how to deal with company owner changing terms

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by LawnMan883, Sep 28, 2007.

  1. LawnMan883

    LawnMan883 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 85

    Hello,
    i am new this is my first commercial contract and this business owner has been changing the terms of the proposal and the contract several times...until i am left with almost nothing.
    started out he wanted a bid for sept. oct. and nov. He wanted lawn care, weed removal, fertilization, and a full fall cleanup service along with bush and tree pruning.
    i got a quote together, by estimating my time and materials costs, and turned it in. i quoted 11 lawn cuts, 5 weed removal services, 2 fertilization applications, lawn aeration, and full fall cleanup.
    about a week later he set an appointment with me to go over my proposal and he pretty much divided everythig out until he had it all on a per time basis per my package rates on the proposal. then he said the frequency was too much, he wanted 7-8 lawn cuts, 2-3 weed removal services, and he did not want aeration. so he had already come up with a lower price assuming that stuff was taken out. I still needed the job, so i said i would agree to make the changes and resubmit the proposal. i did and then another week goes by, then he sets up another appointment. keep in mind by now we are halfway thru september already and i still have not yet started work there.. well this next meeting he cut more out. he said he only wanted 1 cut in september and 3 cuts in oct, and 2 in nov. i said ok. he asked me to get him a contract and copy of my insurance with him listed as an insured, so i did, got it back to him and when we went to sign the contract he handwrote at the bottom that he has to approve all services before i start and he will contact me when he wants the services done, and he made me initial that before he would sigh it. well, today he calls me and says he changed his mind on the weed control and he will have his building maintenance guy just do it so i should just do the lawn and fertilizer.
    how do you guys deal with a customer like this. i may have been wrong but i figured a business owner who told me up front he wanted the lawn looking top notch and wanted my best service, would have me do everything as i thought it needed....but instead ended up bidding out the job, probably found i was cheapest, and now is widdling me down to hardly anything. he wants a bid for next season too, any suggestions?
     
  2. All_Toro_4ME

    All_Toro_4ME LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,578

    I understand you are new to this. So welcome to Lawnsite. Comm accounts can be tricky. I would say move on. You have to ask yourself who is running this business, you or him. I would have canceled the contract after the first meeting when he wanted to make changes. You can't let people do that to you in this business. Believe me, there are plenty that will and try to take an advantage. Let him go and move on. Focus on other accounts, or fall cleanups. I'm not sure if the leaves are falling there in MI, but they are s..l..o..w..l..y here. Not enough for fall cleanups yet though. Honestly, I think he is jerking you around and its good that you posted here on LS because if it wasn't brought to your attention, then it would continue to happen by who knows how many other comm. accounts. Best of luck to you.
     
  3. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,494

    You tell him good luck in finding someone else, and that you will not be able to service his property. People try doing this stuff all the time. They try to take away services and put their own value on the reductions - even though it is already figured out in the travel time of you already being there and such. People want a price on a service package, and then want to do some of their stuff themselves (or knock off the service all together). When I go to a steakhouse, I can't say _"Hey, knock some off the price because I don't want any sides...I brought my own. Oh, and I will go up and get it myself, so I will not be needing a waitress, either. you can knock some more off the agreed price for that, too."
    You're first mistake was when he tried playing you with this card, you allowed him. When he said to knock down the amount of weeding, you STILL have th same amount of weeds to pull, - the only difference is, is now some are deeper rooted and even more work. When he asked,...you should should hae said "Sure, but the price stays the same, so you might as well take advantage of the more visits."
    In the very least, you should have only knocked it down a little, so it is a value to him to go for more.
    The same goes for the mowing. as soon as they want a less frequent mowing schedule,...the price jumps. You're cutting higher and heavier grass. More time per cut - more wear and tear.
    Nope,...this guy needs to find some other sucker.
     
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Yup, drop him like a hot potato for failure to reach an agreement.
    That's how I deal with someone at first hint they even think they're going to ride me.

    One reason I dislike contracts, that friggin' signature of mine, but I'd still drop them, and fast.

    Huh WTF is this guy nuts? You can't DO THAT!
    Man that's just a big claim waiting to happen, your insurance cover him LOL!

    You tell him he's lucky it wasn't me in that office, he'd a been 1 tiny step from having me throw the table at him for even saying something like that, that is just outrageous.

    The rest, however, is a foregone conclusion, you need to walk from these PITAS long before they keep going because it never ends and it only gets worse (as you can see).

    Yeah man, don't let them get you like that :laugh:
     
  5. mverick

    mverick LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 307

    You should have never caved at the first meeting. Then he knew he had you.

    Dump the chump. It will get worse.


     
  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Come to think of it, this may not have been entirely the customer's fault.

    Because what I don't get is, your profile says you've been in business 10 years...
    Yet you're still letting them walk all over you like this?

    Something doesn't make sense, only in my first year or two did they do it to me to the extent of what that guy just got away with, so I am no better than you but can you see where I gather that you're new at this?

    As a rule I don't make deals with dishonest folks but there are people out there who see dishonesty as an open invitation to ride, and I myself am not completely immune to the temptation. Now you have to understand customers are not stupid either, so I might suggest using a truthful approach... Yes it is bad with the truth, but if you lie it just opens up more back doors, so in the end the truth works best.

    Maybe I am wrong, if so please accept my apologies, also understand I am not judging you and this is not intended as a put down, I am only trying to help so you have a nice day and best of luck to you.
     
  7. S.I.

    S.I. LawnSite Senior Member
    from west
    Posts: 323

    Drop this guy and fast.........Like Runner said less visit does not mean less work............Same amount of weeds-probably more will need to be pulled............longer thicker grass to cut-more passes to mulch, or substantially slower mowing speed- or more times emptying bagger-depending on whichever you do............

    The only things I will allow a customer to cut out (without raising price of services they still recieve) are fert. & aerate, but then they are getting a different service package.

    Rules of thumb:1: additional 20% for bagging over mulch/discharge
    2: additional 20% for each additional week between maintenances where you will remove, trim, or cut anything that grows.
    3: only take off 1/2 price when removing a service offered in package deals.
    4: Charge double for 1 trick ponies or occassional services - These are the people that don't want scheduled maint., but want you to mow 1 time while they are out of town, or they call 2-3 times during the season for whatever reason but don't want regular service.

    Explaination 1&2: It will take approx 20% longer to accomplish the same satisfactory results.
    3: This puts the customer on a different schedule than the other accounts that purchase the same package and as a result causes you to change routes and in some cases the SOP on the application or service
    4: Pretty much same as 3 plus why would you want to give the same rate to someone who isn't on a scheduled maintenance program........The lower rate for regular services also can influence clients to become regular customers as well.
     
  8. Sweet Tater

    Sweet Tater LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,123

    IMO I'd say thanks for your time, but you apearently are looking for someone else. later daze.
     
  9. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,913

    I don't drop em ... I'd just double the price n tell him to give you a final template when he is ready ... ready
     
  10. delphied

    delphied LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,067

    I would have said," I already have enough bad customers and I am only taking on good ones at this time, but thanks anyway".
     

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