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View Full Version : What is this customer saying???


jeffh1988
10-28-2004, 09:55 PM
I go to do a mow and leaf cleanup the other day for the best customer i have. Never had any problem with him paying or anything else and he is always happy with my service. Well I show up and mow and cleanup the leaves and before i leave he starts talking to me about things he wants done. Here is the list.
1. Dig out 30 sq. feet of monkey grass
2. plant ten new shrubs
3. bring in topsoil to fill some holes and to put in some beds
4. fix his irrigation...15 broken heads...none were my fault :)
5. trim all bushes and mulch all beds
6. transplant 13 shrubs
7. till a new bed
+ a couple of other small things
Well after discussing all of these items he said i have got to go and that was that. Never mentioned a price or nothing.

So a week later i was going to have a 5 day weekend from school and decided i would do all of this work then. I go to talk to him and he wasn't home but i talked to his wife and i hinted for her to tell me something as far as what they are willing to pay and she wouldn't really tell me anything.

A couple days later i caught up with him and tryed to talk price with him but he acted like he didn't care what the price was he just wanted it done. So i take this as he wants the best of everything as far as parts, shrubs, etc. and he dosen't care what it cost. He is a very nice person who is a lawyer that has a hand in many other things like realestate and other buissnesses so its not like he dosen't have the money.

What do i do he won't give me a straight answer and its a couple days before i have to roundup everything i need.

Sorry for being so long i tend to ramble if you couldn't tell.

The LawnSmith
10-28-2004, 09:57 PM
Write up an invoice for services requested before you do it.

Turf Medic
10-28-2004, 09:59 PM
If you don't want to be here in a couple of weeks telling how your best customer ripped you off. Take a few minutes, type up a list of what you intend to do, put the pricing on it, make two copies, take it to him have him sign it in the spot marked approved by, give him a copy, keep the one with the signature on it. It's real easy for someone to not care what it costs until the job is done, and people with a lot of money didn't get that way by throwing it around. cover your butt.

out4now
10-28-2004, 09:59 PM
Write up invoice like said priced at best parts adn see if that will let you break even if you only get half the money. Then ask for half up front for materials.

out4now
10-28-2004, 10:00 PM
And do what Turf Medic suggested as well. Get it signed!

jeffh1988
10-28-2004, 10:04 PM
ok i think that is what i will do but here is a new question. How do you price this i know how to price mulch and trimming bushes but this will be first irrigation. Do i price by hour since there is such a variety of tasks or do i do the best i can estimating what i think it is worth.

One guy i have talked to said you get the price of parts and double it which all the parts will end up being around 700 dollars.

On the comment of getting half upfront i have no problem footing the bill upfront and he prefers to receive all of his bills at the end of the month.

pjslawncare/landscap
10-28-2004, 10:05 PM
Definately write up a proposal! List all the services you mentioned above and estemate the prices for each. Have him look it over and sing it in agreement. If you dont know the exact prices, state in proposal "these are estimates, actual costs may vary". If u dont do this or something like this, he may not be your best customer for vary long.

Mo Green
10-28-2004, 10:05 PM
Write a Propsal. In this proposal, list all of the things he wants done and how much each will cost in itemized form. Request that he sign it to approved the work. Tell him that this is how you do business with large orders. You said he was a lawyer right? Then he of all peaple should understand.

Always CYA ( cover your a$$ ).

lampeslawnservice
10-28-2004, 10:07 PM
Make sure to get an estimate apprive by him signed saying he will pay 20 days from completion of work. Trust me, he's a lawyer he will try to screw you if you don't, I don't care how nice he is. Been there, done that.

jeffh1988
10-28-2004, 10:20 PM
thanks for all the advice.

