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View Full Version : to sign or not to sign a contract that is the question


z50kidd
01-09-2010, 08:57 AM
On this business I am starting,I bought this mans equipment,and he said the customers were thrown in at no charge.But no guarantee on customer base.All his customers (residential) were by hand shake,no contracts signed.He has been in business for 4 years.He is leaving the business due to health reasons.I stand to inherit 40 customers from his original base of 50.Some of the ones I won't get were his family members,church members and one is moving (renter) military.I am torn on this,because a contract would be nice for year round.As it is right now,he only cuts his customers once a month in dec,jan,feb.But he told me ,alot of his customers did not like contracts.

cklandscapingorlando
01-09-2010, 10:47 AM
I dont do contracts for resi. It's a waste of paper. Your invoice every month is gonna do the same as that contract in court. What you need is a non compete from the guy your buying from. If the deal is free work and your only paying for equipment, then why do you care? Count your blessings if their really free I would say

Steve
01-09-2010, 11:57 AM
How did he help you and the customers with the transition? Did he take you to each client and give you a chance to meet with them?

C&R_Lawn_Care
01-24-2010, 11:41 PM
i agree with ckland

resi customers do not really like contracts just becuase .... If you lose one there is 1000 more wanting there lawn cut

but when you get into commerical work where is not as many so make a contract and do your best/





I dont do contracts for resi. It's a waste of paper. Your invoice every month is gonna do the same as that contract in court. What you need is a non compete from the guy your buying from. If the deal is free work and your only paying for equipment, then why do you care? Count your blessings if their really free I would say

psparaco
01-25-2010, 09:41 AM
I always do contracts with residential, unless its towards the end of the season like end of August. Here is the reaon why. My contract is outlined as follows: their name billing address and actual address of property to be serviced. A number to contact them at, and some general terms. Terms such as what their service is limited to, a line stating the yard should be free of obstructions such as toys, lawn furniture, trash prior to our visit. Also all pets must be secured as to pose no threat to my personnel. A line stating if they need to postpone a scheduled service, they must notify us within 48 hours so as not to pay a fee of $20 fee for us wasting our time to come out when service wasnt wanted at that time. any of all services listed can be terminated at any time by either party for any reason and all monies owed shall be owed at time of termination. Payment for one time services is due upon completion of service. checks returned for insufficient funds would incur a $50 service fee and may interupt reoccuring services. I think you need to have a contract on top of an invoice. if you don't they may try to take advantage of you and pay you when they feel like it. try to get additional services for free and more or less take advantage of you. If anyone would like a copy of my general service aggreement (GSA), let me know and i will post it on here. I took several GSA samples on here and made my own from pieces of each. I have also tweaked it over the past few weeks to add in the fact i am implementing monthly prepayments and only accept weekly payments on a case by case basis.

Steve
01-25-2010, 05:34 PM
If anyone would like a copy of my general service aggreement (GSA), let me know and i will post it on here. I took several GSA samples on here and made my own from pieces of each. I have also tweaked it over the past few weeks to add in the fact i am implementing monthly prepayments and only accept weekly payments on a case by case basis.

I'd love to see it here, thanks!

Can you tell us a little why you use it? Do you feel there have been issues you have dealt with in the past that lead you to the point of using a contract?

Do you feel they are there to help protect you from getting burned by the customer? Or what is your view?

psparaco
01-25-2010, 10:33 PM
I'd love to see it here, thanks!

Can you tell us a little why you use it? Do you feel there have been issues you have dealt with in the past that lead you to the point of using a contract?

Do you feel they are there to help protect you from getting burned by the customer? Or what is your view?

ok attached is my General Service Agreement contract for your review. I value everyone's input to improve.

I added in the monthly pre-billing due to several extremely late payments last year. I don't want to deal with that headache no more. You want to pay weekly. there is a fee. as you will see in my contract. I feel this contract binds me to them over some kid in the neighborhood going door to door for on the fly mowing and doing a crappy job. I had this happen as well last year. I had a contract with one client. they hired for the day some kid to do their yard for half the price. no trimming, no cleanup. grass everywhere. I called them on the day i was scheduled to service their property. they told me they had it done but it needed to be cleaned up. When i asked why and they told me. i told them the contract you signed was terminated when you hired someone else to mow your lawn. Maybe I was wrong, but they agreed i would service their property. No one else. I felt it was a conflict of interest and got out of the contract. I also had passed out additional flyers in another neighborhood. one woman hired me after the fact that she hired someone else on a verbal agreement only. no written contract. so when i showed up to mow, he showed up 30 min later and was pissed. we exchanged words and i simply said. i have a written contract with Mrs...... Did she sign one with your company. He said no, just a verbal agreement and left. so she hired me for a cheaper rate and it was documented. If she wanted to hired someone else , she would need to call me to terminate the contract first before going with another company. It worked out. he never trimmed every time. didnt cleanup completely. his men were drinking on the job so she says. She told me she didnt even know i was there half the time and by the time she noticed i was there, i was done and collecting my payment.

