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wording of lawn maintenance contract?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Tonyr, Oct 30, 2003.

  1. Tonyr

    Tonyr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,973

    I've never used contracts before, can someone show me what a good contract looks like for lawn maintenance please?

    I have no idea how one would be worded, and are they binding or mainly rely on good will by both parties?


  2. pinnacle

    pinnacle LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 791

    G'day Tony.

    Here is my residential proposal that I use. Not a contract but this should give you an idea of maybe what a "Commercial Contract" should look like. Theres a lot of BS on there that you wont need for a commercial contract.
    I have been using these proposals on for all regular work for about 7 months now.....................Best thing I've ever done mate!

    If this aint to enlightening mate, go have a look on the "Elements of business" forum on this site and do a search for " contracts"
    There is a lot of good examples there.

    Did yous get the dust storm on Wednesday??
    Like pee soup mate..................apparently it came all the way from Broken Hill :confused:

    Hope the attacment helps Tony.


    Attached Files:

  3. Team Gopher

    Team Gopher LawnSite Platinum Member
    from -
    Posts: 4,041

  4. Tonyr

    Tonyr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,973

    G'Day Alex and Team Gopher,

    Thanks a heap for your help, truly appreciated and I have found a lot of great info in the links and I like your doc. Alex, nice and simple, like my clients :)

    And the Elements To Business section I'm in right now, interesting stuff.

    So thanks fellas, top stuff!

    Hey Alex, due to my big long awaited contract failing me and no rain at all here work has stopped completly, the only market is domestic which I have to build again, but where ride on services are used now all the retirees are buying their own and doing all their areas for cash on the side, maybe I have missed the plot where a long term business with a ride on mower can be used profitably...

    Question is, how do you survive this drought, and what size, type of clients hire you?

    Not meaning to get personal, Ive seriously got some scary decisions to make soon whether this town has the right people to need my services and whether the struggle will pay or bow out while my mower has warrantee left...stressy time...

    Man, this town has a scrub on every corner, I can't compete against them working for cheap cash in hand on top of the dole etc. This is a cheap town lawn wise, and as you know when you own expensive ride ons etc , 10 mil insurance etc, you just can't be cheap, I offer better quality etc, guarantee, locals just want basic and cheap, I know a percentage always will, but it seems all, even the wealthy. Confused as to how other contractors survive, obviously it just isn't hervey bay...then again..

    Thanks for reading,

  5. justmjc

    justmjc LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 261

    Well, the reasons I can think companies survive at these prices are....

    1. The can mow (3) $15 lawns an hour and now there rate becomes $45 hour.

    2. They advertise these rates to fill up schedules. The following season after they have proved descent service, they give themselves a moderate raise of a buck or two slowly bringing them up to current pricing. By the time any accounts quit, it's of little effect because the schedule is full and 1 account doesn't hurt that much.

    3. Lastly, the law of averages probably apply here. Even Joe Smo can land an account that might make him $50 to $60 hour. Combine a few of these along with the $15 x (3) lawns an hour and the average rate goes up again.

    It's not just the rate that determines the profit, it's your time. Everyone thing works on a per hour wage. So, some people may be thinking out side the box so to speak about making money. And think about this, I would rather have 100 $15 lawns than 10 $150 accounts. Why? Because each year I have 100 possible refferals prospects for one. Two, increasing the rate each year by a buck should pose no problem. If you lose one, no big deal. However, can you continue to raise your $150 account $15 year endlessly. You will make more money with a compounding effect the more accounts you control.

    That's just my take of it all.
  6. Tonyr

    Tonyr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,973

    Thanks for your comments, appreciated.

    The cheap guys mostly aren't companies, or insured, or licenced, and own at most an old mower, trimmer, broom and rake, some just an old mower, these folk obviously receive a pension of some type and use mowing to suppliment it, they are cheap because low overheads and mowing cheap most people can pay them cash which they don't declare.

