View Full Version : Subbing with landscapers

09-01-2008, 11:05 PM
OK, I only do the chems... I have spoken with a few landscapers who were interested in using my service as a sub for their company.

Anyone do much of this?

Any suggestions and things to look out for?

How do you set up a "deal" with them. How do you work out the billing and money type stuff?

09-02-2008, 12:24 AM
I give them a 25% discount but they do the selling and billing. I get paid on completion.

pinto n mwr
09-02-2008, 12:25 AM
it's the only thing i do

09-02-2008, 01:05 AM
First, make sure they're quality scapers. Learned the hard way just how bad AND dishonest some of these guys can be. Nothing like tying YOUR reputation to that of a scam artist in a skidsteer.

I give no deals, but work with a company here I trust. He's got a ton of my cards, and I've got a ton of his. He gets all my landscaping work, and he refers me for the maintenance and chems.

Subbing would be nice, though - because then you get to avoid all the billing and deadbeats. :D

09-02-2008, 01:34 AM
First discuss all of the details. I mean all of them.

This by no means is a complete list but will help you get the ball rolling

1) How many accounts do you have
2) What is the average length of you accounts
3) How many new accounts did you add this year
4) Go into great detail explaining what services you promised your customers
5) What exactly is your program, how many steps, when do you start
6) Make sure and get this answered how exactly did you explain it to the customer that you handle weed kill, what exactly defines a call back, how you handle call backs, and on....

There are other things discuss billing and payment and get a contract signed. The two companies I work for understand that I bill for all services on the first of the month and they have until the 30th to pay or services are suspended. One contractor I get 80% of the app price. The other contractor I quote all prices and then pay them 20% for their end. I hope this helps.


09-02-2008, 05:53 PM
I'm sure you guys are gonna jump on me for saying this but my experience has been that other landscapers (maintenance, installation, etc.) are the worst payers I've got. They typically take 60 to 90 days to pay and that's with me hounding them on a weekly basis. The other downside is that when they owe money... it's not just 50 bucks, it's typically hundreds of dollars.
I've got one guy who still owes me 750 bucks. He's a great guy and I know he'll pay but it's put a real strain on our working relationship.

I would also suggest "setting expectations" very clearly with other companies as they often expect that 1 to 2 treatments will eliminate all weeds. I've got one company that calls me whenever they've supremely pissed off a customer. Usually I have to calm down the customer when I arrive at the site before doing a treatment, then I have to explain to the customer that I'll need a few treatments to get the lawn back on the right track.

I've therefore decided to stop doing sub work for other landscapers beginning Jan 2009.

My suggestion is to ask him to refer you and you service the customer directly. That way you can begin developing a relationship with the customer and don't risk losing the business if the guy you're subbing for loses the account:)

ted putnam
09-02-2008, 06:09 PM
I'll 2nd that! What RCA suggested is exactly how I handle it. I know I've missed out on business because of it,(persons, businesses,associations that want to deal with one entity instead three) but I've been "burned" so many times it's not funny. And, with materials being the price they are these days, I'd much rather use those materials to treat a sure enough paying customer than having to chase down someone to get paid. It just works better for me all the way around.

09-02-2008, 07:56 PM
IVE BEEN burned by a couple scrapers over the years, and its hard not to let
that sour me towards the lot of them. But, there are infact, some
well educated, professional, legit landscapers out there. ive started a habit
of asking friends, associates, suppliers etc.. about potential new customers.
It really is a small world, and every one seems to know everyone. Ive recieved alot
of good feedback that has helped me.
and i really appreciate some of my business relationships with some great landscapers.
the mutual relationship can really benefit both parties.

I give NO discounts period. however, i usually will take care of the landcapers
own lawn free- if im their main man and we have a good relationship

do your homework and never ever get in deeper than one round of apps
b4 payment.

