Jobs cancelling

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by SprinklerGuy, Oct 1, 2002.

  1. SprinklerGuy

    SprinklerGuy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    What to do:

    Right now we are relatively busy. Busy enough that I have been telling all the people who have shown interest in our bids that we are 2-3 weeks out. This usually causes some dismay on their part and I am sure I have lost some jobs due to this. We are not "custom hardscape" installers so it is pretty easy to find a sprinkler installation company to use if our time frame doesn't fit them. Here is the problem.

    I signed a lady up for a 5k drip system and granite installation job. We were to start Oct. 10th. in the meantime, I know some people didn't want to wait and found another contractor. Well, this lady called and CANCELLED. She said she found someone else that could start tomorrow. She said her landscaper found someone. She lied, because her landscaper is a friend of mine and said he would never do such a thing.

    How do I combat this? If I charge money up front to get on our schedule, some people don't like that. If I don't charge, it is really easy to cancel with us. What to do. Any suggesions?

    MATTHEW LawnSite Senior Member
    from NE OHIO
    Messages: 665

    Ah, the same trouble with my Tree Co. referrals...
    We all know that when we set our minds to buy or build something, we want it ASAP!:blob2:

    You have to be a master salesman AND manager. A lot of companies will start lots of jobs and get part way done to secure the deal, then show up once a week until their fruition.

    Customers hate that too (but the contractor gets the cash).

    You can do that if you want, but sit too long and ........ bye bye baby!:cry:
  3. SCL

    SCL LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 543

    Get the deposit. If they don't like it, they probably are waiting to chump you anyway. It doesn't have to br much, 10 to 20% will do. Tell them if they find a contractor who isn't busy, there's usually a reason why. Good Luck.
  4. soccer coach

    soccer coach LawnSite Member
    from midwest
    Messages: 104

    Sprinklerguy, I know what your saying. Last year my seed guy called and told me if I bought early and enough volume I could get a good deal. I went to my customers and told them I could offer a one-time price that would save them some money if they committed up front to having it done. I sold 80 some verticut and seed jobs with the offer. I bought the seed and 2 months later when it was time to seed over half cancelled saying economy 9-11 was bad and they had to hang onto the money. I took the seed back at a loss big time. All the jobs that cancelled saying 9-11 was why must have cost us 40000.00 plus. I didn't have anyone signed but what do you do if you did. Do you say sorry but you agreed and that is that so you still have to pay and then say good-bye to them for good or take the lump and keep a normally good customer? One thing we have noticed is if they have alot of money they will screw you in a heartbeat but the guy just making enough to do ok is a man of his word and we have never had a no pay from a blue collar guy. I wish I could find a GOOD contract that helped with this problem. Good luck.
  5. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 1,276

    The deposit is to protect you, just like the contract is to protect you.

    Protecting yourself is sometimes done to the exclusion of wildly ecstatic customers.
  6. gusbuster

    gusbuster LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,928

    God, do I ever run into this problem all the time.

    Deposits-no good here due to state law that only allows a 10% deposit. Not worth the trouble since most of my jobs are under 3K.

    As was stated before, if you can find a scrub\contractor, there's a reason he\she is not busy. Always point this out.

    With a signed contract, could you enforce a cancellation fee???

  7. LawnLad

    LawnLad LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 738

    Whether or not a deposit is refundable or not is something you'll have to ask an attorney in your state, preferably someone who practices contract law. There are consumer protection laws in place that depending on your situation, can effect you differently. In Ohio if you violate the laws, the customer may get back the original contract price (whether you completed the work or not) and up to three times damages.

    We charge a 50% deposit, net due upon completion for 95% of our jobs. At the end of the season I will take 20% for a contract next season to book the job and then bill them 30% prior to the start or ask for it the day we show up. We do say (don't know if it's legal) that the deposit is non-refundable. However, I'm not inclined to hold $5,000 if someone cancels their job with reasonable notice. But I will bill them for my time, consultation, bid and any time associated with the project.

    Bottom line is that no matter how small, I would take a deposit. Make people put their money where their mouth is. Hopefully your state law will allow you to make some or all of the deposit non-refundable. Check with your attorney.
  8. scott's turf

    scott's turf LawnSite Senior Member
    from NH
    Messages: 949

    I know some occupations require detailed planning and estimating which they will charge for if the customer renegs on the price. I have usually seen them bill up front for this service and will later deducted it from the bill if they complete the work. This will at least cver your time.
  9. soccer coach

    soccer coach LawnSite Member
    from midwest
    Messages: 104

    THis is just a general question to all. If you had a deposit taken for a future job, say 300.00 down on a install job of a rock garden you had taken the time to lay out on paper for the customer and after they had ok'd the deal and been on the list they cancell. Would you say sorry but I have time in on this job and will need to keep the deposit for time lost as well as maybe loss of work due to telling new customers that it will be awhile to get to them. I have been put in this spot many times. Lots of times I have went back to find they used my idea with another co. or they did it themselves after I showed them how for free :angry: . I have never kept anyones money nor asked for a payment if they changed there minds but I should have i guess as they didn't mind putting the screws to me. Do you say heck with it and make them pay up and have them trash you to the neighbors and friends or take the lump and move on? I know it is easy to say charge them but most of my customers have given us at least one job by referal. I just think we are living in times of little morals and a mans word is just not the same. I was raised that when you put your hand out for a shake and told someone what you wanted to do that you did it end of story. I don't know what gets me going more, letting the money get away or the chewing I got from the wife after :D .
    Time to get right with the world again:drinkup: .
  10. LawnLad

    LawnLad LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 738

    We charge for estimates... maybe not up front. I build it in the cost of the job. If we don't get the job I can always fall back on the agreed upon design/consultation fee of $65.00 per hour. If I don't feel good about the job up front I'll ask for a check that day for my consultation.

    Often when you call ona prospective job the customer asks a million and one questions and you get into design. I explain we can do a design, but that's a separate process. I'll throw out a couple of ideas to entice, but I don't give it all away. I quit using the paint can on estimates to show the customer what they could have. When I used to do that I'd see them out there the next week putting it in themselves.

    So I explain that unless they have a specific job for me to bid on - such as a patio installation or retaining wall, etc., then we need to do a design consulation and that will cost them $65 per hour for any stage of the design. I often get a deposit up front ($150) and then meet with them. I'll often then prorate the final design time based on the amount of installation work we do.

    It doesn't work every time, but it does give you an out if the conversation is going south. I'm very up front with people so it doesn't look like I'm pulling an ace out of my sleeve after 30 minutes. But I also don't slam it in their face either after 3 minutes of talking. I listen and then decide how I'm going to handle the customer.

    Hope this helps.

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