Self re-newing lawn care contracts a good idea?

Do you find it difficult to keep your lawn care customers from year to year? At the end of the year are you in panic mode trying to get all your customers to re-sign back up with you the next year? It seems some lawn care business owners have this problem while others do not. So what is the best way to handle such a problem? That is the question a lawn care business owner wondered about when he wrote us on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum.

He wrote “I realize that everyone will handle this situation completely different but here in the south, lawn care is year round. During the winter months, mowing may slow a bit and be about half the frequency (bi-weekly), but I keep busy all year. My question though is, what’s the best way to keep my lawn care customer base along with me into the next year?”

One lawn care business owner shared “I use a lawn care contract that handles this problem. A while back it occured to me that If I have to go to each client & point out ‘hey your done with 12 months! Thank you, now would you like to sign up for the next 12?’ It raises the question, ‘Do I want to continue?’ Why wave this flag? Why make something that is a non-issue suddenly an issue?

When you sign up for cell service for 2 years they don’t call you up on the first day of year 3 and say ‘do you want phone service tommorrow’ do they? No, they just continue to provide their service at the same rate & everyone is happy. They have already had you for 2 years & covered the initial cost of the phone, so now most likely you will continue under the same contract until your phone breaks.

Our situation in the lawn care industry is similar but different. In my case, I have my clients sign a lawn care agreement and here is how I have it worded. My customers are required to pay each month in advance on the 1st.

This agreement will continue in effect as long as both parties are satisfied. To cancel service client must provide written notice 30 days in advance of intended cancel date. If you do not wish to have us continue a 2nd year simply notify us & do not pay the 13th monthly invoice. Otherwise the 12 month cycle will automatically restart with the same conditions as the 1st year.

Another lawn care business owner shared “with cell phone contracts, at least here it’s month to month after the initial term. One can word into their agreement the contract will automatically renew for a period of 12 months unless 90 days notice is given however, once again, at least here you can’t enforce the automatic renewal in court should you have to go that route. I understand laws can very greatly depending on the area you live, so it’s worth checking your local laws before you do this.

Instead of contracts, why not focus on superior service? I personally see my interactions with clients more as relationships rather than just a check/payment etc. I send a letter to my clients every quarter updating them on what I and the company are up to. When these letters go out, I usually receive quite a few emails back.

Having said that, we all lose a customer for whatever reason from time to time. But I know the work is there and will continue to be there so long as you treat your customers well and do the best job you can. I don’t tend to concern myself so much about them leaving at the end of a contract, term or year. Focus on quality at a fair price and the rest will take care of itself.”

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