also another question i hear everyone say price upon what you think you are worth...Even though i am younger than most of my competition i do as good or better work than most of them... and feel i am worth as much as they charge. I have run across a couple other jobs where i gave a price based upon the going rate of proffessional lco's in my area and felt i was worth it and usually charge a few dollars less because i am younger and have less experience but was uncomfortable with the price. Some of this is due to me being afraid argument i think because i am an easy going person. I guess i just need to stand up and hold my ground with these people who think becasue i am 16 i work for 5 bucks and hour. Now that is BS and i don't work for anyone like that any more. I am rambling again i guess my point is i am intemidated by my own price that i am giving to customers. I think if i was in their shoes i am not sure i would pay 600 bucks for mulch and bushes which i guess i am not rich and i can mulch my yard myself...i don' know if anyone will see my point but do you??? :rolleyes:

out4now
10-28-2004, 10:23 PM
Respect yourself or they sure won't. If you do good work and they don't want to pay for it then on to next customer. Don't undercut yourself.

Avery
10-28-2004, 10:28 PM
Very simple. Get a signed contract before you begin any work.

lampeslawnservice
10-28-2004, 10:55 PM
16 or 60 the equipment still costs the same. Last I checked they don't give senior discount at the equipment stores. Experience, now that may be worth something, but what you lack in experiance you can make up in strength.

Lawn-Scapes
10-28-2004, 11:06 PM
Are you a licensed & insured landscape & irrigation contractor? Most of the tasks you described... you would need to be. Maybe you should tell the lawyer to find someone else that is....

EastProLawn
10-28-2004, 11:20 PM
A) Do the work and give him an honest priced invoice

or

B) Give him an written estimate before performing any work...

boxoffire
10-28-2004, 11:35 PM
Watch out, good point by Lawn Scapes previously. If he's a lawyer he could set you up big time. However, no idea of your relationship and you would probably know if that could be a possiblity better than any of us. And you feeling weird asking alot is probably fairly normal, as I'm new to it and I kinda know what you mean. We are both somewhat inexperienced so that's why. But let me say this. If you do this for a living one day, you won't second guess or feel "bad" about asking your deserving asking price to put food on your table. You are way young.... You sound like you are doing fine. Good luck to ya. :drinkup: Oops, don't do that yet, sorry! LOL....

cutnedge
10-29-2004, 12:11 AM
In representing you as a hired attorney he could probably care a less about what you thought of his fees. However, these would have been discussed up front. As others have posted, present him with a detailed list of your services being provided and have it signed.

Try to be confident in your proposals. It sounds as though you take pride in your work. Charge accordingly. payup

PLM-1
10-29-2004, 01:58 AM
having him sign the proposal isn't gonna do you any good. #1 you are 16 so the contract isn't legally binding #2 HE'S A LAWYER and he know this. you still may get screwed i would probably pass on the job

lawnworker
10-29-2004, 08:44 AM
Joplin, thats a good point. You have to be 18 to sign a legally binding agreement. Jeff can one of your parents sign for you?

On the other side of things, How many people are out to screw over a 16 year old trying to make some $$$ ?

pfifla1
10-29-2004, 09:15 AM
if i have customers like that, i ALWAYS charge the same price, its always fair, and they are always fine with paying it. i rarely give prices ahead of hand because sometimes a job is hard for me to estimate the total cost of parts, espcially if there is some unexpcted stuff, i know this goes against all your advice, but in 4 years it hasnt caused me one problem. i think if its fair and you know him to be a good client i'd do it.

PLM-1
10-29-2004, 12:36 PM
Joplin, thats a good point. You have to be 18 to sign a legally binding agreement. Jeff can one of your parents sign for you?

On the other side of things, How many people are out to screw over a 16 year old trying to make some $$$ ?

You never know tho...there are all kinds of people out there. :dizzy:

