My experience with contracts

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by BAMARED, Apr 8, 2002.

  1. BAMARED

    BAMARED LawnSite Member
    Posts: 206

    Maybe that I'm just not properly presenting this contract thing to customers, but I have never got a positive response about contracts and I admire those of you that can pull this off. But I can't. When quoting/estimating and general lawn chit-chat with the customers, everything goes great. But as soon as I bring up the contract, the deal goes limp even though I explain the concepts and advantages of contracts. Everyone says the same thing, "I'm interested in you taking care of my lawn but I'm not going to sign any contracts." Therefore, 100% of my customers are off their good word and I have never been bitten in the butt - yet. But a signed contract would be nice. I just can't any signed.

    Any suggestions/advice?

    Thanks,

    BAMARED
     
  2. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    this is how it generally goes for me: ok, we can do the mowing for $30 a visit, the cleanup for $125, etc.... ok, if u r interested, ill just need to send out the paperwork, ill see that she gets that out right away, its just some info about us, our policies, and our fees. then i mail it, and i usually get it back right away, no questions asked. i dont use the word"contract", i say "paperwork". it is easier for them to handle. kind of like when the doctor is decribing a procedure to u, he doesnt say, "we r going to cut u open right here......" no, he says, "we r going to make an "incision".....if u never been boned, i promise u the day will come. we have changed our policy so that we dont do any work without a contract. this doesnt apply to customers we had for several years, just new ones
     
  3. BAMARED

    BAMARED LawnSite Member
    Posts: 206

    Bobby,

    So, do you think that if you would have said, "I'll mail you the contract to sign" that you wouldn't get any business vs. "I'll mail you the paperwork?"

    At any rate, that's interesting. I just want't to make 100% certain that the customer knows on the front end what they're getting with no "gray" areas or word play. I feel like these "gray" areas or word play could be used on me by the customer in the future. You know? Their reasoning would be that he did it to me so .............

    I don't know - I'm just thinking out loud. But thanks for the info.

    Thanks,

    BAMARED
     
  4. creative concepts

    creative concepts LawnSite Member
    Posts: 69

    I am not sure how it is down where you live but in New Jersey it is against the law to have a "contract" for lawn maintenance. You can have a signed, written "agreement" with the ability to cancel with X amount of days notice. Regardless of how it is worded, we do not and will not do any work without a signed agreement for maintenance. For design/build and installation jobs, we receive signed "contracts" from the homeowner. I have never had a problem getting them signed, but I imagine something like the following would work:

    1)When you meet with the potential customer do your usual thing
    2)Tell them what you are charging and EXACTLY what you will be
    doing for this fee
    3)Ask them if they have any questions about it
    4) Explain to them that you will be sending a "contract" or
    "agreement" in the mail for them to sign and send back to you.
    Explain that this to make sure that you both are on the same
    page as far as what the fee will be, what will be done for this
    fee, and how often it will be done so there is no confusion.
    5) You might also explain to them that this is for their protection
    as well as yours.

    Hope this info helps
     
  5. BAMARED

    BAMARED LawnSite Member
    Posts: 206

    Chris,

    Thanks for that info. One question: What's the difference between a contract and an agreement - if any? I'm talking about a signed agreement and a signed contract are the same. Right?

    Thanks again,

    BAMARED
     
  6. creative concepts

    creative concepts LawnSite Member
    Posts: 69

    Bamared,

    The difference between a contract and an agreement is that an agreement can be broken with prior notice. If you have a signed contract, it can not be broken. A good example is a lawn care(fetilizing co.) used to tell their clients that it was a contract and were bound to it for the year, which is against the law here. They were eventually sued by numerous homeonwers for not being able to fire them. It was immediately thrown out of court because it was illegal for the contracts and the company had to pay some serious fines.
    Sorry that I went of on a tangent there for a minute. The easiest way to explain it is that an agreement can be broken or cancelled while a contract can not be broken without legal arbitration.
    Check your local and state laws to see if you can have a contract where you are for lawn maintenance.
    Hope this helps to clear it up.
     
  7. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,913

    We do like Chris does ....the main term we ues is "Proposal" and then just above the statement of work is "Service Aggreement" we offer a 30 day cancel notice in writing ....than just below were they sign n date we have

    Acceptance of Proposal:
    Prices, specifications and conditions are satisfactory and are hereby accepted. You are authorized to do work as specified. Payment will be made as outlined above. Maintenance Proposal shall exist for one year. Automatically renewed unless given written notice. Either party may terminate agreement with a 30 day written notice. Sign the Proposal & We will Send a Copy with Your First Billing Invoice.
     
  8. BAMARED

    BAMARED LawnSite Member
    Posts: 206

    Hey guys - many thanks. That about clears it up. I just need to check my state laws and such. Additionally, the way that I have been presenting this "agreement" to my customers, I don't think that they knew the difference either.

    Thanks again,

    BAMARED
     
  9. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    absolutely, wording is everything. actually my "contracts" have a heading"2002 service agreement" . yes, wording means alot. picture this: ok mrs smith, some will be down to do your application this week", versus, "someone will be down to apply the poison to your property" . #2 may cause a problem????
     

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