human nature is kooky...

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by lawnguyland, Mar 12, 2007.

  1. lawnguyland

    lawnguyland LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,108

    Every year I send out my new contracts around feb 1st and have a spring clean-up discount if the spcu is paid beofre 2/15/ I usually get 40-50% of the contracts back by 2/15 to take advantage of the offer. Then I get few to none for the next few weeks. By 3/10 I send out reminder notices. Once it gets warm or the reminders reach the people I ususally get the rest back and signed. Or, as soon as a few co's are out working people will be reminded that way and send them in. I've been tracking the dates by which x number of clients have signed up for the last 4 years and it seems pretty consistent. It makes me much less nervous knowing that this time last year I was only at 50% returned, and the year before, and the year before. However, it never fails that I get worried they're all jumping ship and I won't have enough work. Looking at the past numbers helps a lot though to ease my mind. ( I got my mind on my money and my money on my mind -who's that from? LL? Wu Tang? a lil' help?).
    I usually get most of the customers back by the end of the first full week of working, around the 20th of march or so. Makes me mad -grrrrrr. I make it sooooooo easy for them and offer an incentive to pay some early. I include a stamped, pre-printed return envelope and all they have to do is pick services and sign. Six weeks later and only 50%. Silly. Why must they torture me? I know if the past is a reliable predictor of the future I'll be fine so that helps, but dang nab it.

    Anyone else notice this trend?

    FWIW- I hate calling everyone or meeting with each person so I do it by mail and will continue to, plus I need the signed contracts in case DEC comes a knockin', or I want to sell the business.
  2. bullethead

    bullethead LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 273

    Amend your agreement and say "we consider you a customer for the upcoming season unless YOU call and cancel", seems like that would remove your stress and administrative burden.
  3. lawnguyland

    lawnguyland LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,108

    Not a bad idea. I think I'm gonna do something at the end of this year like that, but I also like to raise prices as needed and the pesticide contracts demand application dates so I need to have new ones each year, so - good idea, but won't really work I guess.
  4. sweetlou

    sweetlou LawnSite Member
    Messages: 32

    I think we all get a little nervouse around this time of year,you start seeing flyers all over the place with outragouse prices,I cant see how guys advertising 20 per cut can even give a quote without even being to the house,I consider them fly by night operations, i also believe homeowners dont want some illigal imagrant in and out of thier yards when there not home because 85% of the time noone is home during the day,and if Im going to lose a stop because some guy is cheap good riddance you get what you pay for,anyway why waste your time worrying but I will validate that its human nature to worry when your livelyhood is the matter at hand
  5. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    Yes, even though you ask them nicely to notify you by a certain date, many just won't. Then they call up a week after it should have been mowed, with it all tall, wanting you to just show up and make it look like it's always been maintained for the price of a single mowing. You explain that you need a commitment by a certain date to be able to know your workload and advertise accordingly, but they don't give a damn. It takes maybe 15 seconds to send a reply email or call. Too self-important to do that.

    I may have to start some kind of discount/charge game to force them to act like human beings.

    This sort of hard to deal with, selfish behavior by the illustrious citizens of this nation is one big reason why I do this for a living. It's less contact with them than at most jobs. And things are getting worse, year by year.

    It makes me wonder if the reason Muslims hate us is that they've had to do business with fat, lazy, cheap American consumers. <jk>
  6. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    Hey man, don't feel bad... same here!

    A lot of mine re-signed in Dec/Jan.

    The ones that start later are always the ones that bug me.
    I call it sand-bagging.

    They sand-bag around until the last minute and wait until something "needs" doing to renew.
    By then it is too late for anything spring-related and everything.

    Well, I say no more of this... because I'm uneasy and I have too much trouble planning.
    No more of it... reminder letters are going out soon.

    I'll be addressing the issue and they'll have a short time to get with the program.
    Else they will loose the benefit of their status as an existing customer.

    In other words I will start working towards scheduling new work and if they loose their spot... so be it... I gave them the opportunity to pre-register/pre-renew/whatever.

    Myself, I'm getting the paperwork together to automate the process for next season, and I will ammend their contracts with this paperwork should I decide I'm returning for 2008.

    The idea is that I will be sending out ammendments next year to notify the customer of auto-renewal and rate increases. This way the ship is flipped. Instead of the old way, now they will have to call to cancel instead of calling to renew.
  7. lawnguyland

    lawnguyland LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,108

    Thanks for your reply, sounds good (even though I'll fear the phone for a while then!).

    It's a great thing about being solo- once maxed out you can pick and choose customers. If they don't get back to you in time and you get a better account first it's see ya later alligator. We rule.
  8. lawnguyland

    lawnguyland LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,108

    PS I'm expecting a big response this week. The reminder letters should arrive coinciding with the temps in the 60s and maybe 70 with sun. Time to wake up sleepy customers!
  9. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    Yeah, and to expand I would do it EARLY.

    Like I would send it out early and give an early date to call by in order to cancel.... otherwise they will be scheduled and charged.

    This way you find out early who is not going to return and you also get the returns to commit early before the spring rush and other offers.

    This way you know what you have and you can adjust your efforts accordingly.
  10. HOOLIE

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    This is why all my customers are on 'auto-renew' contracts/service agreements. Otherwise essentially you are firing your entire customer base at the end of each season...out of sight, out of mind, I just show up each spring.

    I think that line was from Snoop Dogg...

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