View Full Version : Nothing like this has ever happened to me until yesterday

06-03-2003, 07:55 AM
I picked up a nice little $1000 job to plant 15 perennials,fert and apply Snapshot to beds, and install mulch. Maybe 2 yds of mulch at the most. I met with the customers a month ago we hit it off great they said no prob with price we came highly reccomended. I wrote up the price on a business card and gave it to them, and I wrote the job info on my work order pad. They were word of mouth potential customers from a long time customer of mine. I arrived at job yesterday and got 90% of plants(took me 45 minutes) in the ground when the customer came around the corner and said" I called to cancel the work last week, WE SOLD THE HOUSE." She then asked if I got the message. I said with a little sarcasm no I dont think I would have been here if I did. I beleive she called but somehow it never got to me. Whether the answering machine lost power or somthing I dont know. I explained to her when she hired me I met face to face with her and that in the future she should not leave a phone message to cancel work that has already been scheduled. I then said this never happened to me before and she said things like this happened all the time to them(her husband and her)I removed the plant material from the job and caught up with my other crew to finish the day. I put a positive spin on it to keep optimistic : I could have completed the whole job. Oh well no lesson learned(maybe get voice mail instead of machine) I guess in 15 years of bussiness somthing like this is bound to happen.-Harry

06-03-2003, 11:23 AM
Please don't take offense to this, but, if you last spoke to the customer a month ago, I think it is your responsibility to call them prior to the install to confirm that they are still interested in the job. I also get a 50% deposit upon acceptance of the bid. Then if they want to cancel they will make more of an effort to contact you since you have their money.

Green Pastures
06-03-2003, 01:48 PM
Here again is another prime example where a signed contract would have saved you some time.

Think about how much more aggressive a customer would be to cancel a job they had signed a contract for. I'm pretty sure it would warrant ore than one phone call, and a message left on an answering machine.

06-03-2003, 05:57 PM
I take no offence to anything said and I usually do get a contract and 50%down, if it is a nonreffered customer and if it was anymore$$$ I definately would have. I could have and should have called though. Thanks Harry

06-03-2003, 08:25 PM
Those things used to happen to me but no mpre. No matter who its for always have it in writing. Always get 50% up front... so that its harder for them to change their minds.

No matter who it is!

06-03-2003, 10:54 PM
When I get a call for work, I meet with the customer, face to face and have them show me everything they want done. The request is written on an estimate worksheet that I use for every job. I then write up a proposal on the computer and mail the customer a copy. I put on the bottom " a 50% deposit is requested at the time of customer approval". When I get the money I add them to the work list and tell them about when the work will get down. I sometimes call the day before to verify. I found that by getting a deposit from the customer, they will stick top what we talked about.

06-04-2003, 11:10 PM
Oh well no lesson learned(maybe get voice mail instead of machine)

BIG lesson learned! Get a SIGNED contract and a deposit... NO MATTER WHO THEY ARE! Business is business, no matter who refers them. In N.Y.S. ANY job performed by a licensed contractor without a written contract is a $650.00 fine.

Lesson 2 is ALWAYS get a deposit. At least enough to cover materials. :cool:

John from OH
06-05-2003, 09:56 AM
HarryO, this sounds like a rookie mistake, not a mistake that someone with 15 years of experience would make. Your profile lists 22 years in business.

Communication with the customer is imperitive in this industry. We always let a customer know when we will be perfoming the work. and calling them several days in advance to review what will be done. This puts the client on the same page as us. It's also good to make sure the customer doesn't have anything planned for the time you will be on the property, such as a party, yard sale, etc..

06-05-2003, 10:28 PM
With all due respect to all giving me advice:I think it is a no brainer that I should have got a deposit(As I usually do), and contacted the person with scheduled start time, (as I usually do). But this one was done with a verbal and a hand shake. Will I do it again? yes. Not with large jobs but small-I can absorb the loss-of 45 minutes(even the time I lost loading the truck up(15 minutes)and if I add all the time it would have taken to write contracts for all the small jobs in the past 15 years I did , it would be in the neihbor hood of days(and I am quick). So I am ahead of the game. Will I continue to do some business with a handshake. Sure. But I do appreciate your input-Harry

06-06-2003, 07:59 AM
I still think no matter how small the job or who the work is for you should still have it in writing.

