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Cutters Lawn Care
01-08-2004, 05:26 PM
I currently have 9 Arby's. They will not sign a contract. Their district office will not let them sign any vendor contracts at all. The problem is that they keep asking me to do things that's not included in their monthly maintenance for not additional charge. I tell them that this isn't included and it will be x amount of dollars for me to do it and they get pissed. Example one store has 2 dead florida maple that they want me to cut down. I say no problem it will be x. One store wants me to make 2 new flower beds for annuals and not pay a dime more. What would you guys do to handle this. Don't really want to lose them it's about 28,000 per year.

DFW Area Landscaper
01-08-2004, 05:48 PM
Somewhere, there's a decision maker who's in charge of maintaining those nine Arbys' landscapes. I'd find that person. Explain that you value their business, but the freebies have got to start being paid for.

It sounds like a misunderstanding to me. You are thinking the $28K covers this, but not that and they are thinking the $28K covers this and that. If they won't agree to a signed contract, and if they continue to require freebie services, I'd consider finding new accounts and dropping them.

You need to talk to that decision maker. Make it clear that the agreement is between you and him/her, not between you and 9 store managers and 18 assistant managers.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Cutters Lawn Care
01-08-2004, 06:33 PM
I totally agree that 28k isn't worth it. The problem is that I am dealing with 2 area supervisors. They are both arrogant. And have no clue about anything about landscapes. If someone comes along and beats my price by $10 per month they'll call me and say we are swithching because they are cheaper. I ask them if the other lco carried any insurance and are liscensed. They will call back in about 2 days and say they are staying because the other lco didn't have either. They say the work is excellent but they are always looking for ways to say money.

FrankenScagMachines
01-08-2004, 06:43 PM
Originally posted by Cutters Lawn Care
I totally agree that 28k isn't worth it. ....they are always looking for ways to save money.

$28k is alot of money but obviously you wouldn't mind losing them. If they're so much of a pain they're not worth $28k a year, dump them! I'd hate to lose that much but you can't be expected to do extras free and I don't like the lack of contract.

PaulJ
01-08-2004, 06:45 PM
If it's the district office saying they can't sign then talk to the district office. And If they still wont' sing then At least meet with the manage of each location and explain in writing what is and what is not included n the regular service price. Also see if the district office will back yo up on this. Or raise the price accordingly to cover the extras.
I think a talk with the decision makers is the best route.

Mustang
01-08-2004, 06:46 PM
Go in there for lunch. Order a burger. Have them ring you up. Then tell them you want a soda, fries, and whatever dessert they have. When they ask for more money, get pissed and ask why.

Cutters Lawn Care
01-08-2004, 06:47 PM
thanks for advice

DFW Area Landscaper
01-08-2004, 07:05 PM
OK. You're dealing with two decision makers, so really and truly, no one is in charge. That's not a good situation.

They've already attempted to drop you for a cheaper LCO once, they're likely to do it again. Next time, the competing LCO may be insured. And they're not bound to a term of service either, because they refused to sign a contract.

You made a mistake in not insisting on a signed contract that clearly outlined what is and what is not included.

I won't do anything without a written contract ever again. Period.

My advice: $28K is too much to walk away from, at least it would be for me. I'd start adding customers and working extra hours to service the Arby's and the new accounts. Once you get to the point where you've got no time left, I'd drop em.

On the other hand, if you aren't anywhere near a full schedule, you might have to put up with this for a while and hope no one with insurance under bids you.

Along the same lines, if I've learned one thing about this business in my first year it's that you make money by contracting with your customers. Knowing how to contract isn't easy or automatic either. I had to learn from some pretty big mistakes. I'm still learning. But you make good money by contracting with clients. Not by working hard and doing good work. My opinion, for what it's worth.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

Cutters Lawn Care
01-08-2004, 07:13 PM
Thanks DFW

Cutters Lawn Care
01-08-2004, 07:24 PM
DFW I totally agree about the contracts. I see we have been in business the same amount of time. What are some tips you have about getting customers to sign contracts? Do you do residential and commercial? I am only gonna do contracts this year also. I have learned a huge lesson my first year in business.

nelbuts
01-08-2004, 08:16 PM
The district office can sign the contract that will cover all the stores. If they won't then start looking quickly. Then drop them like a rock.

Runner
01-10-2004, 01:13 PM
EVERYTHING is done by proposal. If they want a tree cut down, draw a proposal up for them, give it to them, and tell them as soon as you recieve a signed copy, you can start the work. Not a minute sooner. This is the way you run YOUR business. Do NOT let THEM litigate how your business is run. There is no way that you can tell me, that when the Coke guy comes and delivers the Coke, that an invoice isn't signed upon delivery. Nor, can you tell me that when the Coke guy comes and fixes a pop machine, that an invoice isn't signed. Same goes with things like if they have plumbing repaired, or a light changed in the parking lot. Don't let these people give you the buck-passing runaround just because you're "the lawn guy".

alpine692003
01-10-2004, 02:36 PM
DFW Landscaper: I just wanted to say good advice, I've been following your responses.

You were of great help to me and others, just wanted to say thanks and appreciate your responses!

Kelly's Landscaping
01-10-2004, 03:39 PM
Youíve given some broad numbers so let me get a few specifics.

How many lawn cuts are you doing for them per year?

