Residential contracts

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by IowaLawnEnforcement, Jan 3, 2007.

  1. IowaLawnEnforcement

    IowaLawnEnforcement LawnSite Member
    Messages: 40

    I keep mulling over the idea of presenting my customers with a yearly contract. I am afraid I will scare them away. Can anyone give me some ideas how to present and close these customers on contract.

    Should I skip this plan or should I only approach new customers with contracts.
  2. garydale

    garydale LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 813

    ( IMO)I would practice on new clents/sales to work out any kinks in contracts etc.
    Use your current customers as a safety net.
  3. Tim Wright

    Tim Wright LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,034

    I am doing this very thing this year.

    This is what I have done, with so far 100% retainment.

    I worked up a newsletter in MSPublisher detailing history, New Changes in Business Structure, New Equipment and Employees etc, New Services, and especially the fact that we are going to a contract bases.

    Then I hand delivered this newsletter to all existing clients. As I delivered them I explained what was in the newsletter. The newsletter also has a referral part where they can refer others and get a free mowing. Then I verbally explained why it IS NECCESSARY for me to get contracts from everyone from this point on.

    Those reasons are as follows:

    1. I am adding new customers and the business is growing and so I am going to use software to track projects, routing, customers, employees, and money.

    I need the contract to state all of their pertenant information so that I can put it into the data base.

    2. We are changing to a schedule bases and I need in writing the schedule that they want us to keep

    3. We are switching to different plans and the contract will state the payment plan.

    4. Everything we are doing will be based in writing.

    5. Contracts will be appealing to the banks should I have the need to approach them for further financing.

    That is the basics of what I did.

  4. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    My commercial customers receive a written contract in which they intial certain areas and sign the bottom of every page. My residents receive a letter indicating what our pricing will be for that year which includes all types of maintenance (hedgtrimming, leaf removal, lawn maintenance, pest/fert appl., etc.). Everything is outlined and I sign the letter.

    At the bottom of the letter I have a place for them to sign and date. I call my 'letter' a service agreement NOT a contract. B/C i've found out most residents are fearfull of a contract. I'm not sure why but its the impression I get most of the time. This has worked out fine for years now.
  5. Prestige-Lawncare

    Prestige-Lawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 753

    On lawn care and landscape maintenance, I call it a "Service Agreement" and not a contract.

  6. J&R Landscaping

    J&R Landscaping LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,095

    I do the same thing as well! :usflag:
  7. Team-Green L&L

    Team-Green L&L LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,775

    Don't take this the wrong way, but the term "service agreement" was invented by the sales guy that couldn't sell a "contract" (true story). Contracts are often presented to benefit the contractor and rarely do contractors draw up a contract that benefits both parties equally and explains those benefits to the client. Being up-front is always good. The contract protects the client in that:

    1. They have the ability to cancel services if you are not doing your job.
    2. They have legal remedies if you cause damages.
    3. There is a written document to protect their assets if your papers aren't current.
    4. They have piece of mind that the contract will be fulfilled.
    5. They will have a solid document of all pertinent information.
    6. Insurance documentation
    and many other benefits you can probably come up with.

    Explain your contracts to the client in a respectable way and they will view you as more reputable. Contracts are "dual-binding agreements" whereas a "service agreement" is generated by the company to define the "terms" of service.
  8. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    exactly right:rolleyes:

    Residents seem to have no problem signing a 'service agreement' but when they see 'contract' they are hesitant.
  9. cl&l c.c. Tx

    cl&l c.c. Tx LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    This seems to be one of the most useful threads I've seen on lawnsite in a while (to me anyway). Some good imformation for the little guys (me). Good luck to all this season!!!!
  10. Tim Wright

    Tim Wright LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,034

    Its kind of funny in that I actually call ours a Lawn Maintenance Agreement, but verbally I call it a contract because that is what is.

    As Andrew says, I explain to them that its a two way street, and either side can deal with aspects, complaints, or termination with a 30 days in writing.

    It keeps both sides honest. I should say that we do our utmost to be as honest as possible but when things are in writing, sometimes that creates a comfort zone.

    I should also say that I am going to do my own personal best to maintain a personal relationship with all customers under my, even though someone else may be servicing their properties, and when we grow enough to have another person doing what I am doing, (doubling our service coverage) they too will be expected to keep things personal while at the same time, being all business.


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