    Now I don't mind people having a go at improving their lifestyle, but I do believe if people want to poach into an already tough industry they should do it full time and live off their earnings or stay away from lowering the price bar for those who do this fulltime, I do not like people receiving money from the government and not declaring their earnings and raping the hell out of the market.

    As for the $15 jobs, they can have them, my smallest 1/2 properties plus, but the pensioners buy cheap ride ons for their place and for thrills go out mowing neighbours etc, and somehow I have to compete with beer money and somehow make a buck.

    But as it is rare here that you would score several jobs in the same street, stopping unloading mowing, trimming, cleaning, reloading, there just isn't much profit after expenses, I prefer the mentality of 10 x $150 accounts rather than 150 x $10 accounts anyday, the more small accounts you have giving less true profit per hour than a larger account, the more running around after small accounts is wasted winshield time, I earn from mowing, not driving. High end accounts will get you noticed more than doing some little front yard somewhere, big jobs draw attention.

    I don't do small stuff because time and costs taken to race around quoting, then if lucky return another day to mow, working for beer money won't make a profit, same with the guys running exmarks and hustlers etc, unless there is a long street of $15 accounts, keep going.

    My gripe is not the low end market, they are raping the hell out of med. domestic to acreage and blokes running $23000 mowers like me cannot get work when some scrub will do it for a carton of beer. As I said, folks here don't care about quality, they only want cheap but no reputable business will do cheap crap work, to survive one must have standards, otherwise you are a scrub.

    This started about me raving on about how do professionals survive against super cheap ameteurs in an area where it appears clients will choose cheap and nasty over professional because it is about money not quality/

    Stupid question, sorry, it is one most contractors ask themselves one time or another, the answer is, work cheap like a scrub, sell the expensive ztr and push a 21" mower and get on a pension, then when it is quiet you can get paid by the govn. while you are fishing :) I'm an idiot, thought making an honest living was the go, hey I need me an umemployment pension and a cash in hand biz!

    This thread can't really go much further, if I've missed the plot somewhere let me know.

  7. pinnacle

    pinnacle LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 791

    5 words Tony....................Make it up in volume!

    I know what ya felling mate as I have only been in Bangalow 9 months or so. I was forced to move up here cause of the big dry and mate, when I first came up here I was thinking the same thing as you (All the people here are tight as too mate)

    An imperitive sentence is "Sacrifice in the short term to reap LONG term gains"
    You have got to under-cut these scrubers on their prices mate.
    I know..........It sounds like biz suicide but, and heres the BIG but................You have the equipment mate.........Obiously you will be far quiker than the scrubs on a...........lets just say ........1 acre block.............. so charge acordingly.

    Then what you need to be aiming for is FULL DAYS.............ya know what I'm getting at here mate??

    I.E..........Me and my old biz partner down in Sydney used to cut 45 lawns a day (all 1/4 acre..........all 21' work) But we had backpac blowers, Pole pruners, extendable hedgers etc, wich nobody else in our caliber had (We were extremly eficiant and we "MANAGED" the landscape.......didn't just mow) and generaly better work in pratice......................so we could Knok em down FAST. (these were all $25-$60 a cut jobs)
    Arfter around 2 years of this we had 97 accounts (14 were 5 acre blocks and we both bought a GD 42'' Mighty Compac ZTR each.

    I don't want to give you my life story here mate and certainly don't want to sound like a know it all but Tony..........Mate..........................The aim of ther game is to get the volume in and the $$$$ will come.

    Hope this make sence mate??

    Mabey we should go into a partnership???

    Go a little cheaper on the residentials mate! Then more work will come..................Try to make your days PACKED.

    Aim for mid range pricing!
    Have a good one Tony!

  8. Tonyr

    Tonyr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,973

    Thanks Alex,

    looks like I have it wrong, feedback from clients says I'm many times on par with jims mowing contractors in town, the big clean up jobs on 1/4 acre to 1/2 acrea range around $55, that's mowing, trimming, edging, clean up, and times where I weed spray, costs an extra $10.