What if anything do you provide outside of cutting their lawns?

I ask this because I run numbers and youíre making more then 3 grand a year per Arby's. I realize your season is longer then mine but even at 40 cuts itís like 77 per cut so there must be more to this then lawns. Do your fertilize them? Do you mulch? Do you trim their shrubs?

I have an Exxon that has like 4 shall we say very tan idiots that speak something I donít understand that all think their in charge and I'm constantly in the middle of this the right hand doesnít know what the left foot did. They are beyond cheap and I think Iím dumping them this spring.

Id be interested in knowing just how many hours you do work to make the 28,000. You also now are in a off time of year it may be worth taking the time to draw up a contract just for Arby's which states what you do and what would cost extra. You now have an idea what they want for extra so add that into the contract. Have both of your arrogant DMs sign it. And I would do this as well have them in that contract authorize by name who can authorize more work at each location if anyone. If they do not allow their store managers to book work then you no longer need to listen to extra requests. Problem solved Iím sorry sir but your boss has requested he approve of all extra projects please have him call me.

I use to do 3 car dealerships these things suck and wouldnít wish them on anyone main roads zero parking on the road zero parking in the lots they are dealerships so you would have to park in other businesses and hope you didnít get yelled at or worse. I found early morning to be a very good time. The problem I had was we had the owner we would never see then the GM he was authorized but every little piss ant sales person thought they could authorize work and it wasnít the kind you would want 1-4 hour weed wacking jobs in the back lots between brand new cars. My advice to you is find out who can give you orders and who can NOT.

Cutters Lawn Care
01-10-2004, 04:00 PM
Yes each Arby's includes 6 fertilizings per year. This includes hedges and all pruning. Mulch and seasonal color are not included. I know exactly what you saying about the tan idiots. I had one gas station when I started out. For the maintence on lawn I was charging $65 per visit. I couldn't get them to sign a agreement. When we got finished he Mgr. came out and handed me $22. He said $65 was to high and $22 was a fair price. I told him if he didn't give me the rest of money I was gonna take a chain and hook it to my truck and pull out his pumps. He got the idea and gave me the rest of my money. I haven't even thought of going back. I think this year he only had his grass cut twice.

mtdman
01-10-2004, 07:17 PM
I briefly had 3 McDonalds in the area a few years back. Besides the fact they wouldn't pay me, I had a huge problem with the District manager guy that we dealt with. He talked to me like I was one of his employees, and expected me to jump when he said jump. I very much disliked that and I agree with what Runner said, operate your business on your terms. Don't let them dictate to you how to do business.

That 28k loss would hurt though. It's definitely a conundrum.

Good luck.

proenterprises
01-10-2004, 07:24 PM
you run your biz by yoru own standards. let these people know that yoru the one setting the limits here. under no circumstances shoud lyou be obligated to be bending over backwards to hand out freebies to them.

if they want more than whats inculded in the weekly cutting for X dollars...then they can pay X dollars per addtional task.

dont let them shove you around.

TotalCareSolutions
01-10-2004, 07:25 PM
Do you blow the lot? Do you service them over the winter? If so your @ 30-33 visits/ around $300 month each, and that aint too bad. These Arby's are not that big...

Sounds like you are learning a lesson....

Runner has the best approach with the proposals. Let them know that is the way you run your organization. You dont have to be a hard a$$, simply let them know. And have some handy that can quickly be filled in upon a request.

thill
01-10-2004, 08:14 PM
Cutter,

We had a similar situation with a small group of hotels. They had a corporate structure that seemed to get in the way of anyone having authority to do thier own job.

We got around it by providing a written Statement of Work (SOW) for regularly scheduled services. We listed each service to be performed on each scheduled visit (it varied with the time of season).

We then listed the number of scheduled visits for each month.

We then added a phrase that indicated other services would be promptly performed upon agreement of the price and terms of payment.

BTW - we did an individual SOW for each site and indicated the site manager's name at the top of the statement.

It worked and we have even picked up additional sites since then.

$28K is a big chunk of coin no matter how long you have been in the business.

Good luck

Tom

Cutters Lawn Care
01-10-2004, 08:24 PM
TotalCare yes we blow lot. I'm way west of atlanta and the arby's have much bigger properties than in city. We service them weekly april-oct and biweekly nov-march. I called a LCO out of atlanta yesterday who does 50 metro atlanta arby's. He said he has the same problem. They won't sign a contract with him either and he has been working with them for 10 years. He does all the landscape installs for the new arby's built in the metro atlanta area. The problem is that these are all franchised units. One company owns about 95 in the metro atlanta area. The guy i spoke with said he has had problems with supervisors also. They seem to come in and out so often and don't really have any structure that seems to last. He said as long as i keep them i will always have this problem.

Kelly's Landscaping
01-11-2004, 12:02 AM
Thankfully I dont see them being a problem for me ever I only know of one Arby's in my entire state guess their not to popular up here.

JimLewis
01-13-2004, 05:20 AM
Well, my response to this is probably going to be different than everyone else's. But that's okay. I usually think outside the box.

How'd I handle it? Ditch them and go land 17 new residential accounts. $28,000 per year isn't really all THAT much. I could make that same yearly income from just 17 residential accounts all paying an avg. of $140 per month. And I wouldn't have all of my eggs in one basket worrying about losing them all at once.

But that's just my opinion. :D