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Wanted, a simple contract

6073 Views 11 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  LawnLad
Ya, ya, do a search, you're gonna say. 2702 results to sort through, most with obscure thread titles.
I've had this mowing job for three years, dealing with the, I guess she's the VP, she's the bosses wife. The other day I get a phone call from a foreman that I have worked with, at a local construction company. He tells me the boss-ladies brother has been laid off from his job, and he will be doing the mowing, "for 4-6 weeks." Ok, big deal, two lawns, I'll replace them. After getting off the phone, I begin to stew. If they want to help him, hire him at the company, I think to my self. The two lawns are every other week lawns. Mowing day rolls around, I drive by the main office, it's half mowed. Next day, it is finished. Scalped. Another week rolls by, the second lawn that I mowed for them still isn't mowed! Looks like crap. I stopped in at the business across the street, where everyone would get in the window and watch me mow. Told them, I am not responsible for that mess across the street. This guy is taking my work and making me look bad. I am expecting a call from them sooner or later, and I want to be able to say that I will bring the paperwork to the office to get them back on my schedule.
I have not been using contracts, as it seems that the market will not bear it in this locality. Now it seems that I need to rethink this policy, and need something basic as soon as possible. I may not get these lawns back, when they hear their new prices, and I bring a contract to their office. That is OK with me, but I want to see the look on their faces when I tell them they need to sign up, or I won't do the work. They are contractors, they don't use verbal contracts for their projects.
Please keep the "I told you so" posts to a minimum, and thank you in advance for the help.
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No one wants to share a simple contract? I gotta do a search tonite, I guess. I went by one of the lawns yesterday, still not mowed. I want to be ready if/when they call.
I've got a contract that I've been using for residential this year. It works great for residentials, but I know it won't do for 99% of commercial accounts.

I'd love to see some example commercial contracts.

What is the primary difference between residential and commercial contracts? Just the term of the contract?

Hi Crawdad,

Here are a few links. Maybe they will help you with your contract hunt.

Link 1

Link 2 a *.doc file

Link 3 a *.pdf file

I hope this helps.

I have to tell you.

I've been watching what I see...........your a big help here :)

Is your program able to sleamlessly work with QB?

Just sent you a PM.
Originally posted by GLAN

I have to tell you.

I've been watching what I see...........your a big help here :)

Is your program able to sleamlessly work with QB?
Gopher 2003 Plus & Pro can export your customers, payments and invoices with line item details to QuickBooks via an IIF file. We are working on tightening the integration so that it will eventually be as seamless as possible. Right now there is an export step involved in transferring the data. This step is very simple. But we are going to make it even easier in the future.
Thanks, I'll check out those links tonight.
Well, crawdad, did you find what you were looking for?
Crawdad - maybe the question is a little ambiguous. What type of contract do you want? I can think of several things that would make a response a little more helpful.

You mention a business, so is your contract for only commercial work or will you use the contract to handle residential customers as well?

Will your contract be a fee for service or installment type contract?

You will also need to make some business decisions when you write your contract. When you write a contract you are stating the method in which you operate your business.

One consideration you'll want to make which is what you're asking in your first post is what you want to do about customer cancellations. Do you want to legally bind your customers to your contract even if they're not happy with service? Often times you'll see in contracts that either party may cancel the contract with written notice, maybe 48 hrs notice. Some have 30 days notice. Even though you have a contract for a 1 year period, what happens when a business is sold or moves? Do they still have to pay you for the entire value of the contract? My opinion - I'd let them out of the contract.

Other things to think about when writing your contract:

Time frame for payment
Penalties for late payment
NSF fee
Collections policies and fees
Personal guarantee from owner of business for account balance
What is the time frame of the contract?
What is the scope of work to be completed?
How is the work priced?
What about change orders or amendments to the contract?
Liability concerns
Warranty issues (if you're doing installations on the contract)

Often a contract is set up with the front side identifying who is "Offering" the services and who is "Accepting" the services. Also define what work is included (scope of services) and the pricing. These are the variable factors.

On the back side of the contract you would have the general terms and conditions where you lay out the provisions for payments, collections, NSF, liabilities, change orders/amendments, etc.

Remember that each state has different laws so you'll want an attorney to review your contract to make sure the statements in your contract are legal in your state.

Also, residential work has different requirements for contracts than do commercial customers. I would highly recommend your consulting with an attorney for the residential if you're in this line of work.

