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Struggling with contract mowing dilemma...please help

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by JLC, Mar 17, 2001.

  1. JLC

    JLC LawnSite Senior Member
    from IA
    Messages: 467

    I am offering 12 month seasonal contracts with equal monthly payments to customers for the first time this year and could really use some input on the topic of payment. My dilemma is that I can't get away with mowing weekly in the spring, but can typically go 2 to 3 weeks in the summer months without mowing. How do I cover myself if I get a customer who decides to cancel the contract mid year. I've got way more dollars in the job than what I would have been paid so far. Later in the summer it would even out, but early cancelation doesn't give that a chance. I have thought about listing the cost per time and multiplying it by x cuts per year, then issuing credits or invoices to reconcile the accounts at the end of the year or upon contract termination, but this seems like such a pain. Don't know if I should just say it will be x amount per year and try to hit the number of cuts that I've estimated. Any input would really help as the season is drawing close and I'm STESSING out.

    Thanks in advance.

    Ben Johnson
    Johnson Lawn Care
  2. yorkpaddy

    yorkpaddy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 137

    if your gonna give them a yearly price, even by month, i would ask for a year long committment
  3. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,937

    JLC: I'm confused. If you have a contract, then your customer is obligated for the season. If not, why bother with the contract? I'm presuming you wrote the contract, just so the mid-season cancel problem wouldn't happen. I thought only Major League Baseball players broke contracts.

    I never work with a contract, only a handshake. I have one customer on a monthly basis. If it is a heavy cutting season, he wins. If the number of cuts is light, I win. Even last year, when I made 36 cuts, about four more than expected, he paid me a bonus at the end to more than cover for the four extra cuts. He didn't even ask, just sent me the money.

    Do contracts solve more problems than they create? Where is mutual trust between service provider and customer?

    [Edited by Roger on 03-17-2001 at 08:17 PM]
  4. Ok I will throw you deadbeats a bone. You can't pin people down for an entire year. What if they decide to sell and move out of town?

    Since my services are top loaded in the
    early spring due to aeration, dethatching, and fertilization services I charge a cancellation fee for
    early cancelation based on the actual cost of the above services.
  5. JLC

    JLC LawnSite Senior Member
    from IA
    Messages: 467

    Maybe I am looking at this from the wrong angle. The reason I am offering the contract this year is to ease the burden on the customer, sincerly. While it is good for my bottom line, I have issues with sending a massive bill at the end of the month because it rained a bunch and they had a liquid fertilizer applied by xyz lawn care. I want to offer this to help them budget for lawncare. Please don't think that I'm a softy, but the heart of this business is serving the customer in all aspects. Maybe what you are saying is right, you sign a contract you are commited, you can't get out. If this isn't right for you pay monthly. Just trying to get this issue sorted out. Keep the responses coming, it is very helpful to me.

  6. JLC

    JLC LawnSite Senior Member
    from IA
    Messages: 467

    Stone, do you state in your contract how much you charge per month or do you come up with a number for the customer in the event of termination. Also if you state a number in the contract that they sign do you then reconcile the account at the end of the year based on actual usage. If not I would think you would get complainers...I paid too much. I just want to keep people happy.

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