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Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by AK Lawn, Mar 17, 2002.

  1. AK Lawn

    AK Lawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 186

    I was wondering about contracts and if they are really worth signing or if it scares away the customer? in Alaska i don't no of many companies who make their clients sign contracts, how binding are these contracts? i haven't made my clients sign contracts but want to start, do your companies give insentives to sign contracts? thanks for your input AK Lawn:blob3:
  2. All my customers sign a contract.

    All contracts are is your job dicription, terms and a signature.

    Go to the Lawnsite store for some good templets.

    Lawnsite Store
  3. landscaper3

    landscaper3 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,354

    He is right!!! We will not even do a $100 job without a contract!!! If they dont sign we dont work. Even on our landscape construction we have them sign a contract that states we are paid 100% of retail cost on materials before work is even started!
  4. lbmd1

    lbmd1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 462

    Most contracts legally have a 30 day out clause for mowing so a contract in my mind is worthless, just something for an LCO to have and hope that a customer is too scared to break a contract. We do almost 140 weekly lawns accounts, no contracts and no cancellations in over 6-7 years now. If you're worried about lowballers, you might want a customer to sign up, but remember he can cancel it in 30 days. That way they think they have binding contract with you and don't want to break it. And another thing, do YOU really want to continue to work for someone who doesn't want you around for another 29 days? Get good clients and you don't have to worry about them. As Brian from Maine says though, we do get contracts for landscape work as it pertains to up front costs that must be recovered no matter what. Rather lose a few labor hours than materials.

  5. lawnMaster5000

    lawnMaster5000 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 591

    This is the first year that i have used contracts. I dont see it as a very legaly binding agreement, but i also just think that most people are too scared to question it.

    But... I used the contracts as a sort of excuse to go and talk to every client (35) this spring. When I arrived at the clients house I had a form with all my services and the cost of that service for one year. Then talking with the client i went thru that list, getting my "lawn" customers to sign up for many more services, on average about $200 more than last year.
    - Unless you are currently operating mainly as a ful service company this is probably one of the best ways to expand your business that i have ever tried. Even though i have been advertising as a full service company for about 4 several of my clients acted like they were not aware i performed other servics.

    Well good luck

    LAWNS AND MOWER LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,129

    Never used contracts, never will. Just the way I do business. Handshakes work well for me. Been stiffed for $150 in 15 years of business. Not bad. $10/year on average. Priced a job for a new client and told me to draw up a contract. Told him I don't do contracts and he thought very highly of this. Granted, if you have a $25,000/year commercial account you might consider a contract, but I'm solo and my largest account is $4,000/year.

  7. lamblawnscaping

    lamblawnscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 165

    I see a service agreement (a.k.a. contract) as an opportunity to clearly explain how my company does business. My service agreements explain exactly what we do when we service a property, what is not included in the price, how often the property will be serviced, the limitations that the weather can put on a lawn maintenance business, and how we expect to be paid.

    I like the monthly payments, due before service is performed, and our service agreements clearly state that if I don't have payment by the 10th of the month, service is suspended. At the most I have mowed it twice without being paid, but more than likely it is only once.

    This year is the first year we will be doing business this way. Our client list dropped to 2/3 of what it was last year, but with the monthly installments paid in advance, we will have 2 crew's payroll paid before we begin the month. It only takes one crew to perform the maintenance services, so we have one crew paid for for the month that can do installations or back up crew 1 in weather delay situations.

    You can imagine how excited I am about this season. Being paid in advance makes lots of different things possible. Without some kind of service agreement of contract I don't think we could have gotten advance payments from so many clients.
  8. LawnLad

    LawnLad LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 738

    Contracts for most anything... limits liability due to employees performing the job or someone trying to take advantage of you. Installs over $1500, maintenance and snow plowing all have contracts.

    We do small install jobs under $1500 on a hand shake. I'll email a quote so they have it in writing if the want, but I don't need any money down for small jobs, etc.

    Landscape design agreements where we charge $65/hr, I send a letter outlining our services and ask for a nominal retainer as acceptance of the terms. I do this only because too many people will take your designs at no cost and then not pay you for them. Their check is acceptance of the terms of the letter.

    I use the contract for some generic things. For instance, if you do not state how much you charge for NSF checks, you can not collect more from the customer legally than what the bank charges you. Therefore, we state in the contract a $30 NSF fee. Or that if collection action is required that the customer will pay all fees related to collection, including, but not exclusive of attorney fees and court costs, etc. The contracts also require no time frame... they can have out any time they want as long as they pay for services received. It's just an agreement as to how the relationship works.

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