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Grew up in a family retail nursery business. Graduated from Mississippi State in landscape contracting. We offer landscaping, irrigation, night lighting and drainage. Our customers keep asking us to do there maintenance so we are adding a maintenance crew.
I have a question about billing. I understand either bill by the cut or bill a monthly amount for twelve months. If I figure the number of trips, price per trip and add it all up and divide by twelve months that is great but what if I add a new customer in May and they decide in September the don't need our services. That would leave me short. Do most people require they keep your services for twelve months.
I got that part. If you are billing over twelve months you are making less profit in the months you are cutting and huge profits in the months you are not cutting (December, January and February etc.) it all averages out. So what I am asking is do most people require the customers they bill on a twelve month billing to use there service for a full year. If you set them up in May and they decide in September they do not want to use your services you lose.
If you were to only service them during your season May - Sept. then you need to charge more for those months rather than having a 12 month billing cycle. You could have them sign a contract for yearly service and not worry about it. Most wonít go for that though. I have no contracts and havenít had any problems, just a good old hand shake. If they drop you after September then itís a loss but be clear and specific in details when having an agreement. Anything in writing you both sign will indeed help. Another way is to inform the customer that you will charge said price for monthly service during those months but in the months of Oct. - April you would charge them per cut say $25- 35 per cut and still have them year round.
Being in Florida I assume like Mississippi we have year round lawn maintenance but if does slow down from Nov. - April. sometimes I cut only once (January) but the other weeks I do other things on the property, like irrigation run-outs, head replacements or adjustments, trim small trees or bushes, minor weeding to justify my monthly charge. Sometimes I just relax for a week or two. I have had some drop me when it slowed down, think they would cut their own lawn then call me back in April and ask if I would start again. I use my judgment and weigh how they dropped me. I may say no and others I accept but increase the price from the year before and tell them we are on a monthly service.
I think in your case it would be best to have a contract. then if they drop you, they will pay you for what is still owed to you from the months of service. It's also the same, if they paid you more than needed during those months, you would refund the balance.
Some companies put a cancelation fee in their contracts. For example: If the customer cancels before the contract is up, they agree to pay for 1/2 of the balance of the contract. If they cancel 3 months before the contract is due, then they pay you 1 1/2 months billings and you don't service them for that time.