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CONTRACTS-to be or not to be

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by touhey33, Feb 12, 2005.

  1. touhey33

    touhey33 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 778

    How many of you especially if you are solo use contracts, Also how hard is it for you to get residential customers to sign contracts? Whats your secrets?
  2. General Grounds

    General Grounds LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 902

    :blob3: ive used them from day one, i will not step foot on a property without them. if a person doesnt want to sign an agreement for lawn maint. run away fast. we spell out what we do and what we are not responsible for and payment terms. i do this for lawn maint, chemicals, trims, mulch, snow you name it. good luck, tony
  3. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,943

    I've been solo for eight seasons and have never used a contract. I probably would loose most of my customers of I showed up with a piece of paper to sign. My typical customer base is about 45 active customers at one time. Nobody has ever asked if they needed to sign a contract, or expressed any interest in having a contract.

    Only a couple of customers have dropped me during the eight years. And, that is fine with me. If they weren't happy, then I don't want to work for them anyway. If I'm not happy, then I send them a letter at the beginning of the season, like everybody else, that I will not be offering services for their property any longer. I typically drop off 2-3 each Spring.

    Most people raise their own prices, but I do raise prices on a few. If the price change is their idea, then I know they are happy with the change.

    I would rather spend my time working on their lawn than dotting-i's and crossing-t's, and debating over the language of a piece of paper. I did contract administration for a real job for many years. The experience taught me the worthlessness of a piece of paper. Mutual trust goes sooooo much further than a detailed contract.
  4. General Grounds

    General Grounds LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 902

    :rolleyes: when you get burned for a few hundred the first time and try to go to court and have no proof i think you'll think twice about the contract thing, most guys on lawnsite also dont do any work with out a signed agreement, without one you have no legal recourse for your money.
  5. stumper1620

    stumper1620 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,889

    Since when is being a LCO not a real job? I can tell it is a sideliner job for you or you would call it what it is. It is a business if you want it to be and in a business you cover your own & your insurance companies a$$ first.
    verbal agreements don't mean sh!t in court for lack of payment or liability or anything. I sure hope for your personal finacial protections you are a LLC or you could lose everthing to one of your trusting customers. all it takes is one freak thing to happen. I really recommend you reevaluate your choices.
    As for me " no contract, no service" even on a one timer job, I grind a stump,
    agreement has to be signed before the machine starts.
  6. 1grnlwn

    1grnlwn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,261

    General Grounds, how many times you been to court? I been once. Won. No contract.
    so you took a poll and 12501 of the 25000 members on LS said they use contracts for residential. Interesting. It's more like the people that use residential contracts get on here and flame people and call them idiots, strut around with there chest out and the non contract people just lurk.

    touhey33, I would say it has a lot to do with where you are at. If res contracts are used in your area then it can't hurt. Most customers will have at least heard of the practice and you can explain that it is common practice. In my area they are not used. The worst thing in this business is when someone does't pay you. Yea there are some blow hards here that say they always get paid and will give you a 10 item list why they are smarter than you. They are legends in there own mind. Fact is the only way that contract(actually its only an agreement) will help is if you actually go to court. Many people never go to court. And you do not need a agreement to win in court. I have been stuck over the years, 140 here , 120 there but the one that pi$$es me off the most is for $32. Getting paid has more to do with how you select customers. Here are some situations I would avoid: Renters, People who don't look like they can afford a lawn care service and people that constantly pay late. I use a very light agreement for weed and fert. just so I have a written record of exactly what apps. my customer wants and can do a yearly schedule in March. I use comercial contract if customer requests. I have never been burned on a comercial.

  7. 1grnlwn

    1grnlwn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,261

    See what I mean!
  8. Littleriver1

    Littleriver1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 811

    Get burned without legal recourse happens, get burned with legal recourse happens just as much. If anyone thinks going to court is not part of the burn, think again. I don't think most of the guys on Lawn Site use contracts for lawn maintenance. I put nonpayers in the same category as people that drive off with out paying for their gas. If you have ever done that, then you are one of them. Most of your problems with nonpayers are people that never intended to pay. I'm not saying contracts are good or bad. Contracts are more accepted in some parts of the country than others. Doing construction or installs should have contracts, but everyone knows what can happen. Don't think that just because you have a contract you will not get burned.
  9. stumper1620

    stumper1620 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,889

    I don't claim I always get paid. and I agree the worst is the stupidity of 35 bucks. If someone can't come up with 35 bucks for service they agree to thats really bad. and whats worse is I'm not hard to work with ya know,
    if they want to split it to pay. I would let them. anyway.

    my big thing with "contracts/agreements" is the liability, mine is very general and just spells out where I draw the line on what i will not accept responsibility for. as an example, trees grow for years before being cut down,
    people run power or phone wire or irrigation control wire to the garage from the house ( not marked by miss dig) trees grow around and thru these wires
    I will not accept responsibility for damage to secondary wiring or plumbing ect. that may be running thru or near the stump. I have never had a customer complain about this because they understand I can't avoid what i cant see.
  10. 1grnlwn

    1grnlwn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,261

    Well heck yea! I don't blame you on the one time jobs where you are going sub-teranian. There is less liability mowing and most accidents are our fault. I was talking about mowing only. And it is not a bad Idea to have a sheet of paper for communication purposes. Just curious do you have to call JULIE to do stump removal? What have you severed in the past?


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