How do you go about asking customers for their business the next year?

Ijustwantausername

LawnSite Silver Member
Location
Raleigh NC
Normally they either call me or I call them, but with the way it is in my area and most (competition wise), I'm honestly a little scared that if I don't go ahead and get the ball rolling for the next year someone will send an ad, low ball or something else.

My main concern is the contract that just ended for the season. It is a church with X visits per season. They have gone through a lot, committee changes, a bad falling out in the church, and a ton of miscommunication. To make a long story short, the VERY NICE lady I used to deal with got out of the committee (too much for her to handle) and now I have these new guys. They don't know a thing about the contract or me.

Was it an idiot move for me to ask one of they guys "Is the church going to put it up for bid again this year?" I ask because the guy that had it before me was in for good once he won the bid, about 10 years. Instead should I have said "when can we discuss the contract for 2012?"

Yea I know I am worrying, but it's my 2nd largest contract and was the only way I could stay in business this year.

Thanks
 

jsslawncare

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
North Georgia
I always say "see ya in the spring. Call if you need me".
P.S.- I don't do contracts either.
 

AlohaMowing

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Hilo, HI
I like the idea of a contract. While I will do work off contract, even one-time jobs, I always let the people know that their cost is less per mowing if there is a contract for the season.

I would send them a contract for next year, and let them know that the price is going up next year, but they can lock in the better price provided in the contract if they return it to you by . . . [pick a date within the next 30 days]. (And if you say prices are going up, they really do need to go up or you will lose credibility.)

I would not approach them with "when can we discuss the contract for 2012?" because I think it works better for you to offer a contract at a rate that is fair based on your local market. However, you can open the door to a discussion if they balk at your proposed contract terms by including in a cover letter something like "Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or would like to modify terms regarding the services to be provided." And, yeah, it probably was not a good idea to put the idea in their heads to solicit bids (and to take the lowest price).

You say there now are "new guys" to deal with. Try to figure out which of these guys is the real power, and send the proposed contract to him. You might ask the nice lady you had been dealing with who that is, and for any tips on dealing with them. Since it sounds like she may be annoyed with the new guys, she just might want to get back at them by giving you some information that puts them at a disadvantage in your dealings.
 

siclmn

LawnSite Senior Member
I always say I will see you when the lawn starts growing again. To the people that I never see I say nothing. I have been doing this for 30 years now so it works for me. And I don't do contracts.
 

Thanksman

LawnSite Platinum Member
Location
rhode island
I always say I will see you when the lawn starts growing again. To the people that I never see I say nothing. I have been doing this for 30 years now so it works for me. And I don't do contracts.
Do you have any form of an agreement? or just a handshake and someones word..
 

Dr.NewEarth

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
Vancouver Canada
So, I'm curious. If you don't have a written contract, when you eventually have to go to court does the judge read your life line?

Also, a contract has all of your contact information on one piece of paper in one organized place.
 

mlavin73

LawnSite Member
Location
Layton, NJ
Usually at the end of the season when I'm about wrapping things up I mention that if they need anything over the winter (i.e. plowing, tree comes down that they need removed, etc) to give me a buzz. I tell them I usually send the next years proposals out around March 1st and tell them I look forward to hopefully working with them again next year. I send out Christmas cards (actually holiday cards) to everyone I have done anything for (big or small). Come March I send out my proposals and they all have me back. In my 6 years in business I have only lost 1 person. The only reason I lost them was due to the economy. He was a realtor and his business was slow so he started mowing his own yard. I think if you're reliable, priced fairly, and do nice work you don't have anything to worry about. I never do contracts myself.
 

mlavin73

LawnSite Member
Location
Layton, NJ
So, I'm curious. If you don't have a written contract, when you eventually have to go to court does the judge read your life line?

Also, a contract has all of your contact information on one piece of paper in one organized place.
I don't have a written contract, but I'm only doing maintenance at this time. I guess a big landscaping job where I'm laying out a lot of time and money may be a different story. I just send out proposals. If they agree to it, they call me and I start maintaining their account. If they don't pay me I drop them. If they didn't like me and wanted to use someone else I would go on my way. I haven't had a problem with not using contracts.
 

FoghornLeghorn

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Texas
Before the last cut, we roundup our website into their lawn. That way, when the snow melts, they have a reminder to contact us for the upcoming season
Posted via Mobile Device
 

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