Well bed time. let me know what yall think of my contract and if i need to reword any part. or add or delete anything.

thanks in advance for your reviews.

Steve
01-25-2010, 11:10 PM
There is a lot of great stuff in there.

First off, I was wondering, how to you start your new customers when it comes to billing?

I am guessing you meet up with them, walk their property, figure out how much to charge and then present them with the contract. Once they sign it, do they hand you a check for the first month's mowing in advance? Or how does that work?

What kind of response have you gotten for charging in advance?

cklandscapingorlando
01-26-2010, 05:38 AM
We'll see if it loads. If so this is our standard contract. You need more specific in terms of what your doing

psparaco
01-26-2010, 07:44 AM
There is a lot of great stuff in there.

First off, I was wondering, how to you start your new customers when it comes to billing?

I am guessing you meet up with them, walk their property, figure out how much to charge and then present them with the contract. Once they sign it, do they hand you a check for the first month's mowing in advance? Or how does that work?

What kind of response have you gotten for charging in advance?

the process for me usually goes as follows: I put a flyer out, they call me to inquirer. If they ask for an estimate. I schedule a time when we are both available or go out right after they call. I come out to walk the property. Discuss any thing else they may need, answer any questions. Note any obstructions which will be required to be cleaned up or moved prior to my arrival. If all goes well which is normally does. sit down with them and go over the contract. It takes roughly 5-10 min for them to read it over and give me any questions. I don't allow them to sign a single line until they fully unsterstand it.

I havent done the charging in advance yet. This is a new bill method i am enforcing. Last year i did property inspections on sundays. Called them up to confirm they wanted it done which was a hassle. Alot chose to wait to the last minute to have it done. This year i plan to have certain days pre scheduled for each property. either it gets cut or it don't. If they dont want it cut. its their responsibility to call me as stated in my contract. I plan to follow the contract to a T. I also dealt with people paying me 2 weeks pasts the time the money was due. I gave everyone 5 days to pay for their service and a handful had issues with that. I dropped a few clients cause of that. If you have to pay your mortgage/rent, any utility or cable bill a certain time of the month. then they need to pay me the same way. Its all about budgeting.

I plan to purchase the gohpher software. I love it just dont have the money for it yet. print out an invoice with 4 dated services for the upcomiing month. and hand deliver or mail to them the invoice. and either they cut me a check then or call me to arrange a time to meet up prior to the first mowing to pay me. It looks good on paper. I hope it turns out good when it all goes down. I'll let everyone know what happens when the time comes.

time to get the little one to school. Be back shortly.

Paul

psparaco
01-26-2010, 08:35 AM
ck landscaping. your contract if excellent for commerical contracts. I would think they would want a detailed outline of what you will be performing. As for residential. Thats a bit much. In time when i decide to add in commericial lots. i may upgrade my contract or have a separate contract solely for commericial contracts. I wish we had bi weekly service during the dormant months but the grass doenst grow at all here in maryland. Its like novemeber hits and it just stops growing. I think i mowed 2 properties up until the end of november which includes leaf cleanups. I intend to mention additional services we provide when doing the intitial estimate walk through. I don't at the time provide additional services except trimming of hedges/bushes. bush removal and garden weeding. I intend to get a ladder and a pressure washer or some sort to allow me to do gutter cleaning and pressure washing itself. My biggest question is this. If i actually do fertilizer applications. Can any one apply granular fertilizer or do you have to have a license to apply it. I would assume you need a license to apply liquid fertlizer. Maybe i need to check with the local EPA. I am all new to the fertilizer end of it other then applying it for the sole purpose of my own place.

Steve
01-26-2010, 05:36 PM
We'll see if it loads. If so this is our standard contract. You need more specific in terms of what your doing

Can you re-save it as a doc file and not a docx file and post it again? I can only open doc files. Thank you so much.

psparaco
01-26-2010, 11:30 PM
here steve...
I saved the word *.docx down to *.doc. docx is for word 2007. any word file 97-2007 is doc. hope this helped. I tend to save all my documents as the lower version in case anyone i send a file to doesnt have the latest version of microsoft word, excel or publisher.

cklandscapingorlando
01-27-2010, 05:35 AM
Hey thanks man. I did'nt know what Steve was talking about. I'm not so good with comp stuff.

I dont use contracts for resi. I believe yours would probly work fine for that though.

