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Contract yes or no?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by jrsimpson77, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. jrsimpson77

    jrsimpson77 LawnSite Member
    from Utah
    Messages: 77

    I know with snow removal we have always had a contract for our customers to sign. This will be our first year offering lawn mowing service. I've already had some of our snow removal customers get on our lawn mowing schedule. Should I get a contract and have customers sign it yes or no? Just wanted to get some input on this....Thanks all.
  2. I_am_a_beginner

    I_am_a_beginner LawnSite Member
    Messages: 194

    Why not, everyone know what to expect from each others.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. orangemower

    orangemower LawnSite Silver Member
    from pa
    Messages: 2,768

    If you're just doing residential then you really don't need one. Either they want you to maintain the lawn or they don't. A contract is only good for the paper it's written on. A lot of times it will scare the customer away. Now on larger commercial accounts it's almost a necessity.
  4. R&S Lawn Service

    R&S Lawn Service LawnSite Member
    Messages: 39

    We do not use contracts on any residential accounts for lawn maintenance or snow removal, but like orangemower said on commercial they always want contracts.
  5. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    Not worth the paper it's printed on.

    Example a $30 a week mow the customer dumps you half way through season. So you lost 12 mows @ $30 = $360 not earned.

    You'll spend a lot more then $360 to collect $360 to hire a lawyer. And no guarantee you win in court.

    Or you go small claims court. For every person I heard that collected money, and I mean not win a judgment but got paid there are 10 that never saw a dime.

    Then the escape clause that 30 day notice then either party can cancel the contract. So the customer does this and you still lost out on 12 mows with no legal recourse to get more money.

    So then you say you'll be slick and won't use the escape clause and then you get the customer from hell that you can't quit servicing. If you do he takes you to court sues you for damages because you broke contract and wins judgment. You don't pay local government pulls your license you're out of business until you pay.

    Are you sure you need to have a contract still?

    Simple I'll mow your lawn for x dollars per week for season. Write this down a paper, two copies, one for you and one for them. Both sigh.

    Now if your going to do weed and fed you can spell out what your going to put down and when and the cost. Again simple written agreement. Give reminder a week before application is to be done. If their going to balk they told you so before you bought the material.

    Now commercial work can be more complex and you may better be served by a contract.

    Thing don't make business more complicated then it needs to be. Complication adds cost. Added cost must be worth the price of a lawyer to set you up with a contract. Even a standard form one that you can use over and over. And never sign a contract that a business extends to you with out you having your lawyer check it out first.
  6. jrsimpson77

    jrsimpson77 LawnSite Member
    from Utah
    Messages: 77

    That's what I have done in the past with snow removal customers, commercial customers we use contracts them but resdential customers we don't. Kind of what I was planing on but didn't know for sure. In the past with residential snow removal customers I've just told them I bill them on the end of the month or if they happen to be home and want to pay for the service at that time that would work as well. Guess I'd do the same thing for lawn mowing.
  7. landscaper22

    landscaper22 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 829

    This is basically what I do. I never just say a price verbally and let it go. I have done that in the past and end up getting burned or making the customer mad about something. I have had very little trouble getting paid, but it leaves too much room for... I thought you said this, or no I didn't say I would include that, and so on...So, I write out a detailed description of everything I will be doing, date it, and give the customer a copy, and I keep a copy. Nothing is signed, and I have not had any problems with doing it this way. Then, when someone questions about something, I say oh do you have your copy of the estimate I gave you? Usually, they will say, I don't know where it is. I then say, well I have mine copy filled away and I will check and see what we discussed and I will bring you a copy. Then, I make them a copy and bring it the next time I service and walk around and discuss what we talked about, and make changes if needed. Works well for me. It seems to help stop the customers from sneaking in extra free service that we never agreed to do for the quoted price. Well, I do have some signed contracts, but the majority of my accounts do not have signed contracts.
    I have no idea if it will hold up in court. But I figure the written estimate with copies of the checks showing they had paid the agreed upon price for x number of months, and then showing where they suddenly stopped paying would go a long way in court. But, I don't know. I just do what works for me.
  8. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,210

    of course! What happens when they don't pay, or you break something on their property or you run into other issues and want to cease services but get paid current? First thing in court is tort or contract.. if you don't have that your not going to court!
  9. Daily Lawn/Landscape

    Daily Lawn/Landscape LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 695


    Verbal contract means NOTHING in court.

    Good Luck,

  10. jrsimpson77

    jrsimpson77 LawnSite Member
    from Utah
    Messages: 77

    Well that's what I thought about.....I'd rather be safe than sorry. And it's not like they couldnt get out of the contract. I have one that goes over billing, payments, property damage....think maybe I'll just plan on using them to be safe.

    Thanks guys.
    Posted via Mobile Device

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