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Lurch01
01-29-2011, 08:15 PM
My self and my partner have a disagreement. He is the bank I am the labor and brains. So I tend to listen to him as he has the $$$,

We are just starting out our business and 20,000 door hangers a month will go out through June. We even are raffling off a Honda Civic after we reach X amount of accounts.

I like contracts, We can leave a cancel anytime with a 2 weeks written notice. He thinks they scare people off.

In the Houston, TX area we must compete against the illegalís form south of the border so I understand why he is concerned, but we can never begin to franchise out the business as we plan to if we don't have contracts.

Please tell me the pros and cons you have experienced. I have 7 days before 5000 door hangers go out. If I need to make changes, I need to do it fast.

Thanks

freshcut419
01-29-2011, 08:30 PM
My self and my partner have a disagreement. He is the bank I am the labor and brains. So I tend to listen to him as he has the $$$,

We are just starting out our business and 20,000 door hangers a month will go out through June. We even are raffling off a Honda Civic after we reach X amount of accounts.

I like contracts, We can leave a cancel anytime with a 2 weeks written notice. He thinks they scare people off.

In the Houston, TX area we must compete against the illegal’s form south of the border so I understand why he is concerned, but we can never begin to franchise out the business as we plan to if we don't have contracts.

Please tell me the pros and cons you have experienced. I have 7 days before 5000 door hangers go out. If I need to make changes, I need to do it fast.

Thanks

How will you be passing out 20,000 flyers per month? Are you mailing them ? Oh yeah I would pass on the contracts, If you are liked they will keep using you from year to year....

smokes
01-29-2011, 08:40 PM
No contracts!Unless your customers are stupid enough to sign them.Contracts are for suckers;don't treat your customers like suckers.Good luck to you and the business.

Lurch01
01-29-2011, 08:46 PM
How will you be passing out 20,000 flyers per month? Are you mailing them ? Oh yeah I would pass on the contracts, If you are liked they will keep using you from year to year....

My add says "Door Hangers", 20,000 door hangers. I have been putting out 15,000 a month for my Real Estate business for years. My average cost made and delivered is only .18 per door. In the area of Houston, TX where I live I can hang 4 hangers every minute with little problem.

Also if we have down time and no business guess what my crew will do? Hang door hangers.

a clear difference lawn
01-29-2011, 08:57 PM
If you have an "opt out in 2 weeks" clause for both parties - then what is really the point of having a contract? If I was a potential franchisee I would still consider the possibility that in 2 weeks all my business would be gone. I know the contacts will nider you getting business - I just fail to see how they could help. Not bashing you, just my opinion.

jlouki01
01-29-2011, 09:15 PM
To start with stop referring to them as contracts. Refer to them as a service agreement.

I wouldn't do one stem of work without an agreement signed. You don't have to put a clause in that sets a service term but you do want to specify your payment terms and the penalty for not following them.

So let's say you get 50 customers off your door hanger blitz. In 2012 how will you know who is renewing and who is not? How will gauge what your business is going to look like year to year without service agreements?

I'm not here to tell you to lock people in.. getting paid is important and knowing your work load from season to season is critical.

Anyone who tells you not to use some sort of written agreement is a JimBob.

oldclawn
01-29-2011, 10:07 PM
38 seasons and we've only had 5 contracts in all that time. A contract, as it relates to anything we do, is worth little more than your morning Charmin. Do good work. Be honorable in all you do---you might take a hit here and there--big deal.

Roger
01-29-2011, 10:18 PM
Lurch, what services are you offering? Are you primarily grass cutting, landscape install, trimming, or ????

Lurch01
01-29-2011, 10:29 PM
38 seasons and we've only had 5 contracts in all that time. A contract, as it relates to anything we do, is worth little more than your morning Charmin. Do good work. Be honorable in all you do---you might take a hit here and there--big deal.

Thanks, for the info.
38 Seasons, Yes i would say as that counts for some knowledge earned. I am great full

freshcut419
01-29-2011, 10:41 PM
My add says "Door Hangers", 20,000 door hangers. I have been putting out 15,000 a month for my Real Estate business for years. My average cost made and delivered is only .18 per door. In the area of Houston, TX where I live I can hang 4 hangers every minute with little problem.

Also if we have down time and no business guess what my crew will do? Hang door hangers.