As for mine, well I wrote it myself so there may be areas that need tweeking. I'm no lawyer or writer for that matter but so far it's looked better than most of what I've seen out there.

psparaco
01-27-2010, 09:00 AM
I am a little more advanced when it comes to computers. My past profession I sat at a desk 8-5 or longer doing computer aided drafting and design for an engineering firm. I made more money then i do now but due to this sucky economy. I was laid off and it forced me to re-evaluate my income options. I am proficient in Excel writing formulas, word , outlook, and autocad. autocad is a great graphics program and i could technically design from scratch my own logo if i so chose. but its not loaded on this pc. only my old pc thats behind me, but that thing is soo slow i never touch it except to transfer music files.
I had made an excel spreadsheet to calculate all my monthly expenses, actual and projected income from lawn care on a weekly and monthly basis. It also calculates how much all my bills are for my off season so i know how much i need to make during my mowing season to be able to survive without lifting a finger november to march. I added in a section to allow for helper pay too if i hired someone. It suits me fine but if anyone wanted to see it, i could edit some of the numbers and make a basic one to post on here. thats up to yall if you all want to see it.

In regards to contracts. 95% of residential customers dont need to know exactly how your servicing their yard in that much detail. if they knew all that, they may have done it themselves. lol. Commericially, a client needs to know where their money is coming for their books. i know this simply cause i seen parts of the proposal brickman gave to my ex-employer for their landscaping proposal. sad thing is they dont even do a good job. They skip one section that the delivery boy ended up having to do after the fact with a trimmer. When i become large enough. i intend to attempt to win a bid for them. But thats in time. for now i am solely residential. You may not be a lawyer or writer but your contract in my eyes is exactly what any commerical client would need to see.

Steve
01-27-2010, 07:02 PM
Thanks for reposting it. I use the openoffice.org word processor and it cant read the docx files only the doc files. I am looking at it now.

I havent done the charging in advance yet. This is a new bill method i am enforcing. Last year i did property inspections on sundays. Called them up to confirm they wanted it done which was a hassle. Alot chose to wait to the last minute to have it done. This year i plan to have certain days pre scheduled for each property. either it gets cut or it don't.

The thing that I don't understand is the property inspections. How often do you do these property inspections?

psparaco
01-27-2010, 10:18 PM
The thing that I don't understand is the property inspections. How often do you do these property inspections?

78% of the properties I service are rental properties. The 78% is comprised of 2 neighborhoods all owned by the same company and subdivided by 2 separate leasing offices who report back to the same company. Now with that said.... they have in their lease that you must service your own property by maintaining the lawn (mowing, trimming, etc. ) or pay a penalty. Both leasing office managers every Monday from April thru October will either walk or drive by every single front and back of each address inspecting the yards to make sure the grass is either cut and/or trimmed to their satisfaction among other things such as trash cans without lids. If 2 lawns are mowed and 1 in the middle isn't. of course they will flag it. I live in 1 of these 2 neighborhoods. I know what my landlord likes and doesn't like in detail as I have walked with him a few times chit chatting and gaining a sense for what he likes and dislikes towards the lawn's appearance. He also knows I am conducting my own lawn care business and is easy on my properties vs. the others. If he knows I am scheduled to mow them. he leaves them alone most of the time, unless I tell him to send them a letter anyway which means I have clients who want to wait til they are told to have it mowed vs. proper health of the lawn. 50% care what their property looks like and knows its needs proper things done in order to have a healthy lawn. the other half don't care if its cut or not. they just don't want to be fined. regardless if I was in the picture or not though. If the lawn is not mowed or trimmed. Monday night you will find a letter in your mailbox stating your lawn needs to be mowed and/or trimmed and must be done prior to Wednesday morning at 10am. If it is not..... the landscaping contractor (a much much larger lawn care company) hired by the big boss to service all 17 of their total properties scattered all over Baltimore will mow the lawn and my landlord will charge each tenant $60 per mow and/or trim. Yes they charge $60 if it only needs to be trimmed. lol. so if they come out 4 times that month. they just charged you $240. can we say wow!!!!. let me also note. Rent is about 1000-1200 a month. so each tenant who does not maintain their lawn is fined so instead of 1000-1200 that month, they could have to pay 1240-1640 that month. This is where I stepped in. I wouldn't charge $50 for a single family home under 1/4 acre let alone a middle or end of group town home. I charge $20 for middles, $25 for ends. It includes mowing, all trimming, edging and cleanup.
I only put out 22 cause at the time. I walked the alleys... Those who had a mower sitting in their backyard, I didn't put a flyer in their mailbox. Those who didn't have a mower, got my flyer. they called to see what I charge and they are all cookie cutter lawns. very, very easy. Most lawns are all under 2000 square feet if that much. So I do inspections so I know if the my client's lawn needs it or not. If I cut it and they don't receive a letter. they may drop me. certain clients I have to do that for. other just tell me if it needs it. mow it and I'll pay.

