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lawman
01-25-2001, 03:06 PM
How did you folks get your people to go with a seasonal contract. I would like to change my people over to a seasonal contract this year. I dont want to lose money when it gets hot out and they say the grass is not growing now so just come back in a few weeks. In that few weeks I may be put out of the game. Any help would be great.

kutnkru
01-25-2001, 04:16 PM
It's obvious that you have your customer's needs at heart, yet you still want to cover yourself for operating expenses without having to worry about going broke during the slower months.

We give our customers a "calendar" for when mowing services will be rendered. Then we divide the number of cuts by the length of our operational season (8 months). Each statement will reflect four cuttings according to their contract with no increase or hidden costs.

I would explain to your customers that because you view them as a partner in your business [because they "have the final word"] that you will be breaking down the number of cuts into monthly installments. This will provide you [the contarctor] with the necessary cash flow you will need to operate your business during all months of operation.

When we sign up a new customer or re-sign an old one we inform them that our billing will begin on the 15th of the month beginning in April and end on the 15th of November. Once again each statement will reflect four cuttings, plus other services rendered for that month (ie. fert, power raking, pruning/shearing etc.) according to their contract with no increase or hidden costs. This will allow them some time to plan for your billing.

If they are not willing to pay us on the 15th we then recommend someone else we feel will best suit their needs and wish them the best of luck.

Sometimes they will hire us again when they are not satisfied, and others are still happy with whom we have referred them to or someone else.

The bottom line is that if you are not in a postion to set aside financing for operating expenses for the summer months during the spring, then this is what you will HAVE to do to survive summer drought months.

Hope this helps.
Kris

kutnkru
01-25-2001, 04:21 PM
If you are going to be expanding your client base I would then ask the original clients if they would be interested in this billing "option".

For new clients it would have to be mandatory or you should refer them elsewhere so that "this" client doesn't put you under. I always refer customers to someone else so that they wont feel like I just slammed the door in their face {when actually we just shut it - same difference].

Remember that you too are taking on a gamble in getting paid with a new client. You can always offer them a 30 day money back guarantee so that they are not out the money either.

Kris

Skookum
01-25-2001, 05:08 PM
I have only had a few "Just Mowing" accounts that ever went with a seasonal contract and they were commercial accounts. Only residential accounts that I have ever had that had a fixed monthly payment based on a seasonal contract are always "Full Maintenance" accounts.

I have tried with every residential account I have ever signed up. I have even offered the rate based on 28-30 mowings when last few years we had gotten 30-32. Most homeowners just are afraid of paying for more mowings than what they actually get. Commercials are of course just like us as a business and like to have a known set price for budgeting.

I just have not had any luck in that area. I still offer it as a option with every new account, but they never take it.

cutting edge
01-25-2001, 05:44 PM
Here is what I am trying this year with my residentials. I offered them 3 options. The first one is on a pay per visit basis. The other two are 12 month proposals. One 12 month proposal is based on 22 visits with any additional visits charged on a per visit basis. The other 12 month proposal is based on 35 visits. Now here is where some of you may say I made a mistake. If at the end of the year the customer did not receive 35 visits I will refund them for each visit under 35. The catch is the credit will appear on next year's billing. If my projection of 35 visits is way off I will recalculate the next year based on the new info. This way I get a check every month and my customers don't feel like they are paying for more mowings than they get.

TJLC
01-25-2001, 06:08 PM
I have also tried to put people on yeary contracts and have failed. They just don't understand that all you are doing is taking 36 cuts per year, multiplying it by the per cut price and dividing by twelve.It will balance out. All they see is that in the winter months they are paying for 1, maybe 2 cuts per month at about 60 dollars per month. They don't realize that in the peak of the season they are getting 3-5 cuts per month for that same price. People seem to like even billig for their electric bills. Where is the difference? Maybe I'm missing something here. Thank God I have commerical accounts to help get me through the slow months!

(The cuts per year and the cost are based on down here, I'm sure these figures will vary per location)

awm
01-25-2001, 06:39 PM
Man it would help me a lot if i could get
residential contracts.It seems local folks
just dont look at mowing as a contract thing.
Around here there is heavy competition that
dont require contracts.Like i say i wish

kutnkru
01-25-2001, 07:04 PM
Our customers hadnt signed an agreement until they came on board with us. For us to do business thats how it was - NO EXCEPTIONS !!!

There are too many "fly-by-nite" outfits for me to worry about not getting paid. If they do not have the good faith in our abilities as contractors, then I sure as heal am not about to start mowing the grass for them.

We went to all our clients the second season in February and gave them an itemized estimate for what our services were going to cost that year.

I kept the form very simple:

Mowing - 32 cuts from 1 April to 1 December:
Bagged $_____ Dispersed $_____
Services to be renedered (_)bagged or (_)dispersed

Pruning/Shearing - cut to existing shape:
July $_____ September $_____
Services to be renedered (_)July or (_)September

***Aeration/Dethatching/Fert/Lime/Clean-Ups all followed suit.

I took two photostats with me to each clients house. They checked off what they wanted in ink and then I put it on mine in ink. Next we exchanged signatures.

I informed them that having this agreement for 32 cuts we would be billing for 4 cuts each month on the 15th. I also mentioned that any additional services would be on the statement according to our agreement for that particular month.

How i did it then and continue to do it today.
Kris