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Contract/ or Not

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by Pate, Jan 2, 2008.

  1. Pate

    Pate LawnSite Member
    Posts: 2

    Its a silly Question but do most of you guys like working Res. with or with out contracts? I'm trying this year to start a 12 month equal pay option as I have really only had the As needed or just reg scheduled mowings the past 4-5 yrs.

    Ive worked another job @ night while trying to get everything set up. I had my biggest yr in 07 and I'm ready to Go Full Time for myself. Any suggestions would be Greatly appreciated

    Nc - Pate
  2. B_gerrits

    B_gerrits LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 297

    I think that it depends on you and your market. If your customers will sign contracts then that is the way to go. If your customers don't want to sign contracts and want to stay on a per cut agreement I would charge more per cut. In other words offer a discount to those who will agree on a 12 month program with a contract. I have a few customers who only want 1 time a month service and I only take them if I really need the work. This is where it depends on your situation if you have enough customers that will sign contracts and losing the ones that won't isn't a big deal then you can require one or no work.
  3. landscaper22

    landscaper22 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 829

    Pate, Welcome! My experience has been that many residentials in my area shy away from written contracts. However, I really do push the year round monthly payment option. Most residentials that care about their properties will not have a problem with going year round and paying the same amount each month. I have been doing this 5 years and have only had one major problem with a year round customer not holding up to his end of the deal. And it was just a misunderstanding.
    But I have a mixture of customers. Many pay on a monthly payment plan, and some pay per visit and are only seasonal. It really makes for a good mix for me. The year round ones are not as easy to come by as the seasonal pay per visit types. So, you just have to build your business up to where you want it to be. Of course now that my schedule is full, I really am more picky about the new customers I take on. I am only taking year-round accounts at this time.
    But you do need to charge more per visit if they are seasonal or pay per visit. If they want service every two weeks, you really need to charge more, because I have found that these are the least profitable. But best of luck to you. It will feel great to be able to drop your other job and have your own business.
  4. Pate

    Pate LawnSite Member
    Posts: 2

    Thanks for your responses! I will Def take them both into Great Consideration. I want it to work and I'm sure its trial and error. HGopefully things will take off Like I envision them

  5. RickR1818

    RickR1818 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 342

    Quick ? regarding residential contracts. I have informed my customers that I am going to this way of billing and almost all do not have a problem. My question to those that do this already is how do you work the contract out in terms of visits. I was going to figure price per mow X avg # of mows (28-30) and divide by # of months in season. But do you offer a reimbursement if you fail to mow certain # of times or charge extra if you mow more? What has been your best response from your customers? I just want to try to cover everything in case new customers have an issue.
  6. landscaper22

    landscaper22 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 829

    Well some of my year-round accounts are different, but most get about 39 visits per year. That is if I service them every week for six months and every other week for the other six months out of any given year. I will offer a discount if for some reason I am unable to service when I should. But you should only have to charge extra if you provide extra services not included in the normal monthly service price.
    Now with the discount, I deduct one visit from the bill if the property was scheduled to be serviced but for some reason was skipped for some reason. So take a property that I would charge $65-70 per visit for maintenance. I would probably give the customer a price of $225 per month. So, say in January I am scheduled to service the property 2 times, but because of bad weather, I only service it one time. The customer would be billed like $160 for that month. That is how I do it.
  7. shane mapes

    shane mapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 537

    contract are the best way to go if you want to stay in bus. if you want to be able to up and leave at any time then go with no contract. i like to go with a contract if you can get the customer to sign. protects you both. good luck with your decision.....
  8. NC Greenscaper

    NC Greenscaper LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 446

    I have a few residentials that are on contracts. They are usually homeowners that don't reside in their homes (ie second home, temporary transfer). Contracts are the best for me because I have the revenue flowing all year. Also, seems easier to upsell items like weed control, mulch, fert. The cost for these items is spread through out the year. Just make sure you plan the number of visits and the contract is clear on what happens when extra visits are necessary. One mistake I have made is not including enough winter visits or leafs, because the contract was written in the spring/summer. Gary
  9. 2 clowns mowing

    2 clowns mowing LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 566

    we sign up customers with agreements not contracts. they will sign an agreement every time. customer will think they are committed and won't sign with anyone else. we also do pre-pay monthly which works great. money up front.
  10. DaveinSWFL

    DaveinSWFL LawnSite Member
    Posts: 178

    If you can't get them on contract then make sure you get them on a service agreement. I offer a basic service and a full service. With the basic (mow, whip & blow). Full service is yearly service that includes the basic plus weed control/round up, trimming shrubs & trees (that we can reach from the ground) & edging. Until I set this system up I had customers say you said you were going to do this and that. I have it in writing so there is no disputing. I just hand them there signed copy and say, would you like to upgrade to the full service? It's like going in for an oil change basic oil or the premium package? Give the cutomer the options.

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