I do well with "door hangers" here to. I would love to hang 20,000 per month. I only drive by and put them on mail boxes at the street so I can do alot in a few hrs. But 20,000 wow I'd go nuts doing that many.If I did my math right at 4 per min= 240 per hour would be 83 hrs to do 20,000 door hangers.That is still a cheap way to pick up new jobs. Your season must be starting to take off . I still have 8 weeks to go..Good luck this year

fireman gus
01-30-2011, 05:10 PM
We have Service Agreements with all our clients. The main reason: both parties know exactly what is expected. We know the work that is expected and the clients know exactly the price and method of payment. I have been in the business for 30 years and have had agreement forms from year 1 with NO problems.

quiet
01-30-2011, 05:27 PM
To start with stop referring to them as contracts. Refer to them as a service agreement.

I wouldn't do one stem of work without an agreement signed. You don't have to put a clause in that sets a service term but you do want to specify your payment terms and the penalty for not following them.

So let's say you get 50 customers off your door hanger blitz. In 2012 how will you know who is renewing and who is not? How will gauge what your business is going to look like year to year without service agreements?

I'm not here to tell you to lock people in.. getting paid is important and knowing your work load from season to season is critical.

Anyone who tells you not to use some sort of written agreement is a JimBob.


Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!

We have a winner! And you can present this in such a way explaining that it is to the customer's benefit that ensures them consistent, reliable service from a professional. And for you Northerners, we can work all year down here. Even though our lawns go dormant for Dec, Jan, and Feb, that's the perfect time to do the major trimming of bushes, and clean out of beds. Putting down mulch in 60 degree weather is nice profitable work.

parrlawncare
01-30-2011, 10:32 PM
I always shoot for the yearly service agreement to keep the bills paid during the winter, but I do have seasonal service agreements also that go until October and November if they don't have leaves or can't afford yealy service due to holidays, etc.

A little advice...always do a written service agreement if it's yearly or not. It covers both parties in case of a dispute. Also try to steer away from using the word "contract", they think they are getting into something that's going to tie them down. Service agreement with a 30 day written notice of cancellation is a good term.

I always bill at the first of the month for that month, I've heard good and bad about either way but that is how I do it. I know some guys that bill at the end of the month but have trouble getting paid.

BadRancher
01-30-2011, 10:55 PM
I'm not much on the contract, and I have not done them yet. I have had pretty good success, but a few failure to communicates I blame myself for. So this season I think I will not do a contract exactly, but an agreement stating I will be there every 2 weeks unless otherwise contacted and told not to, and to also give me a two week notice to cancel service. Its like a contract but I'm not locking them into a full season on paper.

johnsonslawnmanagement
01-30-2011, 11:09 PM
I don't see how any of you operate without contracts. I only have 2-3
yards that are NOT on contract, the other 30 are contracted. I do full maintenance on these contracts year round and get paid all 12 months. They range from $250 monthly to $2,700, so I know what I have coming in every month, how much time I have avaliable, and only take on jobs that fit into my schedule or if I need extra dough. It would be chaos trying to get customers to "agree" to let me service their lawn one week and then lose it to the Charlie Brown with the old Forrest Gump snapper the next. Contracts aleviate a lot of stress and worry for me and help me have a steady income through the off season. To each his own, but contracts are a must for mE
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Baytownlawncare
01-31-2011, 06:23 AM
I do service agreements and have a clause that says you must retain my services for 4 weeks and then you must give a 30 day notice by mail, email or phone. So basically I lock them in for 8 weeks for sure. I will not do any work with out a signed service agreement period. You have got to cover you butt.

Lurch01
02-01-2011, 12:58 AM
Ok, I spent a few hours writing and I have a pretty good "Lawn Service Agreement" Ready to go.:terribletowel:

DaytonBioLawns
02-01-2011, 01:18 AM
To start with stop referring to them as contracts. Refer to them as a service agreement.

I wouldn't do one stem of work without an agreement signed. You don't have to put a clause in that sets a service term but you do want to specify your payment terms and the penalty for not following them.

So let's say you get 50 customers off your door hanger blitz. In 2012 how will you know who is renewing and who is not? How will gauge what your business is going to look like year to year without service agreements?

I'm not here to tell you to lock people in.. getting paid is important and knowing your work load from season to season is critical.