    A lot of people like my fees, and the 3/4 to 1 acrea auction clean ups are up to $110 to $150, I don't miss many of these, just not many there...

    11/2 to 2 acrea places $160, that's full service, about 3 hours worth of work.

    Up to 3 acres of nature strip etc is $66 an acre, after that $66 an hour, 1.75 to 2 acres an hour.
    Folks bork at paying $36 an acrea for their 5 acrea blocks, crikey an acrea must be worth something, just because we run expensive fast mowers shouldn't meen we profit less per acre, it should be the reason we run these ztr's, speed to get more in a day.

    I know what you are saying mate, but I just can't see how I could compete with scrubs that have no overheads, or services, e.g. a scrub will quote to mow a lawn, and that's all he does, people winge but except it because of price, I quote a lawn and I automatically think mow, trim, and a complimentary blade edge against their curb plus clean up. I was once told if edges weren't trimmed the lawn had not been mowed, I have always offered a full service as I would not want to be seen leaving a property with scruffy edges etc.

    True, my z355 ztr can mow as quick if not quicker than a walker mower, I get this thing flyin' on open lawns and the cut is impressive, if quality of cut meant anything, I'm a winner, but surprise to me, most people don't know good service from bad, but like you said volume, if I went around doing jobs for $20 an hour, sure I would be busy, busy wearing out equiptment and not profiting and not able to afford repairs, insurance etc.

    I hear a lot about being able to do huge amounts of jobs in a day, I'm not young and athletic anymore, 1/4 acre job from start to leave takes about 1/2 hour, half acrea ones can be an hour, only minutes to mow, it is the other stuff trimming, removing hoses etc that eats the time. Then take in travel time, with my work speed with a quick meal break, and quote time, I can't ever see me doing more than 8 in town jobs a day, which is my max to date.

    My jobs are never close:)

    At $20 a service, take out business costs, travel, quote time, meal break, there isn't much left out of that 20, I guess about $12 left,x 2 jobs an hour, $24, but it isn't correct, no travel time accounted for between jobs, say min of 15 mins drive between in town jobs, that's 45 mins taken to complete one cheap job and arrive at the next, a business has to be profitable to be true to you, less than a wage and you are not going to survive long term, doing heaps of cheap jobs looks good on paper and good for motivation, but unless your profits are good, the amount of work done means nothing, when it comes time to buy/lease the next ztr, the bank will need to see profit, and that's why we are doing this, make money, not lower ourselves below scrubs who are on financial benefits.

    I am very green at this biz, but I have had 2 successful business in my past, one I employeed 25 people starting in my early 20's, business as I know it is work smart, not harder and certainly I can't see me with over $30,000 + 4 x 4 competing with pensioners with a cheap old box trailer, old victa mower, and a good scrub may even have a cheap trimmer, now to me there are 2 business types here, and little jobs these scrubs are fast, no ride on to unload/load, ramps etc, quicker maneurering, I see it as they have lowered the price bar, we can't honestly think we can compete long term, we have to find work where they can't screw it up, turning the tables so to speak, I was hoping someone could tell me what kind of work done with their ztr profits most, e.g commercial, councils, domestic etc.

    Thanks to the 2 of you that replied, I appreciate your comments, just can't understand the long term success of lots of little jobs with low profit, high expence to service, these little jobs aren't really for ztr's anyway, and I'm not pushing a mower all day while my 23 grand ztr sits in the trailer :)

    Sorry Alex and Justmjc, I'm not against you with your comments, you are trying to help and I appreciate that, I re read this and it sounds like I'm critising you both, I'm not meaning to, just couldn't get the words right, hey, I'm very tired and pre occupied at the moment, thank you for your help blokes.

    You answered my questions fine, to compete with scrubs, lower my price to get in on their market, and I guess , just keep chasing contracts, auction clean ups, vacant blocks etc.

    Thanks again,

  9. kutnkru

    kutnkru LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,662

  10. Tonyr

    Tonyr LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,973

    Thanks kutnkru

    Muchly appreciated.

    Kind Regards,


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