Think before you act. That is one lesson you should pull from this discussion on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum. Here a lawn care business owner is given the opportunity to perform lawn care services for a large warehouse. The downside to the job is that the customer won’t sign any contracts. As you read through this, you will see the pros and cons to working with such a lawn care customer and it may help you in figuring out which is the best way to go and why.
He wrote “I just made a great contact with a new commercial lawn care customer. It’s a warehouse. They want weekly lawn cuts during the growing season (April-September), then it will slow to 3 cuts per month for March and October. During the winter they want 2 cuts per month from November to February.
They also want edging of all hard surfaces and weed eating to be performed every 2 weeks during the growing season and as needed during the off-season. Clippings and other debris to be blown from walks, patios, and parking areas after each mowing. Plant beds to be weeded by chemical means and supplemented by hand. Weeding is to be performed once a month to provide a weed free environment. All trees and shrubs to be pruned 2 times a year at the appropiate time for plant and flower developpments using proper horticultural practices. Pine straw will be put out 2 times a year(April/October) at the appropriate time.
I called them on the phone and asked about having them sign a lawn care contract and they said they don’t do contracts. It’s a 30 day pay term. If you don’t do a good job, then you are fired. If you do good work you can stay for another 20 days and so on and so on. Their previous lawn care operator supposedly did a terrible job and they don’t want to get burned again.
Does this sound like a good idea or should I cut and run?”
A second lawn care business owner said “this job is throwing up red flags everywhere. It’s not worth the trouble. At any time they can say ok we don’t want to use you anymore and your gone, all while they are holding 30 days worth of work and unpaid invoices.
The only thing you might be able to try for a month to month contract, and it is risky at best. I wouldn’t touch any commercial lawn care work without a contract. They like to hold on to the money for as long as they can get away with.
A contract is a legal binder between 2 or more parties. I have done things like this before and got more headaches then pay.
Please know this, to some I may sound hard and I’m only about the money well I am. We are in business to make money and provide a lawn care landscape service. We are not a collection service. Collections cost you money even if you get paid collecting late fees and other fees. It still costs you money. You have to know when to walk away, and this one I would walk away from, it just isn’t worth the time.
Weigh the pro’s and con’s. If the pro’s out weigh the cons then go for it. You really need to sit down and name five real good things that would benefit your company by taking this job. I would walk on this one.”
A third lawn care business owner said “Why not put in a bid? Remember, we are businessmen and business is all about negotiation.
Too often, lawn care business owners think that they have to accept whatever contract is offered. You have every right to write your own demands into a contract.
Don’t be intimidated just because it is a big warehouse. If they want to give you month-by-month work it is probably because their last lawn care business did a poor job. Don’t be like that last guy. Prove yourself and make them trust you.
If I were going to have a month-by-month agreement, I would write into my proposal that I want payment on the 30th of the same month I do the work or get paidÂ per job. I would want one NAMED supervisor to interact with and approve my work and he will sign a P.O. or a satisfaction form at each visit (or once per month). I also want the ability to cease working for them on a month-by-month basis (if they like your work, they will transfer you to a yearly contract in no time).
Speak with the supervisor who will approve your work. If you feel comfortable with him and if you are in full understanding with the work to be done, by all means, bid accordingly.
Never low-ball a bid like this. If they want quality work, they should be willing to pay for it. Speak with the supervisor to let him know you charge more because you take extra time to make sure everything it done correctly.
If they don’t agree with your proposal, walk away.
I have done tons of work with factories and industrial complexes like this. I have always found starting out on the right foot with great communication with the supervisor, they are normally very amiable.
It is fairly easy to talk them into additional work such as building planters around their driveway entrances to make the area look better.
When the company’s vice presidents are scheduled to pay them a visit, they will often call you for ‘RUSH’ jobs to which you can say ‘I can do it today but I need an extra $100 to adjust my schedule.’
I know some lawn care business owners that don’t like this type of work but I always found it to be some of the best money around. Once your foot is in the door and they see you provide high quality work, you should have an easy time with it.”