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HELP - Should Residential Customers Sign Contract??

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by cclc1021, Jul 14, 2005.

  1. cclc1021

    cclc1021 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 66

    Hello. I purchased a lawn care business from an exisiting company in May. I left my full-time job to run this business full-time. We had a lot of up-front costs, equipment, legal entity registration etc. With the purchase, came 72 residential customers. However, the previous owners were college students and did not have contracts with there clients.

    We are having a problem getting people to pay in a timely fashion. Some customers have not paid for May or June. We want to have them sign an agreement for receivng our services, but we are not sure how to go about it since we are in the middle of the season.

    I would appreciate any suggestions.

    Harold MD
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Have you just been going out there, cutting their grass while assuming they still want it done by someone else? :rolleyes:

    In my first year, I took over 18 of my best friend's customers and since birds of a feather flock, HIS customers were somewhat like him and since he is my friend, they were also somewhat like me. Still I lost 2 right off the bat: One plain did not want to go with me, the other we could not see eye-to-eye. Expect this in your case as well. Also my best friend and I drove to each customer's house and he introduced me to them individually and walked me through the whatever-you-want-to-call-it procedure one-on-one. This helped build trust.

    So advice-wise, I can tell you how to get down and dirty with the collections affair, but I really think a softer approach would work best:
    You want to STOP all service of those who have not paid at this time until you get this resolved BUT do not assume the service is over and do not have an attitude, this is only for you to control your debt management. Plan on not getting paid for some but again, no assumptions just chill.
    A humble, be nice and be yourself, non-arrogant approach works best -

    I think you can chill with the guys who have been paying but as for the rest, I would recommend calling ALL of them. I would ALSO call anyone whom you have NOT serviced (if any) and doing the same.
    So then say Hi and tell them your name and Explains to them what is going on / what has happened. Do this for ALL of them and leave a message if they don't answer:
    Hi, I am FIRSTNAME who has taken over the lawncare aspects of (name-of-business or the guys) <<optional: and Have been cutting your grass>> ... I am new at this and it crossed my mind some folk may or may not want me to service their yard, so I am calling to see if you would be interested in my continued services. So if you would be so kind as to please call me, my phone number is 888-555-1212 and let me know, I would greatly appreciate this. Thank you, and have a nice day.

    That should get you something, do that and then get back here to let us know the results.
    Good luck.
  3. daveintoledo

    daveintoledo LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,587

    topsites is that you, very nicely done sir..

    only thing id ad is when you go , bring your new contract and have them sign..... i now some residetial wont sign a contract, but many might....
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I forgot to include (actually, the cable cut me off):

    Ok so then once you are going through these calls, as you reach these folk (who have not paid you) and if any of them say YES of course I want you to continue servicing my yard, then you might ask:
    I have you on a x-day schedule, is this ok with you? (work with them, see how they're used to having it done). You need to pretty much follow along at this point, here in July most my yards are on 2-3 weeks, some at 4 weeks while a few remain at 10-12 and 14-18 day schedules - This is normal for summer in virginia (just to give you some idea).
    Now if everything is all good and you got the schedule straight and they're all yes-yes and everything is ok-ok green light go, then ask them how they are used to paying for the service and this should get you that resolved, too.

    BEST of Luck! :cool2:
  5. cclc1021

    cclc1021 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 66

    Thank you both very much for your recommendations / suggestions. We will begin this process and get back with you on our success or unsuccess.

    Thanks again,
  6. the ace

    the ace LawnSite Member
    from usa
    Messages: 147

    I have my residentials sign contracts, not to bind them to my services, but more to understand that we do have an agreement for me to mow their property for our agreed upon price. I also insert a clause where the customer or myself may cancel service at any time with a two week written notice. Payment due dates are also noted so there is no confusion on when their payment must reach me and what actions will be taken if payments are not received on time.
  7. PROCUT1

    PROCUT1 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from TN
    Messages: 4,891

    I wouldent call at all.. When we take over residentials we just continue service.
    Companies change ownership all the time.. It should not have an effect on the client service... If you're a one or two man show I could see however that it would make a difference
  8. Miller Rules

    Miller Rules LawnSite Member
    Messages: 66

    You didnt pay for those custemers when you bout the buisness did you.
  9. Gizmo_019

    Gizmo_019 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 104

    When I took over my neighbors, he gave me names and #'s of all his accounts and he called them personally and told them that his employee (me) that had been helping him the last 5 years is taking over his business. They all agreed. It is a small town and I know everyone that I will be mowing personally and they know my parents or grandparents so it was not really an issue.
  10. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,220

    Wondering if you guys have ever put in a late charge in a contract

    If the bill is not paid by X then there will be a 10.00 late fee

    Something to that effect !

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