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View Full Version : Do most you guys have contracts


GreenHor7
02-11-2008, 09:33 PM
Do most of you guys have contracts for your customers to sign?

Newby08
02-11-2008, 09:54 PM
how could you not have a contract? If you have a program going you need to keep it going all year other wise its bad for you and the customer. Am I right in my theory?

Newby08
02-11-2008, 09:56 PM
..........

ted putnam
02-11-2008, 10:13 PM
I have no contract. I never have and never will. There's no need. My results speak for themselves. The customers see improvement after each application. Besides, peoples lives change. People move, divorce/split up, people die. Why would I want to make someone pay for the rest of a year under those circumstances? 98% of the customers I lose are for one of those 3 reasons. For me, there's no reason to have a contract.

Newby08
02-11-2008, 10:26 PM
I'm not going to hold anyone to the contract if something like that happens. I won't hold them to it if they can't afford it one month. It's just a way of me saying that I'll be there for them and they will be there for me. I really don't even pay much attention to it because like you said, if the customer likes you, they won't be going anywhere.
One place it does come in handy if you get some a**hole who wants to challenge you somewhere about price or schedule, etc then you have paperwork to fight them. But I've never had that happen and hope it never does.

The Newb (to chems, and I guess you could say landscaping)

treborie
02-11-2008, 10:33 PM
Here in New York its the law. me must have application contracts. Check with your state and follow the law.

Newby08
02-11-2008, 10:36 PM
really? the law makes you have a contract with your customers? thats new. Are you talking about commercial or you talking about both comm and residential?

If its a commercial account then you better bet your a** I'm going to have a contract. There's no other way to deal with those people.

rcreech
02-11-2008, 10:36 PM
I have no contract. I never have and never will. There's no need. My results speak for themselves. The customers see improvement after each application. Besides, peoples lives change. People move, divorce/split up, people die. Why would I want to make someone pay for the rest of a year under those circumstances? 98% of the customers I lose are for one of those 3 reasons. For me, there's no reason to have a contract.

TOTALLY AGREE!

I don't have a contract with any of my residential or commercials.

People hate contracts and so do I.

If you do good work you have nothing to worry about!

Whitey4
02-11-2008, 10:53 PM
I don't use a contract for my "service agreement", which is just a document to spell out what services I will provide. There is no place on it for the customer to sign... just a spot for me. Being an IPM LCO, I like to use it to have a mutual understanding with the customer.

However, like treborie said, for ANY pesticide app in NY, a signed contract is the law. It isn't a binding contract however. Any app on the contract can be cancelled, even verbally. We have to say when, what, target, retail price, etc. We have to keep these contracts on file for 3 years. When we report pesticide usage every year, we have to have contracts on file for any DEC audit. It's a silly requirement. You can just simply not do any particular app on the contract, and if a chinch bug problem comes up for instance, it's another contract with the same customer.

If a customer has a nut sedge breakout, I have to write a new contract for that app. What I don't like about it is that it has to be signed 48 hours before the app, and I have to say what chemical I will use. If they aren't a regular customer, they can turn around and tell their LCO what I was going to use. Then, they can cancel, and let him do the app.

New York has a lot of stupid laws.

Newby08
02-11-2008, 11:01 PM
LCO... what is that? I can't figure it out. I know IPM is Integrated Pest Management but what is LCO? Lawn Care ? I don't know, I'm just the Newb.

What if you had a contract that had every chem you ever use for anything? Then you beat the system and put down what you want when you want.

The Newb

humble1
02-11-2008, 11:08 PM
I have service agreements, cancelation can happen at any time in writting. I would rather be able to dump a bad customer than be contactually obligated to them. My service agreement spells out what im doing and when. It also spells out price and what i expect.

Newby08
02-11-2008, 11:11 PM
Maybe thats what I mean, service agreement, I'll make sure to change that, I might still have them sign it just to show that it was explained to them and they understood. Nothing binding. Then if I have employees later on selling for me there is already a form to leave a trail with.

