Signed mowing contracts

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by silentbob, Mar 10, 2008.

  1. silentbob

    silentbob LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Posts: 27

    This is a debate I've had with a few people. How many of you have your residential customers sign a contract every year? Or do you just have a handshake agreement with them and go about it that way?

    The dilemma here is on one hand, if you have someone sign a contract, you have a legally binding document that you can present to get a judgment if someone defaults on payments. Also, some customers may feel more obligated to you if they sign something.

    However, some LCO's are concerned about doing that because it is more hassle for the customer and they are worried about the competition and ecomomy this year and don't want to give a potential customer a reason to go with someone else. If customers don't sign, you can always suspend service until they pay, but you don't have any legal recourse.

  2. Daily Lawn/Landscape

    Daily Lawn/Landscape LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 694

    No signed Service Agreement no service!!!!!
  3. salandscape

    salandscape LawnSite Member
    Posts: 168

    I'm still owed a few grand from last year because I always did work on a handshake, I figured I'm a good guy treat customer fair and they'll pay. We a few "good customers" decided to stop paying, but string me along with promises of payment and I finished the year for them. No they don't return phone calls or emails. I've got a lien on one guys house, which will go to court in about 1.5 months, the other is in collections.

    Long story long, I sent out service agreememnts that muist be signed this year before work starts. I changed my payment terms to no payment 15 days past due, stop service, 30 days past due sent to collections.

    Sucks that a few bad customers can completely sour you, but I just can't spend the time on the phone calls and repeated invoice mailings any more.
  4. gene gls

    gene gls LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,213

    My biggest problem with customers before I started using contracts was that they never could remember what they wanted for service. Always wanted someting extra, saying I agreed to it. Now its all spelled out, each visit. They get a copy and I get a signed copy for my records.
  5. PTSolutions

    PTSolutions LawnSite Silver Member
    from OH
    Posts: 2,328

    ^^^yep! try explaining to your clients that are on monthly billing (vs. per cut) that even though they called you not to come out and cut b/c its not long enough that they still owe you the entire $100 or so for 1 cut in that month.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    When customers pay a flat rate, the don't call for skips...that would be dumb. At least mine don't.
  7. IndyChad

    IndyChad LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Posts: 216

    I would also say signed contract. We had a customer last year that we had serviced for two years that was a great customer, always paid, nice on the phone and in person. She wanted some mulch, firewood, bushes trimmed, ect. landscaping done and we were going to be there to service her lawn in a couple of days anyway so I told her we would perform the other services while we were there. We always have signed contracts but this time we did not and she decides not to pay us for the services. She indicated that we did not sign a contract and she is not obligated to pay us. My wife is in the legal field, so of course she was wondering why I didn't have her sign a contract. I remind you this lady lives in a $250,000-$300,000 house. That is the last time I will not have a contract signed!!
  8. LushGreenLawn

    LushGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,121

    Our contract spells out payment terms and the service they are signing up for. Its not difficult for the customer, they sign it, and my estimate packet includes a self addressed envelope so they can sign it and return it if they don't sign up on the spot. My contract does not bind them for any specified amount of time, they can cancel whenever they want. I have never had anyone complain about signing. Some guys that make people agree to an entire year have trouble getting the signature.

    I do not make my customers sign a contract every year, they are my customer until they cancel. If you have them resign every year, its like dumping all of your customers every year, and forcing them to sign up again. They get a reminder letter at the beginning of the season to remind them when the season starts, and that they are still my customer.

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