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Lawsuit.....

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by SprinklerGuy, Oct 25, 2001.

  1. parkwest

    parkwest LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 678

    Three words:

    SIGNED WORK ORDERS

    I wouldn't walk on someone else property without one. Protects you and your customers. A contractor must learn to work with contracts.
     
  2. HBFOXJr

    HBFOXJr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,706

    I would charge for estimates if not there doing routine service work asked for. Then schedule not approved stuff for another day after a written authorization comes. You have tough ones and you gotta be tougher and more ingenius. Don't worry about getting them back in service quickly or the landscaper needing water. That's not your problem. Getting paid for what you do is your problem. If they don't like it let them figure out how to stream line the process.

    Ideas-

    Impose a spending limit per incident then require written approval to exceed. Get all requests, even the initial one in writing.

    Here, it is common for flat rate start ups and winterizations to be done with repairs T&M on a specified rate schedule. That still doesn't solve the time trust question. Anyone on site who can sign you in and out.

    Make them have someone on site for the duration of serious repairs.

    Get an annual budget to service the site and only exceed it with written authorization
     
  3. FOX......great advice. I have thought about those things...written approval etc. But, there's always a but, there are many other companies that are our competitors that will take the chance. I know most people would say that we don't need bad customers but....they have always been good. Never a problem. When you are a growing company, you need to keep the techs busy with work so you loosen the constraints a little. this time I got burned.

    As for the landscapers, if they aren't happy they will find someone else. My goal is to keep everyone happy, that is why the growth in my company has been so significant over the last few years. But, perhaps I need a policy that addresses this. I like the idea of the charging for the evaluation and then coming back, problem is sometimes we are booked for 2 weeks and there isn't time to get back.

    I'm afraid there is no easy answer. Maybe we need to get on some sort of a retainer type, but there is still the trust thing. If only people would trust, I trust them to pay, they should trust me to not lie. That 's what it boils down to.....trust. If only they knew how honest I really was.....................
     
  4. HBFOXJr

    HBFOXJr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,706

    Gotta have it and its good to have the trust clarified in black and white.

    What do the landscapers being happy have to do with this? Did they refer you? Do you do other jobs with them? Who wouldn't be happy, the customer or the landscaper if repairs didn't happen ASAP?

    No matter what, the landscapers have to know you don't have carte blanche to do as you please, when you please, you have to follow procedures to get paid.

    This is a good reason to develop book rates for repairs as I have threatened lamely to do for years. Do like the other service industries where you get 2 hr to change an alternator and 10 hours for a transmission. etc.

    This would allow incentive or commision pay to techs.

    I've thought about rotor head replacement, spray head, valve rebuild, valve replacement (all by size category), single pipe repair (by size), compound pipe repair ( T's), clock replacement etc. Many things would be simplified. The hourly rate could go up and not be noticed, no quibbles over time, no long parts lists (pre calulated in the rate) and more.
     
  5. That's what the plumbers do around here. The problem is all of this stuff is great except if it causes a slowdown in business....my kids and wife and Target,Kmart, Walmart all suffer lol

    As for the landscaper, yes he refers me alone to all his sites. Normally they trust him and the trust automatically is given to me. He usually goes to bat for me also, but he got fired around the same time I did.....did I mention that?

    I like to keep the landscapers happy because they send me a lot of work and keep my guys busy when we are slow. One call to them and they find work for us. I haven't had to do that in a couple of years though......

    The other problem with book rates: If you are the only guy in town doing that....could be a problem. I would love to have that though! the plumbers love it because the office help can do more est. on the phone.

    I think they get the service fee regardless, minimum, and then if you want them to do the work it is built into the book rate. If you don't want them to, at least they get the minimum. Sounds good.
     
  6. HBFOXJr

    HBFOXJr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,706

    I think there is more behind this than you know and you guys could be 2 of several victims.

    Yeh, book rate is different but I'm not sure it's a marketing problem. Then again you could be T&M for residential an single stand alone commercial and book rate for multiple properties, multi family, property manager kind of stuff.

    I'd like an explanation from management as to why after several years of a good working relationship a problem developed.

    Seems like a house cleaning if the manager, the sprinkler and the landscape people all got canned at the same time. Think the manager and the landscaper had some kind of personal or financial hanky panky going down and you went for the ride with them?
     
  7. If there was hanky panky, the landscaper wasn't involved. Cleaning house is definitely what they did, seems like they would just pay this bill though and move on. could they be bluffing, I know we can still settle all the way up to the pre trial date.
     
  8. parkwest

    parkwest LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 678

    Point 1. Small claims= no lawyers= no billing by the hour, which translates into no long drawn out settlements. You go in state your case, present your contract. They give their argument. Judge decides.

    Point 2. Object of running a business is to make money and the more the better. Not much of a business if customers don't pay because owner doesn't know enough business law to know all his options to collect.

    Point 3. TRUST: Never trust someone more than you're willing to loose and you will never be sorry. Wise old saying. Trusting them is what got you into this situation. Welcome to "Business 2001."
     
  9. cp

    cp LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 263

    Hang in there and don't give up...

    Whether this was the best way to handle this is not is going to be a lesson learned. You are past the point of no return so ride it out to the end and be prepared if you do not get what you think you deserve.
     

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