Well I just counted the lawns in my neighborhood and the other one. I have aerial maps of my area and the other one a mile away. I saves these maps to note which lawns I do for on call service, regular and terminated accounts. We have 130 tenants. the other has 235 tenants. for a grand total of 365 tenant lawns that could need a lawn care contractor that doesn't charge as much as the landlord does. what would you rather pay??? $60 or $20-25 per week. Dumb question I know. they see my price and think hey I am calling this guy. A few from the other neighborhood already had a lawn care company other than the landlord's contractor doing their lawns. The lawn care person they had only was hired on verbal agreements. last I checked it's their word against yours if they do not pay without proper documentation. The tenants all fired who they had and hired me. This is why. they were greedy I am guessing. they saw the $60 fine and charged $50 per cut. On top of that fact their men did a crappy job. never trimmed the sidewalk all the time if it needed it or not. Can we say highway robbery. most have a hard time affording rent then to have to pay high lawn rates too. I cut everyone a break and it worked out big time for me. Now the only reason I passed 56 flyers in September I mentioned on my other post on marketing topic was. those were the lawns that needed mowing bad and risked being fined by their landlord. this year I intend to put a flyer in every single row home in my area plus the other one. a total of 365. that not including the surrounding row homes owned and not rented. if I include all those too. its well over 600 flyers.

so this is the reasoning behind the inspections on Sundays. Sundays I usually go bicycle riding with my 6 year old daughter and ride by 90% of my clients and note which one in my head needs mowing. so I know what my schedule will look like for the week.

Oh and something I didn't mention....... I called my landlord and asked when they would be sending out the letter warning residents about lawns inspections coming up and when. so I can pass out my flyers the exact same day. Most who call ask for a price. since these are cookie cutter size lawns. I can quote a price over the phone but don't so I can meet them face to face. read their body language and win the contract and sign it right then and there. I always carry a blank contract or 2 with me just in case. I tell people this. If you wanted to deal with it yourself. A good mower, gas trimmer, and broom or blower and your spending $500-800 and that's not including the time each week to do the work versus spending time with your family or friends. For XX a week that I charge you'd spend that same amount in 6-12 months. Most people these days barely have enough to live let alone care for their lawn themselves. Hmm spend 500 this week or 20. ... again another dumb question. Of course they'll hire you. ok I wrote another book. I have a habit of being detailed. It's how I was in mechanical engineering and how I am with any business venture I pursue.

Steve
01-28-2010, 01:45 AM
That totally makes sense and is genius!

You found a niche and filled it!

What's your view on how to take advantage of this situation you have where you are tight with the landlord?

Can you some how put in a bid to become that company that handles the lawn care for the landlord?

Is that next in the plans or maybe something else?

cklandscapingorlando
01-28-2010, 05:47 AM
In my quality control section of my contract it states that the owner will inspect the property every week. I say this cause no one else makes that promise. Since I'm not that large I'm the one cutting the grass. So I'm there anyway. It just sounds far better when they think your supervising every comunity every week. Makes you seem bigger than you are and more caring then the next guy

psparaco
01-28-2010, 08:34 AM
That totally makes sense and is genius!

You found a niche and filled it!

What's your view on how to take advantage of this situation you have where you are tight with the landlord?

Can you somehow put in a bid to become that company that handles the lawn care for the landlord?

Is that next in the plans or maybe something else?

Well, I made a point to talk to the leasing office manager and he knows who I am without giving my address. Whenever I seen him unlike other tenants that I think only see him when they have to. If I am available, I stop out and say hi. I have also spoken with the lawn care contractor foreman who is assigned to this job when they were outside doing my neighbor down the street who isn't my client. Anyway, according to the guy I spoke with. He is the owner of the company and the info he spilled to me is this. He currently has 6 crews of 4-6 workers each. He normally has 2 crews with him for my area. but on average has 1 crew working on a job. My neighborhood and the other adjacent one on top of an apartment complex and a huge 2 acre field that they are responsible for maintaining. My leasing manager aka landlord is in charge of the townhomes and the apartments. The other leasing manager runs the other area. So as for me biding on that contract. That is nowhere near possible right now. They have several trucks, trailers, 10-15 trimmers, 6-10 backpack blowers, 6-8 zero turn mowers, 3-4 walk behinds, various pruning hedge trimmers. Sum it all up They have a fleet of things. they do not deal with residential clients at all. Even though these are residential lawns they are servicing... My landlord is considered commercial, therefore its completely different. A goal to win a bid this big would mean i would have to be in business for 5 plus years to allow me to build up my equipment inventory and employee roster as well as clients. My short term goals aka within the next 2 years is to get a trailer, maybe a used truck, a walk behind commercial mower, 1-2 more trimmers, 1 more blower and other various equipment so i can add additional services.

Steve
01-28-2010, 10:29 AM
Well I think you are on your way of finding much success!

I bet that guy could teach you a lot about business and especially running a lawn care business.