Whitey4
02-11-2008, 11:17 PM
LCO... what is that? I can't figure it out. I know IPM is Integrated Pest Management but what is LCO? Lawn Care ? I don't know, I'm just the Newb.

What if you had a contract that had every chem you ever use for anything? Then you beat the system and put down what you want when you want.

The Newb

Lawn Care Operation. Lawn by NYS DEC definitions includes turf, shrubs and trees.

The customer has to sign the contract. His name, phone number, address. So does the applicator. C number, pesticide reg number, etc. How many customers would sign 30 contracts? Every year? And then be obligated to notify me of a cancellation? Or sign a contract that would have not only 30 apps, but violate maximum application rates for just about every chemical out there, which would cause me to lose my certification?

I will use a standard apps contract. Spring pre-M, blanket weed control in June, spot spray in July-Aug, grub control in Aug, and a winter weed app in the fall. Any other problems that come up will require a new, seperate contract. There is no work around.

ted putnam
02-11-2008, 11:19 PM
I have service agreements, cancelation can happen at any time in writting. I would rather be able to dump a bad customer than be contactually obligated to them. My service agreement spells out what im doing and when. It also spells out price and what i expect.

Honestly, to me, the only truly bad customer is one who doesn't pay. I drop them like a bad habit. I give them all the when, where, how and what price when I give them their estimate. It's really pretty simple, I don't do the next app if they don't pay. No strings attached. I think it works out best for both parties. For the most part, the results keep them paying. Them paying keeps me coming back.

Newby08
02-11-2008, 11:22 PM
true that...

hey whitley, it was worth a shot right?

humble1
02-11-2008, 11:32 PM
Honestly, to me, the only truly bad customer is one who doesn't pay. I drop them like a bad habit. I give them all the when, where, how and what price when I give them their estimate. It's really pretty simple, I don't do the next app if they don't pay. No strings attached. I think it works out best for both parties. For the most part, the results keep them paying. Them paying keeps me coming back.

Do you take pre pays for the season? I would feel a little nervous pre paying my oil company w/ out a contract, especially if i give cash. My agreement is a form of a contract i just say service agreement people are uneasy about being locked in w/ a contract. I still specify all my services and chemicals used. I have a more detailed service record on the day of application, i leave a copy. It has customer info and address, start finish time, date, weather condition, temp, wind speed, direction, what product, epa number, trade name, active ingredient, application rate per 1000 sq ft. amount of product used, amount of liquid used, where i left my lawn posting on property, and special instructions.

Whitey4
02-11-2008, 11:36 PM
Honestly, to me, the only truly bad customer is one who doesn't pay. I drop them like a bad habit. I give them all the when, where, how and what price when I give them their estimate. It's really pretty simple, I don't do the next app if they don't pay. No strings attached. I think it works out best for both parties. For the most part, the results keep them paying. Them paying keeps me coming back.

Ted, if you supply a written quote, that's a service agreement. It says "here's what I'm gonna do, and here's what it's gonna cost". Being an LCO, I offer many services. I have the customer check off "Y" or "N" next to each service I offer. Then when he complains I didn't do the pruning, I show him he didn't want it. He put an "N" in his hand next to that service. The spot next to it when I quote my prices is blank. End of disagreement.

Now, with repeat long term customers, sure, you have a history. You both know what to expect. With a new customer, as an LCO, there better be something in writing to CYA. We offer so many services, it has to be in writing, even if it's not binding, which it isn't. You won't have to discuss whether or not you agreed to weed and cultivate the beds every week. Different animal.

Newb, I haven't even told you about the wonderful "Neighbor Notification Act" we have on Long Island. That one is a REAL winner.

Newby08
02-11-2008, 11:36 PM
never, if they prepay and something goes wrong you better have that money with you to give back, I just don't like the idea. I had one guy back with my maintenance company try to pay me for a full year at once and skip out on taxes... but I just don't like the idea. What happens if you have to charge more for something else? to many probs can come about.

