View Full Version : Should I negotiate a new contract?

06-22-2012, 08:12 PM
Very new to this biz. I have a $3800 per season account that I mow, trim, and prune hedges once per week. I estimate I'm making about $146 for 3.5 hours work per week on this one. I do this one by myself. Anyway, they recently put up a 12x12 screen room in the back yard. Where it used take a few minutes to mow this area with the rider, now I have to pull out the lawn furniture and hand mow and put everything back. Adds about 30 more minutes to the job. Would you renegotiate for a new contract or be a nice guy and just do it? Thanks for your reply.

Cashin H&P
06-22-2012, 08:20 PM
I would let it go for the rest of this season and raise my price for next year. If you tried to get more money now it might mean you done get this contract next season or worse they drop you now. But if you raise your price for next season and explain why I would think it would go over better with the customer.

just my thought

06-22-2012, 08:29 PM
And a good thought that is...thanks

06-25-2012, 10:23 AM
That is a real interesting situation and I am surprised this hasn't come up before.

Do you currently have this customer under contract?

This situation really makes you think about the way contracts are worded and maybe they need some type of clause that says if the amount of time needed to service the lawn is changed, due to new landscape elements added to the property, the customer will be charged accordingly. Or something like that.

07-03-2012, 01:04 AM
I like the first reply...BUT

You're losing time, time is money...

Money per season sounds good, sounds like a good client. Guessing they would be willing to hear and understand how their new "convenience" inconveniences you and your services provided.

In the long run it's your call. Bet their credit card has beat you to a big payout but they'll ride that gravy train. You, as the "lawnman, yardboy, landscaper" whatever come second to the CC company that finances their whims. Then again, they don't sound like folks that will credit a mower, trimmer, blower and take over.

They're paying to play, it's all a gamble and they pay. Explain your end and ask for more. Can you afford the loss next season?

I've lost alot of income doing exactly what you're doing right now. You're not the bad guy here if you're properly maintaining the property to their satisfaction. Politely explain your situation and hope for understanding. I work for free on my terms, not the client's. (I pick and choose losses, I try not to consider those choices as losses BUT they are. You cannot allow your clients to dictate such choices.)

My .02, take it or leave it (those last five words are my motto)

07-03-2012, 02:31 AM
I would say something straight away, because when you go to renew the contract, they will see that you have been doing it for free all this time, and expect it.
I'm sure that if you approach them the right way, they will be fair. If not, then jobs like that are only a "ball and chain" on your business.

07-03-2012, 03:05 PM
I've lost alot of income doing exactly what you're doing right now.

What kinds of experiences have you run into that were like this and how did you handle them? Was there a breaking point you reached where you decided you needed to take a stand against customers like these?

07-04-2012, 02:28 AM
What kinds of experiences have you run into that were like this and how did you handle them? Was there a breaking point you reached where you decided you needed to take a stand against customers like these?

Steve, I've run into so many situations of loss that I've lost count. These clients don't sound at all like cheapskates or losers looking to get over on anything. 4k a year on a single account (unseen/unknown) is something to hang onto, at least for now?

My point is to advise the client that circumstances between original bid and services provided have been altered to the service provider's detriment. Folks paying what they are sound like reasonable people who would understand basic economics. My job is more now intricate and time consuming / my job now costs more. Added expense is likely low / reasonable. Let it ride, say nothing and what's next?

You have to speak up. You must explain the circumstances of how you make your living and how their personal choices might affect it. Next week you might find a homeowner-grade paver walkway that needs to be cut with a trimmer instead of your mower. There's another 10 minutes lost that could be cash somewhere else. And you already lost a 30 minute cut from the list?

It might sound petty but there are only so many working hours available on any given week. Most of my clients get alot for free. That's on me, my choice. I grow much from bulb, corm, and seed. I grow and share perennials. Again, on me. But in this instance, where a provider spends significant time over their bidded price due to unforseen modification?

Speak up. It can be done politely and with tact. No need to ask for reimbursment or an immediate rate hike. Simply mentioning to the client that you might need to thin your losses is effective...They're curious to know what your losses might be... They have friends who tell them how great our industry is.... They're clueless to the reality of waking up to grass stained wet boots and grinding blades while they suck down a latte and adjust their tie. I don't work for anyone that's ever done what I do. Doubt I ever will.

Reasonable people respond well to such tactics. You're not selling new, very gently informing them that they'll soon swim again in the shark infested waters they swam before finding YOU if they choose to let you go. Intelligent people want to stick with a proven winner. That makes doing business easy. If your client is satisfied, you're in. Good business isn't only about a satisfied customer, if you're losing they're going to lose too. They're going to lose YOU.

If you let folks walk on you, they'll likely run and stomp at the same time. You HAVE to have boundries "or you'll get what we have right here... a failure to communicate". Communication is (almost) everything. If they like you and what you bring, they'll pay for it as long as it's not out of line...