Runner
10-29-2004, 01:54 PM
The part about this contract being not legally binding is untrue. If you give him the proposal, and he agrees to the terms, and the work is performed in a wormanlike manner, He IS obligated to pay. The way a contract is not legall y bound by a minor, is that the minor cannot be held legally responsible for any unpaid debt. Any civil judge would award him the money if it was to ever go to court. The work is done. If this was the case, people would be able to rip off paperboys, babysitters, and all other kind of "after school" workers and employees.
Now, as was mentioned before, check your local and state regulations. You may or may not be able to service the irrigation. You may only be able to do parts of it, and/or it already being installed may or may not weigh into it. As far as just changing the heads, you are not doing anything with the electrical, plumbing and/or water supply, so you may be alright...kind of like changing bulbs in already existing landscape lighting.
Also, the part about taking the material cost and doubling it is a crock. If you are putting in 16 yards of shredded Cedar, should you make less than if you were putting in 16 yards of Walnut? If you were installing a 30x40 patio of New York Blue, should you make less by installing something cheaper? Also, you have to take into account, much of this work is not having to do with new product TO "double the price on". The transplants are a completely different thing. I CAN tell you this, though. It is generally a somewhat rule of thumb, that price for delivery and installation of many plants is 1/2 the RETAIL cost of the plant, So, if you take the 1/2 the cost of the plant, to install it in a certain location, and add it to 1/2 the cost to dig it up (replaces the delivery), you can just about take the cost of the plant (do some research) and have your transplant price. Don't let this (or the customer) decieve you by saying. "Well, for that much, I can just buy new." Yes, they can, but they still have the other plants where they may not have wanted them, and they still have plants that need to get from the store and properly placed in the ground.
Now, ALSO take into account, that you will be transplanting "DIRT" out of one hole and into the other to fill the old space. This may even include the sod that needs to be saved if it's done in turf areas. I hope this helps.

PROCUT1
10-29-2004, 02:06 PM
HMM So if i go to a retail nursery and pay 50 for a plant, as a rule of thumb I could charge 100 including the install.

So if i go to the wholesale nursery and pay 25 for that plant, (usually is half the price between wholsale and retail) then i double that and get 50 for the job?

So if i pay through the ass for the plant = I get more money to install it?

Runner
10-29-2004, 02:14 PM
LOL!!! Well, the trick is, is to not pay that much. You always buy wholesale. Also, it is not double the price, it is 1/2 the price for delivery and install. example; A 5 ft. Blue Spruce will run approx. $20 per ft. $100. for the tree, and $50, for delivery and install. Now mind you, there are some variations. Some plants are more fragile, some plants are not as easily accessable ( if you have to drive 50 miles for something, then obviously you have to make that up in price), etc.. Also, you CHARGE the retail price. That is what they wouild pay. If you want to pass the wholesale savings (or part of) down to the customer, then that's ok too, I guess.

LCME
10-29-2004, 02:44 PM
Customer is saying... this is my business not yours. Do not let others dictate what services/busingess you provide. You're a professional just like him. So, present an estimate and go over everything with the customer. If he agrees have him sign it!. If he doesn't have time to review you estimate then forget it. Let him find someone else to do the jobs. Good luck, LCME

PLM-1
10-29-2004, 03:12 PM
The part about this contract being not legally binding is untrue. If you give him the proposal, and he agrees to the terms, and the work is performed in a wormanlike manner, He IS obligated to pay. The way a contract is not legall y bound by a minor, is that the minor cannot be held legally responsible for any unpaid debt. Any civil judge would award him the money if it was to ever go to court. The work is done. If this was the case, people would be able to rip off paperboys, babysitters, and all other kind of "after school" workers and employees.
Now, as was mentioned before, check your local and state regulations. You may or may not be able to service the irrigation. You may only be able to do parts of it, and/or it already being installed may or may not weigh into it. As far as just changing the heads, you are not doing anything with the electrical, plumbing and/or water supply, so you may be alright...kind of like changing bulbs in already existing landscape lighting.
Also, the part about taking the material cost and doubling it is a crock. If you are putting in 16 yards of shredded Cedar, should you make less than if you were putting in 16 yards of Walnut? If you were installing a 30x40 patio of New York Blue, should you make less by installing something cheaper? Also, you have to take into account, much of this work is not having to do with new product TO "double the price on". The transplants are a completely different thing. I CAN tell you this, though. It is generally a somewhat rule of thumb, that price for delivery and installation of many plants is 1/2 the RETAIL cost of the plant, So, if you take the 1/2 the cost of the plant, to install it in a certain location, and add it to 1/2 the cost to dig it up (replaces the delivery), you can just about take the cost of the plant (do some research) and have your transplant price. Don't let this (or the customer) decieve you by saying. "Well, for that much, I can just buy new." Yes, they can, but they still have the other plants where they may not have wanted them, and they still have plants that need to get from the store and properly placed in the ground.
Now, ALSO take into account, that you will be transplanting "DIRT" out of one hole and into the other to fill the old space. This may even include the sod that needs to be saved if it's done in turf areas. I hope this helps.