Hope this helps a little.
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Well, LawnLad, you have suceeded in that I now have more questions than I started with.
I was looking for a simple mowing contract, to ensure that I get more than a few days notice when I am being replaced with someones useless bro-in-law who was laid off from his real job. This is my real job, and i take it seriously. It's been a month, tommorrow, and the bosses wifes brother still hasn't mowed one of the two lawns.
I don't want a contract that will make anyone pay for services not rendered.
Lets see...
"Time frame for payment"
Monthly billing, instead of standing there waiting for 10 minutes or more, when I have been right outside for an hour or more already. They know I'm out there.
"Penalties for late payment"
What's the maximimum allowed in Tennessee?
"Collections policies and fees"
What's the maximimum allowed in Tennessee?
"NSF fee"
What's the maximimum allowed in Tennessee?
"Collections policies and fees"
What's the maximimum allowed in Tennessee?
"Personal guarantee from owner of business for account balance"
What's a good way to word that?
"What is the time frame of the contract? "
One mowing season, with reasonable allowances to let either party out of the contract WITH PROPER NOTICE

"What is the scope of work to be completed?"
Mowing, trimming the property in a professional manne at the agreed upon time intervals.
"How is the work priced?"
Priced per cut.
"What about change orders or amendments to the contract?"
change orders and amendments mean new price must be discussed.
"Liability concerns"
I have liability insurance, but would like any clues to protect myself from any hazards introduced by the property owner.
"Warranty issues (if you're doing installations on the contract)"
This isn't an installation contract.

I was hoping that I could avoid the hiring of a lawyer, by building one with help from you folks. I may be able to write one, by combining parts of all the links I was directed to by you nice people. I'm starting to think that instead, I'll tell them to stick it if/when they call back. I have worked many years without requiring contracts, even though I have to sign one for something as simple as getting tires changed at Wal-mart.
Want a new cell phone? Two year contract.
Want to hire someone to mow your lawn all year? No problem, there's always somone else, who doesn't require contracts, in the paper. Or, hey, I know this guy, he's laid off, he can mow it.

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Crawdad -

Take the new questions where you don't have ready answers and you'll have to do a search on the previous discussions on these topics. Start new threads with specific questions that are nto answered through your research.

Writing a contract is not quick nor easy. You'll constantly be revising it over time as well since you'll encounter new situations where you'll need to protect yourself so you don't repeat mistakes.

Your contract should describe in detail what you plan on doing and how you plan on getting paid. Define the relationship through the contract.

For instance, under scope of work:

The following services will be performed on a weekly basis:
1) Pick up trash and debris located on lawn areas (trash in parking lot cleaned up by company maintenance personnel)
2) Mow all lawn/turf areas on premesis (see site map in Sch A)
3) Flat trim (line trim) lawn areas as needed
4) Blow off hard surfaces including front and side entry walk, employee lunch area/patio, and curbing around parking lot.
5) Spray Round-Up in all cracks of paved areas on premesis

The following services will be performed at least once per month:
1) Edge sidewalks
2) Blow off parking lot after maintenance personnel have picked up trash

Bed Maintenance Services will be performed as follows:
1) Ornamental bushes will be sheared no more than once per month from May through September.
2) Ornamental trees will be pruned once per year
3) Beds will be weeded no more than twice monthly as needed

This is off the top of my head, but you can begin to break your work down into areas such as fertilizing, aerating, seasonal clean ups, etc. Since the work is fee for service you may not have to be as detailed. But the contract should be specific enough that there won't be a question about how frequently service is to occur.

As for change orders and amendments to contracts - here is a sample claus:

Future Dealings and Change Orders: The terms and conditions contained in this Agreement govern all future dealings between the parties and supersedes any and all other agreements, either oral or in writing, and contains all of the agreements, covenants and other obligations between the parties hereto with respect to the goods. Any changes, substitutions, amendments, cancellations, extensions, revisions, or modifications of this Agreement, in whole or in part and on one or more occasions, shall not be invalid or unenforceable because of lack of consideration, provided that said changes, substitutions, amendments, cancellations, extensions, revisions, or modifications, shall be in writing, authorized and confirmed by the Contractor.

The advantage to having a claus similar to above is that it is VERY clear about how you handle changes to the contract. Unless you have it in writing which you sign off on, you won't include anything in your contract. So your contract will need to spell out what you're going to do.

You could restate the above into more layman terms by saying:

Any additional work requested by Owner that is outside the scope fo the contract will require a written change order signed by the Owner. Work performed under the Change Order is subject to the same terms and conditions of the Agreement between Owner and Contractor.

This type of statement isn't overly wordy, but covers you on most things. Do you have to have a legalese contract? No. And that is a business decision about how you want your contract to appear.

The advantage to having an attorney review what you have written after you've done your homework is that they will advise you as to what possible exposure you have with your contract. You don't have to follow their advice, but at least you'll know what risks you're taking. You might spend $500 to $1000 on your contract, but that once of prevention may prevent that pound of cure.
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