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Nothing like this has ever happened to me until yesterday

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Harry0, Jun 3, 2003.

  1. Harry0

    Harry0 LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Posts: 223

    I picked up a nice little $1000 job to plant 15 perennials,fert and apply Snapshot to beds, and install mulch. Maybe 2 yds of mulch at the most. I met with the customers a month ago we hit it off great they said no prob with price we came highly reccomended. I wrote up the price on a business card and gave it to them, and I wrote the job info on my work order pad. They were word of mouth potential customers from a long time customer of mine. I arrived at job yesterday and got 90% of plants(took me 45 minutes) in the ground when the customer came around the corner and said" I called to cancel the work last week, WE SOLD THE HOUSE." She then asked if I got the message. I said with a little sarcasm no I dont think I would have been here if I did. I beleive she called but somehow it never got to me. Whether the answering machine lost power or somthing I dont know. I explained to her when she hired me I met face to face with her and that in the future she should not leave a phone message to cancel work that has already been scheduled. I then said this never happened to me before and she said things like this happened all the time to them(her husband and her)I removed the plant material from the job and caught up with my other crew to finish the day. I put a positive spin on it to keep optimistic : I could have completed the whole job. Oh well no lesson learned(maybe get voice mail instead of machine) I guess in 15 years of bussiness somthing like this is bound to happen.-Harry
  2. Lombardi

    Lombardi LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 538

    Please don't take offense to this, but, if you last spoke to the customer a month ago, I think it is your responsibility to call them prior to the install to confirm that they are still interested in the job. I also get a 50% deposit upon acceptance of the bid. Then if they want to cancel they will make more of an effort to contact you since you have their money.
  3. Green Pastures

    Green Pastures LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,457

    Here again is another prime example where a signed contract would have saved you some time.

    Think about how much more aggressive a customer would be to cancel a job they had signed a contract for. I'm pretty sure it would warrant ore than one phone call, and a message left on an answering machine.
  4. Harry0

    Harry0 LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Posts: 223

    I take no offence to anything said and I usually do get a contract and 50%down, if it is a nonreffered customer and if it was anymore$$$ I definately would have. I could have and should have called though. Thanks Harry
  5. Georgiehopper

    Georgiehopper LawnSite Member
    Posts: 187

    Those things used to happen to me but no mpre. No matter who its for always have it in writing. Always get 50% up front... so that its harder for them to change their minds.

    No matter who it is!
  6. Shuter

    Shuter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,171

    When I get a call for work, I meet with the customer, face to face and have them show me everything they want done. The request is written on an estimate worksheet that I use for every job. I then write up a proposal on the computer and mail the customer a copy. I put on the bottom " a 50% deposit is requested at the time of customer approval". When I get the money I add them to the work list and tell them about when the work will get down. I sometimes call the day before to verify. I found that by getting a deposit from the customer, they will stick top what we talked about.
  7. paponte

    paponte LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,366

    BIG lesson learned! Get a SIGNED contract and a deposit... NO MATTER WHO THEY ARE! Business is business, no matter who refers them. In N.Y.S. ANY job performed by a licensed contractor without a written contract is a $650.00 fine.

    Lesson 2 is ALWAYS get a deposit. At least enough to cover materials. :cool:
  8. John from OH

    John from OH LawnSite Member
    Posts: 144

    HarryO, this sounds like a rookie mistake, not a mistake that someone with 15 years of experience would make. Your profile lists 22 years in business.

    Communication with the customer is imperitive in this industry. We always let a customer know when we will be perfoming the work. and calling them several days in advance to review what will be done. This puts the client on the same page as us. It's also good to make sure the customer doesn't have anything planned for the time you will be on the property, such as a party, yard sale, etc..
  9. Harry0

    Harry0 LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Posts: 223

    With all due respect to all giving me advice:I think it is a no brainer that I should have got a deposit(As I usually do), and contacted the person with scheduled start time, (as I usually do). But this one was done with a verbal and a hand shake. Will I do it again? yes. Not with large jobs but small-I can absorb the loss-of 45 minutes(even the time I lost loading the truck up(15 minutes)and if I add all the time it would have taken to write contracts for all the small jobs in the past 15 years I did , it would be in the neihbor hood of days(and I am quick). So I am ahead of the game. Will I continue to do some business with a handshake. Sure. But I do appreciate your input-Harry
  10. Georgiehopper

    Georgiehopper LawnSite Member
    Posts: 187

    I still think no matter how small the job or who the work is for you should still have it in writing.

    Even if its written on a napkin and signed. I think people will take advantage of your trust otherwise.

    Maybe I'm too extreme about it...but I've been taken advantage of in the past...

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