Not to start anything but you are incorrect. Minors cannot enter into any type of contract. If this was to go to court it would be dismissed. If he were to cause any damage either they couldn't sue him because he is a minor and they would have to sue his parents and prove negligence on their part.

Doh!
10-29-2004, 06:08 PM
o.k., I know you weren't trying to start something...but, a minor sure can enter into a contractual agreement.

The law says that minors are not usually bound by the terms of the contract; not that they can't enter into one. Also, subject to certain exceptions the contract is voidable at the option of the minor. An adult who enters into a contract with a minor, however, cannot avoid his or her contractual duties on the ground that the minor can do so.

So, back to the original thread, before you ever, ever, ever, start doing that muck work, agree on the terms in writing or you will get screwed.

jbell113
10-29-2004, 06:33 PM
If you don't want to be here in a couple of weeks telling how your best customer ripped you off. Take a few minutes, type up a list of what you intend to do, put the pricing on it, make two copies, take it to him have him sign it in the spot marked approved by, give him a copy, keep the one with the signature on it. It's real easy for someone to not care what it costs until the job is done, and people with a lot of money didn't get that way by throwing it around. cover your butt.
This is good advice but what about getting 50% of the money up front?

SCAG POWER
10-29-2004, 06:35 PM
You work for five dollars an hour. You can come to work for me i'll pay eight an hour with lunch.Raise the bar like now the work we do for other people is worth what ever VALUE you can build on it try 50.00 an hour if not there go for 35.00 and hour , your time is worth the price tag you put on it.

Bet your back side that Atty makes at least 100.00 dollars an hour or more, if can get 50.00 and hour that would be good.Also you mit just want to get a way from an hourly rate and learn how to charge by the job or work load.

bobbygedd
10-29-2004, 08:07 PM
you're about to get screwed. my customers are trained, every single sentance they say, starts with the words, "how much will it cost for you to...."

Runner
10-30-2004, 06:20 AM
You know what?....I am afraid that I may have mislead this individual on the advice that I gave him. Not on the contractual part, that is all true...if someone wants to do the research on civil law, they are more than welcome. I do have a degree in Criminal Justice PLUS credits, and many of the courses that I completed in school pertained to civil law. Like I say, if anyone doubts it, they are more than welcome to do the research...I'm not going to argue about the symantics of it. Our member "Doh!" kind of summed it up. This aspect of the conversation sort of diverted away from the cost part of the conversation.
Anyway, what is probably equally important because of the DURATION of this gentleman's career in this industry is the pricing. As I read back over my post, I see that I did mention that price for delivery and installation of many plants is 1/2 the RETAIL cost of the plant. I don't think that I emphasized that there are many variations to this, enough. This is actually the low end of the spectrum, and for existing customers that you want to hold on to and do great by, this can apply (but doesn't necessarily have to). Also, I said the double the price rule was a crock. I was out of line for saying this, and I appologize for it. I just took it as a hasty generalization, and really didn't think it through before answering. The truth is, many of times, the price WILL come to 2x the price of the stock. As a matter of fact, it can even exceed that. I don't want you to go out and lowball yourself. Those who do full landscape installations, like on new-build homes, will easily charge double the rates. Also (and many on the lanscape forum can help you on this), when you take the wholesale prices from a nursery, in many ways, you are on your own. If a tree dies in a year, it is your responsibility to cover the cost of replacement. However, when you pay retail, they will gladly cover this under warranty, no problem. I hope this helps, and I appologize for any confusion that may have come from this. Good luck with it, and I wish you the best.