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DFW Area Landscaper
01-11-2004, 12:31 PM
I think I've finished re-writing my residential contract for '04. To be perfectly honest, I'm running out of room on 8.5 X 11, but there is one last thing I was considering.

I know that a lot of LCO's require some sort of clean up fee for customers whose service is suspended for non-pay and then re-instated.

How important is it to have that in the contract? I almost never charge new customers any kind of 'clean-up' fee or anything like that.

Just need advice on this issue.

Thanks,
DFW Area Landscaper

proenterprises
01-11-2004, 12:47 PM
well..put it this way. if joe schmo has been a good customer all june..and then in the beggining of JUly decides to stop paying you. Then you suspend his services for the next 4 cuts..he deicded to get his act together and pay you again.

Thus, you are coming back and having to cut 4 weeks of grass, doubel the time and the mess. I would absolutley charge a cleanup fee for that...more time=more money.

brentsawyer
01-11-2004, 01:01 PM
If anyone were to come in on the previous scenario and not charge an additional fee for cleanup, they'd be a fool, commmercial or residential. Unless they really needed the work. Basically I'd charge an hourly fee because you couldn't apply x times amount for suspended unless you knew that you'd cover yourself then cou would be charging the same for 1 weeks cleanup vs. 4 wks cleanup. Did this last year for someone and didn't give an estimate at all just told them $90/hour for the two of us which about put them into shock but it was a real small lawn and 22 min later we done and out of there. Only way to do it IMO is to charge what you normally get + additional for wear and tear since cutting 2' high grass is more strain on your machine than 5"of grass.

quiet
01-11-2004, 01:21 PM
Isn't suspension of services for non-payment really termination of the contract? If so, then why is a restart clause necessary? And if the customer has shown a history of non-payment, why would you want to continue with the old contract that allowed this situation in the first place?

Restarting with a problem payer is your decision, but at that point, you should seriously consider changing payment terms. And you certainly don't want to clean-up 4 weeks worth of neglect and wait for your money again; again, why go back to the original contractual arragement? Re-write one just for this customer.

But for all your other clients, why write contracts that appear so restrictive or penalty laden you scare them off?

Pecker
01-11-2004, 01:21 PM
If I have to suspend services because of late or non-payment, when/if I come back, the price goes up unless I was already getting top dollar, and a special fee applies if it is overgrown (and I don't torture my equipment; if it requires more than my ztr is comfortable with, they'll have to pay for me to rent a 2wheel tractor). Otherwise its not worth the risk of not getting paid or having to chase your money, kind of the same way "credit" works. Also, if a payment is missed, I don't set foot on the property again until I'm paid in full. The longer you let somebody keep your money, the harder it is to get it.

DFW Area Landscaper
01-11-2004, 01:50 PM
++++Isn't suspension of services for non-payment really termination of the contract? If so, then why is a restart clause necessary?++++

Actually, that's what I was thinking too. If they pay up and want to resume service, then I'll just ask them to sign off on an appropriate clean up charge at that time.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

DFW Area Landscaper
01-11-2004, 01:54 PM
++++But for all your other clients, why write contracts that appear so restrictive or penalty laden you scare them off?++++

For my new customers in '04, my new contract is very penalty ridden. From what I've seen, less than 20% of my customers read the contract anyway. They just want to know where to sign.

If they do read my contract and see my late fees, they shouldn't be alarmed, assuming they plan to pay on time.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

DFW Area Landscaper
01-11-2004, 02:05 PM
Then again, it may be better to have everything in writing up front.

Here's the new verbiage on my contract from the payments and service termination portion:

Customer agrees to pay applicable sales & use taxes on all landscaping work. Meierís Landscape Maintenance will invoice customer for service once per month. Customer agrees to pay each invoice within 23 days of the billing date. A late fee of $29.00 will be added to customerís account each time that payment is not made by the due date. A finance charge of 2% per month will also be added to all past due balances. Service may be terminated if payment becomes more than 15 days past due and a restart fee of twice the normal mowing amount will be charged if service is re-instated. Customer will pay any additional collection costs incurred by Meierís Landscape Maintenance. If account is unreasonably past due, but not turned over to an independent collection service or attorney, a fee of $75 will be charged to send each certified mailing and a fee of $450 will be charged if the matter goes to small claims court...these fees are in addition to actual costs. Customer agrees to pay $25 for each check that is returned NSF. Either party may cancel this contract at any time without cause by providing ten days written notice of intent to cancel.

I figure twice the normal charge for a cut ought to be enough, on average.

Later,
DFW Area Landscaper

olderthandirt
01-11-2004, 02:34 PM
Change the last part to read
"Either party may cancel this contract at any time WITH cause by providing ten days written notice of intent to cancel." This will make it more difficult to replace you if they just get a lower price. You would have to really screw up and it give you a few days to correct problems.

Mac

DFW Area Landscaper
01-11-2004, 06:06 PM
Olderthandirt,

++++Change the last part to read "Either party may cancel this contract at any time WITH cause by providing ten days written notice of intent to cancel." This will make it more difficult to replace you if they just get a lower price. You would have to really screw up and it give you a few days to correct problems.++++

This is my residential service agreement. The few home owners who do take the time to actually read my service agreement are specifically concerned about not being bound to a term. If the customer must have cause to cancel, wouldn't you need a term of say 6 or 12 months?

So far, people cancelling because they find a cheaper service hasn't been a problem. People not paying...now that's been a totally opposite story.

So you tie your residentials down to a term? How hard is it to close the sale on that? I've considered creating a place for a term on my residential contracts, and possibly letting them out if they lose their source of income or if they sell their home.

Thanks,
DFW Area Lanscaper

olderthandirt
01-11-2004, 08:16 PM
With cause means they can cancel you but they need a cause besides they found someone cheaper, and yes you would need a term but the term could be anything you decide to make it -30 day, 6 months, 12 months. Its not hard to sell them on it as long as they have an out. The out being lose of work etc as you said. IT just gives you time to replace them on your schedule, AND make sure it says ALL MONIES DUE ARE TO BE PAID AT END OF SERVICE!


Mac

bobbygedd
01-11-2004, 08:29 PM
we don't have a restart fee. but, it works like this. if u are a "pay per cut client", you are behind on your payments, we dont "cancel" service, we "suspend" service, which means we are optimistic of straitening the situation out. now, we suspend your service june first for example, and the last week in june you get on track, you must pay for every week that we were scheduled to cut, but couldn't because you were suspended. so they would owe any back money due, plus june 7th, 14th, 21st.