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How many customers on "agreements" are gonna be there next year?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by FrankenScagMachines, Nov 14, 2002.

  1. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Messages: 4,739

    Gotta quick question for ya'll. Customers that are mostly mowing, trimming, blowing, occasional edging, and leaf removal weekly, that are on an agreement type deal (no signed contract but just don't look around) of these types, how many stay with you the next year? Thanks alot!
  2. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    Most of mine do. I've only lost about 5 alltogether and none of them bothered me when I lost them. Handshake agreements are good if the people are good.

    But the bad part about handshake arangements is certain situations arise and the next thing you know they want to turn into the "I'll call you type". Examples, their job gets slow, a little drought hits, they loose a little interest in having a great looking lawn ect...

    I don't do "I'll call you's"!!! I can't justify holding the slot open for a maybe when I can have something solid. For next season all of mine will get proposals for annual maintenace. I'm doing things on 1st come first serve and those current clients who sign annuals get timeslots 1st. Then I'll weigh out the rest.
  3. dlandscaping

    dlandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    from mass
    Messages: 835

    Find new clients!
  4. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Well, for the first couple of years we did mostly seasonal maintenance accounts (e.g. came from March-October or so.) and we retained a good 90% or more every year. Nowadays we only do year-round maintenance accounts. And of the 160 accounts we now have, none of them are on contract. Still, we seem to retain most of them from one year to the next.

    Going into last winter I think we had about 140 or so year accounts. And we lost a few over the winter. But we gained a few too and came out with the same amount of customers going into the spring.

    I have always felt that if you do a great job, people will just want to continue your service. And that philosophy has proven pretty true over the last 7 years.
  5. jason r.

    jason r. LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 338

    my story is about the same as jimlewis'
    in the winter i'll lose about 10% of my customers (usually the cheap ones) but by the spring i usually have them replaced (usually with better more reliable customers).
  6. bubble boy

    bubble boy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,020

    hey BHB i assume you're question here is related to the offer you have to purchase some accounts-it was 17 i believe?

    90% or more is fair for your own accounts, but it might be less on purchased ones. people don't like to be switched from their old company to another. and be prepared, i would also imagine your age would cause some old folks to bail...
  7. johnhenry

    johnhenry LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 488

    All are commercial accounts are all locked into contracts for next year. For are homeowner accounts we dont use contracts. I have found out homeowners very rarely change if you do a good job and are honest to them.
  8. Turfdude

    Turfdude LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,899

    I too am in the same boat as most; for every oneI lose, I gain two. Furthermore, you'll find the one's you lose are generally accounts you would not currently sigh (eg. the 2 weekers, or oneswhich want just mowing as opposed to full service). Typical example, this week I lost 2 accounts (one client home & office) that I've been doing for the last 10-12 years. Guy is a calendar watcher - in June "put office on 2 week schedule for rest of year". Since its under 2500 sq.ft, I don't care that I may have to bag it, but his property never looksasgood asthe restof my commercials in thes ame area that not only get weekly service, but also have fertilization, mulching, pruning, etc. We lost his account because he felt that leaf fees were charged when "the leaves haven't even started to fall yet". The client lives across the street from a park w/ 75 + yr old oaks, tulips and maples. His 1/2 acre lot has at least 8 trees at 50+ years. I guess that his lawn had no leaves on it (or in the street out front each week) because of an immaculate clean-up. Not. I have already replaced both of these accounts w/ 2 full service clients. It'll just bring up my gross sales for the year by another 2Kor so.
    Sorry for the long post, kinda wanted to vent a little.
    BHB, asothers stated, if you do good work there's no reason why you shouldn't retain over 90%of your accounts. We retain 90+ every year. Usually lose for the following reasons in decreasing% respectively moving, death, dropped by us - bad pay/attitude, dissatisfaction of our services.

    Good luck

  9. I'm with Trufdude. Some you loose due to circumstances beyond anyones control. ie: death
    The others you're just as glad to see them go. Kind of like an unhappy marriage. A mutual parting.

    I don't see the advantage of contracts. They seem to create more problems for me than they solve. People are just reluctant to sign. Or else I'm just a really poor salesman.

    I'm having better luck with establishing "my company policy".
    Sometimes it's fliers in with the bills or information printed on the back of the actual bills.

    Some of mine are: "I mow only as it grows, bill only for the actual work performed."
    Or even:
    "Core aeration and topdressing are best when performed in the early spring or late fall" (that's when I have time to do it)

    It just seems to be a good way to educate the customer on what to expect from me. While it avoids the pressures involved in getting a signed contract.

    I keep close to 100% of my customers thru the winter without any contracts. I do try to ask each one every fall with, "You're having me back next year aren"t you?" Plus I show up early in the spring.


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