09-03-2008, 08:07 PM
Everyone is right on with the pros and cons of being a sub-contractor. There are opportunities to make good money with the right landscape company. We currently work for two large companies and do a fair amount of work for them. They have been great customers. They pay on time and also will refer work to us. We have, however dealt with nightmare companies in the past. They were slow to pay and some expected next day service. I would like to share a story that will I hope keep you all on your toes when doing sub work. We were hired by a large landscape company to do all their lawn fertilizing. Things when great for a while. We did the work and we got paid. Good deal right? Wrong! After we worked for this company for about a year and half I got the phone call from the owner to stop all applications until he authorized any more work. No explanation was given other than his customers were not paying him and he was not going to service them until they paid up. That was fine. We stopped. It was not until the owner killed himself that the truth came out. He had been accumulating large gambling debts and doing drugs. To support his addictions he billed customers for work that was never done. Mail fraud. All I can say is be real careful who you work for. Sub-contracting gives control to the company that you work for. You may never know what is going on .

turf hokie
09-03-2008, 08:33 PM
just want to reinforce what is being said. Especially with the slow economy.

Be careful, and make sure you know the guys that you are doing work for.

Sub-contracting is a great way to grow a business, but it can be difficult.
we do ALOT of sub work. and I can say I WISH I only had to fight of $750. I fight over 5,10,15 grand. And no dont think those guys are into me for more than one round.

Quote of the week:"I am waiting on some checks to come in"
Quote of the day:"We just dont have any money to pay you right now."

We will not stop subcontracting, we do too much of it. But we may start asking for deposits up front. This way I am at least not out of pocket for materials/labor if they are slow paying.

09-04-2008, 05:49 AM
I take referrals from other landscapers. But I will not be a subcontractor providing my monthly program. You all illustrated why that is a bad idea. I do make exceptions as far as one time treatments where I define the terms of the warranty.

09-04-2008, 07:13 AM
We do some cross referral work with local landscapers and it has worked out well. This season we did a sub job for a landscaper. I paid two guys time and a half to come in on a Saturday and power seed a fertilize a large property for a local landscaper. After several calls and invoices requesting payment we had to refer his account to a collection agency. As of now we still have not been paid over $2000. We will no longer do any sub work without a 50% deposit up front. On this job we lost close to $1000.00 out of pocket.

ted putnam
09-04-2008, 09:42 AM
2.5 gal jug of Glyphosate...$80. Spraying his lawn at midnight, driving by over the next 2 weeks watching it slowly die...Priceless!

09-04-2008, 10:37 AM
2.5 gal jug of Glyphosate...$80. Spraying his lawn at midnight, driving by over the next 2 weeks watching it slowly die...Priceless!

thats what i am talking about....or a pipe works good also....

09-04-2008, 12:32 PM
Will not be a sub for scapers ever again.
They will jack your price so they can make money off a little paperwork or jack it up so high you don't get the work.

If you get the work, the scaper doesn't get paid for 30-60 days, especially commercial, then they feel they have the right to hold your money for 30-60 days longer.

If their is a problem with the turf the scaper tries to tell the customer what the problem is, which he usually is clueless about or he would be doing the work himself. If he doesn't try to solve the problem then they call you, you explain it to the scaper and then they TRY and explain it to the customer.

If the scaper never pays you then you have to go over their head, to the customer, and explain the situation and hope they fire the scaper and his huge contract. That is the best way to get revenge.

09-04-2008, 11:56 PM
I've been mowing a 'scapers home lawn for 5 years now. He owes me $7,500 but I had him install a $5,000 paver patio in my back yard last year. Now I'm saving up for a 2nd koi pond.

Another guy owed me $500 this spring. I had him mulch a few jobs and replace a few trees. Now I owe him $.

09-07-2008, 09:30 AM
I have a friend that does a good amount of sub chem for scapers. First thing out of his mouth, yup I can be out this week, what credit card do you want to pre pay that on?

Or he asks the landscaper what do you want to mark it up? So say 20% on a 100.00 account. My buddy will make the contract with the homeowner for $120 and then cut a check back to the landscaper for the 20.00

09-07-2008, 02:12 PM
About 30% of our workis as a sub to mow guys or maintenance types.
Usually price so they can markup 20%.
Been burned twice because they went under.
Never let them get more than one treatment ahead of payment.
We offer free customer service and enable them to sell themselves as full servive companys.