Even if its written on a napkin and signed. I think people will take advantage of your trust otherwise.

Maybe I'm too extreme about it...but I've been taken advantage of in the past...

06-06-2003, 12:16 PM
Maybe I'm too extreme about it...but I've been taken advantage of in the past...

I agree with you. My very first job after I got licensed and bonded (not too long ago) was mowing about an acre of very tall grass with my tractor. I have an hourly work agreement that I use for hourly jobs. I mentioned this to the homeowner and she said "we don't need that, I trust you, you can trust me". Well I bought that line of BS. I cut her grass while she was away. Later I received a voice mail from her complaining that I left some ruts in areas that were soft and that she was very upset. (I had told her that would happen, but that's another story). I called her back to offer to fix the damage and couldn't get her to return my calls. Seems to me she was just trying to get something for nothing. Live and learn. Now everyone gets a signed agreement, even for just an hour of weeding, that explains exactly what will be done and how much it will cost.

06-13-2003, 08:46 PM
I'm veering off a little course but I learned about the in writing thing the hard way a while ago. I am more careful these days to be a SPECIFIC as possible so that it is not really open to interpretation by the customer.

Why do they always come out at the end and ask when are you going to finish this or could you do that. It sounds silly but I spell it out to the ridiculous in most matters just to have ammo if it ever comes down nasty.

06-13-2003, 10:59 PM
It probably is open to debate whether to go the legalism extreme of always getting a signed contract.

For me, I lean closer that way for installs, rarely for pruning.

We used to loose so much time getting signatures for pruning work, then noticed there was never one no-pay or problem in a year.

But we do call 99% of our customers one or two days before coming out to confirm the matter.

In Oregon, a signed contract is required for installation above $500 worth of labor and material.

We always take 100% of expenses down + 5% to 10% of labor.

So far since 1988, we have never had a no-pay for about 2000 projects of every sort. That's why I laugh so hard when people call us to inquire about handling our collections.

Paradise Landscapes
06-17-2003, 12:42 AM
I Make sure that I do get a Deposit for matterial, all if possible and a signed contract. without both, I would have been burned all the time.

If I don't get both, I won't do the work. This keeps me safe.;)

06-20-2003, 01:21 PM
Well, it looks as if you have had enough advice and have learned you lesson! ;)

I have a similar story, I HAD some acquaintances that just bought a big house in Annapolis and they needed some work done. I walked around with the husband on a sunday afternoon and he told me his ideas and I gave him my ideas. At the time, I suppose I considered us friends, and I really cut him a deal. I showed up the following day with my partner, to find a note on his mailbox telling me he had changed his mind because they needed to fix their furnace. Ok, that's cool. He told me to cut down about a dozen matchstick pines that were screening the front of the house wchich was the first step in opening up the landscape and really framing the home out nicely. I did the work for the prie quoted, then I got a call from his WIFE that evening telling me that I had no right to do the work and to neot expect to get paid for it.

Ok, that isn't going to happen. I told this woman that her husband left me a note (didn't even bother to call) on the mailbox (might not have even seen it) and I read her the note which clearly stated to cut down these 12 trees for $300 bucks.

She was out of town at the time and said she'd send me a check.

I was calm and collected, knowing i was in the right, and told her that I was going to talk to the husband and maybe we could arrange a schedule the following spring to finish the work.

She said she didn't think it would be a good idea if I spoke to him because he doesn't deal with stuff like this very well.

Mind you, she called me that evening, not him.

Needless to day, that was last september and we have not spoken since then.

Oh, they also slung my name throught the mud to a couple of our mutual friends (who know better than to believe her) One of which I am bidding a job for tonight.

lesson learned?