Anyone who tells you not to use some sort of written agreement is a JimBob.

That is close to what I would say! Some of the best advice you will get.

Going without a service agreement (aka contract) does not get consent to do the service. You can be legally pursued for things like trespassing and public disturbance type violations without it. You are also giving them permission not to pay. You must record everything you do. Every contact you make with a client and what you talk to them about.

The only biz you can say "Contract" in is one that is a necessity service like power, gas, phone, ect is considered today. "Contract" scares people off.

The way mine read basically say "if we show up for service, you pay". That is because it costs me $60 just to get myself or my guys out on a trip if you are making a there and back trip (I know it doesn't mean I charge a $60 min. just that is what I have to bill for extra trips generally in any of our divisions). I tell my customers this right off of the bat. I tell them we will make a monthly schedule and prevent it to them. They can amend then as is with 24 hours fair notice. I don't penalize them if they tell us before we leave for their property....just say 24 hours... or else you will get a lot of traveling and no billing out.

Also make a hold harmless in there.... (talk to legal counsel! No one here can help you with a contract with legal term. that will hold up in court). Ummmm and put the terms of payment of course.

Just to ask.... Do you know the difference between a term and a condition in a service agreement? If you cannot instantly vocalize the answer to that question you need to study up on business workings. I'm not trying to be mean or hurtful with that, but it is very important to your business. Read a lot of books, talk to a lot of people!

Don't invest that kind of advertising until your business plan is all taken care of. It sounds like you have a good idea, but you need to polish your management and office portions.

Cutting grass, and sweating my @$$ off is the easiest thing I have done in this business since I was 16. It is about much more. it is about being punctual, tidy, and having THE BEST customer service. Anyone can cut grass. Develop the other details first and you will be on your way to a "Landscape Professional" position.

Roger
02-01-2011, 07:26 AM
.... "Contract" scares people off.

....

This must be the reason why wireless phone providers have hardly any customers. If Verizon, Sprint, AT&T would just change the name of their document, think how many more customers they would have. Their constant use of "contract" is scaring people off. I wonder if they know this...

Lurch01
02-01-2011, 11:04 AM
Again thanks to everyone, I have wanted a 'Service Agreement" from day one. My partner, the one with the deep pockets thinks they scare people away. Now I have a good argument for our meeting on Wednesday.

I am grateful to all.

ReddensLawnCare
02-01-2011, 11:25 AM
I have done both contracts (service agreements*trucewhiteflag*) and a pay per mow kind of program. I am personally moving toward all service agreements..on one side..it does scare some homeowners away from the idea, but on the other hand, it gives me some security. I do good work for my customers and I have a good rep in the area. My service agreements are for FULL SERVICE and nothing less. This agreement allows me to manage every aspect of the owners property. I hate having to work around tru green or scotts schedule. IT applies for one year and the customer can stop, but they have to give me a 30 day notice with reason or face a 2 month penalty. In my business, I have only had one customer cancel on me and that was due to financial hardship in which case I waived the penalty.
Service agreements are the way to go...amortize your cost for the year into 12 months and do a good job...there is always work to be done in this area..so i stay busy even when other guys are put up for the winter. Property owners and homeowners love to see results and hands on business...and face it..with a contract..you have a set schedule and everything is in writing so there is no confusion.. Hope that helps

DaytonBioLawns
02-01-2011, 12:54 PM
This must be the reason why wireless phone providers have hardly any customers. If Verizon, Sprint, AT&T would just change the name of their document, think how many more customers they would have. Their constant use of "contract" is scaring people off. I wonder if they know this...

I believe phone fits under the et cetera column if you read into that more. The phone companies know that you are going to have a phone just like the power company or gas company knows....so places like that can do it.......

Our services are "luxury" type services and you always are nice and mindful to a customer in our biz. If I yelled at a customer they would drop for sure....If I got yelled at on the phone by someone at the phone company they would just play ring around the supervisor and BS me, knowing I still have to use their service because they have the coverage....

It sucks. but that is how it is. and yes....call it a service agreement.

BadRancher
02-01-2011, 01:52 PM
This must be the reason why wireless phone providers have hardly any customers. If Verizon, Sprint, AT&T would just change the name of their document, think how many more customers they would have. Their constant use of "contract" is scaring people off. I wonder if they know this...
True, but there are incentives for signing a contract for cell phone service such as a cheaper phone or good rates on plans.
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ReddensLawnCare
02-01-2011, 02:13 PM
If you price the service agreement correctly..and if it is for full service..then the price is an incentive for my customers. It would be quite a bit more if I do it all separately and I let the owner of the property know.

