, for any reason, with no notice. They don't want to be locked into paying you either. Not that they don't intend to pay. But they want the freedom to be able to say, "I am sorry. We are not happy with the quality of work that was done this month and we are not going to pay."

2) I think some people just don't get around to it. Perhaps if you met them in person and had them sign it on the spot, it would be an easier sell. I would bet that several of your customers probably don't have too much problem signing it. They just have busy lives and the mail got set aside in the corner and they forgot about it.

3) Much of your competition doesn't have service agreements. So they figure, "I'm not signing this crap. This guy either wants my money or he doesn't. If he is going to make me sign this thing before he starts work, then I'll just find another lawn guy who doesn't make me sign anything. There are plenty of lawn guys around here. So this guy can start mowing my lawn without this 'agreement' or I'll call one of the others.

Regardless, I realized long time ago that most homeowners (at least in my area) don't like service agreements. So I've never done them. We have maintained 170 residential accounts for several years and for 11 years now I've never made my customers sign an agreement. I don't think they are necessary. I know there are a lot of people here on Lawnsite who disagree. But I've done real well for many years without ever needing them.

ed2hess
08-18-2007, 11:14 PM
We use a the service agreement and apparently it has a lot to do with how you present it to the customers. We usually don't meet with customers but do everyting over email.....so they make a request we send them over the one page proposal and they send us a note indicated they accept it or we simply move on to the next potential customer. We ask them to sign the agreement and fax it over to us.....only a problem with 70 year old people and over. We never have a customer say i want you to mow but I am not agreeing with the document.