Burned on Contracts??

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by fireshawn1175, Oct 30, 2002.

  1. fireshawn1175

    fireshawn1175 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 13

    I am just wondering if any of you have been burned by having contracts. I recently picked up two new customers and was just wondering how often people crap out on the contract about mid december when you come by every two weeks to look at their dormant grass. I have the whole payout clause in my contracts, but how can you tell if they are just trying to get out, or if they are really unhappy with the service? FYI--All of my older customers are on a schedule, but not a contract. I haven't had any problems this way but I decided to put all of my new customers on contracts to level out the cash flow during the winter. Thanks in advance for any comments.
     
  2. goodbeus

    goodbeus LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 392

    take them to court...that's what the contract is for, they should have thought about the possibilities of action if they terminated the contract...
     
  3. The Mowerdude

    The Mowerdude LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 372

    I've found, and I'd bet that most others have too, that folks are going to do what ever they want to do regardless of what they agreed to do in writing. And they mostly know that they can get away with it because they're willing to gamble that you won't have the stones or the financial fortitude to take them to court.

    A few years ago, I had a customer called me to redo the sod in her front yard. When I got there, I could see that the old sod had been so horribly botched that it was going to take at least $1000 of extra labor to remove the old and prepare the yard for new. I shrugged my shoulders and explained this to the lady. She said: "no problem, when can you start?"

    So we did the job and I made good money on it. But it bothered me that another LCO would leave a yard in such an obvious mess. I asked the customer why she hadn't taken any legal action. She said that the money amount was too small to make it worth while. She went on to explain all sorts of things about the legal system. And she finished by saying that if the dollar amount doesn't exceed $10,000, it can easily cost more in legal fees than one could recover. And she told me she's a lawyer.

    Now, I basically use contracts in an effort to screen out the deadbeats. But obviously, it doesn't always work. But, I find that if I present the contract at the close, I quickly find out how serious the customer is about doing business with me.
     
  4. bubble boy

    bubble boy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,020

    seems like an odd response from a lawyer.

    ontario small claims court costs $50 to file. no lawyer needed. amounts up to $6000. i've done it and won, have two cases pending now. but i use it as a last resort
     
  5. AGG Lawn Maintenance

    AGG Lawn Maintenance LawnSite Senior Member
    from Elberon
    Posts: 422

    Around my way it seems like the people with money are the fastest to try and beat you. To avoid that I give my current customers 10% off their monthly bill for any referals I sign. This works pretty good. I also have a lawyer who I give about a 1/3 of any money he recovers for me. I only use him if its about $500- up. The way I see it some recovered money better than none.
    I guy I know who has been in the business since 1965 got beat bad. The guy got him for about $17,000 on a landscape job. He put in stone walls,plants and sod. He always uses contracts. It turns out that the guy was just renting the house. He fled to FL. MY friend started ripping out trees, taking down walls etc. Hey can you be mad at him. Travis:cry: :blob2:
     
  6. bubble boy

    bubble boy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,020

    in biz since 65, tell me he got a deposit...
     
  7. MJM

    MJM LawnSite Member
    Posts: 48

    Fire,
    I think what you need to really spend your money on is a good contract lawyer. Write up your contract and show it to him. Bottom line, with the proper contract you can take anyone to court for $25, win your $25 and have THEM pay your lawyer fee's.

    You guys shouldnt be thinking about whether the dollar amount is worth going after. Every dollar is worth it because you earned it!! Get the right contracts and sleep well.

    Mark
     
  8. landscaper3

    landscaper3 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,354

    We do not do ANY!!!! work without a contract. We did the small claims thing but I had to be at court which even though my crews get work done without me im losing money at court, so we got set up with a collection agency and now they do ALL!!!! the chasing. If worded right in your contracts you will recieve 100% of money owed to you otherwise the collection ajency gets 30-40-percent. But still WELL WELL worth it!
     
  9. dmk395

    dmk395 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Ma
    Posts: 1,003

    Contracts while not always perfect give the client the feeling that the owner "might" take him to court.....that potential is often enough to make payment.
     
  10. Green Pastures

    Green Pastures LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,457

    I wont do work for my MOM without a contract. Never been burned.
     

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