MOturkey
02-01-2011, 04:28 PM
Perhaps off the topic of this thread, but you mentioned "raffling off" a car. I'm assuming you have checked into all the legalities involved? I don't know what you mean by the term "raffle", but I think in most areas it is illegal for anything but a non-profit to actually raffle anything.

If it is a drawing among your customers, then that usually has to be open to everyone to make it legal. You know, the old "no purchase required" clause you see all the time. Just thought I'd mention this.

Accu-cut Lawn Care
02-01-2011, 05:18 PM
Again thanks to everyone, I have wanted a 'Service Agreement" from day one. My partner, the one with the deep pockets thinks they scare people away. Now I have a good argument for our meeting on Wednesday.

I am grateful to all.

I have one question pertaining to you and your patner... Who is the top... and who's the bottom?

ReddensLawnCare
02-01-2011, 05:32 PM
and...there it is

starry night
02-01-2011, 08:54 PM
Perhaps off the topic of this thread, but you mentioned "raffling off" a car. I'm assuming you have checked into all the legalities involved? I don't know what you mean by the term "raffle", but I think in most areas it is illegal for anything but a non-profit to actually raffle anything.

If it is a drawing among your customers, then that usually has to be open to everyone to make it legal. You know, the old "no purchase required" clause you see all the time. Just thought I'd mention this.

I was wondering the same thing. Do you have an answer, Lurch?

ed2hess
02-01-2011, 09:02 PM
I do service agreements and have a clause that says you must retain my services for 4 weeks and then you must give a 30 day notice by mail, email or phone. So basically I lock them in for 8 weeks for sure. I will not do any work with out a signed service agreement period. You have got to cover you butt.

Cancellations might ought to be by email or mail, not phone. Nobody ever is locked to anything regardless of what you put in contract. Hard to get courts to make them pay especially if they cancel by mail.

lawnworker
02-01-2011, 10:12 PM
For those that put down a lot of mulch that is included in your contract, how do you prevent getting screwed by cancellation, when you are upside down in April ?

ReddensLawnCare
02-01-2011, 10:20 PM
In my contract, it states that labor to spread is included, material is extra..and i list the price at the bottom of the page. Typically i charge 50 per yard delivered and I make them prepay before I do the service. So if i was to do mulch in april, I add a line item to there bill at the end of March or February depending on what part of April I apply the mulch...I never buy extra materials without prepayment...it sets yourself up to loose...hope that helps

Big C
02-02-2011, 01:37 AM
For those that put down a lot of mulch that is included in your contract, how do you prevent getting screwed by cancellation, when you are upside down in April ?

Make the customer pay the mulch out in full at time of service....I will use my service agreements for routine weekly/bi-weekly service only

lawnworker
02-04-2011, 01:02 AM
Make the customer pay the mulch out in full at time of service....I will use my service agreements for routine weekly/bi-weekly service only

Yep, I agree with this. I have monthly contracts. I have not pushed them on people. If I get to that point, customers with lots of mulch will be billed outside of the contract/agreement. I am not getting the short end of the deal , if they quit early:nono:

hackitdown
02-04-2011, 10:16 AM
I don't use contracts, unless a customer wants one. But I put a lot into the proposal/quote email, and I ask that they respond via email to acknowledge the terms.

I try to make it easy to do business with me. Seven years of pretty smooth sailing without a contract.

BrunoT
02-06-2011, 01:21 AM
Dreams of raffling off cars(is that even legal with a for-profit?), franchising in the future(yet they don't even have the simple concept of service agreements nailed down...the whole idea of a franchise is to do all this for others who then pay you for your business expertise!), A "Deep pockets" partner who doesn't do a lick of work but probably wants half the profits (or more). Let's see, they front you $20 grand for equipment and marketing and want a cut of future cash flow woth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

They call that loansharking when it's done between strangers.

This has falling out between partners written all over it. Let us know how this goes in a couple of years.

ReddensLawnCare
02-06-2011, 10:32 AM
I want to suggest looking up some threads on here about getting to fast to quickly...think about them