Newby08
02-11-2008, 11:38 PM
I think I'll just stick to Ga... maybe it will be a while before all that crap makes it this far south.

ted putnam
02-11-2008, 11:51 PM
Do you take pre pays for the season? I would feel a little nervous pre paying my oil company w/ out a contract, especially if i give cash. My agreement is a form of a contract i just say service agreement people are uneasy about being locked in w/ a contract. I still specify all my services and chemicals used. I have a more detailed service record on the day of application, i leave a copy. It has customer info and address, start finish time, date, weather condition, temp, wind speed, direction, what product, epa number, trade name, active ingredient, application rate per 1000 sq ft. amount of product used, amount of liquid used, where i left my lawn posting on property, and special instructions.

I do accept prepays. I offer a discount for this. Nobody is required to do it. If they were nervous about writing the check, they've never given me a phone call or left a little sticky note telling me they were! My invoice has most of the information yours has on it as well. Most of my business is by referral. New customers usually know of me and my reputation well before I ever get a call from them. In this area, they are usually seeking me out...not the other way around... It's just a different situation here, hard to explain to someone who's not from this area.

verant
02-12-2008, 12:11 AM
i don't do contracts, but then i'm just a college student who runs my business during the summer and then drives back and fourth during spring and fall from college on the weekends to work. It's been really tough at times, but worth it. let's just say, i don't even have time to eat on those weekends, haha. My customers like my work and my personable personality, so they stick with me. I've never had a customer move to a different lawn care business. plus, around where i live, i think residential customers would shy away from contracts. i just send them a bill at the end of the month for the number of times i mowed and the total charge. but, then again, this business isn't my lively hood. i'll be selling by biz in four years when im done with college.

Rayholio
02-12-2008, 12:55 AM
I do have a contract, and it is INVALUABLE.

My contract can be cancelled at any time, with 10 days written notice. (I do accept cancellations over the phone) It lays out intrest charges, explains that service continues from year to year, and that the program may change slightly at any time to adapt to weather etc.

I accept pre-payments, and my contract makes it clear that we do not offer refunds for cancelled services.. only account credits.

my contract has a few other important functions. but it is not sinister, and the customers realize that as soon as they read about the 'cancel at any time' part.

It has saved me money in multiple ways, multiple times.

If you don't have a contract it will cost you money.

rcreech
02-12-2008, 07:50 AM
I do accept prepays. I offer a discount for this. Nobody is required to do it. If they were nervous about writing the check, they've never given me a phone call or left a little sticky note telling me they were! My invoice has most of the information yours has on it as well. Most of my business is by referral. New customers usually know of me and my reputation well before I ever get a call from them. In this area, they are usually seeking me out...not the other way around... It's just a different situation here, hard to explain to someone who's not from this area.

Funny! Same here! I have the same type of customer pickup.

I can't believe the people I get calling me! Had 8 calls last week when it got in the 50's. So far got 7 out of 8 and still have to call the other.

Make's me question if I need to raise my prices again?:laugh:

And the customers you pick up like this a VERY LOYAL!

jrc lawncare
02-12-2008, 08:36 AM
Here in New York its the law. me must have application contracts. Check with your state and follow the law. True there. Many regulations here, I think Dec does it to justify there position. At recertification classes last week, some rules are changing. As in, ( take notice, NY guys) you must have label copy on your person when doing application. Not in the truck, but on your person. WTF!!!. They are stupid.

garydale
02-12-2008, 10:17 AM
We do not use contracts.
Remember a contract binds you as well as the client.

After 12 years I find that our personal relationships with clients and working with them keeps them loyal.

RigglePLC
02-12-2008, 12:34 PM
I learned at Tru Green--no contract--automatic renewal in spring. A letter explains it and offers 5 percent discount.

Newby08
02-12-2008, 12:35 PM
do what? if they don't have a contract they get a 5% dicount the next year?