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12 Month Contract//Customer Calls and Says To Skip No Need and Would Like A Credit?!

mcw615

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Virginia
I am only offering 12 month contracts this year, with a minimum of mowing and leaf clean up this year and on. I am preparing my letter to mail out to customers of our transition to this and how it will be a great benefit to both them and our company.

Everyone has a few PITA customers or people that are just a little too up-tight, and with this I am just thinking of things that may possibly happen and have a plan reaction ahead of time. About 20%ish of our accounts are already under contracts from their own choice and never any problems, these are the people that are serious about their property looking at it's best and just want things to be taken care of without them having to go through the hassle of calling this and that..

I would like to gather your ideas of how to respond if a customer calls in say September when you plan to mow their account weekly and says something along the line of their lawn really has not grown any since last week and you don't need to (and or) if you would like to skip you can -- then maybe pops the question about crediting them a price of mowing towards their monthly invoice since it didn't need done.....? All in the past on our contracted accounts if the property didn't need mowing we didn't mow it if it was obvious but we always did something extra to make up for it and has worked out great..
 
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mcw615

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Virginia
I was not meaning that I am going to try and rip them off if something doesn't need to be done that I counted to be done - I was referring to in the past I have had a few customers call and say their lawn didn't need to be done and we could skip, a few sometimes think just because it hasn't grown a foot like in the spring it doesn't need to be done, in general if it appears to have grown at least an inch, it gets cut but I don't want to hurt myself by skipping when it needs to be done nor at the same time get into a somewhat tense conversation trying to pursuade the customer their lawn needs to be cut with them potentially thinking we are just trying to rip them off... I know I am thinking a bit into this but I am just trying to think ahead...
 

ProcsLC

LawnSite Member
Location
Upstate NY
I think a lot of this can be cut from the point of sale... When you sign a new or existing customer inform them that you are billing them on a 12 month cycle even though there will be times you are not going to be cutting in the slow growth season... Be honest and up front with them when you sign them over and you'll avoid a lot of this from the start. We have one 12 month account and she knows she's being billed less each month even though we are doing the majority of the work during peak season times... but she has never asked for a credit when we are not mowing and thinks we are doing her a favor by billing her 12 months... Guess it all comes down to the wording and what not from the point of sale...
 
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mcw615

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Virginia
I think a lot of this can be cut from the point of sale... When you sign a new or existing customer inform them that you are billing them on a 12 month cycle even though there will be times you are not going to be cutting in the slow growth season... Be honest and up front with them when you sign them over and you'll avoid a lot of this from the start. We have one 12 month account and she knows she's being billed less each month even though we are doing the majority of the work during peak season times... but she has never asked for a credit when we are not mowing and thinks we are doing her a favor by billing her 12 months... Guess it all comes down to the wording and what not from the point of sale...
Very good point, it is very relevant to how you explain verbally how the contract works to the customer to how they will react throughout the year. Originally I was thinking of when I follow up from the letter with a phone call explaining the contract is that we know on average how many mowings per year we will service from years prior (knowing to mow bi-weekly in the heat of august) and so forth and then we multiply that by $XX/mowing..... INSTEAD I think I am going to go with "we total the average cost for us to mow your property for the entire year weekly or as needed during the Summer drought, and we put the average price from years prior on how much it costs to clean up the leaves, and which may take significantly more time then estimated or can be a little less but we will always be sure to keep it as fair as possible" that way it won't give them the idea to have a calender and highlight each mowing throughout the entire year and call and ask "how many mowings did you charge in your contract?" then try and compare and either want a credit or not pay you any extra. Sounds crazy but I'm sure there are people out there maybe not particularly in my customer base that I know of that do or have done that.
 

DA Quality Lawn & YS

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Rochester, MN
Yep explain the contract well. You base your contract monthly amt likely off your experience on # of cuts you will get per season. And charge accordingly. You promise not to add charges onto this contract during the season....in the same regard the customer cannot ask for credit back. Its a two way street.
 

JayD

LawnSite Silver Member
Location
Indianapolis, In
Why do you feel that you have to give them extras in the slow time if you are not mowing as offten? What happens when you have 3x as rain and it grows faster making you mow more, do you charge more or do you eat it?
 

Woody82986

LawnSite Silver Member
Location
DFW, TX
Why do you feel that you have to give them extras in the slow time if you are not mowing as offten? What happens when you have 3x as rain and it grows faster making you mow more, do you charge more or do you eat it?
I agree... Unless your contract states a certain number of mowings, I wouldn't be giving anything else up.
 

Southern Elegance

LawnSite Member
Location
Tullahoma TN
give them total price for 8-9 months service, whatever ur area gets, divide total amount by 12. give the customer the option of paying , x over 8-9 months or y over 12 months, most times people will go with the 12 months to have a lower payment. stay away from the word contract, use the term payment plan instead. the word contract will scare off alot of people
 

Southern Elegance

LawnSite Member
Location
Tullahoma TN
never include a # of cuts, if it needs done it gets done, if it dont it gets skipped. some years u win , some year your customer wins. i even tell my customers that i take a week off in the spring, a week off in summer, and a week off in the fall. no one ever complains. started doing that 3 years ago, employees love it, customers dont mind. although we do have to work our butts off to get caught back up, but we dont get burnned out anymore
 
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