Does your lawn care contract scare your customers?

The longer you are in business, the longer your lawn care contracts tend to get. Why? The simple reason is, as you go through life and operate your business, you run into new and interesting situations with your customers that you feel could have been resolved if only you had that in your lawn care contract. Sometimes adding extra parts to your contract can help while other times it may hurt. A lawn care business owner shared his contract on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum and explained to the back story as to why he decided to go with it.

He wrote “Some of you might feel as if my lawn care contract is a little harsh & scary, well that’s what it’s there for. I want it to scare people into doing the correct thing when it comes to my business. I don’t want to spend my valuable time chasing customers around to get paid. Maybe some of you don’t mind doing that, but there is only so much slack, I feel, you can give to customers.

Even if lawn care customers are worried about the service agreement, I don’t believe most of my customers will think less of me for who I am, or the impression I give them personally. IN FACT, many of my customers have told me, ‘You should use contracts, because there are so many people out there that will take advantage of you.”

I see the customers who insist I make a contract for MY benefit, as real keepers. Many of my customers have a lot of respect for me. The ones that worry about a piece of paper with simple guidelines on it, really aren’t worth my time.

What I hate most about my business, are the stories I get about why my customers can’t make their payment. Several customers seem to always have an excuse for missing a payment. I have found giving slack to any customer on this is the beginning of a BAD HABIT. When you give customers more time to pay, it just means you have to wait longer for YOUR hard earned cash.

A customer’s financial problem can quickly turn into YOUR financial problems. This is something I think you have to avoid at all costs. If a customer can’t pay on time, then what good are they to me? My business needs to maintain a system. When one customer, expensive or not, causes the slightest bit of turbulence, he/she has got to go.

I don’t plan on being exactly the same as competitors, I want to be an entirely different version of lawn service. Customers can say I’m strict, but when they pay - the work gets done, always. Even then, I can’t stress enough that it is my business. Someone can call me over the phone to go and mow there lawn. Sure I’ll tell them the price & arrange to pick up money, get the lawn done. But then I still have that chance of being burned. Sure it can be rare, but not taking that chance has made my business succeed.

I might lose a potential customer because they think I’m being ’strict’, though I save myself a load of stress. I don’t want to be chasing them & worrying if they’re going to pay me. So in a way, by using a contract, I save myself from headaches & the inevitable of having to fire them a few months later if they haven’t paid.

For smaller companies, sure you can chase the odd customer around without any stress, or even realizing it’s a hassle. Though when the number of customers add up, things get unorganized & you spend more time stressing out then to have things under control while enjoying your business.

One customer can be 90% of your problems. When I drop an annoying & ignorant customer, I end up loving what I do again, & feel as if I’ve found the reason why I started this business in the first place. So when you have a bad customer, don’t keep him/her around. One customer is all it takes to ruin you & your business. You CAN run a business with only decent customers. It is possible! Even if you get rid of 10-20% of the miserable ones. I guarantee you’ll enjoy running your business a lot more and have THAT MUCH MORE ENTHUSIASM to gain more! Bad customers drain you and make you feel as if you need to avoid gaining new clients due to the risk of gaining another bad customer. Getting a b.s complaint at 8AM in the morning will make the rest your day miserable - don’t put up with it, decent customers are out there.

Early on, you might feel that it’s tough to gain new lawn care clients. I felt that way too. The worst thing, I have found that you can do is to accept a potential customer JUST because you have room. If it’s not completely necessary to add another customer to your list, don’t agree to work for them just yet - make a serious decision by analyzing them head to toe, as they could cause you an infinite amount of suffering. You can start that analysis by presenting them with a lawn care contract. Here is the one I put together and use to weed out the undesirables below.

If you find it to be too harsh, then edit it however you want but I feel every word in this contract serves a purpose.”

Lawn Care Service Agreement :

As a Joe’s Lawn Service customer you agree to make payment(s) available to Joe’s Lawn Service before or on the first Friday of every month.

Failure to make your payment(s) available to Joe’s Lawn Service before or on the first Friday of every month will postpone our lawn maintenance service until payment has been received, along with an additional late fee and/or cancellation of Joe’s Lawn Service promotional offers/discounts given to you previously;

$12.50 - Two (2) day(s), service is postponed - Promotional offers/discounts are cancelled.
$25.00 - Ten (10) day(s) you are removed from our customer database - Promotional offers/discounts are cancelled.

After Ten (10) day(s), if you would like for us to resume our lawn maintenance service - you must pay a late fee of $37.50 and a rescheduling fee of $2.50. Promotional offers/discounts are cancelled.

You understand that customers who have made their payment(s) early are of the highest priority to us and will be served before all customers who have not yet made their payments.

You understand that we accept cash, checks and/or email money transfers - You may also make your payment(s) by visiting our website, www.your lawn care.com and using the payment methods available (Visa, Mastercard, American Express)

You understand that Joe’s Lawn Service is not responsible for any due or overdue payment(s), and that it is your duty to contact us ahead of time in order to collect your payment(s).

If you are unsatisfied with our work, or you think that we did not show up - You must notify Joe’s Lawn Service within 24 hours of the service date. We will send a crew back to your property at no additional charge, either on the same day or the day after (weather depending). If you do not notify Joe’s Lawn Service within 24 hours, we consider the work satisfactory for that visit/week.

As a Joe’s Lawn Service customer you understand that it our job to maintain your lawn (mowing, trimming, & blowing of debris) and that anything more is an act of courtesy by us. It is not our job to move objects on your property in order to maintain your lawn. If there are objects obstructing us from doing our job, we will work around them and/or skip your lawn for that week.

If we believe that your lawn will cause any danger to our equipment and/or crew, we will skip your lawn for that week, and you will be notified of the danger before the following week.

You understand and agree that Joe’s Lawn Service and yourself are to respect each others lifestyles and well being’s and to avoid unnecessary conflict. You agree to never demoralize and/or verbally abuse Joe’s Lawn Service, failure to do so will result in immediate service cancellation.

You understand that Joe’s Lawn Service will not tolerate the following and may result in service cancellation;

Customers
…who compare our service(s) with our competitors service(s) in order to receive a lower price.
…who are consistently unsatisfied with Joe’s Lawn Service.
…who are ignorant towards the service agreement.
…who attempt to cheat/swindle and/or provoke Joe’s Lawn Service.
…who show signs of being untrustworthy and/or have a negative payment history with us.

This service agreement may change at any time without notice - you can visit www.your lawn care.com in order to view the current service agreement or contact us for a copy.

I understand & agree to the above _________________________
Signature

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