An example of why you should use contracts when performing landscape jobs.

The vast majority of new lawn care business owners and landscapers seem to have an aversion to using contracts. Either it is a fear that somehow the contract will turn customers away or somehow maybe it will be used against them if they can’t perform the job properly. What ever the reason is, any business veteran will tell you, it’s always better to have an agreement in place before you start on a landscape project.  Here is yet another example from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum on how things can go bad without using a contract.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I installed some fencing on a street that consisted of 9 houses. We finished up last week. I handed out final bills and I had a hard time finding all but one of them while they were home. Well today I finally found her. When I went to give her the bill, she went on very rudely to tell me that she was unhappy about the fence due to the way the fence joined to the house.

I find it funny that her house has been done for over a week and I never got a phone call from her explaining any of it. The only phone call I got from her was a rude one of her being pissed because we moved the concrete thing that goes under the down spout of the gutter. We forgot to put it back. So I went over and moved it back.

She basically came out and said she wasn’t paying the balance of the $977.00 owed. I tried to explain how and why it was done that way and I couldn’t get a word in at all. So instead of me losing my cool and nearly blowing up at her, I left. I will try calling her tomorrow. Any ideas to help me collect my money?”

A second lawn care business owner said “this is exactly why I have a limit that any landscape project over $500.00, requires half up front and the balance upon completion. Did you make up a contract at all? Any large project I do I give the client an estimate first in writing. If they agree to it then they must sign the estimate. After that, they also sign a separate contract for the job.

Customers play games all the time. I would guess the biggest reason is they are having money problems and don’t have the cash to pay for a job because something else had come up. Just recently I had one client that I installed a fence for and he didn’t want to pay. I told him I would give him 15 days to pay the balance and if not then, I would have to take legal action. He came back a few days later and said that he was still unhappy with the fence but his lawyer advised him to pay me because he would most likely lose in court due to the contracts that he signed.

Why mess around with this? If you are going to be doing the work, you deserve to be paid. Use a contract. I will help you smooth out your business operations in the future.”

A third business owner said “in such situations, I inform my customer that I would rather not go this route but I can file a judgement on their property and then go to small claims court. But this is all assuming you have something in writing, contract, agreement or emails. If not, this may become a costly learning example for you.”

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